“Don’t take off on one of your marathon ‘walks’ tomorrow morning,” Mother said, slamming the frying pan down on the counter near the sink. “We have an appointment.”
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“Just never you mind,” Mother said. “Just you be ready to go at eight and bring along a change of clothes.”
“I’m not going,” she said flatly, looking back to the book in her lap. Out of the corner of her eye she could see her mother doing a slow burn, a dull red flush creeping up her neck, her jaw going rigid.
“Don’t you sass me, young lady,” Mother said through clenched teeth. Her right fist was clenched, too, her arm rigid at her side. “You still aren’t eighteen and you will do what I tell you to do.”
She looked up, keeping her face carefully expressionless…no point in pressing the provocation unnecessarily. “If I don’t know where I’m going, I’m not going,” she looked down at her book again.
“We’re going down to Mexico,” Mother finally said, putting the finishing touches on Frank’s plate. “We have an appointment.”
“What kind of appointment?”
“Just an appointment. Just be ready.” Mother walked out to the living room with Frank’s dinner and coffee.
“I’m not going,” she said again, more to herself than to anyone else.
Mother suddenly materialized in front of her, eyes blazing. “Do not get defiant with me, miss! We have an appointment tomorrow morning and we will keep it, if I have to tie you up and drag you there!”
She shook her head again, her face closed and mulish. “Then that is what you will have to do because unless I know where we are going and why, I’m not going.”
Mother’s hand flashed out but stopped just millimetres away from her face. She had not flinched but continued to stare defiantly at her. “I won’t go,” she reiterated, “Unless I know where and why.” She did not feel as calm and collected as she hoped she looked. Dear God, what if Mother dumped her there or sold her into a whorehouse or something? She wouldn’t put anything past her any more.
“You’ve sure gotten cocky, these last few weeks, haven’t you?” her mother sneered. “But you won’t be pregnant forever and then you will get what’s coming to you, I promise!”
“I’ll be eighteen by then,” she replied. “Eighteen. Legal. Adult. And gone!”
Oh, no you won’t!” Mother shot back at her. “Your birthday isn’t for a month after your sore-footed little bastard is due. But even that’s moot. You just be ready…”
“Oh, for the love of God, Georgia,” came a bellow from the other room. “Tell the girl and get it over with so I can hear my program!”
Mother’s eyes shifted to the curtain dividing the kitchen from the living room with a look of supreme annoyance. “Frank, this is none of your Goddamned business, so…”
“It’s my Goddamned business if it’s drowning out my Goddamned TV!” he interrupted with an indignant roar. “Your mother’s taking you to Tijuana for an abortion!” he continued. “Can we have some quiet now?”
She sat there on the cot, stunned. This was her mother’s first grandchild and she was planning to kill it before it was even born? She was incredulous…she had not thought even her mother capable of such a thing. She shook her head to clear the buzzing in her ears, then looked up at her mother who was standing in front of her, arms akimbo. “That’s illegal,” she said simply.
“Not in Mexico,” Mother said. “Not if you’ve got the money.”
“Then you will have to drag me kicking and screaming to the car and you will have to tie me up and gag me because I will jump out and run away at every red light. And if you succeed anyway, I will call Daddy when we get back and I will tell him. And I will call police and tell them,” she paused for effect. “And then I will call Nana and Grandpa and tell them.” She gave Mother that slit-eyed look that had come to signify seriousness between them and held her gaze unwaveringly. Mother clamped her jaws tightly together and left the kitchen without a word.
She spent the next morning in a state of nerves, skittish as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, to quote her grandfather. She kept waiting for Mother to sneak up behind her and drag her down to the car, but Mother had made herself scarce. By early afternoon she had begun to relax her vigilance a bit, and then Mother came in from one of her outings and sat down on the cot beside her. She instinctively moved away, knowing that to be within arm’s reach was to be in peril.
“So,” Mother said conversationally, “What are your plans?”
She was nonplussed. “Plans?” she echoed dumbly.
“Yes,” Mother said, continuing conversational tone, “Your plans. Exactly what are you going to do? Having a baby isn’t free, you know. How do you plan to pay for your prenatal care? Your hospitalization? How do you plan to support this baby?”
She hadn’t thought that far ahead. “I don’t know yet,” she hedged. “I thought we had medical insurance?”
Mother laughed. “Yes, but it doesn’t cover the illegitimate pregnancy of a dependent,” she said. “So what are you going to do?”
“Mark will help out,” she said, even though she and Mark had barely spoken since she found out she was pregnant.
“Really?” Mother laughed again. “Have you spoken to him lately? I had a conversation with his father this morning and they are both claiming the baby isn’t his. Where does that leave you and all your fine plans?”
She bit the inside of her cheek to control her indignation. Of course the baby was his! There wasn’t anyone else! Assuming a calm demeanor, she shook her head. “I wouldn’t believe anything Mr. Hornung says,” she replied. “He thinks we aren’t good enough for his family.”
