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Our 6th visit to the Stately Home.....

(989 Posts)
oneplusone Tue 19-May-09 11:52:41

Hi all, took the liberty of starting a new thread. Keep on posting!

roseability Tue 19-May-09 14:00:25

Was just going to start one, thanks!

OPO - your post was very sensible and helped me to see things as they really are. Indeed my friend and her father were just doing the polite thing. It was her wedding day, she wouldn't have been thinking about my issues or hurting me! My grandmother was in the wrong, no one else. I wouldn't have mentioned it to my friend. I suppose I am sorry I missed her day as well. That my toxic parents got to see it and I didn't. That part of the reason I didn't go, is because I didn't want to see them and get stressed so late on in the pregnancy. I feel like they still have such a grip on my life.

Your example about your MIL is exactly the same kind of thing. I suppose we want people on our side, to see what we see. I do believe this is partly why abuse (especially emotional and mental abuse) goes unnoticed in our society. People don't want to rock the boat or to cause a fuss. I have one friend who will openly say what horrible people my parents are. In fact she once turned round and said quite bluntly 'did you have a happy childhood?'. It was the first time anyone had asked me and it really triggered me. It was shortly after that I ended up in counselling.

Everyone else will listen and sympathise yes. But they will still be openly nice to my parents' faces. However would I be strong enough to openly express disgust at someone elses parents? I don't know tbh

smithfield Tue 19-May-09 14:59:56

Rose- it sounds like your grandmother was 'trying' to push your buttons. My mother does this. Its feasible she has over accentuated what actually happened.
So I agree with OPO. She's as cunning as a fox your gran. Sounds just like the kind of thing my mother would do as well. She knows full well what she is doing IMHO.
It's really hard I know but dont let her stress you or disrupt your friendships.

ActingNormal Tue 19-May-09 16:04:27

OPO, I can see why you found your MIL saying that to your sister hurtful. It is like she is inferring that she doesn't believe you about the bad things your parents have done. Does she know much about it?

I sometimes feel exasperated that my PILs say to me in an accusing manner "How are your parents" and "When did you last see your parents". They seem to think it is bad that I don't know how they are and if I haven't seen them for a long time. They say these things even though they know some of what my parents are like.

They know what my brother was convicted for and that he has ended up in prison ultimately because of his childhood issues. They know that I have been on ADs and have had lots of therapy for my childhood issues. They know that my parents behave a bit unnaturally in their unemotional, unexpressive way (from the times they have met them) and must be able to imagine how cold that would feel for a child growing up with them. DH told them something about what my mum's dad did to me and that my mum would not do anything about it. I'm not sure if they know what my brother was like with me or anything else.

Maybe they just don't know enough of it to make them think that I don't have a duty to visit them often and care a lot about how they are. Maybe your MIL doesn't know enough, I don't know. I do get the feeling my ILs have an inbuilt view that parents are to be respected and cared about and looked after by their children and that their children should feel grateful for the good things they have done (but those things don't make the bad things feel any better!). Another thing my ILs do is to point out my parents' good points. I think this is a general view of society and your MIL probably has it too. Can't they see that not all parents are worthy of these things? Not all parents do the right thing. I think this must seem unimaginable to them.

Rose, my first thought was the same as Smithfield, that your GM was saying it on purpose to wind you up. It is like she was saying "you think I am bad but you are the one who is wrong because your friend doesn't think I am bad, she proved she thinks I am good by letting me come in to her wedding". Don't let her wind you up and doubt yourself like she is trying to. She can't accept that she did wrong so she is being defensive. I also agree with what you said about people not wanting a confrontation though so your friend would have just done what was easiest at the time and felt least embarrassing/uncomfortable even if she does think badly of your GM.

ActingNormal Tue 19-May-09 16:09:03

...I've said this before but just in case it is useful to anyone who has doubts about their feelings when they remember their parents' good points/good things they have done:

If a burglar breaks into your home and steals something from you, but while he/she is there he/she does the washing up, this does not make what he/she did less wrong!

smithfield Tue 19-May-09 16:35:55

Has anybody read the other thread today. someone posted something and it has made me feel a bit odd, a bit upset actually.
Im wondering if it affected anyone else the same way?
Im being oversensitive i guess.

