We never respect boundaries, do not regard them as applicable to us, whether those boundaries are accepted social conventions or boundaries enshrined in law, we have little or no regard for them. These rules, procedures, conventions and laws are for the little people, not titans such as us. We go where we want, when we want and do what we want. Driven by our astonishing sense of entitlement, absent empathy and innate superiority, we smash through barriers and boundaries every day. This is a total mind set which we adopt and the examples of this are legion. Here are fifteen instance of our boundary breaking behaviours.
Anything of yours is automatically ours.
You are an extension of us.
We make you feel guilty if you say no to us.
We make you believe that you are something that you are not.
We ignore and/or deny your needs.
We invade your spaces.
We allow your sense of self-esteem and self-worth to be eroded.
We make you solely responsible for our needs.
We make you say “yes” to us through a sense of obligation.
We make you feel it is necessary to always please us.
We treat you unequally.
We fail to support you.
We expect you to agree with us all of the time.
We expect you to read our minds so you do what we want.
We dominate your resources – time, energy, attention, socialising, money and emotions.
I am Chloe. I am 18 years old and I had an affair with my teacher, Mr Stevens or Phil as I came to call him.
I am not some silly girl, although they have repeatedly tried to tell me that I am. Believe me, I have felt the weight of my opponents as they tried to convince me, no doubt orchestrated by Phil, that I dreamt the whole thing up. Still, it is to be expected isn’t it, that they, the teachers, will close ranks and look out for one another. That is what they do isn’t it? I have lost friends because of this, but I realise they are just jealous and they fancied Phil just like me, only I got to have him. I don’t blame them for fancying him, he is good looking and funny and he has that easy air about him that makes him so likeable, but what they don’t realise that it is all an act. Phil the Flirt, Phil the Mate but when it suits him he remains Phil the Teacher, set apart and to stay apart.
He started it of course. I won’t deny that I liked him from the beginning. Everybody does. He is a popular teacher and being good-looking as well is never going to cause him a problem in the popularity stakes, but you see, he knows all of this, he plays on all of this and boy does he use it. He uses it to reel you in and then, and here is the clever part, he uses it as his defence. “I cannot help it if they take advantage of my popularity,” he protests as he maintains his innocence. He is not innocent. And he took my innocence.
He started it. I recognised the way he looked at me. He always looked for me in class before anybody else, as if ensuring that I was there in my usual seat and then giving me ‘that smile’. Oh, he smiles at everyone I was told. He does not smile for them the way he does, or rather did, for me. I am not stupid. I may be young but I saw how he would stare at me, how I could feel his gaze on me, how I could tell from the corner of my eye that he was stood besides me and was looking down my blouse. Who wouldn’t? I am attractive, I have my fair share of boys chasing after me and Mr Stevens is a man, he is flesh and blood, so he is bound to look isn’t he? He wasn’t meant to touch though but he did. Oh he touched me, in so many ways and he knew what he was doing.
I had heard that others had become besotted with him before. Rumours of some girl a few years ago who had to be persuaded to move to another school because she fell in love with him and would not leave him alone. I tried to find her actually but got nowhere. Some say he got her pregnant and she had to have an abortion, her parents hushing it all up as they did not want the scandal. Some say it is all made up. They have said the same to me.
I know what I saw. The cheeky winks just for me, the slightly longer smile than usual aimed at me. The way he usually asked me first when I put my hand up to answer a question. He was besotted with me first. I tried to tell them this but they dismissed what I said. Told me I was reading too much into him just being friendly, that I was trying to see things which were not there because I was desperate for his approval.
He was always encouraging, praising me for my work. I always enjoyed history but it became even better when he was allocated as my teacher. I worked hard because I wanted good results and I wanted him to be pleased with my work. I got high marks from the beginning and I now realise this was his way of reeling me in, making me feel special, marking me out for special treatment. He advocated on my behalf that I should be a candidate for Oxbridge (prestige British universities) and that meant extra tuition ; with him of course. Now, I am good enough to get in to Oxford or Cambridge (I chose Oxford) but he clearly saw this as his opportunity to isolate me from the other students and cleverly, from witnesses. After all, plenty of people across the various subjects have these Oxbridge tutorials after college hours, but he used his to teach me about more than the Tudor dynasty and the English Civil War.
