Excerpt from SICK
Someone told me Greg was narcissistic. I wasn’t really sure what narcissistic was when I first heard it. Immediately I looked it up and it is simply defined as a personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Well I guess Greg was egotistical. He definitely had an exaggerated estimate of his abilities. There were times when a drug run would come off really smoothly and he would boast about how good he was at what he was doing when I was the one that ran all around and orchestrated the logistics. He thought I was stupid and that he was the master of the world. Constantly he reminded me, in great detail, of how stupid I was and why. I really believed he was a lot smarter than me at the time. Greg was vain. He would dress himself up in the most expensive clothes with watches that cost thousands of dollars. Then he would look in the mirror and admire himself. Greg spared no expense in adorning himself with the best. This all fed into his conceit. And was he selfish? Oh yes, to the extreme.
But all of this didn’t really explain the depth of self that overwhelmed Greg. And it wasn’t always self-love, often it was self-hatred as well. I looked further into this narcissistic thing and discovered the source of the name. Narcissus was a character in Greek mythology. He was a hunter known for his beauty and he rejected those who tried to love him. A Greek goddess named Nemesis was deeply in love with Narcissus and was desperate for her love to be accepted and wanted by Narcissus. One day while Narcissus was hunting in the woods Nemesis followed him and put a spell on him. The spell would cause Narcissus to fall in love with the very next person he saw. Nemesis was certain it would be her but before she could approach him, Narcissus bent down by a pool of water and saw a perfect reflection of himself, falling deeply in love with what he saw, himself.
Upon even further research I found that narcissism was also considered a personality disorder consisting of excessive preoccupation with power, prestige, and personal adequacy, and that there are varying severities. Then I found it. Pathological narcissism! What stuck out to me the most and stopped me in my reading, more so than the character traits of blaming, self-absorbed, and intolerant, was this statement –unaware of others’ needs and of the effect of their behavior on others. What this told me was not that Greg didn’t care about trying to be a good father but that he was not capable of providing the nurturing care and empathy that my Bubby so desperately needed from his father. But again, on that beautiful blue-skied day at my secluded mountain home I didn’t know any of this. Not yet