I am selfish. I did not know that. I managed to avoid that fact by living alone for most of my adult life. Then I joined a family. It turns out I’m a serious narcissist. Narcissus, enraptured with his own beauty, died while gazing at his face reflected in still waters. In truth, I may be more like the pond, looking up at the face of Narcissus and hoping to find herself reflected there, certain that he must be bent over staring at her.
My husband predicts I’ll die choking on my own spit – I sometimes forget to swallow properly. It’s usually because I’m so fixated on what is going on with others around me that I neglect that basic reflex. I am taken with hypervigilant attention to how others react to me. I study others in earnest, hoping to discover myself in their word, look, or deed. I assume that others are as taken with me as me.
I always thought I was self-effacing, deferential, and considerate of others. Rather than feeding prideful vanity, a trait I always treated with great disdain and viewed as true self-centeredness, I sought the opposite extreme. I denied ever claiming any rights or asserting any preferences and chose to devote myself to what I thought others wanted from me.
So when the kids complain about dinner, or comment on the dirty floor, or can’t find their favorite sweatshirt, do I ever feel the pressure. Little do they know, they are serving indictments against my character and my worth. More evidence of my failure. And I start choking.