The Narcissist Trilogy : The Nanny

Narcissist: The Nanny

I am Sarah, the nanny to the Hovenier Family.

I have been working for them for a couple of years. I took over from the previous nanny, Bryony, I understand she went away to university so the Hoveniers needed to replace her. I had hoped that she would have been able to do a handover with me, you know, tell me what to expect and the ins and outs, but that did not happen. Mrs Hovenier, Ashleigh said that Bryony had not stood by her notice period.

I started off looking after their daughter Amelia. I would need to be at the house at 7:30 am. Fortunately I do not live too far away, so that is easy enough and I was there to take Amelia to her school because her parents needed to be at work and did not really have the time to take her. The traffic to the school can be problematic heading into town and they both work in directions away from the town, so it made sense not to drive into town only to get stuck. Whilst Amelia was in school, Ashleigh would then use me like a personal assistant. She would be texting me asking me to pick dry cleaning up for her, nip to the delicatessen to purchase something or select flowers from the florist. I thought I would have been given the time to prepare for after school activities for Amelia, since I would be the one who would pick her up from school and be with her, to feed her and entertain her etc, until whenever her parents would arrive back from work which was rarely before 6:30 pm and often as late as 10pm, but instead Ashleigh preferred to have me running around for her. Not quite what I expected, but she is the boss and believe me, she is the boss. 

Mr Hovenier, Peter, does not really have much to do with the household. He is always been fine with me, never really says much to me actually, just the usual “good morning” if he is there when I am, there are times when he has already left for his work and asking how Amelia´s behaviour has been. He is not a warm person; I cannot work out if he is shy or stand offish. He is difficult to read.

It is Ashleigh who gives me my instructions. I think she takes too much on and I can kind of understand why Peter gets annoyed with her. I do not think I have known anybody so unpunctual. She never turns up when she says she will. There have been occasions where Peter has had me stay with Amelia whilst he has been on the phone to his wife asking where she is because they are due to a dinner party or such like. He always calls her from the study, but I still hear him shouting at her. Sometimes I have had to actually stay at the house with Amelia whilst Peter has driven off somewhere to find her. 

Amelia acts far older than her 8 years of age. She is a chip off the block that is Ashleigh, talks like her and has the same mannerisms. She is a bright girl and very sweet. There is something about her that I cannot put my finger on though, at times she does not react to certain things in a way that a child would, it is as if she thinks “Ah this again” and she just gets on with reading or drawing a picture. 

More recently, I have been more involved because of Christopher’s arrival. That means I have to be at the house at 7am to look after him. Ashleigh has started to take Amelia to school a little more often or arranges for another of the mothers from the school to give her a lift. I then spend all day with Christopher and then collect Amelia from school and deal with them both until Peter and Ashleigh return. He sometimes comes back and explains he has work to do and disappears into the study, so I have to stay with the children. Those can be long days. He seems very hard working and rather obsessed with his work.

Ashleigh is far friendlier, often putting the kettle on for a pot of tea and asking me to stay so we can chat whilst the children play together. It is odd though because although she is always polite and friendly, I never feel like there is any warmth from her. I grew up in a very close family, I still live with my parents and the Hovenier household often feels like four people who all just happen to live there and do not really connect with one another. I mean, Christopher is too young obviously, but Amelia and her parents behave as if they are in their own worlds at times and they see and hear one another in the same house but do not really engage with one another. I don´t really know how to explain it, there is something a little odd about the household almost as if it is fake and there is something else going on which nobody is allowed to know about.

When I have a conversation with Ashleigh, I also feel like am being quizzed, asking me what I think of Peter, asking me if he had been back at the house whilst she has been away at work and so on. I started to wonder if she thought there was something going on between me and him, no way! Urgghh, he is way too old and I am not attracted to him in the slightest. Maybe she thinks he has been eyeing me up or something because I am a young girl and the cliché about the master of the house sleeping with the help. If he has been eyeing me up, I have never noticed.

