Speaking Of Narcissism

Narcissism is my subject.

It had to be.

Because it has nearly killed me so often.

The name of this disorder was taken from the Greek myth

picturing a youth kneeling beside a stream

endlessly fascinated with looking into his image there.

People mistakenly think this means that

he's in love with himself. On the contrary.

I have discovered in my eidetic imaging work

that, in fact, any narcissist

–  or any narcissistic aspect of a person –

is missing a sense of self, and, in endlessly seeking

this most essential aspect of his substance,

acts blind to the existence of others.

Having written at book length about this elusive form of blindness,

I was most pleased to see the following poem

came out so succinctly, because I feel everyone

in what has been called our culture of narcissism

needs to recognize narcissism, to see clearly how it works,

and how to handle it compassionately,

since we are so continually faced with and debilitated by it.

What is this most elusive

and prevalent condition?

How does it hit you?

Where does it grab you?

Standing, sitting or lying

before somebody else,

being there for them,

while watching and sensing

that in that moment

you're not there

in their eyes,

you're disappeared,

you're a disapparecido.

I called it "cellophane murder"

at sixteen, when I first began to grapple

with how my mother's narcissism

had ruined me.

You have to keep living through

being nothing to narcissists

while they have no idea

they have committed

any annihilation against you.

Complain and they stare blankly

at you as if you're crazy,

or vehemently deny

that the blow causing this

disappearance took place.

Did narcissism give rise to

the word abashed, or

the expression taken aback?

Every time I think about

one such blind betrayal

I endured, baffled by it for years,

it still feels like a pizza paddle

has hit up alongside my

entire nervous system.

I'm reeling alone over

the chasm of loneliness

falling into the overwhelming

pressure of its darkness

as my gorge rises filling with

a sensation so chartreuse

and of such shrieking proportions

I call it the gangrene feeling.

It takes your breath away.

Your desire to live.

And then where are you?

How do you survive

being reduced to nothing

in the eyes of someone you love?

or the eyes of your society?

How do you play peekaboo

with this disaster

no one else sees happening

or talks about?

It's killing you

and everyone around you.

You're dead

but nobody has time to notice

you're gone, we're gone.

How do you survive

loving one more person,

a whole succession of people

– from your mother and sister

to your teachers and lovers

and friends and editors and acquaintances on  –

who have this Cheshire Cat habit

of disappearing their smile

without having any sense

of how such withdrawals

of true attention

sock others in the solar plexus?

Not using the thumbs of our words

to grasp the slippery ways

this prevailing blindness operates,

who sees that it is the numbing source

of each violence committed,

each blind slipshod

slap in the face

we give each other?

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© Janet K Bloom 2010. All Rights Reserved.