“Is that so?” Mother bristled. “And just what makes him think that, pray tell?”
She shrugged noncommittally. “Because of the bar,” she said.
Mother looked uncomprehending. “What is that supposed to mean?”
She shrugged again. “Mark’s father thinks we are white trash and not good enough for his family because you used to own that bar. He’ll say anything to put as much distance between me and Mark as he can. So you can’t believe anything he tells you.”
Her mother sat silently for a few minutes, digesting that bit of information. She could see it rankled her mother, being thought “not good enough,” for it was something she watched her mother struggle with all of her life. Mother’s face cleared.
“Be that as it may, you still haven’t told me what your plans are. Since getting rid of it is apparently not an option, you must have had something in mind.”
Mother’s conversational tone was unnerving her. She could sense she was being lulled, lured into a trap of some sort, but she just couldn’t see where the hook might be. She shook her head. “I hadn’t really planned very far ahead yet,” she admitted cautiously.
“Well, then, I have a plan for you,” Mother said brightly, the uncharacteristic cheeriness more frightening than comforting. “Actually, more than one plan so you have something to choose from!”
She began wishing she had begged harder for Nana and Grandpa to keep her with them. This was beginning to sound a bit scary, and she wondered if she would have a chance to call them for advice before a “choice” was forced upon her. She stayed silent, knowing Mother would reveal these “choices” whether she wanted to hear them or not.
“There are lots of people who can’t have babies themselves and would be happy to adopt…”
“It’s my baby and I’m keeping it,” she interrupted flatly.
“Let’s not be hasty,” Mother said placatingly. “You haven’t heard me out. These people will give the baby a good home and give it all the things you can’t. They’ll pay for your prenatal care, your hospitalization, even give you some money to help you get your life back on track after the baby is born. And you can stay here, live at home, during the pregnancy.”
A warning bell went off in the back of her mind, but she remained sullenly silent.
“There’s also a home for unwed mothers here, the Florence Crittenton Society. You can go live there and they will take care of everything and you can keep the baby if you want.” Mother sat there expectantly, a parody of a smile painted on her face.
She turned the information over in her mind a few times, then took a deep breath. “It’s my baby and I am going to keep it. And I don’t want to go to a home for unwed mothers, either.”
Mother’s eyes narrowed. The gloves were off. “Well, miss, you don’t have any other choices…unless you want to make that trip to Mexico. If you think you are going to live here and waddle around pregnant in front of the all the neighbours and then bring a bastard child home with you, you had better think again because it is not going to happen! You want to keep your little bastard, fine…but you’ll go off somewhere so that I won’t have to put up with the gossip!”
“You mean that my choices are to give away my baby like an unwanted piece of trash or you’re going to put me in an institution?” she cried, her composure evaporating. “Is that what you are telling me?” She couldn’t believe that shrill voice was hers! She braced for the mind-numbing slap that she knew had to be coming but instead, Mother just laughed. Loudly. And long.
“Yes, ma’am,” she smiled, “that’s about the size of it. It may be your brat and I can’t have any say in the decisions about it, but you are my brat and I have full power over you!” Mother was virtually crowing.
“Oh, don’t even think about that, missy,” Mother grinned thinly. “With that fat-assed broad of his and those three little curtain-climbers, not to mention Brother, the last thing he wants right now is a pregnant teenager in the house. He doesn’t want you, missy. I am all you’ve got!” From the look on her face, Mother was positively delighted.
“And how much time do I have to think about this?” she finally asked. “It’s a big decision. It will affect the rest of my life…and this baby’s,” her hand went protectively to her lower abdomen.
“Tomorrow morning should be fine. I need to give the people at the Home an answer so they can reserve a space for you. You’ll stay here until you start to show, and then off you go.” Mother stood abruptly and brushed her hands together as if dusting them off. “Think on it. Sleep on it. You have three choices. Give me your answer in the morning.”
She felt deflated. She sat there on her cot after Mother had gone and wondered what to do. Nana and Grandpa would go for the adoption idea…they had already suggested it. Daddy didn’t want to have anything to do with her. Mark was only six months older than she was…he wasn’t exactly in a position to spirit her away to a place of safety, even if he wasn’t scared spitless about having made a baby with her…besides, he was adopted, so it was a pretty good bet that he’d weigh in on that side as well. Why didn’t anybody understand that this was her baby? Flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood, bone of her bone? All of her life she had wanted someone to love without reservation, without fear of rejection, with the certainty of reciprocation, and now, with that just within her grasp, why was the whole world conspiring to snatch it away from her before she even had a taste?
She lay down on the cot and turned to the wall. Despite the warm temperatures she curled into a tight little ball and buried her face in the pillow and felt a gaping, cavernous, echoing hollow open in the region of her heart. What was she going to do?
It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.