Talking about other things going on, of course there has been the recent upheaval with the pair of them splitting up and Peter moving out. They have both spoken to me separately about this, no joint approach which is unsurprising. Peter explained that his wife has had another of her meltdowns and has been conducting another affair behind his back which has meant for the sake of his sanity he needed to move out. He apologised for the additional workload this would place on me and explained that he would pay me an extra one hundred pounds a week to make up for the inconvenience and asked that I keep him informed about comings and goings at the house. I had no idea what he was referring to until one evening I was introduced to this man called Ian Wynne. I thought he was just a friend of Ashleigh´s somebody she knew from work, but it turns out that she has been having an affair with him. I have had very little to do with him, he is polite and friendly, in fact I think at times he has felt a bit awkward being there, but Ashleigh was perfectly happy acting as if he had been part of the furniture for ages.

Ashleigh told me that she had had enough of Peter´s behaviour and that she needed him to leave. I did not ask what she meant by his “behaviour”, I mean I have heard them rowing and there are times where they talk to one another through me, which makes me feel uneasy, but beyond that I am unsure what she meant. Of course, I am not there all the time (although I am at that house more than they are funnily enough!) so who knows what goes on really, but I am more concerned about the children in all of this, I worry what the effect of the split will have on them. So far, Amelia does not seem bothered at all and of course Christopher, bless him, is too young to know what is going on. Of course, they have both been angling for me to go and nanny exclusively for one another and they keep asking if “he” or “she” has asked me to do the same for them and that leaves me caught in the middle. 

I adore the children, but it might be time for me to move on because I cannot see things improving between Ashleigh and Peter.

Do you know who the narcissist is?

Read Narcissist : Seduction and Narcissist : Ensnared

Listen Narcissist : Seduction

Listen Narcissist: Ensnared

21 thoughts on “The Narcissist Trilogy : The Nanny

  1. lickemtomorrow says:

    The Nanny is an empath caught up in the narcissistic dynamic created in the marriage by Ashleigh. She has correctly picked up on the ‘disconnect’ in the family situation, though perhaps not the dimming of Peter’s empathic traits due his narcissistic wife. She says he is hard to read. That’s probably because of the effect of Ashleigh’s narcissism causing him to become more guarded and withdrawn. This is also what has led to his questioning of the nanny as he knows that Ashleigh cannot be trusted. The nanny is caught in the middle as Ashleigh tries out her cognitive empathy skills, while Peter – the empath – is made to look more like the narcissist, as victims often are.

    The nanny sees the children are not either of their parent’s priority – with Ashleigh this is due to her narcissism, with Peter this is due to the erosion of his empathy. This concerns the nanny, who also notes Amelia’s strange and disconnected behaviour in the context of the family dynamic. Amelia is well on her way to becoming a narcissist, no doubt due to GPD and LOCE. Unless she is promptly removed from the situation, or there is a significant intervention, she will become a full blown narcissist. The circumstances will likely leave her with no choice. And it could already be too late.

    Interestingly for me, as I read this I keep getting reminders of the Sussex situation, and it helping to highlight elements of that for me as well. This portion is helping me to better understand the erosion of empathy and how that might look. Having said that, I could be on the wrong track. But in reading the series, although it was part of my initial foray into the the narcissist’s world, I never got the impression Peter was anything but a duped empath, much like Wynne.

  2. MP says:

    The wife and husband are both narcissists.

    The daughter is starting to become a narcissist but I don’t think full blown yet. She’s already emotionally detached and has been mirroring her mom.

    The nanny is an empath. I can’t figure out what kind but maybe a Standard Carrier.

  3. Chihuahuamum says:

    In my post i meant Helen not Susan as the woman who told Ian that Peter had ran off with the nanny.

  4. Chihuahuamum says:

    Speaking of the nanny…an interesting movie with narc dynamics is the maid’s room.

