Day ten after the scam began (and day four after I ended it), something totally unexpected happened. I felt guilty!
Why would I feel guilty about ending a scam?
I had to process this. I wasn't in the wrong. The scammer was. Guilt was not a reasonable thing for me to feel. I would hope a scammer would feel it one day, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
The reasons for continuing with the scam, as long as I did, were clear; and I felt that any human would feel the same - flattered at the attention, anticipating the texts, feeling for both the man and his child in their separation and bereavement.
Now, though, was different. I had escaped without revealing anything that's not already publicly available. No financial losses were incurred. I was home-free!
But how true was that?
In the days after I ended it, I received some unsolicited texts. One was an old fashioned text with a link (and you never click those), the other was a WhatsApp text from someone whose photo showed a man in US fatigues. I became a little vigilant!
Then, after a couple of days of non-response from me, it stopped. Ahhhh. I could breathe easy!
Yet, I found myself still checking my phone. It didn't take long for that habit to form!
Worse, this little feeling like I'd done something wrong started creeping into my consciousness. Wha???
So this is what I think happened. The scammer elicited certain responses from me. Those were the feelings associated with likeability, empathy, and nurturing. These are all the reasons why we bond with others. These are the reasons we develop a sense of loyalty toward someone. D'oh. He made me feel loyal to him, and now I was betraying that loyalty!
So, this stupid feeling like I'd betrayed someone was a byproduct of the whole experience. And I bet, I wasn't the only one!
A few more days went by, and that sense of security evaporated. The unsolicited texts reappeared. At one point, my spam number list was up to seven numbers. I would report and delete, but it just wouldn't stop the texts.
Eventually, that feeling that I'd been disloyal also evaporated. Now, I just had to deal with the constant expectation of unsolicited texts from strangers wanting me to click on something, or respond in some other way.
This is how paranoia starts!!!
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