I’ll Be Watching You

My daughter found out last night that someone has been watching her via a hidden camera.

It’s innocent enough – it was probably just an oversight.

And yet.

She was house-sitting for a family in the ritzy part of town.  She has been doing this on and off for a couple of years, every time they go overseas to visit family, and making good money from it while enjoying having a house to herself for a week or two.  It’s been a wonderful arrangement.

Until last night when they got home and mentioned something about being so happy to see that the dog remembered her when she arrived her first day.  And then also pointed out that they were glad her sister visited her one day and that her friend stayed another day.

So there’s a hidden camera, because otherwise how would they know?

They probably didn’t think of it from her point of view, and saw it as just a security measure, not to mention an easy way to check up that she really was doing the job they were paying her so well to do.

And they are probably congratulating themselves on finding such an awesome house-sitter because she really did do everything she was supposed to and really did not have any parties.  So as she left they asked her for her school schedule so they would know when she will be available to sit again, intimating that they will be taking more trips than usual and would be calling her for all of them.

She, on the other hand, will never house sit for them again, despite the high pay.  She feels violated.  She walked around the house in next to nothing.  She did yoga in the living room.  She danced to her favorite music and sang at the top of her lungs and talked to herself.  She thought she was alone.

She said she will never again be able to have a normal conversation with them.

I was talking about this with a friend who had to walk out on her narcissist husband a few years ago.  She said with the prevalence of surveillance devices these days, she is so glad she got out when she did.   Her husband had been suspicious, all the time, of everything.  He would feel the hood of her car when he got home from work at night, and then quiz her about her day. He wanted to see if her story matched the temperature of her engine.

So the thought of hidden cameras gives her the chills.

And then she made an interesting comment.  She said, “Yet I still fight with guilt.”

So even though she knows she wasn’t doing any of the things he accused her of doing (he even invented an affair to justify her escape from his abuse), she still feels guilty.

I started thinking about my own situation and realized that I’m carrying the same sort of emotional disability myself, although with a different flavor.  Mine is that even though I know my IQ is well above “genius” level, I still catch myself thinking that I’m not actually doing anything right and that at any moment it might come out how really inept I am.  My husband’s constant belittling, his assumption that I don’t really know how life works, his attitude that I’m just plain silly and need him to make sure I don’t do the wrong thing, have taken their toll.

The strange thing is, I KNOW he’s wrong.  But he’s treated me that way for so many years, I’ve taken on the attitude without even realizing it.

This is why narcissism is so damaging.  It twists the victim as well as the perpetrator.

And just as that wealthy family’s “innocent-enough” surveillance of their own home has left a bad taste in my daughter’s mouth and ruined any chance of her working for them in the future, narcissism has destroyed any trust I ever had in my husband.

There’s a lot on the internet about narcissism.  A lot of it is dark and angry.  Understanding how destructive it really is explains just why the backlash is so enraged.  It’s not something you bounce back from quickly.  It twists things around so insidiously, it takes years to untangle it.  Even if you do escape it, the damage is done and you have to reprogram your brain and heart.  It lurks, under the surface, like that hidden camera.  It gives a level of control to someone who is only thinking about his or her need, with no consideration of yours.

The surveillance my daughter encountered is easy enough to avoid, although it will change the way she approaches every future house sitting opportunity.

The scars left behind by the narcissism my friend encountered are still hampering her movements, still whispering lies to her.

My own scars have twisted my personality so much our therapist actually thought I have struggled since childhood with deep-seated issues with opening up and being vulnerable.  (Me, the open book, who had to start an anonymous blog to stop herself from blurting this stuff out in polite company.)

None of it is completely unredeemable, but what a tangled mess it leaves behind.






3 thoughts on “I’ll Be Watching You

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  1. Such a shame that the relationship is broken now between your daughter and the home owners. Seems to me that they assumed she knew about the camera, is it inside? I think they are not unusual nowadays in homes with lots to protect. I can identify with your feelings of inadequacy as I was raised by a parent who struggles with narcissistic traits. There’s a lot I feel paralysed by, and it’s all in my own head. the other side of the coin is that I in turn can be not only harshly critical of myself but of others too, which is so damaging. We are our own worst enemies at times. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is inside. She my husband and I all looked for cameras at different times during the week she was staying there, assuming they would have them, but never found any, so it is well hidden. Which is, of course, their prerogative, but it would have been polite to let her know not to walk around the house partially dressed!

      As for being our own worst enemies, ain’t THAT the truth! Getting that critical voice out of our heads sounds easy enough, but it’s so hard to do!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it is a violation of her privacy and trust. I hope it was a genuine slip on their part, the kind of memory loss I’m well capable of!
        I wonder if there is some form of 7 steps self-help guide for becoming less critical and more accepting? 😀 Reading scripture certainly helps for a while and then I slip back into my old ways! Thankfully God is gracious and accepts me not only as I am but also His work in progress.

        Liked by 1 person

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