I was speaking in Campbell and when I was finished a young woman came up to me and asked if I remembered her.
Of course I did. When I was at the event the year before, she was the one who had to make a comment for everything I had to say. When the event manager didn’t address the disruption I finally decided to ask her to hold her questions and comments until the end so I’d have enough time to finish on time. One of the other attendees said “thank you!” and everyone laughed.
But that didn’t stop her. She still continued to interrupt. So I walked down to the end of the U-shaped tables and looked at her until I knew she was paying attention. The room was completely silent. I said “What I’d like for you to do for me is to really think seriously before you say anything else. Does what you have to say have a real purpose for the other people attending or is it really going to add to my presentation.”
She agreed, but was only about 50% less disruptive. So I ignored her comments for the balance of the hour, even when she had a question.
At the end of the meeting she approached me and said, “I’m sorry but you must hate me!”
I told her no, it wasn’t possible to hate her, I didn’t even know her! But that her continuous interruptions were distracting and had made it difficult for me to stay on topic.
I told her that I believed she was probably acting out as a result for having her living environment set up so that someone there was demeaning her. Then I said, “Everyone knows that you are trying too hard. They might not understand, but I do, and I’d like for you to think of why you believe you have to put up with an abusive household.”
She started to deny it, but her best friend was standing behind her and she said “See, I told you so!”
When she approached me this time, she had a smile on her face and was much better dressed, her hair was styled and she was wearing makeup. She really did look like a different person.
Not every instance of emotional abuse is that obvious, but when it makes a person act out in public as a boomerang effect, it needs to be addressed.
I was so pleased that she was able to gain control over her life in just a year. She told me she got rid of her dead beat boyfriend and forced her 24 year old son to move out on her own. She said she loved living alone!
I congratulated her and she asked for a hug. “Thank you, for seeing beyond what everyone else had assumed!” she whispered.