Tag Archives: Confessions of Undutiful Daughters

Toxic Mom Toolkit Journal Project

2 Mar

In honor of what would have been Dr. Seuss’s 108th birthday, today’s Toxic Mom Toolkit Journal Question is:

Q: At the very hardest time dealing with your toxic mom, what book saved you?

I think I became a writer simply because I loved to read. I developed a love of reading because I was alone much of the time, unsupervised. When I was small I used to carry very grown up leather bound books around to impress adults. I probably only impressed them as far too precocious. I spent many evenings on my tummy on the floor with my chin in my hands devouring the Wizard of Oz books, Heidi books and Betty & Veronica comic books.

Reading taught me that people’s lives are stories.

When I understood that, I started listening more closely, paying attention and taking mental notes.

I was the child who lived for eavesdropping. I became an adult apartment dweller who kept an empty water glass handy – just in case I heard neighbors fighting. I wanted to know why people did the things they did. I suspected that the way I was raised was not right and I relished observing others acting out their daily lives.

I wrote stories about the widow and the tomcat, my dashing motorcycle mechanic, the way people behaved under pressure or in the throes of love. I took writing classes and read like a convict on death row. I became a self taught writer and journalist.

I read adult books too early. I discovered children’s’ books too late. I have repeatedly been saved by the right book at the right time including, Gifts from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and 52 McGs, a collection of the best obituaries from legendary New York Times writer Robert McG. Thomas, Jr.

Hands down the book that saved me more than once is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It showed me that the first job of a parent is to want what is best for their children. This is my favorite scene from the movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7CX_5D6y6E&feature=relmfu

Growing up with a toxic mom sometimes it’s hard to know what is normal, what is better, or what is worse. Biographies, memoirs and fiction focused on survivors have not only inspired me but also saved me from feeling too sorry for myself. They taught me that I could write my own life story.

What book saved you?

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Finding Comfort as a Daughter of a Toxic Mom

14 Jan

As part of our ongoing journal project, here is our next journal question.

Question #2:  When you were a little girl how did you comfort yourself when you were sad or confused? How do you self-comfort yourself now that you’re an adult?

I used all the normal coping mechanisms that come naturally to kids and then some. I played games (board and street), organized strange kid clubs of short, intense duration, spied on adults, and made prank phone calls usually to teen-aged girls with crushes on my big brother. I’d tell them that he loved them setting who-knows-what into motion.

I spent entire days racing around on white roller skates with metal wheels that I wore down to tin foil on fire.

As a neglected and abused child it never occurred to me to speak to an adult about my home life.

Our childhood experiences echo through our adult lives. I still find it most difficult to ask for any sort of help.

When I was a young woman I used to just observe and compare: This is how this family does Thanksgiving, which is very different from what I remember. Hmmmmm….

I was secretive and ashamed about my unhealthy relationship with my mother. As I matured my odd, hurtful, intense ways of coping morphed into more open, sane – and even happy – forms of coping.

I’ve always had food issues. I was never fed properly, so I yearned for generous portions and forbidden foods. I am overweight mainly due to anxious eating and continue to work with a nutritionist to improve my food choices and eating habits.

As I’ve matured, I’ve coped with the lifelong fall-out of toxic parenting by speaking frankly about my experiences with my husband and close friends. I benefitted from time with a therapist. I was a newspaper reporter when I began writing about toxic moms and how to survive them.

I’m not dashing away from my problems like a confused child. I’ve chosen focus, frankness and a willingness to open my heart. I believe in embracing and owning my life story.

I still wait too long to ask for help or a hug, but I’m getting better. My life is a marathon, not a sprint. Along the way I hope by example I can help other children of toxic moms who choose to lead happy and sane lives.