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

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It's August 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
March 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 your 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 defences 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 behaviour. 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 offences 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 behaviour. 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 realise 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

This final quote is from smithfield posting as therealsmithfield:

"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

Hissy Sun 25-Aug-13 17:24:15

I didn't even start potty training til DS was gone 3, so if it doesn't work now, don't stress about it!

Your mother was undermining you again. You got sucked back in.

Who the hell does she think she is criticising your parenting? She STILL throws tantrums and uses emotional shit to get her own way. If you're not going to take it from her (quite right) why on earth would you allow your son to try it.

Btw, the wailing is typical for that age. It won't last.

And certainly not if you are quick to nip it in the bud now!

You know you're a good mother, don't let her knock you!
Xx

GoodtoBetter Sun 25-Aug-13 18:07:59

It's this awful "UUUUHHHH" sound that is all about noise rather than upset and it drives me mad. Obviously if he's really upset I'll comfort him...but she does the poor little love routine and it makes me look like bad cop in comparison. It's like the sun shines out of his arse and I'm this stroppy shouty mother. Sometimes like most 5 yo he's a pain and I get annoyed.

The time when he was 2.5 I was just down and tired with the early waking and she was totally umsympathetic and turned it into saying things like I obviously didn't love him and why had I had him if I didn't enjoy him....(who the fuck enjoys a non verbal 2yo who wakes before 6 every day and tantrums and trashes the house?.... he was really hard work in those days). She has form for subtely interfering in discipline too.

Nobody ever does it better than her...she was super mum and "had no help".

If anyone else witnessed today they'd say I was making a fuss over nothing..but it's the backstory.

She just constantly gives me the impression I'm not doing it right.

Goodbetter sorry your day went badly, just remember it's not you who is the shit mother, it is her.
She is trying to make you feel inferior, only you know what your child does and doesn't need.

GoodtoBetter Sun 25-Aug-13 19:36:09

Funny thing is when we lived with her she found him the same as I do...like any 5 yo. Now it suits her for her to be supergranny and him to be poor little maligned mite.

Hissy Sun 25-Aug-13 19:50:43

Think about it, a NORMAL mum would tell you 'It's OK, hold firm and don't stand for tantrums'

Why?

Because that's how you're supposed to deal with tantrums.

Reward good behaviour, ignore bad at the very LEAST!

Trust your instincts woman.

Look at this logically, you'll know i'm right! smile

Hissy Sun 25-Aug-13 19:54:20

Her motivation here is to undermine you.

Remember this!

dragon99 Sun 25-Aug-13 22:24:19

marking my place too. Starting to realise how badly my mother has affected me.

Hit hard recently as she yelled at my DNephew who was making some noise in her home, not badly atall, just usual 6 year old stuff, and she yelled at him badly to shut up, also did the same to him when we were out somewhere and he was a bit noisy.

Took me back to all the time she yelled at me. Tried to comfort DNephew, I didn't dare say anything to my mother though. Feel bad I can't even stick up for a 6 year old.

dragon99 Sun 25-Aug-13 22:25:40

have ordered a few books mentioned on this thread, will let you know how I get on with them.

Meery Mon 26-Aug-13 07:43:14

Just to answer a question up thread and im sorry for not offering support to you guys as smart phone typing is not my strong point. Dsis and i have exchanged texts and i can accept what happened re her marriage afaik how it came about.

It was a quick registry do for tax reasons. No family or friends attended. I must stop overthinking and projecting but can't help considering that if dm was different Dsis would have done things differently. Dm has form for outrageous behaviour on social occasas you can well imagine.

Keep strong everyone.

Meery Mon 26-Aug-13 07:47:34

By not offering support i meant by being more than a little me me me at present. Sorry

Just a thought meery maybe your dsis thought it was best to get married on the hush to avoid disaster with the toxics. She should have told you though atleast.

Me & dh were talking about marriage the other night (we aren't married yet, but i call him dh)- & i said if we ever tie the knot i think he should take on my surname & maybe we should consider changing my dcs names to my surname too, does that sound odd?? I don't want no part in his toxic family and if i had realised what these people were like my children would have never had their surname.
Even thinking of making a start by giving my unborn baby my surname when she is born?

Do you think i would be right in doing this? I just don't want to carry on their family line, i want rid of the toxicity and by changing surnames i think that's a start.

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 10:37:25

pumpkinsweetie that is good that your DH is opening up a bit more.

Just need to have a rant about my mother. It was my birthday today and to prevent a repeat of last year - we went to a half price steak night with her and DF, she sat there like she was at a funeral all night and it was basically horrible, I decided to cook dinner for my family at my house.

Her and DF arrived late, bringing with them a whole lot of furniture for our new baby (all my sister's stuff that's been stored at their house).

