Thursday, March 6, 2014

Why Do I Feel Separated From the World?

by Soraya

The aftermath of a scam can leave the victim feeling separated from the world. This may be one of the eeriest, most uncomfortable sensations you will ever experience, but there are ways to work through it and feel connected to others again.

Reason # 1: You snapped at a friend or several friends, fought with them over whether or not the situation was a scam, or picked a fight due to the stress the scammer's stories were putting you under.

This is one of those situations where you are going to have to face being wrong about something and make amends. The way to do this will depend entirely upon the details of your specific situation. Some people take an "apology" better if it is left unsaid. They appreciate it when you simply start talking to them in a friendly and calm manner again, and things work themselves out best if you make sure to avoid bringing up the topic you fought about again, at least for a while. Other people feel better when you apologize to them directly. In these situations, a simple and direct "I shouldn't have spoken to you like that and I am sorry" often works wonders. You may want to tell them a bit about the scam, but who you tell and how much is always for you to decide on a case by case basis. Someone who has been your best friend for years may be able to handle hearing the entire story in detail, while that person you always see around your hangout but don't know as well might only need to be told "I am sorry I snapped at you/brought up such a touchy subject/got upset over nothing. I was going through some things and I took it out on you. I apologize." Once you have made amends, make yourself a mental note to step back and think about the impact of your words on the other person before you say them from now on. Nobody is perfect at this. We all blurt, lose our tempers, or get snippy when we're stressed, but sometimes pausing for a few seconds can save a few months or years of hurt.

Reason #2: The scammer kept you glued to the computer and involved in their projects for so long, you feel like the world went on without you for the weeks, months, or years you spent talking to them.

The sensation of the world moving past you can be disorienting. The diner where you used to get your coffee every morning before work got new booths. Your friend you used to always see when you stopped to get gas or buy your bus pass works across town now. The summer festival that used to always be your favorite local event has come and gone for this year, and you barely took note of it. Nobody can get time back, but there are ways to catch up and reconnect with the world around you. Sometimes people will be happy to literally meet up and catch up with you. Friends and old colleagues may have been wondering where you've been, and might welcome the chance to have coffee or lunch or go for a walk and tell you what you've missed. If you are no longer that close to anyone, then take advantage of those times when you run in to people and ask them how they and any mutual friends you may have are doing. As you slowly begin reconnecting with people, you will find your overall sense of belonging in your community will strengthen as well. One scam victim found that pushing herself just a tiny bit helped tremendously. She was never much of a "community spirit" or "hometown pride" type, but after the scam she nudged herself to go out and attend a single community fair. On the surface it didn't look like much, but it represented the first time the victim allowed herself to focus on something that was not a part of the false world created by the scammer.

Reason # 3: Being scammed embarrasses you. It feels like everyone would laugh at you or blame you for the situation if they found out you have been scammed.

We can't promise that everyone you know will be understanding and supportive, but you don't have to tell everyone you know. Deciding who to confide in is always a delicate decision to make. The Scams of the Heart chat room is available for anyone who feels they don't have anyone to confide in about the scam, or for those who are contemplating telling someone in their life, and are not sure if or how to go through with it. No matter what you decide, remember that the scam was not your fault and is nothing to feel ashamed about, regardless of what anybody who hears about it might think. Another thing to keep in mind is that everyone has been in a situation they find embarrassing or uncomfortable to talk about. You are not alone in that, nor are you alone in having been scammed.

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