Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

"But We Took You To Stately Homes!" - Survivors of Dysfunctional Families.

(1000 Posts)
garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 18:18:50

It's November 2011, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.

Forerunning threads:
December 2007
March 2008
August 2008
February 2009
May 2009
January 2010
April 2010
August 2010
March 2011

Please check later posts in this thread for links & quotes. The main thing is: "they did do it to you" - and you can recover.

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 18:19:20

Welcome to the Stately Homes Thread.

This is a long running thread which was originally started up by 'pages' see original thread here (December 2007).

So this thread originates from that thread and has become a safe haven for Adult children of abusive families.

One thing you will never hear on this thread is that your abuse or experience was not that bad. You will never have your feelings minimised the way they were when you were a child, or now that you are an adult. To coin the phrase of a much respected past poster Ally90;

'Nobody can judge how sad your childhood made you, even if you wrote a novel on it, only you know that. I can well imagine any of us saying some of the seemingly trivial things our parents/siblings did to us to many of our real life acquaintances and them not understanding why we were upset/angry/hurt etc. And that is why this thread is here. It's a safe place to vent our true feelings, validate our childhood/lifetime experiences of being hurt/angry etc by our parents’ behaviour and to get support for dealing with family in the here and now.'

Most new posters generally start off their posts by saying; but it wasn't that bad for me or my experience wasn't as awful as x,y or z's.

Some on here have been emotionally abused and/or physically abused. Some are not sure what category (there doesn’t have to be any) they fall into.

NONE of that matters. What matters is how 'YOU' felt growing how 'YOU' feel now and a chance to talk about how and why those childhood experiences and/or current parental contact has left you feeling damaged falling apart from the inside out and stumbling around trying to find your sense of self-worth.

You might also find the following links and information useful if you have come this far and are still not sure whether you belong here or not.

'Toxic Parents' by Susan Forward.

I started with this book and found it really useful.

Here are some excerpts:

"Once you get going, most toxic parents will counterattack. After all, if they had the capacity to listen, to hear, to be reasonable, to respect you feelings, and to promote your independence, they wouldn't be toxic parents. They will probably perceive your words as treacherous personal assaults. They will tend to fall back on the same tactics and defenses that they have always used, only more so.

Remember, the important thing is not their reaction but your response. If you can stand fast in the face of your parents' fury, accusations, threats and guilt-peddling, you will experience your finest hour.

Here are some typical parental reactions to confrontation:

"It never happened". Parents who have used denial to avoid their own feelings of inadequacy or anxiety will undoubtedly us it during confrontation to promote their version of reality. They'll insist that your allegations never happened, or that you're exaggerating. They won't remember, or they will accuse you of lying.

YOUR RESPONSE: Just because you don't remember, doesn't mean it didn't happen".

"It was your fault." Toxic parents are almost never willing to accept responsibility for their destructive behavior. Instead, they will blame you. They will say that you were bad, or that you were difficult. They will claim that they did the best that they could but that you always created problems for them. They will say that you drove them crazy. They will offer as proof the fact that everybody in the family knew what a problem you were. They will offer up a laundry list of your alleged offenses against them.

YOUR RESPONSE: "You can keep trying to make this my fault, but I'm not going to accept the responsibility for what you did to me when I was a child".

"I said I was sorry what more do you want?" Some parents may acknowledge a few of the things that you say but be unwilling to do anything about it.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I appreciate your apology, but that is just a beginning. If you're truly sorry, you'll work through this with me to make a better relationship."

"We did the best we could." Some parents will remind you of how tough they had it while you were growing up and how hard they struggled. They will say such things as "You'll never understand what I was going through," or "I did the best I could". This particular style of response will often stir up a lot of sympathy and compassion for your parents. This is understandable, but it makes it difficult for you to remain focused on what you need to say in your confrontation. The temptation is for you once again to put their needs ahead of your own. It is important that you be able to acknowledge their difficulties without invalidating your own.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I understand that you had a hard time, and I'm sure that you didn't hurt me on purpose, but I need you to understand that the way you dealt with your problems really did hurt me"

"Look what we did for you." Many parents will attempt to counter your assertions by recalling the wonderful times you had as a child and the loving moments you and they shared. By focusing on the good things, they can avoid looking at the darker side of their behavior. Parents will typically remind you of gifts they gave you, places they took you, sacrifices they made for you, and thoughtful things they did. They will say things like, "this is the thanks we get," or "nothing was ever enough for you."

