I was recently asked about how two narcissists ended up together. The two narcissists in question are my father and my mother…
How did they hook up? What made them decide to turn that hooking up into a marriage? If one narcissist needs the world to revolve around him/her, how on earth could having two narcissists together even work?
[To go straight to the love story, scroll down until you see – Once upon a time…]
There are many myths (especially online) about narcissists. Narcissists rather like those myths. Many of those myths may have been created and spread by narcissists themselves, because narcissists don’t tend to know that they are the ones who are narcissists but they are certain that others, well, pretty much everyone except them, are narcissists.
One of the more popular posts on my blog is – When Narcissists Claim to be Victims of Narcissists – it has had up to date 151,122 views, and 457 comments (half of which are mine). The comments on that post are now closed, but the post still gets viewed, mostly by those who’ve been accused of being a narcissist by a narcissist (that’s a regular search term in my blog’s search term stats, and an issue which comes up regularly in comments on my posts about narcissists).
In that post I said:
Narcissists accuse others of being Narcissists all the time. Narcissists also claim to be victims of Narcissists, which is not necessarily a false claim as birds of a feather often flock together.
Narcissists often partner up. They share many of the same goals, and often share a similar version of reality. If they fall in love with each other, the union can be similar to those portrayed by Hollywood. A meeting of two charismatic beings which emanates the kind of energy that seems magical, fated, and supernatural. While they are caught up in their love for each other everything is blissful. Perfect love. When things go wrong and they fall out of love, the drama is intense.
from When Narcissists Claim to be Victims of Narcissists
Narcissists often prefer the drama to the bliss because then they don’t have to share centre stage. And they get to play their favourite role in their favourite story – The Hero versus The Villain. The storyline usually draws a large audience and captivates them. It’s like one of those plays where the actors mingle with the audience and draw them into the drama. The audience participates by cheering the hero on, supporting him or her, and booing the villain, attacking him or her.
Those words weren’t plucked out of thin air, weren’t taken from research on narcissists, aren’t borrowed from someone else writing about the subject (that’s fairly obvious since I have an oddly distinctive spin on things), I didn’t make it up (although when I share anecdotes from my personal experience of growing up with narcissists and being stuck with them for hours within days within weeks within months within years… it always sounds like it’s make believe, it felt that way too).
I simply did what I usually do when writing about narcissists – I thought about my parents, their relationship, how it seemed from the outside, the facade (see featured image at top which is a detail from Jupiter and Juno on Mount Ida by James Barry), how it felt on the inside, behind the facade (see image below), etc.
The other day in the intro to a repost I said (wrote) the following words:
I am a strange person. I am partly a strange person because I grew up with parents who were very strange… it was only many years later that I found a name and explanation for their kind of strangeness – Narcissist (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).From Repost: How to Play the Narcissist’s Game
Long before it occurred to me that my parents were very strange, and that their strangeness wasn’t as fun, friendly, amusing, entertaining, or as unique as they proudly claimed that it was repeatedly, ad nauseum, ad infinitum…
I was once a little girl in awe of these two great beings, this god and this goddess…
…and of course, being a child, I was curious as to how these two supernal beings met, hooked up.
My father never talked about his meeting with my mother. He rarely discussed his past unless he was being interviewed, but then he just made stuff up loosely based on a fantasy version of reality.
My mother, on the other hand, never stopped talking about my father, loved to tell anecdotes about their meeting, about their great love story, about what a Golden Couple they were (until I came along and ruined it all – that was one of her favourite reasons why things went to shit between them, probably because of the blood-poisoning incident shortly after my birth, or maybe because of the other near death experience).
I knew so much about her past, the myriad tales (often the same ones told differently each time… she used to tell me the story of Goldilocks every night for about a year, each time she told it, it was different), the dramas, the adventures, that torrid relationship with another creative genius just before she met my father which was perfect because the sex was… yeah, my mother told her little girl about her sex life, including the one with my father.
