Chesed As Narcissism

I never liked the obsession with material items he had. In the beginning, I told myself it was just his thing. People are individuals with unique likes and wants. How naive. People think others should like and want the same as them, or they are weird or beneath them. I always take people as individuals. Uniqueness fascinates me. It horrifies most others.

So things that I thought were just his thing, he felt had to be my thing too. That they weren’t my thing, meant that I just had not reached his level of superiority. It was part of why he wanted me, as my differences to him gave him a sense of superiority. My differences were not my unique separate likes and wants. They were just empty parts he saw in me, that he believed needed filling. I loathed this over the years. My likes and wants were invisible. Only his likes and wants existed. In his mind, his likes and wants were what every human must have. He never saw unique. In fact, others were merely two-dimensional to him. I was just a 2D character who had to play the designated part perfectly, or there would be punishment and hell to endure. But this is a tangent too big and complicated to travel down.

So he collected watches. And he never had a concept that everything could be swept away. He was working a fairly powerful job, and his income and perks afforded us a very large home, a couple of cars, and vacations to wherever he wanted. And to join his other Rolexes, and the Jaeger LeCoultre, he acquired a sub-mariner, just like David Beckhams. All the while, he felt that me buying new clothes more than once a year at the factory seconds outlet was going too far, and an expense that could never be endured. But a sub-mariner for him went without saying. So he wore it all the time, with his flashy handmade suits, to the office where he believed he shone like the sun.

He suicided a few months over a year after the financial crash of 2008. His mental health deteriorated. Being in a foreign country he didn’t have a comparable network to his colleagues, so to find himself new employment. He couldn’t find work. He consumed only alcohol. And he lost his mind. His violence, witnessed by my parents, meant that social services would take our children if I let him back in the home. Over a 6 month period of attempting suicide 4 times, going in and out of a psychiatric hospital, he was successful at achieving death. We were left destitute.

After he died, our family became the community charity case. That in itself is not a strange thing: I was suddenly a widow with 5 sons. However, I will never forget a humiliation my then 8-year-old son experienced in our status as “community charity case”.

One fairly wealthy couple came to help with something or other. The father was wearing the same sub-mariner. My son remarked “that’s the same as my dad’s watch”

The man looked at him pityingly. “I don’t think it was this watch”.

“No” my son insisted. “My dad had that watch”.

“No,” the man said, shutting him down. “You mean your dad also probably had a watch”.

My 8-year-old son gave up and wandered away, embarrassed.

I struggle to this day to not hate anyone who can afford overpriced garbage like that sub-mariner. This is not a good thing, I should not hate anyone. But I feel this is the world I am under the heel of, and that I will never escape this crater because of that prevailing perception of me and my children.

Chesed as a form of narcissism. Chesed as a power-trip. People would rather be frustrated by my perpetual failure to try and better our life, than feel threatened that we might succeed in becoming their equal. Keeping people perpetually as chesed projects is the ultimate in narcissism.

It was his 9th yahrzeit on Shabbat. We still cannot escape the crater. These are some of my garbled thoughts.

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