Toxic Mom Toolkit: Who Stood Up For You?

28 Jan

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

Question #4

Looking back at your childhood, who in your extended family could have helped you?

Why do you think they did or didn’t?

They say children survive abuse and neglect because they have no perspective.

If you were abused or neglected or treated badly as a child, certainly, some adult in your family circle — a neighbor, or a teacher — must have suspected.  So, why didn’t anyone call bull-dinky on your mother? Or call CPS?

My early childhood was fine, considering we were poor, my parents didn’t get along and we were nearly always unsupervised. But I don’t think that was much different for most kids in the ‘60’s.

I can think of a neighbor (several, actually), and a grandmother who indicated through their actions that they didn’t think my mother was taking care of me very well.

What did they do?

One neighbor included me in many activities with her kids and always invited me to their country cabin for the weekend, the site of many happy memories. Other block moms doled out Band-Aids and hugs.

My grandmother, my father’s mother, did a few things equal to pointing to her own eyes with two fingers and then turning your hand to point at someone else’s eyes — as if to communicate “I see what you’re doing.” My grandmother was no dummy. My grandmother knew my mother had bad tendencies. (My parents had lived with my grandparents when they were new marrieds.) My grandmother even went so far as to kidnap me one afternoon to see if anyone would notice. They didn’t.

Factoring in “the times,” I’m grateful that even a few people put themselves in uncomfortable situations with my mother with my welfare in mind. Could they have done more?

I don’t think so.  There was no family farm to send me to for a summer. No one  we knew “did” boarding school because no one could afford it. At that time you didn’t butt in. I think you just tried to be nice to the kid if you could.

One Response to “Toxic Mom Toolkit: Who Stood Up For You?”

  1. d.m.o. March 5, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    Things were fine up until I was 9. That’s when my panic attacks and stomach problems began. I felt mother’s dominance and control constricting me and I couldn’t mentally breathe. My inner turmoil made me a bit of an easy target at school: Quiet, shy, timid, sensitive, nervous… So between mother’s bullying, school bullying, and brother’s ridicule, and my passive dad’s drinking, there was really no one to turn to or stand up for me.

    My grandmothers were neurotic messes and my grandfathers were dead. My mother was outgoing and nice to neighbors and family friends so no one would think my neurosis would have to do with her. One teacher noticed my gloomy, withdrawn demeanor and asked me what was wrong and if everything was Ok at home, however, she asked me this during a study hall with a table full of students listening in! So I muttered I was Ok just to make her go away. Back then, (60s & 70s) there wasn’t the awareness or support available for troubled kids. It’s a miracle I didn’t turn to drugs (I feared them too much) so I turned to books, movies, writing, drawing and the world of make-believe. Anything to escape. I turned to alcohol a bit in the adult years, but kept it in check due to all the alcoholics in the family. If I do have an occasional drink now, I limit it to two. So, I guess I can give myself credit for not falling down that dark path.

    I realize now that my anxiety and sensitivity reminded my mother of her mother’s “nervous” condition that she viewed as weak and fragile. That resentment and lack of respect was turned on me and I’m still getting that venom even as she nears age 90 and foggy with dementia. Other people see this 5-foot-tall, white-haired woman, motoring along with a walker and they say, “Oh, isn’t she sweet!!!” and I just smile and think, oh, little do you know.

    I chose not to have children. I couldn’t stand the thought of having a child feel towards me the way I feel towards my mother. Plus, I was terrified of having a daughter with my mother’s personality!

    It’s very hard to find a safe harbor. I sometimes get chewed out at “support” sites for whining about my mother and to move past it. I’m in the process of doing that. So once again, bear with me.

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