It all started on New Years Eve, 2009....
After an exceptionally demanding year at work, I was suffering burnout in all its facets. But knowing the disastrous consequences of staring at the ceiling and contemplating one’s circumstances, I forced myself to my computer with the intention of finding a website which could enable me to wish my relatives and friends a happy New Year via bulk short messages. At that stage I was still a novice on the Internet.
I ended up on a site that allows people to post their creative writings. (It had been six years since I had last written something creative!) Knowing that a new challenge would speed up my recovery, I wrote an essay, and for the first time in my second language, English: “Alone On A New Year’s Eve”. (My children were away on holiday and not feeling well, I had refused all invitations to traditional gatherings. So, I was alone, but not lonesome.)
The next morning....
“Lady, you are never alone! God is always with you!”
Now what more could I have wished to hear in my condition?
The giver of the comment happened to be a popular online gospel preacher. His writings was quite impressive, and his avatar – a man dressed in a suit - reminded me of my father. So I thought maybe the time had come for me to become more ‘godly’.
To make a long story short -
I even sponsored this punk’s flight ticket, assured by him that I would get every cent back as soon as he received one or the other expected remuneration in his capacity as an American veteran.
The moment I saw him at the airport, I thought he looked like a glorified tramp. (Of course, he had sent me only his best pictures, and video calls were against his Christian principles.)
Within three days I realized he was addicted to tranquillizers and alcohol. His behaviour, under the influence, was such a shocking eye-opener I had to hide him from my relatives and friends by telling them he was sick. He actually assured me that he was indeed seriously ill and need to recover before we could start working on his mission.
A week later I realized he had a mental disorder, and I dug out all my guides to psychology. And there he was, a sociopath, clearly diagnosable and boots and all in my personal zone.
If you want to know more about this kind of character disorder, click on the link (or on the picture on the right) and read my article -
At last rid of him....
Recovering from an experience like this was not easy. I not only lost an enormous amount of money, but also trust in myself and my ability to distinguish between truth and lies. My biggest loss was my best friend, who had warned me from the start against this man. Regaining confidence in myself and in others took me more than a year, and I believe it would have taken me even longer if I had not met a friend who literally proved to me that all men were not con artists.
Nevertheless, now, four years later, I am still extremely suspicious and not willing to allow any stranger without clear credentials in my personal life. I will, for sure, never be conned again.
A few lasting memories -
While socializing his entire face kept on changing, as if he were hosting seven different people taking turns in showing their faces.
He could swing my moods in a second from hysterical laughter to intense sadness, extreme anger, or the deepest empathy. To my surprise he made me feel emotional extremes I had never experienced before.
As a typical sociopath trying to get as much support as possible, he tried convincing my daughter and sister via emails that I was not the person they thought I was, but a devil in disguise. Fortunately they believed in me, and together we worked to get the true devil out of my life .
I also learned a particularly valuable life lesson -
Right in the beginning of our interactions online, the so-called preacher demonstrated responses typical of a sociopathic personality disorder. In a state of confusion I actually told him that he reminded me of a ‘mental case’. Of course, he was like a chameleon, changing his colours according to my expectations. But this, my mere suspicion that he could be a mental case, was the red flag that I deliberately ignored.
Today I accept and respect my gut feeling more than ever before. I realize that my analytical and skeptical mind with all its knowledge and experience, and my heart with all its dreams and desires, both have the potential to lead me into trouble.
So what would I say today to myself and others?
Only the following: We are all born with a gut feeling, a sixth sense, an instinctive ability to sense danger – call it whatever you want. Respecting and appreciating this sense just as much as all our other senses, is vital in keeping free from the claws of deceitful people and their cons.
A final note to myself and others: Obey your gut feeling!