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

(1000 Posts)
singingprincess Sat 28-Jan-12 13:25:06

There is a word document with all the relevant links which I will try and find, but in the meantime...Post away.

garlicfrother Sat 28-Jan-12 13:36:27

Thread opener here: webaunty.co.uk/mumsnet/ smile
You may need to right-click and 'unblock' it after downloading it.

It's January 2012, 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
November 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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

More helpful links:

Daughters of narcissistic mothers
Out of the FOG
You carry the cure in your own heart
Help for adult children of child abuse
Pete Walker

Some books:

Homecoming
Will I ever be good enough?
If you had controlling parents
When you and your mother can't be friends
Children of the self-absorbed
Recovery of your inner child

singingprincess Sat 28-Jan-12 14:06:43

Thank you Garlic...you're a star!!!! xx

HotDAMNlifeisgood Sat 28-Jan-12 15:07:14

Thanks Garlic!
I had tried to start the next thread a couple days ago, but my Mac buggered up the Word document.

GoingForGoalWeight Sat 28-Jan-12 15:10:58

I'm still in Psychodynamic therapy and it is working smile One year so far. Bit of a way to go to recover but getting there xxx YAYYYYYY

MoggieThatcher Sat 28-Jan-12 16:32:56

Thanks Garlic for posting that.

Was anyone else a carer at too young an age? I more or less had to do so for an older sibling with MH problems...would like to know how others feel/felt about being in that situation.

Thank you Garlic
I know I don't post much, most of the time I just can't face it. But I do lurk and I had a sort of panic when I couldn't find it.

ThePinkPussycat Mon 30-Jan-12 20:55:16

Hello Stately Homers, there is someone on Mental Health who could do with some help. She started off posting about depression, then it emerged that she has a backstory sad. She's accessed antidepressants, and was supposed to be accessing counselling today - but her first session seemed inappropriate.

link to thread

She began the thread as Idontdeservethem, but changed recently to Ikeatears. She has lurked here, but can't face explaining it all again, said it was OK for me to ask tho.

ThePinkPussycat Mon 30-Jan-12 23:40:43

bump for mamoo

Memoo Mon 30-Jan-12 23:55:24

I have no idea if I belong here but at 37 years old I'm still struggling with my relationship with my mother.

I'll try to keep this brief. When I was growing up I was never told that I was loved. No cuddles. No praise. I always had to listen to my mum going on about such and such's daughter and how wonderful she was. I was criticised at every opportunity. I felt like I was a huge irritant to my mother. I was desperate for some kind of evidence that
she loved me so I started to act up. I ran away once, they never even noticed. I went home at bed time because I was cold and hungry.

By my late teens I couldn't bare it anymore and left home at 18. I then went on to sleep with anyone who showed me a bit of interest. I was so desperate to be loved and actually really desperate for somebody to just cuddle me.

Years later I'm 37, married with three dc 13, 11 and 2.

I'm still desperate for my mothers approval.

She criticises my parenting, house work etc. She will literally stand over me while I'm trying to deal with dd throwing a tantrum, telling me I'm doing it wrong.

She idolises my brother who has just finish his PHd. My younger sister lives in Australia which my mother gets very upset by. It makes our relationship even worse too because she wishes it was my sister who was still here and not me.

I've tried to talk to my mum over the years but she explodes into a rage about everything they've done for me blah blah blah. She will storm out and never give me chance to get my point across.

I still get deeply upset by all this. I have suffered with bad depression and really really needed her but she wasn't there. sad

This past week I have decided to try and partially cut her out of my life. She is welcome to stay in touch with my child via FB etc but I myself will be only communicate with her when absolutely necessary.
I've deleted her from my FB and will no longer be inviting her to family things, kids school plays etc

I just need to be free of this hold she has on me.

