My life over the last 6 weeks has become a torturous nightmare that I can’t see any safe or realistic way out of. As far as I know, only three other people (who I don’t trust), know how desperate my situation is, and even though I’m going mad carrying this awful secret around with me, I can’t bear the thought of anyone else finding out about it. I’m praying to a God I don’t believe in to keep this nightmare from reaching my wife and kids, and that I still have a chance of smoothing it all over without people ever finding out about it, or at least without making it any worse.
I’ve been an unforgiveable fool. I ignored my brother in law’s advice and made some bad business decisions. As a result I have lost nearly all my family’s savings and put my business at risk of bankruptcy. If that wasn’t enough, I then panicked and decided to ask for help from an ex business partner who is involved in some criminal activity. I have been let in on a scheme he and a few others are planning and have been offered a cut in the profits. I have agreed to help them out in a desperate attempt to recuperate my losses before anyone else finds out about it. I feel now like I have no other alternative but to see it through and honour my word to my new associates. Abandoning them now would put my reputation and my family’s safety at risk.
I know what I’m doing is wrong, and the guilt of it is making me sick and scared at a time when I need to keep my wits about me and stay brave. Help me, please.
I strongly advise that you don’t attempt to get out of this one on your own, for several reasons.
Firstly, even if you were to succeed in recuperating your financial loss, would you ever repay the emotional debt to yourself caused by the loss of your integrity and honor. You strike me as the sort of man who values these qualities. What price do you put on these assets? Would you be prepared to sell them at all? Money is not who you are. Without money you are still a whole person. Without your core-values, you are a shell.
Secondly, seductive as it may appear to be in times of desperation, dishonesty is not a remedy for foolishness. Foolishness on its own can be forgiven, but dishonesty leaves scars and it eats away at the precious links of trust between you and your loved-ones. I cannot see a positive outcome as a result of foolishness + dishonesty. Can you? So why add the extra negative weight of deceit to this sum as well? These harmful behaviors will rob you of your serenity, insight and courage. You need more of these empowering tools now, and less of the debilitating/desperation responses, like deceit, dishonesty and flight-or-fight to get you through this challenge.
Thirdly, you want to protect your family? So look after yourself! Not just physically, but just as important, you need to care for your mental health. Don’t let such an innocent mistake drive you to insanity. Your wife and kids will cope with a financial loss and will still love you if you remain the same person. They don’t deserve to lose you as well.
And finally, don’t forget your responsibility to warn any other person who may be affected by this situation. Your wife, and any other family member or business partner who may also suffer some sort of loss has a right to know. The most honorable thing for you would be to tell them yourself, rather than have them find out some other way, which would almost inevitably happen.
Stay calm. There is no need for heroics or impulsive action. Tell your wife and brother-in-law. Let them help you through this, and trust that they love and care enough to forgive you your foolishness. I also recommend you consult with a third party who can offer you an objective perspective. You and your wife and relatives will be too affected with shock to see all the possible solutions. There may well be much more tactful alternatives available to you that you haven’t considered yet.
Your loss of pride is a small price to pay to maintain your honour, integrity and self respect.