So the following love story, is all from my mother’s perspective as told to me:
Once upon a time…
In a land known as Italia, a foreign fair maiden while pursuing independence in the form of a career in Opera and Cinema, during a time when fair maidens who wanted to remain maidenly and be viewed fairly by society did not do such unseemly things… met a frog.
No, wait, that’s what she turned him into much later…
This fair maiden, Juno was her name, had recently moved from the beautiful north of Italia (to get away from a heart she had broken… her own, of course) to a more southerly part, Roma.
She had a rather demeaning job (looking after the spoiled brats of rich people) to earn her keep, and to escape the horror of her fall from… oh, if only, perhaps, for once she would have listened to her father (what a horrible man, so cold, cruel and… did he, did he kill her, brilliant beautiful bounder mama, to remarry?) and married that Lord of the Manor (but he was going blind and she really didn’t want to be stuck in a mansion looking after a sick man)…
Juno would wander the streets of the fashionable part of town, having tea and biscuits in the piazza cafes, browsing shops and galleries… one day she spotted the work of one particular artist. Then she moved on.
A friend whom she met in a piazza cafe… he too was a foreigner, a charming Americano (whom she would later learn was a bit of a secret spy, part of his super secret spy job was to recruit pretty women for diplomatic affairs, parties…)… asked her to show one of his friends around the city, he was importantly rich and eager to buy some tourist trinkets of the sort the importantly rich buy (not that tat sold to the masses). He liked art, so Juno took him to the gallery with the work of that one particular artist – and on that day the gallery owner made a handsome commission, and maybe the artist was given a bit too, to buy some new materials or at least a pack of cigarettes to dull the hunger pangs.
Sometimes later, super secret spy guy, invited Juno to attend an informal bohemian festa… and there she was introduced to a dark brooding soul, Jupiter, who glared at her the whole time she spoke (in her lyrical soprano could cut through a lead barrier voice). He was very rude, and it was very exciting, no one had ever ignored her like that!
After much pursuit, Jupiter eventually relented to Juno’s advances (but, of course, it was the other way around, a lady would never pursue a brute of a man) and invited her to be his model.
One sitting lead to another, one painting was not enough, the artist had found his muse, Jupiter had found his Juno.
But then Juno ran away, back home to her land where she never felt welcome or wanted. Jupiter also went traveling… not to the land of Angles (so sharp they cut poor Juno’s sensitive porcelain skin to shreds), instead he chased after bulls and passionate flamenco dancers.
They kept in touch through the paper of letters, written in moments of missing, yearning, longing… he once said he would come to save her from her proper boredom, but she said no.
Then, on a day, he just arrived on her doorstep. She had never been so pleased to see a face other than her own. His olive skin was sunburned black (which she could definitely never ever show to her father, or could she, should she…? That would shock him! Make him take notice of her at last!!!), his Anglish was terrible, but that smile, that perfect smile!
A while later, after Jupiter had done a quick job for the Queen Mother (well, it wasn’t for her exactly, but she did attend the event and was impressed), Juno took him to visit her father, and papa was duly shocked, so much so that he forbade his daughter from ever seeing this dark foreigner ever again. So Juno married Jupiter.
They stayed for a time in the land of Angles, then returned to Italia, where they lived the life of Riley without Riley’s permission, because they were artists in love, and this was Roma, citta aperta, this was the dolce vita and Fellini was a friend (until he blacklisted Juno from getting hired because she refused to let him touch her up).
Together they flew higher and higher, no sphere could contain them, Venus adored them, they ran in winged shoes around Mercury, heading for the Sun…
“always either on a peak of happiness or drowning in black waters of despair, they loved or they loathed, they lived in a world of superlatives”
― Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love
And just a tad over a decade later, long after they had moved to and settled upon Mount Olympus as a suitable home for Jupiter, Juno did not like it there at all… Baronettina Scarpia was born.
The end… came much later when my father died, but since my mother is still alive (although I haven’t Googled her recently, so I could be wrong about that) the story will keep going and going and going and going…
It is a very interesting read. Is your own parent’s or a legend?
Thank you, Sadje 🙂
Therein lies the rub!
Is it a real story about real people or is it a legend told about mythological characters?
