Down in the Dumps: Being Considered a Failure


Warning. This is not a happy joy post. What follows is a wall of depression text, so if you’d rather not go there with me, feel free to skip this one.

It has been a while since my last post. I still have my job, which I am grateful for. Things are very quiet there these days. A few more co-workers left on their own after the layoffs. They either took other jobs or are just quitting to get off of the treadmill. I envy their ability to afford to do that. There are a handful of us left in the office so… it’s really quiet.

Why am I still there? It’s not bad. In fact it’s a lot better than the place I worked at before. Plus, I need the health benefits.

I’ve mentioned my health issues before. I have to have major surgery soon. Because it is major surgery, I will need help to do everything for a least a couple of weeks afterward. And of course, because I have no one here that could take care of me, I needed to ask my mother.  My mother, who would do anything for me, but who is getting on in years, asked my older brother for additional help. They can’t live with me here in my tiny room that I’m renting, so I’ll need to find some place for us to stay.

I just spent the last 20 minutes of life on the phone getting lectured by my brother about how all of this is my fault. What I am asking is a big inconvenience to them. If I had my own apartment and a car, then everything would be easier. If I had a husband or boyfriend to take care of me I wouldn’t be such a burden to them right now.

My ‘dear’ brother called out every major area of lacking in my life and laid it bare at my feet. I shut down, went silent and let him talk. Firing back would not have been wise as I still need him to help me after my surgery. This is yet another reason why being single really sucks.

I wish my sister were here. My sister would have been there to support me. She wouldn’t have lectured me. She would have rolled up her sleeves and been there for me. I knew when my mother got my brother involved that he was going to throw this in my face. He’s made it clear to me multiple times that I am a disappointment to him. I’ve now finally realized that we aren’t going to ever get along.

I was supposedly the smart one. I was the one with high marks and multiple degrees who was going to go far in life. But what am I now? I am the poor one who has nothing to show for it except for a pile of debt and failing health. His son, my nephew, who is half my age, already has a wife a newborn baby and their own place that they are moving into. So clearly I’m defective.

Where is my sister? She just got transferred abroad by her job with her husband. She’s now living half a world a way in the number one country I’ve learned about and have been aching to visit / live in for years. I love my sister to pieces, but it’s so so soooo hard to hear her breathless reports about all the fun she and her husband are having over there, when I’m in this emotional and physical pit. They just bought new cars. Her employer is providing housing and is driving them around so they can pick the house they want… Yeah… so… yeah….

The convo lecture from my brother has now given me another headache. Great. The surviving the surgery will be a breeze compared to having to deal with him.

All the stress that I’ve been under for the last 2.5 years since losing my job and accepting the reality of my own financial crisis has undoubtedly contributed to the health problems that I’m facing now. I cut corners with my health in the name of financial sacrifice, and now I’m paying the price. And the cost of surgery including pre-op prep and post-op recovery will drive my debt back up. Is it hopeless? Will I ever get out of debt or will it kill me first?


“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)


  1. thefinancephoenix · June 22, 2015

    Be encouraged! This is only for a season. Don’t let your brother speak negativity into your life. Things aren’t as you want them and they will take time to change but you have the drive and the means to make those changes. Take it one step at a time. Once this surgery is behind you then you can sit down and make a plan. Take the two weeks that you will be home to recharge, speak positively about your future, and make a plan. You can do it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You will get through this. You’re not a failure because you’re in debt. You still have a job. Lots of people are in debt.


    • doubledebtsinglewoman · June 25, 2015

      Yes, that’s true. The criticism I got was mostly around the fact that at my age I haven’t acquired the markers of adulthood – my own place, a car, a spouse/kids, etc. Thanks for your positive thoughts.


  3. thesingledollar · June 23, 2015

    This feeling totally sucks, but there is nothing to do except keep walking forward (or actually, post-surgery, keep resting and recovering, heh.) Eventually you will come out of it and be re-charged with energy. In the meantime we’ll all be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.


    • doubledebtsinglewoman · June 25, 2015

      Thank you. Indeed, getting past the surgery alive, in one piece, and with no complications should be my #1 focus.


  4. Lucia · June 23, 2015

    Hello there. I am speaking as one who understands these feelings of failure. My husband and I faced terrible unemployment problems during the recession and lost absolutely everything. (We were late middle aged parents of four children.) We lost our home and $200,000 dollars in cash equity Our credit card bills skyrocketed as we tried to hang on. (We had never had any credit card debt before this.) We had $1,500 left to our names and were homeless. There is one thing I know, though. You can never beat this if you continually give into these feelings of defeat and hopelessness. It’s like the world will just spit those same negative vibes right back in your face. Do you think that employers and potential employers don’t pick up these negative vibes in you? Of course they do! Also, we have a deep and abiding faith in a living God whom we know is for us and not against us, which pulled us through. We had food and, eventually, some stop gap shelter. If you don’t have hope, you may as well just give up. It really can get better.

