I am a seething bundle of conflict and vitriol. I have my fury churning away ready to be ignited at a moment’s criticism. The song once asked, “War, what is it good for?” My answer would be. Absolutely everything. War is the tool by which I reign and by which you are kept doing what I want. Providing me with compliance and fuel. I am on a permanent war footing because I am red of tooth and claw. I must always be ready to defend my self against your uncalled for and unwarranted attacks which you are prone to launching my way. I do not know why you do this but you always want to put me down, blame me or go one better than me. I cannot understand why you behave this way, not after I do so much for you. Yet you always do it, managing to ignite my fury with your words and actions. I have no choice of course. I have to exert my superiority over you and if I was to ever fail to respond to your attack then I would be doomed. In fact, so used have I become to these unnecessary and gratuitous assaults which you launch against me that I will often launch my own pre-emptive strike designed to keep you in your place. I am in control. I am god of the world I have created for us and you must always remember this. I would much rather not have to do this. I would prefer not to lash you with my vicious tongue, roll out a silent treatment or in the case of the less sophisticated of our kind, subject you to a battering from fists and feet, but you bring it on yourself. You should know by now what I like and what I dislike, yet you infuriate me still by saying and doing the wrong things. I know you do it on purpose because you are trying to assert some kind of power and authority over me. I have no idea why you feel the need to do this because you cannot ever outgun me. I have batteries of malevolent missiles to launch your way, megatons of vicious exploding insults to rain down on you and so much firepower that I could annihilate you a hundred times over.

Yet, notwithstanding my superior armaments you still insist on trying to do me down and thus I have no choice but to smash through your boundaries, exert my control and blitzkrieg you into defeat. You should know that someone like me who is in a permanent state of war-readiness cannot be defeated. In fact, I know that you do know this but you still exhibit some perverted delight in trying to prove me wrong. You should have learned by now that I am always right and you should accept this. Yet you keep trying to correct me or even worse show me up in front of others. It is little wonder that in the face of such provocation that I erupt behind closed doors and steamroller you into submission. You then have the audacity to call me for my unreasonable behaviour when you started it. This is why I truly do think that there is something wrong with you. Any nation that decided to embark on a full-scale war with the might of a superpower such as the USA would be deemed crazy, it would be a self-destructive and suicidal act. Yet, in the same way you see the might of my firepower, my array of gleaming guns, miles of ammunition and battalion after battalion of trauma tanks and you still provoke me. My fearsome fighter planes which unleash their manipulative missiles against you and the squadrons of bombers which are always ready to carpet bomb you with malice into total submission are obvious to see and yet you still insist on engaging in war with me. I am the lord of war, it is what I have been created for. I am always ready for the fight, I am on high alert and in the moment of a murmured insult I launch into action. I am highly-trained and designed for combat. You are not and still you engage me, trying to outflank me and outwit me. You launch trumped-up accusations at me but they will fall short of their intended target and then you will be subjected to the full might of my armies as I strike back. Anybody who would goad a superpower such as myself is clearly insane and your repeated attempts to do this put you firmly in this category. It is only the truth I therefore tell when my propaganda broadcasts to your family and friends point out that you are clearly unhinged. You are. Your repeated attempts to topple me bear testament to this insanity on your part.

Everything about me is designed to defeat you. I am the anointed one. I am the king of this kingdom and can never be usurped. This is why I have been created as the total war machine. I have been designed in this way to always triumph, my ever-ready condition a necessary pre-requisite to crushing any rebellion on your part. Why not for once finally submit to my hegemonic control? Why not recognise that you can never win and submit to my good governance? After all, I only have your best interests at heart. You cannot defeat a machine which is always primed for war. An outbreak of peace will do you the world of good won’t it?

Advertisements

The predatory lion will watch from the grass at the wildebeest gathered at the edge of the river of the watering hole. He is waiting for his moment to strike, to pick off one of the herd which has foolishly strayed from the protection of the herd. Once that beast has ventured into the range of the waiting lion its fate has been sealed. Much like the empathic individual who has recklessly wandered back into the sphere of influence of the waiting narcissist who is ready to perform a Hoover, the wildebeest is just moments away from being captured and meeting a grisly fate. The narcissist and the hunting lion share several similarities. We are predators, kings of our environments and noble. We have the edge on the lion however. He may be able to sit unnoticed amidst the dried out grassland, his coat blending in with the sun-scorched yellows, ochres and browns, but once he makes his move and breaks cover, his intended target has a chance. It may only be a slim window of opportunity to escape this savage beast but there is an opportunity nevertheless. I am sure the proud feline would welcome being able to stroll right into that pack of waiting wildebeest, mingle with them,move about them and then strike without any of the creatures noticing that one of their number has been taken down. He can wander freely around as he takes his prey and never break cover. That is where we hold the advantage over the lion. We are able to move amongst our prey, unnoticed and even welcomed as we study and observe,choosing our moment to strike again and again and again.

