Tag Archives: Rayne

TOXIC MOM TOOLKIT: WHEN FOUR ACES IS A LOSING HAND

1 Jun

If you follow my Toxic Mom Toolkit Facebook page you know that I have finished the first draft of my book and that I’m editing chapters. I was thinking how valuable this chapter is and thought I’d put it up here. I hope this is helpful to you.

 TOXIC MOM TOOLKIT:

        ACES – Adverse Childhood Experiences

 

I’m not a scientist, nor will I ever play one on T.V.

In fact, I am SO not a scientist for many reasons including extreme medical squeamishness and an empty folder in my brain where my multiplication tables should reside. But I’ve long thought I should have some scientific perspective to help illuminate the fallout from toxic mothering or some really smart analysis of how children are negatively affected.

How do people sort out how much their toxic mothers negatively affect their adult lives?

Ask the universe and it will come to you.

I met a new friend for coffee. This man happens to be a saintly sort, the director of a very interesting and progressive homeless shelter in the town where I live. A former attorney, he comes across as part professor, part priest, all compassionate caring. Which, couldn’t be more different than my first impression of “looks good on the outside” but “emotionally limping” on the inside.

I decided not to hold his brains and confidence against him. Maybe I could learn something.

He’s the one that introduced me to the exact information I sought in the form of a Kaiser Hospital study in which patients were asked a series of questions for a project that focused on Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACES.

In a nutshell, the study focuses on how the number of ACES one experiences in youth can be a point of calibration to predict emotional problems that could be serious in adulthood. My friend values the study as a way to look at the causes of homelessness, which is often the result of emotional turmoil or hopelessness. Sessions for homeless clients that utilize this measuring tool are taking place at my local shelter and the feedback has been positive.

I, on the other hand, immediately valued the scientific study of taking a person’s life story and pulling out the ACES as a way of exploring what daughters of toxic mother’s experience. I like that by clicking off a page of questions a person could really see objectively that damage was indeed inflicted.

I ran straight home and found the study online and the questionnaire and found that I scored 5 on this test. I knew from my coffee chat that anything over a four ACES was considered the tipping point for bad things including a high risk for becoming homeless.

You can find even more information about this study at: http://www.seclinicatcots.org/page12/page12.html

ACES QUESTIONAIRE

Prior to your 18th birthday:

1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often

Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you?

                                    or

Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often

Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you?

                                    or

Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever

Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way?

                                    or

Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

4. Did you often or very often feel that …

No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special?

                                    or

Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

5. Did you often or very often feel that …

You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you?

                                    or

Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

6. Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorced, abandonment, or other reason ?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

 

7. Was your mother or stepmother:
            Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her?

or

Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard?

                                    or

Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill or did a household member attempt suicide?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

10. Did a household member go to prison?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

             Now add up your “Yes” answers:   _______   This is your ACE Score

Someone who scored an 8 on this quiz filled out one of my questionnaires. Her story is included in my book Toxic Mom Toolkit.

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Toxic Mom Toolkit – Mending Hearts – Community Volunteering

11 Apr

May I share with you my syllabus for volunteering in the community?

I’m planning to visit my local childrens’ home with Toxic Mom Toolkit friends to teach sewing & mending to children the week before Mother’s Day. It’s one way to put a positive spin on how we are feeling around Mother’s Day; by hosting a fun learning activity for kids who may be missing their own mothers very much.

 

Mending Hearts Syllabus 

Today’s Project:

Learning to mend by sewing small hearts as keepsakes, decorations or presents. This tiny tokens can become gifts for their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters or other loving women in their lives on Mother’s Day.

 Definition of mending:

 To restore something

to a satisfactory state.

Mending is never perfect, but it is what we do when we care about something and don’t want to throw it away.

We can mend torn clothes and we can mend friendships and relationships.

The only thing required is a willingness to do so and patience.

* * *

Materials: Pre-cut red felt hearts, material hearts, embroidery thread, stuffing, buttons, red pipe cleaners for hooks, and large embroidery needles.

Examples: Can include several finished hearts in different sizes and materials, vintage linens and books on embroidery for inspiration.

* * *

Forgiveness is the needle that knows how to mend.

 – Jewell

Toxic Mom Toolkit – Media Page

30 Mar

TOXIC MOM TOOLKIT

Addressing the last taboo: talking about unbearable mothers

 NOT EVERYONE IS EXCITED ABOUT MOTHER’S DAY

 Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 13, 2012

Is it possible that not everyone is excited about Mother’s Day? For some,  Mother’s Day is the most emotional and difficult day of the year.

TOXIC MOM TOOLKIT is an online support community established by journalist Rayne Wolfe for adult daughters of toxic mothers. Reaching 45,000 visitors per month and growing, it is a daily resource for anyone endeavoring  to rise above toxic parenting.

Purpose: Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook offers support through humor, positive images and quotations, video messages and links to news stories, books and other resources. A companion blog, ToxicMomToolkit.com, provides topics for independent therapeutic journals. A Toxic Mom Toolkit YouTube channel encourages frank discussion and mutual support.