    Best wishes as you recover from surgery. Remember, you are not your debt. You are a person loved by God.


    • doubledebtsinglewoman · June 25, 2015

      Wow. I’m glad things worked out for you. I try to be optimistic about my situation, but I can’t check out of my emotions when bad things are happening to me or around me. I do appreciate your words.


  5. Maria · June 23, 2015

    It’s totally not fair of your brother to rant at you like that. I’m all for facing harsh truths and all of that, but you’ve been working so hard and made so many tough and admirable choices to get your financial act together, INCLUDING not having your own apartment and car. It would be another matter if you were spending your money on drugs or whatever, but that’s not the case. And, quite frankly, it’s very short sighted of him. Your brother’s spouse/partner (if he has one) could up and leave him today, he could be diagnosed with a serious (and expensive) illness tomorrow, and he probably wouldn’t be far from where you are right now. It amazes me how people can fail to realize such simple truths sometimes.

    Life is totally not fair a lot of the time,and even if your brother doesn’t realize it, your readers know what a good job your doing. It’s so unfair that you have to keep going like this, but you can do it, one day at the time. From what I’ve gathered, you won’t be back to square one. You will get out of debt, and you’re life will get much better. And I believe you when you say you are the smart one, and if I didn’t live in another country, I’d much rather hang out with you than your brother anyway. 😉

    And you’re NOT the only one struggling. Didn’t Dave Ramsey say that it takes the average household 7 years to get out of debt? And aren’t like half of adult Americans single?


    • Katie · June 24, 2015

      Sooooo well said, Maria!

      Hang in there, hun! We’re rooting for you!


    • doubledebtsinglewoman · June 25, 2015

      Thank you for your encouragement, Maria. His life is certainly not perfect, and he would be better served focusing on his own problems. Thanks for the reminder that getting out of debt is a slow process for almost everybody.


  6. Amanda @ My Life, I Guess · June 24, 2015

    I relate a little too well to this post…
    I’m sorry that all this is happening to you and that you have people in your life that aren’t supporting you. Know that we support you. I hope that surgery goes well and whatever is going on with your health improves.


  7. ouestmonchat · June 29, 2015

    I, too, can relate a bit too much to this post. I totally get the envy of not being able to afford to ‘get off the treadmill’, being trapped in a job for health insurance, and feeling like a failure in life. I’m having outpatient surgery next week and I’m estranged from my family so my good friend is taking off of work to take me.

    All I can say is I understand how you feel. I think what keeps me going these days is to keep in mind that sometimes we just have to go through the logical motions that we ultimately believe will get us to a better place, despite wanting to breakdown and cry everyday. Sometimes I have to ask sarcastically, “C’mon already! How strong do I really freakin’ need to be?!” But on reflection, I like that I can honestly say to myself that I like who I am and while I’m not in the best situation right now, I’m preparing to be, to have the means to seize the opportunity when it comes.

    I hope we can support each other through this dark time and please make sure to get some alone time away from your family to update us during your recovery.


  8. Linda · July 2, 2015

    Hi, this is the first time I’ve commented on your blog, although I have been reading it for at least a few months now. I was wondering what happened to you after reading about all of the fabulous progress you were making in so many areas. thefinancephoenix is right – this setback is only for a season! I have been so impressed with your willingness to bite bullets and use sheer grit to get through some tough times and decisions. You have nothing to be ashamed of, as you are building deep financial muscles and are in a far better place than you were a few years ago. My doctor recently gave me a warning that if I didn’t start taking care of myself, I was headed to costly chronic illnesses – a path I definitely don’t want to go down! I had been sedentary and working long hours to make more money, to pay down more debt, but in the end the progress I was making wasn’t proportional to the harm I was doing. I took that as a sign to scale back, be patient with paying down debt and take care of myself. I hope this time you will have can provide you with time to reflect and work out a new battle plan for when you’re stronger.


    • doubledebtsinglewoman · July 4, 2015

      Thank you, Linda. Yes, I’m learning my health lesson the hard way. It seems, sometimes, as though that’s the only way I learn lessons. I hope you can also learn from my mistakes. Getting out of debt is important, but not at the cost of my health. I have some decisions to make about my priorities, and going through this surgery will no doubt make clear what I value most.


