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"But we took you to stately homes"... a thread for adult children of abusive families

(1001 Posts)
Pages Sat 15-Dec-07 10:52:22

This thread is a follow up to "My mother has cut me out of her life - long sorry" because we reached the end of the thread life.

I originally posted on that thread to say that my mother had blamed me for something that was in fact her fault, called me a liar, got the rest of the family to gang up on me and then blamed me for splitting up the family.

It generated a huge amount of interest from a number of women who, like me, had grown up in an abusive, or "toxic" family environment where we had been the scapegoat or the dustbin for our parents to dump their own unresolved difficulties. My mother, like all our mothers, has refused to apologise for what she has done and many of us have cut ties with our families in order to recover our lost selves and self-esteem.

Pages Sat 15-Dec-07 10:54:15

I'll let someone else explain the thread title smile

ishouldbeironing Sat 15-Dec-07 10:56:36

Mine is "But you were always well dressed and well fed""
perhaps but also emotionally neglected sad

at least you have spoken toyour parents about it
my 'mother' has 3 children who have effectively buried the hatchet - i will never...

i think i will follow this thread more closely as i was unsure of what the other one was about

elfsmum Sat 15-Dec-07 11:17:15

not sure what was on the other thread, but my mother always favoured one of my brothers and one of my sisters

we "discussed" her favouritism and I was told that I received exactly the same as my "favoured" sister

in terms of possessions yes I did, but emotionally, no, I think that also passed on to our children

my sister's DD (her 2nd) is 2 months older than my DS1 - DS started walking at 10 months, my neice at 12 months so about the same time, I walked into my mothers and got "have you seen what she can do"

DS's walking passed without comment - which was basically how it was with me and my sister

remeber once going out with my sister and her getting drunk, so when we got home she couldn't see to her daughter - mum had a go at me (I was sober) because I didn't go to my neice immediately - erm I'm not her mother (oh we all lived together at that point)

as an adult I decided I couldn't change my mother it was how she was - and resolved never to be like that with my children

my other sister never came to terms with it, didn't discuss it with our mothers and when mum died my sister regretted that she never did

and now she is still very bitter about it all, never calls our mum - my mum - always refers to her as "your mother"

sorry if this isn't the same as what others may have been discussing on the other thread

LittleSleighBellasRinging Sat 15-Dec-07 11:19:11

Gosh how timely this thread is.

I have recently been realising how livid I am by my mother and was considering counselling (so that I can stop feeling angry) but can't afford it. Maybe we should have a "mumsnet online counselling" section.

elfsmum Sat 15-Dec-07 11:29:11

LSBR - it was the counselling that made me realise that I couldn't change my mum but I could only change the way I feel about it

only went for a "chat" 3 times and it was all I needed

gave me the strength at the time to say to my mum when she was going at me - she was very good at emotional blackmail - "you cannot make me feel guilty about that - that wasn't my fault"

my family used to drive DH mad when we first got together, I'd be at his house and would be expected to drive 10 miles to pick up some milk to deliver to my sister - when there was a perfectly good shop 5 minutes walk away from her house

why ? because I had a car and that was easier for me to than for her to walk 5 minutes

I've said to my elder sister that she should go, she has lots of unresolved issues, her first born was full term still born, a few months later our brother died, she had post natal depression after her 3rd child, and then all of the issues she had with my mother

she fell out big time when mum took the "favoured" sisters side over something, my eldest swore on her baby's grave she was telling the truth - mum still didn't believe her

my eldest sister never forgave her for that

Mine was "but you went to private school" and you had a good education

Yes, but you were drunks and you went into jail for five years cos you couldn't aford to pay for it cos you were only pretending to be middle class. And when you went into jail I ended up being 10 years old and living on a very rough council estate - made doubly hard becuase of all the bullying because of my posh private school voice angry

And you were violent and basically arseholes.

I'm really glad i haven't seen you for 14 years - I'm happy now while you lie in a pool of your own piss and vomit.

Aaaaaahhhh..........that was cathartic smile

hazygirl Sat 15-Dec-07 12:02:06

its hard i am one of five ,always known as black sheep of family ,we laugh about it, but deep down it hurts ,she says im a tough nut becase i stand up for myself ,i am one of five,next to the youngest ,they do everything for my little sister and her daughter but me bollocks to , they do help out financially if i ask but i dont want that, my two eldest sisters are well off financially own buiseness and that and they are proud of them ,me i work on nights on an emi unit but i would love them to say well done ,were proud, even odd occassion when she does ring all she goes on about is my sster and its about time i sorted myself out ffs

bearsmom Sat 15-Dec-07 12:08:04

Hi Pages, wow the previous thread has been busy! Love the title of the new one. Just off to catch up on recent posts on the old thread now. I too have had contact in the past few days - Christmas cards (me and DH got one this year having been ignored last year, whoopee (not)), and an email from my mother following on from me seeing my sister last weekend and her telling my mother everything I told her, which my mother has used as an excuse for contact. Ugh. She's back into her favourite "I'm the wronged party, how can you be such an ungrateful daughter, we wouldn't have any problems if you'd just do as you're told" (i.e. seeing, and allowing ds to see, my narcissistic, violent-tempered and abusive father) mode. Sigh. Plus now I know for sure I can't trust my sister at all, when I'd been clinging onto the hope that we could continue to have a reasonably good relationship. I'm so glad this thread is here smile

