The other day I read an article by author and television writer Merrill Markoe in which she describes growing up with narcissitic parents. She recalls years of disappointing her mother at Christmas for not absolutely loving the expensive clothes her mother would give her and having them hang in her closet as guilty reminders. Then Ms. Markoe discovered she had fallen into a trap of always trying to please unpleaseable people.
She describes the narcissist as:
. . . nevery fully outgrowing a phase in infantile behavioral development, essentially living in a world that is one-person big. Therefore, when a brilliant, charming, elegant, and grand narcissist honors you by allowing you entry into his or her very elite cadre, it is kind of like being annexed by an imperalist country. Your borders have now been erased. The subtext of all future interactions will be "What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine. Welcome to a world where there is no you." When you are with a narcissist, his needs must become your needs. It's not enough for a narcissist to be the center of his own world; he must also be the center of yours . . . If you are not mirroring him or praising him, you are proving you are a separate person , and thus a threat . . . Narcissists are people who cover up feelings of shame and worthlessness inflicted during their own screwy childhoods by doing whatever it takes to maintain the false sense that they are very special . . . This requires them to surround themselves with people who will constantly pump them up by agreeing with them about everything.
This is a person I would definitely want to stay away from. Unfortunately, the article got me thinking, or rather seeing, that I might have some of these narcissitic tendencies. Maybe not a full-fledged narcissist, but borderline at least.
I have been known to react as the author's mother did when shopping for my own daughter: She rolled her eyes and exhaled an exasperated gust of air that caused the clothes on every rack in the sportswear department to sway. Then she muttered bitterly, as she handed over her Visa to the cashier, "This is the last time I am doing anything like this. I get no pleasure from buying you something I don't happen to like." Ouch!
Maybe I'm not as bad as all that. But maybe I just don't want to think I'm like that. Maybe the narcissist in me won't allow me to think I'm that way. How messed up is that?! Surely even writing a blog that I (secretly) expect everyone to read is proof of some narcissism on my part. Oh God! Now I'm paranoid . . . .