AN- meant to say I found your posts really interesting. Your therapist sounds so switched on.
How do you feel about it today? Do you feel any different?

ActingNormal Tue 19-May-09 16:49:54

Smithfield, I hope you are ok? If it was something I said that upset you I'm really sorry.

Thank you for commenting on my post. I do feel kind of 'soothed' when I think of the session yesterday and soothed is the only word I can think of for it. It feels quite alien to me really.

I feel like I am on the brink of understanding DD better as well.

I will read the last posts of the other thread now and see if I can find the bit that could have affected you. Do you feel able to tell us? I know you are worried about appearing oversensitive. Most of us know what that feels like.

ActingNormal Tue 19-May-09 17:00:58

Smithfield, has something that has been said made you think about how you feel about being a working mother? I know people can have quite different views on it. I feel that my ILs think I am lazy because I DON'T go out to work, I 'only' look after the children.

roseability Tue 19-May-09 17:13:10

Smithfield - The one where someone suggested threads such as these can make you focus too much on bad things you had forgotten or forgiven. That they can make your childhood issues bigger than they are. That upset me too but I choose to ignore it. It is one person's opinion.

IMHO it really belittled the original posters difficulties. I have found that on other threads about toxic parents there is always someone who takes the 'forgive and forget and move on' line. That is why I am so glad I found this thread. I feel my issues are taken seriously and I take other posters' issues seriously.

When I told my GM that I had received counselling she suggested something similar. That it makes people worse. Rubbish! I am getting my feelings out in the open and growing as a person. She repressed all her feelings all her life and refused counselling for the traumas she suffered. Look where it has got her

ActingNormal Tue 19-May-09 17:28:18

Just seen that thread Rose, only glanced at it.

I used to have that point of view that if we can understand why our parents etc were the way they were and feel sympathy for the things they went through that made them the way they are that we could stop feeling angry and just let it all go.

...But the feelings came back. So it didn't totally work on me did it! I started being triggered more and more. Stressful times can do this I think (eg my bro going to prison and talking to me about things that happened in our childhoods in an effort to understand how he had got to that point). Also having children makes feelings resurface. So maybe the 'understand and forgive' approach doesn't totally work.

I started with my current therapist because the anger I thought I had dealt with was leaking out onto my DD and DH. I decided to do something about that and in no way do I feel ashamed for going to a therapist for this reason.

oneplusone Tue 19-May-09 17:53:07

I haven't seen the other thread people have mentioned. But I do think, AN, that you may be right about MIL, ie they don't know the full details about my parents and how they treated me, and I do suspect they are of the 'honour thy parents no matter what they did to you' school of thought. Afaic, they are ignorant and ill-educated on this complex issue and their opinion therefore is worthless. I do think my PIL probably do think along the same lines as your PIL, AN. (Hopefully now I will not be seeing my PIL for many months so I am just going to put them out of my mind for now.)

Re forgiving, I am not against forgiving per se. But I do think the wrongdoer has to earn his/her forgiveness. He/she has to fully acknowledge what they have done, apologise sincerely and take steps to restore trust and repair the damaged relationship. Only then would I feel I could forgive for eg. my parents. I don't feel I should forgive them simply because.......it's been years since the worst abuse was being meted out to me, or because my parents are now quite old.....these to me are not valid reasons to forgive. An acknowledgment and apology must precede being forgiven.

smithfield Tue 19-May-09 17:56:47

gosh blush- yes the thread that rose is talking about- sorry was in between things asnd posted quickly.
Should have explained a bit more.
I cant imagine anyone upsetting me on here!

smithfield Tue 19-May-09 18:00:50

And I agree with what you say rose too. On the contrary I feel this is the 'only' place I have ever felt free to say what I truly think and get validation for those feelings.

roseability Tue 19-May-09 20:36:23

OPO - exactly right! If my parents could apologise for the hurt they have caused me and try to make amends, I do have forgiveness in my heart. But they still insist it is in my head and try to prove to me that they are good people, that everyone else thinks so (as seen by example I gave of my GM 'stalking' at my friends wedding).

RedCharityBonney Tue 19-May-09 20:37:33

I just wanted to ask how angry you all feel about hurtful things that have been said and done to you?

