When I was young, my mother bought me a dress to wear to church. She thought it was beautiful. I hated it with passion. When we got home, I ran to our backyard, tore the thing off in half, made it into a cape, climbed the roof, yelled that I was Superman and jumped.
I think even then, deep inside, I knew that my self-made cape would not keep me afloat, but I jumped anyway – because I felt invincible – because I felt hopeful – because I was so sure, as sure as I knew that I would hit the ground – that the pain that would come from that fall, would be worth it.
For a while, that’s what you made me feel. That feeling of hope and invincibility that I thought was long extinguished inside me, suddenly came back full force – it clouded my vision, diluted my mind, stormed on my defenses. Liquefied – I was liquid with you, malleable, absorbent, transparent and destructible.
We once talked about superpowers. You didn’t know what yours was.
Remember when I asked you to tell me a story from your youth? You were always so convinced that the stories we tell are random and meaningless – that anecdotes from our childhoods bear no significance nor mark in our lives. But we tell the stories we do for a reason – and this was yours:
You said that when you were young, while you were in the scouts, you saw your father baking treats for the other members of your group. You asked if you could have one. And your father vehemently refused. No matter the tantrum you threw, your father remained steadfast in his decision of not giving you a treat. It was the first time, you said, that you realized, your parents do not exist solely to please you.
In shock, I asked, “How old were you when that happened?”
You replied, calmly, “About ten. Eleven.”
I could barely keep the awe from my voice when the words slipped out of my mouth uncontrollably: “You’re very lucky to have held on to that idea for so so long, to not have realized otherwise until you were 11 years old.”
And you held me closer to you and said, words that melted my heart, “Well, it doesn’t matter now – you have me – and that’s how I can exist for you.”
Here’s a gift, from me to you – a lesson you can keep in your pocket when there’s nothing else worth taking.
Your superpower is your narcissism. It keeps you optimistic, hopeful and invincible. There are those who can only feel this indestructibility in very rare moments in their lives, if at all. Most of us are terrified, every hour of our day, every second. We feel vulnerable .We feel defeated. When we meet someone like you we feel elated. We feel protected just by being around you. We feel content, we feel stronger.
Because of your overflowing confidence, because of your optimism that things will always work out for you, things do work out for you – maybe not for us, not those around you who either figure in your life as accessories, or automatons – things you can use to fill gaps in your time, in your identity. But that’s the power of a narcissist – that you can turn people into weapons, and sidekicks. Always secondary to you. The upside of not feeling empathy, is the limitless ability to keep self-preserving.
Good luck my friend. And a fair warning to use your power responsibly. A string of broken hearts lined across the paths you’ve taken doesn’t make for a relatable, nor sympathetic superhero.
Before I go, let me give you one last story:
Throughout my high school years I collected rocks. Every place I went where I felt happy, I took a rock home with me to commemorate that day. My room slowly transformed into a room full of dirty, strangely-shaped rocks to anyone that entered it. No one knew the meaning behind them but me – but that was enough, it was all that mattered. I had grand delusions of becoming the world’s largest rock collector and surround myself with memories of happiness wherever I go.
But one day, I came home from school and saw that they were gone. It was all thrown away – just like that.
I cried for days – sadness that paralyzed me. I felt every part of my body slowly being destroyed. How can something be once there, and then be gone? How can something you love so much be taken away from you without your say?
How do we forgive ourselves for the things we did not become?