Once he had me in those special tuition one-on-ones, then it was inevitable where it would end up. I was not complaining. I wanted his attention, absolutely, although of course he should have known better. He was the one in a position of trust, a man in a position of authority and I was just the pupil. Yes, I wanted him, but I didn’t realise that he was the one who had engineered for me to feel that way. That is what these predators do. They make it seem like your doing, but he hypnotised me and made me fall under his spell.
He was always so assured, doing just enough to maintain an element of doubt should he have misjudged the situation, just enough to be able to protest it was an innocent gesture. The hand on the shoulder, the hug of congratulations, the slightly-too-long touching of fingers when passing a book or an essay to one another. Oh, he was good, he knew what he was doing, steadily reeling me in and making me the centre of the universe. He chose me from the very beginning and little by little he reeled me in. He used his influence to bring me to heel and have me on my knees (how he relished seeing me on my knees) and I lapped up his attention and more besides.
Soon the secret trysts began. Arrangements made in his office with that Stuart family tree covering the door window so nobody could see what went on in his office. So much for transparent government, he still subscribed to the idea of an absolute monarchy. He never used his ‘phone, clever old Phil. He made it seem romantic, the whispered instructions of where to meet and when, always outdoors, never in places where we would be seen. No traces left, no observers, no evidence. He was a master at this game and I was clearly naive, but I am not a silly little girl.
And then he dropped me. No explanation. He became cold. Civil yet cold. I tried to get my friends to see how he treated me differently but they told me that I was imagining it. My grades remained excellent but the Phil that held me and read to me from historical texts and delighted me with his knowledge was gone. The Oxbridge tutelage came to a conclusion as the entrance examinations loomed ; he had no reason to be alone with me and even though I sought an audience with him, this absolute monarch would not grant me admittance.
So I spoke out. Why shouldn’t I? He told me he loved me and I loved him too. Yet once he had my innocence (or rather once he had it two score) he considered me conquered and of no great interest to him anymore. Nobody treats me like this. I will bring him down. He is not going to get away with it. Oh, I know they think I have made this all up, some kind of revenge for not getting my way, but they have underestimated me. I am not going to be denied and I will make the all see, even my parents who for some inexplicable reason have sided with him. I shouldn’t be surprised though, the have always hated me for some reasons, they are frauds to think they can call themselves mother and father. No, I know this is how his kind behave. They turn everyone against you, cut you off and paint you as the trouble maker. That is not me. I am the victim.
I am Mr Stevens. I am 30 years old and a teacher of history. I still am, although I am currently suspended as a consequence of the ridiculous allegations of a fantasist. It is an outrage that someone’s made-up fantasy has the potential to ruin a man’s career.
I am no fool. I have taught for nearly a decade and I know the tricks pupils get up to. I have seen them all. I have always been a teacher who adopts the ‘carrot’ approach. You always get further with honey rather than vinegar. Oh, I know there are one or two sticks in the mud in the staff room who regard my popularity with sniffed disdain, but that is just jealousy on their part. My results speak for themselves. Plenty of students choose to study history and between Miss Kelshaw and I, we make a formidable team. Thankfully Miss Kelshaw has supported me in this unpleasant matter although I always knew she would do so. Sensible lady.
You do walk a tight rope at times when you are friendly, yet firm, with the students. I am not their friend but I do not have to be their enemy either. I love history and my natural enthusiasm for the topic is something I try to install in my charges too. If you love something, you always do better don’t you? It does not feel like a bind or a chore. By ensuring those who choose to study history with me really love it and want to live and breathe it, I weed out the ones where it is not for them nice and early and they move to a different subject in the first two weeks. Plus doing that ensures that I am only going to get those who are going to get the best grades, so it is a win-win all around. I want to make my mark on this college. I will be the principal one day, although at present it appears that moral principles are ones which are trying to attract my attention to a greater degree.
Chloe Fowler is a good student. She will do well. Polite if something of an attention-seeker. Always first to stick her hand in the air an one to air an opinion on absolutely anything and everything. Nothing really wrong with that I suppose, at least she has learned the mantra of make a point and then ensure you have something to back it up when she advanced her arguments. I taught her just as I taught everybody else ; to the best of my ability.
Unfortunately for me, she mis-read my concern for her education as meaning something else. What can I do about that? I am not going to sit behind a screen and isolate myself from my students am I? That is not how I operate. I am not a ‘no smiles before Christmas’ kind of guy. Not at all. History needs to be alive, accessible and most of all enjoyable. It is like anything in this life – if you enjoy it, make it yours and you will succeed. I want all my students to succeed.
