My Perspective on “Sex, Blood, and Royalty”
I watched the docudrama, three episode series, on Netflix “Sex, Blood, and Royalty”. All I could see was the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle.
I am familiar with the Tudor stories. I lived in England for two years and instead of American history, I learned about English history (duh). I found Henry VIII fascinating, because of his extreme measures to produce an heir. He created the Church of England to get divorced, and even beheaded two of his six wives.
Now, with my own raw experience in addition to the hundreds of hours I’ve spent researching, in therapy, reading, and sharing with others on abusive cycles, I clearly see Henry VIII was at the least a narcissist, but on the extreme end a
I don’t think the following is much of a “spoiler”, but if you want to watch the show first, stop reading!
In the show, Henry meets outspoken, feisty Anne at a festival that would be considered “Woodstock on steroids”. For years, they cross paths and he courts, chases after, and even asks her to be his mistress. Anne knows she wants and deserves so much more than that. She promises to give him an heir, but to make this heir legitimate, they need to be married.
His obsession with her (IDEALIZATION PHASE) causes him to basically move heaven and earth to divorce his first wife to be with Anne. He asserts his power over the pope and creates a religious reformation movement, which really isn’t popular with Europe or his subjects. To Anne, shes reached the ultimate pinnacle in her life: Queen and wife to her beloved. In the show it really does look like a fairytale. Like Henry absolutely adored and loved her, and she was his freedom from a lackluster marriage. She believes she’s his true love.
Narcissists do this! And they move very quickly. They also love the chase. They will portray themselves as your soulmate, diss their exes, pour on adoration, charm, and all their attention onto their “target”. To Anne’s family, they beg her to acquiesce to his proposal of being his mistress. Often, outsiders will see the fairytale and can push targets into blind faith. Sometimes narcissists use outsiders as a part of their plan.
The next part of the cycle is DEVALUATION. The idealization phase cools off, usually after they realize their target isn’t perfect, the target is fully invested (married, pregnant, cohabiting, or given emotional insurance), and/or they grow bored. In Anne’s story, it’s after she has given birth, and to a daughter, that Henry cools off from the romantic gestures. Her dog even suffers a tragic “accident” after a narcissistic rage incident. He blames Anne for not upholding her end of her promise, which is amusing considering it’s the male who determines the sex of the child. Over time, he avoids Anne and others in the court move in when Anne is at her weakest to remove her from power. He cheats on Anne (not surprising) with Jane Seymour and the stress causes Anne to miscarry a child, who would’ve been a boy. Cheating is also part of the devaluation phase, as well as discard.
In their grief, Anne is traumatized and lashes out at those closest to her- classic crazy making caused by narcissistic abuse, and Henry throws a tantrum and cries, “I guess I’ll never have a male heir”. He continues to avoid Anne and gossip and rumors spread. She’s under scrutiny and his flying monkeys are throughout the court, whispering in his ear.
The ultimate DISCARD is set in motion as Henry finds a way to execute his bride to get her out of the way. I imagine trying to divorce such a strong-willed woman on hearsay wouldn’t fly. An unfair trial is set, and Anne is charged with adultery, treason, and incest. She’s found guilty, and later we find she had no chance of proving otherwise. She and everyone else included in the rumors is executed. Just so Henry could get her out of his way and get what he wanted.
***He executed her because he didn’t get what he wanted.***
This cycle is so clear to me now, and what’s crazy is that the beginning of their relationship is the sort of storyline in SO MANY romantic films, novels, and fairytales. Narcissistic abuse, especially the idealization phase is highly romanticized. It is like a drug, which is why so many have been easily ensnared into this cycle of abuse.
If on the first date, someone devalued you, you’d tell them to kick rocks. The cycle can also be repeated many times within the relationship and isn’t so cut and dry. The target typically will do anything in their power to get the narcissist to return back to that golden time. Anne even mentions how much she wants to just go back to that time when they were hunting in the woods, that she knows that man is still “in there”.
Understanding that through intermittent reinforcement, trauma bonding, addiction to the narcissist, and a literal chemical change in the brain, we can educate ourselves and others on why it’s so hard to “just leave”.
I am kind of obsessed with this topic, and of educating and healing abusive cycles. I will be sharing some of my favorite resources and if you’re experiencing any of this, please email me, email@example.com
I would love to help and share my personal stories.