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"But We Took You To Stately Homes!" - Survivors of Dysfunctional Families(1000 Posts)
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It's March 2013, 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 up, 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 use 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
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
"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)
Thanks for replies- food for thought.
DS1 and I have been struck down with a virus (his temp hovered below 40 all night- turns out to be tonsillitis). So I won't be posting for a bit.
Rose-hope you and your son are feeling better soon
<waves to all from bed> thanks Dontstep
rose bad stuff going round at mo it seems! DD had temp hovering over 102 for 12 hrs last week, followed by week of illness.
Hopeyou are both feeling better v, soon.
Hi everyone. Apologies for not reading through past threads and so perhaps stomping on an ongoing conversation. I lost Mum a year ago and am now PG with DC1. Mum wasn't affectionate or loving through my childhood as I recall it and ghere are certainly deep issues I carry due to my childhood but I don't know if she was toxic per-se. I do have a bunch of baggage though and really want to work out how to be a great Mum to my DC and not repeat patterns.
Any advice about where to start without spanking £££ on counselling?
Hi everyone thanks for the new thread midwife.
No time to read all or post as should be on school run!
welcome here remembering I am sorry to hear of the loss of your mum, especially as you are recognising issues
you've certainly come to a good place for learning and exploring, and validations, sharing and loads around that here. I have found this place more helpful than any other place I've been before because its concentrated 'toxic talk', its specialist in that sense and totally focussed on this issue. You might find reading through the threads will give you a great sense of recognitions? I do not know where you can get free councelling; actually do docs offer 6 weeks free by referral? That might be a good place to start. It might be a bit tough going during pregnancy? Others will be along I'm sure to offer support ... keep posting xx
hi remembering, this is a good place to post. Just talk and write it all out. It really helps to gather your thoughts rather than have them rambling around your head. Good to make steps on this before you have your baby too. I think many of us found that having our own DC has been a major trigger back to our own childhoods and now we are questioning lots of things that just weren't right or correct or fair or kind or safe for us as children or teenagers.
Lots of questions, lots of insecurities, lots of whys and confusion is common amongst so many of us. The good thing from acknowledging our past is that we know how to parent so much BETTER than they did back then. Our futures are brighter than our pasts because we are conscious of how to do it better, and what NOT to do. So that gives us something to look forward to I think.
I know for me, my days are easier in spite of the painful memories, if I focus on my home, making it the safe nurturing place it should be, and if I am kind to myself - if I don't want to do something, like visit someone, or attend something, or explain myself to someone, I don't have to. Not making sense there, but I feel often that yes I seek approval EVERYWHERE from anyone, and try to please others before myself. Each day I try not to do that now, when I actually remember to that is.
Sorry long post. Again.
Btw Hissy - thanks for a brilliant idea - I asked my sister if I should email the identical email that my sis received plus my identical email direct to mother, then sis said, well possibly that is what mother would want us to do. To keep the drama going on and on.
But I still want to rumble her about her lack of empathy or compassion in not taking my feelings into account, and effectively blanking what I wrote with a duplicate 'sermon' which made no sense whatsoever.
And yes, I would like to choose an alternative form of forgiveness, if such a thing exists. But I think it's such a dense area - at what point are we to 'forgive' someone like her who has been so violent?
If she were a criminal, who was convicted of assault, would I still be able to forgive her? Well, actually maybe, as I would know that her punishment had been properly given, that she was in prison for doing what she did.
but as it is, it is so hard to forgive her as she is still doing her thing, acting like she is the perfect community member, perfect grandmother, perfect everything, and worst of all, she thinks she already has been forgiven for everything she ever did to my sister. What a bloody mess.
i had another flashback too of when I was about 7 and my brother was around 7 weeks old - she had laid him on her bed, he was screaming hysterically, uncontrollable screaming. I went in, and said he's crying, pick him up! And she calmly as anything said oh that's what babies do, and continued to TIDY HER WARDROBE. As though none of us were there.
oldtoys, are you or your sister Christians?
If so, well it says in Luke17:3-4 - to forgive if they repent. Has your mother repented? A person who has genuinely repented will realise that some wounds take time to heal and they'll give you the space you need, and they'll work to earn your trust again. They won't push you to just get over it and won't ever say things like ''well God has forgiven me therefore so should you'' because that's just manipulative.
In the last thread, somebody posted a really good essay on forgiveness in these situations, but then it was deleted - maybe somebody has a link to it. It was great, I'll try and find it.
My MIL sounds very like your mother, down to the Bible verses being thrown around.
SmellsLikeTeenStrop - well her sense of forgiveness is your latter statement, that God has forgiven her, therefore so should we.