Yes, I selected Chloe Fowler for Oxbridge tutelage. That was the right selection and I still say it is, despite her ridiculous allegations. She has her keen mind, too keen as it happens. I have read what she has accused me of, or rather the police office read it to me and it is all nonsense, a made-up fairy tale. I see she has been clever though, she has ensured that she has accused me when there was nobody else available to witness our interactions. It is always the case that those chosen for Oxbridge tuition see their tutors in their offices. That has always been the case and I am pleased that my fellow teachers and the principal have confirmed that to be the case. I knew they would back me on this. It is an occupational hazard of ours, infatuated students who start to think they are the apple of your eye. Usually it is nothing more than a harmless term-long crush and they grow out of it, but not this girl. She has something seriously wrong with her. Has to have to come out with the lies she has spouted. Suggesting we had sex beneath ‘the tree that Charles the Second hid in’. I know that to be a lie ; that tree was destroyed hundreds of years ago. Everything she has spouted is just the slops of the mind of a fantasist and she is dangerous. Nobody is going to believe her. I know the police have to go through the motions but it will be soon kicked in to touch. She has done this because I rejected her. I didn’t reject her outright, after all there was nothing to reject, we had no romantic relationship, there was no flirtation, nothing. It is clear, however, she thought otherwise and in that warped mind of hers, she has felt rejected in some way and this is the result. An expensive and unnecessary investigation, plus the interference to the other students, no wonder so many have turned against her.
I know she liked me. I am a likeable person but I maintained a proper teacher-student relationship and she has seen fit to dream up something else. What can you do? Put cameras everywhere I suppose but then who wants that, surely there has to be some element of trust between us? Am I annoyed? Of course I am. I haven’t done anything wrong and along comes this girl and she spouts all manner of idiocy and she is treated seriously. I mean, anybody can see this is a tissue of lies. This had better not affect my promotion prospects or I will be taking legal action too. Thankfully the local paper have not reported anything about it so far, that conversation I had with the deputy editor seems to have worked, so far so good on that front. He is a good friend and does not want to see the reputation of a hard-working and successful teacher sullied. What annoys me most is how easy it is for someone like her to make these things up and next thing it is suspension and investigation. They tell me that it is a neutral act but I know there will be those trotting out the old ‘no smoke without fire’ rubbish.
I realise that when you are decent-looking chap like me and because you are friendly and get to share a joke with the students, some might blur the boundaries but it is one thing for them to be blurred and another for them to be crossed. Am I to be punished just for being popular, because that is what she is trying to do?
I am not going to change my style though. I am a hands-on teacher and that always gets results and one besotted fantasists is not going to make Phil Stevens change how he teaches. No way.
It is ridiculous. As if I would be interested in some 16 year old (which is how she says she was when this started) when I have a gorgeous wife at home. That in itself should tell those looking into this that this is a witch hunt by a disturbed adolescent who should be studying for her exams and getting help with whatever problem she has, rather than trying to ruin the life of an honest and decent man. I am the victim in all of this.
Neighbours. Unless you operate a sheep farm in Australia or man a lighthouse, chances are you will have some neighbours. For the most part, people may not know who their neighbours are, particularly in busy multi-occupancy properties in cities or they recognise them, but the interaction is a little more than a “Hello” and “Turned out nice again” as they pass in the street, lobby or lift. For others a neighbour has become a long-standing friend, a person who is spoken to every day, who is always welcome to pop in or who a conversation is engaged with over the garden fence. There is never a problem borrowing a cup of sugar, watching the cat whilst on holiday or taking in a parcel.
From the unknown, to the amiable to the hearty friendship, neighbours proliferate across the planet and largely there is no issue. However, there then comes the individual (although sometimes it is a couple or family) who earns the epitaph of neighbour from hell. This individual makes life for their neighbours or perhaps one in particular, irritating, annoying or complete misery. I daresay you have your own experiences of this, either something that has happened to you or you have witnessed or heard about having happened to a friend or family member. The variety of behaviours engaged in by this inconsiderate and unpleasant individual is endless but here are some examples:-
The neighbour who plays loud music every night until the early hours of the morning.
The neighbour who complains if one of your visitors parks their car outside his house even if it is not blocking the driveway.
A neighbour whose garden and house is an eyesore and nothing is done to keep it tidy or well-maintained.
