Encounter With A Soul-Rapist
A gonzo tweeter confesses from the front-lines of heartbreak.
by John X. Hancock
A Note to the reader: This is a fictionalised account of true events. The word “narcissist” is used in the clinical sense here, meaning someone who checks positively on 5 of more of the symptoms of NPD out of a total possible of 9, as described in DSM-V. In other words, someone who needs immediate medical attention.
- 1 -
When was the last time you met someone so ugly that they started to appear beautiful? I chanced upon such a mirage in the twenty-ninth fall of my life.
It was a time when I did not know that there are two types of ugliness, first the merely superficial and skin deep ugliness which repulses the senses and serves a biological purpose; Second, the invisible ugliness of character and definition that people carry in their hearts which is revealed within a remarkably short period of time only to those who care to evolve spiritually as well as biologically.
Though both types are, in final analysis, acquired from outside (be it through the accident of genes, bad parenting, sustained exposure to war or warlike conditions, natural disasters and accidents etc.), yet the second kind of ugliness is the more terrifying of the two because not only is it contagious, it also actually seeks to spread itself into predominance. It resembles what might be described in cybernetic terms as a closed system with an artificially installed internal feedback principle. Almost like someone stuck forever listening to their own words through noise-cancelling headphones.
For centuries, the adventurer’s state of mind has been fuelled by romantic notions attached to his poverty, heartbreak, drug-use and a general, all-pervading masochism. I had all of this in me besides the usual demons always lurking in the defeatist moats dug around the attitudes of a structurally-unemployed youth.
So, like any other millennial looking for trouble, I too was stalking hot girls on twitter in search of anything and everything between mere masturbatory material to a potential soulmate. To me, twitter was little more than a stock market of textualised emotions in addition to being a tool for polishing my skills of writing micro-speeches for politicians of a dystopian future, one that is lurking always just around the corner in my mind.
That’s the stranger’s biggest problem in a strange land: his confidence is born only out of his blinding ignorance. Looking back now, I can tap a realisation growing across the microblogging platform that it is a wasteland populated in large numbers by the maladapted and a refuge for the emotionally damaged, but of course I had little clue of that reality behind the virtual when I chanced upon the profile of the one I shall simply refer to as “R”.
Like any day trader, I used to start my business in the morning and wrapped up with my profits or losses for the day by noon. Retweets, mentions, follow-backs and favourite tweets were my currencies for purchasing the attention of a coterie of women and girls I was vying to communicate with at any given moment. I didn’t see anything wrong with it at the time, it was all harmless fun and games played around commoditised notions of attention and feedback.
Like any day trader, I had good days and bad. Sometimes I lost a follower and sometimes got a retweet from that one female who was at the top of my list, regardless I took it all in my stride. I knew that the number one rule of this numbers game was to never get emotional and yet (where would this story be without a dash of hipster-soiled irony?), I held in my heart the desire to run into that someone special for whom I’d break the rules of the game and invest myself in for a medium-to-long term. I guess this is why true adventurers are never rich stock-brokers, they only desire to set a well-functioning system on fire.
Rebels say image is the first dogma of the faustian premise, this is certainly true. Her profile picture conjured in me visions unholy and morally repugnant to a vast majority of human beings, I remember being irritably aroused to the point of discomfort and immediately knew I had to pursue this “stock”. Good girls don’t usually have this atmosphere of naked decadence around their virtual presence, I knew I was in the company of someone depraved, deprived, disgusted and disgusting in equal measure.
The next thing that caught my attention were obviously her tweets, there was something not quite right about the way she was using words. She was mostly retweeting and the few original tweets that there were seemed recycled to the point of obviousness. This was, I knew, a person not at home with the English language but someone who had compiled the semblance of a sutured lexicon over the years based strictly on observation of other people to the point that even her syntactical and grammatical errors smacked of duplicity. Besides, the tweets were sexually more explicit than I had seen hitherto on an Indian girl’s timeline and this was exciting.
