Cold Comfort

 

 

COLDCOMFORT

 

It is a well-recognised trait of ours that we do not feel empathy. We know how to show empathy. You and others have exhibited this on many occasions so we understand the facial expression to adopt, the tilt of the head, the appropriate body language such as a hand on the arm or an arm around the shoulders. We have listened most carefully so we understand the phrases to trot out,

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Is there anything I can do to help; it must feel terrible.”

“I understand where you are coming from, believe me and just tell me how I can help you.”

“I know how you feel.”

“I would feel upset too if this had happened to me.”

I have watched people like you in action as they exhibit their empathic nature and I have scoured the internet as well to gather a few choice phrases there also. Put all of this together and our kind is able to exhibit a convincing display of empathy which will fool almost everyone. You will see this false empathy exhibited during seduction when we want to show you how we are a kind, caring and sympathetic person so you will feel drawn to us even more. We know the correct recipients of this false empathy as well, the sick, the elderly, the stray cat, the homeless, the earthquake victim, the child with the distended stomach because he has not eaten for days, the earnest looking villagers crowded around a newly sunk well and so on. Yes, I know all of those who need some empathic reactions and I will provide them in front of you so you are all the more attracted to me. So that I fit in.

It is, of course, all for show. I do not feel it. Not at all. Not one iota, speck or scintilla of empathy. Show me a report of some tragedy and my eyes will glide across the text as I register what has happened. Inside I feel nothing. There is no response. I do not feel sorry for the people involved in the aftermath of the hurricane. I do not imagine what it must be like for them and how they must feel. Certainly I am intelligent enough to know how they must feel but I do not put myself in their shoes. I do not imagine what it must be like for them. There is no pulling at my heart strings, a feeling of upset, despondency or even anger at the injustice they may have suffered. Of course as you seek my response from alerting me to this latest disaster I will form a furrowed brow, shake my head and issue some suitable words to make you think that I care. That is of course if I want your positive reaction whereby you look on approvingly at my supposed compassion. If I no longer seek positive fuel from you then I will use it as an opportunity to provoke you.

“And?” is usually a good starting point for drawing a reaction from an empathic individual to something terrible.

“What do you mean and? These people are homeless and injured. They live on a small island and have no power and no clean water.”

“What do you expect me to do about it? They shouldn’t live there then.”

“What? Do you really mean that?”

“Yes. Their choice. They have to deal with it.”

This will invariably provoke a stunned silence or protestations. You may follow me as I walk away asking me how can I not feel for these people. You may express anger or outrage and naturally this is what I want you to do. The fact is I feel nothing. If I see a charity appeal on television I am unmoved. I have nothing in common with the people who are requesting help. I cannot identify with how they must feel in any way. It is a total disconnection.

The situation is different with those who I interact with and especially those who are an intimate partner when I am devaluing you. If you are ill and wanting some support and those three dreaded words “tender loving care” I do not feel nothing. I feel an overwhelming sense of disgust and revulsion. How have I come to couple with someone so pathetic and weak? Why did I agree to live with someone who is sneezing, coughing and rasping? They are trying to infect me aren’t they? Trying to bring me down to their level. I know what their plan is and I will not be duped. I see no reason why I should waste my time and energy dealing with somebody like this. It is a drain on my resources and there is little or no fuel to be had. Moreover, the sense of disgust drives me to get away from you. I cannot stand to see such weakness, such illness and such infirmity. I must escape it and thus I will disappear, sometimes with an excuse and often without in order to avoid this horrific scene.