A neighbour who commences a boundary dispute because the new ornament atop the pillar at the end of your drive appears to encroach one inch onto his land.
The neighbour who kicks over your wheelie bins because they say you are leaving them on their property.
The neighbour who erects a huge fence blocking out your natural light.
The neighbour who leaves mountains of rubbish lying around, attracting rodents and causing a stench.
The neighbour who has an animal which causes a problem through noise, droppings, biting or damaging property.
The neighbour who will not return footballs and the like which go over the fence.
The neighbour who repeatedly complains about you and your family over non-existent or trivial complaints.
Sending anonymous notes to other neighbours suggesting that the targeted neighbour is a paedophile or serial womaniser.
The neighbour who always borrows possessions and never returns them
It may be the case that a particular neighbour engages in one or several of these anti-social behaviours. It may be the case that a neighbour engages in a vendetta whereby the behaviour goes beyond that of being anti-social and amounts to a concerted campaign of harassment, criminal damage and even criminal assault. This unpleasant neighbour may embark on a series of behaviours such as poisoning animals, pouring weed killer on flowers or ripping up the garden turf, posting faeces through the letterbox, smashing windows, erecting barriers to prevent access and physically attacking the long-suffering neighbour.
Many people are either unwilling or unable to move away from this particularly problematic person. Naturally, the innocent party will try to reason with the difficult neighbour, trying to reach a compromise over parking arrangements, or asking the neighbour to show more consideration with regards to making noise at night. The innocent neighbour recognises that the behaviour is anti-social but is unable to understand :-
Why the neighbour behaves like this in the first place;
Fails to recognise he or she is doing anything wrong;
Refuses to change their behaviours;
Get so worked-up over trivial matters; and
Increases the aggravation when reasonably approached.
The innocent person is completely at a loss as to what they could have done to invite such treatment. They are unable to grasp why it cannot be sorted out. They may escalate matters by making a complaint to the relevant authority about noise, refuse and behaviour, involve the police or commence their own legal proceedings to resolve a boundary dispute where significant money is spent arguing about a strip of land three inches in width and makes no real difference to anybody. Even such escalation fails to cause the nasty neighbour to correct their ways, often resulting in the unpleasant behaviour continuing or if the neighbour complies with a court order or notice, they engage in an alternative form of nuisance and harassment, leaving the innocent party exasperated. They cannot understand why this person behaves this way.
The reason they behave like this is that in all likelihood this is a nasty neighbour narcissist.
Now, many of our kind have pleasant interactions with our neighbours. The neighbour, either a tertiary or secondary (sometimes intimate) source is treated well enough because
a. Positive fuel is provided on an intermittent basis so there is no risk of that fuel going stale or the narcissist shifting stance owing to a reduction in quantity or frequency;
b. Façade management is key. It is often important to the narcissist that they are regarded as a pleasant person, well-regarded in the community etc by their neighbours and therefore it pays to remain courteous and pleasant to them as part of the façade;
c. Neighbours may form part of the narcissist’s coterie;
d. The neighbours form the contrast (through façade and coterie) compared to the treatment of the IPPS.
Accordingly, it usually suits the narcissist to have convivial relations with neighbours.
Yet, when problems arise in the manner described above, it will invariably be a narcissist who is generating the nasty behaviour and prolonging the campaign of harassment. Why is this?
The sense of entitlement. The narcissist is entitled to sleep without your noisy kids making a racket even though it is a family neighbourhood, the middle of the afternoon and the school holidays. The narcissist can park his car blocking your drive if he wishes. He does not have to remove the refuse just because you ask. If he wants to park a large van so it blocks your light, he can do that. Those footballs which keep landing in his garden belong to him now and in fact, how dare your offspring invade his territory.
No boundary recognition. In some instances this actually becomes literal when the narcissist builds an extension to the property encroaching on a boundary line. Having no recognition and respect for boundaries, the narcissist neighbour will remove anything of yours if he thinks it is in the way, tell you to change the colour of your front door is she does not approve with the shade you have painted it, walk across your front lawn rather than around it because it is easier to do that and a hundred other examples.
No concept of accountability. This links in with the sense of entitlement. The narcissist does not have to do something just because you ask nor do they have to act just because the local authority has said as such.
Victim mentality. Utilising the narcissistic perspective and the Toxic Logic that prevails, each situation will be twisted around so that the innocent person is the one who will be regarded as the one who has caused the problem, the narcissist is the individual who has been put upon and badly treated.
