When does empathy turn into a target, a bull’s-eye painted on one’s compassion that guides seekers of pity to unearned sources of tenderness and sympathy? It happens almost without the compassionate victim realizing the game is being played. By the time one’s empathy and compassion have been milked almost dry, it’s too late to call foul. By then, it’s impossible to extricate oneself from the claws that grip the soul, the impossibly strong grasp that cannot be broken without emotional bloodshed. The perpetrators of these vile acts seek undeserved mercies and undue condolences that, once given, cannot be readily retrieved lest the victim be perceived as a monster, unfeeling and willing to crush poor, weak, bereaved beasts (who, if truth be known, are the victimizers and the vanquishers).
I’m still processing an experience which will, I suspect, provide a limitless resource for inventing a fictional character whose actions reveal a swindler and a thief, a charlatan whose sympathetic countenance is counterfeit. This creature gets her sustenance from painting herself as a lifelong victim, drinking in unearned sympathy as if it were absinthe and she were addicted to the stuff.
She is a dangerous one, that woman. But she fits nicely into a story of psychosis and demonstrable dementia. I’m glad I never trusted her and, so, did not get pulled in by her stories of woe. Perhaps her life has been just as ugly and undeservedly harsh as she describes; but the description, repeated over and over and over, sounds highly scripted, as if perfecting it has been her life’s work. The story gets her the attention she craves. But my attention isn’t the kind she wants; she wasn’t seeking my contempt, I’m sure, but that’s the only attention I’m willing to give her.