Warning: Odds Are You Share Your Mothers Fears

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I’m entering a phase on my Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter writing project that scares the bejesus outta me.

A book like mine, a confession, theoretically is all sloshing around up there in my cranium, percolating like a cassolet. I just have to grab the pot and tip it.

But how best to serve it up?

A memoir from a nobody like me has to have exceptional flavor to make up for a lack of original ingredients. Am I the only daughter of a toxic mother? Oh lord no. Am I the daughter of the most toxic mom ever?  I’m still breathing, so no again.  Are my experiences so unique that they deserve telling?

Well, my friends say so.

On a recent brunch date my friend Jen asked me what I’d do if I won the lottery. I happen to have given this a lot of thought. I already knew that it all comes down to world travel.

Say you win $100 million. First you pay your bills, and then you pay the bills of those you love. Then you buy a house or two and have some shared experiences. But after a while, it’s really about the ability to go see whatever you want.

The Vatican on Easter Sunday? Amen. Front row seats at the Paris Opera, the shimmering Aurora Borealis or the running of the bulls in Pamplona?

Easy-breezy-peezy — with millions.

Jen agreed I had a point. So where would I go with my Lotto winnings?

“Oh, I wouldn’t go anywhere, I’d build a small suite onto our house and hire a Gurkha houseman,” I said. “I’ve wanted a servant in a white jacket all my life.”

Nepalese Gurkha’s have fought alongside the British for hundreds of years and are considered among the bravest and most loyal fighting men on earth. When they retire from military service many work as bodyguards or house managers to those with security concerns.

Jen’s eyes bugged out.

As a fellow undutiful daughter she knew that any story blurted out like that certainly had something to do with my mother.

She grabbed the edge of the marble café table and said, “Tell.”

When I was little and the doorbell rang at our San Francisco flat my mother would grab me from behind – one arm around my tiny waist and the other over my mouth — drag me to the hall coat closet stepping in backwards to hunch in a corner behind the vacuum cleaner.

With our faces smushed against musty woolen coats we’d wait until the coast was clear.

Yeah, I know.

But maybe I’m not the only one as demonstrated by this great short film entitled “Door. Bell. Ring” by Brandyn Johnson:

As an adult I can guess she was afraid of something.

Was the rent overdue? Was my mother avoiding man complications?  Was it the truant officer?

I’ll never know for sure.

But I do know for the little kid who still resides in my brain:

Nothing is scarier than a doorbell.

Not too long after I confessed my closet story to Jen, the mister and I bought our current house. It took that long (nearly eight years of marriage) for him to realize that I avoided answering the door. He asked me why. (Dang, he’s so logical!)  Learning that I was carrying around my mother’s fear of doorbells he devised a regime of nearly constant random doorbell ringing and timed me on my responses.

What started as a 2 to 3 minute ordeal of looking out windows and through peep holes was whittled down to one super charged moment of dread as I flung open our door. Yes, he successfully desensitized me but truth be told, I’d still pay someone to greet visitors.

Lotto gods willing, I’d hire a Gurkha.

You never know, one day it could be my mom on my stoop.

See you next week,

Rayne Wolfe’s dream is to write her first book Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter by the end of 2011. She completed her dream journey May of 2011 on 8WD after a year living her dream. You can find her at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook.

  • Rayne

    Edna, are you the best reader ever?!! Thanks for the encouragement – I need it. I’m fishing for readers willing to tell their own stories. Let me know if you’re willing. Remember, names can be changed to protect the innocent! See you next Sunday post.

  • EdnaZ

    Rayne, I really enjoy your posts. My mother is a challenge so I can relate. I look forward to more posts and am practically drooling in anticipation of your book. : )

  • Remy, the photographer

    Rayne, Love your posts so far. I have a very different relationship with my mom – however, while going thru therapy for my divorce, I realized that alot of my IBS issues as a young adult had to do with the judgment I felt around my ever present weight issue. I felt it from my family, friends, and alot when i would go clothes shopping with my mom. She loved to shop, I hated it. She would bring a few items to the dressing room that were always a size too small. Of course had to go out of the dressing room to show her, and the look I saw (whether or not she gave me a look I’ll never know) was that of disappointment and shame. To this day, i have to psych myself out to go clothes shopping…and shopping for shoes, ah, forget about it! I feel next year’s 8wd goal slowly taking shape btw. Thanks again for your real writing style. I appreciate it alot. Rem

  • Rayne

    Kim, you are so sweet! I look at it this way: she was damaged and she did damage but understanding her experience is key to freeing myself from anger. The magic of story-telling is looking at life from all angles. Thanks for checking in. See you next Sunday.

  • Kim

    Can’t wait to read your book. You’re very talented! Sorry you had such a bad mom though:(

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    It’s amazing the experiences we carry with us from childhood.

    I used to have a similar problem that would only occur when I was driving home from work. I’d turn the corner about two blocks from home and I would begin to have this sinking feeling of dread – like something awful was going to be waiting for me at home.

    Some might argue that it was my marriage, but this had been happening to me as far back as I had been living on my own.

    As soon as I would step inside my home and see that everything was fine, I’d breathe a sigh of relief and want a glass of wine to relax my nerves. It’s interesting the things we ignore that are right in front of us.

    Once I was divorced and living alone (while my son would be visiting his dad) I was forced to see what was going on in my head. It did not make sense to have these feelings of dread when there wasn’t anyone waiting for me at home.

    Through counseling for my divorce, I realized I used to have these same feelings walking home from high school. Back then I never knew how my father was going to be when I walked in the door – or if my mom would be okay.

    You see, my dad had esophageal cancer, and even though they had removed the cancer through surgery, he vomited and had various problems until the day he died. I didn’t want to see him suffer. My mother, a nurse would have good days and bad days depending on how he was doing. I would also hope that she would be her old self when I walked through the door, or when she and or my dad arrived home from work. I spent years anxiously waiting to see if my father was going to die.

    I was reliving that same traumatic situation in my head over and over well into my adult life. Once I realized what I was still doing, I was able to talk to that little child in me that would bring up those old fears and lay them to rest.

    Once in a blue moon, it will start happening again, usually when I am under a great deal of stress and I talk to that little scared girl inside of me and tell her everything will be okay.

    My guess is we all have those little fears left over from childhood traumatic experiences.

    Great post Rayne, Cath

  • Oooooh! Creepy!