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

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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

itscurtains Sun 02-Dec-12 21:53:20

Hiss you're absolutely right. I'll need to print your post off and put it on my fridge and try to ingrain it in my head, mantra like! I have just been feeling so guilty about causing hurt/ upset, and being afraid of what happens next.

Have been reading your posts and really wish you, and everyone else, lots of strength over the festive period x

Midwife99 Mon 03-Dec-12 07:48:52

Itscurtains I think you did the right thing to send one last clear letter insisting on no contact. Anything coming back will clearly now be harassment & you should make a complaint to the police.

Midwife99 Mon 03-Dec-12 07:58:09

Just thought of something's rather ironic which actually made me laugh a bit - re the neglect during a holiday when i was 12 - this year aged 44 I took my 2 young children (the other 2 are now adults) on a single parent family group holiday. We arrived back late one Saturday night. There were voicemails & texts waiting for me at home from my parents demanding I contact them "to let them know we got home safely". By Sunday afternoon my parents had reported us missing to the police & contacted my cousin & aunt (both opposite ends of the country) to tell them! I went to USA for a year as a student to work when I was 21 & they never contacted me while I was out there - replied to one letter in the whole time & when I arrived back at Heathrow I phoned & they didn't answer so I had to get a train all the way to Plymouth & then a taxi to their Dartmoor pub & after 2 nights of being ignored another train all the way back to Brighton to Uni even though I didn't have any accommodation sorted out so luckily a friend let me sleep on her sofa until I found some digs.
These memories help my resolve!

Midwife99 Mon 03-Dec-12 07:58:44

(iPhone adds inappropriate apostrophes!)

kiwigirl42 Mon 03-Dec-12 09:06:14

midwife99 sounds like you've had a awful time of it. Why the hell do some people bother having kids?

I've just rang my DM for the first time in 6 wks, after her complete lack of support over me needing a hysterectomy. She rang the other day and spoke to DH demanding to know why I hadn't been in touch despite her not ringing me for 5 wks!

So I've given in and rang and yet again she comes round to insinuating that the fact I've got chronic migraine still after 5 yrs is because I haven't tried hard enough to sort it out (believe me I've tried - hole in heart surgery, every preventative migraine drug going almost, diet, complementary therapies etc etc etc).

Just leaves me feeling angry and pissed off that I lucked out on the mother front. Its really just not bloody fair that we've been given parents who are inadequate, isn't it?

On the positive side, when I put DS 12 to bed last night he said 'I love you Mama you are the best Mama in the world' so at least I am doing something right with him despite DM. I'd never been told I was loved until I met first DH at 19! DS gets told every day, many times a day.

hope all of you are able to find some peace with your chosen families at this difficult time of year. I'm really looking forward to Xmas this year (DM invited herself over last yr). We are going to relax and have some fun without the black cloud hovering!

kiwigirl42 Mon 03-Dec-12 09:07:43

itscurtains stay strong and I hope things get easier

itscurtains Mon 03-Dec-12 11:36:13

midwife and kiwi thanks for your advice. Yes, hoping that this finally puts a line under things, though thought I'd done that already! Like you guys I wonder why they are generally abusive and ignoring then when we draw back they try to stamp all over us, when in reality they should be leaving us alone. Suppose its just control and we need to take it back!
A regular poster said on one of these previous threads that people who treat us with contempt and are abusive / neglectful therefore absolve us of any responsibility towards them, if that makes sense. We don't owe them anything. This is what helped me start the process of drawing back.

Wishing you an assertive and own little family oriented xmas this year! x

HisstletoeAndWhine Mon 03-Dec-12 19:41:36

We fulfill a need, the need to feel higher up the chain than something.

We're naturally better than them, and they can't stand the competition, so they knock us down and down.

When they go too far, or we get wise and struggle free, their insecurity, which is what drives them, makes them panic at the thought of losing their emotional whipping boy/scapegoat.

HisstletoeAndWhine Mon 03-Dec-12 19:45:47

Someone once said on a SH thread that her mother had said to her that she saw that she (the DD/OP) had a spirit and vitality, but that she'd soon stamp it out of her. sad

That's the mentality you're dealing with, never forget this. They all disguise it, gaslight us, deny and deflect, and even blame, but that core of unadulterated jealousy and resentment is what lies at the centre of their being.

You can't fight that kind of crazy.

baytree Mon 03-Dec-12 19:56:30

You are all normal. We are damaged but it is not YOU with the problems. You have a lot more insight and self awareness because you can see and acknowledge the problems in your families' dynamics. And therin lies the problem. You are being true and independent, not playing the game.