Pages Sat 15-Dec-07 12:08:42

It's exactly what we have been discussing elfsmum. Nice one, Laurie!! grin

I can see I didn't need to explain the thread title grin

The previous thread was exactly that, an online therapy group/place to let off steam/understand more/whatever you want it to be.

Many of us on the other thread have also read the book "Toxic Parents" by Dr Susan Forward, and/or Alice Miller's books and I personally found them (along with the thread and 8 months' of counselling) invaluable in helping me to confront my mother, get over the anger and recover my lost sense of self.

PaulaYates, my siblings have also (all bar one who remembers things as I do) sided with my mother, also accused me of making up lies, cut me off and accused me of having false memory syndrome (or such like) and being cruel to my poor victim mother.

Yes, that's the mother who stood by for seven years while my stepdad beat me, emotionally abused me and sexually harrassed me, and who left me home alone at the age of 5 and blamed me for running away and getting her into trouble with the police, and who now says it never happened or it wasnt that bad, or anyway it was worse for her, and anyway, she thinks I had a good upbringing. She took me to stately homes, you know.

claricebeansmumhasnomincepies Sat 15-Dec-07 12:14:02

This is all such familiar territory.

LOL at the stately homes title - this was my mother. Whilst I was traipsing around national trust properties other friends were being taken swimming, to ride their bikes in the park. I knew at the time that mine was not a normal childhood but now I have children of my own I know it for sure.

Recently an my mother retold an incident from my childhood which too this day makes me squirm and the whole thing was not my fault - but she cannot see that. It was infront of 20 odd people and she thought it was really funny...

A couple of weeks ago we were on a long journey and needed to stop for something to eat with DC in the back. DH and I got talking about childhood journeys etc and it was only then that I discovered that it was unusual for a child to be left in the car in the car park of the pub whilst parents went in for lunch. A bottle of coke and sandwich would be brought out to me. It makes me so sad now as I could never bear to do this to my own DC.

I can so relate to being left in a car - I spent whole summers of my childhood locked in a car - were kids not allowed in pubs in the 70's ??

Not only was I left in the car, I also had to entertain my sister too as she was younger - i was once slapped cos she peed in the footwell after we were left in the car for three hours because it was "too dangerous" to get out the car.

And once my dad was drunk in a pub in a lock in and my sister and I were left outside in the car til 4 in the morning, in Scotland, in winter angry

I think being left in the car while parents were in the pub was a standard thing in the 70's and 80's in the UK - am I wrong?

My parents were uninterested and disinterested. I think they only had children to conform, tbh. Really, they shouldn't have bothered, they were useless.

I was fairly terrified of both of them as a child.

Sorry, haven't posted on the other thread, but I think I get the jist.

Despite being at various times absent, pissed or violent, they did, however, buy my shoes from Clarke's, so that's alright then. hmm

Arf at stately homes title - it's a bit like, "Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

claricebeansmumhasnomincepies Sat 15-Dec-07 12:49:19

LOL at Mrs Lincoln quote

I don't know about being left in the car as standard practice - plenty of friends and DH family had picnics on long journey or stopped at a Happy Eaters etc

As a mum I strive to do things with my family as a family. I am really not sure why my parents had me. They like to tell people when they first got married they wanted a really large family shock.

bearsmom Sat 15-Dec-07 12:50:25

Referring back to the previous thread, just wanted to say Ally90, PMSL at your parents' cat, what talent grin!

