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.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I can dress myself!

“Look, Rosa!” she cried, running into the kitchen. “I got dressed all by myself today!” Beaming with pride, she twirled around to show that she had managed to both choose and put on her entire school outfit without the customary help from the family’s Mexican housekeeper.

Bueno,” Rosa smiled, clapping her work worn hands together. “You look muy bonita. Siéntate, niña,” she said, pulling out a chair and putting a plate of scrambled eggs and a hot flour tortilla on the table.“Comer su desayuno, niña.”She sat and pushed the eggs around with her spoon before popping some into her mouth, her mind full of showing her newest accomplishment to her mother. 

“Wait until Mommy sees I am so big I can dress myself!” she said, wriggling with pride and happiness at the prospect of her mother’s praise. “I am a really big girl now!”

She had had to drag the desk chair to the closet in order to reach the hangers, and it had taken her more than one try to get the bows on her shoes even and tight, but she had persisted and did it all herself. She had laid out her favourite skirt, the turquoise checked one with the huge patch pockets on the front, on the bed, as she had seen Rosa do, and then she pulled down her favourite blouse, a pretty dark blue and white vertical stripe with cute puffy sleeves that, due to the elastic sewn just an inch inside the sleeve hem, ruched up the last inch of sleeve into a kind of a ruffle. Mommy wouldn’t buy or make her clothes with frills or lace because she didn’t look good in them, so this blouse’s puffy, ruffle-edged sleeve was the closest thing she had. And she loved it.

It had taken a long time to get her skirt pulled up, her slip pulled down, and the bottom of the blouse neatly tucked in, especially in back. Mommy didn’t like it when she looked sloppy, so she was very, very careful to get it right. Just wait until Mommy got home from work! She would be so proud!

She was careful the whole day so she wouldn’t get dirty. It was important that she look as good when Mommy came home as she did when she bounced into the kitchen to show Rosa. When Rosa had tried to get her to change into her play clothes after school, she demurred, patiently explaining in her rudimentary Spanish, that her mother must see that she could now dress herself. Her pride in her accomplishment fuelled her entire day and at 5:30 when her mother’s car pulled up in front of the house, she could hardly contain her excitement.

“You gonna get a whippin’,” her four year old brother prophesied. “You got school clothes on and Mommy’s gonna be mad,” he said. She felt a chill run down her spine but…well, this was different. She had to have the clothes on to show Mommy. She would change as soon as Mommy saw what she could do…” Eagerly she stood beside the front door, tingling with anticipation. Brother stood behind her, like an eager Coliseum spectator, waiting for the games to begin.

Mommy came through the door and stopped short at her two children standing beside the front door…usually they were in their rooms or the kitchen when she got home. “What?” she said, looking from one upturned face to the other. “What are you doing here at the door? And you,” he eyes fell on her daughter, “why are you still in your school clothes?”

She was undaunted. “I had to stay in them, Mommy. I wanted to show you…”

“Show me what?” Mommy snapped, pushing past the two little bodies crowding her. “You know you are supposed to change as soon as you come home so you don’t ruin your school clothes…”

She did a pirouette in front her mother. “See? I did it all myself this morning.” She paused as Mommy’s eyes raked her up and down, a scowl forming on her brow. “I got my clothes down from the closet and I put them on without any help from Rosa,” she hurried on, Mommy’s expression darkening. “I even tied my own shoes and the laces didn’t come loose all day.” She stopped before she got to the “See what a big girl I am” part, silenced by the thunderous look on Mommy’s face.

“You went to school in that?” Mommy asked. “Just like that?”

She nodded silently, her excited smile replaced by a cautious mask.

“Are you telling me that you went to school wearing a turquoise gingham skirt and a navy blue striped blouse?”

She nodded again, her face becoming a complete blank.

“Jesus H. Christ on a goddamned crutch! What is wrong with you?”

She shook her head to indicate she didn’t know…she didn’t, after all.

“Now every teacher in that school…and that goddamned busybody school nurse…will think I don’t know how to dress my child, that I am incompetent as a mother! Is that what you wanted, missy?” Mommy put her face inches from the child’s pale, wide-eyed face. “Well, missy,” she bellowed. “Is it?”

She vigorously shook her head to disavow such an idea. “No,” she squeaked out, her throat constricted with fear. “I just wanted to show you I could get dressed all by myself…” A forbidden tear escaped from one eye and wandered slowly down her cheek.

Mommy glared at her. “I, for the life of me, do not understand what is wrong with you. Everybody knows you don’t wear stripes and checks together…everybody knows that you don’t wear navy and turquoise. You couldn’t have gotten it more wrong if you did it on purpose…” She paused and bent down to the pale face and, almost nose to nose, asked, “You didn’t do this on purpose, did you?” Mommy asked, her voice softening.

She shook her head vigorously, her blue-green eyes wide with fear. Mommy’s rages were terrifying, but when her voice got real soft and her eyes went half-closed, she was downright chilling.

“Hmmm,” Mommy said and flicked her eyes to the doorway where Rosa stood watching. “Go to your room,” she said, standing up straight. “Change your clothes and don’t pull a stunt like this again, you hear?” She bolted for the relative safety of her room where she tore off the offending garments and threw them onto the closet floor. Pulling on a pair of pedal pushers and a T shirt, she flung herself on the bed, ready to cry out her fear and hurt and disappointment but, before the first sob erupted, she heard Mommy’s voice from the other side of the door. “And don’t you start that damned blubbering, either, or I will come in there and give you something to really cry about!”


  1. It's so horrible to view Nantics from the point of view of the children we were..

  2. God that sounds SO much like my mother. She had these irrational fashion rules about colors and patterns that we were forced to adhere to as children. What did Rosa think of your mother's crazy behavior?


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