Love Letter Day X
I paid off a credit card once with one fell swoop after an unexpected cash windfall from a weird job. This was years ago and I didn’t know how I’d amassed so much debt but the check I got felt equally preposterous so off it went to take care of this bill that made me feel like a jerk. Deciding to pay the card off and not use it to buy more crap felt like such an adult move and I was so proud of myself. I thought I might even cancel the card right after. Then, the following month, I got another statement with a balance. I didn't think much of it, and probably didn't read the statement very carefully--just assumed I'd had a latent charge coming through that slipped through the cracks. But a month after that without using the card at all, I got yet another balance, and now I was convinced I was being charged erroneously so I called customer service. That’s when I learned for the first time how APR works. I’d had remaining interest to pay down. The service rep said that I should expect one last bill for a very small amount, and then the total credit card would be actually paid down. I spoke with my accountant about this wondering if it was true, and added “I’m gonna close this account as soon as it’s paid off because this is so stupid,” and he said that was a bad idea. “You kept the debt and paid it off regularly, so cancelling this will erase twelve years of credit activity.” Or something like that anyway. He convinced me not to cancel the stupid thing.
I still have the credit card, and rarely use it, but I have a much more nihilistic approach toward the debt. Where it concerns my personal credit cards, I just allow for the fact that interest is something I won’t ever really have a firm grasp of and I will never actually know how Annual Percentage Rates work. I relent and may even decide at the end of my life that it’s not worth fighting. Yes—I acknowledge that this is a privilege. I am not rent asunder by corrupt debt. I just think the whole thing is too absurd for me to try to adequately and accurately understand.
I’m starting to think of trauma that way, too.
When I first started going to therapy it was to manage my brain in order to improve my new relationship with my father. Breakthroughs were frequent and I thought I was “becoming a better person.” Years later I realized that’s not exactly how talk therapy works, but each time I came to utter a big revelation or had a big sob, I felt like I’d just paid off a four-to-five-figure credit card debt. However, the bills (trauma burps) keep coming. Also, the working world convinced me that cancelling my cards was a bad idea—for some sick reason, people always want to know you are able to maintain trauma.
So sure, it would make a lot more sense if my actions were motivated by deficit, paucity, an order of the universe governed by men...but the story needs to change. Perhaps it is as simple as accepting the dogma that scarcity mindsets are no longer conducive to personal growth. “Let us utilize an abundance mindset instead!” I would add to that the aforementioned nihilism. With nihilism and with courage and with brazenness, we can just say to ourselves, “yes there is always a bill, but I still get what I want.”