It was early afternoon and I found myself suddenly summoned before the tribunal otherwise known as "Mother". Location: living room in front of stereo cabinet. It is circa 1967-68. I'm around six years old. Maybe seven.
"Where is your [favorite] record?"
"It's there." I point to the storage area of the stereo where stacks of vinyl records reside. "I put it away."
"No, Anna, it is not here. You took it across the street to your friend's house, didn't you." It wasn't really a question. It was a statement of fact.
"No! I didn't!! I put it away here." pointing helplessly back to the cabinet. I can still see her standing over me wearing one of her low-cut sun dresses. Beautiful...and terrifying.
Here's the deal. This 33rpm record was my then favorite. I have no recollection today of what it was. I had been explicitly instructed I couldn't take anything that belonged to me to a friend's house without asking permission. It was just one of The Rules. I hadn't taken anything over to a friend's house without permission when this rule was made clear. I certainly hadn't taken my favorite record out of the house. I had never taken any record out of the house. Ever. So it isn't even like I had committed this particular crime in the past. Nevertheless, since my mother went to look for this piece of vinyl and didn't find it at first glance, I stood accused of breaking one of The Rules. Unless I could produce the evidence to vindicate myself, there was no appeal for my case.
She challenged me to produce the record angrily shoving me toward the cabinet. I looked feebly near the end of the stack and didn't see it. Too nervous and pressured to make a full search, I stopped looking yet continued to contest that I had put it away. Every time I would protest my innocence, her anger would escalate. I was becoming frantic. At some point the tears began. This only infuriated her all the more. My memories of this event are fuzzy around the edges, but then they come into sharp focus again because at some point during this escalation of my desperation and her rage she bent over and hissed into my face,
"You make me so angry. I hate you. If I had a sword in my hand I would stick it through right now!"
I've never forgotten the pure hatred and violent rage in her face and voice in that moment. I've never forgotten that it was a sword she wished she had right then. I've often wondered at her chosen instrument of death. Weird. A sword.
She did have a sword that day and it cut straight through my heart. My mother hates me and wants to kill me. That is what I took away from that moment. The only crime I committed was to dare to defend myself against her untrue accusation.
There is an aspect of this event that was repeated time and again throughout my childhood and up. When Mommie Dearest decides she knows something, contradicting her was useless and would only make the punishment worse. If exculpating evidence wasn't immediately on hand to produce, then it was better to submit to the charge with minimal protest.
I was banished to my room to think over my lying ways and live in dread of what my punishment would be. I don't know how long I was in there. My next memory is her calling me to her. She was in the kitchen. Her face was softened, her tone was kind. I remember I still felt wobbly inside. Broken up in my soul because my mommy hated me. I felt a bit confused by her suddenly acting solicitous and kind.
"S, I found your record. You were right. You did put it away. It was just in a different part of the cabinet than where it normally is."
She pulled open the junk drawer. There was a medal medallion in there she knew I liked but I'd never been allowed to take it out of the drawer. She asked me if I wanted it. I am sure my face brightened into a smile...her face relaxed even more when I said "yes". She took a piece of string, hooked it through the metal loop and tied it around my neck and told me how nice it looked.
The medallion was her apology.
She never readdressed her words of anger and hatred. She didn't retract them. She presumed I could be placated by a trinket. I was simply relieved that she was no longer enraged at me. The trinket only symbolized to me that I was not living under immediate threat of death and destruction.
She didn't leave a mark on my body that day. There was no evidence of her crime to incriminate her. She knew I would never tell anyone of the event. Narcissists the world around are murdering the hearts of their children with little to no fear of being caught.
As I look back, she tore up her parent card that day. How I wish to God I had held this moment against her until I could make my escape and never return. I wish I hadn't forgiven her. It only guaranteed her long-term access to my body and soul. Narcissists attempt to murder souls with extreme regularity. What they do to children is criminal.