When a narcissist shares their life story with you, their life story becomes a piece of literary fiction, the plot of a film, an epic drama, an opera, etc. Trying to figure out what bits are real and which bits are made up, what is truth and what is lie, can be an exhausting endeavour.
My father had an anecdote he liked to tell at parties, which supposedly was a true story about him visiting a friend’s house… I came across that same story in a P.G. Wodehouse book.
Anyway, to answer your question – It is a story about how my parent’s met and then married, but I related it as it sounded to me when my mother told it to me and to others.
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There are people, and you would know it far better then me, who like to imbue their life with stories of false grandiosity and drama. And like you said , sifting our the truth from the falsehood would be a tiring task.
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Your use of Juno and Jupiter as analogy to your Narcissists parents couldn’t have been better. I didn’t know about Juno so was checking out that bit. However, I’ve enjoyed the modern version of the love story better from your old post I don’t remember which one…
If you were ask to project yourself as one of the Roman/Greek god/goddess, who would it be? 😉
Thank you, Reverist 🙂
I think I’ve written about my parent’s love story a few times, but, like you, I can’t recall which old posts contain the story, and searching my archives is a very distracting experience for me 😉 If you ever remember which post the modern version is in, let me know…
I have found that rewriting something like a memory, especially if it has been a while since the last writing of it, can be an interesting exploration into the self and where the self is now.
So… intriguing question… it would make for a great writing prompt! Hmmmm…. my computer may go to sleep while I contemplate my answer 😉 actually it won’t go to sleep because I need to use it to look up the List of Roman deities and pick one from the descriptions… I’m not going to pick an obvious one mainly because too much is expected of them 😉
This one sounds quite appropriate – Furrina, goddess whose functions are mostly unknown
What about you, you have to (no, you don’t, but I’d like you to) answer you own question?
Hmm… Sors – god of luck 😉
Aha, I checked a few sites Furrina is the goddess of thieves, that’s very interesting!
There will be a higher chance I stumble upon your parent’s story again. Very unlikely to remember which post because I often randomly scroll your archives, jump here and there, back and forth while on the subway. But I can remember that version if I read it again as it was touching the way you wrote it. I will let you know if I see it again 😉
Writing a memory is an interesting exploration into the self and past indeed! So much so that in the midst of writing a post, I’ll often linger too long in the memory or drift away in my reveries… sighs, that why it always take so long for me to write a post 😅
So being a goddess of thieves, if you would steal the most valuable item in the world, what do you deem would that be? I wonder… 😉
Again, a very interesting question which would make an excellent writing prompt 🙂
So, as a god of luck, would you steal away people’s bad luck and replace it with good luck?
Would they recognise what had happened, would they see the good luck or would they mistake good luck for bad luck, would they be so used to having bad luck that they’d view the good luck as just more bad luck?
What to you is the most valuable item in the world, and would you steal it if you could?
After reading your comment, I did a bit of research into Furrina. She’s considered a goddess of thieves because of the etymology of her name in Latin. Fur = thief, knave. However in Latin Fur = Fury (Furore) as well. She has been connected with The Furies. She has also been connected to Hekate. The etymology may go back to the Etruscan language (which just about included Rome in its reach), in which case it may mean something else entirely. Basically no one knows for sure why she was created and what her purpose was (and since she’s a tiny obscure god of no importance it doesn’t matter what people say about her and decide that she represented 😉 ). In one article, a very long detailed one in Italian, the author covers as much as is known about Furrina, including mentions in old texts, and all that is really certain is that there was a small fountain of spring water dedicated to her in the Gianicolo (the Janiculum) in Rome.
It was fun looking her up, thank you goddess Furrina!
So, onto answering your Q: if you would steal the most valuable item in the world, what do you deem would that be?
The first thought which popped into my mind was ‘pain’ because I used to wish that I had the magical ability to take pain away from people just by touching them with my hands. Pain is valuable because it informs us of where we are hurt and how we are hurt, it also inspires us to dig into our pain to find the healing within it.
