And eleven years ago, we were released from that kind of condemnation, but boy, the clean slate was slippy.
For a few years we were ultra cautious around finances, partly because we had not a lot of choice, and partly fuelled by pure fear.
Our income, however, was absolutely miniscule. We recently worked out that when I was homeschooling two children, our rent was equivalent to more than half our income. We lived close to the wire, but as the years went by, we got less and less careful and the debt slowly began to build up again.
Once bitten, twice ... um ... bitten.
Thankfully this time we were a little bit more aware, and over the course of the last two years, we've both set about earning more money. We didn't get in this mess overnight, and we won't get out overnight either, but we are trying.
Elephant #1 : Until recently, our rent and our debt repayment together accounted for around about 60% of our income.
Part of the problem - actually rather a huge part of the problem - we have with any situation is my inability to focus and stay on plan for any amount of time at all. I don't know if there is a name for my condition, I guess it has elements of OCD about it, or even ADHD.
It started to become a problem maybe 15 years ago, when I would be wholly committed to one plan, one future, one job, one business, one idea about how my/our life would look, for up to six months. Then suddenly I would change it all completely. I would shed a skin, and become someone new.
The investments of time and money I'd made into Plan A would all be written off. Plan B would launch and I would be sure this was it.
Another few months would pass, and Plan C would emerge.
Over the years, those months became weeks, days, and at the worst of it, hours. I couldn't sleep for it, nothing made me happy, because it was impossible to be progressing towards a goal, when the goal kept disappearing. I thought I would go insane. I think at times I did.
There are a hundred stories to tell, by a hundred personas, from those days, and I am still afflicted with this illness. Two of my closest friends share the very same problem, and that to me means : either somehow we attract one another, or it is very widespread indeed.
It is an illness (I truly believe it is that) perhaps caused and definitely aggravated by the internet. I am so sure I want to be one thing*, until I see a really nice instagram picture of the other thing. I'm gone. The internet makes endless options seem real. In the end, it is a terrible plague of a condition, and without treatment, because it doesn't exist, all you can do is experiment with ways to make something, ANYTHING, stick, before they carry you out feet first.
Elephant #2: I have a mental health issue which effectively stops me pursuing any goal, with mindful intention, for more than a few months, sometimes hours.
I'm incredibly proud of us this year, for tackling both the elephants - of which more another day - but for today, the issues needed naming, and putting out there.
I have, as they used to say in the cringeworthy 80s, run it up the flagpole. Now let's see if anyone salutes it.
*Bear in mind I am closer to 60 than 50. Deciding what I want to be may well be a bit superfluous.