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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.
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."
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
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
oh ((hugs)) Badvoc everything changes, nothing stays the same.
Great to hear Noddy
I think I didn't have anyone else to see parenting skills from; community is so vital for that so that isolation doesn't lead you to think that there is only one way.
Great you had such good xmas' Noddy & Hugh
Badvoc - your ques why am I embarrassed about how she behaves struck a chord with me. I think its because we realise things are supposed to be different and we cover for our parents pretending everything is great when we know its not. On top of that is the fear that there must be something wrong with us to have parents like this. And in a way there is something wrong because narc parents damage you.
I try to hide how awful my relationship with my family is becasue I know people will think I am strange and unstable because of it - and to some extent they are right!
I've been lurking for awhile, but thought I'd dip my toe in.
I've just had my first Christmas without my family after being pretty much NC since around Sept. Lots of backstory, so bear with me.
I'm the eldest of 5. Grew up idolising my mother and wanted to be just like her. My father was physically abusive toward her when I was small, although I can't remember. He was quite controlling and emotionally and verbally abusive throughout my childhood and teenage years, was since diagnosed with depresseion about 10 years ago and has mellowed. My mother looking back has always had a rather sadistic and vindictive streak. She has OCD and had a nervous breakdown when I was 10. She went to live at my grandparents for 2 months and left Dad to cope with us. She went on to have my 2 youngest sisters and had another smaller breakdown when I was 15 and took my youngest sister with her this time (was a baby). I was always held up as the "Golden Child". I strived to be perfect, and always wanted approval. I was the amiable, reliable, responsible child who always did as she was told. My younger sister was the black sheep and caused untold havoc throughout our teens (she's 2 years younger), and my brother (4 yrs younger) was spoiled as he was the only boy. Also caused havoc, held up a petrol station when he was 15, trouble with drugs etc. I ended up with an emotionally abusive mummy's boy when I was 17, and got pregnant to him at 19, married at 20. Stayed with him until I was 25 despite him cheating on me constantly the whole time we were together, doing drugs, putting me and the dcs in danger etc. Went on to have 2 more dcs with him before we split. For 2 years after the split I was an emotional wreck, my self esteem was at an all-time low, I got on antidepressants at my mothers insistance (so I could be just like her) and dated a string of men (because I'd never experienced being with anyone else). Took up smoking, was totally self destructive. Had a mini-breakdown of sorts and DM finally took my dcs for a week or so, so I could get my head together and give me a break. Fast forward a little bit, I realised the ADs were making me worse so I gave them up-DM was displeased. I ended up meeting my DH on line and he moved from UK to be with me. Got my life back on track and weeding out undesirables. Expected my family to be happy for me and instead they act rather disinterested. Don't really get to know DH, treat me as if I was "his problem now". Had an argument with my DM last year after I stopped contact with a married friend who I had stupidly had a dalliance with (something I deeply regret-him not so much). Was pleased to have gotten out of that friendship as it had made me uncomfortable for some time. DM took his side and basically implied I was a stupid whore and I should stop acting like Ï'm better than that". Stopped contact for awhile even after she accosted DH in the street telling him how I was in the wrong and when I'm ready to apologise, I know where she is etc etc. For the first time in my life I had someone to stick up for me. DH opened my eyes to how disgusting her behaviour towards me has been. After roping my sister (also narc) and my GF into trying to get me to fold, she came round with a flippant apology and I let her back in. DH and I came for a trip to the UK last Xmas so I could meet his family, and left the dcs with her, DF and youngest sis's. During this time I was having lots of trouble with my ex and his (also narc!!) mother. We instructed DM not to let him take kids anywhere, but could see them at their house. They threated my DPs with the police, even after I told DM they couldnt do that and were trying to bully. They ended up all going to exMILs house (all my family) and having a big happy family day, despite the way they had treated me. I let it go but it has been clear that DM doesnt approve of how I am conducting my life now (limited contact with very damaging ex, dc asked to call my DH "Dad" etc) and is clearly annoyed I have a supportive husband and father for my dcs. Will write more soon, just realised how long this post is. Argh! Sorry
First timer...yes, that makes perfect sense.
Arse bandit...sounds very familiar...I am the eldest of 3 and my sister was as you describe and my brother also.
Firsttimer I have covered for my mum for ever at the expense of my sister who she bullied for years but I did nothing. I have found since i have been honest with people a lot of them have said they always thought she was strange.
AM just dreading the kids asking to go to their house...I don't know what to say...
