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"But we took you to Stately Homes" - survivors of dysfunctional and toxic families(994 Posts)
It's February 2016, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.
Oct 14 – Dec 14
Dec 14 – March 15
March 2015 - Nov 2015
Nov 2015 - Feb 2016
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.
The title refers to an original poster's family who claimed they could not have been abusive as they had taken her to plenty of Stately Homes during her childhood!
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."
Personality Disorders definition
Daughters of narcissistic mothers
Out of the FOG
You carry the cure in your own heart
Help for adult children of child abuse
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
Children of the self-absorbed by Nina Brown - check reviews on this, I didn't find it useful myself.
Recovery of your inner child by Lucia Capacchione
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."
Thanks Pocket for setting up a new Stately Homes thread.
Will bump this so people can start posting on this thread from now.
Mmm, roomy new thread!
Imust I would say the A level chat was shocking except my mother acted on much the same opinions. She maintained it wasn't possible to study and have
a life a boyfriend at the same time so aged 16, and before my Standard Grades had finished, she told me to choose between my boyfriend and remaining in her house to do my Highers. In her case there was something in there about her having failed the 11-plus so then always and forever, for everyone else, getting an education must be an incredibly demanding and difficult thing that she couldn't do. She is a very intelligent person and back in the day before I copped on, I used to try and get her interested in doing an OU course or even degree but needless to say she wasn't interested.
People use the phrase , "it was a life saver" quite often.
I think this thread really is a life saver. So many people, who have never has a voice, or someone who not only listens but understands.
As Pocket says in her opening, it is so sad that it is necessary. It is sad this behaviour has, for years, has been going on insidiously and silently.
Even those who manage to break free, are racked with guilt, fear that they will make the same mistakes, or carry a great whole in,their heart where their normal childhood should have lived.
I, for one, feel validated (not sure that is the word I mean) but a 70, I now know IT WASNT ME, IT WASNT MY FAULT.
I could just about understand a chat based on misguided concern - but the exams had been a year ago! (And I had done bloody well). But I had had fun as well and so must have somehow fluked them. I actually became ill the following term, and when I tried to discuss the conversation, well, it had never happened. Just like in the post that starts every stately homes thread!
Just wanted to agree with florentina, this thread IS a lifesaver, the people who post here are lifesavers.
As a friend pointed out to me, there are so many lurkers on MN. Many lurkers who undoubtedly profit from the veritable pearls of wisdom (and pain) written in these threads.
I really think it's all born out of jealousy, Imust. How did your dad do in his A-levels?
Hello, just marking my place. Will be back later.
Hi, I just wanted to thank florentina for the comment yesterday in response to more of my moaning about my mother.
Yes. The 'friends' are certainly as I've got older I've realised about 'friends' I just can't believe how deceptive she is.
I suppose it's true that an abuser really believes their own story.
I'm a regular on the dating thread, but have never come over here, though I probably should have, but I've been pushed over the edge today.
Quick summary. Abusive father, none of my family know the extent of how. Parents separated the week before my 13th birthday, my mum brought me along to every solicitor's meeting, read every letter to me. I went NC with my dad when I was 13, in a growing realisation of what was happening. They divorced when I was 17. High achiever at school but had what I now recognise as anxiety and suppressed memory disorders. I could never understand why I didn't remember joint experiences that my peers would talk about. I do now.
Relationship with my mum has always been up and down. She's self-centred, melodramatic, needy, always comes in between me and my siblings. I went NC with her last March when she told me I was ruining my children's lives (by ending my marriage, amicably and mutually, ex-H is still one of my best friends, we co-parent, absolutely no issues). She yelled at me in front of my then sleeping children about what an awful, angry person I was. I had been on a holiday with her and my girls and was very tense throughout, and I am ashamed to admit that this did cause me to snap at my eldest a few times. Final straw was her dumping my youngest on the bedroom floor, walking away saying "Wah, wah, wah" because she was crying because she wanted me and not my mum, which my mum took extremely personally.
