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

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It's March 2013, 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
November 2012
January 2013

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."

Helpful Websites

Alice Miller

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
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

"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)

FairyFi Wed 06-Mar-13 14:46:28

first time out after baby, when baby was about 3 months, stayed at MILs so we went out and she, and her partner, babysitting.

Only went to a pub 10 min drive away. I was nervous leaving baby, had mobile on and ready for any calls. However, although I saw a signal when I went into the pub, there clearly wasn't one whilst I was there. As I started to leave a succession of messages arrived shock sad with my baby crying and crying in the background. MIL partner was calling and relaying that baby wouldn't stop crying, etc.. please come home.. probably 4 or 5 messages!!!! I was desperate to get back, finally got back and could hear her from outside the house sad

I couldn't have been more flabbergasted to see her left, propped up at one end of the sofa ON HER OWN!!! Her bright red teary face broke straight into a smile when she saw me, and MIL said something along the lines of what a little 'sly one she was' that there had been nothing wrong all that time, as she sat there still jumping with the left-over from all the sobbing. OMG How you could sit a screaming baby on the sofa on its own and call it, basically , devious!??????

Sorry, just another memory, but they are coming thick and fast.

oh gawd thats just appalling neglect unschool and OT the 'smack hand' sad - they are like a race of aliens to me right now... so far from whats right, caring and 'normal'!!!!

FairyFi Wed 06-Mar-13 15:19:16

hadn't realised quite how toxi mil is?!! well happy to say 'ex' mil! what a bitch!!! very grrrrr...

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Wed 06-Mar-13 17:42:38

Never mind the fact that she's had kids of her own, she didn't have to be sitting straight up at 1am?

What, and miss out on the opportunity to be a martyr? grin

unschoolmum Thu 07-Mar-13 07:57:42

Sorry for everyone whose baby were cruelly treated.

I need some reassurance today. I've just come out of a two day headache following a letter sent to each of my kids from their grandmother. The letters are okay. In fact, she even tells my son she is proud of him and how she missed the time they spent in the park together. So the re-enmeshment messages start going through my head i.e. maybe she is not so bad, perhaps it's just my Dad. But then I remembered the email I got from BOTH of them recently telling me I was a failure as a mother, my son was horrible and they would only be leaving money in their will to my daughter. I also have a letter from her telling me I am a bad mother, know it all, jealous, ruined my children and that she must protect my brother from me. The headaches began shortly after I read the letters to the kids. I think my headaches are mainly anger related. I think it is anger that she is such a hypocrite. The funny thing is when I read the letter to my son he just replied “Bullshit". He doesn’t suffer fools! I did smash up something she gave me at the bottom of the garden expressing how I feel (not too loud because of neighbours!) which alleviated the pain a little but I feel so frustrated that I have done so much work on myself and still get these headaches and migraines.

tangerinefeathers Thu 07-Mar-13 11:28:54

oldtoys you speak a lot of sense. I know I need to stand up to her more. I have recently, really lost my temper and told her what i think of her, it's easy when I am furious.

What I have more trouble with is being calmly direct and assertive. I have trouble looking her in the eye, I have trouble speaking directly to her. I know it's irrational, but she is so authoritarian, so hard. And I know that whatever I say I will pay for later, with a comment or some other manipulation or slander behind my back. I can't win with her, because she will always stoop lower and play mind games with me for example ringing me later that night and asking me if I want her to buy DS a car. Of course I do, because it would make him happy, but it means being grateful to her when I know she won't change his nappy and care for him on a much more basic level. It's head wrecking....

tangerinefeathers Thu 07-Mar-13 11:38:01

PS and good on you for not letting your mum have your kids anymore. i think it's going to get to that point with me, but we don't have any other support here really. I am working on finding more support/giving more support within friendships with other mums, a more reciprocal agreement that has the added benefit of giving my DS familiar friends.

Fairy Fi I know how that feels! I tried to leave my mum with DS to have dinner with DH recently. They walked down the street and he was literally leaning out of his pram sideways, crying his eyes out, and she was totally ignoring him. Of course I stayed with him, i couldn't bear to see him so upset but she wasn't fazed. It's bizarre isn't it? Just the complete lack of maternal instinct, for want of a better word. It wasn't as if she was deliberately ignoring him, she just didn't see what she could do that would make it better.

unschoolmum glad your headache has passed. I'm not surprised you felt so unwell, how crazy to send an email being so nasty about your son and you and then another saying how much she misses him. I know it's frustrating to think you haven't made progress but you have. I read somewhere of thinking of these things like a spiral, you through the same emotions again but you're still moving forward. Look after yourself.

