You do not give up easily do you? We are pleased that this is the case. You try to resurrect what we once had. You will look to resuscitate our relationship. You want to breathe new life into you and me. You want to salvage what you can from the wreckage and build something anew. You will not let the life slip from what we have, you will not step out of the tangled and twisted remains and walk away. No, you try. You try to make it work, you try to see what can be done, you try to sort things out. You try to make everything right again, you try to make us happy, you try to please us, how you try to please us. You try to fix us, you try to banish these demons which plague us, you try to shed light and joy. You try when everything seems lost, you try when all seems pointless and you try despite everything else suggesting that what we are is a lost cause. You try because you believe in hope.
But what is this hope that has you trying on a superhuman scale, which has you wiping away the tears, picking yourself up, dusting yourself down and standing up once more to try to do the right thing? If you were not with our kind but someone normal and the relationship was foundering would you try as you do with us? Of course you would try and steer the good ship towards calmer waters but you would not try to the same extent as you do with us. Where two people find they no longer have anything in common, they may be content to leave matters as they are and drift along in neutrality. It is not heady and wonderful but neither is it awful. Is beige such a terrible place to be? There is security, the children have grown up and you have your separate interests. There is no hatred, far from it, but neither is there passion any longer, but something in the middle. This is deemed as acceptable and you are happy to trundle along in this manner. You do not try to rekindle those early days of your honeymoon period. In other instances, this mediocrity is found to be stifling. If you hear another gardening anecdote or incident at the bowling club, you will go spare. You want to travel and experience new things. Your other half is more interested in the home brew and the latest episode on television. There is no hatred, there is no passion but this time the middle is deemed suffocating and unacceptable. You do not try to rekindle what you once had but instead decide you want something else. You move on to something else, be it a single life with new pursuits or finding a new person who shares your interests. The separation is amicable, fair-minded and there is no turbulence. The relationship ran its course and you saw no reason to try to make it anything different.
Yet with us it is so different isn’t it? You try your absolute best to get things back on track, you try until you are shattered and exhausted, bewildered and confused. How can you not achieve what we once had again? Why is it so elusive? Yet you do not give up. You keep on trying. Again and again.
Such is the intoxicating power of the golden period, such is the addiction of this utterly falsified state of affairs, such is the massive attraction of that seemingly perfect love, you try your damnedest to resurrect it. Sometimes there is a glimmer of a return or even a brief sortie to that promised land once again and you know that your repeated trying has succeeded. It never lasts. It never stays. Still, you exhibit that indefatigable spirit as you try once more, looking to rekindle that special love we once had.
You even begin to sacrifice pieces of yourself in order to try to bring it back. You try to guess what we want all the time. You walk on those eggshells in order to avoid disrupting the fragile peace. You agree to do things you would never have countenanced once upon a time but hey, it is worth trying isn’t it? You decide to spend more time with us, sacrificing your relationships with your friends and with your family, but you have to try don’t you? You cannot be said to have not tried to make this work and if you had it once then surely you can get it again can’t you? You submit to more and more of our demands, demeaning yourself, degrading yourself and suffering our repeated denigrations but you convince yourself that this is all worth doing because you are trying to achieve a greater aim. You have hope that you will succeed and bring back that elusive golden period. You forgo invitations to events because you know it will displease us. You do not invite people to the house to avoid causing a disruption to the evening, since we want peace and quiet. You try not to say anything when we return late from who knows where. You try to remain silent when we spend hours staring into the screen on our laptops, tapping away, our minds somewhere else. You retreat, back-off and compromise, giving away more and more of yourself and your life as you try to succeed.
Thus here is the awful warped nature of being ensnared by us. In a normal relationship you may not try to the same extent because the excitement and passion was not as it was with us. Yet, this relationship is one where trying will bring about success. Yes, you won’t establish that paradise that exists when we seduce you, but it never actually existed to begin with. It is a fiction. However, trying to succeed with someone normal and healthy is entirely achievable. You will not, by contrast, ever succeed with us. You can try over and over and over again but for all this effort and endeavour you will not get what you want. What we once granted you will only ever be given again in small doses and then only as part of this continuing manipulation so that you remain in our grip so we can gather fuel until we throw you aside. No matter how determined you are, no matter how great your resolve, no matter the fact that you put every breath, every ounce of effort in to trying to make things work between you and us so everything is golden, it will never ever work. It cannot because you cannot control the golden period. Only we can and we choose who is granted it and when in accordance with our need for control and fuel.
Try to understand that.
Having ascertained that the commission of tears arising from physical and/or emotional hurt resulted in a sympathetic reaction from certain people, I committed this to memory. I have rarely encountered much physical pain as an adult, enjoying excellent health and ensuring that I always get my retaliation in first so my enemies are the ones who experience physical pain rather than me. The early conditioning that I have been subjected to, as I now understand, appears to have resulted in me being impervious to many emotional injuries that others suffer from. Even the horrendous sensations which arise from my wounding as a consequence of criticism does not cause the tears to fall. Instead, I must focus on repairing the wound through retreat or the instigation of fury in order to gather fuel. The attention this requires means that I do not suffer the immediate reaction of becoming upset. I must feign upset in order to attract the required sympathy and in doing so I use that issued sympathy in order to bring about the control I require over the subject.
My tuition in the art and use of crying later embraced a different catalyst and one which has served to drive me ever onwards and upwards. I have many gifts and of those the one that was cherished most by my father was my academic ability. As I have mentioned beforehand, he was a very intelligent man, well-read and with an interest in the world at large, something which be bestowed on all his offspring. This served him well in both his careers of commerce and then academia. His was the steady hand at the tiller of our academic progress and he sought to steer a path through the choppy waters of my mother’s ambitions for us, our own desires and what he felt would serve us best. The three, as might you expect, were not always compatible.
