Finding Comfort as a Daughter of a Toxic Mom

14 Jan

As part of our ongoing journal project, here is our next journal question.

Question #2:  When you were a little girl how did you comfort yourself when you were sad or confused? How do you self-comfort yourself now that you’re an adult?

I used all the normal coping mechanisms that come naturally to kids and then some. I played games (board and street), organized strange kid clubs of short, intense duration, spied on adults, and made prank phone calls usually to teen-aged girls with crushes on my big brother. I’d tell them that he loved them setting who-knows-what into motion.

I spent entire days racing around on white roller skates with metal wheels that I wore down to tin foil on fire.

As a neglected and abused child it never occurred to me to speak to an adult about my home life.

Our childhood experiences echo through our adult lives. I still find it most difficult to ask for any sort of help.

When I was a young woman I used to just observe and compare: This is how this family does Thanksgiving, which is very different from what I remember. Hmmmmm….

I was secretive and ashamed about my unhealthy relationship with my mother. As I matured my odd, hurtful, intense ways of coping morphed into more open, sane – and even happy – forms of coping.

I’ve always had food issues. I was never fed properly, so I yearned for generous portions and forbidden foods. I am overweight mainly due to anxious eating and continue to work with a nutritionist to improve my food choices and eating habits.

As I’ve matured, I’ve coped with the lifelong fall-out of toxic parenting by speaking frankly about my experiences with my husband and close friends. I benefitted from time with a therapist. I was a newspaper reporter when I began writing about toxic moms and how to survive them.

I’m not dashing away from my problems like a confused child. I’ve chosen focus, frankness and a willingness to open my heart. I believe in embracing and owning my life story.

I still wait too long to ask for help or a hug, but I’m getting better. My life is a marathon, not a sprint. Along the way I hope by example I can help other children of toxic moms who choose to lead happy and sane lives.

3 Responses to “Finding Comfort as a Daughter of a Toxic Mom”

  1. d.m.o. March 6, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    Being more of an introvert, I preferred solitary escape in the world of make believe with my dolls and adventures pretending I was another character. As I got older I took comfort in reading, writing, movies and drawing. I loved playing piano (by ear, never did well with lessons) but only when no one else was around to listen and judge.

    • collectingjourneys March 10, 2012 at 3:30 am #

      My mother forced me to begin piano lessons when I was 12 or 13. It was very stressful. It didn’t help that every clinker note inspired laughter by my step-father, the alcoholic wife beater. I love music. I have a lovely voice. But that experience ruined playing an instrument for me. I should probably revisit that. I recently wrote a country western song – so I know that drive is still in there seeking expression!

      • d.m.o. March 10, 2012 at 4:49 am #

        Oh, those piano lessons! *shudder* Mine started around age 7 and were not going very well, so mother thought if she had a piano teacher come to the house, I would do better. WRONG! When I would hit a clinker note, mother would walk by and give me the icy stare of disapproval, or wait until afterwards and critique my performance. Yeah, that helped a lot. My alcoholic dad was passive (he had no choice) and was actually complimentary when I played something well. To this day, I can’t play in front of other people. I have to wait until I’m alone to play.

        I should mention that I’m an animal lover so I took comfort in my dogs while growing up, too. Now I have my houseful of animals to comfort me!

        Please continue your musical outlet! They can no longer quiet your musical voice.

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