What a timely and fitting prompt from NaPoWriMo today! The invitation is to play with the myth of Narcissus in some way. I’ve always loved Greek mythology, and the tale of Narcissus alway struck me as sad—dying of unrequited love of self. But now that my husband is out of the house and I’ve had time to really consider the effects on my mind, body and spirit of living eight years with my husband’s pathological narcissim, the tale has become a lot more personal. Before I realized the nature of our relationship and how damaging his words and actions were to me and my self-esteem in the course of our marriage, I always thought narcissists were annoyingly self-absorbed people whom we love anyway, because everyone deserves love, and we all exhibit degrees of narcissism now and again. It’s human nature, isn’t it, after all, to become periodically fixated on one’s self, one’s happiness, one’s life path, and the ways and means we go about achieving what we think we need to be fulfilled? But then I learned about narcissistic abuse—gaslighting, smear campaigns, isolation, criticism, financial abuse, and it came crashing down on me what I had endured during our time together, always trying to help him be happy, always being told that I was the source of his unhappiness. I realize that I’ve been traumatized by my time with this man, and I internalized a lot of what he told me. I’m in the process of unpacking the stories and sifting through my inner landscape to find some ground and some truth about myself. Yes, today’s prompt is timely. Here goes.
Poor boy, you fell so deeply in love
with what you believed to be true about yourself,
you wasted away into a dream and died.
The one I thought I knew was a phantom,
haunting the pool that claimed your life.
I tried to save you but you were already dead,
and as real as you seemed, you were just an apparition,
a poltergeist, making lots of noise, breaking things,
howling like a ghoul, frightening me,
recruiting me into this fantasy of living
as you drew me nearer and nearer
to your realm of death.
You nearly took me too,
so invested was I in resurrecting you
that I began to deny my very Self
and all of her needs.
But the spring came, and with it my own resurrection.
I saw my spirit come to life and resist the chains
you attempted to throw around me.
They were just a mirage, like the rest of you;
loud, messy, impressive,
but without any weight or strength,
substanceless, like your love, like your life,
like your work, like all of you.
Rest in peace, fair Narcissus.
I’m going back to the realm of the living now.
I’ll visit you each spring,
lay a flower on your grave,
pay my respects,
but know this:
You cannot hurt me any more.
You are nothing to me now.
than the whispers of wind
that caress my cheek,
reminding me of the long life I have left to live.