With such a spectacular cloaking ability we are able to choose the choicest environments in order to ensnare an empath, super-empath or co-dependent. Just like the wildebeest that congregate at a watering hole, providing a target-rich environment for the lion, we seek out those places where we know that we will find plenty of empathic individuals and thus our quest for prime, potent fuel meets with victory. Accordingly as an empathic individual you will be well aware of the places where there are many of your kind. Those environments which require those who care, protect and nurture are prime locations for us to infiltrate and gorge on the victims that mill around us. Charities, hospitals, schools, animal rescue shelters, homeless shelters and domestic violence refuges are just some examples of the places where we will worm our way in. We have little difficulty in doing this. As you know, we are masters of mimicry with our unrivalled ability to take on the traits and abilities of others. Although empathy is an alien feeling to us we are easily able to exhibit the ways of the empath. We spend so much time amongst your kind that we know what to say, how to look and what to do so that we pass unchallenged amongst your ranks. Moreover, the thrusting dynamism that we bring, our charismatic leadership and motivational skills are highly prized in such caring places. The hard-hearted captain of industry may see finance, law, accountancy, technology and the like as ‘sexier’ environments in which to prosper but all of the above places I have mentioned where one finds a higher proportion of empathic individuals than usual have their rewards. The executives of charities are well remunerated, the leaders of hospital trusts invariably have flittering CVs and various honours attached to their names. These sectors need thrusting individuals alongside the care givers in order to ensure that the organisation is effective. This suits us perfectly. Our driven natures, our sense of entitlement and grandiose behaviour is just what is required for those top roles. Couple this with our chameleon like ability to feign that we care and that we are empathic means we ease into the charitable and caring sectors with unchallenged ease.

These environments not only provide us with plenty of succulent empaths to feast on but they present us with opportunities for easy wins. We can dazzle and shine, using our ambition to progress where others are more concerned about the delivery of care as opposed to clambering up the career ladder. These organisations need a dynamic hand on the tiller (us) combined with the delivery of caring services (you). The fact that there are empaths on tap for us to hunt down is serendipity indeed. Thus, next time you look around the management at your hospital or you are sat in a meeting with a committee of trustees for your charity there is every chance that one of our kind is sat there, lurking in the grassland, sliding a forked-tongue across those sharp, sharp teeth.

How often did you hear this refrain when you were a child? The command to get on with your homework and not to leave it until Sunday evening or even worse on the bus to school the following day. Homework is seen as an integral part of a student’s academic progress. I was a diligent student. I could not be any other since I was trapped between the rock of a headmaster for a father and a hard face, I mean a hard place in the form of my driving and ambitious mother. From time to time she would place me in her car and drive to a run down and dilapidated area of the nearest city.

“Take a look, HG,” she would announce as she drove along a street with boarded up windows, graffiti-sprayed walls and broken roofs, “these are the type of places you end up if you do not study hard at school. You do not want that do you?”

“No mother,” I would dutifully respond as I watched the derelict houses speed by. Thus I was always reminded of the value of positive application across my various academic disciplines. It was reinforced repeatedly that I had to study hard, complete my essays and assignments and always do my homework. I am sure you can recall the temptation posed by your friends calling round to ask if you were coming out, or you had a new computer game you would much rather play or there was something on television that you would rather watch. The allure of something shiny and attractive always proved a distraction. We would all much rather do the exciting things rather than attend to the humdrum even if the humdrum is what is required to enable us to benefit in the long term. That naturally requires discipline. It is difficult isn’t it to focus on something that is not especially exciting or is mundane? We would all much rather choose to the things which are new,fresh and exciting.

This is precisely what we rely on when we come blazing into your life. We distract you with our flattery and our charm. We turn your heads with the compliments and the excitement. Our whirlwind of desire is so difficult to resist. There may be one or two voices struggling to make themselves heard above the noise of our incessant flattering chatter. Those voices may know what we are or they at the very least are concerned by what they are witnessing and they urge you to consider carefully what you are doing. They see certain behaviours and they are not caught up in the excitement and razzle dazzle. They have some objectivity and quite possibly more life experience than you. They may recognise these behaviours having seen them with other people and they are trying to guide you to avoid making the mistakes that they have.  Theirs is the voice of reason, akin to that parent who reminds you to get that homework done. It is never a popular suggestion and one that is always too readily ignored. I am sure you know people who now as adults perhaps have not made the best of themselves and they rue the fact that they should have tried harder at school or they should have listened to their parents but now it is too late for them. They did not listen and they chose the excitement of hanging out with their friends and larking about at McDonald’s or on street corners to getting their head down and doing their homework. They have failed to heed the advice that was given by those who have more experience and wisdom. Just like them you were too absorbed with the excitement we brought into your world, it was far easier and far more attractive to become engrossed in what we offered than to sit and reflect, heed advice and do the homework. I have heard it many times,

“If only I had listened to my mother, she kept saying something was not right.”

