Saturday, August 1, 2009

Life in CinemaScope

I have spent lot of time wondering why I hung out with The Narcissist for a couple of years. There is no denying I was trapped in my own personal psychodrama at the time, and the relationship facilitated my recuperation. You can never underestimate the value of emerging successfully from a psychodrama - especially one that colors your life for decades. I had to knock my head against a certain brick wall enough times to get the point. Being involved with The Narcissist was so intense that I finally learned something that had eluded me for a life time.

But that's not why I liked him, and I really did like him even though he drove me crazy. In fact, I have come to realize that if a fellow doesn't drive me crazy, and if I don't thoroughly hate him every now and then, I won't like him at all.

That's why The Artist from the South of France never had a chance. He was nice and everything. He took me to lovely places, gave me stuff and treated me with deference and respect. He was so solicitous that it was like having your own personal maitre d' at an elegant French restaurant. As it happened, he made a good living as a waiter in a couple of French restaurants when he was a young painter in California. When I told him I didn't feel like going out with him anymore, he actually said, "Was something not to your liking?"

As easy going, understanding and affectionate as I am when all is well, I can be a shrew. Taming of the Shrew level Shrew. I have mentioned before that if Life were a Dog, it would be my mother's pleasure to neuter that dog. My mother would cheerfully slice the balls off The Dog of Life. Granny the Ho was fun loving, but when she was mad she was out of control. When her third husband locked himself in the bedroom to get away from her, she busted a hole in the door with a hammer then went after him with it. I believe she was taking a lot of Dexedrine at the time as a prescription diet pill - but many people take amphetamines without chasing their husbands with a hammer. When she was pissed off about something her second husband did, she cut bald spots all over his head while he was asleep. This is my heritage.

I don't get violent, but I'm a volatile female. If the man in my life cannot take the heat, I'll toss him out of the kitchen my own damn self and call him a sorry-assed pussy while I'm at it.

A Shrew needs Petruchio which is why I adored and respected the hell out of The Narcissist. It's true he had many annoying traits - but so does everyone. Maybe I'm feeling nostalgic because I haven't seen him in so long I've forgotten just how annoying he can be - but he was very smart and strong. His character was solid and distinct. He was goofy and entertaining, enthusiastic about his work, passionate about his kids. Despite his unwavering self-absorption, if I got scared in the night, he was attentive, kind and calming.

We met just as both of our marriages were ending, and getting involved with someone again was not on anyone's agenda. I had already been trying to get divorced for a couple of years, though, and must admit that I had been dating for a while even though Buzz Kill still lived in the apartment. The Narcissist, aka HCW (handsome, charming and wonderful), was in the process of moving since he had been summarily kicked out by his wife. I'm sure that he was such a confrontational, provocative jackass that he's lucky she didn't throw the china at him - but from what I've heard she was also pretty difficult. It's hard to know because when people are trapped in intolerable situations, they do crazy shit. God knows I'd hate to hear Buzz Kill's side of the story because I was guilty of very bad behavior.

Buzz Kill is actually a decent guy. Velvet has said that as individuals we're both okay, but together we suck. The thing is that people often choose partners who perpetuate their original dysfunctions, so the marriages are dysfunctional.

It's kind of odd that when I think of the men who have been most influential in my life (besides my dad), Buzz Kill - my husband of 17 years - is not among them. I'm not sure what that says, but it means something for sure. So far, there are three significant love interests: My True Love, Bradley; My favorite fiancee, The Man from San Antone; and The Narcissist, HCW. All of those men have a fully developed sense of personal integrity. While it may seem warped to other people, in the context of their own lives their behavior consistently shows an adherence to a code of honor. I suspect I don't understand HCW's personal code because there are cultural dissimilarities between us. No one could ever mistake him for a gentleman and his only experience with The Code of The West has been from the movies. In his way, however, The Narcissist/HCW was protective and did his duty as he saw it.

Buzz Kill was too frantic about everything to even recognize his duty. My British ancestry is showing here, but I think a clear sense of duty is crucial to integrity. Buzz Kill means well. He just lives his life in a state of panic and denial which ultimately undermines his ability to be effective. Bradley, The Man from San Antone and HCW are all capable, effective individuals. They are also fully formed, three dimensional characters. Buzz Kill's character is three dimensional and sympathetic, and he's as lovable as any other person - it's just that he's too subservient to be a dominant force in anyone's life. Passive-aggressively controlling, yes. Dominant, no.

When you live your life like I do, as if it's being filmed in CinemaScope with an orchestrated soundtrack, the leading characters have to be dominant and three dimensional. Intense, complex, flawed. Lovable despite themselves.


The Peach Tart said...

That was a great slice of your life. I too am drawn to charismatic and charming narcissists.

Gail said...

Hi there-

Wow, you really know yourself, your experiences, how it all fits, or doesn't fit, and what it all means and why!!! And your ease and skill in writing it so understandable is quite amazing.

Also, as you put them all in their place and make rhyme and reason of it all you are setting the stage for the next lucky bastard to love you!! Saddle up!!!! :-)

Love to you

Jaliya said...

Oh, boy ... I've only read the first paragraph and already I have to commment. Darlin -- your writing-mind is one of my fave places to visit ... You conjoin sass and class (and fabulous nicknames for your gallery of rogues) in a way that is utterly, absolutely yours ... Whoops! -- am I encouraging narcissism here?


PENolan said...

Nope, Jaliya. All y'all are encouraging me to get up and face the morning.

jadedj said...

Many long days ago, I had a four year live-in relationship with a highly educated, witty, Phd lady, who, when things were going smoothly, out of the blue, torpedo the situation, usually in a rage. Intellectually, and culturally we were well-matched. Nevertheless, I finally concluded that her problem was, she didn't feel she deserved to be happy. That of course, is not to say I didn't have a few problems of my own, but the two of us together created a third personality...chaos. In retrospect, it was a total waste of time, for both of us. Basically I remember that four years as abject misery.

It is good to be aware of the possibility of the third personality...particularly the negative one. You seem to be in that place.

PENolan said...

There was certainly an element of misery in all those relationships, but none were a waste of time. I can't even say I've loved and lost since, being a Bokonist, we know things happen as they are meant to happen.

I'll keep wishing on a star.

Jaliya said...

One of my longtime friend married a man who had both a narcissistic personality disorder and bipolar disorder. *Tragic* combination. She nearly went bonkers living with the man. He also cooked like a dream, was an absolute gas at dinner parties (which he loved to host), and had a way with words that blew my mind. Such a damn shame that he also suffered from an intractable brain-mind disorder -- he couldn't do anything with his shadow-side except spew it all over everyone around him. I'd have gone mad living with him for six *minutes* -- my friend lived with him for six years. I can imagine her reading your post, nodding her head nonstop with empathy. She's never laughed or cried so hard as she did with that man. I miss him terribly -- and I hope never to see him again. I just can't be with people whose minds are that injured ... and injurous. Breaks my heart ... and I can't afford to let anyone break my mind.

Your phrases, "unwavering self-absorption" ... "confrontational, provocative jackass" ... "loveable despite themselves" ... and your understanding of the maddening, paradoxical integrity of a person whose inherent human narcissism rages beyond a moderate degree ... You've nailed it, PENolan. Thanks so much. You could expand this story and publish it in a psychological journal --> and teach the "professionals" a few things!! ;-)

Bless xo

PENolan said...

Yep, Jaliya, it's a constant push/pull that can be very seductive.

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