Split thinking. The neighbour may well have been painted ‘white’ to begin with and then inadvertently does something which results in them being seen as ‘black’. No matter what this person does, they are always viewed as being in the wrong. For instance, the narcissist may have been hosting a party and the neighbour politely asks them to turn the music down as it is after midnight and they have young children. This offends the narcissist’s sense of entitlement and they are wounded by this request. The narcissist sees it as a demand, an order and plays the victim “all I was doing was celebrating my birthday but they had to spoil it”, fury is ignited so the music is turned up and thereafter the neighbour remains painted black and becomes a scapegoat in the neighbourhood.
Inability to resolve the dispute. This arises out of the differing perspectives and because the innocent person does not know what they are dealing with. They think it is enough to ask their neighbour not to keep moving their rubbish bins when they have been left out for collection and that is a reasonable request. They do not realise how this request wounds the narcissist, that their fury ignites and they lash out in order to seek fuel. They do not realise that the narcissist has different aims to them which means that resolving any issue (trivial as it seems to the innocent party) becomes impossible as the potential outcomes desired by each party are completely different (to understand more about this mentality which extends to all manner of disputes with a narcissist see Why Are The Arguments Never Resolved?
Why does the nasty neighbour narcissist keep on going, seemingly hell-bent on revenge over something minor such as the innocent neighbour accidentally knocking over a garden gnome? This incessant attack by the narcissist neighbour leaves the innocent party bewildered and flabbergasted. Who on earth keeps on going over such a minor matter? The answer; a narcissist. Why? One huge problem for a neighbour who has found themselves painted black by a narcissist neighbour is that they are always going to be hoovered and they will be malign. Why is this? Firstly, the Hoover Trigger ( see The Spheres of Influence ). You, as the innocent neighbour will activate a hoover trigger every single day because you enter the narcissist neighbour’s sphere of influence either because they see you or they see your house. Next, what about the Hoover Execution Criteria? Are they met ? (see It’s Hoover Time). It is usually the case that the Hoover Bar on these criteria will be low because
a. The narcissist knows fuel will be readily obtained from you, because you will be angry, upset, pleading etc;
b. The hoover will be easy to execute – the narcissist knows where you are, does not have to travel far at all to effect the hoover, has a vast array of ways of hoovering you to draw fuel, there is no romantic Formal Relationship to try to resurrect, it is a straight forward grab for fuel and the criteria are nearly always going to be met.
Accordingly, whilst the innocent party cannot fathom out why the narcissist keeps engaging in the harassment and dirty tricks, the simple fact that that person has been painted black in the eyes of the narcissist and then the Hoover Triggers are repeatedly activated and the hoovers effected means that an ongoing, sustained and repeated campaign of harassment and nastiness is waged against the individual. Reasoning with the neighbour does not work, upping the ante will not work (it is just fuel and/or allows the narcissist to smear the innocent victim) and even in some instances repeated court orders will be flouted by the narcissist who rejects the attempt to shackle their entitlement and continues their stance of being unaccountable.
8. No empathy. Lacking empathy, the narcissist neighbour feels no need to stop with their behaviour, does not appreciate the plight of the innocent neighbour or consider how it would feel if it were acted out against them in a similar way. Instead, the narcissist will turn the matter around to explain how they are the one who is hard done to and engage in all of the familiar manipulations in order to maintain the upper hand and control with their neighbour.
9. The scapegoated neighbour is used for the purposes of triangulation with other neighbours or more often the brainwashed members of the narcissist’s family so that more lines of fuel are opened up.
10. There may well have been no warning signs either because the narcissist, at first, will have presented a façade to the new neighbours and in effect been subjected to a form of ‘seduction’ by the narcissist neighbour. Those other neighbours who tried to warn you were ignored since “oh he has been ever so friendly since we moved in” – sound familiar to the romantic dynamic?
Accordingly, if you have a repeatedly anti-social, unreasonable and harassing neighbour it is highly likely you are dealing with a narcissist.
What to do?
Do not react so little or no fuel is provided. This may well result in an increase in malign hoovers for a while but if there is no response, eventually the lack of fuel will mean the narcissist looks elsewhere or at least reduces the frequency of the behaviour.
