White Collar Support Group 300th Meeting Reflection – Debbie Colbourn, Calgary

Debbie Colbourn is a member of our White Collar Support Group that meets online on Zoom on Monday evenings. We will celebrate our 300th meeting on March 14, 2022, 7 pm ET, 4 pm PT.


I am an outlier in the group, not because I’m in Canada or that I am woman, but in the fact that I have not been part of the criminal justice process despite having taken money that wasn’t mine to take from an employer. Yet I suffered for over twenty-five years from the biggest thing that those who’ve made a decision to do something we knew at the time was wrong, do.

Despite our inner voice screaming at us. Overwhelming shame and guilt.

Only five people in the world knew what I had done, two lawyers, my parents, and the owner of the company. Plus me.

I represent a large number of people, women in particular, who crossed both an ethical and legal line, who had “good” careers, made OK money, lived in a normal home, came from a loving family, no history with abuse or addiction. And our $ amounts are in the five or low six figure amounts – not in the millions. Still very wrong – still punishable by a jail term.

I repaid every penny to my employer but I could never find a way to move past the shame, and guilt, and the lack of trust I had in myself.

In my path to growing my business and leaning into my potential I have let my nudges, my gut instinct guide me and one week a post from a lady who had a group for wives of women whose husbands had committed a white collar crime and a podcast episode by a man named Jeff Grant who’d been a lawyer that had gone to prison and rebuilt a life on a completely different path, showed up.

I cannot tell you what Jeff said on Rich Roll’s podcast, but I reached out to the lady with the group and asked if she knew him – weird hmm?? Yes, I’ll introduce you.

And a week later there I was, terrified of where the Pandora’s box that I’d just opened would lead – yet I knew it was the right next step. The every Monday night meeting of the White Collar Support Group.

I was as intimidated as hell by the people on the Zoom call. People I’d read about in the media. People who were used to making in two weeks what I made in a year. I felt dumb. Like they were somehow better than me. Yet as I listened quietly, something I no longer do, I realized that although they, the men, use different words, different phrases, most were struggling with debilitating shame and guilt. Struggling to stop the voice in their head berating them on how friggin’ stupid they were.

Each week one phrase, one deep emotion shared, one roadblock or obstacle shared by someone can take the conversation in any number of directions, but it’s always something that someone needs to hear at that moment.

The group has grown and now has a couple of people who can chat confidentially with you if you’re thinking joining the group might be the next step you (or someone in your family) needs.

Sometimes it takes only a few meetings to help you move forward, sometimes it takes years. There are people at all stages. And people are there for you 24/7/365 – when you simply need to not feel alone. Like you’re the only one going through what you are, or feel the way you do. – Debbie Colbourn, Calgary, Canada