Yesterday, I was shamefully reminded of a decision I made in 2013 to move into voluntary bankruptcy. Yesterday, the 7 year old record of bankruptcy record was an instant roadblock to something I really wanted to do. I’m still down about it, to be honest. Hence, the poem and reflection.

Going through the ordeal in 2013 was a shame-filled and traumatic experience for the whole family. If you’ve been through it, you’ll understand how financial trauma can beat you down – particularly in a world where the overtly wealthy are esteemed as successful, strong, smart and superior. Bankruptcy and poverty don’t appear out of nowhere. Often, you are treading water for months and years, trying to liquidate and make things work. You quickly discover that the banks whose adverts portray a caring and understanding institution are simply facades for brutal and relentless wolves. (My stomach still boils when I see Commbank ads 😤 . Tormenting abusers). Instead, you discover places like food banks – run by people who actually DO care! Despite best efforts, there does come a day where you realise the shore to recovery is a long way off and treading water is not sustainable. So you give yourself to the waters and find an Eden on the ocean floor among the broken. (Those that have read The Descent poem in my new collection pg. 46 – this is some of the backstory).

Eventually though, you move through the processes, the bankruptcy gives you a break – it’s a Jubilee of sorts. And you begin to rebuild – albeit with $0, a stained record, scarred consumption and a reminder that most of what we hold onto as security is an illusion (thanks for nothing, ego). Oh, and I guarantee, if you’re a Christian, you’ll never look at Sunday offering messages the same way. – especially those that treat God like a slot-machine or broker. News Flash: You can tithe, budget and still go bankrupt.

Today, I’m reminded of two things:

Firstly, I’m thinking of the financial devastation the world is headed towards thanks to COVID. Many are treading water already. Complete nations are treading water – printing and creating billions and trillions of dollars (the stats are mind-blowing). Skilled, smart, hard-working people have lost jobs. Best efforts by governments and bank in many countries is just delaying the drowning (aka moratoriums). Like our bankruptcy situation, most happens for reasons outside your control – but you still suffer for it. No one was prepared for 2020 to drop them in the middle of the Atlantic with a small sinking life-raft. 2021 and 2022 are going to see many people sink financially, I’m afraid. Like all traumatic events, it will change us – for better, or worse. I do hope there is greater understanding for those who drown in the coming season than there was for us in 2013. Perhaps bankruptcy laws will adjust to the demand recognising that unlike governments, individuals don’t have to the power to print currency to cover their suffering.

Secondly, I’m reminded of the many generations who endured before us. Not to minimise financial hardship – but we need to keep in perspective those who have lost loved ones to COVID. It can also help to realise we are not hiding in cupboards or being sent to concentration camps for months and years. Just read through a few chapters in a bible. It’s filled with immense loss. Stories of entire empires rising and falling. Men who started their lives as outcast dreamers and make their ways through pits, prisons and palaces end up as Prime Ministers. Women with the most shame-filled backstories end up playing key-roles in the liberation of nations. Genocide. Infanticide. Murder. Plagues. Theft. Rape. Incest. It’s all there, in black and white. God himself is crucified by angry mobs who feel under threat during the height of cultural disruption and political unrest.
I’m reminded I am not alone.
I belong to the bright, shining AND fallen stars.
I am a global citizen and belong to the human race.
We are incredibly resilient, fragile, loved, feared and connected.

much love
David Tensen