“My friends kept trying to tell me but I thought I knew best.”

“I wish I had done some due diligence now, but I guess it is too late.”

When we arrive promising you the world and telling you that you do not need to do your homework because you have us now, you might just want to re-consider that and get out some books and do some studying. By reading and learning you will protect yourself and achieve more. You will go further. Just like I did.

Power. Everywhere you look you will see power at work. One company takes over another because of the former’s greater financial power. A boxer knocks out his opponent since he has a more powerful punch. A car accelerates faster than a competing model owing to it having a more powerful. Power is all around us and dictate and governs all our interactions. In the home so much of what we rely on, cookers, fridges, television sets, hair dryers, blenders and heating rely on power. Power is central to a happier existence. By contrast, when power is absent so much goes wrong. If there is a storm and the electricity supply has been interrupted there is massive inconvenience. There is no heating with the risk to the health of the elderly, young and infirm. Lighting reverts to primitive methods such as illumination by candle. The younger generation experiences frustration as the wifi network fails and the multiplicity of devices which they have connected to the internet are useless. Witness the agitation of a teenage who has forgotten to charge his or her ‘phone and they realise they only have 8% power showing on the batter icon. The necessity of power is absolute and the absence of power is abhorred. We are no different.

You are far more powerful than you may actually realise. You are our walking battery or cell. You yield fuel which powers us. We want you providing us with high quality fuel repeatedly as we rely on this for the preservation of ourselves. Your fuel grants us power to allow us to do what we need to. Look around your home and consider that if every heating element was switched on, every light shone and every household appliance was operating, the amount of power used is considerable. In the same way, when we enter your world we appear in a blaze of light, loud and unmissable. We give our warmth, we shine brightly and we are a spinning, whirling dervish of activity. All of this uses up power in the same way that your household appliances do. The drain to the energy network is substantial. If you want something as brilliant as us then there is a power cost associated with us and that is where you come in. In order to enable us to charm and seduce multiple targets, to allow us to roll out or campaign of love bombing with our arsenal of desire takes a tremendous amount of power. Thereafter, the denigration and devaluation all takes up energy and power. We like to conserve out power as you well know. Instead we want to take your power.

Consider how you once were at the outset of our relationship. You were confident, independent, happy and bright. Yes, you may have experienced some problems and they lurked beneath a fragile surface but you had survived what had happened in the past. You got on with things, supported by your own power networks of friends and family. We come along and sever some of those networks or if we can, we uncouple them from you and attach them to us instead in order to seize their power for our own use. At this time you felt stronger, more vibrant and energetic as you motored through life, taking care of yourself and others. Then we come along. The dazzling sound and light show which sweeps you off your feet is impressive but it has to be powered somehow. We providethat power at first, regarding it as an investment in order to ensnare you. We cannot however deplete our power reserves and that is why once we have you connected to us that we begin to leech your power, your fuel, for ourselves. Not only does this sequestration of your energy bolster us,making us powerful and more able to carry out our wicked machinations against you and others, it drains you.

Each day, our demands for your fuel to power us, means that there is less and less for you. You find that your power source becomes depleted. Your defences become weakened, just like the loss of shields on the Enterprise in Star Trek when they suffer a power failure. You have no energy,you feel listless and weak. You have little interest in anything any more. Your bright and vivacious personality has become muted and dulled. We keep draining you of your power, feeding on your fuel as you become systematically weaker and weaker. Soon your loss of power results in your doing less and less. You have not the energy or functionality to do those things you once did. You forgo friends, you forget about family and you let your interests fray. This reduces your power further as you attempt, in vain, to conserve enough power to enable you to function at the most basic level. Yet we are not content. We continue to suck the life, the energy and the power from you, in order to sustain ourselves with no concern at all for the impact it has on you. You become a shell, a dud battery, a drained cell as all that power is taken for us. You have no interest in your appearance, you do very little, you no longer speak up for yourself or indeed have anything much to say. You switch to auto-pilot as the last traces of power continue to be sucked from you. You carry out only the most rudimentary of tasks until even they begin to be too much. You stop washing, you stop eating and you stop taking medication. On we go leeching this power from you until the warning lights that had been shining for some time about your low levels of power eventually flicker and go out. It is then you stop, broken and unable to function any longer. It is now that when you are utterly drained that we will uncouple from you and push you to one side, allowing you to crash into the dust. Our power lines are now attached to someone else as you lie there a malfunctioned, powerless appliance. You have been drained and ended up going down the drain, no longer of any use to us, that is until you start to recover and regain your power. Then we will be back. You can guarantee that.

