On June 27, 2011, I filed for bankruptcy with the help of an attorney. On August 4, I went to bankruptcy court in Seattle and was released of close to $60,000 worth of debt.

This drastic measure was strategic. Filing for bankruptcy was the only way I could ensure that I could keep my car, my condo (and ultimately my dogs) after losing my job of 20 years at Intiman Theater with little warning. (I was in denial that it would really happen).

I had to borrow $2000 from a friend to pay for the attorney.

I don’t like secrets.  So now I have said it. It’s out there.

I have kept this to myself all summer. The guilt I carry for my financial disaster has ate away at me as much as the secrets I disclosed in Shorn: Toys to Men. Writing that book set me free.

Writing seems better than blaming.

The debt I abolished was a mix of old debt, spun into new debt, mixed with medical bills that I could never pay despite having insurance. It was a mix of frivolous and necessary. Symbolic of my past. The debt was also not just monetary. There were a lot of rollover emotions with each dollar from the grim and secretive years I survived during the 1990’s.

The court granted my bankruptcy. A clean slate. My condo and car are still mine, but precarious as I piece together jobs to stay afloat, even after being granted a new start. I still struggle. I am hustling every day. Despite bankruptcy, I still have debts to pay. The court erased some of my bills. I can’t seem to erase my conscience.

The career choices I made 25 years ago are drying up. I am bitter. The country is changing and I must embrace change, too. I am 46 years old and trying to reinvent myself while keeping my pride intact. I recently had to let go of the people and places in my past that would not respect and support me while I rebuild my livelihood. Loyalty is important to me more than ever as I try to figure out the last act of my life.

My voice is strong. I am humble. I have learned a few lessons and own my mistakes.

I can say, “I am sorry.”

I can say, “I was wrong.”

I want to be a better person and give more than $60,000 worth of good back to the world. I can do that now by releasing my past. I have a much better grip on what is important in life. My mission now is using my voice. I am still an artist, yet in transition. I want to support others who don’t have a voice. I want to say the things others can’t say. I can be an advocate for change.

I don’t want anyone to go through the bad things I have gone through. I can strive to set a better example.

My lessons can be your lessons.

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