Tag Archives: daughters

Toxic Mom Toolkit On Finding Common Ground

6 Jun

6794709c192ca56931b7fc339f512ec3How many times has a well meaning friend or colleague, after hearing a sliver of a story about your toxic mom, offered advice to find “common ground?”

 

The common ground comment is usually followed by comments like these:

 

“She’s the only mother you’ll ever have.”

 

“You’ll miss her when she’s gone.”

 

“You may regret cutting her off later.”

 

“Other people in your family can handle her, why can’t you?”

 

“Maybe if you tried harder?”

 

One of the quickest ways I know to nip this suggestion in the bud is to offer the suggestion that your friend replace ‘toxic mom’ with ‘boyfriend who beats me.’ This usually flummoxes them a bit. But it’s a valid suggestion. Your friend can’t quite imagine a mother starving her child, or abusing or neglecting her teen. Harder still to imagine a mother who uses a child for sexual predator bait (meaning, she’s tired of being raped or abused, so she lets you have that job for awhile), or a mother who steals your after school job money you’ve hidden, or even a mother who does all that – for years – and then one day kicks you out for, Oh, I don’t know, being too pretty, or smart, or ambitious.

 

But a friend can imagine a boyfriend or spouse abusing you. If you told your friend that story, you’d probably be offered a spare room, a spare car and lots and lots of help.

 

But if you are trapped by your toxic mother and confess to a close friend the depth of the situation, they might look at you like you’ve lost your mind. And the talk goes on. Your friend suggests that, yes, you may not like your mom’s parenting style, but certainly she wants what is best for you. Surely, there must be some common ground?

 

It’s sort of like when you go to the dentist and the dentist blames you for plaque like you’re the bad person, the non-flosser, the one who couldn’t manage your own mouth. Sometimes because of abuse or neglect you grow up without regular dental visits. Sometimes you are trained by your toxic mom to be afraid of medical professionals because, you know, they see things. So you don’t go to the dentist as often as other do. Dirty plaque – like dirty family secrets – builds up.

 

Sometimes friends with kinder families can’t imagine the cat-clawing-up-the-curtains fear that a terrible mother can inspire. They think finding common ground, as an adult is as easy as flossing. You just decide to do it and it all works out.

 

Your friend, this lucky person, has no reference for what you experienced – (maybe read some Dave Eggers?) – and the best you can offer them is to wait until they catch up. You could loan them your copy of Toxic Mom Toolkit. Remind them that many successful people rose above their rising, just like you are trying to do.

 

Maybe the two of you can try to understand each other’s point of view when it comes to family history, family dynamics, generational pathology and making peace with all that. That conversation might include the shocking news that yes; an abuser is an abuser, even if that abuser is your mom. Maybe the best common ground you can shoot for is creating common ground between two friends.

 

 

 

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Ten Reasons Adult Daughters Stay Connected to Toxic Mothers

4 Sep

Some adult daughters…

  • Feel that limiting contact or cutting off contact with their Toxic Mothers will somehow reflect badly on them. They worry that others will wonder what’s wrong with them if they can’t even maintain a relationship with their own mothers.
  • Hold onto the hope that their Toxic Mothers could “get better” or suddenly become more loving towards them.
  • Fear retaliation from their mothers for limiting or cutting off contact that could include being barred from family activities and holidays.
  • Figure that even a negative relationship is better than no relationship at all.
  • Maintain contact in order to monitor younger siblings and intervene when necessary.
  • See their bad relationship with their Toxic Mothers as the only conduit to a father they still love dearly.
  • Can’t let go of a shared history, even if it’s mostly negative.
  • Hope that their Toxic Mothers might miraculously make wonderful grandmothers.
  • Wonder deep down if their Toxic Mother’s aren’t right about them.
  • Can’t see their Toxic Mothers simply as other adults. They can’t see their Toxic Mothers as people. And because they can’t judge their Toxic Mothers as they would any other adult they stay connected.

Toxic Mom Toolkit Journal Project: Who Called the Police?

10 Mar

Most kids fantasize about the day someone finally punishes their parents for all the hurts, slights and times they had to eat their vegetables. But daughters of toxic moms can experience a life long struggle with the idea that perhaps someone should have called the authorities about a terrible home life, neglect or abuse.

So take a deep breath and transport yourself back to that time when your mom was at her worst. She is grabbing the wooden spoon and you are bracing yourself when – WAIT! There’s a sharp series of knocks at the door.

Imagine opening that door and seeing a special police force created solely to bust Toxic Moms. What would the police  say to your mom and what would she say back?

