Toxic Mom Toolkit: Thoughts While Editing – Time is Short

27 Jun

I always wanted to write a book. In grade school I carried around small leather-bound classics hoping I’d impress my teachers and schoolmates. I wanted them to think that I understood Dickens and Twain when I was EIGHT.

I could always imagine my name on a best-seller list. But for writing what?

It was brave of me to leave my newspaper job to write this book. As I dedicated myself to the writing effort, blogging about it and building an online community, I learned to truly trust my husband, the universe, and myself. It was one of the most difficult and ultimately rewarding journeys of my adult life.

Accepting that I was simply doing what was right for me was a huge leap of faith. At each transition the next step rose up to meet me. Choosing to forget about what others thought was crucial for me. It was very hard.

Of course, I had doubts all the way through. I remember wondering what former colleagues and co-workers thought. To some, I was weird enough to begin with. Were they poking fun at my efforts? Was I too obsessed with my childhood? Was I propping myself as an expert on a non-topic? Was I inventing a passion to have something to do? The chatter raged in my brain. But eventually, it died down allowing space for quiet contemplation.

I remembered, time is so short.

I travelled back in time and studied my life, the life of my parents and relations and I wrote it all down.  I remembered how I earned my courage. I was ready to tell readers about it.

That I signed up with and wrote my little heart out on the topic of toxic moms for an entire year is pretty astounding to me now. I found my focus early on and I trusted that readers got it. At Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook we grew from the 30 or so “likes” I needed to start my stats to nearly 60,000 people reached around the world each month.

As I got to know my followers in the U.S., Australia, Japan, the Middle East and Europe, I began to think of my book as a wonderful life form that needed me as its midwife. On days when it was too hard I worked anyway on blind faith. If I had to tell myself I could have chocolate after writing a chapter, that was okay. I’m sure plenty of surgeons imagine cocktails or golf or other rewards waiting for them when the nurses take over the suturing.

As I racked up chapters, I taught myself to embrace the work joyfully even if I’d rather be doing anything else.

The very last bits included stories of sexual abuse. Feeling sickened I stalled and stalled and stalled, not wanting to welcome my own abuser back into my head. I was cranky and tired and a pain to live with. An emotional war raged in my head. I dreaded and resented having to revisit these events, yet I had to. I had kicked these stories out of my head long ago and even a brief visit made me dizzy with sadness.

My husband complained about my attitude.

“I’m walking around with my abuser in my head right now so you’ll just have to forgive me,” I told him.

“Don’t think about it,” he suggested.

“The problem is, I can’t kick him out again until I write the whole story and I can’t decide how much of the story I can live with out in the world. How much? How much? How deep? It’s a struggle,” I replied.

Our eyes met. Enough said.

I married a man who expects great things from me. Sometimes I can do things to impress him that I can’t do for myself. That I finished this book is in great part due to his complete faith that I would.

As I edit and shape and clean up I’m realizing that his book taught me to value my dreams, make room for them, and commit time and energy to them without apologies. Time is so short.

9 Responses to “Toxic Mom Toolkit: Thoughts While Editing – Time is Short”

  1. Claire June 27, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    Wow, you are so lucky to have this great husband who supports you and guides you through difficult times. Yes time is too short to dwell on things that we should leave in the past. We must move on to new and better things!But it’s important to understand our past. Writing this book must have been a big freeing experience.

    • collectingjourneys June 27, 2012 at 11:13 am #

      I’m ready to be free of the struggle and looking forward to getting the book published and out there. Tonight all the chapters are spread out on the living room floor. I’m trying to organize the stories like you would put together a music album. I’m working on the flow. And so it goes.

  2. d.m.o. June 27, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    It really personalizes your journey. I think this is a good preface. It makes readers comfortable, right from the start. We all can relate to the “cranky” part. That’s awesome you have a supportive husband. 🙂

    • collectingjourneys June 27, 2012 at 11:15 am #

      You bring up a good point. I should probably emphasize how dorky I am on the inside. Few really suspect at first. I don’t usually do vulnerable, but in this case I have to. Thanks for the post and the encouragement! I appreciate you and it!

  3. barbara joy July 16, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    Your journey gives me hope…..As they say a journey of 1000 miles begins with one step. The adventures in blogging is my first step toward a journey of producing a book as well. The blogging world has helped me find my voice in regards to a rather mean, toxic & narcissistic mother. A voice I didn’t know I had. Love your site!

    • collectingjourneys July 16, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Check out If you are setting out on a dream project they might be helpful to you. I know they helped me tons and as an alum
      I feel that they are always there for me. Just write and keep writing. That’s the main thing. If I can be helpful in any way please don’t hesitate to contact
      me at

      • barbara joy July 16, 2012 at 9:02 am #

        I’ve always relied on the kindness of bloggers and other strangers! Your kindness is not taken for granted, Thank you

  4. Lisa July 19, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I really liked the paragraph where you write down all the questions you had going around in your head. It helped me to understand that you didn’t start out with this confidence and courage to put it all out there.

    • collectingjourneys July 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      My father always used to joke that our Family Motto is Ignorance & Confidence and that’s sort of how it goes. I’m not afraid of much. I never run until I see firemen running. I’ll try anything, but I do consider that a whole bunch could go wrong. I often think that I’m a dope to try. The older I get the more often I step out on faith. I just do what I think I can do well. On the book project, I was pretty sure I’ve spent more time focused on this topic than anyone else. And I had the journalism training so really, what did I have to lose?

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