I had a session with Dr E. He wanted to discuss the notion of empathy.
“How does discussing empathy make you feel?” he asked.
“Let’s talk about how it makes you feel eh doctor?” I replied promptly and flashed him a winning smile. He looked up at me and gave me a wan smile.
“Very good,” he answered.
“I thought so,” I replied and stretched. He waited as he deployed one of his characteristic pauses. The floor was mine.
“Some people suggest that people like me lack empathy,” I began, ” I do not accept that. I have plenty of empathy. Consider this ; I am highly skilled at understanding what people feel and think. How else am I able to achieve my own aims? If I do not know how they will react to certain behaviours they are of no use to me. By understanding how they feel then I can say the right thing, make correct gesture and thus I gain. I need to know how they will respond to what I do.”
“I see. But are you genuinely trying to understand how that person is feeling or are you just utilising it as a device to extract what you want from them?”
I sighed. I honestly think Dr E is so busy trying to come up with the next question he does not hear my answers.
“That’s just what I said. My skill at ascertaining and guiding what people feel is excellent. My exceptional awareness to the feelings of others is the catalyst for my delight in inflicting emotional agony. I do not need to lash out with my fists when my honed sensitivity allows me to cause the maximum damage without lifting a finger. You know how I love to conserve my energy. If I do not know what people are feeling, how can I manipulate them? I am full of empathy, I truly am, but it is directed only for my benefit and use. There is none left for anybody else.”
I let my words hang in the air. Another win for me I believe.
During one session Dr E and I talked about relationships and friendships. More about that on another occasion. This discussion did however cause him to make an observation at our next session. He said to me
“You gather friends and lover very easily.” I thanked him for that and offered, without him needing to ask, that some of us have a natural magnetism. He nodded but I sensed that this was not what he actually wanted to talk about. I waited and he continued.
“You also end friendships and relationships after comparatively short periods of time.”
Before I could challenge him about what clearly was an attack, he pressed on.
“What interests me however is why you feel the need to reconnect with these people you have so readily cast aside, once again. Perhaps you could explain that to me.”
After due consideration (actually I was thinking about adding to my collection of whiskies but it does no harm does it to make Dr E think I am taking his question very seriously since he is a very serious man) I gave him my answer. I explained that I need to know that I remain appealing to them and that they will admire me once again. Sometimes it is because they have something that I want. He asked for an example. I said that one friend was a newspaper columnist and I wanted him to write-up a product I was promoting so I made contact with him once again to ensure that he would do this for me. I expressed contrition for me failure to keep in touch (I blamed a girlfriend for being jealous and controlling) and he accepted my explanation and happily wrote the article I requested. I’ve not spoken to him since. Dr E asked if it was necessary for them to provide me with something tangible such as money or a place to stay. I said I had both of those so I would not be seeking those out. I did offer that I have the repeated need to feel powerful and if I can regain their admiration after the way I got rid of them, then that makes me feel especially powerful. I also confirmed that I see it as a personal challenge. I need to know I can extract some more juice from them so that’s why I look to rope them back in. Dr E asked if anybody had every evaded my attempts at drawing somebody back in again. I nodded and confirmed just one person. Dr E sat up with an interested expression.
“Do you know how this person evaded you?”
“Yes,” I answered, “she died.”
I would like to tell you about an ex-girlfriend called Caroline. The song ‘Sweet Caroline’ was spot on. She was a positive delight. Nothing was too much trouble for her. She enjoyed helping people and when I met her all the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stood up. My nostrils twitched, my pupils dilated and as I took her dainty hand, I could feel the power I would gain from this paragon of virtue already coursing through my body. To describe her as an empath would do her a dis-service. She was a super empath. If I was a vampire I had just been given the keys to the blood bank.
Caroline had a huge conscience. It was sufficient to represent several people such was its scope and reach. This was marvellous for me as it ensured that she was completely open to my manipulative behaviour. Not only did I know that her decency, her caring nature and her honesty would make her susceptible to my overtures I also knew that she would not stand up to me or fight back. Ever. This is because I knew that she felt that standing up for herself felt alien and wrong to her. It was not something she was ever wired to do because she had never needed to do it. Everybody liked her and she revelled so much in helping other people she completely failed to see when people took advantage of her generosity because she was so caught up in being a good person.
I took advantage the most and would subject her to the entire array of my tools from my Kit of Devaluation. She would stand there sobbing in front of me, frustration and bewilderment overloading her emotions as she would say,
“I would put my foot down with you, but it feels wrong doing that to someone who needs help.”
It was mana from heaven. She would even tell me why she would not fight back. It felt wrong to her. This really was a carte blanche for me to do anything I liked and I knew always that she would not stay away,or ignore me but she would try so hard to make everything alright and to try and understand me. She would be exhausted, eyes barely open as she tried to touch me and urged me just to tell her what was really wrong and she would help me.
I did wonder if she had been ensnared by one of my kind previously, but she had not. I thought this because her thinking seemed automatically aligned to do what I wanted as soon as I had met her. Usually that takes a bit of time to achieve that state of mind on the part of my victim. I have to hammer their conscience into a particular shape so that they start thinking in a manner which is calibrated to my wants and demands. Not with Caroline. This work had already been done but not by one of us, no, she came already programmed. She was the only one I found who was like that. She really was a keeper. It was a shame she had to be taken away in the end, but I suppose even someone with as large a conscience as Caroline can only stand so much. I haven’t found anybody on her scale yet, but of course, I am always searching.