FairyFi Thu 07-Mar-13 12:21:03

tough this morning, just a quick visit to send support to all in the face of all the crazies! and thanks for validations from my posts, they mean a lot. These things that they all do the same, or don't do! the same... and yes, getting that reciprocal support can make all the difference but such efforts involved to get to that point, very worthwhile to do xx

Sunnywithshowers Thu 07-Mar-13 13:19:15

Hello all

I've just wigged out on FB. My mother posted some crappy BNP propaganda share thingy and I called her out on it. Then my (estranged) father, who divorced my mother years ago, joined in. I have had dad on FB as a way of keeping in touch with him, as we'll often go years without him calling. I've posted elsewhere about the nastiness I get from his wife on FB.

Anyway, I've deleted the whole lot of them. Mum, dad, stepdad, unpleasant stepmother and her nicer daughters, a stepsister I haven't spoken with in 10 years...

I keep crying because I know that I don't like my father - I've loved him for years but he really, really is this unpleasant person who I can't respect and barely love any more. He's ignored me for years, and only really pays attention when I do something that makes him angry. Which has been the story of my life. I'm meant to be doing an essay but am in tears.

Lately I've been angry about my childhood, and have just started reading Toxic Parents. It confirms what I've felt about what I went through.

Sorry for mega-post, thanks for being here.

FairyFi Thu 07-Mar-13 13:42:25

well done sunny for tough decisions, sounds horrible sad. Maybe the grieving for leaving them behind starts now? No apologies please! Or we'll all have to start wink

Sunnywithshowers Thu 07-Mar-13 13:57:12

Thanks FairyFi. I will speak with my mum again (I love her, and know she doesn't want to hurt me). But dad? I think he's been lost to me since I was a child. Time to let him go I think.

oldtoys Thu 07-Mar-13 14:04:16

Grieving - it is that Fairyfi. That is how i feel this week. Heavy, emotional & could cry at any second. Taking another simple day today, spending nice afternoon with dcs who kerp me very busy and preoccupied.

But yes tangerine you said headwrecking, it is that.

Be kind to yourselves today. We are all making progress no matter how small. Cutting ties is hard. But would mean peace calm and a clearer future for many of us.

marissab Thu 07-Mar-13 17:42:49

It does feel like grieving doesn't it? But i don't grieve for my lost relationship with my dad, i grieve for the kind of 'normal' relationship i never had with him. I get upset when i see friends on fb posting pics of family meals. Espec xmas. All the pics of happy families. Pics i'll never have. I'd love to have a massive xmas with all the family over, eating, laughing, playing board games but i grieve for the fact that that will never happen. I get jealous of other people's relationships with their parents. sad

FairyFi Thu 07-Mar-13 17:48:44

I still miss that marrisab but know that I couldn't hve had that with them sad. and this is better than living that life just to spend xmas with painful company playing games and saying we were 'with' people, which somehow it feels there is pressure to.

take care OT I have come to realise now thatall these things pass and we move on.. rest as much as you can and go easy. take care xx

unschoolmum Thu 07-Mar-13 18:19:50

sunny it sounds like you made a good choice

Fairy, Oldtoys and Marrisab I agree that it is grieving. Susan Forward talks about this in her book Toxic Parents. She suggest having a funeral to mourn the loss of our fantasy for a good family. I was thinking about having a little 'service' myself for this.

I haven't been on here for a good while, which can only be a good thing!
Will read through on how you are all getting on shortly, this thread is already filling up fast and even more so soon as mothers day is fast approaching!
Some of you may know the background surrounding my ils, others may not.