I stopped playing the game 2 years ago. My two sisters have not spoken to me since then. But anything I do, I get the blame and I hear by email or via my dad. It gets twisted so I can be positioned to take the blame. And guess what I truly dont worry any more and have marked them as spam. I have finally moved on but need this forum to ground me so I know I am right and I work hard on my friendships instead, whereas before I tirelessly worked on bringing my family (sisters, parents) together. I've realised that my friends and own family are so much more important to me but my energy had previously gone into my birth family. On a practical and emotional level I have missed only one thing. One of my nephews who got a really hard time from my sister. I wish I was still there for him.

A regular poster said on one of these previous threads that people who treat us with contempt and are abusive / neglectful therefore absolve us of any responsibility towards them, if that makes sense. We don't owe them anything. This is what helped me start the process of drawing back. So true!

baytree Mon 03-Dec-12 19:57:56

HisstletoeAndWhine, I have copied your message. it means a lot to me.

HisstletoeAndWhine Mon 03-Dec-12 22:08:10

I stopped playing the game 2 years ago. But anything I do, I get the blame and I hear by email or via my dad. It gets twisted so I can be positioned to take the blame. And guess what I truly dont worry any more and have marked them as spam.

Now I know who I wann be when I grow up... ;-)

Oh Baytree, thank you so much for that snapshot of the future.

It's something I try to do on the DV support threads. You giving us that window is all I need to cling onto, no matter how tempestuous the waters become.

We need to be resolute, brave, cool and place ourselves at the utter centre of OUR world. As I said before, the abusive ex was the appetiser, this is the main course. This is harder, but all the more important.

It's the reason for pretty much all wrong in our lives. We owe them nothing at all, they owe US a childhood, a mother, father, family. All things they are incapable of every providing.

They don't even want to.

hopkinette Mon 03-Dec-12 23:55:19

Hi all.

I posted once on one of the past threads and then drifted away.

I just spent the weekend with my mother and we had a terrible fight last night - she came out with all the usual stuff she says when I disagree with her (and as far as I know, these particular lines are specially for me, and not ever directed at any of my siblings : I think they're quite tightly tied to the role that she cast me in when I was really very young - namely, irrationally angry daughter), so instead of engaging with the issue I was trying to talk to her about she just said "Why are you always like this, why are you so angry?" and "No one can say anything to you! No one can speak to you!" and "You're so judgmental!" Then she started crying and went off to bed.
A few minutes later I heard her get up and tried to go and make peace by apologising. And she said "Have you stopped taking your medication?" I have bipolar disorder. It's completely controlled, I only have bipolar II (the milder version) and I have not had an episode for well over 4 years. She knows nothing about my condition, she's never made any effort to learn about it, we never speak about it. And now I wish I'd never told her about my diagnosis in the first place because to her, it's just a fantastic weapon. It means that any time I do ANYTHING that she dislikes, she can simply imply that I am crazy.

I have no voice. Nothing I feel or believe is valid: it's all just the product of an unbalanced mind. So she has no need to listen to anything I have to say - none of it has any basis in reality.

I really, really do hate her.

kiwigirl42 Mon 03-Dec-12 23:56:27

I think there is a lot of jealousy involved. I've had statements like "I don't know why they like you" and similar said to me about a lot of my friendships since I was a kid.

HisstletoeAndWhine Tue 04-Dec-12 07:23:28

Hopkinette that's so sad! You know where you stand now though, be brave and make some decisions.

There's nothing wrong with you chick, nothing living in peace, among friends and good people won't fix anyway.

You ARE strong, you ARE stable, you ARE in control of your life.

Keep telling yourself that. I'm guessing that she's sensing it, so that's why she's trying to crush you.

Her treatment of you is inversely proportionate to how you're doing. The better you are, the more likely an attack.

That said, these people love to kick puppies when they're down too.

So best to only give bland, general, all tickety-boo comments. Keep your private life private.

Kiwigirl - on the subject of migraines - I used to have horrible ones. I just don't get them at all now - have been very minimal contact with narc mother for about 12 years - Wonder if there is a connection?

Zazzles007 Wed 05-Dec-12 04:34:16

Scarlet, I would have no doubt that your migraines could be attributed to your narc mother. My narc mother has always made me feel tense, and guess what, since I haven't seen her all year, I'm so much calmer!