Am I in tbe right place? Am I over reacting and need to get a grip. Does she sound 'toxic'

Memoo Mon 30-Jan-12 23:55:55

Sorry, that wasn't at all brief and is full of typos!

springydaffs Tue 31-Jan-12 00:07:21

I didn't notice the typos and yes, she is toxic sad

You've done the right thing to cut her out. You've tried to talk to her but she pours more vitriol. She makes it clear that she wants the far-off daughter (sensible far-off her) to be here yet ignores you, when you are near. How was she with your sister? You mention the golden boy (your brother) but not your sister. Has your sister moved away to get away from your poisonous mother? Where was your dad in all this?

Memoo Tue 31-Jan-12 06:49:39

My dad has always just kept out of it but will always side with my mother if pressed. My mother is very dominant in their relationship though.

Dsis never seems to get on much better with my mother. She is the baby of the family and seemingly can do no wrong.

I don't know what it is about me but there is something in my that my mother doesn't like. She has never understood me. I'm so different from her and she just can't comprehend that her way often isn't my way. As I've got older I am the only one who will, occasionally, challenge her about the things she says as she hates that.

I was thinking last night about something that happened many years ago. When I was 17 I had my first boyfriend. We had a huge fight and he actually punched me in the face and banged my head against the wall. I was distraught and really upset. My mum was angry with ME! she actually said 'how can you do this to me'. Not once did anyone comfort me or hug me. I really really needed my Mum and she was just too wrapped up in herself to be there for me.

Why has it taken me 37 years to realise that it's my Mum at fault not me? I've spent my whole life feeling like I'm defected in some way. But it's not me, it's my mother!

HotDAMNlifeisgood Tue 31-Jan-12 09:42:12

You definitely belong here, Memoo. I am so sad for the child you, and the 17 year old who was physically assaulted, and then emotionally assaulted by her own mother when she needed comfort and help.

Have you checked out some of the links and books at the start of this thread?
Would you consider counselling?

Do NOT beat yourself up, like you're doing about only figuring this out now. What else could you do? You were raised with abuse, trained to accept it from babyhood. It's no wonder you had a violent boyfriend at 17: to those like us, abuse feels like love, because it's what we know. (my first boyfriend tried to rape me. I also figured it must be my fault, since that's the message I had been getting from my parents all my life.)

It's a really tough journey, but there is a better life waiting for you once you confront these truths head on, get angry, grieve, and then move on with your own life, free from the mental grip of an abusive childhood.

AllTheSevens Tue 31-Jan-12 09:51:29

Hi all, I have lurked and posted her under a different name, just wanted to mark my place really.

I can't say much now but sending you all love.

Hi everyone,

I've been directed here by Attila -- thanks again! Really appreciate it smile

I started a thread yesterday about my mum, she is visiting us and it's a total nightmare and I'm really struggling. Here's the backstory:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/1395278-Do-you-think-youre-a-better-mum-than-your-own-mum-How-do-you-feel-about-that

I've just read the introduction to this thread and burst into tears. I recognise so, so much in there.

I'm still really struggling with saying my childhood was bad. I mean, I think it was, but my mum is really rejecting this idea and that makes me seriously question myself and ask if I'm overreacting.

I'm just going to go back and read the older threads. Thank you everyone for sharing all this, I hope it will really help because I'm so shattered right now.

Memoo I hope you find this thread really helpful too. It sounds like you're doing the right thing going forward.

springydaffs Tue 31-Jan-12 10:47:37

It was a revelation when I realised it wasn 't me who was 'mad'! I was in my late 30s when I finally realised that, had had a lifetime of shit relationships which I had thought I was only good for.

ohmygosh123 Tue 31-Jan-12 11:13:03

Memoo, I had the same thing - I got stalked, so my mother accused me (in complete hysterical anger) multiple times of ruining her life! Note she analysed him to death, but never once attached the blame to him. Obviously I should have had a crystal ball grin. It takes time but eventually you start to detach from the feeling of needing them to love you. (Not there yet, and am still a work in progress.)

