Here is a sneak peek at a chapter from Toxic Mom Toolkit. The book is finished and I am beginning the process of figuring out how to get it published.
CALL OUT THE GURKHAS
Jen and I were having our monthly eggs Benedict brunch (my eggs hard as golf balls, hers not so much) when she asked me what I’d do if I won the lottery. The newspaper headlines were trumpeting a huge jackpot.
I happen to have given this a lot of thought. I’ve even written out my “to do” list, should my winning numbers come up. In previous daydreams I had concluded that it all comes down to world travel.
Say you win $100 million. First you pay your bills, and then you pay the bills of those you love. Then you buy a house or two and have some shared experiences with loved ones to recall with a sigh when you’re old and in a wheelchair. But after that shower of riches, it really boils down to the ability to go see whatever you want.
The Vatican on Easter Sunday? Amen. Front row seats at the Paris Opera, gazing at the shimmering Aurora Borealis in Norway or the running of the bulls in Pamplona?
Easy-breezy-peezy – with millions.
Jen agreed I had a point. So where would I go with my Lotto winnings she wanted to know.
“Oh, I wouldn’t go anywhere, that’s for normal people. What I’d do is build a small suite onto our house and hire a Gurkha houseman,” I said. “I’ve wanted a Gurkha houseman in a white jacket all my life.”
Nepalese Gurkha’s have fought alongside the British for hundreds of years and are considered among the bravest and most loyal fighting men on earth. When they retire from military service many work as bodyguards or house managers to those with security concerns, I explained as I tested the denseness of my egg yolk.
Jen’s eyes bugged out.
As a fellow undutiful daughter she knew that any story blurted out like that certainly had something to do with my toxic mother.
She grabbed the edge of the marble café table and said, “Tell!”
* * *
When I was little and the doorbell rang at our San Francisco flat my mother would grab me from behind – one arm around my tiny waist and the other over my mouth – and clutch me to her own chest, dragging me backwards to the hall coat closet.
She’d inch deeper into the space quieter than a cat to hunch in a corner behind the second-hand vacuum cleaner.
Is there anything worse than seeing nothing when your eyes are wide open in fear? With our faces smushed against musty woolen coats we’d wait until the coast was clear.
Yeah, I know. Who’s mother does this even once?
As an adult I can guess she was afraid of something.
Was the rent overdue? Was my mother avoiding man complications? Was it the truant officer?
I’ll never know for sure.
But I do know for the little kid who still resides in my brain: Nothing is scarier than a doorbell.
Not too long after I confessed my closet story to Jen, The Mister and I bought our current house. Married for eight years, it wasn’t until we moved into the new house that my husband realized I avoided answering the door. He asked me why. (Dang, he’s so logical!)
Learning that I was carrying around my mother’s inexplicable fear of door bells he devised a regime of nearly constant random doorbell ringing and timed me on my responses. He briefed and encouraged neighbors and friends to pop in as often as possible.
What started as a two- to three-minute ordeal of looking out windows, through peepholes and smelling the crack for danger was whittled down to one super charged moment of dread as I flung open our front door expecting to be impaled with a rusty pitchfork. Yes, he successfully desensitized me but truth be told, I’d still pay someone to greet visitors.
You never know, one day it could be my birth mother on my stoop and I’ll be glad there’s a hired killer in my employ between us.