Straw the broke the camel's back came a few months back when exH was coming down for a visit with the dcs. I had asked DM to do the handover so I didn't have to see him. A week before DH and I had to meet with the celebrant (were planning our wedding) and asked if she would mind the dcs for an hour. Please note that since I have been with DH we have asked rarely for the kids to be babysat. My DPs lived around the corner from me and rarely visited, although they would pass my house everyday to go to my DSs (a few doors down) and help mind her kids. DM made some excuse about being invited to go to a talk of some description (which I later found out was a lie). I said fine, and asked Dsis. All good. When we got back home, my DS9 said that my DSis has bailed him up and asked him if we had a problem with her and her DP (whole other story). I was really annoyed. The next day my DM called to say exH had been on the phone to her whingeing about me (a common occurence, and one she never discouraged), and I went mad. I asked her why she wouldn't stick up for me instead of engaging in his crap and whose side was she on. Well, out came the old classic narc, "I'm so hurt you would accuse me of that," pity me blah blah. When that didn't work and she couldn't answer direct questions, she started attacking me. "C'mon, do you really think anything ex did to you was any worse than what (Sisters abusive ex) did to her?" constantly comparing how hard my sister has had it. (I'm never allowed to be seen as a victim in anything, even when bad stuff has happened, it has been my fault). And then accused me of being in my "little happy land" after moving to a town 10 mins away because we couldn't get a house in the same area. Also accusing me of being "very immature for a girl of nearly 30". I had this convo on speakerphone, and DH was sitting there with his mouth hanging open. It was after this we decided to forego our plans for our wedding and elope in our living room a couple of weeks later, with 3 friends as witnesses. Shit has hit the fan since then. My mother has been conducting a smear campaign against me to anyone who will listen. She rang my ex that day and told him about our wedding and our plans to take dcs for a holiday to the UK next year, resulting in ex refusing to sign passports and being a general pita. My brother sent me an absolutely vile text and cut off contact with me. My sister demanded to know why I wasn't speaking to her. My Dad called past to see the kids and was quite nice-but copped it from mum for "conceding on her behalf". He has tried to smooth things over because he doesnt want a fight. My mother turned up on my doorstep to tell me that her and my DF were over, and that "our family is now no longer". I refused to bite. She was pissy because she failed to engage me in her drama, so vowed to "never darken my doorstep again" and promptly left and went AWOL. Had my DF ringing me asking where DM was because she had lied about them splitting up, and had gone off her meds etc. Had ppl looking for her all day and my sis (apparently) rang the police to locate her. Found her eventually and nothing more was said. Missed DS9's bday, my bday and DD5's bday. I had a long talk with Dsis17 and was told mum deliberately missed their bdays to spite me, and had been trying to get dsis17 to write hurtful things on fb, which she refused to do. Found a tub of Xmas presents in our carport for the kids, and a card with a $100 gift card for me and DH, along with a 4 page rambling incoherent letter, starting off with, "whatever you think you know, you dont", about how "hurt" she was, how she is öbviously unworthy" as a mother, how I have "used" her and how she is "thankful for the time she has had with the grandbabies she helped me to have" (wtf?). We returned the money so she couldn't hold that against us, and had my 14yo sis texting nasty horrible stuff to me about me being immature and breaking up the family etc etc. WHew. Sorry, I just had to get it all out. Thanks if you've gotten this far.
Each I have had that thrown at me too.
Each time I tried to leave home where I was so unhappy my dad told "you are breaking up the family"
Some Fucking family.
It's bad timing for me to go nc in a way...my parents are both now suffering Heath problems and I will no doubt be painted as evil and uncaring.
I have been caring for both do them since I was my sons age.
He is 9
My mum is currently awaiting a hysterectomy She had a prolapse and I researched online choices etc and she rejected them all and said she would soldier on. Then emailed me that she had to take her friend to teh appointment and how scared she was and couldn't rely on me who had no idea she even had an appointment. She blames everyone for her life.
Also meant to put when I had told my mother she never made and effort to see me or the dcs but she'd drive an hour to see my brother, she replied with she was busy because it was "her time now." I said I was busy-even with 3 dcs under 10 and holding down 3 jobs I still made the effort to go and see her. Her response? "But I work harder than you." She obviously has a competition going with me. I don't raise the kids as well as she did, my house is never as clean as hers. When I was a single mum I complained that she didn't understand how hard it was trying to keep a roof over our heads and foof on the table. She responded with, "Well, your father was never home, I was pretty much a single parent!" Yeah mum, one with the benefit of having a husband working two jobs to pay a mortgage and all the bills. No empathy, only one-upping.
My mum is like that always competing. Making it about her.
My mum has a prolapse but refuses to have the op to sort it out.
She is coeliac but will not stick to the GF diet and so has lots if stomach problems.
She has a blood clot in her groin which affects her mobility (well it affects her mobility if i ask her to do anything or go anywhere but she can walk round the shops with my sister for hours though) and went to see the surgeon about it on Tuesday.
My dad has been having trouble swallowing and went for an endoscopy last Friday.
They are both smokers and have smoked since they were teenagers. They are both now mid 60s.
My dad is still working as he dreads retiring and being with her 24/7. Can't say I blame him.
I feel bad for not phoning and asking how the appts went but I can't.
I need to detach.
It is hard to detach. I've read Toxic Parents and also Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. That was an eye-opener. After that it was laughable how predictable her behaviour had become, and made it much easier to detach. The hard thing is the vileness and pressure from the rest of the family. I'm glad my DH is really wonderful and supportive. I still have hard days tho. Don't feel bad Badvoc, you need to preserve your sanity.
