Hey everyone, we have an amazing new dear debt letter from Ellie. Ellie is a grants analyst and technology consultant in Nashville, Tennessee, and is on a 4 year plan to pay off $58,000. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration and is a minimalist, living in furnished apartments, airbnbs, and subleases while she figures out where her life is headed. Everything she owns fits in her car. She enjoys reading, going to the gym, and cooking with her boyfriend.
Debt and I decided to sit down for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Here is my monologue to her.
Thank you for agreeing to meet me here. I don’t appreciate that you didn’t bring your wallet and made me pay, again. Rude much? Anyway. I asked you to come because… we need to talk.
I know about you and my parents.
I knew all along. I heard about the way you taunted them, how you wove your threads into the fabric of their lives until the entire garment belonged to you. Looked like you. Was nothing but you. I watched my father go homeless because of you, his marriage crumble because of you. I heard endless, frightful tales of your spite when he filed bankruptcy.
I witnessed the way you mangled his relationship with his parents. I watched as you took my mother’s hand and sold her a life that didn’t, and never would, never could, belong to her. I saw her driving that shiny car of yours and living under the roof that you pretended she deserved. And I could not look away as you took. it. all. back. Foreclosure is your ugly sidekick.
So I swore I would never speak to you for the rest of my life. I had every reason, every single good intention not to give you the time of day.
I proudly marched through Freshman year of college without a single cent of my life given to you and your selfish, cunning ways. Everybody told me you were such a nice girl. My peers warned me I was missing out on all the fun because I was hanging out with all my jobs instead of just letting you into my life, just a little. I was mocked, I was left out, I was looked at like a crazy person because graduating debt-free just wasn’t a thing.
Then I met a man.
I fell in love with him, this man much, much too old for me. And… flinched when a few weeks into this budding, green relationship he told me he knew you. When I found out the history the two of you shared I was sick. I looked at this guy and I thought, “A life with him is a life with debt.” Two hundred thousand dollars. That was what stood between me and him. You.
I told myself I would never marry into debt. But somehow, that man convinced me to take on my first student loan. You were in his head. He couldn’t see the light of day anymore from your blinding, dark cloak over his eyes. He didn’t know what it was like never to owe anybody anything because he’d been there for decades. Still, I was in love and young and foolish.
Before I knew it, I was taking you on joyrides through drive-thrus, hating myself for every secret large fry you watched me eat. Our life together was one step forward and nine steps back.
When the doctor told me I had a lump, months later I stared at the stack of tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills I would never pay and I just gave up.
You were such a monster then. You slipped your hand around my throat and caressed my skin, making me feel something when all I wanted was to surrender and say, no, no, no.
Tires. Dress slacks. Gasoline. Ice cream. School fees.
After my marriage fell apart, three years after you first slipped your unwelcome presence into my life, we had our last hurrah.
Like a bad lover, I embraced you with one final, terrifying dance. In a blaze of maxing out every card application that was not denied, we got massages together, drove across city lines at midnight together, slept on stranger’s couches together. Just to get by. Just to be alive a little while longer while I built my life again.
By the end of it, your name was fifty-eight. Thousand.
The shame was a spiraling, oozing combination of credit cards, my silvery used car, and a pile of loans.
So my dad called.
And he’d heard we’d been fooling around.
Dad wasn’t happy.
After a long talk, he pulled out his debit card and we made some changes.
And the way that you do, you kept your sliming, disgusting fingers around my neck as you transferred the stress of revolving interest to the depression of cyclical familial wounds. My father loaned me money for the first time in my life, and he swore he never would.
And what did you do?
You convinced me to buy a goddamn plane ticket. And another that I didn’t even end up using. We spun around once more, you and I, and we had our fun. And then, I wept when I revealed to my father that I stupid stupid stupidly maxed out one of the cards he’d just. paid. off.
He was so bitter.
He was so disappointed.
I was so ashamed.
So. Debt. Well, first of all, screw you. You’re a sick, conniving monster and I utterly hate you. So, there’s that.
But we’re not going to get anywhere with that kind of negative thinking so here’s what’s going to happen.
I’m going to cut you off. Every credit card is closed and is never getting reopened. Next month? I’m getting my tax return and that last credit card is going to be paid off forever. I’m going to pay back my boyfriend so you can stop influencing anything about our love.
I’m spending my time now with YNAB. Heard of him? Yeah, he HATES you. And Consulting? She said she has some ideas that will get me far, far away from you.
I have to live with your lurid presence a little while longer. But I hope you feel terribly uncomfortable around me. I hope you feel a horrible anxiety every time you hear my key turning in the lock. I hope you start to pack your bags. I hope you know you’re on a very short leash and that your time is running out.
You are not welcome in my life.
You are not welcome in my heart.
And I will do everything in my power to ensure that your influence on my family lineage stops here.
Thank you for teaching me where I was weak. Because now I know how strong I can be.