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

(1000 Posts)

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It's November 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
January 2012

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

HissyByName Mon 26-Nov-12 22:48:07

Ok, so we just do the Feel the Fear exercises, and maintain the focus we needed to get through the Ex ridding situation...

Think cool, think swan! :D

Might just work! Thanks HotDAMN! XX

notarealorphan Tue 27-Nov-12 12:40:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HissyByName Tue 27-Nov-12 19:12:43

Wow. I shall read, and re-read and re-read your post. I'm hoping that then I too will allow myself the emotional freedom I need, and think you have found.

I will try to see if this too can help my beloved boyf with his family/extended family ishoos. He's depressed, and I can see clearly it's because he's not allowing himself the entitlement to feel the feelings he is owed.

HissyByName Tue 27-Nov-12 19:20:32

Oh.. Where'd it go? confused

HissyByName Tue 27-Nov-12 19:28:39

I put 2 and 2 together, really together today.

I know. I'm a bit FICK, clearly, but I saw how the scapegoat, not so favourite child dynamic really set me up for a potential lifetime of accepting shoddy and sub-standard behaviour. Because I knew no better, I never knew what it was to be adored, just for me. As I am. As I always was.

Apparently the love between a parent and child is forever and unconditional....

Shame my family never got that memo.

I have a right to feel cheated. I was.

Well the table's turned, and now that I'm playing with an unmarked deck, with people that are not trying to cheat me out of everything, I see that Lady Luck is on payback, the odds are stacked in my favour.

notarealorphan Tue 27-Nov-12 19:30:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

notarealorphan Tue 27-Nov-12 19:38:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HissyByName Tue 27-Nov-12 19:49:48

FiCK was meant kind of ironically, I know it's an epiphany, and I knew it before, tbh, but just today I really saw that I KNEW it.

I see that my strength was their target, the thorn in their side.

I wish they were all gone. I know there's no chance of things ever being turned around, and what's more, I'd never trust them again.

That trust is gone, my patience is gone, and nothing and no-one will stop my rise, or pee on my chips if you prefer! wink

I've been invited for dinner tomorrow night. I don't want to go. I wonder if I ought to call and cancel, saying that I'm conscious of their pressure for me to STFU and get over what SisDear did.

Can't, shan't, won't.

I'll go, but DS is primed to leave when I say so, even in a rush.

notarealorphan Tue 27-Nov-12 19:57:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Just text saying something has come up and you can't go. Easier said than done, I know.

Can anyone tell me what happens at Xmas when you don't speak to your birth family? I have recently liberated myself from answering any of their calls and am having a new lease of life. So does it sound stupid to ask if I should still send them a card? Anything the kids have made? A present even? I stopped sending my hideous brother presents and nothing was said, but urgh, I dunno, just seems weird not even to send a card. And the thing is that I know if I DO send something, I will jump every time the phone rings for weeks afterwards! And what happens if they send us something? I presume they are still getting the dc presents - has anyone been here who can advise? Is anyone else wondering about this?

JoInScotland Tue 27-Nov-12 20:07:39

I was told I was hyper sensitive about everything. My foster mum knew all the lingo, but had no clue how to be a sensitive and empathic human being.

notarealorphan Tue 27-Nov-12 20:43:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MistyGee Tue 27-Nov-12 21:08:20

Hello, sorry to jump in but I have been lurking on the Stately Homes threads for, well, years now. It was reading the posts on here that made me realise that i'm not alone, my childhood was NOT normal, and that I had to start doing something about how it was affecting my life.
I saw 'Toxic Parents' by Susan Forward recommended, and I ordered and read it in 2 nights, mentally ticking boxes. After yet another awful Christmas, the new year loomed and I knew I had to do something about it or just keep sinking deeper and deeper into the quagmire.
I've been having counselling since January this year and honestly it's changing my life. It is a very slow process and i'm nowhere near there yet, but it is helping immensely. Just the validation of being heard, without being screamed at or told there's something wrong with me...well, it's been emotional. I went NC with my sister in May and my mother in August. She's still been chipping away though.
Like most of you, it is a long story, how I got here. I just wanted to bite the bullet and post tonight, and also to say thanks to you all for posting on these threads. xx

HissyByName Tue 27-Nov-12 21:20:59

notarealorphan no offence at all love. I'm a DV survivor, you have to really go some to offend me! smile

Plus I'm ok with tough talk, it works, and it saves time and prolonged anguish. I'm blessed to know you all here, I have much to learn, and Christmas will be hard for us all.

I'm dreading tomorrow, probably wrongly, mum's not hideous, but the fact that they all know what was done and said, and it's been totally ignored, discounted, and even mooted that it's 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. angry It's the teeny comments, the carrying on regardless, tiptoeing around the elephant in the room, cos we all know the elephant (me and my hurt) are not worth bothering with hmm

HissyByName Tue 27-Nov-12 21:28:44

Good for you MistyGee I'm NC with my Dad and sis, only mum that still in contact, mostly cos it suits me.

I have a feeling (and am preparing myself) that Christmas will be the cruch point, so am galvanising myself for the showdown, and making sure I'm ready for all childcare, so she can't hold anything over me.

notarealorphan Tue 27-Nov-12 21:41:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HissyByName Tue 27-Nov-12 22:17:57

The DV was what showed me their colours. Ridding myself of the Ex was the Appetiser, the family are the main course.