When you are upset, perhaps over a bad day at work or an argument with a friend and you tearfully explain what is troubling you, expect to be met with a shrug. What do you expect me to do about it? It is your problem, not mine. Sort it out yourself. If you persist pleading with me to listen and to help you then I become irritated at your commandeering my time in this manner. Do you not realise I have much to do myself? I cannot forgo my own machinations and fuel gathering to play agony aunt to your whinging and whining. Your pathetic concerns annoy me and you will can expect me to berate you in order to further your misery so I at least draw some negative fuel from your upset. That way the situation is not one which will be completely written off. If your upset is even greater following the loss of your job or a bereavement, we will show no regard for your feelings and indeed exploit your misery during our devaluation. We will take this opportunity when you are vulnerable to extract further fuel. That is what matters to us. We feel the need for fuel. We do not feel any compassion or warmth towards you and indeed your selfishness in concentrating on yourself when you should be attending to us infuriates us. We will suggest that you never bothered much with that family member when they were alive so why are you now getting upset when they have passed away? You cry about your sacking and we suggest that you deserved it because you were not working hard enough. We will extract that negative fuel from your tears, your hurt, your frustration and your anger and once that has been obtained we will leave you to it. We have got what we want and there are other things, notably other people we can better spend our time with, rather than remaining with you and being subjected to your self-centred pity. We know you find such an approach heartless and abhorrent but there is no hope for anything else. We do not feel compassion or sympathy. There is no need for us to fake it because we can draw negative fuel, we do not need to make you like us or admire us and provide positive fuel. This is how we have been created. This is the cold comfort that you will always receive from us whenever you have a moment of need, upset or anguish. Deal with it.

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A Question of Trust

A QUESTIONOF TRUST

 

We are able to do what we do because of a particularly fundamental trait that we look for in the people that we target; trust. We look for those who place particular reliance on trust and then we abuse that trust. Most people operate on a basis of trust. If they did not, the world would grind to a halt. Trust lubricates so many transactions between people whether those transactions are social, financial or emotional. When somebody tells you,

“I like your shirt it suits you.”

You trust them to be telling you the truth. If you did not do so, you would stop and cross examine them as to why they like it in order to evaluate whether you believe their comment to be a true one or not. You trust the company from which you make a purchase to deliver when they say they will and that the product will be fit for purpose. You trust your colleagues to do their jobs effectively so you can also fulfil your obligations. You trust the police to maintain law and order, if you did not, there would be anarchy and rife vigilantism. It is axiomatic that there has to be trust otherwise everything would be slowed down or stopped as people evaluated, analysed, questioned and verified. Trust is evident everywhere and there is no greater trust than that which is expected in an intimate relationship.

People trust their partner to have their best interests at heart, to trust them not to do something to hurt them, to trust them to be faithful and loving. We know that in order for you to love in the way that you do, that deep and unconditional love, there must be trust. You approach your relationships with this trust held out in front of you, a symbol of good intent. You presume that everyone else that you will engage with will also adopt a similarly trusting stance. You expect them to reciprocate this trust. You trust that they will trust.

You are not a cynic. You do not operate in the realm of suspicion and mistrust. To do so would be admitting defeat and would tarnish the ideal of love that you are committed to. You accept much at face-value. That is not to label you as naïve, that would be unduly harsh, for as I have mentioned, many people operate on the basis of trust and so they must. You apply this trust to your dealings with those that you fall in love, led to believe by us that this trust will be reciprocated, that it will not breached, betrayed or damaged. You are a truth seeker. You apply honesty in all your dealings and the taint of lies and dishonesty offends you considerably. The stench of our deceit, the rank odour of our mendacity is great but the perfumed veil we cast over such dark and dangerous deceptions is such that the malodorous warning never nears you. You are conned into believing that we tell you the truth when we first encounter you. We behave with such conviction, the air of confidence we exude, seemingly unquestionable and unimpeachable. We look you in the eye, those unseen mirrors reflecting back at you your earnest trust so that you what you require. You look upon supposed honesty, apparent openness and this maintains your sense of trust.

By trusting you believe that you will get the truth. That our love will be true, that our intentions are truthful, that our fidelity is real and we govern our interactions with you under the mantle of truth. You trust that all of this will happen because we make you think you can trust us. We will reference those who have let us down, those who have betrayed us and in so doing we hold up our own reliance upon trust in order to receive your trust. See how we have trusted others and they let us down? We have always trusted beforehand and so you can be assured that we want to gain your trust and you shall have ours. It is all carefully orchestrated to channel one of the fundamental tenets by which you abide. When we gain that trust and we do so easily, you enable us to take this valuable commodity and apply our own veneer to it, reinforcing it and demonstrating to you just how much we value it. As a fellow disciple in trust this enables us to conduct ourselves in a way which ensures we are above suspicion. When we meet with a member of the opposite sex and explain she or he is just a friend and it is a friendly drink you have no reason to think otherwise. You trust us. When we tell you that we are working late. You trust us. When we borrow money from you. You trust us. When we tell you that we are using the contraceptive pill. You trust us. When we tell you that we love you and have never loved anybody like this before – you trust us.