Although she wasn’t particularly beautiful, she seemed to know how to use skin and makeup to her advantage. Her timeline was full of pictures of herself clicked while wearing revealing outfits exhibited in purposefully eroticised poses, but even though (or perhaps because) her fashion sense screamed of a desperate want of attention, I couldn’t help shake off the feeling that I had found the kind of trouble I was looking for. Truth be told however, the thing that really compelled me most to move in her direction was a vague resemblance that she bore to a recent loss I had suffered. Another girl whom I had chased with earnest gusto had friendzoned me ruthlessly and this I had taken to heart without realising that I had.
After a burst of casual tweeting back and forth one morning, the urge to take interactions to their logical conclusion had already firmly planted itself in me. A casual perusal of “R”’s profile also afforded me her phone number, which to my pleasant surprise she had blithely posted in a tweet. This should’ve been a warning signal under normal circumstances (since most normal girls go to great lengths to protect their phone numbers from the prying eyes of predators like myself) but the promise of a good story has a way of blinding even the most careful amongst us writers.
From there onwards, in a matter of days the conversation moved from one digital platform to another. Tweeting turned to texting which turned into sexting and eventually morphed into all-night long phone calls.
She was quite the charmer too, putting me on a pedestal, saying all kinds of sappy romantic shit a man likes to hear when he thinks he is “playing for keeps”. She made sure I was more adored, respected and needed than ever. She was like a machine fulfilling almost all my emotional needs at the same time, something three alphabets on a stock ticker and candlesticks on a computer screen never did for me. Sexting too, I discovered, is a great tool to learn about your own sexual-makeup as well as your partner’s. While she conformed to her patterns, I recognised consistencies in my physical needs which may well be symptomatic of some high-falutin’ and un-pronounceable psychological condition. However, I had to reciprocate in equally gratifying terms of endearment and adulation so I did as I maintained myself at a comfortable distance.
The conversations grew sappier as a scorching summer simmered into a ghastly autumn. Because although there were signs of heavy mental impairment strewn across the barren wasteland of her persona and character, I, in a fashion more uncharacteristic than systematic chose not only to ignore each one but also to twist them into virtues belonging to a being of a higher order.
Her workaholism became something to look upto, class differences grew pettier by the minute, her obsession with hairlessness became a testament to her exacting nature and her exacting nature belonged to a personal commitment to higher standards.
Her insensitivity and lack of empathy perturbed me only for the few minutes during which I twisted them into symbols of strength, courage and a ruthless conviction. Her lack of jealousy and an open attitude about our own confessed love did much to convince me of how “open minded” she was and so on and so forth.
I wrote some of the worst poetry of my life about what I was going through.
This kind of transference is commonplace and needs no further examples, it always seems too good to be true because it always is something too true to be good. Obviously my imagination was working overtime to make sure that I ignored all the alarms which ring so loud in retrospect.
I understand now that this was when I entered what Psychologists call the idealisation phase. An idyllic place the narcissist’s victim finds himself in early on in the relationship where it makes sense to go ahead full throttle and unheed the friendly advice of “losers” who insist that you “take it slow”.
Perhaps there is something to be said here about my on-again-off-again relationship with the ideology of antinatalism and my mild but consistent taste for pronography which has evolved with me, but true as those things are about me, they hardly add to the context nor make it any relevant.
Yet, having avowed to myself total sexual communion with only one woman in this lifetime, and as a matter of principle having decided to not give into the temptation of fucking every piece of ass that comes my way, I was already in a tight situation by the time all this happened. I had had a string of actual physical relationships with numerous women, all of whom I had met online, but my refusal to consummate the friendship and move things to the next level had put all of them off.
What I came to define as “Sex” in the meanwhile was an all-out seventies-style “masturbathons” where all members are relieved to the extent that they can afford without actual penetration. It was an intermittent occurance of the non-carnal variety. A poor man’s excuse for actual sex but no less satisfying, for I hadn’t experienced any better.
I understand how some sexually liberated people can see my actions as immoral or cowardly, I don’t seek to defend them as I believe that a man is free to chose his own code without having to explain himself.
