Jul 28, 2010

Toxic Mothers

When I was growing up, I thought all mothers were like mine. I don't know why I thought this, other than that I had no reason to believe otherwise. My friends' mothers were pretty much like mine. They wanted to know where we were going, with whom, and they did not ask us what time we'd be home; they TOLD us what time to be home. They made us eat our vegetables and would not let us see R-rated movies. That's what moms are supposed to do, right?

When I was in my late 20s, I worked with girls who were nothing like me, and I found out that there were mothers who were not like mine.

One girl had to call the Men in White Coats to come and get her mother, because the woman was certifiable, a threat to herself and others. My coworker was lamenting that the company insurance would not let her add her mother as a dependent, because she was supporting her mother.

Another coworker got a bill for hundreds of dollars charged to "her" account at a local department store. This girl did not have a charge account at this store. It turns out her mother had used her information and opened the account, followed by a shopping spree. This girl now had to pay the bill, because in order to dispute the debt, she'd have to press charges against her mother and she couldn't do that. So she resigned herself to working more hours to pay off her mother's spree.

I wrote a letter to my mother, telling her how very much I appreciate all she did for me.

More recently, a friend shared horror stories about her mother. The woman, trying to frighten her daughter into getting "saved," would hide, leaving the frightened girl to believe that Mother had been raptured and my friend was left behind. How sick and pathetic is that?

Today in Dear Abby, I read about another toxic mother.


DEAR ABBY: My 89-year-old mother has always been difficult. She not only never loved me, she treated me as if she didn't like me, either. She told me she didn't send me a birthday card on my birthday last month because "What was it supposed to say -- what a 'wonderful' person you are?" My children visibly winced when they heard her say it and worked extra-hard to make sure my day was special.Abby, I have cancer. My prognosis is questionable. I was supposed to have been dead seven years ago -- but I'm managing. My problem is, I recently was told that my mother has been keeping in touch with a single friend of mine from years ago, and they are making plans for her to marry my husband when I die! A few other so-called "friends" are in on this. This last betrayal is incredibly hurtful. Where do I go from here? -- J.C. IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR J.C.: Where do you go from here? As far away from your toxic mother as possible -- and on to a long, and hopefully complete, remission!

I have to second Abby's motion. Sometimes the only cure for contact with toxic people is to avoid contact. Even if she's your mother.

What will you say about your mother today?

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