Category Archives: toxic relationships

Family Secrets: Mom, Interrupted

 

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photo getty images

 Manic depression pushed Ashley Prentice Norton to the brink of suicide. It took six months, her husband’s love, and 17 rounds of electroshock therapy to bring her back to her kids–alive.

It’s 8 a.m. on a Friday morning in early May. My 8-year-old daughter, Anderson, and I hold hands and walk up the three flights to her classroom. Normally, she leaves me standing outside in the crowd of parents, waiting for her to blow me a kiss. But today, I’m helping the girls make sandwiches for the local community food pantry. In her free hand, Anderson swings the supplies I bought the night before: a pound of smoked Virginia ham, a pound of Provolone, and three loaves of potato bread.

Almost all of the girls are already there, sitting in their mini-chairs with plastic gloves on. I know these girls. I was here in October to help them put on their costumes for the Halloween parade, have had them over for play dates, have listened to Anderson talk about them at the dinner table. I know they’re all going through a Harry Potter phase, racing to see who can finish the books first. They are adorable, familiar.

I turn and greet their teacher, and she returns my hello with an effusive hug. “Thanks for coming, Mrs. Norton. We’re so happy you’re here,” she says. It’s the enthusiastic welcome you’d expect after an absence far longer than the 18 hours it’s been since school pick-up–and I understand why. There was a time when I rarely made it to pick-up or drop-off, when I could barely slap together one sandwich, much less help with 40. I couldn’t retain the name of Anderson’s teacher. Honestly, I wasn’t even completely clear on where the school was.

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Kicking Caffeine to the Curb

 

At the first of the year I embarked, along with several thousand of my readers, in a year-long journey to transition our family to a more whole foods (aka real food) lifestyle. A year long so that we can make the change slowly and gradually instead of all at once and overwhelming ourselves.

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When we started, like most, I dug in my heals about a few things. Namely, my preference for cola and cola icees. I was on board for our journey but I wasn’t on board for giving up some of my favorite treats. This particular one was my “reward” for a tough mom day. My “don’t get in my way” pregnancy craving (when I was pregnant). My method for taking the edge off a headache. My special treat at a restaurant. And my “I don’t drink coffee” beverage.

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Attack of the Killer Comment:

Protecting Yourself from Verbal Assaults

By Michelle Burford
O, The Oprah Magazine | From the March 2003 issue of
O, The Oprah Magazine

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It comes out of the blue—a catty remark, a veiled put-down, a blatant backstab. So, what’s the best defense against wolves in sheep’s clothing?

Near the top of my list of annoyances—right there under people who leave really long voice mails but don’t give a calback number—is a mega-peeve: Engaging in catfights. I don’t even like to think about them, so please allow me to boil my last near-rumble-in-the-ring down to short scenes. First: I find myself utterly bored, so I start a book club with friends. After three sessions of patchy participation, I throw out provocative questions just to crank up the debate. A week later, reports hit the girl-gossip chain that I’m a know-it-all who should be “dethroned.” I realize whose campaign this is (she and I have history) and chuck it in the bin marked: Ignore This. Until the meeting when, as I’m exiting my living room to refill the bowl of stale popcorn, Suspect Number One says (she thinks out of earshot), “Yes, please go—we could use one less smart-ass in the world.”

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Abusive Men: The Red Flags

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O, The Oprah Magazine | From the August 2004 issue of O
When Hedda Nussbaum was a young, single woman living with a roommate in a New York City brownstone, she heard a ruckus outside her building one night and peered out the window to see a neighbor in her bathrobe, refusing to go back inside until the police arrived.

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