As a result of this proudly held half-assed celibacy, my only recourse for gratification other than the occasional rub-me-down was porn. Whether in the form of images, video or webcam. Whether I knew the girls I was jacking off to in real life or not, If it came from behind the magic of a glass screen above my backlit keyboard, it was better and always more real than the real thing.
When coupled with my growing antinatalism at that in point life, my pornographic persuasions become a chicken and egg type conundrum where it becomes difficult for outsiders to understand which came first, my lack of desire for carnality or my philosophy that vehemently opposes birth and the survival of the human species. Regardless, after running into “R” I found my nerdy self was interested in being betrayed by a stronger, primal and more urgent character of life within. So I allowed it every illusion I could spare without actually letting it come in the way of my deeply held personal beliefs. I really thought she was “it”, and she did everything in her power to sustain my fantasy. What else could she have done?
Perversion gets a bad rap because people have forgotten to cultivate it as an expression of distinction, instead it has become a by-product of other, less benign disorders modern life blesses us with. I was simply a cultured pervert who miscalculated her perversions to be equally conscious, and thus equally harmless. Was I in love? I must’ve been, who else in their right mind would see a girl’s request to have cash thrown in her face after sex as anything other than a sign of deep dysfunction?
Had I finally found the one? Could it be that our fantasies of teen love were suddenly coming true? It certainly appeared that way, so we decided to meet. Not just meet, we decided to travel together to a beautiful village deep in the himalayas and see if things were really as good as they we hoped they would be.
We were, by the time we met, fully aware that we were knee deep in an emotional quicksand and sinking but it still felt like driving down the Gold Coast in a Porsche with Phil Collins blaring from the speakers and our hair fluttering in the wind like flags of our respective planets. Another day in fucking paradise.
No sooner had we met that I realised the person I was engaged with for a whole virtual month and the person who now stood before me blaming me for the past fifteen minutes for everything wrong in her life were two entirely different individuals. The patient, semi-caring, easygoing girl who enticed me was replaced by a control freak. Someone without any personal boundary of character but with a loud, obnoxious and graceless mass of sexuality wobbling all over her body and an ambiguous, thoroughly flawed personality with a slight touch of the tourette.
She was in no way special but so thorough was her misunderstanding about who she was that it defied all logic and every passion, except one. Her only passion seemed to be to keep the fallacy alive by any means possible and her greatest need was to keep this passion above the reaches of both irrational and rational thoughts, weather her own or those of the people around her.
I’ve never seen someone contradict themselves so readily, it was like watching a bullet train oscillate violently on a track a few inches longer than its own length. It was a thing beyond the laws of inertia, gravity and the likes. Suddenly, It made me sick just to be in the same room as her. I was terrified.
From the first moment together to our last, I found myself in an scary realm of ego in its primitive form, throughout the journey I remained conscious of a revulsion rising from the deepest trenches of my stomach, yet I intended to see the situation through. As did she and I can bet my bottom Rupee that it took all her courage out as the depletion had already started days before the actual meeting. As her reserves slowly emptied, she got more and more passive-agressive, edgy, irritable, angry and frustrated. She would misinterpret my repartee as offensive indignation and sly jibes. I saw through her as if she were a limply hanging muslin cloth in monsoon and I would have gotten out of the whole adventure sooner if only it didn’t seem such a great learning opportunity.
Anyhow, all this tension ultimately culminated in a heated exchange of words over the first excuse she could find: money. I didn’t have enough to meet her unrealistic standards obviously, but this was something I never made a secret of so it was convenient for the both of us to part over something we both agreed was true. I cant quite recall the words exchanged in that final fight but I do remember saying “well, you have your story, I have mine” as I watched her descend out of sight.
Egomaniacs conflate ego with something that feels a lot like money. They spend time and energy acquiring boosts for their false self image and then spend thus saved ego in order to purchase even more Narcissistic Supply.
I suffered her for as long as I could but in less than 24 hours the whole show was over. We rejected each other after a quick make-out session and continued our separate ways confirming that the assignation vacation we were undertaking together had gone horribly awry.
It was not that she was not invested in the relationship at any level, however they she had no idea how shallow her investment was and thus, failed to attain the critical mass necessary for the relationship to turn into real companionship.