How many times have you declared that you have had enough? How many times have you vowed that you are no longer putting up with this behaviour and making a fresh start? How often have you put in place steps to depart and leave this confusing and twisted reality behind? We hear these assertive comments from time to time. We have subjected you to a sustained devaluation, provoked so many heightened emotional responses from you which has given us fuel. At times you did not know whether you were coming or going, your head swam and that dull ache in the centre of your forehead never seemed to diminish. You wondered who you could trust as you fought to establish what you believed was right against a backdrop of contradictions. From somewhere you mustered some strength, a bolt of fortitude sprang from the maelstrom and in that moment of clarity you knew it was time to go. This situation is not right surely? Nobody should be treated in this manner. Yes, it was the moment to depart.

Of course you could not do so without your parting speech. It was not borne out of spite or venom. Those are not watchwords that apply to you. Notwithstanding the horrendous treatment meted out against you, the repeated abuse and the incessant put downs, you still behaved with dignity and grace. There was little doubt that you wanted to lash out. You wanted to flail us with stinging words and some home truths, just in the same way we had used our acidic tongues and savage words to berate you, yet despite how much you wanted to speak to us in this manner you did not do so. Instead, demonstrating the empathy which attracted us to you all that time ago you explained how you still loved us. You fought back the tears as you explained that you loved us more than you did when we first became a couple and despite everything that has happened you still love us. You ought to have torn strips of us, levelling a lengthy charge sheet against us but you did not behave in this way. That is not who you are. You talked about all the wonderful traits we have and how you miss them, you continued to praise us even after everything that we had done to you. You stood there bearing the emotional and physical bruises and rather than lambast us for putting you in such a state you preferred to talk about the magical times we had together. You clearly had committed each of those occasions to your memory as you brought up each event and occurrence as the tears trickled down your cheeks. You explained how wonderful we made you feel, how you had never experienced anything like that before and you consequently truly believed you had found the one. You work through the golden period, talking about the trips we took, the days we spent together and the glittering and scintillating moments we created. We can see this is hurting you all the more yet still your selflessness continues. You are exhausted after the tortuous time you have been put through and yet still you only try to remember the good and thank us for those wonderful times. You tell us that although they lasted a few months, the memories of that time are seared into your mind and you will always treasure them. You explain that you will reflect on those memories and not what came to pass afterwards as you still prefer to think the best of us, despite everything we have subjected you to. Your nobility in behaving in this manner is most impressive and your admirable words continue to fuel us. You explain between sobs that you do not want to go but you have to. You do not want to leave everything that we have built up behind but if you do not do so then you will be destroyed. You apologise, yes you actually apologise that you have not been able to help us, to steer us away from the destructive and malevolent behaviour that has marred the latter months together. You explaim how hard you have tried but admit you have been defeated. You express your desire for us to change and to seek help because you truly believe that we are a good person who just needs to seize on that goodness and allow it to shine. You tell us you have seen what we can do and achieve and you still want what is best for us. You stand there staring at us, some of your possessions already packed in the two suitcases which are waiting in the hallway. You tell us you will make arrangements with us to collect the remainder of your belongings once you have had a chance to think and breathe.

We rise from our seat and walk towards you. You are quietly sobbing and we take your hands in our hands and hold them in that tender manner you recall so well. The vicious squeezing that one day arrived out of nowhere is not in existence. Instead, we hold your hands and look you straight in the eye as we summon up a look we have practised before with others in the situation. The look begins as sorrow and then morphs into hope as we search your eyes looking for that flicker of flame once again through the tears. You hold our gaze as we keep searching and then we speak, our words soft and gentle, just as they were when we whispered into your ear as we lay next to you holding you late at night.

“I am sorry, I know this time I have to change. Please help me be the good person I know I can be, that I want to be. Something is wrong with me and I do not know what it is, but you can save me, you are the only one. Please do not leave me. I cannot survive without you. I need you. I want to make you happy again because someone as wonderful and as loving as you deserves it. I will get help but I know I can only do it with you at my side. Please, please stay.”

The short speech is delivered with true brilliance as I gather the right inflection in tone coupled with suitable contrite looks and mannerisms. I continue to look into your eyes as you let my words sink in. The moments pass and then the light flickers, that flame of hope sparks into life and I know your next words before you have even spoken them and I begin to give you that enticing and winning smile again. I know that you will stay. Again.

