Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

"But we took you to Stately Homes!" Survivors of Dysfunctional Families

(1001 Posts)
OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Tue 17-Nov-15 10:53:52

It's November '15, 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
August 2013
December 2013
February 2014
April 2014
July 2014
Oct 14 – Dec 14
Dec 14 – March 15
March - Nov 2015

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."

FantasticButtocks Tue 17-Nov-15 11:05:19

Hi, just checking in and thanks for starting the new thread thanks

It has meant a lot to me to discover these threads. Whenever I feel a wobble or crisis of confidence or doubt about my choice, 'Stately Homes' usually helps me to clarify my thoughts and understand that I have done the right thing for my wellbeing and sanity.

toomuchtooold Tue 17-Nov-15 11:21:11

Hello, checking in!

pocketsaviour Tue 17-Nov-15 11:30:23

Thanks Meer for the new thread smile

Book links seem to be redirecting to the main Relationships board. Here are direct links (hope these works!)

Toxic Parents by Susan Forward
Homecoming by John Bradshaw
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? by Karyl McBride
If You Had Controlling Parents by Dan Neuharth
When You And Your Mother Can't be Friends by Victoria Segunda
Recovery of Your Inner Child by Lucia Capacchione
Children of the Self Absorbed by Nina Brown - check reviews on this, I didn't find it useful myself.

GoodtoBetter Tue 17-Nov-15 11:55:54

Hello everyone! Marking my place. It's a beautiful day here, been out for a walk with the dog and off to work later this afternoon. Hope everyone is well and hello to lurkers and dipper in and outers. xx

oprahfan Tue 17-Nov-15 12:16:43

Yooohooo
I just thought I'd say hello to you lovely people.
I'm in my early 40's and have been NC with my family for 10 + years.
I still cry regularly,get very angry,but there's nothing I can do.I was physically,mentally & emotionally abused,as well as neglected.
I have had 4+ years of counseling,and have had a few bouts of major depression (God......I sound a right cheery soul,eh?!)grin
I was the scapegoat,my mother the perpetrator,my father the enabler.
Life has got better after going NC,my confidence and self esteem is still very low.
The bright lights are my two DS's.....I love them so much and could burst with pride at how they are emerging into young men.
What I cannot get over was why was I hated so much?
Why did my mum want me to be announced as mentally ill?
Why did she want to put me in a home?
Why did she tell so many lies and why do so many people believe her?
She tried to tell others I was a psychopath.
Can I ever get past this terrible terrible hurt?
Has anyone taken legal action against their abusive parents? I don't know if this would give me the longed for closure.
There was police and social work involved in my childhood.
I'm sorry if I come across as a rambling buffoon.
I want this pain to go.The tears to go.
X

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Tue 17-Nov-15 12:48:33

dammit thanks for pointing that out pocket. Not sure why that's happening all of a sudden. I check the links for the previous threads, but not the books links

Ill copypaste the links you set up for next time (btw, would you like a copy of the whole thing?)

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Tue 17-Nov-15 12:57:35

okay I see, Amazon changed its naming system.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Tue 17-Nov-15 13:08:21

oprahfan I am so sorry for your massive pain.

Why did they do this? only your mother really knows but from the sound of it, actually she was doing a really destructive version of assigning her own self-hate to a small child .. you. I think myself that if people have issues that they don't face head on and actively try to control, then they start shifting that onto their most vulnerable people nearby. The hate is terrifying, but it's about them more than you.

It certainly sounds like she was the mentally ill one, not you, and couldn't face it.

Which doesn't really help you.

Can you ever get past it? I don't know. But I think many, even most people can come to a way of living with the hurt. Like the grief of losing someone you love, you never forget it but you can learn to live with it and around it and find good ways of coping and then one day you realise that actually, life is more positive than negative

(i say that as someone who's wobbling atm, but I've had genuinely good periods of years when I am in (healthy) control of the pain. I know those better times will come again).