YOUR RESPONSE: I appreciate those things very much, but they didn't make up for ....

"How can you do this to me?" Some parents act like martyrs. They'll collapse into tears, wring their hands, and express shock and disbelief at your "cruelty". They will act as if your confrontation has victimized them. They will accuse you of hurting them, or disappointing them. They will complain that they don't need this, they have enough problems. They will tell you that they are not strong enough or healthy enough to take this, that the heartache will kill them. Some of their sadness will, of course, be genuine. It is sad for parents to face their own shortcomings, to realize that they have caused their children significant pain. But their sadness can also be manipulative and controlling. It is their way of using guilt to try to make you back down from the confrontation.

YOUR RESPONSE: I'm sorry you're upset. I'm sorry you're hurt. But I'm not willing to give up on this. I've been hurting for a long time, too."

Helpful Websites

Alice Miller

Personality Disorders definition

Follow up to pages first thread:

I’m sure the other posters will be along shortly to add anything they feel I have left out. I personally don’t claim to be sorted but I will say my head has become a helluva lot straighter since I started posting here. You will receive a lot of wisdom but above all else the insights and advice given will 'always' be delivered with warmth and support.

Happy Posting (smithfield posting as therealsmithfield)

I have cut and pasted this because I think it is fab. Just in case anyone misses the link.

gobbycow Tue 01-Nov-11 19:39:28

Hello........this is how i felt.

Once.....and now I see it all very differently.

More revelations coming thick and fast. I will share...but don't want to be shouted at.

I have seen narcissism today in such a stark way...it made me giggle, and then get really mad, and then feel really calm...that I knew what it was...and it wasn't me.

My xh has found out that a lot of people know that he physically attacked me. He is furious. How dare I share the details of our personal life with "strangers"! How dare I?

This is how I dare!

Because in that moment....he, on his own, brought my world and my children's world, crashing down. I asked him if he really expected me to be complicit in his denial? To really expect the devastation of our lives by him, to be kept as a dirty little secret...by me....to keep MY LIFE, and MY EXPERIENCE, AND MY FUCKING FEELINGS A SECRET!!!!!!!!???????

WHAT?

Well no. No way.

Do you see how you get to not exist? Well I do exist. The NHS spent good money on me "Existing" in my therapy....that is what I asked for.....that is what I appear to have.

I have been advised "not to engage". But If I don't engage...I don't get these revelations.

I engaged. I sent a message saying that he had left me speechless by his attitude, that he expected to keep such a massive life event FOR ME, a whole real person, secret. What kind of person, from what kind of world does that?

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 19:54:48

Brilliant links, ItsMe, thank you smile

I've uploaded a Word doc containing the first three posts, with mumsnet url formatting so the next thread starter doesn't have to go through it all again!

Remember to add this thread to the forerunners, though.

It's here.
You may have to right-click it and Unblock.

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 19:55:48

Sorry, gc, that took ages. Will read you after a dinner break smile

gobbycow Tue 01-Nov-11 20:12:16

Apologies for:

Not acknowledging the work involved in setting up the new thread....including spelling corrections!

Jumping straight in.

Thank you for starting the new thread Garlic and It'sme. xx

Ooh, such cleverness. You'll have to explain to me how to do that so I can save the opener of the EA thread in the same way.

No need to apologise for your posts on the support thread, gobbycow!
We've all done way too much needless apologising for our very existence due to our upbringing.

I admire the fire or anger in your post. I'm missing a lot of context, but the anger is pretty clear! Hold on to that: anger can be very healing, and I think it's a necessary step to really resolve the issues we're left with after close contact with the disordered.

gobbycow Tue 01-Nov-11 20:27:57

Not as much context as you think....Thisishowifeel.

And yes...I married my mother.

Twice!

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 20:28:18

How soon does it need to be done, Puppy? Could do it for you tomorrow night.

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 20:29:46

Oh, gc! grin
Glad you're angry.
I'm hungry.
x

gobbycow Tue 01-Nov-11 20:30:28

Being a "gobby cow" was one of the "insults" that I have grown to rather like. They were threatened when I spoke out.....and now I am speaking out.

smile

Aaaah, all is now much more clear.

hello, you!

Garlic, it's not urgent at all: in fact I've just spent way too long creating thread number 6 for EA just this very evening, so we've got a while yet until it hits 1000. I can send you the Word doc I made already, with MN formatting etc. It would be great to have a place that it's stored online so that anyone can use it to start new threads.