Log all incidences of anti-social behaviour with relevant authorities, install CCTV as a must so you have evidence, write down in a journal incidences of anti-social behaviour so you build a solid evidential foundation which can be used by
a The police if criminal charges are to be pursued;
b. Environmental agencies where they have jurisdiction – noise, nuisance, refuse.
c. Relevant local authority if the individual is a social tenant who could be evicted.
d. You, if you bring private court proceedings for an injunction to stop trespass, harassment, or to seek an appropriate order relating to a boundary dispute
3. Recognise that asking the neighbour narcissist is not going to succeed. Ask once, politely, in writing (so you have a record) and then recognise that you have to escalate the matter through the appropriate channel with a solid evidential basis.
4. Understand that even formal escalation will take time and with certain neighbour narcissists they will ignore court orders, flout notices and so on until enforcement action is taken by the relevant body and/or the neighbour narcissist is sent to prison for failure to obey the court order or notice.
5. Go no contact and find a damn good estate agent to sell your home.
The production of tears and the emotion associated with such production has always been a source of fascination for me. I have shared with you my experiences and observations concerning pain, upset, pride and joy. The final part of this quartet concerns another occasion when the tears begin to flow. Just in the same way that I first witnessed and felt the power that I obtained from causing someone to shed tears of joy when I was at university, it was at this ancient seat of learning that I found another way of causing those tears to fall.
A later girlfriend who arose, after Trish (from Part Three) fell by the wayside, was Anita. A vivacious young lady, with long blonde hair, bright in outlook and intelligence and with an excellent sense of humour we had a rip-roaring time together for some seven months or so and then came the summer. We both returned to the places where we lived, about a hundred and fifty miles apart so not a huge journey even on this small island. Anita had taken a job and the hours varied considerably from week to week so that I did not hear from her as often as I wanted. This concerned me and coincided with an interest in a close friend who I had known from sixth form called Lucy who was also at university and had also returned to our home town for the summer. We began to spend quite a lot of time together and I found that her attention to me put into sharp focus the less attentive approach from Anita. I knew she was busy with the summer job that she had taken but despite this knowledge, I resented her failure to keep in touch with me as often as she had promised at the end of the academic year. When she did telephone I was monosyllabic with my answers and when I decided I did want to talk I began to tell her about all the things that Lucy and I were doing together. The walks through the countryside, the book we planned to write together, the discussions about our forthcoming careers, going swimming, going boating and so on. I knew that Anita was trying to hide any concerns about this sudden and seemingly intense friendship which had sprung up with Lucy, but she could not mask the disappointment that showed in her voice when I launched into a lengthy monologue about my day with Lucy. I found the sensation of power which arose when I talked about Lucy and when Anita tried to sound interested but the nervousness in her voice betrayed her and showed she was worried by this burgeoning friendship. Good. So she should be nervous. She should have been more attentive and been a good girlfriend. Nothing physical had happened between Lucy and I but that was just a question of time. In fact, I was pleased that nothing had happened in that regard because I could maintain that my relationship with Lucy was indeed one of friendship and it provided me with the moral high ground to cast aspersions and denigrate Anita if she tried to suggest there was anything untoward occurring.
This situation continued and each time we spoke I could tell Anita was concerned and was maintaining a brave front. In one telephone conversation she commented,
“I know you spend a lot of time with Lucy, HG, but that does not bother me at all.”
There was something new when she said this though. A defiance. I did not take kindly to that. I noticed that the usual powerful sensations that I felt during this telephone conversation were absent.
I decided that I would not take any calls from Anita after that. I would refuse to emerge from my room as my father shouted up to me that Anita was wanting to talk to me. I would hear him making excuses on my behalf, that I was asleep, or I had gone out and he had not realised. As this silent treatment extended into a second week, with Anita still telephoning on a daily basis, my father began to engage in conversations with her. I stood on the landing above listening to him in the hallway below trying to reassure her and assuage her concerns. I recall standing there, hands on the bannister, feeling the sensation of power washing over me as I thought of her anxious and worried, repeatedly calling and discussing this ongoing situation with my father. I know he liked Anita. He had met her in previous holidays. My father liked most people and saw the best in people. People liked him as well which often irritated my mother in the extreme, but this is not her tale. Not this time.
My father would argue Anita’s case for her, outlining that it was not very fair to not speak to her and that she was clearly worried that she had upset me in some way but did not know why. I thanked for father for his concerns and his attempt to broker a peace but this was between Anita and me. He pushed it no further with me, he knew by now better than to do so, but he continued to entertain Anita’s morning, afternoon or evening call (dependent on her shifts) in order to keep giving her hope that I would “snap out of it” or “come to my senses” as he put it.