Why does she tell lies? because she can't face the truth of what she's done and what she is. She HAS to make it someone else's fault. It is literally intolerable to her that she might be at fault. Why do others believe it? Because sometimes people like your mother are very very skilful at lying and putting a gloss on things to make it the other person's fault. Usually there are other victims around in the distance too; but the children usually get it worst.

Not taken legal action myself. In my situation, it would achieve nothing. Your situation may be different.

We're here when you want to talk, handholding flowers

oprahfan Tue 17-Nov-15 13:15:37

Thank your for your reply Onceameer.....oh yes.....very very skillful with the lies. I know good days will come around again,very wobbly at the moment here too.
Thank you x

pocketsaviour Tue 17-Nov-15 13:46:24

Hello Oprah,

Sorry you've had such a painful upbringing. I'm glad you are NC now and your sons are such a source of comfort and pride. I am also very proud of my own DS smile

I think Meer is right when she says that your mother projected her own feelings of unworthiness and self-loathing onto you. It's possible that is something she learned in her own childhood, from her parents. As you will know from reading these threads, it is sadly common for abusive parents to choose one child as a scapegoat and saddle them with all the blame for anything unacceptable. Another term I have heard used for scapegoat is "poison container". The abusers use the poisoned child as the dustbin for all their negative feelings and thoughts.

I also had police and social services involvement in my childhood, due to my dad's sexual abuse. No legal action was taken at the time (late 80s.) I have been wondering recently about the possibility of pursuing further action, but I don't know if this is legally possible, if it was investigated at the time and they didn't prosecute. I also don't know if mentally and emotionally it would be too stressful for me. I have been NC with my dad for 27 years and a large part of me wants to let sleeping dogs lie, but there's another part of me that wants him to be punished for what he did. He tried to steal my life and my future and he lost NOTHING. Not his job, his business, his money, his cars, his house, his yacht, his replacement wife. He never even paid any child maintenance for me and my sibling. Cunt angry

oprahfan Tue 17-Nov-15 15:40:48

Oh poor pocketsaviour......what is interesting is that my parents weren't poor....my mother was always buying Chrystal this and that,gold jewellery,perfumes,big house,and even spent my child benefit on posh cigarettes! And there I was getting my brothers hand me down clothes,or fixing my own,even trying to mend my shoes in my teens,because of huge holes.
Yet my dad had a well paid job!
I was called all sorts of horrible names,and if I didn't repeat them,I'd get slapped around the face.
I tried to commit suicide when I was 15 by taking an overdose. Had stomach pumped,etc etc.
When I got home from hospital,my mum screamed at me that I was an attention seeking whore.
Nice.
It is hard to deal with,that they have lost nothing. I just want to get past these horrible flashbacks and memories.
Your Dad is a tosspot of the highest order,and I'm sorry for your pain pet,I truly am.
I'm amazed at how many people (use that term loosely) are getting away with so much abuse.
X

Serioussteve Tue 17-Nov-15 18:44:06

Hi,

I posted here recently.

Can I find out if social services have anything on record from my childhood?
Likewise, schools? Health authority?

So hard trying to formulate everything in my head, it's baffling me to think no professional agency picked up anything was wrong. My high school reports even state I "struggled to make friends", "had low self-esteem" and the like.

pocketsaviour Tue 17-Nov-15 20:57:32

Hello Steve,

You can do a right of subject access request to the Social Services dept in the area you lived while a child.

Do you remember any social services involvement at the time?

You can use the same law to request your school records and GP records (any health service should all end up in your GP records - however if you feel there might be other records with, for example, a hospital then you can also request records from them.)