Last September I was made redundant and moved house a week later. I was lucky to get a job with a charity I used to volunteer for - my dream job, or so I thought. It was the first time I'd worked full time in 6 years, and I had foolishly not realised just how hard it would be to combine being a lone parent with a full time job. With all that had happened, I became stressed and anxious, and was put on anti-depressants in November.
At the start of the year my probation at work was extended because I am underperforming due to my mental ill health, and was warned I might lose my job. This compounded my anxiety, then my ex-H's brother died, and I have been supporting him and my children through this.
I was signed off this week due to the combination of stress and illness. This morning, my father messaged me on Facebook saying "I wont blame you if you say No but I would like to try to make peace with you and sister before its too late after all we are none of us getting any younger and i would like it if you said yes but I am not pushing you." I responded just to tell him to never contact me again and that he was nothing to me, and blocked him.
I'm so angry, and years of pain and hurt and disgust feel so raw again. I feel so very alone. I have wonderful friends who I can confide in, but it's such a long story, that I hardly know where to start with it.
Sorry, not such a short summary. Just needed to get it out.
I'm new to this thread. My mother is a narcissist and I'm finding it so hard to cope with her right now. Also, now that I've realised there is a word for how she behaves, I'm worried I will replicate the same behaviours to my own kids.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think it's her fault. Her mother is a narcissist too, she's had a really hard life and she doesn't cope well with anything. She's always depressed and negative and constantly in hardship. Still. It's hard. Off to look at some of the links.
Welcome. Am sorry to read about your dysfunctional family and I hope you will find some measure of help on this thread. FWIW I think you did right in blocking your father; too much water has gone under the bridge here.
What sort of a relationship do your siblings have with their mother these days?. It seems that your mother may be a narcissist in terms of personality, she certainly used you as her confidant when you should never have been exposed to such situations. I would continue to remain in no contact with your so called mother.
Have you considered speaking to a therapist about all of this if you have not already done so?.
It is not your fault these people are the ways they are; you did not make them that way. Look after yourself and your children.
Thank you Attila. My sister "does her duty" by my mum, but my mum hates my sister's husband and makes life difficult for her. My brother lives abroad, and has never been held to the same expectations as me andmy sister really. She's a poisonous, toxic woman, and it has been a weight off going NC.
I've always been able to get by, and to an extent, suppressing is easier than having to talk about what has happened. But in a brief chat with my brother in law this morning, we think that my father is going to die soon, and my sister will have to sort the funeral arrangements. I don't want her to take that responsibility, but in order to stop her, it means telling her everything. I'm so scared.
Welcome to the Stately Home.
Do read the links, they may well help you some more.
It is NOT possible to have any sort of a relationship with a narcissist. You need to realise that right now. She was not a good parent to you and is also a deplorable example of a grandparent to your children. I sincerely hope that they are not exposed to any of this behaviour from their nan.
What sort of a relationship do you and they have with this person these days?. What sort of contact is there?
She made an active choice to behave like this, you did not yourself make her behave that way. Your mother continued to behave like this because its easier for her. She did not want to address her problems properly and never sought the necessary help (not that narcissists do at all well in any therapy sessions anyway because they think there is nothing wrong with them).
Many people have had crap childhoods and hard lives but choose not to take out their problems on others or scapegoat and blame their own children (or anyone else other than them) for their own poor life choices or crap upbringing. Believe me I know, I have a couple of narcissists in the shape of MIL and BIL (I have the barest of personal face to face contact with MIL and I do not speak to her on the phone. We have none with BIL). These people are really not worth dealing with. To my mind the only people that get involved with narcissists are those who have received special training i.e. the now adult children of narcissists like you and my DH to name but two of many.
I would also suggest you read the website entitled "Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers" as well as reading "Children of the Self Absorbed" written by Nina W Brown.
I would not worry myself unduly about you becoming a carbon copy of your mother (and I note without much surprise that her own mother is a narcissist as well) because you have two qualities that both women here sadly lack; empathy and insight. You would not treat your children in the same ways that you were treated by your mother as a child, right?. So you are not likely to become just as they are in terms of personality.
