“Wait here in the car for me,” Mommy said. “I’ll be back in about an hour.” Mommy gave her a sharp look. “You two behave while I’m gone…and keep your brother out of trouble.”
She hated waiting in the car with Brother. She was fine doing it alone, but Brother scared her when they were alone together in the car. Oblivious to any consequences to his actions, either immediate or delayed, Brother viewed the car as a giant toy for his personal amusement and brooked no attempts at interference. She might as well not even be in the car, for all her admonitions or objections to his behaviour accomplished. And while she knew he couldn’t drive it away since Mommy took the keys with her…this time…she knew that fooling with the gearshift lever and the hand brake could have disastrous results. Brother knew too…she had told him so…but he dismissed her as inconsequential and stood on the seat behind the wheel merrily shoving the shifter up and down the column, making motor noises with his lips and tongue.
Noting that the handbrake was set, she was merely tense and anxious about his pretence at driving the car. She didn’t know enough about how the thing worked to know if his slamming of the shifter up and down could put them in any danger, but she knew if the handbrake was set, they weren’t going anywhere. Which was good, because they were parked on a hill and this made her very nervous.
“Brother, stop it!” she pleaded with him. “Come sit in the back with me and I’ll tell you a story.”
“No!” he said petulantly. “I wanna drive!”
She watched him carefully, not sure what she could do to stop him if he started doing something truly dangerous. He was bigger than she was and weighed more, for all that she was two years older. A man exited the red brick building that Mommy had entered, and walked to the car that was parked in front of theirs, entered it, and drove away, leaving her now with a clear vista of the long, steep hill the car was parked on.
Nervously, she looked at the clock. Half an hour until Mommy came back. Could she keep Brother from doing something that would hurtle them down that hill and into the big grey granite bank building at the bottom? Maybe they would be hit by another car as they careened through an intersection against the light? Daddy always did something called “parking the car in gear” when they parked on a hill…in case the parking brake didn’t hold, he said. Had Brother changed the gear? Was their parking brake going to hold?
Brother had both hands on the steering wheel and was gleefully twisting it from side to side, screeching noises emanating from his lips. Simulating a crash, he gripped the wheel and shook it, making explosion and rending metal sounds. She was a wreck, keeping one eye on Brother and one eye on the clock. Maybe Mommy would get back early? Then he would have to stop.
“Are we there yet?” Brother cried gaily from his perch on the seat, adjusting the rear view mirror so he could see himself “driving.” He pretended to pull the car over to the curb and park it, shoved the gearshift lever up, as he had seen Mommy and Daddy do countless times, then reached for the handbrake. Trouble was, the handle was already pulled all the way up and when he tried to give it a bit of a yank, it wouldn’t yield that satisfying sound of the brake being set. His attention was instantly diverted to trying to release the brake so he could set it himself and she went immediately into panic mode.
“Brother!” she cried. “Stop! You’ll crash the car and Mommy will be mad! She’ll spank you!” He hesitated momentarily, looking at her. “With the strap!”
He shook his head. “Spank you!” he said, now wrestling with the handle. She climbed into the front seat and tried to pull him away, but he gave her a mighty shove, sending her sprawling against the passenger door, where she hit her forehead painfully on the chrome door handle. Her eyes smarting with tears, she returned to the fray, trying to get him away from the parking brake handle before he created some kind of disaster.
“Stop it!” she cried, fear making the tears roll down her face. “Stop it!” She slapped at his hands, which just made him angry. He let go of the handle, rose up on his knees, and punched her in the chest with his fist, then returned to his quest. When she was able to breathe again, now crying in earnest, she resumed trying to deter him from his goal. He put his pudgy, sweaty hand in the middle of her face and, bracing his legs against the door and putting his superior weight behind it, pushed her away until she was pinned against the passenger door. When he released her, he immediately resumed trying to find a way to release the parking brake.
She glanced at the clock and realized that Mommy was more than fifteen minutes late and a new fear struck her. What if Mommy wasn’t coming back? Dark, shadowy flashes of half-memories flitted through her mind, dim, fearsome things that darted through her consciousness too quickly for her to grasp, leaving behind only coldness and fear and a yawning sense of emptiness. An alarming sense of terrible familiarity swept over her like a shroud, enveloping her, invading her, filling her, and she began to weep piteously.
At first Brother ignored her, but when her sobs and wails did not subside, he grew disturbed. “Stop it,” he said, shaking her, but she only wept more loudly. “Stop!” he commanded, but his voice fell on deaf ears. The fear had consumed her, it held her hostage, and with each glance at the clock, it escalated. Two hours passed…Mommy wasn’t coming back…what was she going to do now?
A woman stopped by the car and tapped on the window, concerned about the hysterically weeping little girl huddled miserably in the seat, but Brother, finally heeding the rules for a change, refused to roll the window down. The woman walked away and Brother resumed trying to silence his distraught sister.
“Stop!” he demanded again. “Mommy will be mad!”
“She’s not coming back,” she wept, looking at the clock again. “She’s been gone almost three hours now. She isn’t coming back. What is going to happen to us? Nana’s not here…”
“Daddy will get us,” he assured her, but his lower lip was quivering a bit.
“Daddy moved away,” she reminded him through her tears. “Mommy made him move away…and now she’s gone, too!” She burst into noisy sobs again and, curling into a tight ball, her arms wrapped around her head, she sank into a dark, empty place.
“What in the name of holy hell is going on here?” Mommy’s voice cut through the darkness surrounding her like a hot knife through butter. A claw-like grip on her shoulder dragged her from the corner where she was huddled, and she felt herself being shaken like a rag doll.
“You conniving little bitch!” Mommy hissed at her. “I can’t leave you alone for a minute, can I? You have to go and pull some little attention-getting stunt like this and just embarrass the shit out of me!”
“She said you weren’t coming back!” Brother volunteered.
Mommy rolled her eyes. “Whatever made you say that, for Chrissake? You had your little brother in a panic, he ran into the lawyer’s office crying and upset everybody! What is your excuse this time?” Mommy shook her again. “Well?”
“You were gone…” she croaked out, her throat dry and sore from crying. “You said you would be gone an hour…and it was more than three…”
“What made you scare your little brother by telling him I wasn’t coming back? Jesus H. Christ, you’d think you’d know better than to do that. Why do you want to upset him like that?”
She just shook her head, sniffling, knuckling her tear-swollen eyes. “I was afraid…” she began.
“Of what?” Mommy interrupted with a sneer in her voice.
“That you weren’t coming back…you were gone so long…”
Mommy rolled her eyes skyward and sighed long-sufferingly. “And I suppose it didn’t occur to you,” she asked in a voice dripping sarcasm, “that I at least had to come back for my car?”
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.