More information here: Right of Subject Access

pocketsaviour Tue 17-Nov-15 20:58:29

Oprah that same information above might be helpful to you, too?

oprahfan Tue 17-Nov-15 21:32:16

Thank you pocketsaviour
The interesting thing is......I know that I have many many pages in my medical files regarding my past,I have many copies too, it was upsetting to see my mother even lying to the medics,blaming me for her marriage problems,wanting me to be sectioned for being a psychopath,etc etc.
Interesting that I could look up the social work reports,police stuff was in late 70's,so don't think there would be anything kept from that time.
A GP surgery should quite happily let you see your medical file,but copies would incur a fee. I got to see mine with no difficulty.
Thank you x

Serioussteve Tue 17-Nov-15 21:46:27

Thanks so much pocket, very useful.

I remember seeing a woman when I was attending the start of high school, perhaps a child psychologist, but the memories are so fuzzy - my mind hiding these things from me I guess.

I don't know if any referrals were made, is it wrong for me to be livid if none were? In today's world, obsequiousness pervades throughout schools with the slant on safeguarding, but of course things were a lot more lax 25 years ago.

Will not hurt to make the requests though, that's for sure.

Have decided my reading for this week will be Toxic Parents, I feel somewhat bad however as I wasn't "abused", or "neglected". Not in the ways people perceive things when those two words are mentioned. Yet I feel so angry, ambivalent and frustrated!

Serioussteve Tue 17-Nov-15 21:46:54

Thanks for letting a man rant btw, it's actually therapeutic.

Theymakemefeellikeshit Tue 17-Nov-15 23:41:02

Hi Steve

I feel somewhat bad however as I wasn't "abused", or "neglected". Not in the ways people perceive things when those two words are mentioned. Yet I feel so angry, ambivalent and frustrated!

The brilliant thing about this thread is no one will judge and no one will say your situation is not worthy of being on here.

It sounds like you are in a similar situation (but without social services) as me and I seem to go from absolutely distraught to bloody furious.

Serioussteve Wed 18-Nov-15 02:43:51

I'm sorry for your pain. I'm actually happy I found this forum, by mistake really. Even nicer to find other people have been through the same piles of shit, if that makes sense.

Yes, that's how much emotions vary too. My mother is presently sectioned and in a facility but a matter of time before she is released, again, and the pain increases as the cycle begins again. She is very devious, intelligent and manipulative.

I doubt social services were involved, I doubt either of my parents would have allowed things to spill out, yet if I'm right and I did see a psychologist then the referral came from somewhere....

Definitely nice to have somewhere to talk, and being surrounded by women is not a bad thing, lol!

FrancisdeSales Wed 18-Nov-15 04:15:18

Steve, all kinds of manipulation that are clearly abusive on reflection as a sane adult can be confusing as a child and not understood as abusive. After my mother died when I was 13 my parenting basically stopped and my father ignored me and never spoke to me most of the time but it was hard for me to realize that was abuse until I was older.

One thing that helped me was when I read that we need "positive strokes" to feel good about ourselves and this can take many forms: smiles, recognition, hugs, friendly voices etc.

"Negative Strokes" are therefore more than the obvious such as being the focus of rage or emotional outbursts but also being ignored, dismissed, our existence and opinions not considered or acknowledged. It's hard then to recognize your own needs or identity.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Wed 18-Nov-15 08:21:34

From reading here, a lot of what makes physical abuse so awful is the emotional aspect to it, both at the time and later. I don't know, but I wonder if the same happens with sexual abuse?

Physical and emotional abuse damage the foundations of whom you are, the walls of the house you live in as an adult. From the sound of it your mother was seriously unfit to be a mother. Don't know you other than what you write here, ofc, but it definitely sounds like you have had experience of abuse.

Also, it's not a competition. Things hurt for you; you're trying to make sense of it; you're welcome here.

francis may I ask how you survived after your mother died? My adoptive mother died when I was 11 and my father did try a bit for 2-3 years but was completely inadequate; then he stopped trying and started digging the knife in. It's affected me deeply ever since, her loss and his, I don't know what you'd call it. Let down then betrayal/subtle and mixed enmity really. I don't know many other people who lost their mum so young and would definitely be interested in how you managed it.