I like the idea of somewhere we can recommend books. Like many on the previous thread I found Susan Forward's Toxic Parents invaluable, and I've read a couple of Alice Miller's books too which were excellent but sometimes very traumatic to read. I've read When you and your mother can't be friends, which was also useful. I'm currently reading The Right to Innocence by Beverley Engel (subtitle Healing the trauma of childhood sexual abuse). It's very well written and she manages to convey a huge amount of common sense advice and reassurance very simply. She talks a lot about how important it is to accept what has happened to you and how the healthy release of anger is the key to healing and can (among other things) lift depression (and often resolve other problems like eating disorders). Ally recommended another book by her (Divorcing a Parent?), Ally where did you get it? I looked on Amazon and couldn't find it.

shock shock at being left in the car alone for so long. That's horrendous.

oneplusone Sat 15-Dec-07 13:41:01

Hi, bearsmom, just wanted to let you know that I've ordered Divorcing a Parent from an american seller on amazon.com as opposed to amazon.co.uk. It's a second hand copy and the total including shipping will come to around £12.

oneplusone Sat 15-Dec-07 13:43:26

PS mine was 'we spent loads and loads of money on you and bought you loads of things and cooked you all your meals and did your washing so why are you pissed off that I held a knife to your throat at the breakfast table one morning or I attacked you when you had just had a bath and were wearing nothing but a towel and called you a bitch, whore and cow' (I was about 12 at the time)

toomanystuffedbears Sat 15-Dec-07 14:39:23

All: I am benefiting hugely from this -and the old- thread because my parents are deceased (27yrs Mom and 10yrs Dad) and my Middle Sister is presuming the matriarchal role in a toxic way--Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
I do have excellent support from Oldest Sister and actually had a great conversation with her yesterday. She let me know that I take after our Dad who was quiet and introspective and didn't give a hoot about 'society status' while Mom was the one obsessive about appearances. Middle Sister-who Oldest Sister made clear took after Mom- had me believing I was defective because I am not a party girl and don't have adult female friends (sisters being the only ones really)and being the NPD one, she feels it her duty to fix me (her power play for my benefit). I really am content with solitude.

Pages: HUGE blue ribbon championship trophy to you for your monumental success-(indifference to your Mom's communication)! Congratulations, I am so happy for you.

OnePlusOne: This is difficult, and difficult to find the right words. I recently came to (am coming to) a sort of understanding about my emotionally neglected/abusive childhood in that the main point is it is in the past. I saw in the paper a story about "Compassionate Friends" (there is a website) about grieving for deceased children; they organized a candle lighting event for commemoration. Well, I have not lost a child and am very sad for people who have (I don't want to diminish their grief). But I honestly felt like lighting a candle for my own childhood. It is gone and no going back and I grieve that. I am an adult. I miss what I missed (love, validation, guidance, attention) and I feel frustration and anger. I don't know if this will help you, but it may be a different perspective to consider.

More on grief: I didn't really mourn my mother's passing until dd was born. When she died (I was 18), I did the adolescent thing and transferred my grief to my Dad who would undoubtedly die next (any day). I thought it was because dd being born finally made me realize how much I missed having a mother/daughter relationship? or needed her? But these past few days, I realize it was because I was angry/frustrated-not really mourning- because she didn't mother me enough and now I have a daughter and how am I going to mother her?

A surrogate mom is a good thing if you can find someone. There was a lady for me when my children were infants/born. The relationship was only for a couple of years but she really helped me because she was kind and knew I didn't have anyone else (we have no family in the area- Middle Sister is 80 miles away and Oldest Sister 200, in-laws 500 - actually not too sad about that one wink). You might want to consider being careful of your expectations, though, because your circumstances (context) are different. I had cried myself to sleep thanking higher authority for a second chance for a mother when I got married and hoped mil would fill my vast void. Wrong.
It is a long row to hoe, be patient. <<hugs>>

Love the Mrs. Lincoln line too.

CarGirl Sat 15-Dec-07 14:45:49

I think what I find hardest is that I do not seem to be able to parent my dds in the way I want to, all I was shown was emotional distance and I find it very hard to be different. It makes me so angry, whilst therapy has helped be cope it hasn't undone my inability to be emotionally close to others.

Yes I was taken camping to Europe 3 weeks every summer, hated every minute of being stuck with my family without the retreat of my bedroom and pets - it was hell. Yes my parents supported me in my education - loads of interest in my graduation zero interest in my marriage or happiness.

Pages Sat 15-Dec-07 17:20:50

Cargirl, one or two people have also mentioned this problem on the other thread.

My mother was also emotionally cut off from me as a child, never hugged me or touched me or EVER told me she loved me. I got a lot of positive attention for being good and clever and achieving (to feed her own narcissistic need for attention and approval from others - as this reflected back well onto her) that's where I focused my energies for my own survival.

I have often wondered why it is that instead of being emotionally distanced from my own children I am the complete opposite. I seem to have huge amounts of empathy with them, and the more hugs, kisses and closeness the better as far as I am concerned. It fulfills my own needs as well as (I hope) theirs, I felt this huge aching to be touched and held all through my childhood. I wonder why I didn't inherit my mother's coldness.

oneplusone Sat 15-Dec-07 17:46:54

Cargirl, I know what you mean, i feel the same about my parenting of my dd. I feel i am treating her in exactly the same way my mum treated me both as a child and as an adult until i cut her off. She was interested in me as long as i wasn't upset, emotional or needy. If was needy she turned her back on me or ignored me and I feel i'm doing the same to my daughter. However i am aware of myself and my feelings in a way i'm sure my mum never was so i try my best to pretend to be available to my daughter when she is upset/crying etc, but i find it very hard as i simply feel nothing but coldness inside.