The second answer which came to me was ‘confusion’ because that’s sort of seems to be something I already steal, and I consider it valuable because confusion makes you investigate, attempt to clear it, and you discover a lot by doing that. Which you can then, perhaps, pass on to others who enter a similar state of confusion.
The third answer is ‘garbage’ this one will probably only make sense to me. I have this fantasy project – it’s something I think about, build and work on in my imagination, when I’m doing DIY or housework. It’s also inspired by the huge amounts of garbage which humans generate, and the garbage dumps which are taking over parts of the countryside around the world, and which turn towns and villages into smelly, rat-infested, toxic places.
So much garbage isn’t biodegradable… but what if it could be de-materialised, turned into the atoms which constitute it and those atoms were collected to create something new, perhaps as a source of environmentally friendly energy. So this machine I’m building in my imagination, which I call The De-atomiser or Atomiser depending on who wins the argument in my head, is like a huge washing machine, you put garbage into it (it won’t de-atomise bodies of humans or animals because humans would end up using it to get rid of people they don’t like, and other nefarious shit), and it turns that garbage into atoms which are then collected into orbs. These orbs can then be placed into another machine which is like a power generator and this provides electricity. So our garbage could power our homes – for FREE!!! Now wouldn’t that be most valuable?
That’s where I’m at at this time with my fantasy project.
Over to you 😀
Steal away people’s bad luck, on first thought, yes… why not? On second thought, no. I don’t need to do double job, they can keep their bad luck. I would give them all the good luck they need to negate the bad ones. Then if they can’t see good luck as good, and prefer to go on with their complaining and complaining, then too bad. Now they will have double the bad luck and they can complain ’till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear, and the rocks melt with the sun’ (a line from Robert Burn’s poem)…haha, I’m not a kind god lol
What to me is the most valuable item in the world, and would I steal it if I could?…As Pluto did, I would fancy ‘stealing’ Persephone—my muse, I would steal her if I could, if I had powers like Pluto—but not while I’m still a work-in-progress…Time—I would steal time, the only thing I would manipulate is time…
Your answers to the question are very intriguing, especially the third one—garbage 😉 The Atomiser is a great idea!! I had wanted to say this when you wrote about it in another post. Hmm…such a machine might have been invented but they won’t let you know 😁 i’m not exactly the environmental friendly person but if my garbage could be reuse in other ways, I would up-/recycle them. Especially with cardboard boxes.
As far as I can recall of all the mythological stories I’ve read, most gods and goddesses aren’t all that kind or nice or helpful… many are pranksters. Sometimes their ‘kindness’ is putting a human into a difficult position and then watching to see if they can solve the riddle of it. Look at Hwayugi 😉
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Enjoyed this! To a kid, their parents love story is so much more than it truly is… and then we grow up and the truth is far from the sugar spun dreams. Is it disappointing? For some it can be because the ideal is so much better than the reality. Loved the use of Greek/Roman pantheon too.
Thank you, Scherezade 🙂
I know you know the puzzles posed by narcissists very well, especially when they’re big and you’re small.
You’re right, the ideal can be so much better than the real in certain cases. Then again, sometimes the real is so much better than the ideal, but it might take a while for us to notice because of the tendency to be encouraged to pursue the ideal at the expense of what’s real.
I think for a kid what you’re really looking for in your parent/parents is simply love, the real kind of love, an every day kind of love, the kind of love you showed in your recent post which I ‘Liked’, and some inspiration, a little bit of fairy tale, a tiny bit of mystery, a puzzle for the kid to solve as they grow and learn and figure things out 🙂
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Wow! I’ll have to ask more impertinent and personal questions of you in future. 😉 Thank you though for sharing what was/is indeed a saga. One question that occurs: Are you an only child? If so, your own journey must be more than worth the telling….from the excerpts you’ve shared, I’d say it is. Thanks! 🙂
Thank you, Melanie 🙂
I appreciate the writing prompt you gave me when you asked your question. I wasn’t sure whether to credit you or not. Since this is a post about narcissists, I went with not (not directly anyway).
