Mr Bowie has the right words.
I guess I draw ’em to me.
She began to wail jealousies scream
Waiting at the light know what I mean
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about crazymakers, people who are there to suck you dry like succubi, people who leave bad feelings and madness in their wake like a hurricane. People like that are drawn toward artists and other creative people like a moth to flame – except you’re the one likely to get burned.
Do not be fooled into thinking the crazymaker means you well. Their own brand of behavior is there to keep you off guard or make you less productive, to create tension in relationships, or to get you to do their work for them. – Elizabeth Lambert Johns
I am a crazymaker magnet. My long history of Getting Things Done and Being My Own Person seems to bring them out of the woodwork… and if I’m down, going through a low spell, they know it and take advantage of that, too. I’ve learned to spot them a little better, but I still have problems getting them out of my life – because once they latch on, they are quite adept at sowing acrimony even from a distance.
One of the most persistent types of crazymaker that I seem to attract is the Personality Thief. A Personality Thief is the person that sees what you have in your life, and decides that the best way to get it is by taking on all the outward identifiers of you – your style and interests, your hang-outs, your friends… this satisfies them at first, but eventually things sour as it dawns on them that even though they can try to wear your image, that doesn’t define what makes you the person that they want to be. It always ends the same way: the Personality Thief grows agitated and cranky, then snarky and frustrated… then aggressive, often in an underhanded way that attempts to make them look like the “good guy” and you like the jerk, so that they can continue on and leave you with the discrediting.
My first run-in with this sort of person, way back in the mid-1980s, was someone I had been warned about before I somehow fell into spending time with her – a perfectly pretty and creative girl I’ll call Bee. I knew she had a knack for “exaggerating” – talking about how she’d met Duran Duran, she got into nice clubs, she’d been offered a modeling career. I found her interesting, despite my awareness that she was lying about these experiences, so I forgave her the lies. FIRST MISTAKE.
Unlike her, I actually went out to the cutting-edge club in town, as well as to punk shows and other underground events. I dressed artsy and dark, ran with a rough crowd though I was not rough, and had more worldly experience than someone my age probably should. Looking at her, I thought she was beautiful and interesting and it never occurred to me and my self-esteem that she might want MY life.
That is, until she ruined an important part of it.
There was a guy, of course. He was interesting and talented and insecure – someone who I’d known as the best friend of my first boyfriend, someone I knew had been attracted to me for a very long time. We ran into each other at a concert and I saw it leap into his eyes then, and I was so excited that he still found me pretty – hell, he was fascinated by me and my unique look, and we both knew it. We started slowly spending time together, taking it slow. His mom met me, loved me. Things were going so well, until Bee met him.
Oh, this guy was cute, and obviously smitten… and she set her mind to getting what I had. She ingratiated herself with him and his mom, which made me happy at the time – my friend and my new boyfriend were going to get along, how wonderful! As she got closer to them, she started spinning lies about me, poisoning them with stories about my “true nature” – and in the way that these crazymakers always seem to have, she was convincing. She eroded the joy that this family had in me, taking on my true nature like a glamour that hid who she really was to them, and in my naivite, it was my undoing.
I drove to his house, and was met by his mom. She told me, tearfully, that I was no longer welcome, and that it was so sad that I’d lied about who I was and what I was capable of – WHAT? I was so confused!
“Bee set us straight, I’m afraid you can’t see [the guy] anymore. You are no longer welcome here. You are too dangerous.”
ME? All I’d ever done was drink some beers, go to some shows, wear my hair in a mohawk – which she knew full well, and had been delighted by – what could Bee have possibly said that would have turned these people? I left in tears, and cried bitterly the whole way home, my heart broken on so many levels. I don’t think I’d ever been betrayed like that before, and I could barely get my mind around it.
A week later, a cousin of Bee told me that this wasn’t the first time this had happened with her. She let me know that it was nothing I’d done, and that eventually people figured out Bee’s motives, but usually by then it was too late.
It was for me and the poor guy. I never saw him again, although I did see Bee about a month later, in the shop in which I was currently working. She came in with a guy I’d never seen before, and as soon as she saw me, she beat a nervous retreat. That was the last I saw of her, too, although I have to admit that to this day she’s left a little bit of ache in my heart – residue of the whole experience.
After this tragedy, one might think that I’d learned about crazymakers. No, I had many more lessons to learn, and indeed I probably will always be a bit vulnerable, because I have a trusting nature. However, I’m glad to say that at this time of my life, the crazymaker quotient is small indeed, and once it is all cleansed from my life, I’m going to work extra hard to keep future incursions from happening.
As someone who has been dealt raw deals from the crazymakers, I implore you to shield yourselves. I know that my circle of friends are vibrant and engaging, and those are the ones that crazymakers like the most. I have at least three or four people in my life that I *know* are equipped to shoot the crazymakers down, and I try my best to watch and learn from them their management skills.
Beware the crazymakers, my friends.