At dinner she was a bit off, as always, just cold, only ever talks about herself, no sense of joy or conversation.... anyway I pressed on. Had cake etc. Then as soon as dinner is over she badgers my father into driving back to their house and bringing over another load of furniture, so he basically had to get up and leave. As soon as he returned she said right, let's go.

She then sent me a text today saying what a nice night it was. I feel like replying, well apart from the fact that Dad was made to spend the night moving furniture rather than celebrating my birthday you rude fucking cow. She just has this weird need to disrupt and ruin anything that involves attention being shown to me. It's bizarre.

The other weird thing was that when my dad was gone she started going on about how hard it's going to be when he retires as he has no hobbies. I said, well he reads. "Oh no he doesn't. I read MUCH more than him.'

She thinks he should do a language class and then said, 'but do you think there will be young women in the class.'

We all just looked at her in disbelief.... she has such weird jealousy and control issues around him.

ugggghhhhhhh. Anyway determined not to let her spoil my day or show her she has upset me.

GoodtoBetter Mon 26-Aug-13 11:22:02

my mother is still irritating me via telephone (latest thing is fussing about setting up a fruit and veg delivery, I'm not sure whether to commend her or get annoyed at the "I can't get out to the shops" subtext). But I would just like to shower this thread with the joyous relevation that:

I DON'T HAVE TO LIVE IN HER HOUSE ANYMORE!!!! grin grin grin

Today is cloudy and coolish...about 30º (such a joy after 40º), we've had a long tramp round the village and through fields with the dog and it's similar tmrw so we're going to pack a picnic and go to the moutains and on Friday lovely friend is babysitting and DH and I are going to the cinema.

Happy days.

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 11:43:27

I DON'T HAVE TO LIVE IN HER HOUSE ANYMORE!!!!

that is definitely worth celebrating.... I heard a really good interview on the radio the other day with that therapist Susie Orbach and she was asked how women cope with their mother's death.

She was saying that for some the grief hits them so hard that they never get over it and for others it's incredibly liberating and everything in between.

I have a feeling I will find it liberating. There are questions I would love to ask her about why she behaves like she does towards her own daughter, but at the same time there is not much point in analysing or confronting her, the main thing is to get on with my freedom and my own family..... i think that is getting easier.

Oh tangerine, your dm sounds me, me, meconfused hope the rest of your birthday went wellthanks
It's toxic mils birthday fri, i wonder how she reacts when she realises her letter from me never camegrin
I'm hoping dh keeps his decision of ignoring her for a while.

If i was him i would buy her a present online and send her a funky pigeon card, although that i'm sure would bring with it a moan about the price tag, as we are skint until monday!
Aslong as he keeps up with ignoring her all will be okay. I'm glad i'm not treading on egg shells feeling pressured to allow her contact with dcs. My dm did me a favour having it out with dhsmile

Goodtobetter congrats on not having to live with her anymoresmilegrinsmilegrin bet you are extatic!!!
Hope you have a lovely picnic with your dh tomorrow.

Phoenixwoman Mon 26-Aug-13 12:33:44

I DON'T HAVE TO LIVE IN HER HOUSE ANYMORE!!!!

Completely agree, confirmed when we've ever had to spend more than a few hours in her company. Not that she wants to spend time with us.

On this theme, did anyone else try their hardest to keep out of the way or out of the house growing up. I spent huge amounts of time in my room or as soon as I found the right people whole weekends at friends houses. I also worked most weekends and nights after school. I went away to university in a different city and moved in with my now dh within weeks of meeting him. Once I'd left there was no going back.

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 13:00:24

phoenix I spent most of my childhood and teenage years reading, so even though I was there in body I was all over the place in my head!

Also worked a lot as a teenager and at uni - my mother is incredibly, pathologically stingy so didn't really have much choice, and as soon as I got a boyfriend I basically lived with him. I remember one bf had a really nice, normal family and the worst part of breaking up with him was losing the family!!

In some ways when I think about it now she did me some favours in a weird way, I definitely never yearn to go home or feel that adult life is never as idyllic as childhood, because leaving home was so liberating. so there are some positives to having a very narcissistic mother....

Phoenixwoman Mon 26-Aug-13 13:07:58

Very similar story tangerine. She tells everyone she paid me through uni???? I think I got a load of shopping when she dropped me off and £50 as a gift for xmas. If they were skint I wouldn't mind but don't tell people they paid for it when I worked night shifts and went to uni through the day to support myself.

I moved in with now dh and love his family, they've taught me so much about what is normal. I've even learnt day to day basics too which I was never taught or allowed to do at home, things like cooking, cleaning, self-grooming etc.. Needless to day my dm hates them. sad

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 13:26:12

Yes I wouldn't mind if they were skint, but my mother has made a huge amount of money in property yet acts as if she's living on the breadline.

