Today, while going through papers which I have been hoarding in the hope of reading at some point, I found the picture in this post and thought, HOW AWESOME AND EXCELLENT IS OUR GOD. I am one of his special creations and one hell of a strong African woman who must always give thanks and glory to God and above all always stand up for others who are not as privileged as me.
God blessed me with exceeding mental toughness together with outstanding physical and mental resilience that many people lack. I recognise this and always do my best to help others whenever I can just as a way of saying thank you Father. You must join me in thanking him.
A few years back my partnership business ran into serious difficulties due to fraud perpetrated by a business partner. Some parts of it even happened even before I became a partner of the Practice. I was lost because I did not see it coming at all. Day suddenly became night. I was faced with the option of a long expensive and quite perilous litigation or bankruptcy as an alternative. Before then, I had always believed that bankruptcy is for irresponsible business practices. As I did not and still do not consider myself to be one such engaged in irresponsible business practices, I thought “hell no”, litigation all the way. Bankruptcy is no option. In my job then one of the first and last things I did was to check people for bankruptcy. I was not prepared to let anyone check me for bankruptcy and make a positive finding. I was determined to fight and began to fight without looking back. However, one day, I dreamed that I had a baby and the baby died. I called a friend and told her how bad and frightened I felt. How could I have let a baby die? She paused and said, Jenny, I want you to listen to me. The dead baby is your business. You are fighting a lost battle. Shut it down and move on. Go for bankruptcy or worry yourself to death. It’s your best option. I was silent at the other end of the phone. After a long silence and her asking “are you still there” while tears ran like a river from my eyes and drenched my face, I tearfully answered and accepted her advice conceding defeat which is not my nature. The fury of this unavoidable defeat will live with me forever. I hate to lose but had to lose or die and I chose to live.
On putting the phone down, I cried and prayed in the silence of my four walls so that no one in my household knew what was going on. I hate to be seen as weak and I consider people who cry to be weak. This was a big turning point in my life but I had to carry on. I owned properties, choice car and just name it. I could not get my head round losing everything. From getting bored and going shopping for the sake of fun and stress therapy wasting thousands of pounds on bags, shoes, clothes, gifts for people who did not need them to suddenly not having money for bus pass? Impossible! That is not me. I might as well not be here at all. I was confused and not sure if I made a good decision.
One night as everyone slept and I could not manage a wink. I changed into my jeans, went for a good spin in my car which I knew would go with the bankruptcy. I parked in a very affluent and opulent part of London and began to walk into the night heading into red light area. It was full of many wealthy beautiful, ugly, good, bad and dangerous people. If you ask me why I ended up there, I do not know. What was most interesting was that among that lot were also homeless people. Many were sound asleep on the pavements oblivious of the type pf worry I had. Others were wondering around begging with their blankets in hand or simply sitting and gazing through the night. I watched dancers and as usual made friends with the sane and insane. The funniest bit was that despite my impending penury, I still handed out few nickels and notes here and there at the place to cheer up others. But who was cheering up Jenny? No one but God alone! It was now early hours when I traced my way back to the car still thinking. I jumped into the car and came home blaring Agatha Moses. Again do not ask me how I got home or why I chose that song because I do not know and can’t remember if I cared then. I slept without any more tears because I realised that my world was not after all the worst and I was tired from crying and thinking about the impending loss of everything that I had worked for.
Surprisingly I woke up the next morning and without any hesitation headed to the court where I applied for bankruptcy. At this stage summons were landing on my door like junk mails with some process servers being more clandestine and evil than the devil himself all for a few pounds in their hands. This was a humbling experience which taught me never to push beyond reasonable boundaries when pursuing claims against anyone. Everyone is fighting one battle or another and what you consider a regular push may push them over the edge and you will go down in history as someone who forced another to take their own life. I must have disappointed many of my business partner’s creditors who regardless of knowing that I did nothing to be so hounded by them selfishly pursued me under the Partnership Act. That was a big insight into the hearts of real business people and our money world. But as we popularly say, everything happens for a reason and our lives are purpose driven, Rick Warren.
Once the usher came out and confirmed that my application was successful, my head went into this tumultuous somersault and I felt giddy. I jumped from my seat like someone who had been suddenly woken from a deep sleep. I simultaneously became dizzy and had no choice than to gently ease myself back into the bench I was sitting on to avoid falling. Although there were many jubilant other applicants in the room who heaved sighs of relief, as far as I was concerned at that moment I was all alone and my world had collapsed. The Day suddenly turned into night and I could not understand what I had just done or where to go from there. I was totally ashamed and lost but that was it, I am a disdained bankrupt. No more excuses. Get on with your new status. Your worst fear; failure has materialised.
I made several attempts to get up but my knees had buckled. I sat and waited for a long time before I slightly recovered and left the court in tears and confusion not knowing what was coming next. A lovely lady who was happy to have been relieved from paying balance on her catalog account kept asking if I was OK. To reassure me that it was all OK to be bankrupt, she told me that it was her third time of being made bankrupt and she was afraid that the Judge would not approve her application. I thought if only she knew that I personally owed nobody and would never have bought anything off any catalogue because I hate to owe anyone, she would have known how mad I was at her.
The rest of the day, weeks and years became living hell. Frustrated creditors, trustees in bankruptcy, bankruptcy support services etc. were to become my friends who sadly as I found out much later did not believe any word I said until some of them saw the report of my professional body on my circumstances. I felt totally irresponsible and saw myself as a complete failure. My health began to fail due to depression and shame but I could not bring myself to discuss it with anyone. The doctor told me that I was clinically depressed with high blood pressure and radically worsened irritable bowel syndrome. The process of being bankrupt and being released from bankruptcy was an experience which I plan to narrate and challenge in the book of my life if I ever get off my lazy back and do it. It was horrendous and I will not wish it on my worst enemy.
Going through this shocking but priceless Metro report, I now realised that I am a strong African woman, a special handmaid of the almighty and that I am here for a purpose part of which may be to touch lives and help people who may be facing various life challenges. Otherwise, I would have made that final journey like the gentle man in the report and would never have met all off you.
The report also reminded me of another professional friend who faced similar problems and could not cope. As a result she committed suicide despite pleadings from many friends. Thinking back to the day I met up with her to offer support and the state she was in, I can only but imagine that God has been tremendously kind to me and my family and I need to show him love by being the best I can be for myself and others.
So whatever you are going through, be strong and hopeful. There is light at the end of the tunnel. If I survived, you will do better.