“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
~ Henry James
I was raised to be well-mannered. A nice girl. A polite girl. A kind girl. A girl who was first and foremost considerate of the feelings and needs of others.
Mostly, that has served me well.
In fact, years of illness and pain, years of being different and of being psychic and empathic have further refined my deep desire to live from love and kindness and to choose to see the good in everyone.
But there is one small problem with that.
Sometimes, when I relentlessly pursue kindness and offer second chances (and many more..), when I support you, include you, uplift you and hold space for you, really all I am doing is drinking from your poisoned chalice. I am not helping you in any way – in fact you feed off my empathy and kindness. Why? Because, you are not wired like other human beings. You will not change. You are a narcissist. Or a sociopath. You play me for my kindness, my manners, my inherent belief in the goodness of all people, my deep desire to help others and to be of service.
I watched a loved one endure a terrible suffering for years at the hands of such a relationship. It almost broke her, and stole the best years of her life. It isolated her and destroyed her other relationships. Now that the situation is at an end this perpetrator still gas-lights her, and ruins her reputation with others. It’s an insidious and vicious situation.
This morning, once again, I was invited to do my own dance with such a person. This is a person who plays games with me. They berate me and tear me down to others. In the next breath or social media post they laud me and want to be my nearest and dearest. They copy me. They bully me, manipulate and game-play, and always, always explain their bad behaviours as being misunderstood – they are a victim, a sufferer who is only reaching out for help.
Each interaction twists me in knots. Knowing what they are does not make me feel any less distressed at our engagements.
In the past I have worried endlessly about what to do, or what to say because my innate driver is to be kind, to be selfless, to be the nice girl in the face of mean behaviour.
But I have also learned some important lessons. It is important to extend kindness to myself. To continue to knowingly suffer and gain no benefit from such an interaction is self-inflicted meanness. It is also my duty as a teacher to exclude such people from my teaching environments. A class full of empaths dealing with the drama of a narcissist or sociopath doesn’t help them – it distracts them from their work and from fulfilling their own needs.
Everyone has the capacity to be mean. And sometimes we are mean without even realising it. That’s not what I’m talking about.
If you’re going through a hard time, if you’re in the space of learning, as your teacher or your friend I will support you and hold space for you a thousand times over, through meanness and temper tantrums and all manner of other distressing or hurtful spaces. I’m up for that. I expect that, as part of my role, and I will fight for you and for your potential. I will love and believe in you until you can love and believe in yourself.
I stand for kindness. I believe in kindness. I believe in service. I believe in helping others. I will keep being kind, and well-mannered, and I will live from my heart.
But if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool narcissist or a sociopath you have no place in my life. I will actively close doors to you, and I will protect my heart, my home and my work space from your incursions. Still, I wish you well, and I send you love. But there is no space here for you at my table.