Corsets and Empathy – Letting the Mask Slip

Often times our lack of empathy is of no real harm to others.  So what if we can’t feel the pain or joy of others?  We often have our masks in place and can feign enough concern or elation to where those around us don’t realize the disconnect between our thoughts and actions.  Other times, our mask does not fit well enough and the perceptions others have of us come crashing down.  Of course this is bound to happen; like one wearing a corset, eventually true forms return.

The long-time reader knows that I have been married before.  The relationship was one of parasitism and it wasn’t until I drove my ex-husband to the brink of suicide that my playtoy left my life.  In an intimate situation like that, every move is both under scrutiny and quickly forgotten.  We notice the quirks of those that we are around most, but at the same time we often gloss over those details that are incongruent to that we expect.  Many years ago, my lack of empathy would take the relationship to the brink – long before I had a word that explained it.

Shortly before my husband and I got married – and while we were still in college – his off-campus residence burned to the ground, destroying the vast majority of his possessions and leaving him without a place to live.  My debt was already piling up at this point due to my impulsivity and fiendish drinking habits, but he did not know this.  To his knowledge, I had lots of money saved up for the upcoming wedding.  So, when I found out that he had renter’s insurance, the proverbial light-bulb for me lit up: we could use the insurance money from the destruction of his possessions to pay for the wedding.  Before I even consoled him for his losses, I brought this idea up to him.  He was devastated.  How could his partner not see the agony he was going through?  How could his partner be so selfish as to make his newfound homelessness an issue of monetary gain?

I find that it can be quite difficult for the psychopath to keep the mask up at all times, especially when a level of intimacy is reached with another person.  Combine this with the lack of knowledge by the psychopath who hasn’t yet figured out their inner working and this can lead to great damage to interpersonal relationships.  During those years, I realized that I was different, but I did not understand how.  Only when I had a name for my condition could I truly appreciate the need to wear a mask and the trauma that not wearing one could inflict.  Of course, ‘trauma’ is in the eye of the beholder.  His trauma was a chance for my gain, but once I exacerbated his feeling state with my callousness, his trauma became my fuck-up.

Returning to the corset analogy, we are all bound to show our true selves.  As we wear the mask more and more, it becomes easier to put it on and keep it on each time – not unlike a corset.  None of us are perfect with our deception and we cannot control the intuition that those around us possess, however.  Eventually the mask will fall and we will have to either do damage control or move on to another plaything.  However, this is not necessarily a bad thing.  The corset worn indefinitely can cause internal damage – what is the damage to our psyche by never honoring who we truly are?

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