Ally Brown is a friend of our White Collar Support Group that meets on Zoom on Monday evenings. On March 6, 2023, we will hold our 350th meeting – 7 years of community! In honor of this milestone, we’ve asked our group members, guests and supporters to contribute written reflections for publication on our websites, emails, newsletters and social media. If you would like to submit your contribution, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
I have a first-hand perspective of what it is to be in the blast radius of white-collar crime and all the suffering and adversity one must endure while navigating the journey and beyond.
My (ex) husband was convicted on charges resulting from mortgage fraud. I, as well as many others were made part of the explosion. I would like to say that through no fault of my own, I had my life blown up and received these life altering scars, but sadly, that is not the case. I trusted those around me and did things without question. As such, I made the choice to accept a plea deal…and at that moment my life changed as I, who never even had so much as a parking ticket, became emblazoned with the Scarlet “F” of a felon.
This “fraud” was just one piece of a 20+ year puzzle that became evident once the man I trusted was not there to manipulate the pieces. What I thought was happening around me throughout the life we shared together was just a facade that he created to hide the shenanigans he had been pulling for so many years …including falsifying information on his college loans just a year into our relationship, and using monies left to our children by my late grandmother to pay for his high priced attorney.
I was not the wife who stood by her man, and although it was justified, it only added to the amount of failure that I felt as a wife, a daughter, a mother, and a friend. I considered myself a smart woman, yet I was easily a pawn in his deception.
In my path of healing, I needed to make amends. It was what the law required and what all the books say. To be successful, I first had to free myself from the control of others. I had to begin to forgive whether it was deserved or not. Not forget or excuse the harm that was done but forgive it. One day, I gave forgiveness to the one I thought I most needed to, my ex. I felt at that moment that the burden of the world was lifted from me, but the feeling did not last long. I was back to the anger, depression, sadness and a thousand other feelings that overtook my very existence. Over time, I gave forgiveness to the not so obvious people… those who, in retrospect, used my need for their help as a manipulative tool for their own benefit. Once again, I felt time constrained relief.
Day in and day out I battled to try to figure out how to escape the torture chamber I was living in.
Then life hit true rock bottom. You know that’s where you are when you are hit smack in the face with the realization that the action you just did resulted in “WTF?” and you find yourself screaming in your car or crying alone in a closet.
Strangely enough, that was probably one of the best moments of my life! You see, retail therapy came next. While wandering around a store, trying to hold my emotions together, trying to figure out how to just feel better – at least for a few minutes – I turned a corner and saw a simple framed print with words that would change my life yet again … Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
And so began a long scary emotional roller coaster of self-discovery. I dedicated my time to learn psychological principles and techniques to bridge the disconnection that I had between what I rationally knew and what I was feeling, between my thoughts and my actions. I learned that my own self-critical thinking was combining with societal conditioning to make me feel irrelevant, guilt ridden, stressed, anxious, insecure, frustrated, unworthy, uncertain, never seen, and never good enough. What I eventually learned was that the person I most needed to forgive so that I could move forward was staring back at me in the mirror.
I learned to accept what happened in my life and refused to let it define me.
I learned to understand that people may have a perception of me but that is not who I am.
I forgave myself for my mistakes and started to believe that I deserved a happy fulfilling life.
Being in the blast radius of a white-collar crime truly is a life sentence. One that can show its ugliness when you least expect it. However, it is a sentence that I am grateful for. As with each twist and turn I had to make a choice to let what was happening ruin me or to forge ahead. In doing such, I found a strength in me that I didn’t know I had and discovered who I truly am.
Now, many years later, with renewed faith in humanity, a hefty dose of trust in myself and a sprinkling of pixie dust just for good measure, I am living that happy and fulfilling life.
Today I transform lives. I walk beside those personally affected as they deal with the fallout of what is transpiring in their lives, and move forward from their trauma, problems and/or ramifications. I educate those in the field so that they understand that their clients are not numbers, and their actions can have unintended consequences. I choose to help my fellow casualties of white-collar crime get through this with less bumps, bruises and scars than I have. In doing so we will not only help each other, but we will create actionable use of our collective experiences and knowledge to work to change policy. Through support and education, we can have a better future.
I hope that we get to spend more time together in this journey. In the meantime…
Do more of what makes you happy!