Reflections In A Mirror
I read a post on tumblr the other night about the tale of Echo and Narcissus, there was a source credit with a link, so I followed it to see what other myths they had for me to delve into, and found that it was a website – Echo.Me.Uk – which had extensive information about Narcissism.
Narcissism was named after the story of Echo and Narcissus. The beautiful man who fell in love with his own reflection. Reflections play a huge part in Narcissism, and in the interaction between a Narcissist and others. However Narcissists are not in love with their true image, they are in love with an illusion which they have created, and constantly adjust seeking the ideal image to possess. The parts of themselves which they do not want, the ugly, imperfect bits, are generously projected onto and into others.
I sometimes jokingly claim that I am a Narcissist magnet. Truth is, there are a lot of Narcissists in the world. There are also a lot of people who are not Narcissists, I just tend to recognise when someone is, because I know the symptoms… the symptoms of being a victim of a Narcissist.
Both my parents were Narcissists. I was trained to be an NSS, a Narcissistic Supply Source, from infancy. Being an NSS basically involves letting a Narcissist sink their teeth into your veins to drink your blood until they’ve had their fill. They drain you, then toss you aside when they’re done, leave you alone for a bit, give you time to replenish your blood supply, then they come back for more. That is how they replenish their blood supply because they can’t generate it from within. They can’t feed themselves, except by feeding off of others.
There is still a bit of a debate about how Narcissists are created. Do Narcissists breed more of their own kind. Vampire making vampire. Or can two humans breed a vampire. And who created the very first vampire. Can a Narcissist be an immaculate conception. Narcissists do believe that they are immaculate.
I’ve often wondered why I didn’t become a Narcissist. Then again, since most Narcissists don’t know they are Narcissists… I may well be one and not know it.
When I was a child my best friend lived in a mirror. I was not looking in the mirror to see what I looked like, but rather so that my eyes could look into the eyes of another and see affection. I was an only child living in the land of giants, and most of those giants were not friendly. Their eyes, when they deigned to look at me, were often filled with dismissive contempt, rage, blame, or fear.
I used to find it strange that adults feared me, I could understand that they were contemptuous, and angry, that they blamed me for everything, I was a flea which kept irritating them, but the fear seemed out of proportion to the scenario. Like an elephant being afraid of a mouse. They had all the power as they were adults, I was utterly powerless as I was a child. For me to fear them was logical, for them to fear me was illogical. Now that I am older I understand what that fear was and is, but a child tends to take everything very personally. If someone is angry, they think it is because of them, likewise if someone is happy. Magical thinking. It is just the way children perceive. Everything is up close and connected to them. So I took that fear personally and came to the conclusion that there was something very wrong with me. I was obviously not a normal human being. Why else would they look at me with fear. I must be a monster.
However my reflection did not see me that way. I used to talk to myself in the mirror. Friend to friend. I knew that it was me, my reflection, and that I was just talking to myself, but in some ways it was not me. I projected onto my reflection the parts of me which I would perhaps have projected onto others, onto a peer, a friend. Relationships are a vital part of life, and when you spend a lot of time alone, you end up having a relationship with yourself similar to one which you would have with another. I became very self reliant. If I needed emotional support, I sought it from myself. If I needed to discuss a problem, I discussed it with myself. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t seek out the views of others to expand my own, if and when others were available, but I usually reviewed what I gathered from others with myself before making a decision about anything. Especially if those views came from my parents.
One of the things I like most about being friends with myself is the ability to be myself without any hindrance, inhibition, self consciousness. To speak directly, bluntly, call bullshit if bullshit is being spoken, question my motives and intentions, attack and defend, then deconstruct and reconstruct… all without having to worry about hurting my feelings or any other nuances which come with friendship. I tend to be quite brutal with myself, but I know what I’m doing, most of the time, and so I can relax completely in my own company, most of the time.
This friendship with myself often causes problems with my friendships with others. In fact relationships are my Achilles’ heel. I am very socially awkward. When I am with other people, I am always conversing with myself inside my mind, it’s very handy having a portable friend, asking for advice on how to proceed with another. Can I say this, is it appropriate. Am I supposed to tell them what I actually think or give reassurance. And so on. The most difficult part of relationships for me is confiding in another, especially with regards to deeply personal issues. My inner attitude is, I’ve got this covered.
I have many viable reasons why I don’t confide in others. Some are designed specifically to reassure friends who accuse me of not confiding in them, not trusting them, not thinking they can handle my problems. I love having friends, I love knowing that they are there for me if I need a shoulder to cry on, but I prefer to cry on my own shoulder. It is just about physically possible. Laughing, on the other hand, I much prefer to do in the company of a good friend. And I do seek my friends out for support in the form of chilling, taking a break from the vicissitudes of life, discussing ideas, having brainwaves, solving all the problems in the world, and then having a big laugh about it all. That to me is invaluable. It is a great treasure of friendship. As is understanding. Others understanding that my best friend, my main confidant, is myself, and that there are certain things which I only ever share with myself. However, everything else is up for grabs, and I am flexible enough to change, yet not to the point where I become who I am not, to please someone else and who they are. I don’t want them to change who they are for me, because who they are is why I enjoy their company.
Sometimes I feel like a selfish ass for this attitude, but I embrace my selfish assishness because it is a part of me. I often call myself out on my attitude and behaviour. I can change it if need be, and every now and then the need definitely be.
A friend recently complained to me about me being myself with them. Then they accused me of not being myself with them. Then they wanted me to explain myself to them, to justify my reasons for being me, for being myself with them, and for not being myself with them. Then they accused me of not accepting them for who they are. And of attacking them when I asked them to respect my personal boundaries. I figured they were having an identity crisis and wanted me to have one too. I didn’t feel like having one. I’ve had way too many of those thanks to my parents who used to do a similar routine. I admit that I did not handle this interaction as well as I could have. I know what they really wanted was for me to fix their identity crisis for them. I just didn’t feel like it. I’ve given enough blood. I’m not saying my friend is a Narcissist, but I felt the familiar symptoms of being a victim of a Narcissist in this particular instance.
What we see in others is in ourselves too or we would not be able to recognise it so easily. So I wondered if the reason I see Narcissists, is because I am one. I was definitely an Inverted Narcissist for a while, feeling like I was the worst of the worst, the most hideous creature ever to exist on this planet. But I got over that when I realised that it was an illusion brought on by constantly being told that I was by others, so I believed it, but then I questioned it. The answer was that, yes, I had a chunk of badness in me, but I also had a chunk of good too. Sometimes I’m bad, sometimes I’m good, most of the time I’m a blend of both… and of course, what is good and what is bad is a matter of opinion. Some of my favourite bits of myself, like the ability to be brutally honest with myself, are the bits other people think are horrible. I’m aware of that, which is why I mostly keep those parts all to myself. Yum!
Since psychologists seem to believe that our society is creating more Narcissists than ever before, and that Narcissism is fairly incurable. Once a vampire, there’s no going back to being human. I wonder… rather than see it as a bad thing, or all bad, is there not, as there is in everything, a good side to this too. Perhaps it is a part of the natural evolution of humankind, just as going through a Narcissistic phase is a natural part of growing up, moving from child to adult. Just a thought.
So, What do you think?