Friday, December 17, 2004

Hard Times' Blessings

i just came in from the government's housing fund office today and managed to renegotiate the payment terms on 13 months' worth of arrears. i actually feel proud of my self now for having acquired the skills to get my self out of sticky situations, with my integrity still intact.

a year or two ago, this wouldn't even have occurred to me to be this cooly businesslike. i would have been panicked and tortured, desperate to borrow funds from anyone willing to help me out, just so i could pay whatever it is the ex owed to whomever, but using my name.

i was brought up to value my name above all. finding out after the sep that so many loans have been incurred in my name by the ex during the marriage and the loans now have become overdue and immediately demandable, pushed me in crisis after crisis during the past two years. i felt like being in a forest blaze, desperately trying to put out the fires around me with whatever water i could find using my little pail. some days, i felt like i was cresting a series of tsunamis, one after another, with only my wits and my charm to get me through.

but hard times have their precious blessings. i learned a few valuable things and skills, which will last me through many lifetimes now:

1. people will respond to honesty more than they will respond to sophistication -- i just lay down my cards, tell them what resources and options i have, they take their pick if they want to get paid.

2. lawyers' letters are just words on a piece of paper, no matter the tone. the legal process is slow. their clients need me to pay up more than they need to see me in jail (besides, in the Philippines, nobody who admits to owing somebody can be jailed for not being able to pay). play for time. especially if they start to threaten, they must be getting desperate. stay cool, be honest, tell my sad stories, affirm intent to pay, but just emphasize that the time period cannot be on their terms now but mine.

3. i do my own legal research now too. even my lawyer with the annulment was amazed that i found a spousal settlement agreement we could use to settle my material affairs with the ex, even while we waited for the annulment case to begin. as civil annulment is virtually a new phenomenon in our country, not many know what to do with it in terms of implementation, despite the existing laws. those Chinese sages were right: when there is chaos, if you know what you want, there is your opportunity to turn things around to your advantage.

4. i have formidable speaking and writing communication skills in addition to my research skills, that i've discovered for my self, after i learned to negotiate the spousal settlement agreement with my ex and his lawyer dad, who couldn't do anything more but change one sentence in the document i drafted and sign agreement soon after.

5. i am learning how to be a good diplomat and negotiator now. : ) i have learned to find the reasons behind a "No" and try to help solve those reasons so we can get to a "Yes". And most important of all, i am not afraid of "NOs" anymore. i tell my self-- they are just two letters in all 26 letters of the english alphabet! so what if somebody tells me "NO"? i will not die! but if i ask why they said NO, i will have learned something valuable, if not about the problem or situation at hand, then about human nature at the very least.

so the visit to the housing fund office today became just another business transaction, an opportunity for me to employ all the lessons and skills i've learned. that's why i am so proud of how far i've come, with God's grace.

so, today is just another day, now. : )

i can be bigger than life's challenges if and when i choose to, that much i've found.

thank God for hard times' blessings!