Our Goose is Cooked!
Well this is a fine kettle of fish!
Egg on our face
Rotten to the core
Neither fish nor fowl
Stick a fork in it.
Not worth a hill of beans.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The fat is in the fire
In a pickle
Make mincemeat out of
Out to lunch
Walking on eggshells
There are not enough food idioms to describe the situation we are facing today in the United States. Given the state of our union at present, I thought it would be instructive to explain a bit about the experience of being up close and personal with a person who has NPD or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
I once went to a conference on personality disorders to earn my continuing education credits for Social Work. The instructor drew knowing chuckles from the audience when he stated, “Mood disorders, patient suffers; personality disorders, therapist suffers.” He was not trying to make a mockery of personality disorders. Rather he was giving the therapists in the audience permission to admit to their feelings regarding the difficulty of treating a person who has a personality disorder.
A person with a mood disorder knows there is something wrong. Psychological theory describes the experience as ego dystonic. We don’t feel like ourselves. We know we need to seek help of some kind be it from friends, in therapy, exercise etc.
For a person with a personality disorder the experience is ego-syntonic. There is nothing wrong with me. The fault lies with everyone else. Typically a person with a personality disorder will not seek psychological help as he or she does not believe the problem lies within him/her. The finger (or fist) of a person with a personality disorder always points out. Self-reflection or analysis is not an exercise for the personality-disordered individual. In my experience of treating individuals with personality disorders there exists a history of abuse. Their wounds are very deep and often buried beneath the presenting symptoms.
For my purpose today here are some of the hallmarks of narcissistic personality disorder: arrogant, self-aggrandizement, disparaging of others, grandiose, chronic need for praise and admiration, boastful, little capacity for empathy thus impairing intimacy, pattern of exploiting others to achieve own ends. Another hallmark of narcissistic personality disorder is the empty well. No matter how much praise the person elicits from others, the well is always empty and the demand for more increases.
To be around a person with a personality disorder is very difficult. A person with a personality disorder brings out the worst in others especially those within their immediate orbit. In fact, to maintain a relationship with a person with narcissistic personality disorder you have to agree to be a bit player, circling the disordered person’s orbit as he or she believes they are the center of the universe. In order to maintain a relationship with such a person one has to set aside his/her own needs and desires, shelve his/her own personality and/or subsume the personality of the disordered in order to survive circling in such an orbit. Above all else you cannot win and you will always be taken by surprise as there is no predictability in such madness. One thing is for certain you will always be walking on eggshells.
Back in 1995, I wrote a poem about an encounter with a person with a narcissistic personality disorder. Male pronouns can easily be substituted for the female here especially since males comprise 75% of the NPD population.
In the meantime, I feel as if I should at least include one recipe for my readers.
When you’re walking on eggshells make pavlova. My recipe for a Winter Pavlova with Poached Pears to follow.
Possessed by the invisible.
She sits on her throne.
At the ready
to take on all challengers
or just those stupid enough
to fall within reach.
She wields the sword today.
Pulled from the scabbard
for reasons unclear
even to herself—fear,
past hurts, a father’s disapproval.
The unsuspecting one walks heedless
right into the tip.
The sting of the sword poking flesh—just enough
to absent-mindedly place a protective hand
over the wound.
What just happened?
Pay attention you fool!
That was just the beginning!
Deceptive in conversation, drawing you in,
slowly, innocently, certainly unaware.
But if you, oh vulnerable one, are not careful,
her poison-tipped sword will find
every weak point of entry.
Not altogether blameless, you thought, with guile
you could handle her or out-manuever.
How did you get caught?
Say the wrong thing? Be the wrong thing?
In your muddled defense,
you try to pull out your own sword.
The poison has weakened
I’m not strong enough.
I’m not good enough.
Your shield a reflection of the
onslaught waged within her.
Blocking the assault a vain hope.
Compassionate eyes would reveal
that she would release her sword
to drink from the cup of acceptance.
She would gladly step down from her throne
to feel a tender embrace, if only she knew how.
But it’s too late now and so,
You, like many who have gone before you,
leave her to dress your wounds.
Then, you fly off to distance lands, hoping
to never see her again.
Winter Pavlova with Poached Pears in Tart Cherry Juice
For the Poached Pears
8-10 oz. tart cherry juice blended with 8 oz. water to make 2 cups
1/2 C organic coconut sugar
1/2 C organic granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 juniper berries
juice and peel of half an orange
4 firm pears, cored, peeled, and halved
Put the first 7 ingredients in a stainless steel sauté pan cherry through orange juices. Stir to dissolve sugar and bring to simmer. Place the pears cut side up into the simmering syrup. Cover with parchment paper and the lid of the saucepan and cook gently for 20-30 minutes. Once finished chill. Reduce the cooking liquid to a nice syrup. The poached pears are delicious on their own served chilled on a dish cut side down and drizzled with the syrup. Leftover syrup is delicious on pancakes as well.
For the Pavlova
4 egg whites
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 T cornstarch
1 t orange balsamic vinegar
1 t vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 9 ” circle on the parchment then turn over so pencil line faces down on the baking sheet.
Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl and the vanilla and vinegar together in another small bowl. Pour the egg whites into a very clean bowl and be sure the whisk is also clean. Begin to whip by starting on low and gradually increasing speed to medium until soft peaks form. Begin adding sugar mixture 1 T at a time incorporating each before adding another. Continue to increase speed while adding sugar to maximum speed. Continue whipping until meringue holds stiff peaks and is white and shiny. Add the vinegar/vanilla and beat for another minute.
Place meringue in oven and immediately turn oven down to 250. Bake for approximately 60-70 minutes. Turn oven off and allow to cool in the oven with door partially open. The pavlova will be slightly brown and crusty on the outside and soft (kind of marshmallowy) on the outside.
1 C heavy cream, 1 T sugar, 1/2 vanilla extract whipped to soft peaks.
Place Meringue on serving dish. Spread a layer of whipped cream over the meringue. Top with poached pears and drizzle with cherry syrup. I melted dark chocolate and drizzled to garnish along with grated orange peel.