BibiBatsberg Tue 01-Nov-11 23:39:42

Shiny new thread, it's nice in here. Can't help but mention I'm another one who is very glad to see stately spelled with it's missing e (it's a disease, I can't help it) smile

Popped in here as I've just been reading an AIBU thread about a woman and her utterly vile abusive mother asking if a child can ever be responsible for causing their own abuse.

Much as I know intellectually the answer is a massive NO, emotionally there's still a loud voice in me that shouts 'well, you were a fucking irritating brat so yes, you did deserve some of it'

Fucked up isn't it really, I'm nearly 40 years old and still hold that belief in my consciousness angry

Well, that belief is there and wants to be heard, Bibi. It's been around for ages and is a well-oiled machine now.

BUT that doesn't prevent you holding other (truer) beliefs now, and gently telling the (wrong) well-oiled machine that you know it's there, but it's not needed now, until it finally runs out of steam.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 10:11:32

My children have started to play together again. They have started to laugh, and play daft jokes on me.

Before emptying out the loonies, there was fear, resentment, festering anger...all bubbling away under the surface. In both of them.

He tried yesterday, to suggest that I was putting responsibility for me having a happy birthday on dd's shoulders. He failed. I told him that only someone as narcissistic as him could twist my birthday and use it as a stick to beat me with....and to manipulate a seven year old to join in was despicable. Project away, I said, you're fooling no one.

I still feel really mean confronting all this stuff head on like this. I don't know why. I still take too much responsibility for others peace of mind....at the expense of my own. That, as you say puppy and bibi is so ingrained.

I may well should stop engaging, but I see it as practising making my voice heard, speaking out, shining that very bright light into their dark corners. I have done nothing to be ashamed of...they have. I have no need to keep secrets, or tell lies. I refuse to be that kind of dysfunctional....and it's working on my happier children.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 10:13:22

it may well be that I should......

What makes him think that you are putting responsibility for having a happy birthday on your DD?

I was going to recommend ceasing to engage. There are times and people with whom proclaiming our limits is useful, and a good exercise in being heard, and others with whom it is best to just accept that their view is their own, unable to change, and hopefully unable to affect us.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 10:39:23

She is concerned that I have a good time on Saturday. We have been invited to a bonfire, so it will be nice. But he always made a massive deal of birthdays and of course won't be here, so it will be different, no doubt, as will Christmas.

I don't know if he has laboured that particular point...I haven't said anything, only that we will go to the neighbours "do".

If it was down to me, I would hide under my duvet for the day....but obviously, that is not an option.

Helianthus Wed 02-Nov-11 11:33:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

If you really can't cope, a professional would be able to help you best. Do you have a therapist? Can you ask to be referred to one if not?

In the meantime, don't beat yourself up: you realise that your feelings are problematic, and you know what it is in your childhood that they link to. With a little bit of help from a therapist you'll be able to get the tools to understand and cope better - which is what you are looking for.

What are you afraid will happen with a daughter?

PeppermintPasty Wed 02-Nov-11 11:40:27

Hi Helianthus. Start by telling us why you feel so much horror, if you can. It sounds like you need to unburden yourself, and if it's about your relationship with your Mother you've come to the right place. There's no judgement on this thread whatsoever, only support.

WailyWailyWaily Wed 02-Nov-11 12:03:04

Hello, I'm new to this thread too so I'm sorry Helianthus but I probably can't help much, though it looks, from the reading I have done so far, that there is help for you here.

I just wanted to check in as I will have some things to say about my totally crap parents and my desires not to be like them. But I think I have a bit of catching up and reading to do first and I'm a very slow reader...

I do wish that I had discovered this site ages ago as a lot has happened this year with my parents that perhaps I could have managed better with a bit of advice first.

So many things are standing out at me from what I have read so far-

- I have always been led to believe that it was all my fault, I'm the one who asked for all the shit, if only I was a little bit less selfish, if only I considered their feelings more, if only I helped out more...bla bla bla

FFS I'm nearly 40 I haven't spoken to either of my parents for months, they have very little idea why I'm so pissed off with them but neither of them has actually bothered to ask me either (or enquire about their grandchildren). They bitch about me endlessly to my siblings who do their best to stick up for me but my parents do not listen to anything but their own opinion.

OK gotta go for now as this is proving cathartic but emotional too.

This thread is not accepting new messages.