Feel free to ask impertinent and personal questions of me, I’m not a delicate flower and rather enjoy the challenge 😉
Yes, I’m an only child. The other near death experience I mentioned briefly in this post was my mother almost dying after giving birth, she couldn’t have children after me. And she wasn’t really supposed to have me – some skullduggery was involved in my conception. Yeah, narcs do love a drama!
Thank you for your honest sharing of your own experiences with the NPD people in your life. Your posts have helped me more than anything else I have attempted in my quest to survive the NPD person in our life (my husband & I are living side by side with and in business with his NPD father). I have read self help books, been to therapists numerous times, but your posts have been the most insightful and educational for me. The relevancy I find from your retelling of your own experiences is just without parallel. I am so grateful for anupturnedsoul. 🙏
Thank you very much, Sue 🙂
Living and working in business with a family member with NPD is the trifecta of ARGH! Since he’s your father-in-law and your husband’s father, he’ll view himself as your boss, your superior, the authority of the family, of the household, of the business. The tension in such a situation and dynamic can be crushing, like you’re in a trash-compactor having the life and soul squished out of you to feed the NPD’s bottomless pit of need and greed.
All the research you’ve done and do helps, even when it feels like it doesn’t. Knowing what doesn’t work for you is just as valuable as knowing what does work for you. It’s like gathering pieces of a puzzle which only you can put together.
The books you’ve read, the visits to therapy, all the info you gather online from professionals and from personal stories and perspectives like mine and those of others, every little bit helps in its own way to unravel the knots. There are so many people sharing their stories which is wonderful, you know you’re not crazy, that this is real, that you’re not alone, etc, but it’s also a bit scary to see how many of us there are, particularly as we don’t all share the same person with NPD… and yet it can sound as though we do.
One of the things which helped me was to also view the person with NPD as a victim of their personality disorder too. This approach is not excusing them from their behaviour, it doesn’t absolve them from what they’ve done and do, it’s not a sympathetic or empathetic feeling for them (because that leads to deeper hell when you do it with a narcissist). It’s to shift yourself out of viewing them as a monster, a stereotypical villain, evil-incarnate, because that makes them appear more powerful and intimidating, and makes you feel more powerless and vulnerable. So this approach is about returning power and strength to yourself. Basically someone with power, authority in the life of the person with NPD abused them (most probably when they were a small child at the mercy of a big adult) and caused them to twist into this angry, miserable, controlling, vengeful, despotic dictator. They’re stuck in that place, that part of their life, living out their wounding again and again and again, and that’s what they’re passing on to everyone, hoping to cure it, get rid of it.
This is an article I came across recently – Academy of Ideas: Performing Therapy on Yourself – which I think is very interesting, and the work of Karen Horney, particularly her list of the 10 Neurotic Needs, gives quite a bit of insight into NPD.
Thank you for letting me know that my sharing is useful, I am very grateful when people feel able to let me know (although I used to freak out a bit before, because I couldn’t accept compliments, bit better now) 🙂
Take good care of yourself!
Thanks for your insightful reply – I expected nothing less – haha! I read the article about self analysis. I think we are doing that constantly in our efforts to not be overcome by our NPD father/father-in-law. We are determined to not be broken by him now (he has broken us individually before), but also mindful of not becoming bitter and twisted people ourselves. We have plans to move on from this situation when all our ducks line up and will make a clean break. But also not carry the scars into that next stage of our lives too visibly. It’s definitely a “work in progress” but that really is what life is all about isn’t it. I will continue to find strength and ideas from your posts to help me on this path. Thank you again 🙂
Yes, you’re absolutely right, life is definitely a work in progress and all the things which happen in it spur us on to learn, adapt, grow and figure ourselves out bit by bit. We’re each and everyone one of us very complex beings, often the hardest tests and trials of life offer the greatest personal rewards.
Always give yourself much credit for your survival – it lets you know just how strong, resourceful, resilient, and ultimately unbreakable by others, you are, which is useful information for dealing with further attacks and attempts to break you.