She used to complain when I asked for hugs - now with my DD I can't imagine doing that! Funnily having my own DD, has brought alot of stuff / memories up as she is like a mirror image of me as a child. Also repeatedly told me that having me had ruined her life. Then because it upset me, that meant I was weak. I remember being desperate to be loved, and thinking if I wasn't around then at least my parents would get on. I only really started to stand up for myself last year at 34 - you aren't alone!

The best thing I have done is realise that my Dad is not a victim - he's an enabler. He made his choice, and I no longer have to play his game, because she can be nice sometimes. I used to play the game for his sake. Now he looks at me sadly, and says what do you want me to do, I can't leave her now ..... I couldn't care less what he does, its his life, but I can choose not to be on the receiving end. I feel sorry for her, but more like I'd feel sorry for an ill dog and pat it on the head. I won't be looking after when she gets old - she'll go in a home. And they both know that. We didn't do Christmas Day with them - and it was bliss!

The less I care about what she thinks, the easier I find it to make sensible choices that I am happy with - rather than knee jerk ones to keep her happy and stop her shouting at me / my Dad. Its a slow process, and I wish you all the luck in the world making the journey. Feel the fear and do it anyway - I'd like a nice mother - I don't - and the worse that happens if I never see her - well I haven't lost anything. And the best thing I was told, you can only forgive someone who is genuinely sorry. You don't have to try to be the better person, especially not in their eyes, you just have to be able to respect yourself.

Longer than I'd intended, sorry for rambling and hugs to you all. wine

handbagCrab Tue 31-Jan-12 12:20:29

I've lurked on this for a while and just read dreaming's thread about mums. Becoming a mum has made me think more about my relationship with my parents and it's not good sad I've read the Toxic Parents book & some things resonated but my upbringing wasn't nearly as bad as any of the examples in there but it wasn't great.

I think as an adult I'm realising that my parents are both selfish, self absorbed people who are terrible at dealing with negative emotions and have low self esteem. When bad things happen to me, they shout at me and say stupid stuff about never letting me leave the house so bad things can't happen to me, as if it's my fault. I'm in my 30s and moved out at 18 so it's such a ridiculous response to life events! When good stuff happens to me they minimise it or make snidey comments but they are hugely gushing about others achievements. It's really draining.

However, I'm trying to be strong as I don't want their crap spreading to my dc now. It started during pregnancy, calling my unborn baby 'naughty' when I had pregnancy issues and now I'm a 'nasty' mum according to my mum every time she speaks to my two month old. I'm standing up for me and baby when she says stuff like this but she doesn't seem to be taking it on board. Last time they visited she called my baby a 'fraud' because he stopped crying when I fed him. I know this sounds petty but in my mind what point is there in speaking to me and my child with such negativity? It's not funny and even if it were true it wouldn't make me a better mum by simply pointing out my failings.

It's sad cos my mum wants a chocolate box mum-daughter relationship where we chat every day and go shopping and stuff. And I do too, but not with how she is. It's just so sad sad

Memoo Tue 31-Jan-12 14:45:17

I'm a bit speechless at the moment. I feel like I'm in shock. All these memories that I had buried deep are flooding back and it's over whelming.

Do you know after my boyfriend assaulted me when I was 17 my parents sent me away to stay with my grandparents for 3 months. They couldn't deal with it so they fecking sent me away. They never visited me once in 3 months.

Sorry to sound so dramatic. I'm so angry. How can I suddenly be so upset and angry about things that happened years ago? I don't understand why it's hit me now.

I suffer with bad depression and anxiety and I'm sure it all stems from my childhood.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Tue 31-Jan-12 15:06:54

Go ahead and be angry. You should be. At them.

Depression is anger turned inwards. Time to direct that anger where it belongs.

singingprincess Tue 31-Jan-12 16:52:42

I am in therapy again. The therapist explained it as trauma bubbles...they get hidden away until one is able to cope with them again. Dissociation.

When the trauma bubbles start to float from your subconscious into your consciousness, then you are ready to deal with it all. Don't worry about being flooded. We are amazing creatures, this stuff comes up because we are ready to deal with it!

Sometimes, it is useful to make ourselves conscious of the ground beneath us, to stay grounded and connected to the here and now.

