Okay, first of all, how in the hell is it the end of September already?
I know we can have a deeper conversation than one about time or the weather, but I just need to commiserate with you a bit on the fact that it’s fall, and I feel like I didn’t create many summer memories.
I’ll share with you some things I’m planning to create more fun in my life at the end of this newsletter if, like me, you need to create a few more pitstops of play in the coming months.
My 83-year-old mom got scammed out of thousands of dollars a couple of weeks ago.
After a popup message appeared on our computer, she had a confusing array of conversations with “Microsoft” and her “bank” and then the “FBI” that led her down a path of thinking she was doing the right thing, but it turned out to be very wrong.
She called me immediately after she recognized she’d been taken. She was in tears, devastated, and incredibly embarrassed by the whole situation.
Now, I’m not going to lie; when she told me the story, there were moments when I thought, “Mom, WTF??! How did you fall for this?!” But of course, that’s not what she needs to hear from me at the moment.
Instead, I was a safe space for her to share her story and not be ashamed because of it. My job was to see her fully, hear her fully, and validate that, yes, she is still a good person.
I also let her know that she was far from alone in being scammed. One thing that traps us in shame is when we believe we’re the only ones who have had the experience.
I encouraged her to tell her story to her bank, the police, and her close friends. She balked at first because of her embarrassment, but I think that’s one of the reasons why scams like this caused over 3 billion dollars of financial loss for elders last year.
People feel too embarrassed to share their story so we can’t learn from their experiences.
Together we talked about who she needed to inform and what she needed to do to protect herself.
She was feeling a bit better after the call but still feeling a ton of emotional pain.
I continued to check in with her over the week.
By Wednesday, she had informed her bank, her credit card company, and she had called the Social Security office. Each person she spoke to and shared her story with empathized and allowed the embarrassment to ease.
When I checked in on her on Saturday, just a week after finding out she had lost thousands of dollars. She said, “You know, Dee, I feel pretty good. I realized I was embarrassed, and I didn’t want anyone to know what I had done.
And then I talked to my neighbor across the street yesterday and told him about what happened, and he shared with me that the same things happened to him just a couple of weeks ago! I was shocked about that because he’s only 42, and he’s a smart fella.”
When we share our shame stories with someone who can receive them without judgment, we own those stories. Those stories can provide deep connections to other people, especially if we allow them to share their stories in response.
My mom went from emotional devastation to relative well-being in just under a week by sharing her story and using her favorite mantra…”this too shall pass.”
I am so proud of her willingness to own her story.
Do you have a story that you’ve never shared with anyone? What might happen for you if you had someone you could share your story with, experience no judgment, and perhaps even learn a way to rewrite your story and own your truth and power?
I’m always just a phone call away. Hit reply, and let’s have a chat.