As I reflect on being unceremoniously dumped, I'm noticing the similarities with other experiences. What is this pattern? How is it that these men who are so wonderful to Me in a subby way seem to have this impressive ability to hurt Me, in such a pinpointed and consistent way? I think I'm getting to a new layer of the onion.
The book Rethinking Narcissism says everyone is on a scale of narcissism, and most people are in a range where if you understand it, there are ways to appeal to the person's better nature. Narcissism isn't necessarily fatal. The book begins by recounting the myth of Narcissus, the beautiful boy so entranced with his reflection in the water he falls in love with himself, and becomes the flower. Narcissus has a friend, Echo. Echo has no voice of her own, she can only echo Narcissus.
I've reflected for a while that subbies tend to be Echo types and Dominants, especially bad ones, tend to be Narcissus types. And of course, they tend to travel in pairs. I see this a lot in unhappy marriages where there is an un-acknowledged power dynamic. The wife Narcissus, the subby hubby Echo. It has explained a lot to Me over the years about how these men get in these marriages, why they stay, why they are attracted to Me, and why they ultimately disappear back into the unhappy marriage, often abruptly.
I think what I've figured out though, is that the Narcissus/Echo duality goes deeper. It can also be inside each person. I had noticed that D and I got along so wonderfully, we had essentially zero friction, it was all so easy. And then BOOM! out of the blue, he does this wildly hurtful and selfish thing that seems almost calculated to be as painful to Me as possible. Really, if he had a concern about the relationship, say if he felt things were moving too fast, why not discuss it at some point before actively blowing it up? It's not far off what happened when My wonderful slave left so abruptly, he was distraught, ended it with minimal explanation, and despite promises of a transition, he was just gone, and he never came back for transition as promised. All he really said was that he had realized he didn't know who he was, but he was sure he was not person he had led Me to believe in our relationship. Much the same happened with mikey, who had a Narcissus wife, and we were together for most of a year then one day, POOF! he ghosted and that was that. I still have no idea what happened, and I did ask six months later to meet for coffee so we could smooth things to avoid awkwardness at an upcoming event. But there was no coffee, and yes, it was very awkward for years.
These three share some traits. 1. They often told Me how awesome and wonderful I was, what a great friend, partner, support, Master. 2. They all were very sweet and seemed like they'd all struggled with not being accepted for who they are, with not being seen. 3. They all were very easy to get along with, we basically never had any real friction, and any glitch was worked out with ease. 4. They all had a harsh streak in them, usually self directed but also an un-forgiving attitude toward others, a really surprising harshness, and I talked with each of them about compassion and self-compassion. 5. I encouraged all of them to grow, to become more fully themselves, to learn good communication, to articulate boundaries, to learn from Me how to do this, and then apply the skills I taught them in their lives. 6. And then they left, all of them very abruptly, totally, with effectively zero discussion, in what is the most hurtful way possible for Me, to be simply cut off.
I think... the being told how wonderful I am, how great a partner I am, so much... I think that's a key. I think it might be a poker tell. Maybe it tells Me they on some level recognize I'm being better to them than they know they will be to Me. It's not a compliment, it's a confession, it's a statement of guilt. Maybe they stay as long as they do because it's seductive to be well treated and because they feel guilty at the prospect of leaving someone being good to them. They want the water, they don't care about the bucket. Perhaps people who have been treated badly feel entitled to treat others badly given the chance, perhaps it's some sort of a growth step for them to get to the point of having enough agency to hurt someone else. Perhaps it is liberating I helped them grow, I happen to be the person available to hurt. Perhaps it's like differentiation of a child from a parent, there must be rebellion in order to separate and rebellion by definition hurts. But I don't believe they actually think about it all that much. I suspect that as it seems to have happened this week, I was not actually a person to them, I was... an idea... a chimera... not a mirage but I seemed a mirage to them. And so they don't even consider that hurting Me is even possible. Certainly they are remarkably unmoved by evidence of the pain inflicted. That's sad in a way, the possibility that I was really present for them, but they didn't realize it. Like a thirsty man drinking the desert sand at the oasis.
Perhaps when a man is an Echo, he has inside him a suppressed Narcissus. Maybe by encouraging them to grow and have boundaries and voice and agency, perhaps it allows the switch to flip to Narcissus. Perhaps that explains the bizarre-seeming lack of concern for My feelings despite what had seemed deep intimacy until that point. Perhaps it explains the shocking level of selfishness in forgetting there's another person present. I don't know how long the Narcissus thing might last for them. I don't know if it is a development stage they pass through or just situational. Maybe it's sort of a tool, not a great one, but a new tool that's sharp and they don't know how to wield it. Maybe it's the first time they took that razor sharp knife out of the sheath. slave t said that to Me once sort of. he said he had never tried to have an amicable breakup before, there had never been a person so kind to him that amicable parting was a choice, and he simply didn't know how. In fact, it hadn't occurred to him it was a possibility. He all but said the only way he knew to leave was through cruelty.
Perhaps Echo and Narcissus is a pendulum that swings. I have noticed that in My own parents. Both capable of each, both resenting the other for some moments on the outer arc of the pendulum. My bullying father complaining in quiet moments that he is hen pecked. My seemingly passive, never angry mother somehow getting him to do All The Things, even as he resents doing them. They seem in some duality they have not transcended in 50 years.
It makes Me wonder how much I am Narcissus. I like to think not too much. Princess maybe is where the Narcissus lives, she is the selfish part. She is the Echo too, when she is with Unkey, she is like a puppy, all attachment, interested in doing whatever Unkey wants to do, she just wants to be near him. It is helpful to think of her as being a separate set of impulses from Me. Master Me is not super comfortable with that puppy behavior. The General doesn't like it either. Master Me has some ego investment of course in being a good Master, I'm not immune to playing the saint, I suppose, maybe even the martyr in these cases where I get hurt. I'm learning things too, and I'm happy that the recovery period for these times of having My heart broken by these Echo boys is getting shorter. Fail Faster, they say in Silicon Valley. I cannot see how the puzzle pieces all fit, but if this pace of Failing Faster continues to increase, one day soon, maybe it will force the paradigm to shift. Maybe it just did. Maybe I will stop picking these Narcissus boys and Echo boys at all, or pick a version much fainter and less destructive. This layer of lessons will have all been learned, like advancing in a video game. Maybe there could be a point of Healing or heck, why not, Enlightenment.