Toxic Mom Toolkit – The Book – Sneak Peek

8 Oct

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.


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.

Lotto gods willing, some day I’ll hire my own Gurkha.

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.

6 Responses to “Toxic Mom Toolkit – The Book – Sneak Peek”

  1. anastasia October 10, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    I don’t answer the door either, if I’m not expecting someone. I’ll hear the bell and literally hide. My mother didn’t do the same thing your mother did, but she made it pretty clear that answering the door to an unexpected visitor wasn’t a good thing to do. We lived in a very dangerous ‘hood and you never knew what was going to happen, and she also had a very dangerous on-and-off again alcoholic boyfriend, whom she forced me to live with despite my begging her to get rid of him for real each time she threw him out. During the times they were broken up, he’d come over unannounced and bang on the windows and doors, screaming and threatening, putting on a great show for all the neighbors and scaring me, at 9 or 10 years old, to death.

    • Rayne Wolfe October 11, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      What a relief! I’m not the only one! It’s a lot of trauma for a little kid. I really wish I could go back and figure out what was going on – but no luck. it’s too late.

  2. Claire October 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    I had so many bailiffs at my door, serving papers from my ex, and now the postman bringing registered letters, I really hold my heart when the doorbell rings. But I open the door anyway (well, the front door is next to the living area which has a huge window, so I cannot hide very well). But yes, I would like a Ghurka houseman too to deal with all those stressful events. My big hangup is answering the phone. I don’t like answering the phone. ANd thankfully there is caller ID now, so I can already avoid lots of people. BUt sometimes you just see a number, that is not listed.
    Now on the subject of winning 100 million: buy a house where I want to (nothing fancy, just a simple one), set some meony aside for myself and kids, spoil some of my friends, travel a lot (again, nothing luxury). And then I would start some charity projects for single moms, for abused women and their children. Women don’t get enough chances to start over again, they don’t get the right support. And that is what I want to do. Give them the opportunity to learn new skills. To have decent housing. To get moral support.

    • collectingjourneys October 12, 2012 at 3:03 am #

      I love your ideas on what to do with Lotto winnings! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Claire.

  3. luvpumpkin1 October 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Wow. It sounds like you had a version of “doorbell dread” that so many of we children of hoarders had (and still have) while growing up. See: I’ve never thought of using a desensitizing approach to get over my doorbell dread, which, decades later I still have, even though my home is spotless. Anyway, so many of the toxic mother traits you write about are applicable to our mothers who hoard. I’m looking forward to reading your book!!

    • collectingjourneys October 28, 2012 at 3:08 am #

      I never thought about hoarders, but I guess so. It could be Child Protective Services! I should note that my response time goes up and down, depending on a lot of variables. One thing that never changes: I could be laughing and if the doorbell rings, I’m in instant dread. This stuff is just hard-wired. Thanks for posting luvpumpkin1!

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