I was swimming today and thinking a lot as I did my lengths about horrible old shit and my mother's most recent twisty and dishonest email to me, and it occurred to me that I'm almost too keen on feeling angry - too reliant on my anger to give me a sense of purpose and energy.

I think I've gone beyond useful anger and into enjoying the powerful feeling it gives me, and I think that's bad.

Not sure where to go from here though. How do you be just angry enough without overdoing it?!

smithfield Tue 19-May-09 20:44:11

RCB- I think actually that's quite a positive way of handling anger. You are channelling it in a positive way.
at the same time you are aware of where the anger stems from.
Its more a problem when its turned back on yourselves or those that dont deserve it because you feel angry but not sure why.

skihorse Tue 19-May-09 20:56:07

I really like the fact that we can tell the truth here - that nobody says "I'm sure it wasn't really that bad" or "but they're famleeeeee" angry. Fuckers.

smithfield Wed 20-May-09 11:21:04

Skihorse- Couldnt have said it better myself grin

I feel different today. In fact, I have felt differently over the last few days. It's as though something inside me has shifted.
I seem to have lost any anger I had been feeling toward DH.
We're not at the end of the tunnel yet because I think there has been some serious damage to our relationship over the years as a result of my 'abuse' towards him.
Yes, I am ashamed to admit that 'is' exactly what it is. I have vented and projected my anger on to him. I have even manipulated him and emotionally blackmailed him.
I feel shocked and saddened that this is how I have behaved. I dont want to blame it on my upbringing because that would make me as bad as my mother. But I feel able to take responsibility for my actions and if I accept responsibility accordingly I can only learn and grow from this insight I have had into my own behaviour.
I read somewhere recently that anger is often only displayed by someone who either has a position of power for eg parent to child OR at least has an equal position.
I think perhaps my low self esteem and issues with myself made me behave as though I had to be the one in control and have all the power in the relationship in order to feel safe.
Of course that is the opposite to how my relationship was with my parents. In that relationship I was the one being manipulated, controlled and abused.
I dont think it is this realisation of my behaviour that has released my anger though. This is the bit that confuses me. I just notice all of sudden I dont feel angry toward him at all.
The other odd thing is I have always felt empathy for my parents. Especially my father. I have for many years understood or attempted to understand exactly why they are the way they are. I absorbed all the sorrow and grief of their own wretched upbrinings. The poverty, the lack of love, the lack of empathy for their own childhood selves.
I think this blocked my anger considerably and maybe this is why it was constantly dispalced onto DH. This morning I thought about my mother, yet I didnt feel sadness at all. I didnt feel sorry for her at all. I just felt angry. Not an over powering anger but an anger that just felt justified and resolute.
I think this is a good thing. I also feel the same way currently about my dad. I no longer feel the sorrow or sympathy when I think of him. Or the guilt and anxiety at causing any more pain to him by reducing contact.
I used to feel I wanted to protect him, look after him. I would tell myself somehow if I loved him enough to make up for all his childhood angst I could fix him. I cant. And whats more I dont want to.
I want to work, instead, on fixing myself and on fixing my marriage.
Im sure this is another layer peeling away. It feels good. I feel lighter and a feeling of relief.
What's more its affected other relationships. Not just between me and DH This morning MIL, for example, got in a huff but I felt completely detatched. I refused to let myself absorb her bad feelings, this is what I have felt for many years. That if someone was upset it must be my fault and so I absorb the bad feeling like a sponge.
This is a leftover belief from my old family that I am responsible for other peoples moods. I realise on a deeper level now that I cant control other peoples feelings. Their feelings and reactions are their responsibility not mine.
In turn my reactions and moods are my responsibility...it will take some time but I can harness my emotions. Not suppress them but be in command of them. Use them as a barometer but not allow them to overwhelm me the way they have done in the past.