With your child’s eyes survey your childhood home. What would the police notice and question?  Would your mother confess or be defiant?  Would she try to escape? If she were arrested and led off in handcuffs what would be the last thing she would say to you as she was led away? What would you say back, knowing that the police would protect you?

This journal assignment is sort of like writing a small play. The great thing about creating a play is you can choose your characters, move them around and make them say or do anything you want. So what do you want to cover? What do you need to explore? What history needs to be rewritten by the adult you?

Don’t be afraid. It’s just pencil on paper you can erase or toss. But you just might discover that in reenacting and controlling the scene and dialog you are freeing yourself from old ghosts.  Or at least I hope so.

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.

Toxic Mom Toolkit – Six Holiday Survival Tips for Daughters of Toxic Moms

11 Dec

Daughters of Toxic Moms often find themselves walking on eggshells. During the HoliDAZE we’re walking on eggshells on a tightrope above a pit of lava. We don’t want to be a wet blanket. We want the people who get along with our mother to enjoy themselves. At the same time, this might be the year you feel like you’re just not going to take it anymore.

I have a few suggestions on surviving the holidays despite having a Toxic Mom. You can pick and choose, slice and dice, blend, as needed.

First, have a plan.

If holiday gatherings always end in fights or tears plan only a brief visit to wish everyone well and place presents under the tree and when your little timer goes off, leave. It will feel scary, but you’ll have created a game plan that protects you and allows you to enjoy other more joyful gatherings.

Count your blessings and give thanks.

Daughters of Toxic Moms often feel isolated where others feel part of the group. Take time to sit down with the people you love – who love you back – and count your blessings. Also take time to thank the people in your life who have loved and encouraged you over the years.

Create new Christmas traditions that will make YOU happy.

Make a big pot of cocoa, set up chairs in the driveway and invite friends over to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” projected onto the garage door. Volunteer to wrap presents for your local firehouse toy drive. Ask to adopt a needy family through your church or local homeless shelter. Donate a stack of old towels to the animal shelter.

Whatever it is that might warm your heart this Holiday Season, don’t second guess yourself or talk yourself out of it. You can create new holiday traditions that work for you.

Avoid common traps of the season.

Gift Giving: Give what you want to give, what you can afford, and what you think is appropriate. You can always send a very nice card.

Drinking and Dredging: Avoid drinking with your Toxic Mom. It can only lead to strolls down toxic memory lanes.  Tell her you’re choosing to have a sober season and if she chooses to drink you’ve got better things to do. Wish her well before you leave.

* * *

If this year turns out to be the year you absolutely can’t take it anymore?

Opt out.

You can decline invitations to homes that make you unhappy. Send a sparkling $4 card and take a deep breath. You may be missed, but you wo’t miss having a toxic mom hangover. Why not make this the year that you choose to book a lovely B&B over the holidays – or visit old friends. Heaven forbid you take a trip to a city you’ve always wanted to explore. Would it really be so bad to start the New Year with happy memories and photographs you’ll enjoy sharing?

* * *

You CAN re-define Christmas!

You could decide that December is when you finally discover that it’s Natural to Nurture: No amount of tears, conversations, or pleading will turn a toxic mom into a kind, nurturing mom. If your mother is incapable of relating to you in a welcoming and pleasant way, decide to nurture yourself. This includes allowing others to be kind to you and accepting expressions of affections gratefully. Allow yourself to value yourself. Plan a day of spa pampering, or turn off the phone ringer long enough for a home manicure. Buy flowers. Move furniture around to re-decorate for free. Make positive phone calls you’ve been meaning to make. Catch up with organizational tasks or take a day off from housekeeping to paint or create art.

Looking for a Toxic Mom Toolkit?

1 Jun

Well, you’re in the right place.

I’m Rayne Wolfe and I am writing a book about how to grow up happy and sane despite toxic parenting. I blogged about that process at http://www.8womendream.com for a year over 2010/11. I moderate a Facebook page called Toxic Mom Toolkit. That’s where you want to go for daily affirmations, positive advice, and the wisdom of other adult daughters of Toxic Moms. You might be looking for a hammer or a blow torch, but this toolkit is full of peaceful, sane, and loving tools that will make your life easier. I promise.

As the Toxic Mom Toolkit community on Facebook grew (now at 20,000 visitors per month) it became obvious that we needed a place to go deeper. We needed a safe place for adult daughters of really super bad toxic moms to explore the topic further. This is that place. If you want to create an alter identity to participate here, that’s fine with me…