The narcissism of heartbreak


There is a narcissism to my heartbreak, always. A million poems churn from my fingertips. I pull tears out of the air,  paint them mime-like under my eyes. It’s not acting. It’s not fake. It’s real in the way where after a while, after a few months, or many years, only I am real and you cease to exist. You are the he are the she the many theys you are a blurred line of past brown edges white insides many iterations of the same pain same apathy same grey landscapes that vibrant colour flashing for a single season of blooming flowers.

There is a peculiar interest in martyrdom that only a narcissist could bring so successfully to that table, to that potluck dinner where the theme is always sacrifice – as though a single sacrifice by a single person matters anything at all. As though a single heartbreak matters in the scale of the universe.

As though these moments are worthy of extreme gratitude or cherishing or the vast and inevitable devastation that follows.

I marvel at my capacity to hold a tempest inside myself. When I start to whistle, hear me shout: Tip! me over and pour me out.

“it was just a good time, a nice time” men insist desperately, all raised with the “emotional range of a teaspoon” as Hermione Granger snaps at Ron Weasley, where I can only imagine that “good” ranges from very nice chocolate cake yes, to aweinspiring intimate sacred moments. In their minds, such moments are not very far from the experience of delectable chocolate cake. I assume she continues snapping at him for the entirety of their marriage because it’s not as though he grows at all as a human being across 7 years.

“It was a good time!” you said, and I carefully took your words from the air, crumpled them up and stuffed them into a back pocket to keep for later.

I wrote you a letter that said much more than “It was a good time!”

“It’s nice to have somebody beside you like that” he said.

“But you weren’t just somebody to me, ” I said, not realising of course that I was some body to him.

Chocolate cake. You for a man as a woman are never too far from the experience of eating chocolate cake. The quality of these experiences sits in a range measureable by a teaspoon.

But maybe there is value in having – in being – so little. So miniscule. So worthless as men tend to be. They never consider dining at the sacrificial potluck dinner. They never consider themselves that magnificent against the comparative larger structure and beauty of the universe. The capacity of selfishness increases with how little someone is – they have quite literally nothing to sacrifice, and everything to gain. There is a lesson here for me too.

“You want so little from me” I marveled at my exes, these men I wanted to offer the world to, as though I had the world to offer. You do not want the world. I do not have the world. But you don’t even want a woman. You want a finger, a kiss, a kind word, a soft hug, these disembodied moments without the full flesh and structure of another person.

To be a woman and to recognise her own worth is to be, to some extent, a narcissist in a world that defines you as small parts of available soft flesh and tender moments and words on a page – men always think I am my poetry, and I am my poetry but I am not just my poetry.

But I also think I do something, I do a thing, an interesting and strange and peculiar thing – I turn them into mirrors for my own reflection, maybe I am a vampire seeking seeking endlessly a mirror inside a person and isn’t that an interestingly dangerous thing to do to someone? Maybe, unknowingly, that has been the price I’ve demanded too – if they want a pound of my flesh maybe I want their eyes to be lakes just for me to swim in forever. If they want some sweet moments with me maybe I want to wrap myself around them until we wake up limbs not knowing to whom they belong.

Increasingly, I think about the myth that is romance. I think about how it is the only way I know to fall in love. I think about the impossibility of such a love lasting in any significant way. I think about how a flower that blooms once and dies is not an evergreen standing for a millenia. I think about the prettiness of the little loves I have had, the flash of gold magpie-like. You fade like an atom bomb shadow imprint, instantly gone.   The months that follow are passages of time ringing worms around the me that was, the you I thought you were decays. But you are not gone. you live. you exist. just not to me.

and not in a “you are dead to me” way. Our lives are just distinct. Cut off. I also do not exist in your world. but there is a narcissism to the writing isn’t there? You are not “an atom bomb shadow imprint, instantly gone”.

We went on what-  4 dates? We talked a lot for 2 weeks. We dated for like a month. There is nothing grandiose about this. It falls so firmly into the realm of the absolutely mundane.

I always hoped for more I guess, until you. Maybe you took – and maybe this is good – the tendency I have to cherish the mundane, and call it love. It was love, for me anyway. It is the only type of love I know, but it is also, as you showed, ugly in its smallness in its lack of reciprocity.

I accept that I was very nice chocolate cake for you.

I accept that you and the others enjoyed a good dessert.

I accept also that I wanted more and that I believe increasingly that “more” does not exist.

Maybe the next time around, the “you” i meet will be nice chocolate cake for me too.

“You are only chocolate cake” I will say to the next man. “You are a good time.” I will say. “It is nice to have a body beside you,” I will say.

The idea of bright flowers does not excite me anymore.
There is nothing thrilling about a long lasting evergreen tree either.
I want(ed) bright flowers that exist forever, and this is not how nature functions, and I accept this also.

My love has always been fictional in the way the best stories are always fiction. My love has always had technicolour film soaked event. I have no regrets, but I am these days tired. So tired. I am tired of my own narcissism and dreams and hopes and desires. I am tired about the paltry flash of flowers blooming and their inevitable deaths.

Fatigue makes us honest in a way nothing else can, no not even pain – pain to a narcissist is just creative energy.

But I’m tired. It is tiredness that drops the pen. Muscles don’t ache, they just stop working.

So I’ll be brief, look:

Love is dead and you are not.
And
Love is dead and I am not.

My heart is the size of a walnut, enough for me.
I do not have the world to offer.
I do not have a heart to offer.
I do not have anything to ask for in this regard either.

And I suppose, all other things are negotiable, provided they fit in the range of a teaspoon.

A walnut, after all, fits very rightly so in a teaspoon.

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