Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Review: Not Like my Mother

I remember that weekend all too well.  I was finally allowed to have a couple of my closet friends over for a slumber party.  I was so excited!  They had been teasing me for months about how they were invited over to my house and we always hung out somewhere else.  It was finally my turn.  I spent hours arranging my room so that it was just right.

All went well until the morning after, when my friends awoke before me to find my mother sitting at the kitchen table in her old ratty nightgown, chain smoking. She sat there at the table with her coffee, cigarette and yesterday's makeup slouched back, like I had seen many guys do.

Did I mention she wasn't wearing any underwear?

This is the kind of thing that I envisioned would be in this book.  The silly, quirky things that our parents did to embarrass us growing up that we vowed not to do to our own children.  But it's not.  I made that excerpt up.

Irene Tompkinson brings her family's skeletons out of the closet for every reader to gawk at.  And you do gawk, because it is terrible.  Dysfunctional doesn't even begin to describe her family tree, from generations back.  But it's not like The Middle or Modern Family where the dysfunction is comical and every conflict gets resolved with a laugh.  Alcoholism, abuse and neglect burden Tompkinson for much of her life.

Tompkison is now currently a therapist and within her book, she strives to identify different coping mechanisms that people use and how a traumatic past can lead to decades of hurt.  It reminded me of my college psychology classes and my favorite theorist, Abraham Maslow.  The basis of his work is this: if your basic needs are not met, you cannot learn.  If you don't feel safe and loved; if you don't have shelter and food, you go into survival mode. 

Despite the heavy nature of this, I read it through cover to cover in one day.  I don't know exactly why I was so drawn to it.  I certainly had a safe, functional, happy childhood and family.  But it was so interesting to see how Tompikson transitioned from child to adult and mother herself. 

I am definitely thankful for my parents and my upbringing.  It was difficult at times to read the details of the hurt that Tompkison endured.  She was very brave to put her personal journey into print. 

I'm not sure how long the deal will last, but right now you can get the ebook for kindle for free.  Double check the price before you purchase.

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