I know this ring is expensive. It sparkles and it shines. It is ostentatious yet elegant and I know what some of you may be thinking, yes, just like the narcissist when he first arrives. It is all dazzling, shining, mesmerising and showing off. That much is true but that is not the purpose of this post. No. This ring is real. It is very real. This ring is a symbol of my intent. I want you to wear this ring and I am sure, no I know that you will wear it. You see this ring binds you to me. It will ensure that you admire and love me by reason of such a grand gesture. Do you see how much I adore you? Do you see how much you mean to me so that I would have such a ring of such expense fashioned just for you and you alone? Who else would do that for you? Nobody because there is not anyone who is as good to you as me is there? Nobody treats you the way I do do they? This is a special ring for a special person.

You see this ring signifies so much. It is a demonstration of your commitment to me. It is there to bind you to me for now you have agreed to ensure that I am provided for at all times. By wearing this ring you have accepted your role. Your role is to furnish me with fuel. Sweet, potent fuel in vast quantities. You are duty bound to lavish me with admiration, awe, affection and love to ensure that my voracious appetite for fuel is met. Placing this ring on your finger amounts to a contract between us. A contract that is water-tight and can only be revoked by me. You must not breach this contract. You must strive each and every day to provide me that fuel.

Should you fail in your obligation to provide me with the best quality positive fuel then I reserve the right, without qualification or condition and without notice to shift the supply of fuel to that of the negative variety. Your wearing of this ring will mean that you will endure the torment and misery that I will put you through in order to extract this negative fuel. By brandishing this ring on your finger, you have agreed to be subjected to my vacillating will, my capricious nature and the violent fury that rages within me that is waiting to be ignited. The moment this ring slides onto your finger and you smile in delight, showing the large glinting diamond off, you have consented to all manipulative machinations at my disposal. The ring cannot be removed. It does not work like that. It shrinks to grip your finger and no amount of twisting and pulling will free you from it. In much the same way that no amount of pulling and twisting will free you from my grip. Once that ring has been worn then you and I have been joined together. You are my appliance and you will do as I say. You will pump out that fuel and provide me with the emotional reactions I seek from my incessant torture of you. You gladly placed the ring on your finger. You wanted to wear it. Did you think that I would extract nothing in return for furnishing you with such a delight? In fact, I knew you would think like that, that naivety appealed to me and is why I chose you .

Each and every humiliation, beratement, denigration and lambasting has been agreed to by you wearing that ring. It is done and must be so in order to allow me to get what I want and need. You will consent. You will submit. You will be subjugated to my will. You shall not escape. You shall not defy me. You shall not deny me that which is rightfully mine. You put on the ring. You agreed to what was to come. You must pay the price.

This is what happens when you accept this ring when it is offered by my kind and me. This is the necessary consequence of accepting such a luxurious gift. You would do well in future to be aware of this ring and what it signifies.

Does this ring have a name?

Of course it does.

It is suffering.


Do you still remember the first time we held hands? I do. I will never forget. We were walking alongside the river. I had seen you walking there on numerous occasions previously. I would pass you and see you ambling along, completely lost in your own world. I would lean against a nearby tree and watch you as you would stand on the riverbank and gaze out across the flowing river. I would stare at the back of your head as I concentrated on working out what you would be thinking. Occasionally you would take out your ‘phone and take pictures of the river before standing once again in silent contemplation. You wore simple, sensible outdoors attire for these frequent walks. Your only concession to glamour was the scarlet scarf you wore about your neck. You were a creature of habit always taking this walk in early evening at the same time during the summer and then on the cusp of dusk through autumn and winter. You did it every day and each day you would spend some time staring out across the flowing water.

Once in a while you would make this walk with a friend and it was through her that I plotted to get to know you. You and your friend would both drive to the car park and then meet by the café on the edge of the car park and the path that wound along by the river’s edge. I noticed how you always arrived and left independent of one another. It was as if your friendship relied on being contained to this walk and nothing else. After seeing this ritual on many occasions I saw you drive away but your friend went to the café. This was my chance. Taking a replica of the scarf that you wore I entered the café and interrupted your friend as she stood in a short queue.

“Excuse me,” I smiled, ” I was walking along the path and your friend dropped her scarf, I have it here.”

“Oh thank you,” your friend replied and smiling took the scarf from my hand.

“Not a problem, did you enjoy your walk?” I asked pleasantly.

“Yes it is a lovely spot here isn’t it?”

