Thank you Google function “define:”
Narcissist: someone in love with themselves.
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwnIts not really so simple. Of course many of us are familiar with Narcissus; the god that stared at himself in the water until he fell in and drowned. There is that surface definition of Narcissus where he was so in love with himself that he couldn’t look away, but the more I learn about narcissism the more I believe that Narcissus was staring at his reflection obsessed with his flaws and not his beauty.
My grandmother once told me, ‘when a man tells you he loves you and then he starts telling you what’s wrong with him, listen, because he’s probably right.” I used to ignore my grandmother, but after the horrible divorce with my first husband, I have to admit, she was probably more right than I wanted her to be. Shiva did tell me a number of times that he didn’t deserve my love, because, he’s a narcissist. I didn’t listen. Now, my grandmother really likes Shiva. In fact, she pretty much adopted him against his wishes and would do anything for him. She advocates for some modern arranged marriage where we live in a threesome type situation forever so that everyone is happy. In her eyes, Shiva’s parents are satisfied because they picked a bride, I’m satisfied because I’m with Shiva and have a live in sister wife to share all love and sadness with, Shiva is happy because he’s pretty much a young Hugh Hefner in this imaginary scenario and she’s happy because there is finally a balance achieved for a work/child rearing balance called split the labor force among the additional family members. If only things were this easy? Yes the question mark is there on purpose. This scenario sounds like a nightmare.
Instead, what I have is a collection of broken relationship pieces dragging out a long and painful death. I have my own sadness, pining over Shiva like a puppy misses its master, like a newborn cries for the breast, an aching sense that what I need is out of reach and it may never return to me. I have Shiva’s load of bollocks that range from “I love you and my heart knows that I should be with you” to “we are just friends” (and these aren’t even two separate phone calls). I have my friends telling me that Shiva needs to “sh*t or get off the pot”, and if there is a Nepali saying for this, I’d love to hear it. Basically, he’s being the hooker from Season 5 Episode 16 of How I Met Your Mother where everyone is trailing on the hook of someone else trailing on the hook of someone else and it just keeps going in a horrible repetitive cycle of despair. The only right thing to do in this situation is to tell the hooked or the hooker, “Its over, I’m never going to be with you, ever, at all, never.”I told Shiva all this, he watched the episode I was talking about and went on about how sorry he is that he’s been so selfish lately.
SORRY! Don’t be sorry! Sorry implies that maybe you have see the error or your ways and intend to somehow modify your behavior to ensure that you no longer repeat the same errors out of habit and ease. But what we have here, is habitual apologies. Another post at another time should be why I don’t force my kid to say sorry when she screws up, but only when she genuinely feels sorry for what she’s done.
Shiva will go weeks without talking to me after these episodes, attempting to set me free so I can find someone else, refusing to believe that I really am waiting for him to come home. He’ll tell me how unworthy he is, that I deserve better, then as if dedicated to the self-fulfilling prophecy, he tells me about all the girls he’s met since moving, about the ones he went clubbing with, the one that drove him home, the one that slept in his bed, but actually slept, not the other thing people mean when they say “sleep together”. And I’m expected to be supportive, loving, happy for his path to self understanding. And when he tells me that he realizes that he hates the “bachelor” lifestyle and is ready to settle down, but it cant be with me because I already have a child.
News flash! I’ve had a child the last 2.5 years we’ve been together. In fact, my child’s teachers are advising me on how to co-parent with Shiva since he is the prominent male role model that my daughter talks and cries about frequently at school. My family has seen it, my daughter has seen it, why can’t Shiva see it, that he has a family here? He says its because he has to focus on his school, his career, his life. And I am supposed to stand by and support that for him. I don’t have any problem being supportive, I love supporting Shiva. I love that when he calls we talk for hours. I love that he’ll tell me what he’s buying at the grocery store just so that I can hear his voice a few more minutes. I love that when he’s got a major presentation due in two days, he emails me a copy of the .ppt and we go over the whole thing while he narrates and tells me when to press enter. I love giving him positive feedback and getting the text later that he nailed it. I even love putting up with him when he’s in a bad mood and bitching me out because he is hungry. What I don’t love is when I need to share what’s going on in my life, he says, “I don’t have time for that, I don’t have the energy for that.” He used to listen to me over everything and I did monopolize a lot of his time during the custody battles with my ex husband. He did spend money to fly out to see me just a month before he flew out to drive across the country with me for the move. He’s done a lot and nobody is really keeping track of who did more when, but these days, the answer is always, “I can’t.”
A free ticket to come visit on winter break and he says, “I can’t”. A shipment of wellness tea for him, drink it? He says, “I can’t”. The picture I just texted him with some inspirational quote by Rumi, read it? He can’t. And why not? He says because he doesn’t want to give me hope that things are going to work out for us. He says that he needs me to know that our relationship is over. Until he calls to talk for 2 hours about why he’s upset, when he needs support. And I can’t. When I don’t give in, when I refuse to be a part of the cycle any longer, I’m the one being unsupportive. When I don’t have any more energy to hear about school because I’m trying to figure out how to earn money during my holiday furlough to cover all my expenses, I’m being the selfish one.
I’ve come to realize that it isn’t the Narcissism we have always thought of. Shiva isn’t in love with himself. He isn’t self obsessed because he wants to be. He’s reaching out. He is scared about his grades, scared about what’s going to happen when school runs out. He’s scared about his long term love life, for whatever reason he’s not with his love but he wants to be. He doesn’t think he deserves the person he loves and that speaks volumes about how he sees himself. Undeserving, unworthy, pathetic, sorry. And that’s why I hear “I’m sorry’s” whenever I bother to answer the phone. I do love him, I do long for the moment when we are together again. I feel sure that all of this sadness could just be put away if we’d stop denying each other our love. But I just can’t keep dedicating 115 minutes a day to Shiva while he’ll reluctantly donate 5 minutes a day to me. “Whatever happened to unconditional love?” I suppose it drowned with Narcissus and the view that he did so truly love himself. All I see in Shiva is over scrutiny of his tiny flaws, which turns them into massive ones. And I do love myself, I don’t want to spend my time feeling sad over my loss, but is it the love for myself that leads to the loss of my love?
Am I so focused on what I can and can’t do, that I have become the reflection I can’t stand to see? We are all mirrors of each other and our soulmate, the mirror upon which we can’t take away our gaze. The person who reflects everything we ever hope to be and everything we hate to be, the truest reflection necessary for growth. Is he the narcissist or am I? We both are, because we both are the reflections the other’s gaze is trapped in.