Monday, January 5, 2009

Reciprocal Narcissism

Have you ever heard of the term? I use it to describe those relationships that are based only on a mutual ego feed. Sometimes such arrangements get mistaken for love but when one stops feeding the other’s ego, you suddenly are no longer in love. In such cases I wonder if the issue is there was no real love to begin with. You loved having your ego fed and when it stopped you suddenly became interested in finding an ego feed elsewhere?

I’ve thought about this one a lot and have had a few of these relationships in the past. I’ve run into a few folks that were merely addicted to love but I wonder…is it really a love addiction or is it really that someone doesn’t know how to love and they’re just narcissistic and in desperate need of a continual ego feed…and because they don’t know what real love is, they mistake the ego feed and the gratitude that sometimes follows as feelings of love.

I’ve seen a number of relationships where love was so conditioned…I love her as long as she does this…I love him until he does that…I think that conditional love is really narcissism at work. But what the hell do I know? Nada! I just think a lot and write about what I think because it’s something I enjoy. But this topic seems to be huge…it could be a novel in fact and I may include it in another book I’m writing. I’ve got four going all at once and only 2 are close to completion…I diverge…let me get back. I think the rate of relationship failure is that we’re all looking for the kind of love that only comes from inside and until we can honestly feel that love from inside, there is no possible way any feelings of love are real for anyone outside. There are a few gradations of love that we can honestly feel for people. We love our co-workers and care about what happens to them. We love our friends. We love our family. We love our spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. But how do we love them? Is it without condition? Is it the kind of love that doesn’t seek to manipulate and control? Is it the kind of love given with no expectation of reciprocation?

In relationships all around me, that are termed “loving relationships,” frankly, all I see is conditional love, narcissism at work and ultimatums and demands that are conveyed in the guise of love. I don’t think I knew what love was until March 14, 1990 at 11:37 p.m. precisely. At that moment, my first child was born and in that instant, I knew I would move Heaven and Earth, die, maim, whatever I had to do for that child and my mind didn’t change weeks after when colic struck and I didn’t sleep, I changed diapers and had to change my clothing 4 times a day after being barfed on. It didn’t change years later when I got calls from the school saying she cut class again. It didn’t change when she didn’t clean up the living room after I asked her to. There was one person that I knew I loved unconditionally. Just when I thought I knew all about love, I was blessed a few more times…11/3/95 at 8:26 am., 7/26/1999 at 1:26 am and then again on 1/24/2003 at 11:57 pm. Suddenly I really knew what unconditional love was…in all this time I’ve been taken advantage of, made into a maid, shrink, judge, jury, bank, Barbie buddy, fixer of toys and even emotional punching bag and more and it didn’t matter because I loved these kids without condition.

I have friends that I love no matter what they say or do and nothing changes…even when they scream at me, are disappointed in me, feeling neglected by me, are acting short and grumpy…the love does not change…it exists and I’d still go to the ends of the Earth and back for them. That’s what real love is. Love isn’t about an ego feed, someone to make you feel less lonely, someone to rescue you when you get into trouble, a shoulder when you need to cry or someone to tell you you’re amazing when you’ve had a really bad day. Love is greater than all of that and its absolutely endless…the more you give it the more you are filled with it. It’s an incredible feeling.

So, in terms of relationships we run into stages…initial attraction, infatuation (which is mostly ego feed make no mistake) and then hopefully as time goes by and you start to glimpse the soul of the object of your affection, the seeds of love take hold and bloom unaffected by anything that happens. Love means you let people be exactly who they are without trying to change them, manipulate them or control them. Love appreciates differences and love sees through conflict. Love doesn’t mean you surrender boundaries.  Love means you stay balanced and keep your boundaries because you love yourself and at the same time you love your partner and will wait for them to figure it out. Sometimes when our partners figures it out…it takes them in a different direction or away from you.  If you love them enough you can let them go with love.  In this case love certainly does not then dictate a bitter end in which you must inflict the pain you feel in your loved one’s absence. If it’s really love and not an addiction or a narcissistic relationship, you’ll love someone enough to let them go and be who they are, you’ll love them enough to forgive them for any pain they caused you and you’ll know you really don’t lose anything in taking such an approach. Love never dies when you find it. It doesn’t make a relationship last forever but the love never dies.

I don’t want to get into what it feels like to lose love like that because we all know its dreadful, awful and painful until you learn to hold the right perspective. But if you love yourself enough, you can heal yourself and strike out and try to find unconditional love again and gain a great measure of understanding in the process.

I’ve been dealing with a number of different scenarios of late trying to help some folks see the light of love in their lives and it’s just that some things about love strike me as so subtle and simple that we miss it. I’m no expert in love and in fact have had a good share in tanking a number of relationships because what I thought was love wasn’t love at all. I don’t regret those relationships. In fact, I’m infinitely grateful for them because they taught me something important.  They taught me about love but just in a different way I suppose.

My thoughts for today are along the lines of looking at the love that is in your life. If you aren’t seeing any…why not? You can’t find love when you’re filled with doubt, self-loathing and fear of being alone. You can only find love when you’re filled with it from the inside. And, when you’re filled with it on the inside, you attract it in many forms right to you and the love flows in some amazing ways if you’re paying attention. When you feel like you don’t have enough love in your life, go look in the mirror and ask why you’re not loving yourself enough right now.  Maybe the love you give is conditional so the love you receive is likewise conditional. Like I said, I don’t have all the answers and struggle quite a bit with love myself…different aspects…like trust but the love part I think I finally get and contrasting the love I know is unconditional to other kinds of love in my life, tells me where I’m falling short or needing work. Just some food for thought. So, go in love!!!!! Be in love with life!!! Love your friends! (If you picked friends that are hurtful…love yourself enough to let hurtful people go and attract to you kinder ones). Love, I sometimes think, is what the entire world is all about…figuring out how it translates into all the facets of our existence. I better stop here or this will be a novel. If ya read this far, bless you! Have a great day.

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