To catfish is to create false identities for use on-line and in particular for the purpose of carrying on deceptive online romances. The term was invited for our kind. The creation of false dating profiles, false Facebook profiles and the like is a standard tool of the narcissist as it allows for the gathering of fuel from multiple individuals on a regular basis. From being sat in a study one can reach out around the world and portray whatever we want to a vast array of individuals. Many people who are not of our kind engage in this behaviour as they seek to flirt with someone, to coerce them to send them nude pictures and videos or just to engage in some filthy chat with someone. Those individuals will do this to avoid detection from their current partner or perhaps friends and family who might inadvertently stumble upon their clumsy overtures. We go further than this as we look to ensnare our unwitting victims. Naturally since we are invariably excellent wordsmiths our ability to sit hidden, obscured by the internet allows the focus to be on words so that we can lure people in. I do it from time to time, making full use of the connectivity that arises from being able to access the internet from virtually anywhere and also the various platforms and applications which facilitate this kind of behaviour. I recall a particularly effective profile which I used on Facebook some time ago and which every so often I will roll out. I found a picture of an educated and handsome-looking fellow on the internet. It looked like a work profile picture which was just what I was looking for. I created a false name and then embellished the profile with various interests. I then began the hunt for some friends. I know that nearly everyone has friends on their Facebook profile who they do not know. Accordingly, it is not going to be difficult to begin to generate a coterie of supposed friends. After all, who is going to turn down a request from the erudite and attractive gentleman with the refined name? Very few as it transpires. Once the profile started to take on the look of one which had a base in reality then it was over to certain applications on Facebook to start the fun. At the time there was one called Social Me. It was very straight forward. A picture appeared and you could choose a compliment from a selection (sexy, crazy, hot, beautiful and so on – it was hardly taxing) or you could choose your own. Of course I am not from the herd so I embarked on my own descriptions using my well-known ability to flatter and describe. This soon grabbed the attention of many ladies and the comments went back and forth as they lavished me with their own comments. The fuel came flowing from scores of women as they locked on to me. They then sent the friend requests having been reeled in through Social Me. Messages would pass backwards and forwards and it was not long before they offered mobile telephone numbers. From there the conversations ranged from me talking about an entirely fictitious career (after all I am not going to tell them my real profession) to engaging in filthy chat was they masturbated down the telephone. All delicious fuel. I would be sat with my computer lighting up from Social Me comments, friend requests and messages as the mobile buzzed and pinged. I have a voice which many have commented on as alluring, the baritone of British received pronunciation proving a particular draw. With many I maintained the façade but with a handful I eventually admitted to being someone else, the person I actually was. This privileged group was allowed into knowing my real name and such additional information because they wanted to meet me and who was I deny to them that opportunity. This coterie consisted of a dominatrix from a city in the north-east of England, a nurse from the midlands, a chain-smoking charity worker from  a city in the north-west of England, a long-nailed administrator from the south coast and most entertaining of all a police officer from the midlands. Not one of them challenged me about the artifice that I had created. Why? Because throughout I had created something plausible and their desire for me, created on the basis of electronic exchanges with a complete stranger and then late night telephone calls had proven too attractive to pass up. If ever questions were asked I always had an answer.

“Why are most of your friends on FB women?”

“Many of my male friends are not on FB and those that are I see them often.I use FB to keep in touch with long-distance friends and make new ones, just like you.”

“Why aren’t there more pictures on FB of you?”

“My job (which I was always amorphous about mentioning words such as ‘finance’, ‘developing nations’ and ‘war-torn’ means if I provide clues as to where I am I could place myself at risk.”

Similar questions were always deflected with a plausible answer and they always accepted the explanation. Why? Because they liked the attention. They liked being able to have a conversation with someone who is intelligent and erudite rather than someone who writes, “Fancy a shag” as his opening gambit. I have mentioned before the poor standards of male engagement over the internet provides vast opportunities for those of us who exhibit skill. Those that I allowed beyond the false persona accepted my explanation of its use. I was engaged in tracking a fraud suspect online for a major bank and then befriending her. She knew what I looked life in real life so a false persona had to be adopted in order to draw her in. It gave the ruse credibility by interacting with lost of other people and it also allowed me to meet you. Not one of those admitted to the inner sanctum rejected this explanation or felt any annoyance at the subterfuge. They wanted something so they believed in it, whatever was said. I must admit even I was taken aback at times by how readily they had accepted it. I met all of them, some on numerous occasions and it was evident that they had considerable feelings for me and that was all good fuel. They have no idea what I am and nor would they. Some have been cast to one side whilst others are still used as pipelines as and when the need arises. Just like the catfish my barbels were attuned to sniffing out prey, but beyond that I have no likeness to such a creature. All we share in common is our ability to swim along and detect prey. The catfish combs the water whilst I cruise through cyberspace.

I have often mentioned the empath’s need to know. Initially this is borne out of your desire to know and to understand for the purpose of enabling you to discharge your caring and nurturing abilities. Only by understanding and knowing what is wrong, what is going through someone’s mind or understanding their situation are you able to assist and help. Some people like to know because they are inquisitive. Some people like to know because they are downright nosey. We like to know so we can use it against you or to further our own schemes. You like to know so you can help. This is a core trait of the empathic individual and it is not something that you are ever able to let go.  Even when we are subjecting you to the devaluation you are unable to accept that it is happening without being able to understand why. You need to know. We know you need to know and we exploit this. This is why we engage in denial, deflection and circular arguments because we are entirely aware this inability to allow you to know and to understand draws fuel from you but also keeps you doing this. Even when we discard you, you still want to make sense of what has happened. You need and want to know why did we treat in the way we did, why did we do all those awful things to you and why were you not enough? By tapping into this trait of yours we also ensure that you have to know what we are doing once we have flung you to one side.

