Well, today is my birthday. Today is the day that I turn 46. Today will also mark the beginning of my blogging about my own process.

For anyone following this blog regularly, you will know that I too was taken in (“scammed” is another great word for it) by the Law of Attraction. My husband and I were “students” of what I now call quasi-gurus (those who had learned from the gurus and decided to make their own little fist-full of money teaching their watered down version of it … subconsciously perhaps having come to the realization that what made these gurus wealthy in the first place was not their own entrepreneurial ventures but their teachings).

The thing is, the whole reason why I fell for these quasi-gurus was anchored in the fact that I had known the husband of the woman teacher for about ten years. I trusted him implicitly — indeed I looked up to him — and through him I trusted his wife. The wife who I’ll refer to as Missus, had taken seminars from Robert Allen (Real Estate guru). She teamed up with another gleaming-toothed salesman (who I’ll call Snake) who had taken a number of T. Harv Eker courses (I’m assuming the one on teaching seminars as well). The two, I now know, were armed with their little success, which they puffily expanded in their free introductory course.

Selling us on a myriad of products, ranging from tax strategies to paper investments, the pressure was on to “start now,” as nothing was worse than financial gains delayed — nay lost — due to failure to act NOW, in the moment when an opportunity presented itself.

Before this, I had a pretty good financial situation in life. I had a credit rating of 825, which is in the top 15 percentile. Me and my husband had bought a condominium (mostly using my funds that I have saved for the down payment) that had doubled in value over three years. And thanks to a private contribution from my father given in perpetuity against my inheritance, our mortgage was pretty much paid off.

So I really thought I had a good foundational understanding of how money worked. And what the quasi gurus taught us made sense. And I’m one to shoot from the hip if it feels right. And their information felt right. They were very convincing. And even though I had little voices sounding off in the back of my head, we wanted the future they promised us. For us, but also for our newborn daughter. We wanted to secure a future for her. So on the “good” counsel from Missus and Snake, me and my husband tapped out our credit (their mantra is getting rich on OPM — Other People’s Money — which in this case meant the bank’s). We tapped into the “cheap money” available in our home (took out a second mortgage). And we purchased a range of “products” from their snake-oil business (which btw promised intentional wealth).

For about a year, we were held in the high esteem of these quasi-gurus, featured as star students for the other classes that came behind us (my husband was in their first seminar group, and I was in their second). They even went so far as to have me as a guest speaker on one of their many free seminars they held for bootcamp grads.

Fast forward a few years. One by one, slowly and painfully, each and every “product” or investment purchased from this “wealthy by intention” group flailed, then failed. They stopped touting our success as it was essentially a recognition of their profound failure. At first, Missus told me to stay the course. I just needed to stay strong, keep my mind on course. I could let a few failures make me stop investing (and of course the ultimate sales pitch is the frenzied cry, “If you stop, you’ll never get rich”), or I could stay the course. Believe it, and I will conceive it.

I got poorer and increasingly bitter. The relationship between me and my husband became strained. The quasi-gurus changed their tactics and started moving away from third party products and towards real-estate. And they definitely stopped looking in our general direction. We went from being their star students to being dust bunnies, frantically covered over least anyone should see us.

In our final consultation with these quasi-gurus, I distinctly recall Missus not-so-gently reminding me and my husband that no one forced us to make our decisions, that it was us, not them, who signed on the dotted line. And note that the Law of Attraction gurus are all notoriously good at this one: Failure can never be attributed to the teacher but rests solely on the shoulders of the student. (I am keenly following the James Arthur Ray trial to see which way this goes.)

I’ve given this a lot of consideration over the years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the teacher also holds a portion of responsibility. By virtue of being a teacher, you step into a trusted position of authority. If a teacher abuses her or his trust (say by teaching unethical concepts or practices), that teacher is also responsible for the outcome. If I as a teacher teach my students to hate a certain category of humans, and then one of my students goes out and kills someone, I might not have pulled the trigger but I am guilty of directly contributing to the death of another person.

Likewise, this particular agency presented their success under false premises. Missus and Snake each proclaimed they were financially free and were teaching this course from the goodness of their hearts. We later find out that that proclamation might have been true for a month or two, but not as a perpetual state of living. They also taught us the “five pillars” upon which all successful investments were based, and then showed us how each of their products lived up to at least four of the five (and they always had a great way of spinning the fifth). And then they’d backed it with the claim that their financial successes were all based on previous versions of these products. (In some cases, the revisioned versions were to salvage the first iteration. So essentially they were selling products in the hopes of salvaging their own original investments. Aka a ponzi scheme. Again, something we found out at a later date, when it was much to late for us.)

So, yes, we did sign on the dotted line. Not that accountability is an issue, as every single day I am confronted with the results of my signing on the dotted line. I have to live with my decisions, and I have to try to move forward each and every day. But without their “goodly” (snake-oil) guidance, we never would have made the decisions we did.

Fast forward to today. I’m working with a bankruptcy consultant. Our monthly cost of living is upward to $13,000 a month. It is unsustainable.

In an attempt to protect the money my father contributed toward my mortgage, I explored putting up their loan as a lien against our house. I consulted a lawyer. (Two emails cost me $180!!) In wanting to at least protect his investment, I  finally had to tell them, him and his wife, about my financial outlook. Not the details, because I’m still incredibly embarrassed and ashamed about having gone from almost mortgage-free with a credit rating of 825 at age 41 to bankrupt at age 46. But I did state that I wanted them to register a lien against our house so that they would be paid back should we have to go that route.

Turns out, the money came from his wife, so my dad turned it over to her. And she laid into me today, telling me how disappointed and troubled she is, that I’m trying to get them to register a lien on an already fully mortgaged house. She seems to have spun this around into me further taking advantage of them. And she’s laying it on thick and heavy.

Sadly, there’s nothing she can say or do to make feel worse than I’m already feeling. She cannot rake me over the coals anymore than I’ve already raked myself. I’ve lived in the depths of utter despair. Suicide had been a serious contemplation for months.

The money was given by them against my future inheritance, and it was given without a repayment plan. As the house increased in value, so to did their share. And whatever the value of the house was at the time of their demise, that was to be taken from my inheritance. We all signed papers to that effect, without lawyers.

And now my step-mother feels cheated, hurt and angry, and deserving an explanation. And I stand here in my midlife knowing that I’ve screwed up beyond repair. I’ve squandered my future, and I’ve also damaged my daughter’s financial future. My relationship with my husband is strained. And while the money was given with an initial intention of being permanent and without payment, it turns out there are tremendously thick strings attached. So when all this is said and done and put squarely behind me, when I can finally laugh about, “Oh, and remember the time where I got screwed over by … hahaha oh wasn’t that something,” I am determined to get this last financial monkey of my back. No idea how I’m going to do it yet, but I am going to pay that woman back and free myself from the burden of her disappointment. And firmly close that door behind me.

So the disintegration of family begins. Bankruptcy is truly just the beginning. And as far as the first day of my 47th year in life goes, it truly sucks.

I’ll keep you posted, because the only thing I have left is my story. And maybe it can help someone else travelling this same path beside me. Or prevent someone from going down that path in the first place.

Tags: , , , ,

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 at 11:03 pm and is filed under Bankruptcy, My Story, On the Law of Attraction. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a reply

Name
Mail (will not be published)
URI
Comment