Guest Column: Ruminating about Narcissism

Source: Godfather III. Connie Corleone. Hidden nearing "Take the gun, leave the cannoli."

by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Assistant Editor

Rumination is such a big and expansive word. And not one that’s easily deciphered or described. It is a thought process. Etymologically, it indicates meditation and contemplation or musing over something or chewing the cud as some linguists and etymologists have suggested.

Having ruminated about narcissism in its various complex forms at times has looked like a Rorschach test. Narcissism has the dimensions of being depicted as an abuse of both self and others. An idealized self-image can morph into  confusion and complications. Relationships with friends, family members, a lover, or others with whom we have bonds may have a narcissistic quality that includes self-affirmation and vanity but that narcissistic quality can be flipped and as a result the relationship can become distant, devalued, and discarded.

The red flags are often the speed at which this occurs with bonding being within a few weeks and months. That scorn of the devalue, and discard cycle fucks with your head. You move from feeling loved and valued to being absolutely despised in a matter of seconds. So, it is understandable that we search for clarity and understanding through these confusing relationship dynamics. It’s powerful, and it can happen to any one of us. It appears to have happened to a sizable portion of this nation. And that speaks volumes about its potency. It’s easy to become a true believer. Believing in someone who touches upon our deepest insecurities and darkest thoughts and in the process affirms our baseless fears. Evidence and facts can be strong dilutants to disinformation brought about by the narcissist. But the narcissist concentrates on his or her own personal benefit. The follower is merely a follower never a confidant. Friendship with a narcissist is a fairweather relationship.

People affect other people with their energy. When we are in harmony with the realities of our own lives, we function in harmony. When we are in the dark, we see darkness……… the light, we see energy. We connect. We understand that when one acts unethically it affects everyone and everything by that very negativity. Modern practitioners try to solve the narcissistic puzzle…. but we soon learn that there isn’t any solution. We…the not so powerful “we”…You hurt me, not just emotionally, you hurt me spiritually…you stomped on my heart, you took all I had to offer and ripped out a part of my soul at lightning speed. You seem to have forgotten that everything you have said or done I have seen before, in another lifetime.

So, my inner voice says – be wary of falling for tricks or traps, as you are a member of the not so powerful “we”. Your very own emotional fallout can be severe…leaving you with scars that do not heal very quickly.

Our weaknesses can be quite visible and malleable and easily exploited by those whose daily existence is focused on such weaknesses in others.

One answer may be found in self-awareness without looking in a mirror to see our reflection.  What are our expectations of self and others?

What happens when we want to strike back at the narcissist? Revenge and vengeance? Such responses can be traced to the ancient writings in all cultures. Some cultures take it upon themselves collectively to consider the remedy for the mistakes committed within their family.  

What is to be learned about revenge? In his work titled, Prince Bismarck, iii, 36, (1885), Charles Lowe wrote, “Eat the dish of revenge cold instead of hot,” and earlier in 1593, Francis Bacon wrote Essays: Of Revenge, “A Man that studieth Revenge keeps his owne Wounds greene.” 

Whatever recipe we design for personal growth and contentment in our relationships and journey, it’s best to season it with a judicious soul and the ingredients of humbleness, courage and patience.