My mum lives at the opposite end of the country so does not see my dc very often. Ds2 is still a baby and adores her when he sees her. However, the last time she saw ds1 she "confided" in him about how I was upsetting her by forcing her to spend time with my dad who "did bad things to her" and apparently cried a lot. Ds won't be staying over at her house again. Me having a wedding was how I was forcing her to spend time with him btw. It didn't bother her when she had to spend time with him at my sibling's wedding, or any of the times they've had contact, gone for dinner or whatever since they split up more than 25 bloody years ago. She said she's going to therapy now to deal with the things that have happened to her in her life and her therapist has told her to put herself first. IMO she has always put herself first. That isn't what she would say though. So she isn't coming to the wedding
I speak to my mum every day on the phone usually. The past couple of weeks though, she keeps going offline. Turning phones off, unplugging landline etc. She knows how much I worry when she does this. A few months ago another family member, who was very much a father figure to me, suddenly stopped replying to messages and calls and we found him dead. It's made me face the fact that my own parents will die too and so a lot of my dealings with my mum since then has that very much in mind. "imagine I didn't pay her bills when she's struggling and she dies, I'll feel terrible" etc.
She sent me a long text, after going offline for most of the week. I was frantic and going to call the police to go and check on her. Said she's feeling down, I need to have understanding of depression and if I have a go at her when she next calls me, she'll hang up. The last time we had a row (when she said she will only come to my wedding if I don't invite dad and I ended up cancelling the whole thing but rebooked later) she basically had a breakdown and she became the "wronged one" and I ended up apologizing to her! My sister said she'd never seen someone so low and depressed and upset. I don't want to do that to her! But it's not fair that I have to walk on eggshells and I'm not allowed to be upset at shit she does, yet everyone else has to do what she says or she'll cease to function properly.
She finds life and everything very hard. She has mental health issues (depression for as long as I can remember). Sometimes I feel like I'm all she has.
tanya wow, you have a lot of stuff you are coping with. I think that being NC with both your parents can only help you really, especially just now with so much pressure on you.
eggs don't worry, you're not going to become your mother because the thing about narcissists is that they don't worry about what they are really like inside, in fact they spend all their time and effort playing power games and frightening the shit out of their children and partners precisely so that they never have to confront a genuine emotion. The fact that you see it and want to avoid it means you will avoid it.
Along those lines though, I often wish I could be a better parent - more positive, less bloody shouty. But, you know - I try not to. I go in the bathroom and go "aaargh" on my own. And I apologise to them when I do shout, I tell them it wasn't right. I hope it's enough, on bad days I don't even mind if they don't want to know me as adults, just if I can avoid totally fucking them up. They don't need to like me, they just need to like themselves.
(They're bloody lovely though. One of them is exactly like Agnes in Despicable Me but with slightly more whingeing about getting dressed, and the other at age three comes across like a teenager when she tuts and rolls her eyes at me. "Mummy, what you onnin' about?" I love it.)
I would raise your boundaries a lot higher when it comes to your narcissistic mother; one thing you could do is stop calling her daily. You are her narcissistic supply really, you're there to serve her needs. I think you are very much in FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) still with regards to her and act out the usual roles associated with a daughter of a narcissistic mother.
Your first paragraph has so many red flags in it re your mother I almost lost count. The behaviour with your children, wedding and therapist (I would think she is pulling wool over the therapist's eyes; clearly this person is unaware of the myriad of ways in which narcissists lie and manipulate others) is quite typical of such disordered of thinking people.
You need to keep this woman out of your lives altogether; she brings nothing positive at all into it. It is hard being the last one left who actually bothers with her but you've been trained into doing that role by her.
I actually think she is doing you a favour by not attending your wedding; she would only make your special day all about her anyway and would likely show you or her own self up. If you are having ushers make them aware of your mother perhaps wanting to gatecrash.
If she turns off her landline so be it; she has you on a leash really that she pulls when she feels like it. Do not feed into her behaviour by at all responding to it. Her behaviour is all about power and control. You need to completely disengage from her now. You've managed that in a physical sense, now for the emotional sense.