I don’t get the impression that you’ll become bitter and twisted. Dealing with a person with NPD can make you feel that way, and they’ll probably tell you that’s what you are on a regular basis, because they see themselves in everyone else. When they talk it is always about themselves, but it is sometimes done using ‘you’ instead of ‘I’. So, they’ll say “You are bitter…” but what they mean is “I am bitter…”. They’re most bitter and twisted when you’re not telling them what they want to hear, doing what they want you to do, or being who they want you to be for them.
The scars will heal in their own time and in their own way. It’s worth keeping in mind that while you’re stuck in Narcville, those scars can be sources of self-protection, and are not a weakness. The NPD person will keep hitting the same spot which has worked in the past to manipulate and hurt you, certain of the ‘weak’ spots they pick reveal to you their own weak spot and their behaviour exposes just how vulnerable they feel underneath the facade of invulnerability.
The more information you gather about what’s really going on behind his appearance, the harder it becomes for him to break you. It can be advisable to appear more upset than you are when he hits the same ‘weak’ spot, as then he won’t try to find a new area to attack because he’ll feel ‘safe’ doing the same thing he always does.
Once you’re out, you’ll find there will be an unwinding period where you’re finally free to feel everything you have suppressed and repressed. A lot of what may feel as being ‘toxic’ will work its way out of your system during that time. You may find that you and/or your husband get angrier afterwards than you are now, or more upset, needing to grieve, let it out in a healthy manner, physical work outs, and the like. After the break, there can be a period of adjustment, it’s like a spring which was wound and stretched to breaking point suddenly being able to spring back into shape.
Both of you are going to be okay, trust yourselves!
Oh and by the way, that’s a great idea about viewing him as a victim of his disorder as a way to empower ourselves. It is truly impossible for either of us to feel sympathy or empathy for him so I was pleased to read that is not how you want the idea to be interpreted – he gets sympathy and empathy in truckloads from all his followers and supporters. It’s what energises him.
He has recently changed his will to carry out some further revenge on his son (my husband) and we are trying to absorb this and take a positive spin from it. Eventually we will get there – it’s still a bit fresh but having the knowledge about his intentions (while not knowing specifics) has empowered us to make some bold moves of our own for our own good and to eventually move on and leave this circus in our past. Thanks for listening – not many people can seriously get what goes on in our lives. You get it 🤪
Thank you very much 🙂
Seeing him as a victim of his disorder helps to bring him down to a size. This, I think, is particularly helpful if you’re the child of a narcissist because of the parent/child dynamic. It’s also useful when the NPD person is an authority figure who looms large and makes you feel small – the parent/child dynamic again.
I think I got that from reading Transactional Analysis by Eric Berne, as the technique looks into parent/child dynamics.
The recent changes you mentioned – the will, one of the favourite tools of manipulation of an NPD parent. I would hazard a guess that he’s noticed changes in your behaviour towards him. His usual antics aren’t getting him the same kind of purchase within your husband’s psyche. Your husband is getting a little too independent, and the old ways of squashing the independence and the person aren’t working like they used to. So he’s upped the ante, hit where he knows he’ll get to your husband, where it will really hurt – rejection from the powerful parent.
The positive spin is that whatever you and your husband are doing to make a break, is working. When an NPD parent ups their game level, they’re scared you’re going to abandon them, they’re afraid of losing control over you.
Your husband does need to allow himself to get as upset as he feels. I wouldn’t advise doing it anywhere near the NPD parent or his spies. However every now and then a full on real upset exploding in their face because of what they did to upset you can work some magic. But you do have to be careful. Sometimes giving them what they want gets them off your back, and they may backpeddle. If you’re too calm, cool and collected it drives them nuts, and they get more vicious.
Take very good care of yourselves and each other! You’ve got this!
I love how you framed this as if it’s mythology since so much of a narcissist’s “background” is exactly that. There might be a bead of truth somewhere, but who knows? You could also frame their relationship as one of Fellini’s movies. He was very theatrical. 😉
Thank you very much, Lynette 🙂
Haha! Yes, I could have Fellini-ised it 😀 my mother was an extra in one of his lesser known films, so there’s a personal connection there too.
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