Community: With over 45,000 visitors per month Toxic Mom Toolkit connects women from all over the world who face stressful issues concerning their mothers. For many, it is the first time they have ever spoken up about dealing with a toxic mother.

Rayne Wolfe is available as a media resource or radio and television contributor on the subject of surviving toxic parenting.  Her background includes ten years as a daily news reporter for a New York Times regional newspaper in Northern California. From 2010 to 2011 she was a lead blogger at 8WomenDream.com, which focused on encouraging women to pursue their passions. In the late 1990’s her business column, “What Works,” ran in the San Francisco Chronicle and Seattle Times and other papers. She has published in numerous magazines including Glamour Magazine, has taught creative writing at Book Passage, and has read her own short stories on NPR affiliates. She is also a contributor to the Chicken Soup series – Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul.

A former Sonoma County law enforcement chaplain, she has helped families deal with the trauma of sudden loss.

She has written and is preparing her first book Toxic Mom Toolkit for publication. It includes her own memoir of growing up in 1960’s San Francisco, the daughter of three mothers: a toxic birth mother, a toxic adoptive mother and a loving step-mother. Her book includes stories of other women who grew into loving, happy and optimistic adults despite toxic mothering.

You can reach Rayne Wolfe at 707.481.7180, newsyrayne@gmail.com or message her at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook. She is based in Northern California.

Toxic Mom Toolkit: You Can Laugh or You Can Cry

24 Mar

As part of the Toxic Mom Toolkit Journal Project the next question is:

When you were little what did you think was the funniest thing? What made you laugh until your stomach hurt?

My dad, the beatnik printer, used to always say with a gleam in his eye,

“You can laugh or you can cry.”

When I would take a hard fall on skates and run to him weeping and showing off a fresh scrape he had this act, this routine, that would always leave me dissolved in giggles.

“You FELL? Where? Show me where you’re hurt!” he’d say breathlessly.

He’d scan my arms and legs with his huge hands, squeezing and waving my little limbs, asking me if this or that was broken; could I still feel it?  After he determined that I wasn’t actually broken he’d demand that I take him back outside to the sidewalk in front of our house and show him the precise, exact inch of sidewalk where I landed. He was worried that if I hit it that hard I might have left a crack and the Crack Police would come and write him a ticket – which cost money.

We’d get down on our hands and knees and touching the concrete with our fingers, feel around for fissures.

My dad would point to a little normal city street crack and demand to know if I had broken the sidewalk, right there.  Maybe we could ‘pin it’ on the little neighbor kid down the block.

“His dad’s a car mechanic. He can afford to pay the Crack Police fines. Not me! Not this week!” my dad would exclaim dramatically.

The routine went on and on until our giggles attracted a little knot of neighborhood kids to help us study the cracks in the sidewalk in front of our house. My father wasn’t worried about little hairline cracks, but big divots that collected dirt and allowed weeds to grow – that would be trouble.

My father had a knack for turning childhood upsets into funny adventures. When the gold fish died we held a New Orleans funeral for it, opening umbrellas in the house and parading down the hall behind him holding the fish bowl up high then pouring it dramatically into a flushing toilet. Then we’d all applaud poor dead Leon on his way to Ocean Heaven.

My dad and I wondered aloud what flowers said to each other and why birds liked to steal penny nails. We gave inanimate objects names in order to talk about them more. We talked and giggled and used our imaginations. Kids cry. But when my dad was involved, tears quickly turned into laughter.  We learned that bad things happen, but if you let the bad go, it’s natural to find something funny about it. Laughing is a choice, a habit. It’s a gift from my father for which I am eternally grateful.

When you were little what did you think was the funniest thing? What made you laugh until your stomach hurt?

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.

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?

Toxic Mom Toolkit: Control Tools – What Did Your Mother Use? What Still Works?

11 Feb

As part of our ongoing journal project at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook, here is our next question.

How did your mother control you when you were a child? What doesn’t work anymore? What still works?

Children look to their mothers for clues on how to behave. Daughters of Toxic Moms often get confusing or hurtful messages about how to behave at home or in public.

It doesn’t make sense to act one way at home – to be as quiet or invisible as a little mouse – and then be expected to smile and be talkative outside of the home. But that’s what many daughters of toxic moms had to deal with growing up.

Our mothers teach us to ignore bad behavior of adults, to lie and keep secrets and to pretend to others. It’s the reason so many of us face life-long impulses NOT to ask for help or support. Everything is always wonderful, so who needs help?

In the Toxic Mom Toolkit questionnaires I’ve grimaced reading the types of things some mothers do to control their little girls.  They can include constant demands for oaths of loyalty, sharing inappropriate adult information, lying, and pinky swears to keep awful things secrets. Rules of behavior are often enforced with delayed punishment, public embarrassment, pinches or slaps, neglect or physical abuse.

A mother’s eyes, a raised eyebrow, a curled lip, or a nervous laugh that telegraphs a threat can silence children.

What did your mother do to control you as a child? Does she still control you in these little ways? What doesn’t work any more? Why?