She was confused.
Obediently, she huddled silently under the scratchy woollen blanket, breathing shallowly through her mouth so she didn’t have to smell the musty stink of the itchy thing. The muffled sound of giggling filtered through the wads of wool over her head, and the frame of the little trailerhouse jiggled with all but the slightest of movements. She schooled herself to lie very, very still so that she would be almost invisible.
She was drifting off, caught in that amorphous state between waking and sleeping, when a sharp jolt brought her unconsciously to a sitting position. The blanket fell from her head just as she heard a man’s shouting and a woman’s screaming. It was dim in the little trailerhouse, dimly lit and everything seemed a kind of green colour. She thought she saw Mommy at the other end of the trailer, sitting on a bed, wearing her bra. Who was the man in the white undershirt beside her? Why was Daddy wearing his lumberjack jacket indoors and why was he shouting? What was he saying? She could hear his voice but she couldn’t understand his words.
She was scared. Mommy had told her to be very quiet, so nobody would even know she was there, but she was scared. Unbidden, her mouth opened into a little round “O” and a wail welled up from someplace below her belly button and emerged fully formed and in full voice. The activity at the other end of the trailer came to an abrupt halt and three pairs of eyes were instantly fastened upon her.
Cacophony reigned. Mommy was screaming at her to shut up, the strange man was asking who the hell was she, and Daddy was cursing loudly. He took the two strides necessary to make it to the bed on which she was howling, scooped her up itchy blanket and all, and without a further word, strode out of the stuffy little trailer and into the crisp night. Over his shoulder she could see the little green trailerhouse in the pool of white flowing from the yardlight at the top of the splintery wooden pole. She didn’t recognize the place at all.
“Where are we, Daddy?” she asked, twisting around to see his face set in an uncharacteristically grim visage. “Where is this place?”
Daddy pressed her head down to his shoulder and threw the blanket over her so her vision was blocked and Mommy’s shrieks from the trailerhouse were silenced. “Hell,” she thought she heard him say.
…*… …*… …*…
She didn’t want to take a nap. She wanted to go home. She wanted Dolly. She wanted her Daddy. She even wanted her Mommy. But she did not want to take a nap.
The bed sheets were stiff and scratchy and the bed was much too big. The blankets were heavy and smelled like camphor. The pillow was hard and lumpy. The bed was tucked so tight that she could barely move beneath the covers. She was wearing only her panties and undershirt and she felt funny trying to sleep without her pajamas. And she wasn’t sleepy, anyway. She didn’t like this place and she wanted to go home.
The door cracked open and The Lady looked in on her again. “Poor little mite,” The Lady would say, and then quietly close the door. The Lady was nice, she guessed. She gave her cookies and milk in the middle of the day…between meals!…and told her it was not her fault and that everything would work out just fine. What wasn’t her fault? And what was everything? And where was her Mommy? And her Daddy? Where was Baby? She wanted to cry, but The Lady had said “tears are not necessary, dear,” and then rushed her off to this unwanted nap. Where were her clothes? She felt especially vulnerable without her clothes. Where were her shoes? How could she find her way home if she had to walk barefoot? There were stickers in the dirt and the tar road could get awful hot when you didn’t have shoes on.
She was too hot. She struggled with the tightly tucked blankets until she could take one leg out from under the covers. She sighed and tried closing her eyes, but the silhouette of The Lady intruded as soon as her eyes closed. She smelled like powder and old perfume and wore her steel-coloured hair in a tight bun at the back of her neck. She wondered if it hurt to pull your hair back that tight. Restlessly, she sighed again and tried to roll over, but thought better of it. What if she got in trouble for messing up the bed? What if she got in trouble for not being under the covers? She quickly tucked her leg back under and turned on her side, curling into a little ball. She began humming snatches of songs that she remembered from somewhere and, arms crossed over her chest and legs tightly drawn up, began rocking herself. She began to feel calmer, less frightened, even less aware.
