Tag Archives: Surviving the Holidays

Toxic Mom Toolkit Road Map

22 Jun

Did you ever manage to avoid doing something so needed, so logical, so obvious for a long, long, looooooooong time and then one day you realize, hey I need to do that?  Well, that just happened to me.

73c2c5c188380db1718b1cf3745cc640In June 2010 I launched my Toxic Mom Toolkit book writing effort and along the way I posted little videos on YouTube, created this blog and started a long learning period in my life, where the Toxic Mom Toolkit community educated me. I’ve been very attentive to visitors telling them where they can find resources individually and then it hit me like a V-8 commercial that I should put up a post that puts everything a newbie should check out all in one place.

I know. I crack myself up too.

Toxic Mom Toolkit was founded by me and I’m a real person: Rayne Wolfe. I’m a journalist who quit my job to write my first book Toxic Mom Toolkit, which is entering the Amazon.com publishing maze. I wrote it at my kitchen table and thats where I’m sitting when I communicate with you. And yes, we should have a book soon.

The Toxic Mom Toolkit Community resides at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook, where we currently reach over 190,000 each month. (May I brad a little? We started with 30 people!) It is a place to get support and share experiences. It’s where our cumulative wisdom resides. The ground rules are few: Be kind, be positive, be supportive. You can vent, but try not to swear. You can post too, but please make it a positive or illustrative post.

Toxic Mom Toolkit on YouTube includes about half a dozen short videos including the Welcome Message and another popular message on Embracing Change.

579320_388462684522492_1860430887_nToxic Mom Toolkit red jelly bracelets are free to anyone who emails me at newsyrayne@gmail.com and gives me a street mailing address. I’ll send them anywhere in the world, promise. They have two messages imprinted on opposite sides: “It’s not you. It’s her” and  “Toxic Mom Toolkit. Did I mention they are FREE and that I’ve already mailed out over 600 to five continents?

When you have a toxic mother or toxic parent, it can be a lonely road. This community is here to let you know that you are far from alone.

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Five Tips To Save Your Siblings From Your Toxic Mom

17 Nov

So many adult daughters of very toxic mothers struggle with the challenge of blocking or breaking contact with their mothers at the risk of losing contact with their younger siblings.

Yesterday, in the comments section of an earlier Toxic Mom Toolkit Post entitled “Ten Reasons Adult Daughters Stay Connected to Toxic Mothers” I told someone this:

You are not the first to face this problem. So many daughters of toxic mothers struggle to be good daughters and sisters. It’s just natural to want to help your family. Of course, you are concerned about your younger siblings and no doubt your Toxic Mom will use them as pawns to keep you close. If she sees you doing well she may say you cannot contact your siblings – another power play to hurt you.

May I suggest that you sit down with a piece of paper and make two columns: What will happen to my siblings if I stay & What will happen to my siblings if I go.

Can we really make such an important decision based on a comparative list? I think so.

What’s important is being honest with yourself about what you are deciding.

I told this poster: It doesn’t sound like you are running away from problems. You sound like you’ve given this good thought and you’re not being super emotional about it (although I know it must be so hard to think of leaving).

The best thing you can do for younger siblings is set an example of how an adult deals with difficult family members. You can leave your mother’s home and still stay connected to your siblings and support them by talking on the phone, making time for them for face-to-face time, encouraging them with school and other commitments.

Your siblings will see that it is possible to live without the mamma drama. If your side-by-side lists make you really afraid for your siblings, you might consider talking to their school counselors or arranging for them to have mentors at school or other support. They need to know that it’s not them, that it’s your mother who creates problems. They need a mature adult figure to look up to for strength. That’s what you can do for them as you start building an independent life. You will be in my thoughts. I’m proud of you for figuring this out at such a young age. Be Brave.

I loved her quickly posted response:

Thank you so much for your reply, I will sit down and construct two lists. I’ll find a way to contact my siblings when I leave, I just hope they won’t be turned against me and if they are (at least) they might understand why I left in the future.

I also suggested that this young woman put that list in an envelope, seal it, date it and keep it. If down the road a sibling accuses this person of just disappearing and leaving them in their mother’s clutches, at least this list can be spread out on the kitchen table. It might be the platform for a healing discussion.

If you must cut contact with your Toxic Mom how can you let your younger siblings know you are there for them?

  • Encourage and support their dreams.
  • Find ways to communicate your commitment to helping them. You could give them a special token, visit them at school or sports events, or mail “no reason” cards to express your love for them.
  • Plan face-to-face time. Show your kid sister how to try new make up at a department store. Buy tickets for a sports event for your brother. Or take them both to a free concert.
  • Special outings don’t have to be expensive. Visit a library or take them out for cocoa on a frosty day.
  • If your contact is limited, never miss an opportunity to express your love and support. Look into their eyes and tell them you know how hard it is and that you are there for them.

If you show your siblings that they matter and that they deserve to be happy that’s enough. They may not understand everything now but instilling confidence and showing them they are valued is what you can do for them now.

Toxic Mom Toolkit: Thoughts While Editing – Time is Short

27 Jun

I always wanted to write a book. In grade school I carried around small leather-bound classics hoping I’d impress my teachers and schoolmates. I wanted them to think that I understood Dickens and Twain when I was EIGHT.

