Sunday, 15 May 2011

Narcissus so himself himself forsook// And died to kiss his shadow in the brook

The story of Narcissus and Echo is one of my favourite myths, the story of unrequited, masochistic love, the need for absolute love, self-worship. I see myself in both, the woman who wastes her life waiting to stop being invisible, the man who stares into his reflection until death. Both unable to accept reality and instead long for what they will never have.

It's exam term and I can't work. My supervisors repeatedly accuse of superficiality - being more style than substance. I retorted that depth was something one had or one didn't, I can't help myself. My supervisor told me that being shallow was the easy choice most people made in order to not think or explore their minds or lives, then she smiled and told me she knew I wasn't superficial, I just needed 'to get to know my mind'. Oh, I know my mind. Food, plan binge, binge, purge, terror I haven't purged enough, a bit of self-loathing, sex, silence. Except that I haven't thought like that for months now. The man from the counselling service emailed me to ask when I'd be free for my next appointment. I panicked, procrastinated and left it so late that I can't go back and speak to him again. I loved telling him about myself, all the things I couldn't tell my friends, go wallow in pity, not feel guilty for ranting about my childhood, not lying. Yet, now I feel so uncomfortable remembering the things I told him. The 'dark' stuff you leave lurking below the surface so it won't drive you crazy. He brushed off the bulmia when I told him it was so that people would notice me. That I would stop being the fat girl at school and be the beautiful girl. And it worked, but no one ever commented that now I was the skinny one in the group so I had to carry on because to give up then would have been worse than anything. He wanted to explore my need for absolute attention. Absolute love. And why I despised people. Why I thought I was so much better than the men I had sex with. I just thought he hadn't been listening. I was better. And thinner. And smarter. But now I'm not so sure - which one came first? The narcissism or the eating disorder? Can you leave an eating disorder and keep the narcissism? Or are they both so inextricably part of each other and therefore me?