She'll do things like invite us out for lunch at a cafe then only order a scone, so you don't feel you can order a proper lunch either - but nor can you order and pay for your own food as that would be rude - and all the kids get is a couple of bowls of chips, and then she'll leave and say, well that was good, I fed everyone for less than XXX amount, which is fair enough except that everyone is still bloody starving!

My FIL was fairly skint but you had to wrestle a dinner bill off him and he'd always say no, when you are my age you will pay the dinner bills.

And we will too....

Bizarre that your mother lies about it. But fairly typical behaviour for a toxic mother. They love to portray themselves as saints to the outside world, all the meanness is so secretive.

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 13:43:15

PW just read your initial post. Yes your mother sounds like a narc. Have you read the daughters of narcissistic mothers website? It's quite chilling if you recognise your mother in it.

I think it's also really common to only realise what your mother lacks when you become a mother yourself. I always thought I just didn't understand my mother, how much she suffered, how hard it all was, having children etc. And then I had one myself and realised it's actually a joyful thing (granted he's only little, but I notice that she really only likes babies and as soon as they get a bit more independent she can't really handle them).

And yes I know exactly what you mean about not liking physical contact with them. I find it very unnatural as my mother is not a physical or warm person, I always feel as if I would break her if I got too close.

pumpkin your MIL sounds like a nightmare. If there are lots of unspoken 'rules' about how she is to be treated - special cards, presents, etc - then I would just start breaking them, cheerfully and innocently. If she complains she'll look like a spoilt brat, plus it will frustrate her that you are defying her.... and she'll behave like even more of a spoilt brat. What can she do?

Spent the best part of an hour making sure ils cannot see any new facebook photos of the children and all my past ones except the birthday pics. Left a few on there to stop her noticing. I feel quite liberated having done itsmile

If any of them throw a wobbler, that being sil1 & mil, blocked they will begrin. Getting strong!

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Mon 26-Aug-13 15:20:26

It's been a while since I posted here. About a year I think. Since then, I have been through counselling and realised I am not the most selfish, fat, ungrateful perskn in the world. I have realised that my parents - particularly my mother - have been at the root of much of my low self-esteem and my unwillingness to blame those at fault for the bad times in my life. For blaming myself instead I also realised how dependant I had begun on them and how they had manipulated that.

As a result, I have been gradually reducing my reliance on them for childcare, etc. I have not been spending time with them - unless unavoidable such as wider family occasions.

Stupidly, I have been putting off telling them that my son would not be going to their house before and after school anymore. He dropped in there this afternoon (he likes them in small doses and we all live in the same village). They had mentioned df's birthday tea and ds said that he wouldn't be there. When dm asked why, he said because he will be coming straight home from school now that he has a key...

Cue seven phone calls, three texts and two answer phone messages in under fifteen minutes - I was in the bathroom. The messages all complained about my not answering the phone when she had ds there and needsd to talk about him. When I rang back and I explained I had been in the bathroom but she still shouted about my not answering the phone instead of answering whether ds was alright - obviously, I didn't know about their conversation then. All I could thonk was that I was absolutely doing the right thing and that I wished I could move away from them.

I needed to tell someone but even my brother doesn't understand. I am scared of how much of a pain they will be now. I am scared that they'll act as though it never happened and I qill lose my resolve. I am scared the rest of the family will weigh-in trying to make me feel guilty. I am pleased I have said that I don't want her in my life. After I hung up, she texted me to say she has finished with me now (happens most weeks) and I texted back that I was pleased by her reaction because it proved to me I was right to want them out of my life. That I had had enough of having my childcare needs held over me for the last ten years. That despite it being her idea to watch ds so I could work, she has told me repeatedly that I have ruined grandparenthood for her.

She has just text saying that I am imagining them manipulating me by threatening to withhold childcare. That this is my fault anyway. That I am wrong to take ds away from them. I haven't said he can't see them. Just that I don't want to and I don't want them involved in my life any more.

Stressed.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Mon 26-Aug-13 15:54:55

They just called round - unannounced - to 'sort this out' unhappy with my assertion that it was sorted out and my urging them to leave because I wasn't interested in rowing with them. They made a point of inviting ds round before they left.

I stayed calm while they were here but feel sick now. Gah!

They said I had changed. That I need my head examined.

GoodtoBetter Mon 26-Aug-13 16:19:29

Hello Helles, sorry to hear about your troubles with your parents. Stay strong. "I'm finished with you" "you've changed"...my mum says / has said that too. Same script.

Oh my gosh helles they turned upshock. Remember to pretend you are out next time, how dare they intrude on your personal space!

Those phrases you mention are another saying toxics use, fil once used the " washing my hands with you" so similar and dhs aunt "you hve changed" this was all at Christmas when i kept non contact and didn't like the fact at last someone was taking control.

Don't back track because of their visit, stick to your guns.

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