Over the past few years, I’ve really tried hard to figure out why some of the people around me just up and start using drugs or start gambling. My dad, for instance, was perfect for 50 years. Then around his 50th birthday, out of nowhere, I’m mean really no where he started using crack cocaine and playing video poker.
He used to play lottery tickets. But I’m serious and I’m not blind to it, he never used drugs before. Maybe some pot here and there, but not hardcore drugs.
I’ve spent the last 8 years trying to figure out what happened. Then it hit me. Life gets unbearable. Life can get so unbearable that you have nowhere to turn to but to find a way to escape. There is so many ways to escape. You could choose drugs, alcohol, suicide or whatever.
This is sort of an obvious answer that I always knew in the back of my mind but I always pushed it away. What smart person would choose to throw their lives away for a hit? My dad had a great life. Yes my grandparents could be annoying. My mom had depression which could be hard to deal with. My brother announced he was gay which might have been hard to swallow at first.
His kids were well adjusted and happy though. He had a house. He had and still somehow has an amazing job. So why throw it all away for crack?
What I didn’t know is that to keep up with life, they took out a second mortgage on the house. Then they refinanced to get cash back and refinanced again. They ended up like most people around then, completely upside down.
What happens when you feel like you can’t help with your kid’s tuition? What happens when you can’t afford your house no matter how good a job you have? What happens if you can’t unload the house if you wanted to? What happens if you are facing foreclosure?
He started taking one payday loan out after another. They used their kid’s spare tuition money to pay off his debts. Even one of the kids annuitys from their grandparents. They were so deep in trouble from his addictions that they needed their kids to support them.
He honestly had to feel like there was no escape. He felt like he had to gamble because there was no other conceivable way he was ever going to get out of the hole he was in with the mortgages and later with the gambling and crack cocaine debt.
The crack was to stop feeling like a failure. Simple. Yes- to you and me, being a “crack head” is most definitely failing. But to him, well to him it was steping away from himself to feel nothing. When he was at those houses or in the back of those pizza places with his “friends” getting high, the rest of the world and his responsibilities disappeared.
So why am I realizing this all now, eight years after it all happened? For one, because 90% of the time I think I feel how he felt before he fell down the rabbit hole. Instead of a mortgage that is underwater, I have student loans, un-imaginable student loans.
I can’t buy a house because my DTI is too high even though I have a decent job. I avoid dating as it’s just a waste of time if the guy is going to run when he finds out what baggage I carry. I turn 30 next year and I may have to move back in with my mother to make ends meet, and that may not even be enough.
I make too much for an income based repayment plan, but too little to support myself and pay student loans. This isn’t a woe is me. I mean trust me this sucks big time but the point I’m trying to make is being in massive debt is overwhelming. It’s almost impossible to feel like you have life in control when you can’t get out from under the banks.
I have no idea what I’ll do when my loans officially come out of deferment in May. And how insane is it that I will be in this situation for 10-30 years! How am I supposed to live day to day when ordering a $5 lunch at Burger King could break my bank?
It would be so easy for me to turn to alcohol or drugs right now. Trust me I’ve thought about it. Watching your father (and aunt, and uncle, and cousin etc) go through it is a pretty good deterrent though.
I hope the upcoming election gets student loans right. I hope America finds a way to help their citizens live a decent life without putting themselves into massive life altering debt. It’s on everyone’s minds including the candidates. So many of them have made it a main issue this campaign from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump.
My dad is an amazing guy and still is to this day. A few rough days here and there still but he’s not a bad guy. He just got in a hard situation and dealt with it the only way he felt like he could.