So was I, in 1999, while I was looking for a job

I was living in Utah at the time. I responded to an ad in the paper – something like “help save the environment, travel, great pay”. I was actually late for the meeting the first time I went, and – how stupid could I be? – I went back a second time and heard the whole pitch and had reservations, but for some reason I let myself get talked into it. It took me a couple of months to actually commit to getting that $5K loan, after hoodwinking many friends into attending meetings with me. My girlfriend at the time got involved as well, and I remember an awkward moment as we were driving with some friends to a meeting and they jokingly asked “Is it Amway?” I had more than one person tell me and the people at the office of their skepticism, and part of me wanted them to decisively prove me wrong so I could have an excuse to bail out – I was very susceptible to the manipulation tactics used by the people in the local office, and even more to the kingpins. I learned a lot about my own character and how it needed to be changed, the hard way.

I went away for the summer that year and didn’t do anything about the business – in fact, I kept quiet about it, pretending that I had nothing to do with it when I used some of the products in view of other people: “some guy sold me this”. I foolishly thought that my girlfriend, who I had signed on, would build up a nice downline for me while I was gone and I would come back a rich man. What really happened was that she panicked. I came back and made a fool of myself by trying to sell things to people, using the soft-sale techniques that they said would make people spontaneously want to buy the products. I very reluctantly I began to admit that I had let myself be deceived – for someone who can be as stubborn as I can, it’s hard to admit that you’ve just put yourself in debt for all that money that you’ll have to work to pay off, when you could have been saving up what you earned instead.

I think the stress of it was a factor in my girlfriend and me splitting up, although it probably would have happened anyway.

Right after I sent in my termination packet, I found out that the FTC had shut Equinox down. I was relieved and hoped that I might get some money back from all that liquidating they were doing – serve them right, I thought. I never saw a cent of it, and meanwhile there were people who I couldn’t look in the eye anymore. I ended some friendships and made others more awkward. I was embarrassed to mention it to new people.

I found this group about a year and a half ago. It’s helped me be more open about my experience (online, at least), and it’s a good source of information on how to work against the spread of MLMs. Again, welcome.
It’s always nice to find people who’ve been through the same one.