I would like to tell you about one of my ex-girlfriends, Karen. Karen, this is directed to you out of recognition of how spectacular your supply of fuel was. It was one of, if not the best.
Using my legendary powers of empathy detection I was able to pick you out like a pig sniffing for truffles. Some might suggest that it quite an apt analogy. I identified that you are a caretaker. You are a passionate, caring and strong individual. How best might I harness the sweet, sweet fuel that you would be bound to supply to me? I decided that rather than love bomb you I would apply a different technique. Yes I was polite, complimentary and took an interest in you so you were drawn to me, but I did not bombard you in the way that I ordinarily might. No instead I decided that I needed to test you. I reasoned that you would see me as a challenge. Most of my victims apply their caretaking instincts when I start to devalue, demean and belittle them. They want to fix me in order to return to the golden period. I opted in your case to start testing you from near the beginning.
You were never allowed to contact me first. You had to wait until I made contact and then you had to respond within one minute. If you did not you clearly did not care about me. I would wait hours in the day before I made the approach to you. Was I denying myself fuel in this way? Yes and no. Of course I was not receiving the usual blitz of telephone calls and texts that I ordinarily would when I would love bomb. This way however I knew you were always thinking of me, wondering when I might call or send a text message. I knew you would be repeatedly checking your phone and be in a state of readiness to respond. Knowing that I was ever present gave me a different kind of fuel at a different stage of our relationship to how it usually would be. When that first reply came, the power that surged me from having you waiting and ready, was intense.
I would insist that you refrain from eating before me, even when we were apart, to ensure that your hunger pangs reminded you that you were doing this at my say so. You would agree because you wanted to prove to me how much you loved me, how passionate you felt about me and that you would not be beaten. You readily became a co-conspirator in this game. I devised knew and harder challenges, pushing you each time and always you rose to the challenge and indeed you would often surpass my expectations.
As ever, I was several steps ahead of you. When I grew tired of this and starting to demean you, the conditioning that I had subjected you to in our golden period was so strong that you went above and beyond to try and please me. No matter how fruitless this seemed you never gave in. You showed immense reserves of discipline and strength, your depth of character was startling and it was all being used up on me.
I may tell you how my relationship with Karen ended at some point.
I don’t like going to sleep. Being asleep is not such a problem because obviously I am asleep and therefore oblivious to what is going on. It is the act of going to sleep which troubles me and consequently it has in the past taken me some time to fall into slumber. Once I do, I always sleep straight through until morning and awake refreshed and raring to take on my first fuel of the day. I recall a room mate on a football tour when I was 21 asking me why I was still up reading at a late hour when he had been asleep and woke to use the toilet. I explained I was enjoying reading my book, after all, I was not going to admit to him the real reason why I was still reading at midnight. I need to exhaust myself so that I know when I climb between the sheets I will be embraced by my deep and untroubled sleep straight away. If I cannot do that I have learned, after many fretful nights, that sleep will not come easily to me.
I know why this is. It is not, as a spiteful ex-girlfriend Tonia once remarked,
“You cannot get to sleep because your conscience won’t let you after all the despicable things you have done.” I laughed that one off. She had no idea.
No. The reason is that when I am going to sleep I believe that everything I have built up and created will disappear. I fear you will vanish because I can no longer see you. I am troubled that all my hard work in finding and establishing supplies of fuel will melt away once I am not able to control it. I need to be in constant control of what is happening and hate for that control to be taken away from me by asleep. Naturally, I must sleep like everyone else but it is in that few minutes as one settles down that the demons creep out from the corners of the room and threaten the destruction of my empire because shortly I will no longer be on hand to govern it. It matters not that I have woken the next day and found everything intact. I am terrified that one day that just could change. Accordingly, I need the transition from wakefulness to sleep to be swift and pronounced.
I do enjoy going fishing. After all, I am a master at preparing the bait aren’t I? Based on my expertly honed observational skills I know exactly what to say or do to provoke a reaction from people and in turn garner some fuel from them. I know for example that my sister is obsessed with fashion and has to wear what is deemed to be the latest item or ‘in this season’. All I have to do with her is greet her and remark on her dress.
“That’s a lovely dress you have on. Is it new?”
“Yes, it is MaxMara, it is a runway piece. It is the latest high fashion,” she replies delighted by my compliment and the opportunity to boast about its origins and exclusivity.
“Is that so? I saw the very same dress last year when I attended that fashion show in Milan.”