Sakura Wed 20-May-09 12:11:37

roseability,
I totally agree with what the others have said about what went on at that wedding. Just how sad and desperate is it to go hanging about outside a wedding you haven't been invited to hmm Very annoying for your friend, I should imagine. And it proves that you were right in not going for the reasons you didn't. You wouldn't have wanted to "bump into" your gran, randomly walking past...hmm

Sakura Wed 20-May-09 12:51:29

smithfield,
I haven't read the thread you are talking about, but I can guess. The way I see it is that if that person truly has reached a point of forgiving her parents AFTER doing all the work we are doing here, then she would be much more sensitive person, knowing that there is a thread here on mumsnet where women are bleeding their hearts out to try to overcome depression, anxiety and other issues linked to their childhood.
What I believe is more likely is that this person hasn't done ANY of the work on herself that needs to be done to reach a point where she can forgive her parents. I went through my entire childhood and early twenties "forgiving" my parents, being the better person and basically just patting myself on the back for being such a nice guy. But of course, we know that the moment you have a child, if you go down that superficial road of forgiving your parents you are basically letting them off the hook and you re-enact their behaviour with your own child. NOT forgiving your parents is the first step on the road to making damn sure that you won't behave as they did.

Sakura Wed 20-May-09 12:55:14

smithfield,
I am also where you are regarding your dad. I have always felt enormous empathy and sympathy towards him. But it has been shocking an revealing to accept that he doesn't feel this towards me. He has let me down badly a lot, and he would do so again, to save his own skin. He would always put himself and his needs above me. So although I still feel the empathy for him, I don't feel guilty that I have to protect myself from him. Only he can save himself. And I can use the energy I have wasted on him on saving myself!

oneplusone Wed 20-May-09 13:00:18

Smithfield, what a great post. You have said what I feel. Especially about feeling that if someone was upset that it must be my fault. I think I still do that now to an extent...old habits die hard I guess.

I think I have also been abusing my DH. I have been projecting my anger at my parents onto him and he has been inadvertently triggering me and I have got disproportionatly angry at him before realising i have been triggered. But I think he has been doing the same with me a bit as well. He has been bullying and threatening sometimes and using his position of relative power to control me and get what he wants from me. He has also exploited my need to be loved and also used that to try and control and manipulate me.

I have a feeling that to a certain extent this sort of thing goes on in a lot of relationships but without people realising how their subconscious and repressed feelings are driving their behaviour and reactions.

Smithfield, i also agree with what you said about you being responsible for your reactions and moods. I realise that I am triggered a lot of the time but only when it is too late and i have got overly angry in the present when it is actually my old repressed anger at past events that is being vented. I am also very sensetive again in the present day about certain things again relating to events from the past when i repressed my feelings.

Eg. I have posted on here about feeling upset that my middle sister told me about her pregnancy quite late on and weeks after she told our youngest sister. I spoke to youngest sister about this on the phone just now and all she did was defend middle sister. She also said some nasty things along the lines of me being overly sensetive and being wrong to want DH to speak to MIL about her bullying. It is obvious to me now that she is completely devoid of feeling any empathy for me. She thinks I am in the wrong, I am oversensetive and I should just accept being excluded from the little twosome her and middle sister have had going on for years. It is clear whenever I try and say something about being excluded I am told I am being overly sensetive and I shouldn't get upset over such things. There is no empathy or understanding for my feelings and I really feel I am reaching the point where i just want to cut my sisters out of my life.

They are not going to change, and every contact with them results in me being hurt and upset in some way with my sisters being supposedly unaware of the fact that I am being hurt and when i have pointed it out to them they become defensive and the fake niceness evaporates. We have a completely fake relationship and I don't know why I am nbothering.........I suppose it is for the sake of the DC's but I don't know if that reason enough anymore.

My youngest sister said she and middle sister are in touch on a daily basis and help each other out and i was thinking "What about me?". I told youngest sister she hardly bothers phoning me and keeping in touch which she denied. I have tried keeping them at arm's length but it just doesn't work for me. I think it has to be all or nothing. ie there is no contact at all or the relationship is one where they understand my feelings and care if I'm hurt. But the bottom line is that they don't care if I'm hurt which they have shown quite clearly wrt our parents. They don't seem to care at all about how much our parents have hurt me, they only seem to care about how much i am supposedly hurting our parents by cutting them out. Why am in continuing to put myself up for being hurt and disregarded over and over again by my sisters? If I am going to be excluded anyway I may as well exclude myself and cut them out of my life, it will be painful but hopefully it will be a one off feeling of pain rather than the constant ongoing cuts and digs that seem to go hand in hand with any sort of contact with either of them. I need to look after myself and I am not doing that by continuing to put myself in a position where they can hurt me, even if they are doing it unconsiously and without realising it.

