My receptionist Ericka was in tears. The caller had said some pretty mean things, and she’s sensitive to what people say to her. She thrust the phone towards me, and pleaded for me to deal with it, “She doesn’t understand we don’t have any appointments available and, anyway, we’ll be closed in 45 minutes.” Some lady’s dog hadn’t “eated” in 4 days, and so she thinks she’s really pretty sick, and what was I gonna do about it? On such a hectic afternoon, I was glad to take the load off the front desk, and proceeded with the best defense being a good offense. “So he hasn’t eaten in 4 days? Wow, you rushed right in! What makes you think it’s serious now” The colloquialism of her words and accents made it difficult to understand, even for a small town Missoura hick like myself, but I did make out something…
This picture of Richard Armitage as John Porter in Strike Back moved me to tears. I have yet to watch the full series so I had never seen this particular scene. When it appeared on my Facebook Newsfeed (posted by Richard Armitage France) I could not stop staring and I cried – tears-streaming-down-my-face-in-public – really cried.
Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share. (Filmed at TEDxHouston.)
If something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. Such was the case with Mr. Charming… As I allowed myself to step off the ledge and commit to being open, honest and well vulnerable…I had the common sense to enlist my sisters help in helping me uncover the truth about this seemingly wonderful man – even as feelings started to
For weeks we talked nearly every day about everything. Intellectual conversations suddenly turned romantic. We discovered we were both close in age, had similar interests, both single parents…. He was intelligent, charming, romantic and handsome! However, looking back, I can see that he was way too quick to lavish me with compliments. He would say things like, “You are so amazing,” and “When i first saw your profile here, i was struck! I kept thinking of you and wanted to tell you that words aren’t enough to tell you how wonderful you are in your few selected pictures that i could see. You made my heart melt!” and later “I certain I am going to fall in love with you.” That makes me cringe a million times now, but in the moment, it fueled my ego and made my heart soar. It’s not like I thought we were going to get married; I wasn’t even sure we should date. But I did believe that I was being my best self: clever, charming, funny and even sexy in those exchanges. I felt like it was about time some random good-looking dude on appreciated me for me…
Mr. Charming and I spoke on the phone for the first time on January 31st…. I expected us to have a short awkward conversation but I felt so familiar and comfortable… I started to miss him when we didn’t chat or text…. He kept me posted on his work, what he was doing, where he was going and I started doing the same…. On February 3rd I got a text from an unfamiliar local number telling me to log in to facebook….you can imagine how incredibly shocked ad excited when the reply was…”It’s me, Love, Mr. Charming!” My heart nearly burst out of my chest!!! He told me he was in town briefly and would be in touch as soon as his business was over so we could meet in person…. I was so wired I couldn’t fall asleep!!!
But all the anxiety was for naught. Two hours later (after just having landed in Houston) he sent me a Facebook PM saying that his business had unexpectedly sent him to San Diego but that he was certain we would meet at the end of the week. Not gonna lie…I was disappointed….he was practically in my neighborhood and just like that he was far once again….still I was excited at the prospect of meeting him soon…. That’s when I shared via a post just how alarmingly yet exceedingly happy I felt….
Unfortunately, in my excitement I stopped questioning some of the inconsistencies that had prompted me to enlist my sister’s help in finding more about this “wonderful guy”. Luckily for me she took the task seriously and through a “picture search” online she located the TRUE owner of the pictures on Mr. Charming’s Facebook profile. As it turns out the guy on the pictures, the guy I thought so incredibly handsome is actually a member of the Danish Parliament. Whomever I was chatting with online, stole this gentleman’s pictures and was using them as his own using a different name and citizenship.
That night, as I considered how to confront him, how to ask about my sister’s findings, I received a text from him… he immediately noticed that my responses where short and asked if everything was ok….I took the opportunity to bring up the subject by saying, “Just…. Thinking about some things my sister said that is all.” Then I pasted the links my sister sent me and and asked, “Is there a logical explanation for this?” All he could say was that he would be able to explain everything when we met. So I said, then, let’s Skype. All these weeks we’ve talked and shared so many things but I haven’t actually seen your face. Let’s Skype so you can tell me face-to-face why you are using another man’s pictures.”
Instead, he called me…the more he explained the wilder his story got. Suddenly he wasn’t French, he was actually that Danish politician, now on the lam due to some rigged election he was being framed for and well actually he was embarrassed to tell me but I actually need your help – WHAT?!?? Oh, and his pretty daughter is in danger…she’s being held for ransom by authorities in Malaysia and “please, darling, I need your help….” – WHAT?!?!?!?!? Of course, pull at my heart strings….there it is….tell me how you need me to send you money to save your daughter….AS IF?!?!?!?!?!
Still I gave him the benefit of the doubt and said, “ok, suppose all this is true. Perhaps there is a way to help you clear your name and save your daughter. Even if you I do not have the means to help you financially maybe I could find an agency that could help you do so. I only want to help so you shouldn’t fear meeting me face-to-face. He seemed to have a change of heart and suddenly said that I was a good woman and deserved better than him….then he said, “forgive me. do what you can for my daughter and tell her to forgive me.” And just like that he was gone…..while I was left with all kinds of emotions….I was furious, disheartened, devastated, sad and incredibly alone. I sobbed that night….the possibility of falling in love – lost….at least for the moment…..all these days had been so happy…I had felt such renewed hope….and suddenly yearned to love and be loved….but now – gone…..
My son noticed it the next day….he kept looking at me as I drove him to school while I pretended not to notice and act like everything was okay…. He stared at me as we drove back home after picking him from his friend’s house….Then he reached over and grabbed my hand and asked me why I didn’t seem to be glowing anymore…I briefly told him what had happened and warned him about the importance of being cautious when meeting new people especially online…. He held my hand and said, “That really sucks, Mom. I had never seen you happy like that before.” We drove back home in silence….
The man didn’t steal anything from me. He didn’t even have the nerve to ask me for a specific amount of money….but he set up the scam….lured me with his fake honesty and vulnerability and nearly obliterated my own capacity to be open, honest and vulnerable. Thankfully my intuition kept warning me about him which is why I enlisted my sister’s help in the first place but I do regret that I let myself get carried away so quickly…. Hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it? I reported the fake account to Facebook and also alerted the owner of the pictures about this person using stealing them from his flicker account.
The nature of truth seems to be so slippery, especially now that technology has given us so many tools for deception, and such a powerful megaphone, that we are constantly forced to defend against it. I mean what can we believe? Who can we trust? It’s like we’re all suffering a giant crisis of authenticity.