We reached the third week of the silent treatment. I was enjoying myself. I was gaining daily attention from Lucy who called on me every day in order to ensure we did something together. I had no need to try to impress her any longer. She was hooked. I was also gaining the attention from Anita as her telephone calls and consultations with my father continued. Sometimes I was in and I listened, sometimes I was out and my father left me a note saying Anita had called. It was satisfying.
Into this third week, on a warm summer’s evening when I had returned from a day out in the countryside with Lucy, there came the chime of the old doorbell being activated. I was alone in the house and made my way to the partition door and stepped into the porch. The large wooden door had a diamond pane of glass set in it which enabled me to see who the visitor was. It was Anita. She had turned to look behind her, no doubt enjoying the wonderful view across the fields as they were lit up still by the sun. I ducked back so she could not see me. The power began to surge through me again. She had travelled to see me, without warning and knowing that I was not speaking to her. I noticed she had even appeared with a small suitcase as well in the hope of staying. She clearly did not want to let go. I was delighted by this. She had learned hadn’t she that she had been failing in her attentiveness to me? By administering this silence, something I had learned from dearest mother, I had caused her to realise her error and up her efforts in respect of me, resulting in her disrupting her working schedule and travelling to me.
To have her do this showed just how much I mattered to her and also how effective giving her the silent treatment was. I punched the air in delight with the powerful sensation still rushing over me, but there was more. I let her ring again and then I opened the door. I stood looking down at her as she stood on the second step. She looked at me, eyes wide in expectation but a nervousness about her too. She said nothing as I look at her.
“Hello Anita,” I smiled, “you have no idea how happy I am to see you on this doorstep again, my goodness I have missed you like you wouldn’t believe.”
I expected her to laugh, to smile but instead she burst into tears, her attractive face scrunching up as the tears flowed.
“What is it?” I asked completely foxed by this response.
She stepped forward and placed her arms about me. I reciprocated as she squeezed me tight, great wracking sobs coursing through her.
“Oh HG, I thought you had had enough of me, that you didn’t want to see me anymore.”
“Of course not, I er, just needed to do some thinking about things and it made me realise that er, it’s you that I want.”
She lifted her head and looked straight at me.
She started to cry again, a smile breaking through the continuing tears.
“HG, you have no idea what a relief it is to hear you say that to me.”
It was then that I understood. This tearful display was borne out of relief. Relief at having the silence broken. Relief at being held in my arms again. Relief that our relationship remained intact. The sensation was electrifying and I learned just how powerful the effect of seeing tears of relief was. I revelled in knowing that by my grace and decision I could grant her access to me once again and her relief poured from her, invigorating and edifying me. That moment, like so many other moments of realisation has stayed with me and I have used the power to cause those tears of relief to flow and the consequent fuel that arises to good effect on many occasions since.
I read your e-mails, your text messages and your post. I will become enraged if you do not give me the passwords to access your various forms of social media. I listen to your telephone conversations by standing nearby. I tap your telephone conversations and plant listening devices around your home. There is a GPS tracking device attached to your exhaust pipe. I interrupt you when you speak. I burst into a room when you have told me you are studying. I play loud music when you have a headache. I turn up uninvited when you are attending a function and waltz around as if I belong. I take your money and use your credit cards. I know you have been saving that delicious cake to share with your friends when they are visiting tomorrow but I take two huge slices from it anyway. I will use things that belong to you without asking and use things up that belong to you without buying a replacement. I am the friend that uses your make-up and wrecks the lipstick or causes the nail varnish to dry out. I am the neighbour who borrows your leaf blower and breaks it and never tells you least of all replace it. I borrow your vehicle even though you need it. I stand in your space, in your face and on your toes. I have absolutely no concept of what a boundary is. Why is that? Two reasons. I am so special I am entitled to all of these things as a matter of right. Who in their right mind would deny me access and use of such things and deny my behaviours as just reward and payment for having someone as special in their lives? You are paying for having me around. Secondly, I do not regard you or anyone else as separate to me. You are an extension of me and therefore what is yours is always mine. So no, I don’t do boundaries. Actually, that is not quite accurate. I do not do boundaries but I do lay them down for you. Rigid and inflexible but more of that another time I need to change channel now even though you were watching that programme. Fetch me a beer I know you bought some, I have drunk four already.