When had she fallen asleep? Someone was calling her name and shaking her firmly. She didn’t want to stop humming and rocking. It felt good, curled into a warm little ball like this. But the intrusion would not stop and finally she opened her eyes. The Lady was standing beside the bed, her arms crossed over her chest like Mommy did when she was mad, but a different expression on her face. Someone was sitting on the bed, stroking the damp sweaty hair back from her face. Nana!
“Nana!” she cried, unfolding her arms and throwing them around her grandmother. “Nana! You came for me!” it was a statement more than a question. She saw a look pass between Nana and The Lady, a look she didn’t understand, and then The Lady nodded, ever so slightly.
“Yes, sweetie,” Nana said, and she saw that Nana had been crying. “I’ve come for you. Let’s get you dressed and we’ll go home.” Her heart squeezed at that. She had been hoping to go to Nana’s house, but at least she would be away from here. The Lady was nice, but she was afraid in this big, muted, oppressively clean house with all the dark curtains drawn. There was nothing she could do or touch without the risk of messing something up, and she had no idea what the rules for living here were.
“Why are you crying, Nana?” she asked as she settled into the front seat of Nana’s new car. It still smelled new. It was a funny colour of pink, almost skin colour, and it had soft, velvety seats in a kind of ribbed tan fabric…almost like her corduroy pants, but much thicker and deeper. The soft fabric felt good on her bruised legs. “Did something happen to make you cry?”
“I’m just very happy I found you, dear,” she said. “Gramma Janssen called me early this morning and I have been trying to find you ever since.”
“Was I lost?” she asked, not understanding. She wasn’t even sure she remembered how she got to The Lady’s house…most of today was actually kind of blurry in her memory.
“You could say that, sweetie,” Nana said, her nose and eyes turning suspiciously red again.
“How did I get lost?” she asked. She was genuinely puzzled. She remembered sitting for a very long time in a strange room full of people who ignored her, sitting on a hard wooden chair, waiting for Mommy to come back, and somehow she ended up at The Lady’s house. So she did get lost, but she wasn’t sure how it happened. “Where’s Mommy?”
Nana didn’t answer her. Instead, she seemed to bite the inside of her lips and her nose turned redder. She was making Nana cry! What was wrong? Her stomach rolled. Was she going to get into trouble now?
She ran her hand over the velvety ribs of the car’s upholstery. The car still had that brand new smell, and, like all of Nana’s cars, it had the leather armrest that folded down and was the perfect height for her to sit on and be able to see the sights as they drove along. She rose up on her knees to pull down open the armrest and noticed they were almost to Nana’s house. “This is your house, Nana!” she exclaimed. “Where’s Mommy?”
Nana turned into the driveway and drew the car to a stop near the back door. She was suddenly miserable, afraid, and her stomach turned over. “Nana!” she cried. “Nana, I’m sick!” and before she could even attempt to wrench the heavy door open, she leaned slightly forward and vomited all over Nana’s new car.
She nearly fainted with fright. Nana looked at her with tears in her eyes as she instinctively flinched away, throwing up one hand to ward off the anticipated blow. “I’m sorry, Nana”’ she cried out. “I didn’t mean to! I didn’t do it on purpose! I’m sorry!”
Nana was crying openly as she reached across the seat and pulled her sweaty, vomit-covered little body into her arms. “I know, baby,” Nana soothed, rocking her gently, “I know you didn’t. Let’s get Grandpa to come out and clean up the car and you and I will go inside and clean you up, OK?”
She nodded slowly, clinging to Nana desperately as her sobs quieted into little hiccups. “Where’s Mommy?” she asked in a tiny voice. “Mommy will spank me for messing up your car.”
“Let’s forget about Mommy for now, shall we?” Nana asked, easing the car door open and slipping out of the car without letting her go. “How about you just be Nana and Grandpa’s little girl for a while?”
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.