July 20, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

People can be so vain that they believe that being thought vain would be an assault to their persona.  So, they compensate by making sure that they appear unkempt in both the way they look and how much they seem to care when others regard them.

People who are aware that they are deeply narcissistic, ashamed that this is the case, might be appalled that someone thinks they are narcissistic, and so they pay close attention to their behavior, encouraging the exhibition of sensitivity and compassion.

I’ve noticed in my male friends and in myself varying degrees of obsession/compulsion as we now begin the process of winding down our lives.  We are stalked by a deep desire for sex and/or immortality.  I’m not even exactly sure how the two are different.  At a younger age, the craving for sexual union was far stronger, but there were undertones of desire for immortality.  But when one is growing older, the desire for immortality, if anything, seems to have intensified.  And, now that I think of it, sexual fantasies now often culminate with the making of a baby.  This was never the case when I was young, though when young I engaged in sexual fantasies maybe 100 times more than I do now.  I felt like an ambulatory yearning machine.

When I was young, I was obsessed with union, motivated in no small part by a deep disrespect for myself that verged on self loathing.  Now, I desire union while retaining some positive self regard, aware that union means an inevitable loss of self.

So, I seek immortality while at the same time yearning for a nimble abandonment of self.  I would guess that this is peculiarly male, with many exceptions, of course.

The point I’m making is that as a male I observe a deep desire to make an impression.  This impression I seek to make takes the form of effecting change and influencing events long after I am gone.

I see the same dynamic engaged in my 50s friends, often with startling intensity.  Clearly, fear is a variable in this equation.  Perhaps as we come closer to dying there is, for a time, more resources available to make sure life has not been in vain.

Again, there is a vanity here that is not shared by the women that I know.

I notice that when even my closest friends sometimes exhibit successes in their lives, I am jealous.  These envies emerge with less frequency as I grow older.  For example, I am now rarely jealous of love in others’ lives.  I feel loved in mine.  I do not now reflexively pine when I see close sharing.  Nevertheless, when it comes to success, I find myself frequently interpreting another person’s gain as my loss.  It’s like the way I used to drive.  Every car going my direction was competing to get someplace before me.  I drove like a maniac.  Everywhere I journeyed, I arrived stressed.

My driving habits changed when I struck a girl. (I broke her ankle.)

My feeling of jealousy of love evolved when I let myself feel loved by a woman.

My envy of others’ success is still engaged.  I respond to this by often hiding my successes from my friends.  I estimate that they will feel as I do, feeling jealous of me, if I reveal that something particularly good has happened in my life.  So, while feeling comfortable with sharing miseries and failures, I am loath to show what has happened that is good.

Seeking immortality, I only care about the regard of strangers.  I would prefer that my friends not know of my success.

Narcissism, when combined with fear, shame, jealousy and desire can manufacture some unique life orientations.  Vanity can run so deep that it seeks to make sure it isn’t seen.  Growing older does not mean we are withdrawing from the competition.  Sometimes growing older just means we know exactly where we’ve been.


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