When I started "Floating the Abyss," it was with the intention of recollecting my personal experiences with domestic violence and abuse, and how I managed to get out and find my healing path. At this point, I feel that it's very important to recount experiences with all manners of people whose intent is to use and abuse others, for whatever purpose. I made a passing mention of this on a recent discussion forum: NPD Suvrivors, and I'm going to recount how and why this happened, again, this time.
Okay - I work at a studio. I meet all types of people, every day that I'm there. Some genuinely just want to create their art, while others have varying agendas. I've been there for roughly 7 years, and it continues to evolve and revolve: they come in, and they go out.
About this time, last year, I met a woman who was a non-credit student at the studio. She seemed friendly, knowledgeable and capable. She would often "share" whatever she brought to the studio with others, and began to bring in things specifically for people. A position for Studio Technician became available and I told the Director that I thought that this woman would be a great asset to the studio - she was friendly and seemed to be on an even emotional keel. The Director gave her the position.
This woman bulldozed her way into the studio via "kindness." She began purchasing supplies and materials for the studio - mops, pens, etc., and the Director began to reimburse her for the purchases. Then, she threw herself into a purchasing project for a replacement kiln - yes, it's important to research before making such an expensive purchase, but this research went on for weeks and weeks before a kiln was finally chosen. She was very covert and careful about how she would remind everyone about how she had spoken to someone for hours to get the correct information, etc. She also gleaned personal information from everyone in the studio by behaving as if she were truly interested in their lives. Who they were, what they were, what they've experienced, etc., etc., etc.
Over a period of months, the woman in question thoroughly marked the studio as her own territory. Excusing it as "fun," she began putting all manner of childish stickers on peoples' toolboxes and work shelves. I got caught up in it, I'll readily admit - she seemed like such a "FUN" person, often laughing and joking, and seeming to be so reasonable and rational.
I began to notice this marking of territory and false flattery in December as she began preparing to fill the position in January. A long-time colleague and I had discussed a specific and very involved technique many years ago, and had agreed that we would begin to actively explore it. Because I knew that the new Tech had valuable knowledge, I suggested that we include her, as well. No sooner had she been asked to join us than she took command (and, I mean this literally) of the whole project. On occasion, I was "consulted" about my opinion on some aspect of the project, but I was not included directly and was effectively (and, thoroughly) pushed out of the project. I had 2 pieces to exhibit for the gallery show that my colleague and I had discussed, years before, and I was humiliated. Furthermore, my colleague and the new Tech decided to price their work "to sell." The intense precision of the techniques called for a higher-than-normal price on pieces, and it just didn't happen, and I was put off - one does NOT diminish the value and integrity of their work and efforts by pricing items "to sell." It literally nullifies their years of experience and devalues the studio in which their work was produced. I mentioned this on a very peripheral level, since I wasn't really a "part of" the project, anymore, and the same answer came back: PRICE IT TO SELL. So, I let it all go.
The woman continued being a bulldozer of kindness: gifting, purchasing, driving, etc. There came a time when another studio was "donating" their collection of ceramic molds to anyone who might want them. "Collection" was not the proper term. These people probably had over 5000 ceramic molds in their basement, and the woman went on an absolute collecting rampage. Since I believed it would be temporary, I offered to store molds in my own studio space so that we could clear out the molds that she wanted, and she could retrieve them, later. This was in June, and it's now going on October - there are still molds in my studio. At one point, I couldn't even walk into my studio for the molds. The woman asserted that we all (WE) "needed" these molds and that they were all "GREAT" molds, and that everyone would want to use them. I'm estimating 500 of them in my studio, as I catalogued nearly 900 of them.
Okay - fast foward. The woman continued to bulldoze with kindnesses. When it didn't work, she would whine and complain like a juvenile that we were being "mean" by not going along with whatever she was demanding. This finally came to a head last week.
The studio is participating in a crafting event, and has participated in this event for the past 7 years. At this event, artists demonstrate their craft, engage the public, answer questions about the studio, and offer their work for sale. I organized this event, years ago, and I had offered to organize it for this year, as well. I had done 3 seasons of crafting as a form of income - doing it for A LIVING, and had attended seminars, etc., and intended to organize a number of local crafting events in 2012 to promote the studio and for our artists to sell. When I told the woman that I didn't want to see anyone selling their coffee mugs for $6.00, she went into a rage: I had no business telling her how to price her work. I attempted to explain that we were all representing the studio, not ourselves, and that we would be devaluing the studio. I told her that she could price her work for whatever she wished if she had her own space, but she would be devaluing the studio, her colleagues, and everyone else who was participating at the craft show, and she was furious that I was attempting to order her about (as she thought). She was not going to hear common sense from me.
The next evening, I attempted to apologize to her for attempting to tell her what to do and I actually had to wait until a scheduled meeting - the first two attempts required me to chase her around only to be dismissed and ignored. Then, I announced that I would no longer organize any crafting events for the studio because the events had ceased to be promotions for the studios and showcases for the artists, and become an "All About ME" event.
Saturday, the woman called and said (and, I quote), "If I did anything to offend you, I am truly sorry." I responded with the question, "Do you believe that you did something to offend me?" Her answer was, "Maybe." Everything fell into place, right then. And, I was furious with myself for not having seen it happen, sooner!
I am laughing about this, today - I have to laugh because I allowed it to happen. I dropped my boundaries and I am solely to blame for having allowed this person to play me like a country fiddle!!!
- Narcissists and sociopaths do not have to be romantic partners or have sexua| intent
- Boundaries should remain the same for everyone
- Lowering boundaries in an effort to excuse another person's behaviors can be lethal
- Attempting to educate others about a colleague's narcissism or sociopathy will not have any positive results - people will have to learn on their own
- Do not expect a narcissist to ever deliver a meaningful or sincere apology
- JUST WALK AWAY - there is no cure for narcissism or sociopathy, and I am not responsible for anyone else's issues
A narcissist or sociopath can be ANYONE. They use and abuse people to their own ends, whatever that may be. If I fail to keep my boundaries up for everyone, then the one time that they're down will be good enough for someone with questionable intent to worm their way into my life and my head, and take advantage of me on every level.
So, I continue to learn.