The dream was shattered deep in the forests of the valley, but the story doesn’t end there.
After ejecting her from the cottage we had rented, I went foraging for wood with which I lit a bonfire in the evening. I sat beside the fire until late that night drinking the wine I had brought with me, smoking and later entertaining a group of boys who had noticed the lonely fire in the forest and had come over asking for cigarettes. It was a good night. I was surprised how similar this group of friends was to one of my own circles, I missed them but didn’t get to miss the warmth of friendship.
The next morning, my vulnerability was palpable. I bathed, did a bit of puja (to ward off evil spirits, even though I’m rarely one to pray), smoked another toke and left for the city. The ten-hour bus journey back home was one of the most introspective things I’ve done in my life. I understood how, once again, I had been trapped by the image. The mirage and stinking miasma that I had allowed myself to sink into had been unveiled and although it broke my heartÂ , my spirit carried on unscathed.
I hadn’t yet quite understood what had happened here but the word “narcissist” kept clamouring for my attention each time I tried to rationalise and intellectualise what had happened. I had to make sense of things so the first thing I did after reaching home was to google “narcissism” and tried to educate myself.
The result was a gentle baptism by catharsis. I understood that I had now travelled deep into that uncanny valley of human character few people know about and fewer dare to enter once initiated into terrors it affords them the first time around. It was clear that there was simply no way I could have known what the cost of embarking on an adventure like this would be so it was easy to forgive myself.
Broke, heartbroken and horrified at the cunning deception modern emotional retards (including myself) are capable of, I was lucky to have my ex-girlfriend by my side to nurture me back to some semblance of normalcy. I kicked myself about and blamed myself for being stupid but of course, it was already too late for me by then.
Dr. Sam Vaknin, a world-renowned and self-taught expert in NPD who was himself diagnosed with the disease is hesitant about calling the narcissist human being at all. He wholeheartedly endorses the use of such metaphors as a “force of nature” or a “virus” to understand both the Narc’s personality and also the effect they can have on the minds of the one’s around them, the damage they can cause. Dr. Vaknin suggests immediate and complete breaking of all ties with such personalities and worldwide associations of victims have also popularised the “no-contact” rule a great deal. Yet on the sidelines Vaknin also inserts a prediction with a promise of certitude: that the victim of a narc always necessarily turns into one himself or herself. It is, as Vaknin puts it, the narc’s “master-stroke”.
I was bitten by the closest thing to a zombie or a vampire that can exist in real life and my soul was infected with the virus. I could feel it spreading under my skin, sometimes even hallucinating a granular movement in my bloodstreams eroding them from the inside for symptomatic relief. My fascination had become the harbinger of some seriously unfortunate events and even though I realised I enjoyed myself getting what I deserved, I couldn’t shake the experience off me for months to come.
I had learnt that the hell one fears and avoids is a product of fiction and religious sensibilities, but there are many true hells on earth and one of them is the company of a narcissist whose own life is often a recursively looping nightmare. Loneliness isn’t half as bad compared to what being with such a person can do to one’s soul.
But what pained me to no end was the terminal nature of their mostly unconscious affliction. Few narcissists ever become truly aware enough of their condition and those who do either disintegrate and commit suicide (the only rational thing left to do) or quickly slip back into ignorance which they have carefully constructed over the years.
I tried to move on by pitying the version of humanity they perceive to be true but as much as I pity them, I also empathise with them and share my struggle with the people they selectively chose to reveal themselves to. I understand that like humpty-dumpty, they can never be reassembled back to a complete whole and can only disintegrate into increasingly minute eggshells upon which their near-and-dear ones would have to walk, sooner or later.
Although this is true that nearly everyone has some narcissistic traits, it isn’t possible to be as unempathatic as “R” and expect to be seen as a human being. What is even worse is that the malady spreads from one person to another, and so I remained perpetually punished like an echo, flitting behind wall to virtual wall, knocking against glass screens from the inside, trying to be heard as I try to deal with this newfangled disease, this “malignant self-love”.