Yikes, it has been some week. And it’s only Weds. night.
Firstly, I learn that someone I have regular contact with is part of the immediate family of a cult leader who is under investigation by the FBI (and has been for decades). I can’t say more about this situation except that truth is stranger than fiction and I’m in a position that leaves me with a responsibility I don’t yet know how to handle.
Strange, this is the second time I’ve been connected with a national case involving the FBI (in both cases I was contacted by a family member regarding homeschooling); last year I was dealing with a residual situation as a result of the case, not something directly related to what had been done. A couple of people who spoke to me at that time know that I was grappling with how to handle that situation, but this is a lot more serious than that was. Big sigh.
Then on Monday night, I went to meet a ‘spiritual advisor’ recommended by a friend whose judgment I trust. I have some things that I’ve been working around in my mind, and thought it would be a good chance to get some outside perspective. I guess I got some perspective, but not what I was looking for!
It was almost midnight when I got home but I was so uneasy about the advisor, that I immediately called my friend who recommended him to find out what was said to her in her meeting. (I had a sense that he was saying to me things as if they were prophetic that could have been said to anyone.) She was impressed about the many specifics he had ‘known’ without having met her before, but as she spoke, warning bells were going off in my mind. I had been so reserved that he didn’t have enough information to ‘predict’ details about my life, but she had been very open and I was sure it was his skillful reading of her non-verbal cues combined with what she said that made him seem to have incredible insight.
I have to backtrack a few months to an experience I didn’t share here on the blog that happened to me. It was a very unpleasant situation that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but it’s critical to mention in this context. I met someone in a social setting and after extensive conversations, made arrangements to work with him in a professional setting toward some goals. After three weeks, I told him I couldn’t work with him anymore. It all looked perfect – he said all the right things, he was impressive in every way – speaking ability, poise, knowledge and social confidence – and he seemed to have an uncanny sense of insight about my thinking process that amazed me – but I had a tiny feeling of distrust that was getting stronger and stronger. It was little subtle things that could each easily be explained away, but it was adding up in a way that was making me apprehensive about his true intentions.
Well, just two days after I notified him that I wouldn’t be working with him, I ‘happened’ to read an article in a local publication about psychopaths, and as I read it, it was eery – I was reading an exact description of the way the person I had been working with portrayed himself, communicated – everything. It was very helpful for me to understand in black and white an emotional/psychological experience that I wasn’t able to make sense of. That’s not something that I usually have trouble with – I may not like some things that I encounter, but I can get a perspective on it.
Having a relationship with a person bent on deception, lies, and emotional manipulation was a very unpleasant experience. Pyschopaths are like emotional vampires – they feed off your emotions. They boost you up in order to be able to pull you down, to instill doubts in you about yourself while they simultaneously make you feel dependent on them for your success. This experience helped me understand how cult leaders gain a following – someone so powerful, confident, charismatic, and bent on helping you – people feel lucky and grateful, and by the time they see the iron hand beneath the velvet glove, they’re pyschologically dependent.
After spending hours thinking about this ‘spiritual advisor’ and relistening to the recording of my meeting with him, I was certain he showed markers of being a psychopath. This wasn’t a conclusion I wanted to come to – I wanted to believe that he had spiritual sensitivities dedicated to helping people, that he had good intentions, that I was overreacting or being negative. But it was clear to me that he wasn’t and I wasn’t.
I’m grateful to have met this advisor for two reasons. After meeting the first person, I kept trying to figure out how I could have made different choices or had a different awareness. But I couldn’t – I was afraid if the same situation came around again with a different person, I’d make the mistake of trusting that person, too. This situation showed me that without becoming a suspicious person who was afraid to trust anyone, I wasn’t falling into the same trap.
The second feeling of gratitude was a sense that because I was ‘trained’ by my interactions with a highly developed psychopath, I would be able to save others in my community from the psychological damage that would result from trusting this man. I spent a good part of last night and then tonight as well on the phone, explaining why I was so positive that someone who seemed so pure and holy was a fraud. This was an easy thing for anyone to accept, because we want to believe the best of everyone.
But – thank G-d, I’ll going to sleep tonight knowing he’s been stopped before he could get a foothold in our community. And after the incidents of the beginning of the week, don’t you think that the next couple of days have got to be less dramatic? 😛