911! – Who Do You Call When Your Mom is Toxic?

4 Sep

Recently, a Friend of Ours wrote this about going No Contact with her toxic parents on a Toxic Mom Toolkit post on Facebook:


“I literally have no one. I wonder what will happen to me if I have a health emergency. Trust me, I was alone with both of them any way, they wouldn’t help if I was on fire but it’s so definite now.”


I think this is a thought that has crossed the mind of just about every adult child of a super toxic mom or toxic dad or toxic family. Yes, what if you suddenly have a gall bladder attack, or a heart attack or a very bad accident? Who will be there for you at the hospital? Who will come to you? Drive you? Sit with you? Comfort you?


For a lot of us at Toxic Mom Toolkit, we already know, it’s not going to be our awful mothers. Of course, if she can make your crisis about her – about how she dropped everything for you, causing scenes, fighting with other relatives and hospital staff – then it might be worth the trouble.


But think about the conditioning behind this “Who will come when I’m sick?” scenario. Who came when you were little? There was ONLY your mom, so her coming, staying, being there for you had a huge impact. It would be so sad without her, you think, or scary, or you’d be ashamed to cry or have mobility issues in front of strangers, you think.


But now that you are not a child, and maybe you are low contact or no contact with your mom, it might have occurred to you that you will probably survive anything the world can throw at you. Even without your mother.


As a former police chaplain, I’ve seen it in action. A call comes into 911 and the dispatcher sends cops and medical to a person in crisis; the EMT’s run towards you; an ambulance waits. None of the first responders ask about your mother. You get to the hospital and nurses and doctors and X-ray people assess your condition. They might ask about your insurance, but they don’t really care about whether or not your mom is coming.


While you are navigating the Emergency Room you may be able to place a call, or you may be unconscious or not thinking clearly. It is actually the stuff of movies and television that wonderful people come running while you are in the ER. It doesn’t really happen as often as you think it does – unless you’re a cop or firefighter. Then you’ve got a lobby full of people worrying for you.


After you’ve been treated, given pain meds, put in a bed with cool sheets, someone will ask if they can telephone someone for you. Of course, you’ll be tired and maybe a little drugged up, and, yes, it would be nice to have someone come and hold your hand, console you; someone to see what you need in the hours or days to come. And you know what? Anyone you call will probably come – if not that day, then in the morning. You don’t have to call your mother if you don’t want to.


There are Visiting Nurses who can help you get back home and supervise your care. Yes, it costs money, but no Visiting Nurse ever told a patient they had only themselves to blame for their situation or that they looked like hell without makeup.


You really could call a friend from work or church or the gym. They’ll come. And when they get there they will be kind.


Or you can call your overly dramatic mother.


Any time anyone has called me, I pack a little bag with sweats, cotton underwear, socks, hand cream, a toothbrush, bobby pins and a hair scrunchy. (My girlfriends know that The Wolfes ARE the folks you call on your worst day, even if it’s 3:30 a.m.) If I’m your friend and you call me when you are in trouble, I’ll come and I’ll drive you home and I’ll clean your kitchen and make sure you have some easy to prep soup and orange juice and I’ll put the phone by your bed and fluff your pillows and tell you, you’re going to be fine. Just rest, and let me take care of things for a day or two.


Or you can call your cold-hearted mother, so you can be hurt, drugged up and forced to listen to her go on an on about your lousy housekeeping.


You may feel ashamed that there is no one “close” to call. Like, the nurses will judge you if your mother doesn’t come. But you know what nurses know? They know that families come in many forms. They’ve witnessed toxic visitors making everything worse. They are happy to ban upsetting visitors for you, because it keeps your blood pressure down. They totally get it. So, if the only person you can think to call is that older lady from yoga class that you had coffee with a couple of times – CALL her and be humble in your human need for comfort from a kind person.


I once had a girlfriend call me out of the blue and beg me to drive her to Kaiser to get a shot in the butt for a migraine headache. She was in so much pain, she couldn’t drive herself and we had to stop twice for her to open the door and barf. We still laugh about it. Facing a crisis with a friend is how friendships go deeper.


It might feel scary, but it could all turn out to be for the good.


Or you could call your toxic mother. Your choice.






6 Responses to “911! – Who Do You Call When Your Mom is Toxic?”

  1. Deborah Atwood September 5, 2017 at 1:20 am #

    I love this! A year ago I fell and broke my arm. A man pulled over and ran to assist me, and walked me to the ER. I had been NC for 6 years, and didn’t think to call my mother. Didn’t even wonder if I should. I texted a friend. She had our women’s church group mobilized in 5 minutes. They set up a week’s worth of meals and “babysitting.” Another friend said, “She can’t be alone when she’s taking pain pills!” and brought me home with her. She set an alarm and got up every 4 hours to give me a pill and toast. After that I stayed with the friend I texted. She did my laundry, gave me a shower, and cut my hair. “That’s what friends do,” she said. I felt like the man who had fallen among thieves. These women gave me back what I’ve never had. They treated me as a real mother would.

    I worried when I got out on my own. At first I felt alone and vulnerable. That “What If…” question this post addresses weighed pretty heavily. And I learned that I’m never alone. There are always loving people right there, ready and willing to help out.

    • collectingjourneys September 5, 2017 at 3:37 am #

      Oh, gosh – that’s the perfect story for this post! See? Nice People filled in. They will if you let them. And you reminded me of my own fall in a shopping courtyard. I caught the tip of my shoe on uneven Spanish tile and BAM! down like a tree, landing on my shoulder. The gigantic POP sound and withering pain told me it would be an ER day. But I laid there and laid there and nobody else came through. I couldn’t move due to shuddering pain. I was like a kitten, mewing, “Help. Help.” I considered yelling “fire.” But finally, a lady in a real estate office looked out her window and saw me and she and others came running. They even brought a pillow for my head. They called an ambulance and it was a couple of hours before my husband was able to get there. A nurse even said to me, That’s a nice bra, lets slip it off before somebody cuts it off and she put it in my purse. Everybody was looking out for me. My husband arrived with a friend who could drive my car home. The help does fill in. Even when you think you can’t call anyone. We really never are alone with so many loving people in helping professions. Or just a lady who came running with a pillow.

      • Deborah Atwood September 5, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

        Oh, that pop sound! Unforgettable! But what’s even more unforgettable is the gift of love. It may sound strange but I’m actually grateful for that broken arm. It gave me back so much more than it could have taken away. Thanks for writing this blog.

  2. Sfv girl September 6, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

    Thank you so much for all your post thank you for letting me finally find out I’m not alone. Deep inside I always new I couldn’t be the only person in the world with a mother like mine. I’m not even upset that it took me 27 years to find a term to describe her behaviour and our relationship. Thank you thank you thank you! At last someone to back up what I always felt was true, it’s not me it is her.

  3. Beverly September 7, 2017 at 12:26 am #

    I love this article. I am 60 years old and am NC with my NM for about 7 months now. Worry about who will come never crossed my mind when I made the decision to go NC. My mother has never ran to my side when I had a problem or emergency. But I have been at her beck and call my entire life every time she hiccuped or passed gas. She has only done anything for my brother or myself if she had an audience.

  4. Suzanne October 30, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    I learned the hard way not to ask my NM for help. During my second pregnancy I needed surgery. I didn’t know if my baby would survive (it turned out to be a minor thing and my son was perfect) and I was feeling low. I so wanted my mother to come to the hospital and tell me that everything would be ok, but when she got there she made it clear that it was a great inconvenience. She showed no care or concern for me or her yet to be born grandchild. I felt worse instead of better for her being there.

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