“Absolutely and no matter what the weather or the season there is always something different to see,” I explained. She nodded and using my customary charm I found myself sat with the friend and enjoying a warm drink together. It was in the course of that discussion, a polite conversation on a chilly autumnal late afternoon that I learned your name. Once armed with this information and remembering the other shards of your life that your friend had mentioned in innocent reference I soon tracked you down on Facebook. There I worked through your profile, admiring your photographs and finding more about you. I spent time checking through the films and books that you had liked. They were not many, only a half a dozen in each category and I noticed that Memoirs of a Geisha was one of your favourite books. I knew this book and also its author. As I worked through the pictures I saw the ones of the river where you often stood and I beneath each one you had posted the same quotation which you attributed to someone who I knew was the author of Memoirs of a Geisha.

A little later I saw you stood contemplating the river once again and this time I walked up besides you.

“Never give up for even rivers someday wash dams away,” I said. You turned and smiled at me.

“Arthur Golden,” you answered naturally recognising the quotation and referring to the author of one of your favourites books.

“Correct,” I smiled, “is that why you look out over this river every day, to give you hope?” I asked.

You looked at me as if evaluating whether you should admit me to your confidence. Your did not take long to decide.

“Absolutely. It gives me hope that by looking on something so natural and beautiful as this that it will wash certain things away.”

I knew from the way you had answered that there was more to tell but now was not the time.  We talked a little while and then I left you to your contemplations. After that you always said hello and we stood and talked as little by little I was given entry into your world. From standing at that same point we moved on to walking along the river bank as we got to know one another. I took care to walk in step with you. I knew the places you liked to stop and enjoy the view, since I had watched you do so on many times before. Like other fragments of your life that I had learned, I had memorised this and used it to stand with you and comment in an appreciative fashion about the river, the trees and the way the light would strike the surface of the water. Carefully, like the skilled artisan that I am, I would peel away a piece of your life and add it to my own as I grew to know more about you. You spoke of work, your home life and your interests. I noticed you never met your friend for a riverside walk again and it appeared that I had supplant her as your riverside companion. Each time we would walk, talk and then have a drink in the café as my knowledge about you grew. I ensured that I said the things I knew would bring about the best response from you. I knew what to say to make you interested and attentive. I could tell, for I had seen such looks before, that the way you looked at me meant more than just companionship.

Then after perhaps two weeks, maybe a little more, as we strolled along that peaceful riverbank I reached out and took your hand in mine. You did not hesitate. There was no resistance and you allowed my larger hand to engulf yours as you slipped your hand into mine. The movement was natural. You looked at me with a smile and I saw the light flare in your eyes as you felt my power surging from within. You did not let go of my hand once on that walk. In fact that became your signature. The fact you always loved to hold my hand. No matter where we were you would take it and hold on, even twisting your movements to avoid letting go. It was as if you had vowed that whenever you took my hand you would not let it go until I decided. I saw it as your signal of intent to care for me. It was a marker, your way of telling me that no matter what happened you would always be by my side and ready to care for me.

The handholding created this marvellous connection between us. I felt your love and admiration flowing through this handhold and in return you got to savour my brilliance. It was a fantastic connection that had been fashioned in high heaven. The moment our fingers entwined the connection was established and we both got something from it. That was why it worked. That was why we worked. That was why I worked you as I did.

I took full advantage of that but then I think you wanted me to didn’t you? That was why you always held my hand until you let me down. It was only once and you let go. You were never supposed to let go. You never had before despite everything I did, you always clung on. You always gave me that reassurance but then you took it away. I realised that you had no choice but to let go but you still let me down when you did it. I can never forgive you for that. Ever.

You are so beautiful. Everything about you radiates beauty. From the moment I saw you I was transfixed. The way you moved about the room as if you were gliding from one place to the next. Your features almost glacial yet you gave out such warmth. Faces lit up on your approach as hands reached out to touch you. It was as if their troubles and fears would melt away once they placed a hand upon you. You were so serene. Your neck was a little longer than usual but I found that so compelling and my mind filled with images of me placing the most tender of kisses on that soft neck. I looked at your hands, the slender fingers that moved across people’s arms, giving a light yet reassuring touch. As I stood and observed you move about that room on that first viewing I was put in mind of Florence Nightingale and how she attended to the sick and wounded in the Crimean War. She brought reassurance and healing and you seemed to be doing so in the same way. People turned their eyes upwards to you, hope filling in them and then the smile, always that smile. A smile which told the recipient,

“You are special and always will be.”

