It’s Narcissist Friday!
Twenty-five years ago a little boy sat on his bed crying. No supper again. Mom was too busy. “You won’t die,” she said. “I don’t want to see you until morning,” she said. So the little boy stayed in his room. He played with his toys until he fell asleep.
In the morning, his dad was home. “Mom’s asleep on the couch. Just leave her alone,” he said. The boy looked at his mom. He thought she looked like she was dead. There was a bottle on the floor near her and she smelled bad. Then Dad went to work. The little boy got himself ready for school, packed a lunch, and waited for his ride. Before he left, he washed up around the kitchen, fed the dog, and put the empty milk bottles out.
When the boy got home from school, his mom was up and dressed. The smell was gone and so was the bottle. “We’re going to church tonight,” she said. “Get your nice clothes on,” she said. He found his nice clothes where he had carefully hung them last week and put them on. He combed his hair, brushed his teeth, and went downstairs. Mom was all dressed up and they went out to the car together.
“We’ll stop to get something to eat on the way,” she said. They didn’t. Instead, they went directly to the church where everyone thought the little boy was something very special. There were a few other kids there, but everyone seemed to be watching him. The adults would come up to him and tell him that he looked so grown up or so cute. Everyone told Mom what a well-behaved and handsome young man she had. “And smart, too! You should see how well he is doing at school,” she said.
Mom held his hand most of the evening, until a couple of the other kids came to see if he wanted to play. “Just don’t get your clothes dirty,” she said. Then she gave him that warning look, the one where her bottom jaw stuck out for a second.
As he left, the boy heard a lady tell his mom what a wonderful little boy she had. He turned to see her smiling at the lady. “Oh, thank you,” she said.
The other kids wanted to go outside to play, but the boy held back. He told them he couldn’t get his clothes dirty. They laughed at him and called him names, just like the kids at school, but he stayed inside and walked around the church. Then the others came in from outside. They all looked at him and one of the boys wiped a handful of mud on his shirt. “Oh, you naughty boy, you got your shirt all dirty,” the mean boy said as all the kids ran away laughing.
The little boy went directly to the rest room and tried to wash the dirt off his sleeve. Most of it came off, but it didn’t look very clean. When he finally came out of the restroom, his mom was there. She saw the sleeve immediately and became angry. “Get in the car,” she said.
“I told you not to get dirty! How could you embarrass me in front of my friends? How could you do that to me? You are so stupid, so disobedient! All those people think you are something special, but we know better don’t we? I don’t want to hear your lies. Just shut up until we get home.”
“Put your clothes in the wash. I suppose I will have to stay up late just to get them clean. Go to bed!”
No supper again. Maybe Dad would make a nice breakfast in the morning. If he is home.
This night the little boy tried hard not to cry. He had to find a way to stop hurting. He had to find a place to hide. A place where no one could touch him, where he could be strong. He knew, if he tried hard enough, that he could find a way to not be afraid or sad . . . ever again.
Quick—where’s the narcissist in this story?
No, it’s not the mom. She’s an alcoholic trapped in a loveless marriage surrounded by a culture that demands conformity. No, this is the sad beginning of the narcissist, the little boy who grew up to be a controlling and judgmental man who uses people to try to make himself feel good. But he never feels good about himself . . . and he is still afraid and sad.
More next Friday!