  9. Anonymous · July 9, 2015

    Hey, girl. Wow…are stories are very similar! I too was the “smart one” in the family. I am a classical musician, so I was also the “talented one.” I was praised up and down for being so driven and passionate and hardworking. I was destined for great things! So, I just did what all of my family and teachers told me to do, which was to go to school, and then do a master’s, and then a doctorate (still finishing the doctorate). As if higher ed isn’t broken enough, throw in the arts and you really have a mess! I’m 34, single, and I am around $135K in the hole. By the way, I had jobs, graduate assistantships, and scholarships my entire time in school. Most of that is student loans but I have around $12K in credit card debt.
    Certainly, I used credit cards too much. Once I had significant credit card debt, I had to borrow more loans in order to keep making payments on the cards. I was living hand to mouth, so I was afraid to pay more than the minimum balance on the cards for fear of running out of cash. I just kept telling myself that it was temporary. When I finally got a good job that paid more than $1,000K/ mo., I would be able to pay it down. I finished my coursework 2 years ago and I’m just now starting a job that pays 30K/ yr. I’m moving into a house with three people that I don’t know in order to save money on rent. It’s close to the bus and I can get a cheap pass through my work so I plan to use the bus as much as possible. Saving 6 months living expenses will be my first priority, then I will tackle the debt, then more savings. We will see what happens…
    1.) I want to think you for being brave enough to share your story with us. 2.) Even if you should have managed your finances better, we all have our vulnerabilities. Your brother is being a self-righteous little prick right now (which we all can be at times). One day, he will need you, and when you are ready and willing to come to his aide, I hope he remembers the way he is treating you right now and apologizes. 3.) Life is a unique journey for each person. The world’s definition of “adulthood” is superficial. Also, the world is fixated on accomplishment and weaving “great heroic tales” with our lives; it is fixated on the impermanent, and I believe that life is/ can be eternal! Your only responsibility is to grow, and you are doing that. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone just did that? So…rest assured… you are exactly where you need to be right now, doing exactly what you need to be doing. 🙂


    • doubledebtsinglewoman · July 12, 2015

      Hey there,
      You sound like a personal finance twin! 🙂 If you don’t have a blog, consider starting one. It’s always good to see how other people are fighting monster debt. The good news for you is that you’re still pretty young, so you have time to pay off a big chunk of this debt BEFORE you turn 40. Trying to tackle six figures of debt and save for retirement after 40 is harder. I stayed in school waaay to damn long. I wish someone would have shaken me and read me the definition of “opportunity cost”. Oh, and if you haven’t seen her blog, check out the Single Dollar. Her background is similar to yours as well. She’s already paid off all of her debt and is a good inspiration for the rest of us. I hope you keep stopping by. Do think about starting that blog, or least comment here and let me (and DDSW readers) know how you’re doing. Thanks for writing!


  10. anonymous · July 12, 2015

    Thanks, DDSW! I never considered starting a blog, but who knows! I’ll definitely keep reading yours and I’ll check out the other one you recommended, as well. I find your blog encouraging and I appreciate knowing that I’m not alone. My experiences have inspired me to build a career in “arts entrepreneurship education” teaching college students how to work as artists (all disciplines) and with artists as entrepreneurs. I will say, that I’ve noticed a shift in the culture of rising high-school students. They aren’t nearly as quick to borrow for school or enter fields with murky career trajectories. While folks in higher-ed arts units may feel discouraged by the dip in enrollment, they shouldn’t be surprised. It’s so easy to get used to doing things the same way, and stay busy with what’s right in front of us, that we don’t see the bigger picture. We have been griping about the arts and rising tuition costs for decades, yet we are just now beginning to hold ourselves partially accountable for students’ real-world readiness. I also think it’s interesting that college students aren’t required to take a personal finance class as part of their general education requirements. :::sigh::: At least I see some improvement, albeit slow.


  11. Jillian Ashby · November 14, 2020

    I am so sorry that this happened to you. Past tense since I am literally writing 4.5 years after your wrote this. You brother is so inconsiderate. Having these words spoken to you when are about to go into your surgery. You are trying to better yourself by not leaning on anyone to help with the debt and now when you need family guidance after your surgery, this is how he helps??? I really hope that in 2020, he has realized where he was wrong.


    • Double Debt Single Woman · November 21, 2020

      Thank you for the kind words, Jillian.
      Unfortunately, my brother regrets nothing and would say it all again. That’s who he is. He can dish out criticism by the bucketload, but blows up if you throw the smallest bit back at him. We don’t talk much.


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