“Just where do you think you are going with that, young lady?” Mommy asked.
“To the car,” she said, struggling with a pillowcase full of clothes.
“And why, pray tell?”
“Daddy said we need a change of clothes and a warm coat and extra socks because it gets cold at night up in the mountains,” she replied, nearly to the front door.
“And what makes you think you are going?”
Mommy’s voice stopped her cold. She turned around, the pillowcase falling to her knees in concert with her heart. “What do you mean?”
Mommy smiled that funny little half smile of hers and took a deep drag off her cigarette. “I mean, what makes you think you are going?”
She was sure Daddy said both of them were going camping with him…Mommy didn’t like camping so she was going to stay home.
“Daddy said I was going?” she asked, hopefully.
Mommy blew out a perfect smoke ring, then a second smaller ring to pierce the first. She wondered idly what Mommy had done with her long black cigarette holder…
“Did you ask me if you could go?”
She shook her head. “But Daddy said I could…”
“Did you ask me?” Mommy inquired again, her eyes and lips thinning, her body leaning forward from the sofa.
She shook her head silently, then stood apprehensively as the silence lengthened and grew.
Mommy finally spoke. “Well?”
Was she supposed to ask Mommy for permission after Daddy had already said she could go? What could it hurt?
“Can I go camping with Daddy and Brother?” she asked, hefting the pillow case that was getting awfully heavy.
Mommy leaned back against the sofa cushions and sucked in another long draught of smoke from her cigarette. “No,” Mommy said dismissively, reaching down for her True Confessions magazine. “Now go put that stuff back.”
Her heart nearly stopped in her chest. “Why not?” she wailed, oblivious to the danger her question posed.
“Because I said so,” Mommy answered, not looking up.
“But Brother gets to go! That’s not fair!”
Mommy sucked another drag off her cigarette and stubbed it out in the ashtray with the dozen or so other red-stained butts. “You are a girl,” Mommy replied, turning a page in her magazine.
She stood by the front door, nonplussed. What did Brother being a boy have to do with anything?
“I’m older than he is!” she pleaded her case. “I do better in school!”
Mommy shook her head silently, her eyes never leaving the page.
“Mommmeeee!” she cried, prancing up and down with frustration. “Mommy, why can’t I go? Daddy said I could…I’ll be good…I haven’t been bad…”
“You are being bad right now,” Mommy said, lighting another smoke. “I told you to go put those things back in your dresser and you’re standing there arguing with me.” Mommy’s eyes narrowed down again. “Do you know what happens to little girls who argue with their mothers?” She nodded her head stiffly, mutely. “Then go to your room like I told you.”
“It’s not fair!” she cried, but headed towards her room dragging the pillowcase behind her. “Daddy said I could go!”
“You are a girl,” Mommy repeated. “You are not spending the night out in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of boys and men,” she said, a note of finality in her voice. “Now if I hear anything more about this, you can continue your whining and complaining to the strap, do I make myself understood?”
She nodded again, stiffly…mutely. “Fine,” Mommy said. “Now get out of my sight…and don’t you dare start your goddamned blubbering because if you do, I will give you something to blubber about.”
Her pillowcase was unpacked and back on her pillow, silent tears staining it. She could hear Daddy and Mommy talking through the thin wall that separated her bedroom from the living room.
“She doesn’t feel well,” Mommy was saying. “I sent her to bed…no, don’t disturb her, she’s asleep.”
Daddy’s voice was just a rumble, but moments later she heard the front door close and the sound of his car engine, an old Kaiser he had modified for camping and hunting and fishing. Before long the engine sound faded into the distance.
She turned the pillow over to find a dry spot.
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.