22 Jul

I was sitting on a café patio with a good friend. We were enjoying iced teas on a hot day. This friend has been super supportive of my Toxic Mom Toolkit work and has had periods in her life when she felt her own mom was toxic.

The good news for my friend is that lately she has been able to enjoy time with her mother. That has happened because my friend set up some boundaries and has learned to say “No” to her mother. She’s been amazed at how quickly her mother has adjusted to her wishes. She’s very grateful that there are nice telephone conversations and pleasant outings now with her mom.

As I was listening to my friend the best analogy for this lack of true love feeling so many daughters of toxic moms experience, which can include feelings of confusion, yearning, and pain – suddenly, hit me.

It’s like this:

You are invited to a famous fancy country club. They have all these signature dishes and drinks. Let’s say, this club invented the Bloody Mary cocktail. So, you’re thinking everything I order here is going to be fantastic: over the top.  Sort of like mother’s love, which is unconditional and all encompassing.

You take your seat at a table overlooking a sweeping bright green lawn. The birds are chirping softly. Silverware being used at other tables creates a soft sonata of happy clinks. You decide to order the famous club sandwich and the Bloody Mary. You envision perfectly toasted thin sliced bread with lettuce, turkey, bacon and just the right slather of freshly made lemon mayonnaise. Your order arrives on a gleaming gold-rimmed plate and a chilled glass placed beside it. As you adjust your napkin under your chin you notice there’s not really a lot of bacon.

Wait a minute. There’s NO bacon.

You look up and check other diner’s dishes and you see other people with the club sandwich have so much perfectly crispy bacon on their sandwiches that they are breaking off long pieces and using the stiff slices to stir their Bloody Mary’s! What is in your Bloody Mary glass? A used popsicle stick.

You politely call the waiter over and point out that the kitchen forgot your bacon. And you need a proper Bloody Mary, please. He smiles and informs you that there was no mistake. YOU don’t get bacon on your sandwich.YOU don’t get a bacon swizzle stick for your Bloody Mary.

“Get it? A Toxic Mom that withholds love or is cruel or whatever is like a club sandwich without bacon. It’s a total gyp,” I said to my friend. “And it doesn’t happen to everyone once in his or her life. But it happens to you every time you order it. Especially if you’re dying for it. Every time you seek love, approval, support, understanding, kindness from your Toxic Mom…”

“You get a club sandwich with no bacon!” my friend chimed in as we both slapped our hands down on the table top.

We laughed about bacon as a synonym for love and throughout the rest of our conversation when talking about hurtful things that her mother had done, we would pause and both say, “No bacon” and we understood each other exactly.

If you want and deserve yummy, savory, bacon/love and know you’ll never get bacon/love from your Toxic Mom why do you keep ordering it? Why do you keep paying for it? Why do you keep walking away feeling totally gypped?

How many times would you go back to that country club and order the club sandwich with the hope  you’ll get bacon before you try another restaurant and actually get bacon?

Yes, it won’t be the FANCY restaurant bacon, but there is wonderful, lovely, bacon elsewhere. There is bacon everywhere else. You can go out into the world and get all the bacon you deserve.


  1. d.m.o. July 22, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    I think your friend should still be on her guard. My TM would back off and show kindness occasionally, but it was just a tactic to lure me back in and strike (control, shame, guilt, criticize, etc. from her TM bag of tricks) when I was vulnerable. That’s one reason it took me so long to come out of the fog. I couldn’t get it through my head that my mother thought it was more important to control me, feel superior to me, and need to have complete power over me rather than to nurture me into a strong, independent, confidant human being.

    • collectingjourneys July 22, 2012 at 4:03 am #

      Oh don’t worry. My friend is always on her guard with her toxic mom. She has come to terms with the idea that she won’t have the mother she dreams of, but she can handle her mother better now using boundaries and other tools. But you’re right, so often, there is that little period where we think she might be evolving, but she’s not.

  2. odango atama June 20, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Yes: Think she’s evolving, but it’s all a sham. I was 26 before I realized I was tired of it–now I’m 28, finally out school and looking to move out. I have a plan: By September of this year, I am out of the house (and in a cardboard box ;p), but I can’t live like this anymore. Nevermind the fact that my equally toxic sister had to move back in–her presence just made me want to get out faster. Please wish me luck.

    • collectingjourneys June 21, 2013 at 1:32 am #

      I don’t have to wish you luck – you’ll be fine. You have the perspective to know when people are not kind, when they are toxic to you. Once
      you realize that, you’re on your way to a sane and happy life. And Good Luck!

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