Friday, September 28, 2012

Reading the face behind the mask

I was looking for appropriate internet sites to advertise my book, “…Until You Die”: The Narcissist’s Promise.  Set in Massachusetts, I was looking at facebook pages from some of the towns I mentioned in my book.  Readers usually enjoy books set in familiar locations as it paints a distinct visual picture in conjunction with the text.  As I looked at a page from one town, I noticed several photographs.  Upon closer examination, I surprisingly came across a recent photograph of my abusive ex at a high school reunion.  My first reaction was an automatic gag reflex; an honest, physical response to the individual who has launched a vengeful campaign since I filed for divorce in 1996.  Due to deeds so vicious, I always avoid looking at his face, and avert my eyes, so he appears as a mere silhouette.  Our marriage is now a vague shadow, overpowered by nauseating memories of years of abuse and harassment that still follows me.

Although repulsed, I forced myself to study the revealing photograph.  His left hand rested on a chair for support, and held a glass of red wine in his right hand.  His posture is arrogant and stiffly posed.  Instead of leaning forward to speak to a seated classmate, his head upright and his eyes cast downward.  His mouth displays a closed smile that doesn’t touch the rest of his face.  His eyes are cast downward and expressionless disinterest. Narcissist expert, Sam Vaknin offers an insightful explanation on the “haughty” body language of a narcissist, when he says, “a narcissist often refrains from physical proximity (he maintains his personal territory)."  The “name tag” on his shirt is hand written because he never graduated.  In a true narcissist fashion, he balked at authority when they suggested earning enough graduation credits the following year. 

Despite that, he became a successful business man, bragging of his accomplishments by displaying his variety of purchases.  The rewards of his efforts were signs of self devotion.  He failed in both his marriages, and had a superficial attachment to his children.  Stability of owning a home was unappealing because he rebuked the financial responsibly of owning anything that did not benefit him solely, such as his numerous cars, boats and motorcycles.     

As a survivor able to have the opportunity to look at my former batterer without his knowledge was empowering.  Knowing the charade of successful contentment from this recent photograph was the mask he always wears.  I only can pray my children will see it as well, and realize that masks are for Halloween, recognize the lies it conceals, flee for safety, and seek the truth. 

I know if he hasn’t removed his mask yet, perhaps what hides behind it is even more frightening.     

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