One of the things that I’ve thought about since this election is certain people I’ve left behind, whether they were friends, family members, and former romantic partners due to their toxic behaviors. The past four years have been endlessly triggering where this recent election has made me think of them and why I chose long ago to leave.
I don’t think of them with hatred. Far from it. A part of me continues to hold love and compassion for them where I still remember seeing their own hurt beyond the toxic behaviors they hurled toward those who loved and cared for them. It’s hard for me to hold that same love and compassion toward the former leader of this country who, to this day, refuses to concede to defeat, but it has made me wonder the events in his life that shaped him into the narcissist he is today. What makes a man want to separate innocent children from their desperate parents and put them in cages? Some of us like to believe there is some shred of goodness in every person, but the reality is that it’s not always possible to see.
It seems there is pain, trauma, and abuse buried somewhere deep under a narcissist, though in many instances it is difficult to see their vulnerability as they’ve gated it off so securely with metal chains and the highest steel walls that all you can see is the hatred and rage they spew until it consumes them and everyone they want to drag down with them. At the same time, I don’t necessarily think narcissists congregate or are friends with each other. It seems narcissists congregating among each other would defeat their very purpose of standing self-righteously and absolutely alone on the peak of their own mountain. Rather, the narcissist thrives on being surrounded and validated by their devoted followers—followers who think less of themselves and also have a hard time holding themselves accountable, and in turn need their narcissist, who stands charismatic and self-assured and confident, to a point of flagrant arrogance, despite not actually being knowledgeable of anything in the world, but it’s the narcissist’s self-assuredness that saves them from their own insecurity and self-doubt. So this poem was born. From the post election results. From a trigger.
A long-time admirer of visual artist RC Caringal, her art speaks volumes on the very things I mention above. Just looking at one of her pieces is triggering, and so I thought to pair it with this poem below.
WHEN YOU’VE BEEN LOVED BY A NARCISSIST
When you’ve been loved by a narcissist,
you think of each election that goes by.
The candidate they would’ve voted for.
The candidate they would’ve criticized.
You think of each celebrity who dies.
You wonder if they are thinking of themselves,
if they think about dying too.
Or do they just laugh it off as a fluke.
Having nothing to do with them.
The world is so big without them.
As you suddenly feel able to breathe.
And then when you think of something controversial:
a politician, a celebrity, a breaking news story,
a wildfire, an earthquake, a flood,
you wonder where their compassion lies.
They see themselves in the world,
a speck in the vast ocean, but no one
sees them drowning. They think
they could make you see them
by lashing out at the ocean, believing
for some odd reason
they could swallow the ocean whole.
You want to tell them they are ridiculous.
But you’re not there anymore.
And they’re not there anymore.
They loved you once.
Or so they told you.
Or so they wanted you to believe.
And you believed them.
Until you didn’t.
Until their thrashing and screaming and
yelling and namecalling and
made you stop believing.
And so when you cast your ballot
for the person you think is going to save us all,
you think of this narcissist who loved you.
You have an inkling of who they will vote for.
You’re not totally sure. But you have a feeling
they don’t necessarily vote for
the narcissist running for office.
If that makes sense.