I could hear that laugh of yours. It was quite deep and incongruous with someone who appeared so delicate. I loved that laugh from the instant it drifted across the room and fell upon my ears. Your hair was tied up, bundled on top of your head and I remember how later I carefully slid the hair pins from within it letting your long tresses be shaken out as I stood mesmerised in front of you. Even after so many hours of attending that dinner, of working the room, of ensuring everybody had their moment with you, you showed no sign of fatigue. It was as if the delight and warmth you gave out made you stronger. You seemed refreshed by each nodded thanks and patting hand of gratitude.

Everything about you was beautiful that evening. From the expensive shoes that wrapped about your small feet to the diamonds you wore about your neck and dangling from those small elven ears. I was taken away from everything by how utterly and completely beautiful you looked.

Yes, you were a true beauty and it never left you. The way your eyes filled with tears so that the ocean blue seemed to shimmer was so inviting. The slow trickle of those tears across your rounded cheeks was alluring. The furrows in that usually smooth brow bore a defiant dignity which I found attractive. The way you flailed your arms in frustration like some manic windmill was inviting. Even when angered you moved with co-ordination and grace. You showed in every situation, no matter what was done to you, that you had been brought from the gods above, so beautiful and heavenly. The way you would curl up in a ball and gently rock was so beautiful. Your whispered pleas for it to stop sounded like a summer’s breeze passing through the trees of a nearby woodland. When others might sound discordant and harsh you only ever sounded wonderful. No matter what emotion was extracted from you, no matter by what means, your inner and outer beauty remained intact.

Best of all was how beautiful you looked when you screamed. That perfect mouth with the slightly fuller than necessary lips, rounded in a horrified ‘O’ as the cry of despair and terror rose from deep within you. This was no wail of the banshee but was like a siren’s call, inviting and melodious as it rose and then fell. How I loved to hear that beautiful scream. How I longed to see your eyes fixed on me, those clear blue eyes, almond-shaped and sensational. The dejection and confusion rampant inside them but your beauty undiminished. You could not scowl. Your face did not twist in shock, anger or distaste. It was like looking upon an angel which was calling out from the heavens above. But best of all, I knew that the beauty you showed when you screamed was all for me. I always wanted to hear you screaming just for me.

Many people state that my kind and me lack empathy. I don’t like that attitude. First of all it amounts to a criticism and I am not to be criticised. Secondly, empathy is regarded by some as the ability of blurring the line between self and other. The handy dose of empathy pictured above underlines this. In fact I am amongst the best at blurring the line between self and other. I am a champion at it. One of my killer lines of seduction is to declare

“I don’t where you end and where I begin we are merged into one.”

If that is not a blurring of the line between self and other I do not know what is. I repeatedly explain that I see people as extensions of myself, they are objects that become subsumed within what I am as I swallow up their identity and use their traits as my own. Blurring of lines? I would argue that that is an obliteration. By that definition I am absolutely oozing empathy aren’t I?

The third reason that I do not like the suggestion that I lack empathy is that empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of others. Again, I understand the feelings of others to a high degree. How can I manipulate those feelings if I do not understand them? Some of our kind instinctively behave in a manner which causes manipulation. They do not have much thought behind the process but they act in this fashion because it is all they know. It is all they have been conditioned and programmed to do. They do not need to consider what they are doing because it just happens and then the manipulation unfolds. Those of us at the greater end of the scale of narcissists do consider what to do in terms of our manipulation. We are always plotting and scheming as we reflect on the best way of manipulating you to do what we want and provide us with our precious fuel. I sit and consider the most effective ways of wielding my devilish toolkit in order to provoke and engender the most rewarding emotional reactions from you.  I work through the schemes and machinations as I dream up new ways of provoking you. I analyse your life, what you do and what you say and then work out how I can then use that material to make you react.If I did not understand how certain things would make you feel, how can I know how best to manipulate you? I understand all about your feelings because I watch you and I observe and I remember. I have done this many times to your type and therefore I have built up an acquired knowledge of the ways that people such as you will react. I sit and consider what I can do to make you hurt, make you cry and make you frustrated. I know you so well I know exactly which buttons to press. I know which emotions to coax from you and because I understand this I know precisely what to do to achieve this. For some of you a cold front of silent treatment will make you pour forth that fuel as you frantically call and cry, worried as to why we have stopped speaking to you. With others a prolonged period of triangulation brings out the emotional response required because you always compete with someone or something that you perceive as a threat.