On another note, the narc mother has been leaving guilt-tripping messages on my mobile phone, as she has no other way of contacting me. I've been consistently reschooling myself to not feel the guilt when those messages come through - its working! Allowing myself to feel a little of the guilt, but with the constant thought "You don't need to feel this guilt, its them using emotional blackmail", has gradually made the guilty feelings reduce and reduce. Yay, a win!

Just dumping this here because I'm getting stressed again and the triggers seem so small. In my mind I'd gone no contact, after a vitriolic phone call from mother, denying they'd ever said or done anything to hurt me, and turning it all back on my lovely dh, calling him everything under the sun. I felt so liberated then, as it was so off the wall, there could be no doubt she was the 'mad' one, not me. Since then, there have been advent calendars in the post (I freecycled them) a £20 note (!! - I returned it with no words) a text asking if I wanted to talk (er, no - didn't reply) and tonight a phone call which I didn't answer. When will they get the message? Ever? Now I'm terrified they're going to turn up on one of two significant events coming up (one work related) and getting myself into a right state. Don't suppose anyone can help, but I just needed to 'tell' someone!

ScarletWomanoftheChristmasTree Thu 06-Dec-12 20:29:34

Hey Creepy, this has struck some familiar chords with me.

A few weeks after my mother and I had our last hideous,hideous row real conversation, and I'm talking 12 or so years ago now, she sent me a cheque for £25 for my birthday. This was after being beyond hideous on the phone, telling me I wasn't the daughter she wanted etc, REALLY vile. I told her a few things too, and the whole thing blew up and was extremely upsetting, but ultimately a relief because it justified my not talking to her again. And then this card and cheque, like nothing had happened. I threw it in the bin.

Predictably, she rang a few days later, saying aggressively "Did you get that cheque I sent you?

Me: Yes

Her: Well, you haven't cashed it. (also adding some nonsense I've almost forgotten, about not getting a thank you letter, and a little politeness oiling the wheels etc.)

Me: No. I put it in the bin. <ducks>

Her: Pause.... (nastily) Well, I expect it wasn't big enough.

There then followed an explanation from me that the size of the cheque was irrelevant, but I didn't want anything from someone who had said the things she'd said to me, and listed some of the things she'd called me...

Her: well, you are!

END OF RELATIONSHIP.

Liberation for me.

Hold on to that feeling of liberation you had, creepy. It's a long haul, and not easy, but it's worth it, even if you have to endure the odd bit of terror when you think they are going to turn up at something. One thing I learned it that there is absolutely no point in trying to explain it to them, they will never see it from your viewpoint. They don't want to understand because then they'd have to admit they had done something wrong.

They probably won't turn up at these events, but perhaps you just need to have a small plan up your sleeve of how you would deal with it if they did.

It has taken me so long to type this, you've probably had far better help from others by now. It's just that it's so complicated to write about, it's hard to get it into anything concise.

Thank you Scarlet, are you my long lost sister? wink

It sounds so like the sort of thing my parents would say, right down to the petty 'lack of thanks' thing. Apparently one year my dh didn't ring them to say thanks for a shirt they sent (which was too small, so I returned it for vouchers) and that was brought up too!

You're right, they probably won't turn up. But I know the worry will still spoil the days somewhat. It's too late to get a restraining order for Saturday, isn't it? (only half joking)

HisstletoeAndWhine Fri 07-Dec-12 07:46:22

Creepy, stop telling them about your movements, and if they do turn up, tell someone else to tell them to go, or call the police.

Refuse to engage. Yes it'll be hared, and scary, but you'd do it in a heartbeat if it were anyone else. You don't know anyone else who's been meaner to you than these abysmal people.

This has been a long time coming. You have back up, support and right on your side.

Midwife99 Fri 07-Dec-12 13:27:10

It is hard to ignore. I feel petty sometimes. "They weren't that bad were they?!" Other times I feel guilty - guilt trip voicemails "We miss OUR grandchildren terribly!" That's funny - you didn't see the older ones from one year to the next when they were little & you were still publicans! Last night my DD cried about missing her older brothers who are both away at Uni & started including her grandparents in the list of people she misses. Do I grit my teeth & arrange a short Xmas meeting for the kids' sake?

ScarletWomanoftheChristmasTree Fri 07-Dec-12 13:35:11

No midwife, it's not worth it.

Your DD will cheer up when her big brothers come home for Christmas.

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.'

That was to Midwife.

Your experience was that bad, your parents utterly failed you.

Do not arrange any such short Christmas meeting with them, they are not worth it. Your parents do not feel an ounce of guilt over how they mistreated you.

.

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