MY PERSONAL STORY
I have a great life. I had a long, lucrative career in healthcare as a Registered Nurse with a law degree. I worked in Administration for years, helping people deal with some of the most difficult and stressful times of their lives. I dealt with human suffering almost on a daily basis, and felt I was making a contribution to health care by providing compassion and wisdom to help people navigate through these traumatic times. It was a very rewarding career.
I met and married my soul mate, David, 16 years ago, and we worked very hard to build our future so we could be comfortable later in life. After a lifetime career in healthcare , I wanted to open a new chapter of my life, and go see the world. We had a Financial Advisor that was a trusted family friend, confidant, and deeply loved. He was our family advisor for 13 years. We trusted him to help us get there. He advised us we were financially sound, so in 2013 I quit my job and we started traveling all over the world. We had a blast! We were living out our retirement dreams.
After playing for a year or so, and watching every episode of Dr Phil and Judge Judy, I turned my attention to what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I knew I loved helping people, so coaching was a natural transition. I started a coaching business, helping women make good decisions. I had a coach who suggested I focus on helping women position their lives so they never had to worry about money again. Bingo! I can show them how I did it!
My Coaching business began to grow. I did the necessary work to earn my Certified Master Coaching credential so I could give the very best of what I had to offer. I then set out to fulfill my role as Life Coach by public speaking and obtaining clients. I coached women on making smart financial decisions. I wanted to show them how I managed to do this with my life regardless of the fact that I came from a very poor household growing up.
It is truly amazing that I went as far as I did in my life. I came from a very turbulent childhood, with both physical and emotional abuse. We were very very poor. My parents didn’t know any better, but it affected my self confidence. However, I knew at a young age I did not want to live in poverty.
I set out to better myself by obtaining three college degrees, but I made some bonehead decisions that were devastating when I was young. I was smart book wise, but foolish in life decisions, because I lacked the confidence to think I deserved better.
Eventually, I did get sick of the consequences of being so foolish, and I learned. I worked very hard to make all the right decisions so I could have a good life. And so I started doing “everything right”.
I met my husband late in life, and so we started right away saving and planning our future, building a strong foundation so we could be comfortable. We had money in the bank and a good outlook on life. We met with our Financial Advisor at least four times a year for 13 years. My whole family had their money with him. We absolutely loved him.
When my mother passed away, he was at her funeral. We were so grateful he was taking care of us and our inheritance. We felt secure knowing this man was going to be there for us.
I started receiving disturbing phone calls from regulatory agencies sometime after my mother’s death. There was some ongoing investigation into my Financial Advisors business practices. I grew uneasy, but he assured me this was just government overreach, and that our investments were safe.
A few months later, I received a phone call from the State Department of Business Oversight. They and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit against his firm, and froze all his assets. His business was shut down and his computers confiscated. We did not have access to our money.
At first I was in denial, figuring this would all be sorted out with time. I, as well as my family, had a lot of money with this Advisor, to the tune of 1.2 million dollars. My entire life savings and inheritance, as well as my sisters share of that inheritance.
The reality began to sink in as time went on that a huge part of my retirement and our family inheritance was GONE. The authorities sold what assets they could find, and I found out that there were 100 victims, and the amount this Advisor took from these victims was totaling 14 million dollars. Of that, they have only been able to find barely 2 million dollars. Do the math, there wasn’t much left.
The reality that we were going to run out of money in a couple of years, in our Golden Years, brought me to my knees.
I went through all the stages of grief, but settled in depression. I quit working on my coaching business, because how could I tell women how to position their lives and never worry about money again when all I did was worry about money?? How could I coach women about money when all I could do was cry and worry?
I realized my Coaching business was over. I did not feel authentic and true. What now???
I had to start living like I was back in college. I felt such resentment that this man put me in a position of not having any money to live the dream I planned for my entire working years.
I was completely BROKEN. It affected every area of my life. We had to cancel three wonderful trips we planned and suffered financial loss from the cancellations. We gave up all of the little life’s pleasures we used to enjoy.
I think the overriding emotion I was feeling at the time was a deep, sickening betrayal from this man. This man I trusted and loved like a family member. How could this man hug us at my mother’s funeral, act like everything was perfect, and just 3 months later have his business shut down by the Securities Exchange Commission??
The loss was pervasive. My mother’s estate was now a mess, because ALL her money was in this one investment, and the IRS was sending notices to her estate regarding errors on her tax statements. Our advisor had overseen the returns that were completed by his staff, but his staff was not competent to do them. In addition, she paid taxes on money that didn’t exist.
I was so embarrassed and ashamed. After all, I was the one in the family with the law degree, I should have looked into this investment further. I was embarrassed to tell my friends we were broke. I felt a deep burden, a guilt, for not pulling the money out the year before when I first started receiving notices of a possible action against this man.
As I read the court documents, my depression grew stronger and stronger, I felt a sadness and hopelessness I had never felt before. I was so frightened and scared, I couldn’t function. I was so fatigued I could barely move on some days. I found myself crying in the shower a lot.
I stopped going out, stopped doing the things I loved, because all I could do was cry. My financial future was murdered. I was terrified.
I knew this wasn’t healthy but it was like something had taken over my mind. I was grieving. Slowly, I began to realize we couldn’t live this way. I stayed in this state for 6 months. I was tired of these feelings. I decided to take my own advice and build my tribe. I found a Securities Fraud attorney, a good therapist, and other authorities I am not at liberty to discuss at this time, to help me gain control over my life.
I began to ask myself “How can I turn this horrible tragedy into something positive?”. I looked at my business again, but this time through the eyes of someone in pain, and realized I can still help people. I can use this story for a positive action.
I needed for the bleeding to stop. My world was upside down and I needed to get it back to its normal place.
A light bulb came on in my head. It was right in front of me, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I had the power all along!
I essentially “blew up” my old material, and started writing new material in regards to turning tragedy to triumph. This was the best healing I could possibly do for myself. I reached deep in my soul and searched for that “old Rose” who is resilient, and I found her. I pulled out that “old Rose” and made her work. I designed new programs and signature talks. I worked like a crazy woman, with renewed energy and life. This is what I was meant to do!!
I knew if I was going to get over this, I had to make this my life’s work. I was now on a mission for justice for the victims, and peace of mind for myself.
Today, I am feeling more energized than ever. I now have a purpose and a mission, but it took going through this horrible pain to get there. I have forgiven myself, and decided to put all my time and energy into helping others find their way when the “you know what” hits the fan!!
My sweet husband and I worked on this together. We became stronger in our marriage than ever. We formed a team and made a pact to get over this united in our joint purpose.
I kicked that broken “financial misadvisor” to the curb, refused to let him into my home and life (mentally) and not give him one more minute of my anguish! I kicked that problem out of our home, out of sleep, and out of our life.
I know now that you can’t rush through grief. We live in a microwave society, so you want everything now. You want these bad things to go away quickly. We feel very anxious and uncomfortable when bad things happen, and we want immediate relief. You want to ignore your gut feelings; you want to feel good all the time and think positively, be happy!
But life isn’t like that. It can be dirty, messy and very gritty. You think you are the only one suffering, or going through terrible times, because it seems that way. But you are not alone. You will get through it. The time will pass and you will come out stronger, if you use your experience to your advantage.
If you are suffering, and want to relieve your pain, start building your tribe. Don’t try to do this alone. There are people who can help you get through these times. Some are right here in front of you!
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