Swindled, Betrayed, Conned

Something recently happened to warp my view of the world, and ridicule my trusting nature. I have been swindled. I opened the contents of my soul, and showed it to an individual I believed would take impeccable care of it. A body of work borne out of pain and tragedy, survival and hope has been stolen from me.

I received an impersonal email stating that the company who had my autobiography was in liquidation. I read and re-read the email, unwilling to accept its contents. Since then, I have uncovered scores of people left bereft and broke, after having received no royalties. These people, whom we believed to be genuine – and some of us considered friends – were con-artists.

There are several stages that one goes through when one finds out one has been conned.

  • Disbelief. This can’t be happening! How could it have all been a lie?
  • Pain. A knife deep in your gut. A severe headache, lack of appetite, no sleep and agitation. This is shortly followed by depression, which makes it hard to think straight.
  • Anger. Unadulterated rage. The more victims you find, and the more stories you hear, the more the anger grows. How on earth did they get away with it? You want justice!
  • Shame. They seemed so genuine, and the paperwork was water-tight. You ultimately had no control over whether they intended to fulfill contractual obligations. You feel as though you have let the people relying on you down.
  • Powerlessness. It is in the hands of the receivers, whose main concern is paying themselves.
  • Dread. The thought of starting over fills you with exhaustion. Where to begin? How can you ever trust a company again?

I have to be honest, I didn’t know if I could overcome this recent betrayal. I believed I had let down the person most precious to me in the world. I had a financial plan, which would have worked, if I had been dealing with people of integrity. A friend helped me to understand that financial security is only a part of the requirement. Emotional security and a memory bank filled with adventure and time spent with each other is more essential. I can provide that whatever stage I am in.

courtroom

People lie and they cheat and they swindle. It is a sad fact, and one I wish I didn’t have to explain to my daughter. Through this, I have seen good people come together to support each other, caring for a group of devastated people. I have received hugs and messages of support. It is enough to keep me going. Whatever has been taken from you shall be restored. I have seen it occur throughout my life. I need to keep believing it.

Below is my advice for the many who have been cheated in one way or another.

  1. Let the shock settle. You will not be able to do anything of use while your body is pumping with adrenaline. You will feel like rubbish, and your body will respond. It is a natural reaction to something unexpected. Deep breaths.
  2. Don’t over-caffeinate nor drown out the betrayal with alcohol. It will only make you feel worse! Disconnect from the world for a bit, and run a bath.
  3. Once the initial shock has worn off, make a bullet list of things to do and people to contact. It may mean removing branding or connection to the offenders from your social media.
  4. Find others who have been through the same. Having people in a similar situation to vent to and bounce ideas off is a life-saver.

Nobody deserves to be lied to and cheated. Don’t blame yourself! These people are skillful at their art, and have been making up crap since time immemorial. They know their audience and target you well. If only they used their cunning for good instead of evil! Given time, you will recover. You will be smarter and more resourceful than before. Please, don’t seal off that lovely nature that believed in the good in this world. It is still out there, waiting for you.

For now I am taking a break from the usual routine, enjoying a traipse around the countryside making daisy-chains and talking to strangers. Despite all that has happened in my past, I still have an open heart. I am extremely grateful for that. I believe that there are more good people in this world than bad. I don’t want to be bitter and closed.

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Image credit: “Blood Rose” by Nicolas Raymond