One thing I have noticed with the toxic people in my life is how they push you and are nasty to you, but then when they can sense they may have gone too far and that you may perhaps just walk away meaning they cannot bully you anymore, they suddenly reel you back in by being nice to you, just enough so you get close enough and let your guard down enough so they can dig the knife in again. I have noticed it with DH a little, especially over the issue with his mother, I know my father did it, he alternated between being nice and nasty, although in his case he could have just been nasty and i wouldn't have gone anywhere as where can a 10 year old go if she has nowhere else but 'home' where she is 'welcome'?

Ultimately all these people are bullies. They are exploiting their power and your weakness to vent their repressed negative feelings onto. They are too scared and afraid to vent their anger onto the person who actually deserves it as that person is relatively more powerful than them and they are to a degree dependent on that person to meet many of their needs. So it is always a weaker person who will be the target for a bully who is a coward really as he/she is too scared to stand up to the person who they are actually afraid of and who has been hurting them.

I was bullied by my middle sister and whilst my youngest sister joined in a little she was not the initiater. I was 'marked' as the target by my dad who bullied me. My mother was supposed to protect me from these people but she did nothing as she was scared that she would then become the target instead of me. My little sister witnessed all of this so now, as adults, she is unable to 'process' my standing up for myself and refusing to just accept the treatment that has been dished out to me for as long as she can remember. From her pov, it is me who is being oversensetive and unreasonable, I should just continue to accept being treated shabbily as that is and always has been my 'role' and i should not try and step out of it. Even though our parents are no longer part of the equation I can see that as far as my sisters are concerned, I am still in the role of scapegoat/troublemaker/bolshy/confrontational one and that is where they want me to stay. However much I try and break out of that role in my relationship with them they will always try and keep me in my place.

I can see now I made the mistake of thinking that having cut our parents out of my life, there would be a change of dynamic between me and my sisters and I would not still be cast in my old role within the family, but in actual fact, even without my parents, my sisters are still making me play the role I always played. Only I am not willing to play that role anymore and my sisters are clearly unable to 'process' or accept my new role which is one I have chosen for myself rather tthan having it imposed on me.

The only way that they will be able to accept my new role is if they realise what roles they are playing and gain some insight and self awareness. But there is no incentive for them to do that as they are not really suffering in any way as far as i can tell within the existing arrangement/dynamic that exists between them and my parents. I don't believe they are truly happy and truly love our parents, but ultimately my sisters were never abused like I was by our dad and our mother did not abandon and neglect them like she did me. So I can see how they are able to continue in the way they are doing, still seeing our parents and maintaining the illusion of a family, because for them the illusion is not so far from reality that it causes huge internal tension like it did for me. For me the internal tension reach breaking point and that is when i snapped and cut off my parents, but i can see for my sisters that the internal tension whilst it does exist, is simply not bad enough for them to reach breaking point like me. They can live with it; I could not.

So no matter what i do now, there will always be a divide between me and my sisters that nothing can ever close. It is only if we had had far more similarity in our childhood experiences of our parents that we could possibly hope to be close today in the way i would like us to be. But i can see now that that is completely impossible as we cannot change our pasts. And the only thing for me to do is to accept this sad fact.

I feel silly because i feel like i keep going over this again and again every few months and every time i come to the same conclusion and every time i feel i have finally come to accept that there will never be a close relationship with my sisters, but very time it seems i have been deluding myself because i have not really and truly been able to accept that we were treated so differently and that even now as adults, many years later, our relationships are still exactly as they were when i was a child. My sisters in their cosy, close little twosome and me on the outside, looking in, feeling hurt and lonely at being excluded. The slight difference between now and then is that as a child I never said anything about how i felt, but now I am speaking out but my words seem to be falling on deaf ears. My sisters do not want to hear me, they are happy in their little twosome and they do not want to include me. I suppose again wrongly i always thought that once they realised how hurt and left out they were making me feel they would want to include me and not make me feel left out and secondary to them, but it seems they don't care. They don't care if i feel left out and hurt, they are happy the way they are and i should just accept it. They do not feel bad that however inadvertently they have hurt me by excluding me and making me feel left out and different to them, that is how they want it to be so of course they will strongly resist any attempts on my part to break into their little twosome with all their might.