  5. Chihuahuamum says:

    The nanny is just how i envisioned her being a paid employee and being in an awkward position after the split. Usually staff will be asked what they see or is going on in the household or with the other person basically a flying monkey. In this case though I think it’s because Peter is genuinely concerned for his children. I’m not 100% certain about Peter yet. It has been mentioned a few times about his temper. I can’t blame him for losing his cool living with a woman like Ashleigh.
    Peter is a bit of an enigma. His conversation with Ian he seemed shocked the lies that were told about him, which i’m sure were lies going by Ashleigh’s track record.
    Amelia i think is compartmentalizing the abuse. It can comes naturally at a young age and is a survival mechanism. I think she has learned to zone things out when they get stressful and escape into other activities. Ashleigh wants her to be an extension of herself, which is a narc flag! She also expects her to excel and be perfect another narc flag.
    Peter escaping into his office could mean he is a workaholic and has poured everything into work to escape his failing marriage. It could also mean he has someone on the side as well and has checked out of the marriage.
    I’m not sure why Ashleigh lied to Susan about Peter and the nanny aside from smearing him? It was not smart because the truth would come out and she not only is smearing Peter, but also Sarah.
    Ashleigh i think is a lesser midranger and has knee jerk reactions without thinking them through first. Ian would’ve done well to trust his gut with what Susan was told. There was something way off with that story and his intuition was screaming at him, but he ignored it.
    The comment about 4 people living seperate lives not connected under the same roof describes perfectly their empty shell of a marriage and family life. Its just an exterior shell and a sharp contrast from the nanny’s family life.
    The nanny is definitely an empath.

    1. Asp Emp says:

      C, interesting to read your take on this trilogy series.

      I’d wondered about Ashleigh, your take RE: a narcissist. I thought that for a moment, then I thought, is she an unaware empath with very eroded empathy since being with Peter for 20 years? Does she, or he have comorbid / complex personality ‘condition’?

      1. Chihuahuamum says:

        Hi Asp Emp…I enjoy your posts as well and you bring up a lot of points i never thought about. What was the clincher as far as thinking she is a narcissist are all the self entitlement ways about her and also the fact she doesn’t seem to care how her crazy behavior affects others. She is very self absorbed. One thing i have struggled with and am aware of is that someone can be highly narcissistic yet not be a diagnosed narcissist. In the end it doesn’t matter because both can be equally as toxic.

        1. Asp Emp says:

          Hi C, thank you. That’s interesting you saying she does not seem to care about affecting others with her behaviours. She may not actually be aware of her behvaiours, it could be instinctive and unable to recognise as such (alexithymia springs to my mind – just as an example). Or maybe she has very ‘numb’ emotions – I’m saying that from past experience. We will just have to wait and see – we need more information. 🙂

          1. Chihuahuamum says:

            Hi Asp Emp…I think it goes beyond being apathetic. It’s more an accumulation of traits. Her more or less saying her daughter is just like her and is perfect at everything like she was. She views her as an extension of herself.
            I don’t doubt she isn’t aware of some of her behaviors and some she feels warranted in doing for various reasons or excuses.
            Yes more information will help decide. The puzzle pieces will slowly fit together!

          2. Asp Emp says:

            Hi C, yes “Yes more information will help decide. The puzzle pieces will slowly fit together!”. All will be revealed, eventually.

          3. Chihuahuamum says:

            I can’t wait! Although that may mean the end of the series 😆

    2. MP says:

      Cmum and AE,

      I agree with Cmum. Ashleigh looking at her daughter as a mini version of her is a pretty big red flag. Also even before she met Peter, according to her brother she already had trouble with attachment and maintaining long term relationships. Her need to be always in a relationship are big red flags. I think it goes to show how the best way to find red flags are from the stories and observations of people who have known the narcissist for a very long time. If she isn’t a narcissist she would be a normal with low empathy and high narcissistic trait. I don’t think she could be an empath that is based on HG’s definition of empaths. Just my thoughts.