Trust equals the truth. We then abuse your trust by carrying out our treacherous acts. We court other partners and shatter your trust. As you sit at home watching television thinking we are working hard for our future we are philandering and sliding our tendrils around a fresh prospect. When you are making that dinner for us both, looking forward to an evening together, I am showering in a hotel as I seek to wash away the scent of the person I have just coupled with. When you check your bank balance and consider what you will do with the return on the investment that I talked about so you lent me the money, your hard-earned money is being used to impress someone else so that they fall into my clutches. We take this very thing that is of such central importance to you and we abuse it. We disrespect and we trade is just like a commodity.

When you eventually realise your trust has been shattered and this has happened repeatedly. When you finally wake up and join the dots. When you see the flagrant breaches of your trust, when the evidence is irrefutable and painful, we may well have gone. Not only have we abused your trust but we have left without explanation or reason, leaving you to deal with the aftermath alone as we move on to the next target and begin gaining their trust. Like any confidence trickster it is necessary for us to gain trust before we are able to abuse it. Not only do we hurt you repeatedly through these actions we do so to such an extent, with so many people and with so many people aware of it, other than you until the last moment. This wide-ranging and wholesale desecration of trust, this tarnishing and defacing of the truth leaves you broken and unable to face the totality of the truth. You cannot comprehend that you have been conned so extensively and so often. You cannot bear the sensation that arises from having been made to look so foolish. You held your trust up as something to be proud of and now you are left to rue your reliance on this as you hear the repeated comments of “Told you so”, “Didn’t you notice?” and “You are too trusting.” You equate trust with the truth. Our abuse of your trust causes you to not want to accept the truth of what we have done.

The Ties That Bind

THE TIESTHAT BIND

 

One of our central aims when we have targeted you is to bind you to us. During our seduction we create this magical place and invite you and only you to inhabit it with us. We build a fantastic place and place you on a pedestal in the centre of this artifice. It is very difficult for you to realise this is a fallacy and even harder to do something about it. Every day, every hour that you remain close to our influence allows us to create more ties, more connections and increase the extent that you are bound to us. We make you feel fabulous, worshipped and loved. The dizzying, whirlwind nature of our passion is unlike anything else you have known and you readily accept it. It is of course not informed consent. You have no idea what we are, but nevertheless you accept all of this wonderful treatment. You allow us to permeate every aspect of your life. We draw you into ours and make you feel special and privileged for being allowed to do so. Consider how we penetrated your every network so everywhere you turned we were there.

We knew all your friends, we ingratiated ourselves with your family and got to meet your colleagues. We knew all the places you liked to go to and introduced you to some additional ones. We made sure we knew every favourite thing of yours, from books to plays to food. Your wine rack became stocked with the types of wine you preferred, your wear the jewellery that was bought for you after careful solicitation of what you deem pretty and I occasionally arrive bearing a new book from the stable of authors that you enjoy to read. Bit by bit I invade your life and as our relationship progresses at light speed, the gradual, creeping advance of my influence has actually gained more than a toehold. It has spread across your territory like some formidable weed that cannot be held back, covering and smothering. My clothes hang in the wardrobe, I have my favourite chair at your house, you now buy the cereal that I prefer to eat in the morning even though you think it is just a mouthful of sugar. You now wash my socks, my songs populate the iTunes playlist and the bathroom is testament to my occupation with the bottles, razors and accoutrements mingled amongst yours. You cannot fail to see my influence all around you, but you welcome this and from it you gain a great happiness. From dating, to staying over, to co-habiting and on to marriage, this inexorable march of sudden and frantic seduction, although this is only ever apparent with hindsight as at the time it was the right thing to do, results in our lives entwining as I wrap my tendrils around your life and drag you tight against me. So many links, connections, lines and ties between you and I.

