Toxic Mothers Make Us Fight For Our Dreams

Some people feel safe at home. Some people feel safe in church. I happen to feel safe in the embrace of a red velvet theater seat as the lights dim down and the previews start up.

When I was growing up, each weekend my parents handed my brother a dollar as they dropped us off in front of the Four Star movie theater. We watched the double bill twice and walked home in the dark to an empty flat.

That was our normal.

I could have grown up to hate the movies, hate theaters, hate the sight of Milk Duds or the smell of popcorn, but I love everything about the movies.

We have a tradition of going to the movies on Christmas Day with friends. On New Years Eve, my Mister and I went toFight For Our Dreams the movies again to see The Fighter, Mark Wahlberg’s tour de force on boxing and family. The film tells the story of welterweight champ Micky Ward’s hardscrabble life growing up in Lowell, Mass, the youngest son in a family of nine.

Not only did he grow up in the shadow of his older brother, boxer Dickie Eklund, (played by Christian Bale) whose main claim to fame was one fight with Sugar Ray Robinson, who either fell or slipped during the fight.

As his boxing career ended, Eklund experienced a long decline into crack addiction. Add to that family dynamic, seven — count’em — seven, sisters that fly around the film like a cloud of foul-mouthed harpies.

And then there is Ward’s mom and manager, Alice.

Not since Mommy Dearest has a movie mother given me such a fright. She keeps all her adult children close, especially most of her adult daughters who never left the house in which they grew up. She is so amazingly selfish and manipulative, that even when a mis-match threatens her son’s career, she wheedles him into the ring because if he didn’t fight “nobody gets paid” meaning she doesn’t get paid.

For Alice it’s about control and money and being the mother of a famous boxer. Of course the older son, who has drug problems, gets the lion’s share of her attention. The younger, more thoughtful son, though in his thirties, is treated like a child and told what to do.

What for me was most excruciating to watch was Micky Ward’s slow realization that just maybe his mother and his family wasn’t truly in his corner. When he gets an offer to train year round and get paid for that time, the family is flabbergasted that he’d even entertain the notion. This film does a great job in stretching out the painful process Ward goes through when he suspects he could do better making his own decisions.

When he falls in love with a rational, reasonable girl he finally sees his family through her eyes.

It’s hard to watch another human being see that their family is fueled by selfishness, ruthlessness, greed and a twisted need to control past the point of mutual benefit. It reminded me how those of us who grow up with toxic mothers reach that point when we realize if want to pursue our dreams we’ll probably have to fight our own mothers first.

Sometimes it’s just a verbal fight when we declare our independence and lay out our boundaries.

Other times it’s a fight to get out pursuing our dreams. When we stake our claim on our dreams there’s that rough period when we fear our toxic mothers can ruin everything for us. But what we daughters of toxic mothers know that bracing for the fight is usually enough to make a manipulative mother chicken out.

Sometimes toxic mothers make us fight for our dreams and the older I get the better I understand that it’s not really a bad thing. Well, maybe bad for them. Good for us.

Rayne

Toxic Mom Toolkit: Discovering a Happy Life Despite Toxic Parenting

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Rayne's dream was to write her memoir and found a global support community for adult children of toxic mothers. This summer she completed her book, which inclues her story of growing up with not one, but two super toxic mothers as well as a mosiac of mini-memoirs of women from all over the world who have created happy and peaceful lives despite toxic parenting. Her book, Toxic Mom Toolkit, is published on Amazon.com and Create Space. Her Facebook page Toxic Mom Toolkit, attracts over 250,000 per month and is a safe place to read or tell healing stories, exchange positive strategies on how to live with toxic parenting and lots of humor and resources. A freelance journalist, she currently writes a food & drink page for several Bay Area newspapers and is a private writing coach.

Latest posts by Rayne Wolfe, Published Author and Journalist (see all)

  • tiffany

    rayne
    i have a story id like to share…please email me.my mother is absolutely toxic and i am trying to break free.she is telling me it is my fault that my father had a tia bc her and i not getting along is stressing him out.she had me diagnosed with something i didnt have as a teenager…and therefore i was medicated for 10 years and i just found out that the diagnosis was wrong.She is trying to turn my kids against me.I am so done with it and so tired of getting hurt.I told her today I was chosing to have her out of my life but now im worried i made the wrong decision to do that b/c now it will make my dad upset .

  • Remy G

    Rayne – you are such an incredible voice for healing and acceptance. You are fighting for alot of people and for the ones who respond with their stories, I bet their are even more who just read and feel like someone gets them and is on their side. Thank you! xox Rem

  • Rayne,

    Again, I thank you for this insightful post, and for giving me more words to use in fighting for myself and against the toxic evil that was the “mothering” I received. I did it again over the holidays… I fought for the good mother in me to keep the upper hand with my mother.

    Although I neither expected nor received a card or gift or phone call from my parents, they sent my children token gifts and in the shipment, my mother “accidentally” sent a package for one of her sisters with only my aunt’s first name on the wrapping paper. I decided to live by Ghandi’s words, as I usually do, and “Be the Change” by forwarding the gift along to my aunt, with some fresh baked cookies and a Christmas card clarifying who sent what.

    I further baked and hand made several goodies, packed my dad’s favorite wine and had the children write out cards for my parents. I did this, as I have every year for my mother, not because I condone the way she abused me, but because I know that fighting for the good child that always resided in me has been my quickest and surest way to freedom. Happiness and joy are my champions, and for me, it’s a TKO.

    Thanks so much!

    Shellie

    • Rayne

      Hi Shellie,

      Talk about rising above! Thanks for sharing your Christmas strategy.
      The holidaze are just the worst for all the mom drama!
      You keep doing what you’re doing Shellie!

      Rayne

  • Heather Montgomery, CEO & serial entrepreneur

    Rayne – thanks for the review and your insight… I love movies that have that kind of impact. You never forget the experience.

    – H

  • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

    I’m dying to see this movie. I love a good boxing film. It’s interesting how movies can help us examine parts of our lives.

    When I was 21 I was dating this great guy from SF who used to drive all the way up from the city to take me wherever I wanted to go. I loved Shirley MaClaine, so on one date I wanted him to take me to see Terms of Endearment – not realizing what the story was about.

    I thought I had processed just about everything I could process about my father’s death, cancer and hospitals until Debra Winger’s character began to deal with cancer. I sat there frozen in my chair – I’m not even sure I took a breath – I just kept nodding my head in understanding.

    When Emma finally dies, her mother talks about how she thought it would make her feel better not to see her daughter suffer anymore, except she just realizes that her daughter is gone forever and wants her back. It was at this point I burst into tears in the theater because someone had finally articulated what I had felt.

    The poor guy. I was absolutely inconsolable and had him just take me home. I still can’t bring myself to watch that movie – even though I loved it.

    Great movies are such a wonderful ride – you never know what you are going to experience – and they can make you feel like you are not alone in your life experiences.

    Cath

    • Rayne

      I think there’s a movie for every family issue we need to work on. it’s just finding the right
      one at the right time that’s the hard part!