“No you didn’t?” she will answer. Note how her reply was not a statement but it was a question. Straight away I have my bite. She is not so confident as to issue a full-blooded rebuttal. All I have to do is keep telling her that I did see it last year, embellish it with the name of a famous model and keep repeating the circumstances so my conviction seems absolute. Any criticism of her fashion selection will reduce her to tears and have her running from the room. If I receive any withering stares from her friends or my family, I will shrug and say,
“Hey, I wasn’t the one who was telling a lie was I by saying it was the latest high fashion was I?” Nifty piece of blame-shifting there as well. They can shake their heads and tut all they like but I know I have landed a blow. By the time she returns having found some verification from a third party that her attire is the latest dress to wear from MaxMara the moment has passed and triumph has eluded her. It is easy and I get the reaction I am looking for.
I have a colleague who thinks he is an expert on the Tudor dynasty. I will throw him the occasional obscure fact and back it up with obstinate insistence and an almost slavish devotion to confirming I am right. He cannot stand it and it send him into a rage. He literally stamps his feet in exasperation. I usually choose to do this when he has no method of verifying what I am saying. Days later when he tries to correct me I brush him aside and give him no opportunity to speak. It does not matter then. I got my catch earlier and by telling a whopper I landed a whopper.
Many of my ex-girlfriends used to enjoy reflecting on the past. They would smile and recount some event in the past, a particular party or an enjoyable trip they once took to the coast. Sometimes it was not specific to an event but rather would be about the way a person had behaved. More often than not, their reminiscing focussed on the good. I don’t think about the past. It never invades my consciousness. I am not haunted by the memory of the cruelty that I have meted out to people. I lie straight in my bed and night and sleep soundly. I awake refreshed and ready for my next conquest. When I eventually discard someone from my life (I always do) I do not give them a second thought until I consider I might want something from then. I never wonder how they are or what they are doing. To me, out of sight really is out of mind. I delete you and in effect deny your existence. Many people lay down powerful reminders of their journey through life so far ; children, their wedding day, starting a career or college, moving to that first house and so on. I don’t bother with any of that. I gain nothing from looking backwards. It serves no purpose to me. I must look forward. I have to look to my next fix, my next conquest and my next victim.
This lack of attachment to past events and people gives me huge mobility. You are mired down for week, months and even years with the ghosts and memories of the past. For me they evaporate in an instant and free me to act with impunity. I have no reminder of what has happened. There is no cautionary tale. There is no record of things that came to pass. That is why it is futile to try to draw the past to my attention in some hope that I may change or may recognise the force of what you are saying. You try to point out something we once had, once did, once shared. Not to me. It never existed. It is a waste of my energy to hold onto the past. I never look back. You would do well to do the same.
When I first subject you to the silent treatment the effect on you is devastating. You repeatedly try to contact me and speak to me to find out what is wrong. What has caused this sudden dropping of the shutters when only the day before we were lying in bed together as I told you how I was so pleased to have finally found the one? Your need to know is so great that it completely overrides any sense of embarrassment or decorum on your part. You call my phone again and again and again. You call my work phone repeatedly but find my secretary (one of my loyal lieutenants) will block you by explaining every time that I am in a meeting. You will call around at my house. I can see you through a gap in the blinds as you hammer on the door and then pace backwards and forwards, frustration and confusion writ large on your face. The text messages pile up. My email inbox begins to bulge and you start shoving letters through my letterbox. I do actually read them as they give me a magnificent sense of importance as I read your questions.
Inevitably the tenor of your attempts to contact me alters. From starting with questions such as “What is wrong?” and “Is something the matter?” you then begin to examine yourself. You query what you might have done to upset me and cause this cessation. Without fail, every time I have deployed this weapon, you have scrutinised yourself to such a degree that you eventually find something that could have caused my reaction. You do this, demeaning yourself, because you need to have an answer as to why this has happened. You must. If you cannot get an answer from me then you turn on yourself and find it there. “I’m sorry I didn’t cook your steak the way you like it” or “I’m sorry I left without kissing you” or “I’m sorry I used the last of the milk and did not replace it”. Then come the promises to make things up to me if I will just get in touch. The promises not to do it again and to be a better person. The pattern is the same every time ; demand an answer from me, find an answer within yourself and then show contrition and desire to improve. Once you have passed through those three stages then I know you have become indoctrinated with the way I want you to think and then and only then will I end the silence. Well, perhaps, another week won’t hurt me will it?
Do feel free to ask me anything you like. I am here for you to dip into my mind and for you to benefit from learning how I view the world. No question is off limits and if you want to establish a dialogue with me, then so much the better. You will be helping me so I can show the treatment team that I am interacting with people in this setting. You can ask me why I do certain things, what am I thinking, what my favourite food is, whatever you like. This is your chance to extract as much knowledge and information from me as you possibly can. If you want to just make a statement, go ahead. Fill your boots. I don’t know you so I won’t fly into a rage (this does happen when people I know question me but that is because they have an agenda – you don’t because we don’t know one another). I look forward to hearing from you.
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.