These ties keep you in place despite the abuse that is to come. It is sudden and bewildering but you will not give up easily. Not only did you say those vows, you meant every word and we know this. You will not let what we have built up crumble to dust. Admirable as your fortitude may be, you may as well stand on a beach and command the tide to halt its own unceasing advance for all the good you will do. This will not stop you trying though. We know this. The ties are many and they are tight so you will not run for cover at the first administration of a silent treatment. You will not down tools and walk away when the shouting continues long into the night. You do not pack a bag and leave it in the hallway, sitting on the stairs as you wait for us to return, late at night, from whatever tryst we have been engaged in. You keep going, bound to the hope that everything will be good once more, that the golden period will return. You hang in there, you battle, you demonstrate misguided resolve as we lash out time and time again, drawing the negative fuel from your distress, dismay and disarray. You will not let go. The connections are too many. Our behaviour is reprehensible as we open up front after front after front against you, leaving you confused and crushed. We twist, blame, push and pull yet you will not waver. No matter how many times we knock you to the floor you keep coming back for more, dragged back onto your feet by the ties that bind you to us.

Then one day you remove yourself from our toxic influence or in some instances you are removed. Those ties remain but there is an elasticity which allow you to escape us. To be taken away from the acidic words and vicious schemes. The insults, the violent rages, the isolation and the denigration may have been halted. You may no longer be subjected to being spat at, your hair pulled, your money withheld, your social interactions curtailed and your self-esteem trampled underfoot. You may have escaped the daily devaluations which came at you in so many different and unedifying ways but your ordeal is far from over.

You may not have our furious face shouting into yours anymore. You may not be sat cowering behind a locked bathroom door as we pound on it demanding you come out. You may not lie crying in a bed made to feel empty by our absence. You may not stand outside the study seeing the glow of the monitor within, under the door and wonder who we are engaging with online, that knotted sensation in your stomach inducing sickness. You may have escaped many of these manipulations but the ties that bind remain.

The bond we have created with you is so strong, so deep and so far-reaching that every day you will feel a vast void at being parted from us. You will excuse the abuse as you hanker for those golden days. You will feel like something has been ripped from you by our absence. Even though you know how terrible we have acted towards you, you will still suffer that sense of illogical loss. Every day feels empty. You wonder what we are doing, who we are with and whether we are thinking about you. You see our presence all around you still, people still ask about us, you collapse on to your bed burying your face in that t-shirt we kept under our pillow and you still smell us on it. You drink deep of the scent, hoping the nagging pain will recede, that somehow you will be magically restored to where we once both were, when we were happy. Your run your fingers over the tub of hair wax which we left and you remember watching us as we carefully applied it. You cannot bring yourself to discard it, clinging on to these reminders of the joy that once abounded in these walls. You pass the bookcase, touching the spines of the volumes we bought for you, the words and letters all further reminders of our presence here in this house. You miss us you miss us so much, you shouldn’t do, not after what we have done. Not after the vile treatments you have suffered. It makes no sense that you should feel this way but you do. You ache for us, the ties that remain are still being pulled and yanked, even though we are not there with you. The searing pain rises as another reminder appears, the tie still strong. Unlike an umbilical cord which provides life, your cord to us continues to pain you. When will this end? When will this agony recede and be replaced by something else? Would it now not even be better to feel nothing? To be numbed and anaesthetised so you do not have to endure this ongoing pain.

The bond we create with you is so powerful, so deep and so long lasting that it is often the aftermath of the ties that bind that hurts more than the abuse itself. That is how dangerous we are.

You’ve Changed

YOU'VECHANGED

You’ve changed and I don’t know why. Have I done something wrong? Have I done something to offend you or upset you? Why have you changed? You aren’t interested in me anymore. Once upon a time you would sit in rapt attention as I explained things to you, as I told you about the things I had done. The things which mattered to me. I thought you liked them too. You seemed interested and it was a genuine interest as you asked me questions and admired me for what I told you about. Do you remember those conversations? I do, although I must admit there are days when they seem such a distant memory to what we have now that I wonder if I made them up or dreamt them. Those afternoons where we lay in bed, the world so far away from us as we held one another and made plans. The world was ours to conquer wasn’t it? We made such grand plans, you and I, with nothing to stop us or hold us back. Except ourselves. How have we come to be so far apart? Where did it go wrong? How did these changes happen? What caused them? We were united as one. We did not know where one of us started and where the other ended, we were so entwined. I was happy. I thought you were too. You seemed happy. Tell me you were happy.

