Not the topic you expected me to blog on, right? "Has her hollow skull snapped under the pressure of too much writing?" you think. "Has she completely gone off her marbles? Has the wind got in her head???" Well, the thing is, what's to follow is a very personal story (I seem to have plenty of them in my drawer called "shit that happened in my life"). As you know, I used to have a startup called Lilipip. The website is still up, if you want to look. I was bent on making it a success and on becoming a revered entrepreneur raking in millions of dollars and sitting all pretty on the pedestal of business fame and having a warm pig under my feet and nodding appreciatively to all those bringing me gifts and pots of gold and...well. It didn't happen.
WHAT ABOUT TO FOLLOW MIGHT BE A TRIGGER FOR ABUSE SURVIVORS.
Please don't read this if you get easily triggered. I love you, and I don't want to ruin your day. If you're still with me, here is the story.
Almost six years ago, following years of therapy and strange half-memories that would make me want to hurt my body, it all came to a point. I got PTSD, panic attacks, visited Moscow, came back, things got worse. Then one lovely night in the middle of a panic attack I remembered that I was sexually abused by my father (he was disciplining me) and my step-grandfather (he was just a butcher discharged from prison and a drunk) and perhaps more stray people (more memories gradually surfaced), but at that point I have stopped digging up my past and decided to die. For the next two months or so I purposefully walked around with over 100 sleeping pills able to kill a horse, contemplating where I could safely swallow them so enough time passed and I would really die, not like those others who were discovered and saved. One night I found myself in the kitchen with a knife at my stomach, wanting to push it in. Quite literally, I was delirious, thinking that the ghastly job of disembowelment would let my pain out. Then I thought of my kids and decided to live.
That is the good part of the story. The bad part is, this emotional turmoil cost me lots of money.
- I was incapable of working and gave up on my startup. My amazing business partner Bryan Zug brought in his wife Jen Zug to the team, and eventually they started their own company, What Now? Exactly!, doing a better job at what I set out to do. They have tried to hold Lilipip together financially, until they couldn't do it anymore. For that I am forever grateful. THANK YOU.
- I realized that my incessant workaholism was stemming from this desire to show my father that I am something, after all (he told me nothing would ever become of me). Now that I understood where my drive was coming from, I simply couldn't return to my startup. However, being an idiot, I have funded it on credit cards, something that I've never tasted in Russia and here I was like, "Wow, look, I got a card with money!" "Wow, look, I can pay off this card from another card with more money!" I ended up paying people but not paying myself much, and opened up close to 14 cards or something like that. Here is a video about it (second one on the bottom).
- A dear friend, Michael Hyman, has heard my story and has hired me into his startup. This way I was able to bring salary home while I was recovering. It took two years of therapy, a divorce, and lots of little things like selling everything I owned (car, house, etc.) and eventually saving enough money so I could quit my job and start writing, though I was scared out of my mind to do it. THANK YOU, MICHAEL. Back then I didn't think I could ever be employable again.
- About 6 months before leaving my job (I was let go and it was great, because I could apply for unemployment) a truck hit me on my way home and I woke up in the hospital, thinking, "Well, shit. It's the universe telling me do take writing seriously." In fact, it was my therapist who suggested I journal. That is how Siren Suicides was born. About 2.5 years ago I have finally started writing full time.
- Since then I have supported myself with the help of my savings that have ran out last year, a bit of money trickling in from selling my part of the house to my ex, unemployment, and some consulting here and there, the biggest being my recent ghostwriting gig for The Green Ants (best client ever). And, of course, book sales and donations have been growing too (about $6K last year).
- Slowly, the credit cards started demanding the money I owe, then collectors started demanding it. I couldn't afford to pay them all, so like a good citizen, I went to a lawyer asking if I should file bankruptcy. He said, "Wait. Dodge it. Wait until you get summoned to court. Hold out. Bankruptcy is a serious thing." So I did.
And now I can't wait anymore.
I've been served papers several times and dodged them by asking collection companies to provide me additional info, but this January 26th there will be the first judgement in court (Sony is asking for $2.5 with which I bought the first company laptop), and I think after this my checking account can be cleared, although there won't be anything to get there. At the moment, I have enough money to last this month and to fix my laptop or buy a new one (screen gets a thick black stripe when shaken, so I won't be able to write on my Amtrak Residency trip with all the bouncing). My boyfriend graciously offered to pull me through this financially, as I don't yet know how I will crawl out of this.
However, this blog post is not about me whining "Oh, how awful my money situation is!", it's about asking for your advice. I owe about $60K or so to credit cards (have to calculate the exact number) and about $6K or so to creatives who have done work for my startup, which, because it dissolved, I'm not required to pay, but I want to, one day. It makes my heart bleed that I had to let them all hang at the time and simply gave up on everything.
Now comes the scariest part. I have this one lawyer who is awesome and doesn't charge me for a quick 15 minute phone call. His name is Philip L. Bednar and he works for Lasher people. They are great and have helped me a lot free of charge. He told me I have two choices, either let it all fall, since there is nothing to take from me right now, or file bankruptcy. He suggested Nagler Law Group. I called them, and a 1-hour consultation there costs $250, before they do any work, plus the bankruptcy itself might cost anywhere from $2.5K to $8K (it all depends, they said). I can't afford the consultation fee nor the bankruptcy price. $2K a month is what I live on.
So, any lawyers here? Anyone gone through bankruptcy? Anyone had their checking account locked down or whatever it is they do to it? Any books or articles I can read, to understand this better? And what is the cheapest amount I can do a bankruptcy for? Any attorney suggestions?
Don't think me a saint. I should've known better and made better decisions, but it is what it is. I am happy right now, the happiest I have ever been in my life, and I know I will eventually find a way to get through this, but it's scary as hell because I don't understand what it will look like. My biggest worry is not being able to continue using my checking account and get those $100-600 per month (it fluctuates like crazy) that I get in from donations or sales or Patreon so I can order more books from CreateSpace and have enough paperback in stock.
Whew. End of story. Don't fret, I will never stop writing, no matter what happens.
Please give me all the advice you can, and I will give you a pony. And thank you for reading this far. Much love, and kisses, and hugs. XOXO