Now that i have worked this out it makes so much sense and i feel so silly for thinking my sisters would want to include me. Of course they don't. They never have and they never will. I should stop trying to always break into their little huddle as i am clearly hitting my head against a brick wall and it will be my head that breaks first rather than their protective wall which i think they have built around themselves as protection from our parents. It just reinforces my constant feeling from childhood of being alone within our family and of having no secure attachment to any member of the family. I think my sisters formed an attachment to each other in the absense of an available parent to whom a secure attachment could be formed. And i can see the attachment is very strong and there is no way i will be allowed in as that would bmean breaking the existing attachment and creating a new one which included me and that is never going to happen as it would be far too scary for my sisters to break the existing attachment between them.

So once again, another loss for me to come to terms with, to cry over and grieve over. At least in the face of our parents' abuse and neglect my sisters could and did cling to each other for safety and reassurance, i was on my own and had only myself to rely on. What a sad place for a little girl to be in. I think about DD and try and imagine her in my shoes but i simply cannot, it's too painful to even contemplate for a few seconds, but for me as a child it was my reality, not just a terrible nightmare from from which i would awake.

Once again I am sorry to ramble on, no doubt incoherently about my own situation, but it really is only by getting it out in writing that i am able to work these things out for myself. There is no need to respond, just the act of writing is so helpful to me.

oneplusone Wed 20-May-09 13:04:08

skihorse, yes I absolutely agree. This thread i think is really the only place where i can say exactly how i really feel about my parents and sisters and even DH without getting shot down in flames which i know would happen on almost any other thread on MN.

Keep posting...it is always better out (and on here) than in! x

ActingNormal Wed 20-May-09 13:15:07

My judgement must be quite 'off' because I just heard about a friend's ex DH who has been banged up for slapping her face and trying to escape from a police officer who restrained him and I'm feeling surprised that you can go to prison 'just for that'.

It seems to me that when adults do certain things to other adults it is thought of as a crime but it is thought of as less of a crime if a sibling does it to a sibling. I still feel funny about a thread I read quite a while ago about someone who had been badly bullied by their sibling enough to still affect her now, and someone posted that it was normal behaviour between siblings and happens all the time and the attitude was that she was making a big deal of it.

Some things that happened to me were worse than some things I hear about which people get criminally charged for if they have done it to an adult but am I supposed to think that because I was a child and the perpetrator was an older child, but still a child, that makes it ok? Surely it is harder to cope with if you were only a child?

What my brother did to the women he went to prison for brought into my mind something that happened to me at a party I went to as a teenager. What my brother did to those women was done to me by another older teenager with his friends watching and laughing but although I had bad feelings about it (about myself) I never thought he was bad because he wasn't an adult. I thought it was my fault anyway for being really drunk, unable to look after myself properly and behaving provocatively. When Therapist used the words he would describe it as, I was shocked.

oneplusone Wed 20-May-09 13:15:42

RCB, don't worry about feeling 'too' angry. I don't think there is such a thing. I think your body stores just the right amount of anger that is due in relation to the experiences you have been through. ie you cannot create feelings out of nowhere, if they are there, it is for a very good reason.

Like smithfield said, anger is only harmful if it is directed inwards or outwards but towards the wrong people. As long as you are consciously aware that it is your parents (i assume, sorry am not up to speed with your circumstances) that deserve your anger, it is not wrong. I felt a lot of anger over a long period of time, although not continiously, iykwim, towards all the various toxic hurtful people in my life, people who have hurt me both now and many many years ago.

Feeling your anger does give you a kind of energy and feeling of strength and power, i have felt that too. I think harnessing that strength and power to say the things that should have been said to the people that harmed and hurt you, but where before you were too scared to speak out, is not bad or wrong. Or using that energy to write on here or in a journal to release the feelings is also effective. If you feel you need a physical way of safely venting your anger there are examples in the books i have read of hitting a baseball bat against a sofa or pillow (I have done this myself), going for a run and really stamping your feet into the ground are two i can think of.

One counsellor i know has a room with a baseball bat where people can safely vent their anger and scream and shout which I think is brilliant as i have found it quite hard to find a place where i will not be seen and heard to do these things! Living in a a densely populated urban area is not conducive to safe venting of anger!

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