You will ask our friends what we are doing and pose similar questions to our family in a bid to ascertain what we are now doing without you. You ask your friends to spy on your behalf, gathering information about the places that we have been to and the people we have fraternised with. You see, if you try to escape from us then you cannot get rid of us as we appear with Hoover in hand ready to suck you back. However, if we have decided that we have extracted as much fuel as we possibly can from you (at least for now) we will do our utmost to remain invisible and keep you guessing. We want you wondering what we are doing? We want you to be sat contemplating where we are and who we are with? Are we happy? Are we thinking of you? This need to know becomes overwhelming and you then embark on your role as private eye. You will stalk our Facebook page in order to gather information. We will block you in order to increase the work for you but you will use a friend’s profile to look or create a false one. You will drive past the places you know we might be, home, work and recreational and social places hoping to catch a glimpse of what we are doing so you can satiate that need to know. You will create a new profile and follow us on Twitter, checking each day to see what we have written. Is there a new girlfriend? What is she like? Are we taking her to the places we took you? Who are these people in the photographs and where are they taken? We know you will be spying and the more you try and learn the more questions will arise. We use obsessing as a method of manipulation and this continues in this mould. Our everpresence will keep reminding you and you do not help yourself as you repeatedly reinforce our presence in your mind by searching, checking and spying. You will search our name on Google, examine our work website for any changes, check on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Like a detective hunting for clues you will keep at it each day. You create a habit in order to feed the addiction which is the need to know. We know you will do this, we engineer and we encourage this behaviour in you. The knowledge that you are engaged in these practices gives us fuel. We cannot see you or hear you yet we know you are spying on us. We know what you are like and we can picture you earnestly hunched over your keyboard as you stare at your monitor. Don’t deny it because when we do Hoover you it is one of the first things we tease from you. How many times a day did you check our Facebook profile? You will admit you did it at least three times a day and and tell us how much you missed us. You will ask about the new person we were with and who you saw posts referring to and all the photographs that we displayed. Did we miss you too? You always ask this as well. Why? Because you always need to know.

When we commence our devaluation of you it always comes out of nowhere. By now you should be acquainted with the fact that our modus operandi is that we strike from out of the blue. We arrive full of noise, colour and light although you never saw us coming. We turn on our manipulative abuse from out of nothing and then we open the door to the golden period seemingly at a moment’s notice. Our devaluation just appears and of course it has to be this way to keep you spinning around and unsettled.  We unleash our array of dizzying and destructive words and actions in order to throw you from that pedestal and have you sprawling in the dirt. It is rare for our victims to submit immediately. It takes a period of time to get them where we want them and that does not cause us concern because plenty of fuel will be spilled towards us in the meanwhile. Initially you are bewildered, puzzled and confused. Yesterday we were so loving towards you and today so cold. It really is the archetypal Jekyll and Hyde behaviour. The shutters have been lowered, the drawbridge raised and the door slammed shut. It leaves you perplexed. You have a few days of asking us what is wrong, asking us to talk to you and explain, you rack your brains trying to work out was is going on. You may ask your friends and receive supportive yet ultimately unhelpful responses as they do not know either what you are dealing with. You move to try and resurrect the golden period. You make our favourite meals, suggest trips out, buy us gifts, lavish us with attention and offer your body as you dress up to entice us. This all worked before and as you sit frowning and worrying, you wonder who took away that person you loved and replaced him with this doppelganger. He looks the same but it is not him. You double your efforts to try to return to our golden period, you beg and plead, you ask and cajole but it seems as if we have been cast from stone. Your optimistic entreaties give way to anger and frustration as you demand that we tell you what has changed, you rant and shout as your capacity for understanding becomes overloaded. You feel at your wits’ end as your boil over with frustration. You begin to suggest there is something wrong with us and this ignites our fury. We may allow a short return to the golden period just to confuse you further and raise your hopes. Back and forth we will vacillate as we engage in this push and pull. Round and round we go, dragging you along as we take you back through puzzlement then to endeavour once again. Anger and frustration are familiar stops once again on this circular journey and you begin to feel dizzy. Confusion, charisma, consternation and anger. Each day brings a different emotion and all the while you are being ground down, drained and leeched from. This incessant dance we force you to endure seems never-ending even though the tempo and steps alter. All through this you are haemorrhaging emotion which we gladly drink as our fuel. It is all intentional. It is all deliberate. We will look into your eyes and see the confusion that reigns. Good. Time to make you work for the golden period again. We see that flicker of optimism and hope as you try to win us back, you try to bring us back from wherever it is we have gone. We never went anywhere of course. We have been in the same place all along, but you never noticed because of the illusion we created. Now we want to see your frustration. Now we want to see your anger. Push, pull, prod and twist. We stare into your eyes drinking deep of the emotion that we find there. Over and over we do this, making you run the gauntlet of differing emotions as you pour fuel in our direction We use your eyes as a gauge to see how our treatment is affecting you. There in your eyes we see the fuel. We keep watching until eventually, after everything you have endured we see the light in your eyes begin to fade. It is then we know that we are gods.