Reading this website may also help you:-
Thank you, I'm looking at the daughters of... website right now. So many characteristics describe her to an absolute T. Others, not so much (she's not very showy offy, she refuses to get her photo taken, she doesn't seem vain at all) I always thought narcissism meant vanity and having a god complex.
Maybe I'm completely naive, but is narcissism a calculating thing? Can you be narcissistic through no fault of your own, like, you don't know any other way to behave? I find it hard to believe
I don't want to believe that my mum who I love can want to hurt me on purpose
Spoke to SurvivorsUK today, finally drummed up the courage to do so.
They want me to contact a local service for counselling. Big step moving things to discussion face to face when I feel so much shame.
Firstly just want to say thank you and what a brilliant support this thread is. I’ve been reading it for a little while trying to pluck up courage to put down on paper what goes through my head all day long.
Have terrible problems with my DM. Currently I haven’t spoken to her for 3 weeks and have a migraine that won’t clear, which I think is indecision as I don’t know where to go from here. I’m currently pregnant with DC3 which I think makes me even less able to understand her treatment of me. I’d like to go NC completely but lack courage, I think.
Growing up, DM was an alcoholic & physically & emotionally abusive. She & DF divorced when DB and I were v little. She had a hard life, her own mother a narcissist (this is a new term to me, but I’ve been reading the links!), and her DF physically abusive. She ran away aged 16, forged a life for herself, met my Dad, had me & younger DB. At the same time as her divorce, she joined a v strict, unusual religion, which I grew up in. The religion is insular and self-disciplines, so if problems occur, they’re dealt with inside the religion. She managed to create the belief that I was a troubled child and a terrible liar, so anytime I tried to get help, nobody believed me. She laughed at me when I called a helpline and said life would be worse without her.
I’ve been called everything under the sun: fat (shameful to her, she has an eating disorder – I then developed an eating disorder too, which still flares up now and again), evil (left the religion, DB followed, I have ‘blood on my hands’) etc. Rest of the family have disowned me for leaving the religion. Aunt just died. DM’s sister.
To cut a long story short (!), after I had DC1&2 & she apologised for what she’s done & wanted to be a good GM. She no longer drinks. She has done a lot for us & seems to adore DC, no favouritism, so contact has crept up. But, every now and again she flares up at me. This time, she has concocted these things I’m meant to have said. She is so convinced in what she’s saying (total paranoid rubbish), it scares me. The row escalated, I was reminded what an awful person I am. I then brought up my childhood, which maybe I shouldn’t have, but I was trying to say she was really upsetting me and stirring up bad memories. She then denied I'd had a bad childhood and said – ah yes, but when I broke your hand you deserved it, you weren’t a young child, you were an older child and you pushed me to my limit…I’ll tell you what you did…At that point, I cut her short, said I’m pregnant, this is enough, I’ll never understand as I’d never feel pushed enough to do this to my children. She suggested a week break and then we speak…but then bombarded me with texts saying she loves me.
3 weeks have now elapsed and I’ve not contacted her. No idea what to do, feel terrible guilt, to her (externally it seems she is reformed & has done a lot for us) and my family. Sorry this is long, hard to summarise. Do I enter low contact? Send her a message now? Thanks for listening.
I should add, I have been a real fool to let her do too much, like come and help when I had an operation, house-sit when I went away, babysit. I feel like such an idiot, because what I saw at the time as me trying to rebuild our relationship and showing my DC some normality, has ended up in her looking like the world's most perfect GM. If I cut contact, I will look seriously ungrateful and callous. Nobody except DH knows the backstory; even in her sobriety she has done cruel things to me. I heard that she has told my extended family a (untrue) sob story of my life and how much I need her/use her for free childcare. Truth is, am v happy with my life & family, couldn't be married to anyone kinder or more supportive.
eggs she might be a covert narcissist like mine. Here is a description.
Turquoise welcome . This should be obvious, but I know how it is, it might not feel obvious: with what your mother has done to you over the years you would be completely in the right if you never saw her again. (Whether any of your family etc would agree is another matter, but of course your mother has stage-managed things over the years so that they're unlikely to believe you.) You have nothing to feel guilty about, and you don't owe her a thing.