Pete-walker.com has a page of coping strategies, for when it feels overwhelming.

And there is no such thing as not as bad. It WAS bad, there can't be degrees of bad. It hurt, it was wrong, and it was not our fault. That is bad.

Memoo Tue 31-Jan-12 21:59:16

I have a cpn and a psychiatrist because of my depression. Im on a waiting list for counselling but I guess it's going to be a while yet.
Does anyone have any idea how much a private councillor would cost?

I'm really upset tonight. I know this is going to sound stupid but now I know I have to cut her out I feel really sad.
Its like I'm mourning.

What I just dont get is what it is about me that irritates my mother so much. She only has to look at me and I'm doing something wrong.

fortoday Tue 31-Jan-12 22:05:15

I emailed this in a private message tonight- i saw this thread. I need support, clear and simple, I feel lost, years of me denying whats happened to myself has made me fall apart; here goes- plus I have just bought toxic parents on my kindle....

My father was an alcoholic, my parents split when i was 18. I moved in with my dad as his carer, went to hell and back, putting him into rehab, working to support us and my 14 year old sister, stopping him from killing himself (twice) once with a gun which had to be disabled by police, i met my dh we went on holiday after knowing each for 4 months, my df had a dirty protest for the 2 weeks we were away, my dh helped me clean his shit off the lounge ceiling. Life was grim. My mother during this time was getting on with her new life with a new husband, I was a black sheep and my sister a teenage deliquant in her eyes. Fast forward to when i was 23, my father was found dead, i was his next of kin, had to identify him, pick his coffin and pay £5k for his funeral, the morning the police informed me my mother came over first thing she said was ' he will need a porpers funeral as he has no money'. Nice. she stayed 5 mins at the funeral and said she had to leave as it was making her new husband feel uncomfortable, her children were 23 and 18.
From a child some of earliest memories where her holding my hand and rolling my knuckles, try dong it to yourself- its painful. Locking us outside in the garden- naked- this progressed to us being chucked out on the front drive in our bra and pants at 13, we lived on a main road and had to hide behind the cars. several black eyes and a chunk out my forehand from a set of keys. Regular strangulation etc.
of course none of this happened, she remembers nothing, or likes to pretend she doesn't.
I talk little about my past to dh. He has witnessed her emotional abuse, for example not speaking to me for 6 mothers as I didn't buy her a birthday with 'mother' on it regardless of the beautiful present that accompanied the card. I called her to tell her I was pregnant, she said 'shame' and put the phone down, i called her 12 weeks later to say I had lost the baby, she told me to get on with it.
My dh had heard of my mothers violence but never witnessed it, until new years eve, she tried to stab me with a cheese knife in front of my 3 and 2 year old. She called me a murderer as I didn't save my dad, she told me I was a whore because I slept with my first boyfriend when I was 14, she told me she wished I was dead. My children , my dh and i were locked in the conservatory for our own safety, we got a taxi and left at 2am.
I stupidly let her into my house on my dds 4th birthday last week, my dd asked if she was sorry for making mommy cry, she said no and left. My dd thought she had upset her grandma. the woman is evil and damaging. i am weak at the moment. I am now in therapy and a large amount of valium to help with panic attacks, I am 29 she is destroying me and that is why I have to walk away or I think i may do her in.
Thing is on the surface we had everything, big house, flash cars etc, we were well educated, so in a way i feel more ashamed, my life was a sham and I doubt people would believe what went on, so i seek solice in threads like this.

Please support me x

ThePinkPussycat Tue 31-Jan-12 22:14:03

What a brave and special woman you are fortoday. I don't come from a toxic family (though they were a bit weird and neglectful in a way), but I am currently ending a long financially abusive marriage, and the thing I relate to is the shame. Reading on here has brought home to me that the shame I feel should be his shame, just as your shame is hers. But if they could have felt shame, then they wouldn't have acted as they did.

I'm sure lots of wiser people with more experience will be replying, I was just moved by your post.

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