She has never apologised, never offered to make amends, never suggested how best she can help us heal - as she clearly believes she was entitled to use that form of 'discipline'. So I'm finding difficulty at the moment in complete forgiveness and what that will mean in the real world, having to deal with her. Do I just block out the memories? Even though they still cause so much pain? Do I just think of other things when a memory comes? Do I fake a relationship with her, if I am supposed to have forgiven her? How can my behaviour be true to myself yet living a lie in my 'good' pleasing behaviour to my mother?
She didnt' consider it assault, or violence, or abuse - but although these are just words to her, these words are never spoken in relation to what happened. Except, unless I am imagining it, yes it was abuse - because it started when my sister was 13, and ended only when she left the house to go to uni at 18. So 6 years, 365 days in a year approx 1000 odd days of it.
So her way of looking at it, is that we should respect her as our mother, otherwise, bad things will happen to us - ie, a family friend died, and mother told us she hadnt spoken to her mother for 6 years and now look what happened. What a terrible thing to say. I told DH about her comment earlier last week when she emailed as I hadn't answered phone for days, she 'thought I had had a car accident....silly me'. He wasn't impressed with her.
Sorry I'm rambling on
Oldtoys I think you are talking of two things here, forgiveness on the one hand, and how you manage your feelings towards her.
the forgiveness thing totally lies with her, as everyon'es been saying, fo rher to demonstrate repentence and ask for forgiveness, so totally her responsibility. This would show huge things in terms of being aware of what she's done, that is were her fault, and tha she was truly sorry, and wantedyou to know that - all of us here I think know this is nt the case tho! sadly!
the other bit, is managing your own rfeelings as a result of their actions. Mine have never asked for forgiveness, but I don't want to 'carry' anger and hatred, resentmetn and blame and all those negative things (which I felt I shouldn't carry if I was a good forgiving person! - my views have changed!). I got out being angry, went NC grieved all the pains and loss of parenting, and although not sure whether I still feel scared of the male parent, I know that I would not want to get revenge in any way, or be nasty even if they said hello, or feel the need to 'do' anything towards a relationship int he future. Just come to a place of little feeling now towards them. They are jsut some people, this hasn't come from forgiveness of them IYSWIM, going back to the original point, but only from me sorting through my feelings, without the knowlegdge and validation I've received since signposted to this thread!
I don't think its truly a situation where foregiveness is applicable based on that and the knowledge of the narc condition! So I am not ever expecting to be asked for forgiveness
Guilt trips - frankly dispicable - the blaming, all part of the horrible cruel game.
ooo .. long post! but thats my take on it, and I'm not tied in knots anymore trying t find a way or have emotions running around... I do sometimes get flashbacks which can be very upsetting and take me by surprise, causing some upwelling! Still just catch my self getting caught up iwth the whole 'lack of pretend family' if that makes sense? - that i don't miss them but do very much miss what families are supposed to represent oh well
Hello everyone. I joined very late on the last thread. Thank you for all helping me to get started on dealing with this. Just marking my place.
Toxic parents don't repent!
Oldtoys, sorry for all the things you have experienced. Don't bloke the memories. This will make you ill. Try and feel the emotions from your childhood. This will help heal the pain. Repression results in headaches, backache, skin allergies, stomach aches etc. As Alice Miller says "the body never lies".
Thanks for the welcomes. I will try to get my thoughts a little straight and post some of it soon
Oh oldtoys, I can see how difficult this all is, what books have you read so far?
I grew up going to Church and I still do from time to time but a modern, very different one, to my childhood one. I do find her over spiritualisation and attributing everything to the enemy or God and bad things happening, as well as, as I've said, justifying her abusive behaviour through it, deeply disturbing. I really do. It's not normal. She is narcisstic and self absorbed.
You have every right to go no contact for some time, you don't have to play happily families or brush it all under the carpet. The guilt and obligation can be over whelming but keep talking and make the right decision for you, for your peace and emotional well being here and for your family.
I have read some good books on forgiveness but personally imo if they're abusive, you can try and let go of the past, have counselling etc but to truly heal and stay healed and whole, it is far far healthier to not see them any more or have some distance at the very least and new boundaries. As she'll just hurt you again and again. So you'll never truly feel able to move on. Does that make sense?
wow. yes. You make such perfect sense - thank you FairyFi Don'tstep, I can't thank you enough for giving me such clarity on it all today.
I was in a confusing mess all day until I read your latest posts.
I now know that is why I feel such peace when I am physically AWAY from her literally hundreds of miles, 4 hours drive away, and why I feel unable to eat or sleep when I have to visit her house. (Unschoolmum completely links to your theory on the body never telling a lie etc)
The religious stuff is verging on insanity, I can see that now, it is very very disturbing. And doesn't even make sense - her 'sermon' emails contradict everything.
Low low contact feels like the most simple & right thing to do.For self protection too.
I can't thank you all enough for giving me space to talk here, and replying with such logical advice. Really, I am overwhelmed. Thank you. I am feeling more content now. Able to think a lot clearer and to shift my focus to more positive things going on in my life other than her.
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