We did everything together. I never wanted to be anywhere other than by your side. You completed me. I completed you. Two halves at long last united. Two lost souls who were wandering through the wilderness and then we found one another and all became wonderful. I did not dare to believe it was happening at first. After so many had failed, those who offered so much yet turned out to be pretenders with nothing but failure dripping from those promising lips. How I yearned to find the right one and just as I had almost given up all hope, along you came. My saviour. I knew from the moment I saw you that we belonged together. I could sense it and that first kiss, well, I can still feel the tingling up and down my spine even now, after all this time, after everything that has been said and done.

Why did you change? I did nothing wrong. I gave you my all. I believed in us but perhaps I have let you down, perhaps I have failed you in some way. Is there another? Is that why your eyes no longer shine when you look at me? Is that why your special smile has not been seen in these parts for too long? Do my tales and stories bore you now? Does the re-telling of these famous tales grow stale? Perhaps you have found someone else, someone who gives you what you want, someone new and exciting? Is that it? Is that why you have changed. Have you found sanctuary in the arms of another and now you have become malleable in their hands as you once were in mine? Do you remember how you said that my touch brought you to life and how you had merely existed beforehand? Do you remember taking my hand as we walked mile upon mile, never faltering from having something to say to one another. How we used to talk? Now I am lucky if I get a sentence from you as you take refuge in a monosyllabic citadel, seeming as if you are more content to reside there than with me. Your words used to flow, enchanting and marvellous and how I delighted to hear what you had to say. You could make the mundane magical and all through that perfect and delicious mouth of yours. Does that mouth still weave its magic for someone else now? Do the words feel leaden, your mouth full of dust when you talk to me? I still listen. I still give you the attention but it no longer works as it did before. I know it is not me that has changed. I never do. I can see that it is you that has changed but I am at a loss to understand why this happened. Believe me, I have spent long hours working out everything that has been said, what has not been said and all the acts and omissions. I have played them, replayed them and chopped back and forth, like some detective analysing CCTV footage in the hope of finding that one clue. That one lead, that certain something that will allow me to understand how we lost that certain something.

Is it that you want me to change? Do you need me to transform into something different? Is that it? I will be whatever you want me to be if only we can have what we once had. You have changed but if you need me to do so too, if that is what it takes to recover ourselves then I am willing. Tell me, just give me a sign, some kind of signal so I know what to do. Your wall of silence gives me no indication of what I must do in order to save us. Do you do that because all your time and attention must be saved for someone else and therefore you have none to give me? Have they come like some silent-footed thief and stolen away the person who I want more than anything on this earth? Perhaps that is what has really happened. You have not changed but rather the real you, the you that makes everything matter again, has been acquired by a pilferer. Has your soul been stolen by another? Have they taken it when I was regrettably distracted and have they now placed it in a gilded locker, far away from me, leaving me with just the husk, the image of what once was? Perhaps that is what has happened. I know you have changed but perhaps, just perhaps it was not of your doing. Maybe an outside agent has influenced you, brought about this alteration, neither seeking nor obtaining our consent to this heinous act. Yes, that must be what it is for I know you would not willingly leave me. How could you? Why would you? Why leave what we have and leave me with so little when once we had so much? You have changed but it is at the sordid and filthy direction of another which gave you no choice. Did you warn me? Perhaps you did but I did not notice. Did you cry out and seek my help? Maybe you did but I was distracted and I did not hear. Tell me now, tell me how I can help you. I will do anything to win what we had back. That brilliant, loving, passionate and above all seemingly perfect union that you and I created before this change occurred.

Please, I am begging you, just tell me what I have to do. I am lost for ideas, I have no more ingenuity or guile to achieve what needs to be done and I need your assistance more than ever before. Don’t let them win, do not let those who are jealous of what we have, the green-eyed interlopers who have watched and waited for that moment to drive a wedge between us. Don’t let them make your change permanent. Fight, fight with me, for me so we can succeed and shine again. I cannot stand where we are now. The pain and weakness that sweeps me tears me apart, makes me feel disgusting and wretched. I cannot stand to be this way for it causes me such great distress as I look over to you watch you, unnoticed by you. You are not who I knew you once as. I do not recognise the person who sits across from me now. So much is alien, so much has become foreign. I don’t feel like I know you anymore. Or that I ever did.

