The Narc and TV

11 Jul

DISCLAIMER: I speak here of my Narc, not all Narcs. Your mileage may vary. Also, I am not a therapist and do not claim to have any special knowledge other than that of the chump who got taken advantage of by a true asshole.

Our first Narc and…subject comes from Laura:

I’ve got one: television viewing. Is it possible he could’ve had an opinion/rules about the shows you watched? Perish the thought. I say this tongue in cheek because knowing my narc, and reading your posts about yours, I believe the two may have been cut from the same cloth. I’m interested to see if you had a similar experiences in regard to television.

Oh, boy! The Narc did indeed have rules about TV watching.

When we met, he would come over to my apartment and we would watch Star Trek: The Next Generation because my routine was to watch an hour or two of TV while knitting to unwind and he was still putting me on a pedestal so he went along. We even had conversations about the show (and others) that were far-ranging. It was like TV was a jumping-off point to talk about everything under the sun. It was fun and stimulating and I thought he “got” me.

By the time we moved in together a couple of years later his views had changed. He claimed to have stopped watching TV at fourteen because “there was nothing good on,” and that he never watched regularly or had owned a TV as an adult. He was fond of lecturing about how much a waste of time it was, blah, blah, blah, only idiots watch TV, etc. etc. etc. He advocated reading The New Yorker and other political mags instead.

By that time I saw his point – it is a huge time suck, but if you are selective about what you watch, there’s some Good Stuff on there, right?

The two years we lived together (the Farm Failure) there was no TV reception at the house. I must have paid for something, but I don’t remember watching, so maybe I didn’t? Anyway, when he sold the house and Harley and I moved into the little duplex I paid for satellite service and H and I watched whatever we wanted to when the Narc wasn’t there. If he was there, the TV was off and all attention had to be directed at the Narc.

Fast forward to three or so years ago. I had moved to the Coast, left a really good job and a house I loved behind to give our relationship one more chance. I sold my TV before moving. The Narc went off one day about how I was a huge downer, “a cloud hangs over your head all the time!” It’s true – I was on the verge of tears every waking moment, but not because I missed watching TV! I had a few bucks in the bank and the Narc insisted I go buy a TV. He lectured me for days about how I “needed” a TV so that I could get my “sense of humor” back. Whatever.

Of course, I gave in and purchased a small flat screen TV. Basic Cable was included with the internet service, so a few channels were available. A DVD player and we could watch movies (that’s another post.)

I started catching up with my favorite series, Gray’s Anatomy, but he made watching it hell. He would sit in the next room while I watched, my jaw clenched because I knew what was coming. He knew when it was on and insisted I watch every week so the scene could play out each time.

While the show was on, he would be silent or play music videos on YouTube loud enough to be disturbing. When the commercials came on, his heckling would start: “you call that acting? They should get some people on that show who can actually deliver their lines!” and on and on. It happened every week, and he insisted on it.

He would criticize every choice I made, even when it was something I thought he would enjoy. The end result is that I secretly paid for a Netflix account so I could watch streaming TV and movies when he wasn’t home. I never talked about what I watched (he would have a fit if he knew I watched Dexter and compared the two of them, unfavorably for the Narc 🙂 ) and denied all knowledge of current shows or movies. I just shut down, refusing to engage about any kind of media at all because it always led to another lecture and/or shouting match. It was totally pointless, a set-up to find me deficient in some way.

Now I watch whatever I want to watch, whenever I want to watch it. I do still feel that there’s not much on regular TV, but my Netflix queue would take me weeks to watch and I get suggestions from friends all the time about movies I should see for one reason or another. I’ve missed out on a lot of quality knitting time and I’m making up for it. I still don’t watch anywhere near the National Average (34 hours a week?) and probably won’t ever watch that much – there are too many fun things to do!

What about you? Did/does your Narc impose limits on your TV viewing? Perhaps they watch but don’t allow you to?


Posted by on July 11, 2013 in Emotional Abuse, Narcissist, Narcland


Tags: , ,

36 responses to “The Narc and TV

  1. behindthemaskofabuse

    July 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I just have to laugh but not because it’s funny, but because I can relate…so many rules about t.v. so much bashing and lectures…

    On another note, the father insisted on the mother getting up every morning at 5 am with him to make his breakfast and sit with him while he ate and until he left for work. Then he would insist she stay up and not go back to bed when he left. He would call her to make sure she was up. She would pretend to be. The father would not allow her to watch soap opera’s but she did when he wasn’t there and still does. It was always done in fear of him finding out or catching her…it never ends eh?!