Mamaka Wed 18-Nov-15 23:49:20

I found this thread by chance after googling about dysfunctional families and thought I'd ask for some advice.
Long story short: my dad was very abusive, my mum enabled him. He beat us, she looked the other way. He beat her too. They divorced when I was 14 (only after my sister finally called the police) and I eventually cut all contact with my dad.
I was happy enough with things after that until having my own children who are now 3.5 and 1.5. After having them I came to a very gradual realisation that my mum was also abusive by not stopping the abuse. This as well as other things about her (incessant questions and meaningless chatter to fill the silence, insistence on knowing every detail of my life, babying and fussing over my children) has been upsetting me to the point where I leave the room when she visits and I leave her playing with the kids and get on with my own thing. I have talked to her about it a couple of times, asking why didn't she stop it (in the context of my own marriage and parenting difficulties and me blaming the fact that I have no good example to fall back on) Her response? "Oh you know what your dad was like, nobody could stop him, I couldn't do anything" Er what about call the police, pack your bags and leave, get him thrown out?! She says she was financially dependent on him and didn't want to break up the family. I'm sure I don't have to explain how I feel about this. In fact I noticed on the top post on this thread that "I had it really hard too" is a typical response from an abusive parent.
Anyway my dilemma now is, she looks after my children once a week and occasionally overnight on the weekend. My children have a good relationship with her in that they adore her and look forward to seeing her each week. But she has never developed those boundaries that she always lacked. She lets my oldest disrespect her and my youngest do as he pleases. She fusses and babies them and is inconsistent and undermines my rules although on the surface it looks like she backs me up. If one of them falls or cries and I go to them she tries to get there first. If I tell them off she cuts in mid sentence talking over me (saying the same things I am saying). I haven't said anything about this yet except snapping "I'll deal with this" at her a few times, to which she gets touchy. I have no idea how to deal with this. I am already angry at her for not defending me as a child and now she is also not defending me as a parent. I don't particularly have the energy to make a huge deal out of this but at the same time want to resolve it so that my children don't pick up on it.

Any ideas??!

Sorry if this sounds like an incoherent rant or very petty.

GoodtoBetter Thu 19-Nov-15 07:17:10

Welcome Mamaka! I'm sorry that you felt the need for a thread like this, but as you did, I'm glad you are here, it's a good, safe place to talk about difficult things.
As regards your mother, you are absolutely not being petty, but I'm not sure how you solve it without stopping your mother doing childcare for you. She was a crap parent and she sounds like she is being a crap grandparent and creating all sorts of tensions and poor boundaries and problems for you. She is sending a very poor message to your children about behaviour and responsibilty.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 19-Nov-15 07:38:28

Hi Mamaka

I presume you only allowed your mother to have a relationship with your children in the first place based on your (forlorn) hope or assumption that she would behave better this time around with your own children despite your own prior knowledge.

She was not a good parent to you and is a toxic example frankly of a grandmother to your DC. She has not fundamentally changed since your own childhood, she has not changed.

You are going to have to find alternative childcare as of now particularly as she is letting your eldest disrespect your youngest child (probably another dynamic not too dissimilar to what you saw growing up either). That will also go on to damage their own sibling relationship. They probably do not so much adore her either as fear her and or are confused by her mixed messages too. All that will simply get transferred into behaviours in your own home. They see you as their mum leave the room when she arrives also and they see her undermine you. They do not understand that particular concept but you certainly do.

You mention your sister; what is she like?. What is she like with both you and her mother?.

You need to also raise your own too low boundaries (not surprising really since you were shown a abusive example of a parents when growing up) and have a total rethink now re your mother and your relationship with her. Would you now consider further lowering all forms of contact?. I cannot see what if anything you are getting out of this relationship now.

This thread is not accepting new messages.