My 'realisation' about my abusive childhood only really occurred earlier this year, by which time DD was nearly 4. Although i can't really remember very clearly, I am sure that i was emotionally distant towards my dd in the first few years of her life ie until i had my realisation and became aware of myself and my unmet childhood needs.

Maybe i'm being paranoid and overanalysing my dd's behaviour but i can sense in her a need to seek reassurance from me that i love her. eg she is constantly saying to me that she loves me and i have a feeling that many times she is saying it so that i say it back to her and thus she gets the reassurance of my love that she feels she needs. To my mind, she must need this reassurance because of my emotional distance towards her when she needs me; my emotional distance must be making her unsure as to whether i love her.

Although my DS is only 19 months and not yet talking, i can see in him a real sense of security, he KNOWS that he is loved by me as i don't have this same emotional distance with him, when he needs me i can be there for him, it comes naturally, i'm not pretending or forcing myself in any way and inside i feel a complete connection with him that is lacking with DD.

I have posted about this particular issue that i am facing in a recent post and whilst i think the future for my relationship with DD is much brighter, as i now have awareness and am not acting unconsciously, as Alice Miller says, the past cannot be revisited or changed or undone. I know therefore that already in my DD's short life i have already caused some damage and that knowledge is breaking my heart. The only way as adults we can overcome our past is to revisit it on an emotional level but how can my DD do that, she is only 4?

Pages, I would so much appreciate any thoughts you may have on what I've posted, you are much further on this journey than me and each and every one of your posts has been so kind, thoughtful, insightful and considered, i would be really grateful for any advice you can give me.

Those of you who had your 'realization' before you had your children are so fortunate, as are your children, as with your awareness you cannot pass on your parents' legacy to your own children. But as I only became aware after I had my second DC, my darling daughter has been affected for which i feel terrible.

Pages Sat 15-Dec-07 17:47:42

Thank you Toomany for the blue ribbon. Much appreciated (I am a bit like Monica in Friends, getting gold stars and being top of the class was the only way to get my mother's attention grin)

To update on this thread (Ally suggested I should do so), I had a big confrontation with my mother after this all happened 18 months ago. Th irony is that my mother and I had always been really close - providing I always "shared a brain" with her, ie agreed with her and was never confrontational. My older brother and I told her in a letter that she had always blamed us for her mistakes, used us as scapegoats, manipulated and divided us siblings to "conquer and rule" so that she could remain Queen Bee. Her reaction was to go crying to my remaining siblings (none of whom are now speaking to me), and to tell us that it was beyond redemption, WE had hurt HER (hmm) too much and that we had to leave her to get on with her life and get on with ours, hence the title of the old thread. I faced huge feelings of fear and abandonment at the time and the lovely mnetters on the other thread helped me come to terms with what had happened. I guess I have spent the last year "growing up" and learning to live life without her.

I recently had a face to face confrontation with her for the first time in 18 months(she wanted to see the dc) and I told her she needed to apologise for what she had done. She ignored what she had done recently and focused on the past instead, kept telling me what a good childhood I had had) and went through a whole range of "toxic parent reactions" ie guilt peddling, blame, pretending she was having a heart attack, telling me she was too frail for all this... I left knowing she was never going to change. Something inside me has definitely shifted since then, and I am no longer afraid of her, nor do I need her in my life.

Two days ago she sent me the following letter: "What I do not accept and never will is that I was a toxic or bad mother. Sure I made mistakes, I did my best and at times that was not good enough for you. For that I am sorry. And that is my last word on the subject. Your mother."

So, translate as: "My best would have been good enough for any other child but you, because you are too demanding, needy, etc so here's a grudging "sorry" on that basis and that's all you're getting. And just remember I am always right because I am your mother".

And guess what? I don't care! (Hence the blue ribbon!!) Off to drink champers with best friend and open Xmas pressies... smile

lovecattlearelowing Sat 15-Dec-07 17:49:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CarGirl Sat 15-Dec-07 17:55:26

the classic from parents was that they are the way they are due to their childhoods, however my breakdown and ongoing depression etc etc etc is NOTHING to do with my upbringing. My Dad once phoned when I was crying my heart out, he hung up as quickly as he could and I didn't hear from him again for months.

I could rant and rant and rant but it doesn't change anything, they will never change or admit their faults therefore I have nothing to gain from a relationship with them. I am still left parentless without support and I feel bad that my dc do not have grandparents/uncles/cousins etc

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