The author Hilary Mantel once described the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, as being “a plastic princess with dead eyes”. Now, the duchess is not one of us (we infiltrated the royal family by marrying in over 30 years ago) but we were drawn to the comment about dead eyes. We get that a lot. There is a fascination about our eyes and if memory serves, they draw the most comments about us physically that I can recall. I have variously had mine described as “Cold and dead, like a shark’s”, “like pieces of coal”, “green and envious”, “possessing that cold, chilling stare” and “lifeless”. An ex-girlfriend, Kate, would tell me that she loved my eyes. This was when I was seducing her. She explained that whenever she looked into them she saw herself reflected back and she loved this because she knew that she was very much “in my eye”. Interestingly enough, eight months later she referred to this reflection as “I look into your eyes and see nothing there, just my reflection looking back at me.” I always disliked her contradictory behaviour and failure to make her mind up.
These comments set me thinking as I am a reflective kind of fellow. As I explained in ‘Falling into Place’ I have learned how to create a mask of feigned emotion but it would appear that the one part of my face which was letting down the façade was my eyes. For some reason, no matter how hard I studied the emotions and reactions of others, this just did not happen with my eyes. As you know, I like to know the answers to everything and I did some reading around and observed that repeated people refer to the eyes as windows into the soul. There lay the answer to my conundrum; the soul and the eyes are inextricably linked. The absence of soul was being reflected in the deadening of my eyes. This required immediate attention and rectification. I now wear sunglasses a lot, even indoors.
The concept of something being off limits means nothing to me. I am entitled to take what I want. That promotion at the office ? My name is already on the door. I won’t secure it by working hard. Oh no. I will take the credit for the endeavour of others. I will embark on a rigorous campaign to derail your own attempts to secure the advancement. Bought a new car which I regard as superior to mine. Not much good with the tyres slashed is it? Or strange how the police keep pulling you over on suspicion of drink driving isn’t it? Everything is a legitimate target to me. Everything is in play.
I will engage in repeatedly reckless behaviours to get what I want. I do not care whose lawn I park my tanks on, I go where I want. I will not respect your boundaries because I just do not see them. What I love to do most of all however is take something precious belonging to you. On the lesser end of the scale I will hide possessions which you value or I will break them. Naturally, I will blame someone else, usually you. The scale of hurt increases. I will worm my way into your friendship group and cause them to like me more than you by a combination of a charm offensive (call in the love bombers) and a carefully orchestrated smear campaign of nasty whispers (you’ll never guess what she said about you) with the ultimate aim of you being edged out of the group. I will then walk away from the group because I am really not interested in them, I just wanted to get at you. At the top of the tree is the forbidden fruit of stealing someone else’s partner. Often these people will be in a solid and decent relationship but such is the level of my charm, such is the attention to detail I apply in tracking my prey, it is just a question of time before I pull them away from you. I will wreck relationships. I will shatter marriages. All to feed my hunger. As ever, once I have drained the flesh and juices from the forbidden fruit, I shall discard it and leave a battered, empty husk as I move on to the next piece of low hanging fruit. Now you know what the serpent in the garden of Eden was. Me.
Oscar Wilde mentioned in Dorian Gray that everything was possible since he had beauty and youth. I am very much of that mind set and accordingly the thought of becoming old fills me with revulsion. Horrifically I do not have to apply my imagination to this scenario (and to be frank I would not do so) because I need look no further than my Uncle Robert. He stands in front of the mirror and rants at the cruelty that is reflected back at him. His withered frame a reminder that he is no longer the uber mensch he has always maintained that he was. (He certainly seemed that way when I was a child. I do not remember the details but I do remember his stories about his adventures and achievements. They seemed spectacular and exotic. So tantalising). Now he realises that the charm which he once exuded has worn thin and does not have the allure it once had.
Every day brings a physical or mental insult and he realises that he is becoming a burden on those around him. He will not accept this transition with any grace. Indeed, he refers to his peers as old men but not ever himself. He regards himself as far younger, indeed, I often hear him repeating the things which I say. It is evident to me as the autumn of his life envelopes him that he wishes to remain reflected in my summer sun.
The tricks,the smoke and the mirrors that he once deployed with consummate expertise have deserted him or is it that a lifetime’s exposure to them have enabled those who were on the receiving end to create some kind of immunity to them ? Do they now see through the magic he once was able to weave about him? His deceit and bile are more evident that ever and I know he rarely receives visitors these days, they seem to think that there is little point in being subjected to his put-downs and insults.
His razor-sharp mind has become dulled, probably addled from the excessive alcohol he regularly indulged in (and probably still does) and the noble features have become craggy and distorted. He cannot summon the charm and sophistication to lure people into his world and instead has to rely on provocation, savageness and acidic accusations. His potency has been exhausted and try as he might to scramble away, he is sinking inexorably towards mediocrity and averageness.
I rarely see him but he regularly telephones me and I indulge him allowing him to rage down the telephone line about his injurious state arising from his dilapidated condition. It is worth listening as some of his fury contains choice, vintage lines which I write down for later use. Those barbed words when allied to my youthful charm and brilliance will work marvellously.
Uncle Robert never considered what would happen when madame time outstrode him and his current condition serves as a salutary lesson to our kind. Narcissists do not generally age well. Fortunately, I have been able to see into the future and I can ensure that I do not fall victim to Uncle Robert’s fate, but then, I have always been cleverer than him haven’t I?
If there is any subject or a particular topic you would like my delinquent mind to be applied to, please do say and I will provide you with my thoughts and observations. I enjoy the challenge of being given a subject and responding to it, so please do let me know if there is anything you would like me to write about. If not, I shall continue to dazzle with my scintillating output (not my words for once but those of another). I look forward to hearing from you.