I excelled at school which naturally resulted in my progression to sixth form college and I was always destined for university. Naturally it was to the most prestigious that I was directed towards and I achieved admission whereupon in such a fertile environment I began to flex my tendrils as I embraced my dark art, but that is a tale for another time. Alongside this I flourished at my chosen discipline and eventually I graduated with a double first. It was this achievement which Dr E honed in on in one of our discussions.
“So a double first, quite the achievement,” he remarked. I nodded. He was not wrong.
“What did your parents think about it?” he asked.
“My friends once they had their results went racing away to telephone their parents to let them know the outcome. I didn’t.”
“It had already been arranged that I was meeting my parents for dinner that evening and I would tell them my degree result once we ordered.”
“What did you think of that arrangement? Weren’t you keen to tell your parents sooner of your success?”
“I suppose so but I knew there was little point. Even if I had tried to telephone them, nobody would have answered. My mother would have deliberately absented the house so I could not reach them so as to avoid spoiling the anticipation at dinner.”
“So this arrangement was at your mother’s behest?”
“Of course. Who else? If I achieved the expected outcome the evening would pass pleasantly, if I did not, I would be subjected to a lengthy cross-examination unable to avoid it by putting the telephone down.”
“I see. It was fortuitous then that you achieved such an excellent result.”
“Fortune had nothing to do with it. This dinner was placed in the diary as soon as my mother knew when the examination results would be posted. It was a further incentive for me to achieve what was expected of me.”
Dr E nodded and made a note.
“How did the meal progress then? How did they react to news of your achievement?”
“Once our orders had been placed and the waiter walked away, my mother turned to me and asked ‘Well?’ I responded with, ‘I obtained a double first’ and she answered by saying, ‘As expected. I will make the call,’ and she left the table to telephone the other family members to let them know, probably her brother first of all out of them all.”
“No mention of well done or congratulations?” asked Dr E.
I shook my head.
“And your father?” he asked.
“My father waited until my mother was out of earshot and he reached across and placed his hand on my arm and said, “Well done HG, very well done, that is a fantastic outcome. I know just how hard you have had to work for that result. It is a magnificent result, truly outstanding. I am so very proud of you son, very proud indeed,” and then as he said the word proud his voice cracked and I looked up into his eyes and I could see that he was crying. I had never seen my father cry before. Ever. I had seen him concerned, downcast, worried and so much more, but never the tears. His face was fixed with a huge smile and he tried to speak again but he was overcome with pride. Pride for me. Just me. I had not seen anything like it.”
“How did you feel about him showing such pride for you?”
“I was taken aback but then I felt this surge through me and it felt amazing. It was visceral and ever so powerful as I continued to look at him, the tears filling his eyes and he kept nodding. His hand patted my arm, I can still picture it now. He wasn’t able to speak but the look on his face and that nodding told me that somehow he felt that the job was done, the mission had been accomplished and he was proud of me for doing so. I have never forgotten that moment.”
“Why?” asked Dr E.
“Because the way I felt when I saw my father cry tears of pride at my achievement made me want to see that again. The sense of power that he imbued in me, his praise, his pride, his adoration of my achievement was so edifying that he made me strive even harder. Oh, my mother thinks she is the driving force behind my success and it would be wrong to say she has not been. She has been a huge influence but from that point onwards, my postgraduate achievement, my securing employment and advancement through the hierarchy to where I am now and also in terms of what the future may bring has been driven by my father. I wanted to feel that power again and for that to happen I wanted to see those tears of pride again. So I worked damn hard. I never knew that pride would make someone cry. I never knew that someone’s proud tears would make me feel so powerful.”
“I see. Did you see those tears of pride again from your father?”
I felt the first flicker of the ignition of my fury at this question.
“No. Once again something special to me was taken from me.”
Dr E wanted to discuss with me the consequences of my behaviour. I agreed to listen. The sneaky head doctor had only gone and obtained testimonies from various people who have apparently suffered at the hands of my kind. I recognised a few of the comments and suspect that he had spoken to people that I know although he denied this. We argued for ten minutes as I demanded that he tell me who he had spoken to but he maintained that the information had been given on the basis of preserving anonymity. I challenged this and explained that if he could not attribute the comments then he had surely made them up. He assured me that he had not. I then told him that these comments were lies. He conceded that he could not confirm the veracity of the comments since he had only heard their side but he asked me, for the purposes of the discussion, to just accept they were accurate. I knew if I didn’t I would have to spend longer with him so I nodded. The first comment was that I was like a tornado that blew in without warning and caused carnage wherever I went. I agreed that I was intense in my desire for somebody but they always enjoyed that. I said I did not understand the reference to carnage. He moved on.
The next comment was that I shattered people’s self-esteem and took away their identity. I laughed at that. How could I take away their identity? I countered that their self-esteem was invariably broken when I arrived and I helped to try and repair it. He jotted down something at this point. Next up was the comment that I trampled over people’s feelings and left them a broken shell.I pointed out that sometimes people could not cope with the fullness of my personality, especially if they were a wallflower. Next up was the observation that I ruined financial stability and had no concept of what belonged to others. I responded by explaining that when you are in a relationship you are meant to share and if they could not handle sharing their property with me then that was their issue and not mine. Dr E ploughed on with comment after comment all essentially suggesting that I caused heartache and destruction left, right and centre. I am pleased to report that I batted back all the observations successfully. He sighed and lowered his clipboard. He paused and then said,
“Last one, you came in like a wrecking ball.”
I just stuck my tongue out to that one.