Please note that the following content contains some disturbingly graphic details. Read the first article in this series: Horrid and Shocking Things Narcissists Say and Do.
Weight Loss Campaign
When Peggy was 15 her narcissist father, a professor, told her she was overweight and that she needed to go on a diet. To help “motivate” her, he convinced one of his graduate students, an obese man in his late twenties, to go on a “competing diet” with her. Peggy was not fat, but she had put on extra weight during a stressful period after both of her parents remarried abusive stepparents. Ashamed and well-aware that if she refused her father would become furious, Peggy agreed. Her father arranged weekly “weigh in” sessions. Both humiliated, Peggy and the graduate student would get on a scale and Peggy’s father would mock whomever had lost less weight and give a dollar to the “winner.”
Holly and Marina, from San Francisco, had been married for 12 years and had two children together. Holly had been primarily supporting the family while Marina was trying to start a freelance graphic art business. Holly was happy when Marina made a work contact, Jocelyn, in Los Angeles whom she said was helping her professionally. When Marina said she wanted to visit Jocelyn to meet about a project, Holly suggested that the whole family go together because she had a relative there they could visit. When they arrived in LA, Marina was acting angry and resentful. During a confrontation, Marina admitted to Holly that she had a crush on Jocelyn and wanted to spend the week staying at Jocelyn’s house having sex with her and Jocelyn’s husband. Marina told Holly she needed the experience for the sake of her own “self-actualization.” Stunned and devastated, Holly refused to give her “permission” to the affair, at which point Marina became enraged and combative. At a party Jocelyn was hosting, Marina got drunk, began publicly insulting Holly, and in front of other party-goers invited Jocelyn and her husband to a threesome.
Juan and Isa were separated but for financial reasons sharing the same home with their four kids. Isa had long struggled with migraines and her doctor suggested medical marijuana, for which he gave her a prescription. After her kids went to bed, she locked her bedroom and bathroom doors, got in the tub, and smoked some pot to head off a migraine that was starting. Smelling the pot smoke, Juan, a covert narcissist who took every opportunity to scapegoat his wife and play the victim, woke up their children and called the police to report Isa. When she stepped out of her bathroom, she heard a man outside her door saying he was a police officer and wanted to speak with her. She showed the officer her prescription, and he apologized, at which point Juan began shouting and stomping around saying he didn’t know she had a prescription. The cop cited him for a domestic disturbance and warned him that he would be arrested if he called again.
As far back as Jerome could remember, his narcissist mother loved to shop and, above all, “get a good deal.” She acted entitled in stores, was haughty with clerks, and argued about getting money off on items before and after “sales” periods. Although she was in good health, even after her diabetic second husband died she displayed his Handicap Placard in her car so she could park in disabled spots next to store entrances. After Jerome lost his job during the Great Recession and his wife was diagnosed with a disabling disease, they resorted to going to the local food bank to help feed themselves and their son. When Jerome’s mother, whose income was too high to qualify for assistance, heard that her son and his family were going to a food bank, she said, “Boy, lucky you! I wish I could get freebies like that.”
Wave to the Nice Korean Family
Amy’s father was an Asian Studies professor, and her family often hosted visitors from other countries. “We were supposed to put on a big act about how culturally interested we were in everyone,” said Amy. “My mother expected me to be prim and proper—the perfect mini hostess.” One day when Amy was eight years old her parents took her along while they showed a Korean family the sites in Seattle. Amy was hungry all day and kept asking for food. At the end of the day, which included six hours of driving, Amy was starving and started to cry. When she and her mother dropped off the family at their hotel, Amy’s mother instructed her to wave goodbye. After Amy did not wave, her mother drove away out of view and backhanded Amy in the face, giving her a bloody nose. “From then on, the family story was retold for years that I had been a horrible brat the whole day and had to be disciplined,” Amy said.
Nathan was the family golden child who got in trouble at school but was excused by his alcoholic father, who said he was just a spirited “boy’s boy.” At home, Nathan had always picked on his little brother William, with whom he shared a bedroom. When Nathan was 12 and William 7, Nathan began touching William inappropriately and masturbating in front of him. Soon he was holding his little brother down and forcing him to submit to sex. He would beat William but in places under his clothes where people wouldn’t see. Sometimes the boys’ parents noticed William’s bruises and said he was clumsy. William tried to sleep on the couch in the living room, but his father watched television there, and he would tell William to go to his room. William begged his mother to let him sleep with her, but his father would become infuriated and send him away, saying he was a “mama’s boy.” When William finally told his mother about Nathan’s sexual abuse, his father found out and said that it must have been normal “consensual curiosity.”
Julia L. Hall is the author of the forthcoming memoir, Carry You, about life, and a few near deaths, in a narcissist family. Read excerpts. Her articles on narcissism regularly appear in The Huffington Post. Her articles, essays, and poems have won awards and appeared in The Nation, Reuters, The Chicago Sun Times, and The Seattle Times.
Related Articles by Julia L. Hall
- More Horrid and Shocking Things Narcissists Say and Do
- The Dos and Don’ts of CoParenting with a Narcissist
- What the Narcissist Fears Most
- The Question of Forgiveness for My Narcissist Father
- Narcissists Are Hurt Machines to Their Children
- The Narcissist Family: Its Cast of Characters and Glossary of Terms
- Horrid and Shocking Things Narcissists Say and Do
- The ‘Overt’ Versus ‘Covert’ Narcissist: Both Suck
- On Being a Narcissist Magnet and Developing a Fine-Tuned ‘Nar-dar’
- The Dangerous Nihilism of President Narcissist and His ‘PostTruth’ America
- Caretaking My Narcissistic Mother Through Cancer
- Child of Narcissists Goes from ‘Death Dealer’ to Healer
- A Golden Child’s Story of Guilt in the Narcissistic Family
- The Terrible Dilemma of the Golden Child in the Narcissistic Family
- Raised by Narcissists? Why You Can’t Afford the Wrong Therapist
- Tolstoy Was Wrong: Narcissistic Unhappy Families Are Kind of All Alike
- Why I Hate the Word ‘Narcissist’
- A Daughter’s Story of One Hell of a Narcissist Mother
Photos courtesy of kainaluonline, Alan Levine, Joe Shlabotnik, Rihanna_Eminem, The People’s Prodigy.