Adina's story- teacher student gone horribly awry
Adina's story- teacher student gone horribly awry
My probably-a-narcissist was my cello teacher when I studied at conservatory. I was never involved with him sexually or romantically, but the emotional/financial/career toll on my life has been absolutely horrific- I really felt like I was in a relationship without my consent while in lessons, and two years later I still have symptoms of ptsd, and am struggling to rebuild all aspects of my life.
At the beginning he seemed like the PERFECT teacher- he was funny, energetic, very expressive, eager to please, seemed extremely interested in my progress and my life. He was young, and I found him easy to talk to- his tastes in music and art seemed to mirror mine uncannily- we seemed to have an instant rapport. I loved his playing and found myself making amazing progress.
There were some strange things which showed up right away too, which in the happiness of my momentum, I didn't give much consideration to- the fact that he offered to give lessons in a hotel room... (um, thanks, but I'll wait til you get back to my city) the fact that he crashed at another female student's home claiming he missed his train and had nowhere to stay, and perhaps scariest- that he had looked up a great deal of information about me and my family PRIOR to my first lesson with him- (wtf?).
He asked early on if I wanted to do a competition, and I said yes, excitedly. He had participated in the same competition and won 2nd place in an earlier year. He showed me a picture of the third place winner on his iPhone narrating "this one is a nice guy", then the first place winner, narrating "and this one is an asshole!"- which at the time seemed like a joke.
Shortly after, the focus of lessons became SPLIT- half the time teaching me with excitement and inspiration, half the time drawing attention to himself, with a lot of aggrandizing comments about his sexuality - he compared himself to Don Juan, and referred to himself as someone who easily got bored with one woman and found new ones more interesting, bragged about gifts other women had given him etc.
He had often flattered me about my playing, but now began making mild flattering comments about my appearance as well, which I felt very conflicted about. He said "I love you" in a lesson, sent me emails and texts "about music", like we were friends, and began acting EXTREMELY possessive. He asked me twice at lessons if I had a boyfriend, at school concerts he would watch me from across the room, visibly seething when I enjoyed myself with my best male friend, exploding with glints of animal rage if I did something he was jealous of on my instrument.
By now, I was concerned and scared- the behavior honestly just seemed too irrational to confront... I felt like I had to be careful and was walking on eggshells every lesson. I also felt sorry for him in his insecurity, and this was really my downfall. He seemed really sweet, and naive most of the time. I thought maybe he wanted to ask me out but but stopped himself on teacher-student ethical grounds (obviously I was the naive one...)
Compliments now alternated with insults- and I now see they had no bearing on my playing or conduct. Once he said something bizarre about wishing he could have been my student "you know, pretty little teacher". I was by now really annoyed, and told him I wanted to just play music, and begun to play. I had a competition coming up. As I started to play he stood up, looked out the window, apparently delighted by something. Eventually I stopped playing, and he said "oh, I'm sorry, I got distracted by a pretty girl outside", with an elated look that said anything other than "I'm sorry". I packed up my stuff unceremoniously and left.
I was so attached to the idea I had of him at the beginning as a promoter, so attached to the feeling of being the favorite student, of having the possibility of this amazing career ahead that I didn't see the truth that these lessons had long since become "lessons", and were doing FAR more harm than good.
I was going through a very hard time in my life anyway, realizing that my MOTHER was a classic narcissist and I was experiencing family rejection because I shared my feelings about how I felt I'd been treated by her, so I think I was particularly vulnerable to flattery, to any kind of buoying up- musically or otherwise.
If I stopped this story here, I would have been basically proud of myself for dealing with a difficult situation adequately- but the truth is a big part of me STILL wanted to believe he was there for me- and this is where the severity of my own unhealthiness really comes into play.
He said I had spiritual problems and did I think he could help me? I was very low, and after considering said yes, though I was very skeptical. I met him in his studio on a Sunday, and he took out a little flip-book about Christianity. When in the course of his elated, devout-seeming, humor-filled talk he began saying that it was "different with me", seemingly mixing conversion and romance, I realized this was NOT a healthy person- no God would ever want the focus to be on the messenger's needs.
I still felt I needed him for the competition (which by now was completely out-of-reach, as the large amounts of fear and confusion were completely interfering with my playing ability). I stayed his student for another half-year, as my self-esteem got lower and lower and fear-levels spiked, totally destroying my personality and playing.
When he finally discarded me, saying I should quit playing- I can't prove it- but I felt that he was profoundly happy, somehow, profoundly relieved. He often followed me out after lessons- as if we had some special connection, and this last time, after making a big show of sympathy, he ran back to the studio with energy and a bounce to his step.
Four other students seemed to have gone through the same thing with this individual.
I told the administration, but he continues to teach there to this day.