So far i still remain estranged from my pil & sil and dh sees very little of them. Of late we have grown closer without pil causing trouble in our life's, which is really good as we have been through a lot in the last few weeks, money troubles & i have recently had a miscarriage sad

Today my mums mammagram came back abnormal and it has really threw me, obviously i'm very worried and want to try my best to support my mother until we find out the results. But of course mil is on the phone to dh tonight pressuring him to ask me to bring our dc to her house on mothering Sunday.
I don't need mils shit right now and are estranged, why on earth does she think i want to spend the day with her after all she has done? Why pressurise my dh when she knows i'll say know, to cause trouble that's what and at the moment i really do not need this fgs.
last year on mothers day there was a disturbance involving fil threating behaviour at our home, i even have the thread to remind me of it! Why do these people start crap at times when its most unwanted?

I can only hope my dh doesn't go into his depressive ways now, as i can't deal with that on top of everything else. It will only be so long before he starts begging me to go to his mothers with him-i wont give in, i don't want those people back in my life, their toxic poison leaking out all over us.

oh my dc finally got their presents of pil a few weeks ago, were alrite but stank of mould where they had stored them so long near back door apparently. Bargaining tools obviously got too much for them to store.
mil had even bought me a bracelet, the exact same plastic one i received last year and my dd by a diff relationship got noticably less than other dc-nothing changes there then ....

will start reading through some of your posts x

FairyFi Thu 07-Mar-13 21:25:35

have only a minute did a skim read pumpkin so sorry to hear of mc thanks for you, thats really tough. sad

What a load to handle with your dms news too sad time for DH to step up, and I really hope he does for you. sending you wishes for strength through all this lovely. xx

forgetmenots Thu 07-Mar-13 21:47:19

Pumpkin I am so sorry to hear your mc thanks, your posts always resonate with me.

Can I venture a response to something you said?

You said 'why on earth does she think I want to spend the day with her after all she has done?'

She doesn't. She doesn't care whether you want to spend the day with her. It hasn't entered her head. She also doesn't think she has done anything wrong. She believes she is entitled to this, and you are obliged to comply. Nothing more and nothing less. You're making the very natural mistake of imagining she is sane and not a narcissist.

She thinks what she is doing is asking her son to visit with their grandchildren. She is so utterly self absorbed that this supply is seen as non negotiable, and won't consider any other circumstance.

Her treatment of your dd is a disgrace but again it is all about her - detach from her and don't ascribe feelings to her that she isn't capable of.

I really hope given what you've Ben through your DH understands this time. X

Midwife99 Fri 08-Mar-13 08:17:14

A marriage guidance counsellor once said something useful to DH & I regarding wider family interference. That we two & the children are our family. The others in the extended family are outside the little bubble around us that we should see as a shield.

Sunnywithshowers Fri 08-Mar-13 13:47:26

I'm sorry to hear about your miscarriage pumpkin

I'm slightly anxious about Mother's day. I didn't buy mum a card, and as she lives abroad she wouldn't get it in time if I did buy one. And I'm still bloody furious with her about the BNP thing. Gah.

Thankyou everyone, so far dh is very understanding and seems somewhat unaffected today smile. Fingers crossed mothers day is lovely for us all and not blighted by these toxic people!
You are right there forgetmenot, for a min i forget they are narcissists, when really of course pil care for no-one but themselves!
I wont let them ruin my day this year, i will rise above it x

forgetmenots Fri 08-Mar-13 17:28:52

Good for you pumpkin, glad to hear your DH is getting stronger too - it's not easy is it!

marissab Fri 08-Mar-13 19:47:28

I'm still barely speaking to mum so for mothers day i got her a plant and a grandma card and will let the kids give her them. That way it's not come directly from me iyswim. God knows what i'll do come fathers day as nc with father.

How true, Midwife. Strangely enough, years and years ago, when we got on ok, my Dad told me that 'when he left home and got married, that was his family. No-one else'. His parents were fucked up too, but it hasn't stopped him going the same way.

I sent my granny a M. Day card. Mainly because she's 90-odd and I feel bad, even though she has been a bitch to me. Think I've just created flack - will have to unplug the phone before the 'thanks for the card BUT' call. sigh Didn't send one to my mother. Felt so sad in Tesco looking at all the cards with their messages to loving, caring mums.

unschoolmum Sat 09-Mar-13 11:09:21

pumkin sorry

send my mum a mother day card and also sent her a letter saying we are moving 4 hours away!

I sent a plain card that doesn't say she's amazing etc just happy Mother's Day. No gift sent. Just a card.

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