Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  Complete Poems.  1924.
Part Three: Love

VII

I HIDE myself within my flower,
That wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting, wear me too―
And angels know the rest.
I hide myself within my flower,
That, fading from your vase,
You, unsuspecting, feel for me
Almost a loneliness.

For his Self? Or herself.

I picked up a copy of Al Purdy’s Piling Blood at the used bookstore, and Golden Girl, a biography of Jessica Savitch. Al had a thing for birds and I barely remember Savitch. Apparently she was a driven, tortured soul, a pioneer with feminist views and NBC’s first anchorwoman. Looked down upon by the old guard as a talking head, a performer, at the dawn of infotainment, Savitch became a sacrificial lamb upon the altar of the Personality cult. They needed her good looks and glamour, resented her demands, including a make up person and hairdresser. Always in control of her close-ups, Savitch paid the ultimate price for her perfectionist ways, her fight for credibility. The book also portrays compellingly the intrigue within the networks, which is true of any corporate culture, only difference today being the density of the jungle.

It was all a facade of course. A mask. Off camera, Savitch was a monster, a very unhappy monster, drug addled and battling drug abuse. The only time she felt secure was staring back at herself in a monitor. And if you’re not a narcissist, cocaine will turn you into one quite handily. Life becomes theatre.

Perhaps we are all narcissists, in various normal development stages and to varying degrees, though individuals afflicted with Narscisstic Personality Disorder,  the “malignant narcissist,” according to Dr. Sam Vaknin, project onto others his or her fears, insecurities and shortcomings. He can assuage anxiety only by being in complete control. Narcissists subjugate everyone, dictate terms of engagement and punish those who refuse to get with the program, their victims caught in a vicious circle, first idealized then inevitably devalued and discarded. Hypomanic, desperate for attention, approval, adulation, a narcissist on the prowl is impossible to resist.

So run! Hide. Keep your panties on. Don’t love anything that can’t love you back.