Arsebandit didn't want you to go unanswered. That is a pile of crap from your family, esp your mum.
Thanks so much fresh, you talk A LOT of sense.
FFS what is WRONG with these people who had kind, brilliant empathetic kids and just decided to treat them so badly?
For everyone feeling sad and bereft - you are immensely strong, looking straight-on at the awful stuff and trying to deal with it and eventually move past it. Our parents couldn't ever manage that - I think being wrong to them is like psychological death.
I am so grateful for this thread, although very sad so many of us have been let down.
Yes I do.
I even wrote that in my e mail..."for the sake if my own sanity I have to have no contact for the foreseeable future"
I can just imagine the ruckus that had caused...
My brother has not been in contact all over Xmas and new year so obv he blames me too.
Sister is abroad ATM but no doubt the crap will start when she returns.
I hear you Badvoc- once my mother had realised she couldn't get anywhere she has recruited my siblings to do her bidding. Nasty, the lot of them. (Apart from dsis17). It wears you down, especially when your whole family are telling you that you are wrong and a horrible person. You believe them because they are your family, and they supposedly know you best. You don't want to believe that they would exploit your feelings for their own needs.
I'm lurking and reading. I find it so sad that we've almost filled up a thread in just over a month. I suppose it was inevitable with the Christmas period and each of our struggles. But it's also amazing that this thread is a place where we can share our hurt and people understand. I'm glad to be a part of it, even though I have little to add often.
I hope nobody minded me creating the new one, ready for when this one is full? I had the time today. The link is: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/1650915-But-We-Took-You-To-Stately-Homes-Survivors-of-Dysfunctional-Families
ArseBandit your siblings are still in thrall to her, still terrified to challenge the central lie that she must be kept happy. It does wear you down (I just feel a huge black cloud of dread when I think about having to deal with my sisters) but take heart you're the only sane, brave one!
peacock your story is eerily similar to ours except it's MIL who owns our house. We're in the process of looking for another home (got a viewing tonight, yey!). Don't let your mum know you're moving until you're just about ready to go, i.e paper work signed and you just need to organise the removal van. It's likely she doesn't actually want to sell the house you live in, she just wants to scare you and if you let her know you're moving she would fight very hard to get you to stay.
Aaargh! I told myself I wouldnt do this but I keep doing this. Since receiving xmas package from narc F (we are NC since last jan) I am now going round in circles re-meaning/intention behind the gifts. This is stupid as I know the main meaning is really that he doesnt care about me and never has. But Im picking it over and over and just want to say it on here so I dont say it in RL.
He sent a package with 4 gifts and 2 cards. One card for me and H, one for DD. All 4 gifts for DD (interp: he wants to demonstrate that he's doing his utmost to stay in touch with his grandchild despite NC with me). The four gifts are: 1 crafting type toy far too advanced for her (interp: he will not listen to what I have said about her developmental delays and determined to cast me as the neurotic mother) One gift of a baby scrap book from 0-5 years (nice idea but she's 3 now would've been nice when she was born, I suspect he managed to find it cheap somewhere). Plus 2 t-shirts both far too big. It feels churlish and mean to criticize gifts so I am determined to say nothing about these to anyone (bar counsellor) but it seems so clear that the main point behind the gifts for my dad is so that he can say he sent 'so many gifts'.
I just want to throw it all in the trash! It makes me feel so bad in so many ways. I want this stuff out of my house.
I am in a bit of shock today. My sister and I are v close. My mum was single parent to 3 of us and bad mouthed our father all the time etc etc. We supposedly never really saw him me last when I was 3 my sister 2 and brother conceived but not born (she told me and dsis he only saw brother once when about week old) My sister contacted our father last year as she has NC with mother and needed to see him. Today she has sent me all the photos he gave her and my father was with us loads up until I was about 7 and playing with my brother in loads of pics. I can't remember any of it. All pics with his family at beaches etc laughing having fun I am really shocked I had no idea
Haven't had time to catch up with the posts...it always surprises (and saddens) me to see how fast this thread moves.
I did see the posts about being slapped round the face for having a hair cut...horrific. It reminded me about an incident my sister told me about but which I had obviously hidden away in the recesses of my mind. When I was little, probably about 7 or 8, my mum took me and my sister into town, and left us outside the post office while she went in. While we waited apparently 2 men approached us and tried to take me away. My sister, who is older, pulled me away and the men disappeared. When my mum came out of the post office my sister told her what had happened, that 2 men had tried to snatch me, and she slapped me round the face!!! I must have encouraged them apparently.
How screwed up is that?
I'll catch up with the posts now...take care all
It saddens me at how fast this thread has moved on over christmas and lots today. I wish everyone well in breaking away from these toxic people, especially with it being the new year
to be expected pumpkin, just take a look at all the shitty adverts on telly, all happy families, mum does all the work, etc etc.
Not all people live like that.
But we CAN make new families, with our friends.
Cool, a new thread! I can post on new ones, my phone doesn't fall over when they are new!
See you over there!
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