“How did this happen again?” I whispered. There I stood with unopened credit card bills that had been hidden under my bed so my husband, wouldn't find them. I felt like I was going to throw up just standing there with the bills laid out in front of me. As I opened them I was speechless. How had I spent another $2000 this month? Sure, I love to shop, but only once or twice a week, my husband knew it. What could I have spent that kind of money on? My husband would flip if he ever knew how out of control my spending was. He thought the only money I was spending was written in the checkbook but the reality of it all was that I only used the checkbook for what I “thought” he wouldn't rant and rave about. I felt I had no other choice, I couldn't tell him because when he got upset ranting and raving could go on for hours or even days and he could spend days without even speaking to me. I have no idea what I am going to do. I’m drowning and I see no way out.
Owing $28,000 on credit cards is never they way to get out of debt.
As I looked at the balances of the 4 credit cards in front of me I was astonished to see that I actually owed $28,000. I had the bills coming to my office address so he wouldn't know the truth. This was the fourth time I had gotten into situations like this, he said if I ever did anything like this again he would leave me. What he didn't know was last time I didn't tell him about the other two cards I still had. I just couldn't, he would have gotten even angrier and I was afraid that would be the last straw so I repeatedly assured him there were no other cards. I knew lying to him was wrong but I was so scared of what he might do. Looking back now, I see how screwed up my life was then and I think the purpose of these shopping binges was because I had no control over my life or anything else. To say I was afraid of him physically hurting me would be an overstatement but at this time he had so much control over me with verbal abuse he didn't have to be physical.
I was at the point that I had convinced myself that it didn't make a difference because I was making a payment every month, I had convince myself I would be able to get out of the hole I had dug for myself. My thought was that as soon as I got more money I would pay them off.
Swapping money around
I was a little concerned each time I had to get a cash advance however, each time I had come close to maxing out the card I was using for cash advances another card would arrive in the mail. Then I would convince myself that this was the one that I would use to get me in the clear. Before I knew it I would go shopping and get a few things I knew my husband would think I didn’t need so I just pulled out the newest card. My theory was I worked hard every day and if he could buy things like hunting equipment then I could buy things I wanted. Years of this cycle went on and on until one day I realized I owed almost $28,000.
I will never forget the fall of 2002, it changed my life forever. Along with 4 other moms I attended a weekend Women’s Christian Workshop, one of the speakers spoke on how guilt and how guilt wasn’t from God but from Satan and the toll it could take in our lives. While sitting there God spoke to my heart in such a way I knew I had to talk with my husband and tell him everything as soon as I got home. While eating my lunch that day my husband called. He was furious! He said that Melissa, my secretary told her husband, Stephen that I owed people everywhere and that my credit card bills were coming into the office. Her husband chose to tell everyone at the table they were having lunch with. Garrett was so angry I could hear it in his voice.
I was out of control
“Oh, God, no.” was all I could think. I was at a loss of words and had to run outside to catch my breath.
In a deep, angry, deliberate voice went on. “She just laughed and thought it was so clever that you were hiding these things from me.” He was flipping out, calling me every name in the book, yelling and screaming.
“Please calm down Garrett.”
“You promised me this would never happen again.” He yelled.
Finally he just hung up on me saying that if I cared at all for my children or our marriage I had better get home and get home now. He knew I couldn't because I had brought the other 4 women with me in my car. After that he refused to answer the phone when I called the remainder of the weekend. I knew it was bad. Then on the last message I left him the day before leaving and coming home was that I actually had $28,000 in credit card debt. I figured he needed to know and since he wouldn't answer the phone I could allow him to process the true amount.
I went home after the weekend workshops and he was waiting for me. We talked for hours and I think for the first time he and I were truthful with one another. He wanted to leave me but agreed to get counseling first and we started the very next week. After being in counseling for about a month I finally started to see that it was actually a way for me to be in control. I have worked and still continue to work on the way I was allowing my husband to treat me and it completely changed my way of thinking and dealing with stress. God has sent us our wonderful counselor and our Pastor who have been so instrumental in assisting us in healing our relationship.
This all was about 17 years ago. We have really grown as Christians as well as parents. Today he is my best friend but it didn’t come easy. We are finally as God wants us to be with one another and I’m so blessed. I learned that even when you think lying is the best route it’s never the right thing to do. Now I get teased for being brutally honest but that’s okay. We are in a wonderful place. It took a lot of work but anything worth having is worth working for.