Performance Identity

PERFORMANCEIDENTITY

I have often referred to how the advances in technology have proven a great boon for my kind. Not only does technology allow us a greater reach, to more people, more often and more easily it provides us with camouflage. The genesis of the “selfie” is testament to that. Once upon a time if you wanted to be in one of your own pictures, you asked somebody else to use your camera to take a picture of you and your friends or perhaps you against some fantastic backdrop of scenery. Now  the advent of the camera phone has allowed everybody to take a picture of themselves with friends, with a famous person, in front of a landmark, pulling a stupid pout, holding up  beer on so on. This need to be “in on the shot” is a nod to the narcissistic traits of entitlement, boundary violation and grandiosity. Of course, not everyone is of our kind and just because you have a tendency to take selfies does not make you one of our kind either. What it does though is increase the backdrop of narcissistic tendencies so that ours fit even more readily into what society is doing. Fifteen years ago if someone kept pestering other people to take a picture of themselves in different poses and places, eyebrows would be raised. Now if you see someone holding their ‘phone up and pouting, you do not bat an eyelid. It is expected. This narcissistic tendency has become mainstream and we welcome this, as it allows ours to be merge with that mainstream to, enabling us to move more easily amongst you all.

When you take that selfie you are engaging in performance identity. You are reinforcing your identity as against the performance of standing and taking a picture of yourself which you then plaster across several social media outlets, text to your friends and quite possibly set as your wall paper. Performance crime is the instance whereby a perpetrator engages in criminal activity which he or she records. How many videos have you seen on Facebook where a fight is in progress and nobody halts it, but instead they stand around cameras held aloft filming the fracas? How often have you seen people posting pictures of themselves committing some criminal act, be it the use of drugs, assaulting somebody, criminal damage or theft?  It also goes to include those acts which may not be criminal but would be regarded as morally reprehensible. Taking photographs of somebody who is drunk asleep in the middle of the road rather than helping them, snapping away at someone who has soiled themselves or vomited. Taking pictures of someone’s mishap or misfortune and adding a supposedly witty insight in white text across the bottom of the picture. These behaviours are all geared towards performance, showing off and putting on a show.

We are masters at performance identity. We are defined by what we do to an admiring and attentive audience. Our every move is choreographed, our entrance carefully planned. We walk the urban landscape with an imaginary soundtrack playing in our heads as we strut along, considering ourselves to be in some kind of film or documentary. A puzzle once went along the lines of,

“It a leaf falls in a forest but there is nobody there to hear it, did it make a sound?”

The modern day equivalent for our kind is,

“If we did something but nobody saw it, did it really take place?”

We are defined by what others see us do and their reaction to it. Whether it is admiration, hatred, anger, upset, terror, grief, hilarity, amusement, praise, love or adoration there must always be an emotion infused reaction. This reaction defines who we are because it provides us with fuel. It tells us that we are brilliant, feared, furious, dominant, entertaining, witty, sensational, beautiful, remarkable and so forth. The reaction is everything for the fuel it provides but also because our performance allows us to define what we believe what we are, the outward appearance the world must see as opposed to the one locked deep away and never permitted to be viewed.

You all engage in performance identify. Often it is of little consequence but it still shapes part of what you are. The growing tendency for people to engage in performance identity means that our need, our absolute need to do this, will not always stand out as much as it might. Yes, it draws a reaction but this need for attention may not always be seen for what it is. People just regard us as outgoing, bombastic, entertaining, the life and soul of the party, at the centre of everything. There are scores of polite ways of saying attention seeker without realising that is what you are doing. We must do it however, we must perform from the moment we rise from our beds until we return to it again in order to draw fuel and to create that which we want the world to see. The world may indeed be a stage, but it is a stage for my kind and me.

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Read and understand all about narcissists from the best source possible. A narcissist himself.

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