One thing that I am bad at is keeping my mask on when I’ve reached some point of “establishment” with non-professional, interpersonal relationships. During the courting phase of a romantic relationship or the “getting to you know phase” of a potential friendship, I am on my best behavior. I appear empathic and interested. The outsider would think that I am trying to establish a genuine bond with another person. No, they would be wrong. All interactions require a first step. Parasitism requires landing on flesh before drawing blood. Essentially, what I do over and over again is the ultimate in ‘bait and switch’ tactics. Rather than playing with your wallet, I’m playing with your mind.
It isn’t that I do not necessarily want to establish meaningful relationships with others. I value those that I respect and even the acquaintance has some value – even if only to alleviate boredom. My latent state is a selfish and unempathic state. To present anything otherwise requires an energy that is indescribable. The false smiles, the small talk, and the contortion of my face to respond appropriately to hearing of another’s problems all wear on me. At every turn, society demands such of me; it becomes a marathon rather than a leisurely stroll.
In my marriage, I made my ex-husband feel like the most important and cherished person on the planet. I would cook for him, I would take him out, and I would hang on his every word. I made him feel that he was mine and mine alone and that I was his and his alone. I did all of the things that one is supposed to do with one that they love, at least from what I can tell from accounts of love that I read. The second that he accepted my question of marriage, I began to ease off. By the time our wedding ceremony ended, I had pulled the emergency brake. I could not waste any more energy. Part of me wonders if part of the incentive for posing the marriage question so early on – five months in – was whether I knew that I had to drop my mask. Those days were long before I had heard of psychopathy, so I am not certain.
I wonder how much this sentiment holds for other psychopaths. As a group, does the collective wear and tear lead to a necessity that we drop our masks? Is it solely a measure of selfishness in that we’d rather take the easier route? These are questions that I will continue to ask of myself. In the meantime, all I know is that I am the ultimate salesman. I will lure you in with a deal too good to be true and then drop the mask once you are committed. I know no other way.