I saw HCW on Monday. HCW is the ex-boyfriend that led to my researching Narcissism (Patricia and The Narcissists, Stonerdate 09.28.08) in an attempt to understand how a person with normally functioning cognitive abilities could be completely without empathy.
When I wrote in October to say I wished he weren't mad at me, he responded with a resounding "WTF?!" During this salvo, HCW emailed to say that if I wanted him to stop being mad, I should quit talking about him on the blog. He was especially offended that I'd called him an emotional vampire and human black hole. I'd also called him cheap. In a show of good faith, I deleted some posts and modifying others so that all specific references to HCW were gone forever. I felt like I had given my blog a lobotomy, but I wanted to prove my good will.
He also said that he had told his shrink that I said he was a narcissist and the shrink had laughed and dismissed the notion saying that successful people in New York City had to be a little Narcissistic. Significantly, the man did not say HCW is not a Narcissist. Further, when therapists discuss the treatment for people with Narcissistic Tendencies, the first rule of thumb is to support the grandiose thinking in order to gain trust. Ergo: of course his shrink dismissed the idea.
I was impressed that HCW had brought the idea to his shrink. Clearly, I had an impact on the narcissist which I considered a victory. Unfortunately, I started thinking I had misjudged him as a result of the distortions in my perception which can be attributed to trauma in early childhood and later.
As a result of this doubt and guilt, I became obsessed with the idea of getting friendly with HCW to determine if I had misread the entire situation. I developed a fantasy wherein HCW only had narcissistic defense mechanisms which were understandable since I had verbally attacked him. We had a unique and rare emotional connection and that there was a good chance that I could overcome his reservations about reconciliation. We would live happily ever after. I was well aware it was a fantasy. I told my sister that if HCW and I did get back together, within a couple of months I'd wonder why I ever wanted to see him again in the first place.
I had also made a conscious choice last winter to stay with him even though I was often hurt by his callous disregard and stunned by his outrageous arrogance because I knew I had to learn how to stand up for myself. HCW's ego is so impervious and defended that he provided a perfect opportunity to practice. What made being with him so confusing is that he was so affectionate and tender in bed that I believed he deeply cared for me.
Disclaimer 3: Like many people, I confused great sex with an emotional connection. I was extremely attached to HCW, perhaps artificially because of Oxytocin, a hormone connected with orgasms and attachment. Being with HCW kept my oxytocin tank full. I have learned that sex is another venue for a Narcissist to encourage a response in another person (the Narcissistic Supply Source) so that his own glorious self reflects back to himself. On the surface, he may seem emotionally connected before, during and after "lovemaking," but it is merely a simulation.
When you're filled with Oxytocin and on Cloud Nine, it's easy to fall for a simulation. I orbited HCW like a satellite, giving him all my Light and Love. I blamed his selfishness on the fact that he had been under pressure because he was stressed by a book deadline and by losing his job. I cut him some slack because he took me to Florida which showed he liked me, but that gesture proved he was kind and good by rewarding me for my loyalty.
In any case, I had to determine whether I had misjudged HCW or if he was, in fact, an emotional vampire. That question was settled once and for all this past week. A bit of time in his company and a lengthy phone call was all it took.
HCW has written a book on a specific investment method, and my dad wanted to compare it to one on the same topic by a syndicated financial columnist. HCW has some books in his possession from the publisher. So on Monday, I met HCW to get a copy of the book for my dad.By then, I fully wanted to explore a reconciliation. I wasn't sure where HCW stood on the concept. In early December emails, I clearly wanted to get back together. He was clearly opposed. Since then, though, there had been two meaningful phone calls. More recently on the phone, he had been sexually suggestive and vaguely nostalgic, so I thought he might be warming up to the idea. Being unsure, I behaved with appropriate distance and circumspection.
In the bar area of a neighborhood restaurant, I stood up to kiss his cheek in greeting. He took my shoulders and planted a lingering kiss on my mouth. Over drinks, he said that even though he hadn't wanted to believe it, he sees I have a heart of gold. He forgave my nasty remarks over the summer. He fed me french fries by hand. We gazed into each other's eyes and he asked, "Is this a mutual admiration society?" Finally, he gave me a ride home and we were sitting in his car while he autographed a copy of his book for me. He looked me in the eye and asked, "Are you still my Number One Fan?"
Now, I had already observed HCW's fixation with having fans because he signed my dad's copy, "to my biggest fan in Texas," and he wanted to know if my mom was a fan. He may not have ever met either one of them, but that didn't stop his need to count them as admirers. When he asked me if I were still his number one fan, he clearly wanted me to say, "Of course." After hesitating a moment, I answered that I was his Riff Randall (president of the Ramones' Fan Club in Rock 'n' Roll High School).So he signs the book, "To My Riff Randall, Thanks for your love and support during the writing of this book . . . "
What struck me as odd was that when we got to my place and I was getting out of the car, I asked him to call me sometime. He said he wasn't going to call me, but that he'd always pick up when I called. I didn't know what to make of that, so I concluded it had to do with male pride which is inevitably confusing.
In a lengthy, middle of the night phone conversation on Thursday, HCW declared that he never had any intention of getting back together. I was not a bit surprised, and although I had been driving in that direction, I never lost sight of the fact that HCW is a turd and I had originally been angry for a good reason.
I woke up in the night feeling as if someone had toyed with my affections to feed his ego. I wondered, "Who the Hell acts like that?" Who knows a woman has feelings he doesn't return then makes sexual innuendos, kisses her full on the mouth in a proprietary way, feeds her french fries by hand, and wants to be told she's his number one fan if the idea of reconciling hasn't at least crossed his mind?
A Narcissist, that's who.
My perception had never been distorted. HCW and I do have a unique and rare connection: the connection between a narcissist and his/her supply source.
This morning, I'm feeling fine because my mission is complete. When I was a child, a perverted man damaged my soul to the core. In HCW, I found an emotional power broker, and in the struggle to have an impact on him, I came to accept and value myself.
I've discovered my own light bubbling within. Grace is not an external prize received from an external God who has deemed you worthy of love and forgiveness. Grace is there for all of us all the time. We simply have to claim it and rejoice.
And every now and then, we have the pleasure of telling someone: Fuck You and The Horse You Rode In On.
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