    • Sofia Leo

      July 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      I know, right? The Narc would make me get up early if he was leaving on a sailing or boat-building trip, even if it was my only day off. He wouldn’t call to make sure I was still up after he left, but on several occasions he came back because he “forgot” something. I learned to sleep sitting up on the couch, just in case. Looking back now it looks as crazy as it was, but in the moment I did not want to be in bed when he came back. Gaaaahhhhh! Assholes!

      • behindthemaskofabuse

        July 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm

        The more I think about the insane control the sicker it makes me geeze!!

        I’m sorry he did that to you too! We always had to be up when he was up on weekends or when he was off on holiday. I hated when he was home.

      • Sofia Leo

        July 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

        It’s a fine line we walk, isn’t it? On the one hand, we need to examine the abuse to name it and gain power over it, but the more we think about it, the more things come up and the more hurt/angry/sad/triggered we become. It’s like they are still abusing us even though we are well out of their physical reach. So sorry your childhood was spent under the control of that monster.

      • behindthemaskofabuse

        July 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm

        It is, I don’t know about you, but i hear their criticism, negativity, and cruelty, what they think of me, in my mind 24/7.

        I know they are still bashing me to each other and likely to their “friends” ugh…

        In one way it’s good to be aware and get angry, in another we have to watch we don’t sink eh?!

        I can’t stop thinking of the mother right now, I’ve been considering writing her a very truthful blunt letter annon. and sending it too her.

      • Sofia Leo

        July 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm

        I do still hear the negativity in my head, but the voices are getting more and more faint. It helps that I don’t have to see them ever again, whereas you have a much more permanent tie to your abuser. In a way, I hope the Narc decides to launch a smear campaign against me where I can get wind of it. I will unleash such a wave of fury onto him that the world will never be the same. Unless I get distracted by ice cream or something else healthier for me 🙂

        I don’t know if the mother would be able to hear your pleas. She is likely too much a mirror of the father to even know where her true Self is. It’s sad beyond words. The Narc’s mother was the same way. She’s in a better place now, after a lifetime of abuse from the Narc’s father.

      • behindthemaskofabuse

        July 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm

        I’m glad it’s growing fainter for you!! I’m glad you’re feeling so free!

        While I likely will never see the family again, there is a tie I wish I could cut. I wish I could stop caring. Maybe in time?? I don’t know.

        Ha, I would join with you in that fury if the narc pulled any shit like that!

        You’re right about the mother, she probably wouldn’t be able to hear me. 😦

      • Sofia Leo

        July 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm

        It’s the fact that we care that makes us so very delicious for Narcs and their ilk. It’s why we are human and they are not. Why we CAN go on to live happy lives while they will always be searching to fill that empty spot in their soul. Don’t ever wish it away!

      • behindthemaskofabuse

        July 11, 2013 at 2:56 pm

        true 😦

  2. El Guapo

    July 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I admire you’re not buying multiple tvs, just to have them to drop on his foot.

    • Sofia Leo

      July 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      I have to LOL – the new TVs aren’t really heavy enough to give me any satisfaction. Actually, he has only one foot and it’s pretty fucked up. I would rather drop something heavy on his balls 🙂

  3. Just Me With . . .

    July 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    There were too many things to mention that I wasn’t allowed to watch. One being March Madness. He hated college sports so when everyone else was talking about it at work, I had no idea. I’m not a big sports fan anyway, but it’s part of the culture, especially in an office. Now I make sure to watch bits and pieces of it just because I can. I used to change the channel on other shows if I was watching when he walked in, just so I wouldn’t have to deal with his disapproval. The shows he loved were always on front and center. Ugh. Not good times.

    • Sofia Leo

      July 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      My office is full of March Madness fans, too. I don’t watch, but then again I don’t have to – the talk in the office is all about what happened the day before so I can absorb it without seeing it 🙂

      This is yet another example of Narc Hypocrisy – they feel justified in changing the channel for whatever reason (and they will expound upon their reasons for hours) but if you so much as crunch a cookie too loud when they’re watching “their” show, it’s endless rounds of punishment. Sigh. So glad to be out of that!

  4. JackieP

    July 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    We watched what he wanted to watch. If I could get out of it I didn’t watch much tv. Still don’t watch much tv. After the divorce I didn’t even own one for seven years. But to this day I hate it when someone says, innocently even…”You have to watch this!”. Then for sure I won’t.