Valentine’s Day. Another artifice which amounts to another day that falls prey to our manipulative wiles based on your expectations. Those expectations raised by a society that expects conformity to these commercial festivals yet does nothing when those same festivals contribute to your pain and misery. Much like Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and so on, society has deigned for you to behave in a certain way and for you to expect certain behaviours on those particular days. Who are we to disappoint when such a gift horse is dropped into our lap?

Should you be fortunate enough to be firmly ensconced in the seductive golden period when Valentine’s Day arrives then you can expect a day beyond all days. In keeping with our penchant for the grand gesture a large bouquet of beautiful white roses will arrive. Preferably the day falls on a week day so that the arrival of this extravagant display of flora will be at your place of work. Let the world of your office see how marvellous I am to you. Let them gather around you and coo and bleat about what a massive bouquet that is and he must really love you. The flora bomb is merely the start. More gifts will arrive during the day, from jewellery, to confectionary, through to sleek glossy technological items and clothing. All of it is done to draw a reaction of admiration and envy from those around you and to reinforce to you just how fortunate you are to be with me. Valentine’s Day merely provides me with a stage by which I am able to demonstrate how truly wonderful I am and how lucky you are to be with me. My façade of affection and love is reinforced by those observing these multiple gestures. I will take you away for the weekend and ensure that everyone knows what I am doing by insisting you tell all your friends and by repeated postings and photographs on social media. If a weekend away is not practical then it will be a favourite show of yours and dinner at a prestigious restaurant and again I will ensure that this news is broadcast far. Through out the day I will send you thoughtful and delightful messages, whispered voicemail messages and texts declaring my love for you. I shall borrow repeatedly of the choicest phrases from the romantic masters as I maintain this maelstrom of desire on this most special day. My efforts will dwarf yours but that does not matter because today is all about you (so it becomes all about me) and the admiring and loving fuel you yield is delicious and edifying. I will have swept you off your feet during my seduction of you but Valentine’s Day enables me to open up a complete new front of romance, love and seduction.

You should only ever expect one wonderful Valentine’s Day with me and in some instances, dependent on when our relationship has stared, you may not even get that. You can of course be assured to receive at least one day of misery when this supposedly special day becomes just another tool by which I will devalue you. You of course will comply with the obligation to be romantic and do your best to fuss over me, handing me a carefully chosen gift and card which I will barely look at at best and will criticise as being wrong and not something I wanted at worst. Your heightened expectations will be the catalyst for me rolling our malice and disappointment throughout the day. You expect a card. No card will be provided. You will look hopefully each time someone comes to the door hoping it to be a delivery from the florist only for you to feel crestfallen as nobody appears. I may even arrange for a lieutenant to appear with a bouquet in his hands only to have got the wrong house and ask for someone else when you answer the door. The brave face you attempt to maintain despite your obvious misery is a joy to behold. Society has caused you to believe that you should receive special treatment today and of course you will, but not of the variety that you will expect. Do not blame me. Blame yourself and society for causing you to think that on this random day you should be loved, venerated and idealised. I know you expect me to comply with these pre-conceived notions and towards the end of the day, after the lack of gifts, the absence of doing anything special and the third argument of the day, your sobbing in the bedroom provides me with the fuel that I always know I can obtain on this day. I know there are some cynics who do not hold with Valentine’s Day. Like many festivals, they baulk at the crass commercialisation that has taken a grip on what is meant to be a day of romance and love. I am a big believer in Valentine’s Day and U do so from the stance of a traditionalist. Early Christian martyrs in Rome were often called Valentine and thus the day became synonymous with the concept of sacrifice and martyrdom. I am a firm advocate of continuing that tradition as you martyr yourself at the altar of me. Happy Valentine’s Day!

It is an acknowledged fact that you never see us coming. We are creatures that are insidious and pervasive. It is astonishing that we are not seen because we hardly arrive quietly. We appear with great fanfare, fireworks, flashing lights and symphonic sounds. You cannot miss us but of course all of that obscures what we really are. Even when our true intentions begin to manifest you still do not recognise what we are. There are those of you who meet us once and then fall prey a second or even a third time, such is the manner in which we inveigle our way into your lives. You never ever know who we are when we first enter your life and often you do not realise until years afterwards what has happened to you. Some never even achieve enlightenment. Everything we do is designed to deceive. We are shrouded in deceit, it oozes from us and taints everything around us but you rarely see all of that. We are masters of deception, masked and cloaked, our true intentions hidden behind a sheen of flattery and a wall of manipulation. We know you blame yourselves when you finally realise who you have danced with. We are aware that you see it all too clearly after the event and you blame yourself repeatedly. You really ought not to be so harsh on yourselves, you never stood a chance. It is not just you who cannot penetrate our veil of secrecy, the so-called professionals often fail as well. If they cannot see us then you can be forgiven for doing so can’t you?