If you want to do low contact you need to really know your own boundaries and be able to enforce them, which isn't easy when you're dealing not only with an abusive person, but the person who actually abused you.
I did LC with my mother for years - I just told her as little as possible about my life, kept it all nice and light, never asked for help, very seldom ever stayed at her house. It got harder when we moved abroad because there was pressure to make the visits longer and after a day or two the mask would slip. Atilla always says that children of abusive parents get blindsided when the grandchildren come along because the abusive parent doesn't always act in the same way towards their grandchildren. I saw that with my mother - she was (sickly) sweet to my girls, which TBH I just saw as a form of gaslighting, you know, making out that there was no abuse? "Look at me being so nice to your children, that's because I am really nice, so if I was ever nasty to you you probably remember it wrong/you must have been really unlovable". But you know, whether she later abused my own children or used them to further abuse me, one way or the other I knew she hadn't changed and one day she was going to make her move. I went NC over a seemingly trivial incident but the relief was instant, I didn't realise till then how much mental energy I had put into keeping her on an even keel, even when I lived in a different country. And all those shitty Christmases and holiday visits. My mum was nowhere near as bad as yours but I really regret I didn't go NC till I was nearly 40.
Anyway sorry that is a bit all about me - sorry, I do this the whole time, but my own experience is all I can offer, I hope it helps a bit.
Turquoise just saw your second post.
As children they get us thinking that we should be thankful to them for doing routine care that is any parent's obligation. And they make us think that if we disagree and defy them in any way, no matter how young we are, then we forfeit the right to any love or care. I think that's why you feel guilty about having accepted help when you were ill.
Having your mother come over and help you after an operation or help with childcare is totally normal and I bet you like me plan and expect to do that for your own kids one day. Breaking your hand is not normal. Abusing you throughout your childhood and claiming you deserved it is not normal, and doing a bit of childcare etc doesn't change that. Therefore there's nothing wrong with telling her to fuck off.
Thank you toomuch, what you have said has really resonated, it helps hearing other's experiences.
Weirdly it felt obvious when I was pregnant with DC1, 8 yrs ago, and I know my DH supported going NC then, when I first fell apart (and all the protective hormones started raging). But, I then decided to try to give my DC what I thought would be better for them, a 'proper' grandparent relationship - and just as Atilla says, I think I have been blindsided because she has been v good to them.
"Look at me being so nice to your children, that's because I am really nice, so if I was ever nasty to you you probably remember it wrong/you must have been really unlovable" - wow, your thoughts could be my own...it served to undermine my memories and feel ashamed to cut contact. Hence why 8 yrs ago, it was obvious, but now it's all blurred, I feel at fault and it's even harder to do it now.
She doesn't live locally so comes for week long visits. Recently the mask has slipped though, even with them, the voice has sounded a bit harsher and falsely patient (a bit sing-song, hard to explain), leaving both myself and DH unable to really call her out on anything, but feeling uneasy, as you say...the mask slipping.
The recent fall-out (possibly one of the least-worst things she has done) was paranoid crap about stuff I've never said, including that she thought I was talking about her with parents in my DC's class as they weren't really friendly when she picked him up from a party. I barely know the people in question, so it's ludicrous - but of course it then descended into the conversation I mentioned above AND being told that I wasn't considering she'd just lost her sister. I said she was also my aunt, but obviously that's totally different!
I don't know if I need to send a text saying something to the effect of: Just to say that kids, DH and I are all fine. I know we said we'd leave it a week and it's been 3, but nothing to report. I'll call when I have any news... and then basically not call.
Or: Just to say that kids, DH and I are all fine. I know we said we'd leave it a week and it's been 3, but our last conversation was just too much for me. I can't see a way forward from it and as I'm pregnant I need to minimise stress, so prefer to keep our distance for now.
Or: total silence...but risk more texts / calls, her involving other people (DF, DB). DB basically can't stand her and is LC, but still has some sense of duty. My DF does not believe she is that bad, or the things I've told him, but I think that's because it's better to believe that than think he left me with her. She's been dreadful to him, so not sure why it is like this.
FYI - I'm nearly 40 too, maybe this is the epiphany moment
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