I could always imagine my name on a best-seller list. But for writing what?

It was brave of me to leave my newspaper job to write this book. As I dedicated myself to the writing effort, blogging about it and building an online community, I learned to truly trust my husband, the universe, and myself. It was one of the most difficult and ultimately rewarding journeys of my adult life.

Accepting that I was simply doing what was right for me was a huge leap of faith. At each transition the next step rose up to meet me. Choosing to forget about what others thought was crucial for me. It was very hard.

Of course, I had doubts all the way through. I remember wondering what former colleagues and co-workers thought. To some, I was weird enough to begin with. Were they poking fun at my efforts? Was I too obsessed with my childhood? Was I propping myself as an expert on a non-topic? Was I inventing a passion to have something to do? The chatter raged in my brain. But eventually, it died down allowing space for quiet contemplation.

I remembered, time is so short.

I travelled back in time and studied my life, the life of my parents and relations and I wrote it all down.  I remembered how I earned my courage. I was ready to tell readers about it.

That I signed up with 8WomenDream.com and wrote my little heart out on the topic of toxic moms for an entire year is pretty astounding to me now. I found my focus early on and I trusted that readers got it. At Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook we grew from the 30 or so “likes” I needed to start my stats to nearly 60,000 people reached around the world each month.

As I got to know my followers in the U.S., Australia, Japan, the Middle East and Europe, I began to think of my book as a wonderful life form that needed me as its midwife. On days when it was too hard I worked anyway on blind faith. If I had to tell myself I could have chocolate after writing a chapter, that was okay. I’m sure plenty of surgeons imagine cocktails or golf or other rewards waiting for them when the nurses take over the suturing.

As I racked up chapters, I taught myself to embrace the work joyfully even if I’d rather be doing anything else.

The very last bits included stories of sexual abuse. Feeling sickened I stalled and stalled and stalled, not wanting to welcome my own abuser back into my head. I was cranky and tired and a pain to live with. An emotional war raged in my head. I dreaded and resented having to revisit these events, yet I had to. I had kicked these stories out of my head long ago and even a brief visit made me dizzy with sadness.

My husband complained about my attitude.

“I’m walking around with my abuser in my head right now so you’ll just have to forgive me,” I told him.

“Don’t think about it,” he suggested.

“The problem is, I can’t kick him out again until I write the whole story and I can’t decide how much of the story I can live with out in the world. How much? How much? How deep? It’s a struggle,” I replied.

Our eyes met. Enough said.

I married a man who expects great things from me. Sometimes I can do things to impress him that I can’t do for myself. That I finished this book is in great part due to his complete faith that I would.

As I edit and shape and clean up I’m realizing that his book taught me to value my dreams, make room for them, and commit time and energy to them without apologies. Time is so short.

Toxic Mom Toolkit Journal Project – Are you really my mother?

31 Mar

Toxic Mom Toolkit Journal Project – Are you my mother?

Remember that children’s book that had the little bird that fell from its nest walking around asking every animal “Are you my mother?”

Sometimes, being the daughter of a toxic mom can make us feel a little bit like that fledgling bird. Some of us even wonder if we are our mother’s real daughters and begin searching for family secrets like adoption or cross-generational parenting.

When I was a private investigator researcher specializing in identifying the birth parents of adult adoptees it amazed me how many times a woman would discover something she felt all along: that her actual mother was her aunt or much older sister, or the family friend who stopped by every fifth Christmas.

One way to decide who your mother really is can be solved by asking yourself who really looked out for you when you were growing up. In the 20 Questions Every Daughter of a Toxic Mom Should Ask Herself blog post at 8womendream.com, I suggested that you sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and try to write down three wonderful things your mother ever did for you.

Giving birth to you doesn’t count.

Can you think of one but not two? Can you only think of things that were really rooted in your mother’s image of you like paying for a good school or buying you designer clothes you didn’t really ask for or throwing an over the top wedding.

After compiling your list, turn that sheet of paper over.

Ask yourself: Who has done the nicest, the kindest things for me?

In my case, a boss I worked for cared for me like another daughter. He paid me well, he established a retirement fund and made me contribute to it even if he had to loan me the money to do it. He told me I was smart. He paid for my early writing classes. He told me to write because he could see I was a writer before I did.

My husband constantly does so many kind things for me from handling all the stressful stuff involved in staying solvent and keeping a peaceful home – to always texting me positive and encouraging messages and scheduling time to just talk and listen.

My friends, who know more about me than any member of my family ever did, have regularly checked on me as I went missing during the two years I worked on my book. The coffee dates, phone calls, emails and small treats that arrived in my mailbox have really encouraged me.

So, who is my mother – the one who nurtures me and wants the best for me? It was never my mother, the woman who raised me. My life has taught me that the people around me who possess those loving impulses to encourage me are mother enough.

Look at your list. Who really is your mother/encourager? Who has the power to sustain you when you are discouraged? Mother’s Day is coming on May 12th. I don’t think Hallmark makes a card for this: Happy Mother’s Day to You – Thank you for being like a mother to me. Or maybe they do? How many cards like that could you send out? Write about this in your journal. Explore the idea of mothering and how it applies to your life.

And report back!

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encouragement, support and positive images and ideas. 

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.