There is an army of therapists, doctors, counsellors, life-coaches and so on. Call them what you will and for all their academic brilliance, their soothing words and supposed insight there are many (although not all admittedly) who are unable to detect us either. They have not experienced what you have and therefore they can only speak from a position of learned, rather than experienced, knowledge. Many of our kind never have any interaction with these people since we refuse to acknowledge there is anything wrong with us much less see any need to be subjected to this scrutiny. This diminishes the prospects of these professionals from gaining a proper understanding. Moreover on the occasions when they might just happen to have one of our kind inside their consulting rooms we do everything in our expansive charismatic power to persuade them that not only is there nothing wrong with us but we are the victims of vile behaviour from the very person who forced us to attend on this shrink. Accordingly, their opportunities to understand us and learn from us are limited and this in turn allows us to continue unhindered in our machinations.

Prior to the good doctors who at least appear to know what they are doing, I merrily attended sessions with therapists and their ilk on five occasions. How could I pass up such a succulent opportunity to gather more fuel from this new arrival and also from you. I would resist any attempt to move into this arena of psychoanalysis at first, purely in order to heighten your woe, hurt and frustration. Eventually and often when perceiving a risk that you would voluntarily threaten my supply of fuel I would agree to attend. I prepared in advance as I selected all of the instruments of charm and flattery from my Devil’s Toolkit. Oh how I enjoyed those sessions. My other half would always pay for them so there was a blast of fuel from the off and I relished the opportunity to demonstrate my amenable and charming nature to them. In these sessions with therapists and the like I always adopted a twin strategy. Charm on the one hand and plausible deniability on the other.

I would present at the appropriate place, early, relaxed and looking forward to the chance to tell someone all about me for an hour and paid for by you. I would be pleasant, engaging and treat the time as a fireside chat as I spoke well of my other half,my friends, my job and my achievements. I talked about some of my interests, film in particular and would always ask the other person about their favourite films. They never refused me an answer. The first session was always a breeze as I fillybusted until the time had elapsed. I would continue to do this in each session and often they would allow me to talk and talk. They might try and steer the conversation onto something relevant to my behaviour and I would steer it back on to something else. The first counsellor I saw admitted after five sessions that there was nothing to discuss much to my delight and the girlfriend at the time’s dismay.

It became a challenge whenever the issue of help, therapy or treatment arose. I would go along and draw the positive fuel from the therapist and then draw negative fuel from whoever had insisted on me attending.

“Yes it is going well, we just have a chat really. It is all very amicable.”

“She clearly likes me as she always laughs at my jokes.”

“Did you know he supports the same football team as me? He even sits in the same stand.”

“I am not allowed to tell you about it.”

The last one is a favourite as the pseudo-confidentiality that I apply to the scenario frustrates and irritates you because after all, you need to know because you want to help and by not telling you anything on the basis of instruction from the therapist your bewilderment and frustration increases.

Where my opponent has pressed the issue and asked me and kept on asking me about the alleged behaviours that you have detailed to them beforehand I am always able to drive such doubt into the conversation that it dilutes any attempt to identify what I truly am. It is laughable. When I first ensnare you I do not show you my true colours so do you think that I would behave any different with someone who is trying to trap me and pin me down? Of course not. The catalogue of behaviour outside of normative engagements is fed back to me and I am able to deal with it all. I am an astute enough person to realise that a bare-faced denial will seem evasive and may alert my examiner. Instead, I explain away the perceived problem.

“Yes I admit I do sometimes lose my temper but who doesn’t? I work long hours and I do get a little irritable at times, I know I shouldn’t but I am only human aren’t I?”

“She is rather sensitive so she does tend to exaggerate. She had a bad time of it with her last boyfriend you see. I try and be supportive but it can be difficult because she sees so much in the same way as when she was with him. I don’t blame her it just becomes hard to deal with at times, I am sure you know what I mean, for example there was this one time…..”

“We have a passionate relationship so there are break-ups and make-ups. There is a lot of passionate energy between us and sometimes it does get a little out of hand, on both sides, but that’s the way we are. I recognise my part in this, that after all is why I am here and I would really appreciate it if you could help me to help her. What do you suggest?”

Events are watered down, instances diluted and happenings blurred. Plausible deniability is rolled out and allied with charm results in me walking away with another admirer to my collection and you bemused as to how I have seemingly got away with it again. You really ought not to (although I am pleased you do) get so upset by it since they really do have little chance to uncover what we truly are. What of Dr E and Dr O I hear you ask? Yes well it took two of them in a pincer movement and only because I had to yield to them but that war is still ongoing and there is much fuel to obtain yet.