      1. Asp Emp says:

        MP, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this 🙂

      2. Chihuahuamum says:

        Hi MP… yes that was a huge red flag the way she went through boyfriends and will continue im sure.
        I found it interesting what you said about Amelia starting to mirror Ashleigh in another post. I had looked at her behavior as compartmentalizing. Narcissists and borderlines do this along with people who have experienced trauma. I agree I think she may becoming a narcissist.

        1. MP says:

          Hello Cmum, that was a great point about compartmentalizing. I remember now I also did that in childhood. And plenty of times even though I felt compassion towards the people my mom was hurting I was very careful not to show it to them because I thought at that time that it would be like throwing my mom under the bus or betraying her. Privately I would argue with my mom to stop doing what she was doing but for facade I showed my support to her. It’s very complicated to be a child of a narcissist and emotionally detaching is indeed a survival and in a way a logical choice of behavior when there aren’t a lot of options.

          1. Chihuahuamum says:

            Hi MP…It really is a survival coping mechanism. I think narcissists lack of empathy may just be a severe case of compartmentalization to the point they no longer feel empathy as a form of self preservation. Of course thats just a thought and not fact.
            I had no clue what compartmentalization was until i read articles here and then realised i’ve done this on and off, but to a lesser degree.

  6. Anm says:

    I am guessing the wife is. Glad you wrote a piece about a nanny in a narcissist family dynamic. I am always triangulated with the nanny, and a lot of people don’t understand how narcissist draw in nannies and house keepers into the dynamic. This is a good one.

  7. Asp Emp says:

    From what I can see, there is no cohesion within the family because the parents are on completely different ‘pages’, living separate ‘paths’ of their lives. Despite the times when they are going to events / social gatherings as a “couple”, and as Sarah says, it’s 4 people living in one house.

    The young daughter has started to show signs of narcissistic influence with it being apparent within her immediate family and from living in the household. The daughter is probably ‘conditioned’ to the point where she is not seemingly ‘bothered’ about the going-ons between the parents, so it all appears “normal” to her. It seems another ACON is in the making.

    Peter is using an ‘avoidance’ tactic by going into his study for whatever he is doing after being out of the house all day, assuming when he returns from work. Or, is Peter taking a ‘break’ from being at work and being with other people all day and before he can spend time with the family. The ‘break’ being a kind of ‘respite’ for himself. Just like someone with Asperger’s do from time to time after such ‘social’ interactions with others, depending on the environment and other factors at the time. Again, similarities between characteristics of Asperger’s and narcissism – easier to specify which with more information on the other characteristics being available by observing further.

    Ashleigh has shown signs of paranoia throughout the whole series so far. For the nanny to point out specifics in discussions between the two women ie hints as to whether the nanny is having an affair with Peter. Recalling that the medication that Ashleigh takes is not always prescribed, effectively she is self-medicating which would add to her ‘confusion’.

    So far, we only have had Ian’s and Ashleigh’s relationship (Seduction & Ensnared series), Ashleigh’s version (The Wife); the Brother’s version and now the Nanny’s version of ‘events’. HG is “interviewing” them all and noting down what they have to say….. so, I wonder how many people will end up giving their ‘version’ of events surrounding the Peter / Ashleigh and Ian ‘triangle’.

    The Nanny obviously does not like the ‘atmosphere’ that she finds herself in at present and the being-in-between by both Ashleigh and Peter. Sarah not being ‘shown the ropes’ of the job by the previous nanny was because Ashleigh was ‘controlling’ it so that the two nannnies were “isolated” from each other (isolation being a manipulation of narcissism).

    So, who are the narcissists in this household – Peter, or Ashleigh? Or both of them? Different schools maybe. Is Peter a Victim narcissist? I’ll wait until I have seen what the other “interviews” reveal……

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Interesting and well considered observations, thank you for sharing.

      1. Asp Emp says:

        Ah, thank you, HG. Thank you for the entertaining education 🙂

  8. Another Cat says:

    Among the 85 % of people who have empathy.

    Thank you for this long description, HG! She is kind of telling it like it is, with details, but without going to any extreme. Very few clichés, genuine.

    Empath, not a normal.

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