The fact you show your feelings so readily is joyously received by us. You provide us with a manual from which we can learn. We can mimic your emotions so our fakery continues to draw you in, make you feel sorry for us and have you focussed on us. Your exhibitionism in this regard allows us to understand which emotions run deepest in you and also the ways in which these emotions can be brought to the surface. We have to know how you feel so we can then influence how you will feel. I understand your emotions. That is demonstrating empathy is it not? Would you now say that we lack empathy?

You cannot say that we do not care about your feelings either. We care about them because we need those feelings because they provide us with fuel. We need to know that you will feel and show those feelings to us. We care very much about your feelings as without them we would be denied our fuel and that is fatal to us. We care about your manifestation of those feelings and that they are directed towards us. What we do not care about is their effect on you. That is of no interest to us because it serves no purpose to us. If you are left anxious, unable to eat or sleep then all we care about is that your anxiety is shown to us. The impact on your health and well being is of no concern to us because that does not provide us with fuel. It is not our role because of the way we are to make you feel better (unless of course that is required in order to obtain further fuel) but it is our role to make you feel so you give us fuel. We have no interest in the day-to-day or long-term effects of how you are feeling just so long as you can keep showing your emotions to us and giving us fuel. We have nothing to gain in alleviating your sadness. We have no interest in offering solutions to make your pain and misery go away. That is the brutal truth.

Don’t say however we do not understand how you feel. We most certainly do because we have to know this in order to exploit your feelings further. Indeed we often make you feel that way on purpose so we know exactly how you feel. We need to know the best way to pull on your strings and this means understanding how you will feel and react. So that is empathy for you indeed. Who would have thought it? Empathy from the devil. How ironic.

I have lost count of the times that I have been told “never again”. I have heard it said by other people who have met my kind even more often. I am entirely relaxed when I hear this phrase because I know that although your intentions are to never go through that dance again with me or one of my kind, it will happen. We may be gone for some time but we will return and when we do we will resurrect all those wonderful memories as we seek to Hoover you back into our reality. The emotional attachment that we create is so great that even though you looked in the mirror every morning and mouthed “Never again” to yourself you will struggle to resist. You cannot help but wonder if this time it will be different. You do not want to say no for fear of someone else receiving our amazing and scintillating love. You want it. You learned the lessons and as the introspective empath that you are (as well as suitably conditioned by us) you will blame certain things on yourself. You will convince yourself, because you want to taste that mesmerising kiss once again, that we have changed and that this time it will be different. Why should someone else get to experience that wonderful love? That is not fair. You put up with the rough and the smooth. You have earned your stripes so it is only right that you get to have us again isn’t it? That is what you want. When we first departed and you saw (for we wanted you to see) that we had found someone new it ripped you apart. Notwithstanding the full horror of your dance with us you hated the fact that someone else now basked in our glorious light. You wanted to warn them not because you cared about that person but because you wanted us back. You wanted us to yourselves. You felt a sense of unfairness that she was now with us. You would lie awake wondering if I was saying the same things to her as I had said to you. You wondered how she would respond to that blazing, heavenly love that you once relished. Would I be the same for her as I was to you? You kept telling yourself that it was only a matter of time before she befell the same fate that you endured, yet the postings and pictures told a different story. You began to worry. Had I changed? Had I become a better person after you? Was she somehow able to please me in a way that you could not? You had to know. You had sworn never again but now you wanted me back. You wanted her to go away and free me to be yours again so that you could apply your learned lessons and everything would be wonderful again. She did not deserve me did she? But you did. You made such sacrifices. You opened your heart to me despite the daggers I drove into it. You served your time and you are entitled to your reward. Not this Jane-come-lately. You want to give us that chance to prove we can do it. You want to show you brought benign influence to bear. You want to prove that the beast can be brought to heel in the most compassionate manner. You might say never again but you do not truly mean it. Not in your heart of hearts.

By contrast when we say “Never again” we most definitely mean it. Never again will your life be the same after meeting us. Never again will you feel able to trust anybody after being subjected to our acid reign. Never again will you be able to smell certain scents, hear certain songs and see certain places without breaking down in tears. Never again will you love someone in the way that you loved us. Never again will you want somebody as much and in such an intense way as you wanted us. Never again will you be able to feel calm and relaxed since for too long you have been subjected to a heightened state of anxiety. Never again will you experience that euphoria you once had with us. So when you declare never again it is never truly meant, but what you fail to realise is just how many things will never again be the same for you.