    • Sofia Leo

      July 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Ex#2 was that way – he would even come downstairs to change the channel to something he wanted to see and then go back upstairs to watch porn on the computer. WTF?!?

      I watch suggestions from only a select few friends 🙂 It still feels a little subversive to tune into something I enjoy.

  5. complicatedwaltz

    July 11, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Lol, my mother, the Narc, is like this. Slightly different sceanario, though… She would come out to visit us a few times per year. She would take over the TV, switching off whatever anyone was watching (including my three year old, even his little shows were on her hit list). She would either have to be watching Nancy Grace, some similar violent-crime-commentary show, one of her Soaps, or Dancing With the Stars. Anything else was Verboten and got her lecture/whine about how much she hated X, Y, Z. She would set my DVR to record her shows, even recording over/erasing/canceling ours without asking (she knew full well what she was doing). Of course, volume had to be turned wayyy up, even if babies were sleeping in the next room. We went so far as to buy a second TV and put it in the guest room for her, but she still insisted on the family room TV, because it was bigger.
    She even barged in during my labor and delivery with my oldest, and waltzed over to snap on the TV. I remember transitioning and retching into a bucket, while she was watching Entertainment Tonight. So stressful.
    The more I was around her, the more I hated television. I need to blog about this! Thanks for reminding me how Narcs interact with televisions!

    • Sofia Leo

      July 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Wow! That’s some control freaky-ness right there! I hope you live far, far away and don’t have to deal with that crap very often.

      • complicatedwaltz

        July 11, 2013 at 7:46 pm

        Never. I gave her the boot a year and a half ago. Never again! I’m freeeee…

      • complicatedwaltz

        July 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm

        Hey, I just linked to your blog off of mine. I don’t know the etiquette of all this, I think I’m supposed to ask you first? Well shit, here I am now. If it’s not cool, let me know!

      • Sofia Leo

        July 11, 2013 at 8:58 pm

        No need to ask – link away! I appreciate the traffic 🙂

  6. jenniburkeyoga

    July 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Don’t get me started… haha.

  7. twindaddy

    July 11, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Ugh. Sounds like a complete douche.

  8. Awana

    July 12, 2013 at 4:54 am

    TV was such an issue, I just gave all started so well, then….humiliation and embarrassment extending into movieland. Sigh….all just a control freakie issue–people should really think about not letting their kids have so much access to the mind candy….

    • Sofia Leo

      July 12, 2013 at 9:07 am

      I was pretty lucky with Harley – he preferred to be outside eating bugs to watching TV. Now he makes music and plays video games, but he still prefers to be outside.

  9. Melanie

    July 12, 2013 at 9:03 am

    I used to watch Dexter. It’s out of my budget now, but I always liked that show. I fantasized about him taking out my ex. Have you read the books? They’re even better – better in a way only books can be.

    • Sofia Leo

      July 12, 2013 at 9:09 am

      I’ve read only one of the books – I should look into getting more of them because, yes, the book is always better. Is it wrong that I picture Book Dexter looking like Michael C. Hall? 🙂 I have to wait until the DVDs come to the local library – I’m not willing to spend any money on it at this point…

      • Melanie

        July 12, 2013 at 9:13 am

        I picture Dexter as Hall too. He fits the character so well. I do the same with Jennifer Carpenter as Debra.
        I think there are 5 in the series so far.

  10. Laura

    July 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Oh my goodness. I love this post. Thank you for using my suggestion. My “rules” were a bit different than yours, obviously narcs vary in their individual methods, but the fact that there even were “rules” around tv viewing shows how similar they can be too. Deep down it’s all about control.

    Good lord, if I was ever caught watching anything he disliked while in his presence, he would be so loud I couldn’t continue to watch the show and ohhh the put downs I would get. Yet I was not allowed to leave the room to watch it elsewhere (which I thought was considerate – giving him the comfort of the living room and the bigger tv), because if I left the room then I was a cold and uncaring wife. If he was in the living room then I needed to be in the living room glued to his hip unless I had a good excuse not to be (laundry became my refuge).

