Oh, it feels like the worst of the worst when it happens. Because you weren’t expecting it to go down like that. Because you trusted this person. Because you clearly missed some major flags that said, “Hey, this could likely go south. Take off the rose colored glasses, girl.” Or maybe you did see the flags, and you chose to spray-paint them hot pink instead.
I try and live with those rosy shades AND listen intently to my gut. But you can’t catch everything. Nor can you predict it. And often people will surprise you in ways you wish they had not. Getting screwed over won’t be your fault. You’ll be door bell ditched with it, and somewhere in the flaming sack of shit will be a golden nugget of wisdom.
My most recent screw over involved a chunk of change, a lot of close connections in our world, and some necessary re-strategizing of my business. I remember when it was happening, I did that whole, oh surely this isn’t happening. Maybe they just need more time. Maybe there’s something going on that I haven’t understood in full. Perhaps I’m being irrational.
But when weeks turned into months and the emails were sparse, the phone calls were unreturned and the texts were ignored and that bank account was still unchanged I came to terms with what was happening. And I needed to not only rectify it, but to also make the hard cut lines of separation and rectification ASAP. Because my heart wanted to be understanding, but my gut said this is more of the same.
Screwed. Over. Whether it eventually gets handled or never does, it’s always a surprise. It’s part of the definition. Because if you could have seen it coming, you wouldn’t have let it happen, ya know? What you can expect is that you won’t expect it.
But when and if it does happen. Whether it’s the friend you had some weird feelings about. The business partner who had all the access to do it. The coworker who threw you under the bus. The landlord who went ham… You’ll recover. You will.
Swift and decisive. Making excuses for them will just get you further into the shit. First communicate in person, and then in writing. As Maya Angelou famously said, when someone shows you who they are, believe them.
Face it. Calling out being screwed over is important. For you. To know you spoke your truth and used your voice and expressed your feelings. Even if you never hear a peep back from the cowards who did it, or even if you get a weird delusional response back, you’ll know your truth was there.
Be kind to yourself. Maybe there were flags. Maybe there were some gut feelings. Maybe there were signs you missed. The deal is most of the big lessons we learn are the hard way. This is one of them. Make notes, and then highlight those notes to not miss it again.
Identify the lawyers in your network. Real tactical, but sometimes real crucial. If it gets to that. They’ll tell you what to put in writing, help you write that legally-warning email. Most times you won’t need them, but they can help you set yourself up well in case you do. Call ’em.
It’s not fun. It never will be. Screwed over is real screwy. But you’ll recover. And months or years later you’ll have a very important story to share with others that are heading toward stepping into your shoes.