I just went back and re-read some of the posts in the “My Story” section of this blog. If you haven’t read those posts, you really should, just because they do a pretty comprehensive, if not exactly linear, job of laying out just who I am, how I live my life, and how it is that I got here.
Narcissism is funny. I think I’ve written before, but it has two meanings. There’s the popular meaning of the world, flowing directly from the myth of Narcissus, who became entranced with his own reflection, and spent the remainder of his days staring at himself. And there’s the more clinical sense, in which case it’s usually used to refer to the phenomenon of the centrality of the regulation of self-esteem.
I certainly suffer from (more than) a touch of both.
This blog, and my voluminous journals, and other blogs, all are testament to the seemingly infinite appetite I have for my own self-regard. And/but, they’re not just that: I don’t just look at myself, admire myself. Any regular reader of these pages will know that I’m pretty critical of myself – not in a neurotic way, I think – but in a way that is continually challenging myself to see more clearly, to act more generously, to be better. Not informed (thankfully, any more) by a belief that I’m in some fundamental sense “not good enough,” but rather, by the belief that improvement always is possible.
And on the second sense… it is in this sense that I think my narcissism is more pronounced. My mood swings are almost directly correlated to the vicissitudes in my self-esteem. And not my general self-esteem. In general, my self-esteem is pretty consistent. I know myself to be intelligent, creative, relatively unbound by conventional wisdom, highly competent, and likeable. I never doubt these aspects of my sense of self, and it is in them that the bulk of my sense of self-esteem resides.
But with respect to the amorphous, and somehow central, question of my desirability to women, I’m fragile. I crave constant reinforcement of my desirability, constantly ratcheting reinforcement. It’s not enough to like me, you have to want me. And you have to not just want me, but to want me to get what I want. And what I want tends to escalate in directions that make it increasingly challenging to continue wanting me to get what I want. (It’s not enough for you to continue to want me to get what I want. Because I want her to want it to, and I want you to want her to want it for me. And so on, and so on, and so on.)