    Of course I would also save things on the DVR to watch later and if I was “bad” he would delete my saved shows, delete my recording schedule, etc. He could do it remotely from his computer at work so even if I thought I’d put my recording schedule back, he’d have it deleted again before I knew it. One more method of his control. Then there was a time he deleted some of my shows (the stuff that he felt was unworthy) and I got so fed up and I went and cleared out every DVR in the entire house recording schedules, shows, you name it. His stuff and my stuff. To heck with it. I figured if I had to suffer so would he. That’s before I learned that there is no winning a battle with a narc. It just gets progressively worse. Sure, my DVR clear out stopped him for a while, but not forever. I used to keep a hidden list of the shows I liked so that I would be able to remember them all and put them back after he removed them from the recording line up (probably a sign that I followed to many programs back then, if I’m honest). One time I accidentally left my Netflix account open and stuff that he knew I liked disappeared out of my instant play list, as punishment for god knows what offense.

    I think I watched a lot of tv during my marriage because I was too depressed and exhausted to do much else, and I got really attached to certain shows and so he knew that’s where he could get me where it hurt. Anything I was attached to was at risk. Even stupid television shows.

    I am so glad to be free of that man!! The irony is that now that I’m out, I’m so busy living life that I no longer have time for tv. I took my DVR back to the cable store and turned it in because I don’t need it. Yet, when I do watch tv I can watch whatever in the heck I want and there is no one who judges me for it any longer. 🙂

    • Sofia Leo

      July 16, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Yep, your Narc and mine used the same playbook. It’s amazing how we normalize the lengths we go to in order to avoid another blow-up over something as silly as TV. Looking back we can see how depressed and exhausted we were – amazing, isn’t it? We let that shit get so deep that we forgot what happiness is.

      I also find myself too busy to watch much TV, but I can’t complain – life is good!

      • Laura

        July 16, 2013 at 5:27 pm

        I let that shit get so deep it even took me quite a while to recalibrate to a sense of “normalcy” after I left him. Since I left, and since the depression and exhaustion lifted, I still marvel over the simplest things and how life feels so much easier and so much lighter. Last fall I even kept remarking to anyone who would listen about how much brighter the leaves were than ever before. Or maybe living in the fog of that relationship for so long kept me from noticing them. Another reason why my catchphrase is welcome to Technicolor. When I left that man even colors seemed more vibrant. Crazy right? Heh… Looking back I can clearly see how messed up it was and I wonder why I didn’t see it for what it was at the time. Why on earth would any grown woman need to hide a list of her favorite tv shows so she could reprogram them on the DVR after her husband randomly deletes them as punishment? And yet this is just one tiny example of the “mindf**k” that I constantly lived with. The entanglement and manipulation that got me to that place was so subtle and so pervasive over time that I had somehow adapted to it and simply couldn’t see. I had lost my sense of what was acceptable. Learning to cope with the challenges he threw me each day became such an ingrained part of my existence it no longer became about what was normal, but instead it was about making it through and flying under the radar as much as possible. It was an exhausting way to live. Wow. What a difference. 🙂

      • Sofia Leo

        July 17, 2013 at 8:13 am

        “The entanglement and manipulation that got me to that place was so subtle and so pervasive over time that I had somehow adapted to it and simply couldn’t see. I had lost my sense of what was acceptable.”

        That right there is why we have to speak out. These monsters MUST be exposed to the light so they can’t hurt anyone else. People need to recognize the Red Flags and avoid falling into the traps that we did. It has to become unacceptable to treat people like this and we all, as responsible citizens, need to be able to stop them with the power of our disapproval.

        There used to be checks in place to prevent the truly horrible from happening. The monsters were still there, but because the approval of the community was so important they were unable to totally destroy their victims. Of course, there were exceptions, but a woman could be reasonably sure that she wasn’t going to be beaten to death by an abusive husband – just appearing in public with a bruise would lead to her abuser being sanctioned.

        We no longer have those checks. We don’t know our neighbors and we’re likely to turn the TV up louder to avoid getting involved. We wear blinders as we shuffle our way through life, concerned with our own affairs and not looking anyone in the eye.

        We have to speak up to stop this madness!

  11. simonecastelli

    July 17, 2013 at 3:17 am

    I know about tv rules. It happened a lot quicker to me though, and we weren’t even living together. “How DARE you and your daughter watch what you want to, if we were living in MY house, we’d watch what I want.” End Conversation.

    • Sofia Leo

      July 17, 2013 at 8:14 am

      I heard that, too, but it was, “If we were at MY house there would be NO TV!” Assholes.

  12. C.K. Hope

    July 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Tv rules, I remember those days. My ex used to feel the top of the Tv to see if we (me and kids) were “sneaking” tv time while he was at work. Tv rules, phone rules, computer rules … urgh.

    • Sofia Leo

      July 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      I know, right? It’s insane! So glad he’s your ex…


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