I can do this, it's harder, because of the taboos, but my boyf has similar experiences, so we help and support each other. It's so wonderful to have someone that 'gets' is, that doesn't think I'm wrong, that respects my decision.

MistyGee Tue 27-Nov-12 22:20:39

Thank you both smile I know what you mean about moving toward a future that it all yours. It's hard to realise that how our dysfunctional familes treated us can seep into every aspect of our lives until it's not really ours anymore, if it ever was. I found it controlled me without me even realising. I was, still am sometimes, snappy, miserable, depressed, full of a sense of impending doom even without knowing why or where it will come from. I found myself involved with awful men because I didn't know I deserved any better.
Yes, there does come a point where you think how many more times can I exhaust myself being upset and traumatised about being a second class citizen, not worthy of anything, while they tell you there's nothing to be upset about, that it's your fault, you're being oversensitive, and in my mother's case telling me that I have 'mental problems' and clearly need to see someone!
notarealorphan I can so identify with your wobble about wanting your mummy.
It is so bloody hard isn't it, I almost feel like I made excuses for my mother because I couldn't accept that she wasn't a mother to me. Or did she ingrain it in me so expertly that I thought it was my problem, not hers?
I see so many children with their grandparents, the GPs picking them up from my son's preschool, looking after them while their parents work, are out and about having nice days out- grandmother, mother and child...and I DO feel a bit resentful, because no matter how much I want that, I'll NEVER have it. Never.
I'm sure people see my mother and think 'what a nice old lady' and i'm sick of feeling bad about being 'nasty' ie NC to what is outwardly an inoffensive pensioner. I avoid talking about it to people because I worry they will judge me when I say I don't speak to my mother. I veer between being angry with her (and my sister) and just wanting my mum, wanting nice days out and support and unconditional love. The irony is I have nothing to base that on because it never happened! It just feels so sad.

MistyGee Tue 27-Nov-12 22:38:08

Creepy I have also been struggling with the 'gifts' thing. I'm NC with my mother and sister. My sister sent my son a cheque (addressed to him) for his birthday. No way do I want anything to do with her, or from her, and no way would I give her the satisfaction of seeing it cashed so I ripped it up and put the same amount from my own purse in DS's savings. In that way I didn't feel like he missed out on the money but I removed the poisonous connotation IYSWIM.
My mother has been posting crap through my door and leaving carrier bags on my doorstep with stuff in for DS (again makes me feel bad cause outwardly such a nice thing to do...!) It is a really difficult situation. I think it comes from the hold they still have. It's my mother's birthday on the 5th dec and i feel bad about not sending her a card, but also terrified that she might see it as a way in if i do send her something, so I have decided not to. It just feels safer. I know it is hard because we're not used to putting ourselves first, and we're trained not to 'upset' our family in any way.
I'm not sure of an easy answer, what does your gut tell you to do?

Dawndonna Wed 28-Nov-12 07:22:21

No Cards, No gifts
They will always be misinterpreted, used against you or seen as a way back in. They are a method of control, either: 'Look how nice I am, my daughter doesn't give me the time of day but I still spoil my grandchildren" or: 'Look, despite everything I've done, my daughter seems to think this is all I'm worth:.

Not worth the effort.

notarealorphan Wed 28-Nov-12 11:07:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

garlicbaubles Wed 28-Nov-12 12:11:22

What a beautiful post, Orphan. Thank you.

kiwigirl42 Wed 28-Nov-12 12:31:07

I really appreciate the information and wisdom shared on these threads also, even tho I mainly lurk. Its just so comforting to realise that its not just me who has to deal with this shit.
I moved 12,000 miles when I was 19 to get away from my mother who had spent a life time trying to run me into the ground. I was always stupid, useless etc etc etc.

The last straw for me was when I was really ill when pregnant and she didn't even bother to ring for 3 wks to see how we were. That really made me realise that she doesn't actually care about me. I have tried to ring her every couple of wks, mainly to hear her talk about herself (she never listens), just to .... well, I don't know really.

She invited herself here for 6 wks last xmas - she only told us once the tickets were bought. I should have said no but have daily chronic migraine and just didn't. It was bloody awful. She sat on the sofa and expected to be waited on hand and foot. She would make herself a sandwich if I was too ill to be downstairs and not even offer DS 12 anything. She'd take herself out for a meal and not take DS. It was disgusting. So never again is she darkening our doorstep. The good thing was that DS (who is an astute little bunny) came to his own conclusions about her behaviour.

I rang a month ago to say I was on waiting list for a hysterectomy and was terrified. Her reply? ''oh, can you hear my new cuckoo clock ringing''.
DH said ' theres only one cuckoo in that house and its not in the clock lol''
I was REALLY upset and haven't contacted her. So she rings yesterday, luckily got DH not me, and complained to him that I haven't bothered to ring her. DH told her that I'd hardly been out of bed (had some shocking migraines this month) but she wasn't interested.

So I'm very close to just chucking it in and going no contact. I've kept contact because I'm a nice person but what the hell for I don't know. i could have died under anaesthetic in the last month and she wouldn't have known or cared.

sorry for the long diatribe. I haven't really been able to tell other people as most other people love their Mums and don't understand toxic Mums.

notarealorphan Wed 28-Nov-12 12:31:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

notarealorphan Wed 28-Nov-12 12:43:33

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