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If you grew up with warring parents who stayed together....

(122 Posts)
CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 23-Dec-12 08:57:02

... how would you say - positively or negatively - it has gone on to affect your life? Do you wish they'd split or are you grateful they stuck it out?

Just that really. We don't have many terms of reference as kids but we can look back from an adult perspective and judge how wise the idea of 'staying together for the kids' actually was.

ChristineDaae Sun 23-Dec-12 09:02:12

Mine stayed together for 15 years and 3 kids worth of warring. I can honestly say life so much better and happier once they split!

fanjolina Sun 23-Dec-12 09:09:54

Totally negatively. Gave us all a messed up view on relationships. None of us children have had a healthy relationship as a result, and that is now being passed down to grandchildren too.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 23-Dec-12 09:11:02

The effect on me - I now realise - was that I grew up desperately wanting to create a household where Mum and Dad still kissed each other goodbye in the morning or put an arm around each other on the sofa watching TV. In pursuit of that I ended up settling down far too young with the first likely candidate that came along and excusing/minimising/forgiving his bad behaviour in pursuit of this 'Happy Family' goal. Would stop short of directly blaming my parents for my choices and mistakes but can see where my motivation came from.

Muminwestlondon Sun 23-Dec-12 09:11:50

My parents finally split up when I was 16. I spent the whole of my childhood listening to my parents arguing and abusing each other every night. I was often so frightened that I couldn't sleep.

I couldn't invite most of my friends over as I was ashamed. By the time I was 16, I had developed a phobia about crowds, had no confidence and was generally a nervous wreck who had no social confidence. It also affected my sister who still has terrible tantrums in her 40s and cannot go out without her hair being perfect (she washes her hair twice a day) and plastered in make up.

I think more importantly perhaps it led to very destructive relationships. I had some really unhappy abusive relationships during my teens and twenties. It was like I was repeating the pattern. I was lucky that I met DH when I was 32 who was not my "type" at all - it was meant to be a short fling - I ended up pregnant and we are still together after 17 years.

As for my Mum who is still alive, she often has abusive rows with her current husband and was so abusive to me and my family that we no longer see her.

TheArmadillo Sun 23-Dec-12 09:15:35

Hated it - though that wasn't the only problem. Made me very insecure as they were telling me everything was fine but it didn't feel like it. I also still can't cope with (angry) shouting in my own home.

I hated the bitching to me about each other as well. They are still together as far as I know (we don't speak anymore). It ruined lots of special occasions and holidays. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach knowing they were going to start.

When we got older and they started going on holiday together (i.e. by themselves) I was genuinely mystified as they couldn't bare to be in the same room without fighting.

I never had any intention of getting married/having kids as a child as I assumed that was how it had to be.

I remember several mortifying occasions especially one where they were buying a big item and we were sat at a desk with the salesman and started screaming at each other. The salesguy turned to me and said 'this must be so embarrassing for you' and I wanted to die.

I think it is part of the reason me and my sister fought constantly from a young age/never got on. We used to have some extremely violent fights (though my dad might throw/bang things they never physically fought). This was our model of behaviour for relationships - we copied them. They could not understand where our behaviour came from blamed me and thought enough shouting would make us 'behave' but we didn't know how I don't think.

I have got friends whose parents (more than one set) appeared to get on fine then divorced without warning when the youngest left home to go to university. This has caused at least as much damage as mine did, as again there was the insecurity at not knowing what was true/inability to judge situations.

fayster Sun 23-Dec-12 09:50:57

Same as the others, really. I grew up without any concept of respect within relationships (as children, we were never shown any either) and as a result have put up with several boyfriends over the years who treated me appallingly. No doubt I've not been a very good girlfriend in return.

I don't know if it would have been any different if they had separated, though, as I think a lot of their behaviour is down to who they are (and my Mum's depression). I also can't blame them for how I've lived my life, but I can understand better now why I've made certain choices. I just wish I'd realised sooner that there was a much healthier alternative.

HoleyGhost Sun 23-Dec-12 10:03:23

It has meant that I have few happy memories of my childhood. However it protected me in some ways. With such a grim example, I had no intention of settling down at all. I had and have radar for abusive people and have avoided them. I have a happy marriage.

PrimeSuspect Sun 23-Dec-12 10:10:55

For me it was terrible. Growing up in a house of shouting and slamming doors and tension. I actually think it is such a selfish thing to do to your children and I think it has nothing to do with the children being better off but often the wife not wanting the husband to leave and using the kids as a form if guilt/blackmail (or vice versa). Everyone loses and the children are the damaged, innocent parties.

elizaregina Sun 23-Dec-12 10:15:04

as above - horrendous - one long streak of misery - any happy time was short lived - invited friends round to hideous arguing etc...

wish they had spilt earlier - dont know how sticking together was justified for us to live in a war zone.....

some people are just arguers and shouters and will be difficlt no matter who they are with - not my parents - they were both absoluty fine once removed from each other.

id never put my children through that.

HoleyGhost Sun 23-Dec-12 10:18:03

It also meant my mother resented and blamed us for her misery. That was damaging in itself.

peachypips Sun 23-Dec-12 10:19:22

I think I am an anxious person as a result of it. I have had some severe mental health issues that are anxiety related and I am sure they would not be there if I had not spent my entire childhood trying to hold mum and dad together and head off potential fights. I am the eldest and my siblings and I are very close but they have always said they didn't feel the sense of responsibility to keep the home happy that I had.

If I could feel a fight brewing I would jump in and try and distract like you would do with a toddler who is about to have a tantrum. They would both slag each other off to me too and I hated it, but would never say as I didn't want to bring more unhappiness.

cog I totally identify with wanting my parents to kiss each other goodbye and snuggle up together. I remember seeing a friend's parents do this at a young age and thinking it was weird!! Then it dawned on me that this was the way it should be.

I am fortunate to have been married for ten years and my husband and I are still in love and have a healthy relationship.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 23-Dec-12 10:19:51

I suppose the flip-side to my question is 'how were you affected if they split up?'. I'd estimate that the negative side-effects of a split would be the same as staying together if the animosity carried on post-split, whereas things would be more stable if the separation meant that, like elizaregina's parents, they were fine once apart.

Just seems to be this automatic assumption that a) DCs are better off with two parents under the same roof no matter what and b) two-centre families/lone parenting is doing DCs a disservice.

BelleDameSousMistletoe Sun 23-Dec-12 10:21:26

God it was awful. Truly, scarily awful. We had alcoholism and DV in the mix too.

I am 47. I may, just, be ready for a relationship with someone nice. We'll see.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 23-Dec-12 10:22:34

"I remember seeing a friend's parents do this at a young age and thinking it was weird!!"

Snap smile It was my first serious boyfriend's parents that I thought were weird. They sat close on the sofa, laughed together & even held hands in public shock. Having said that, I'm still in touch with said boyfriend. His own marriage and that of his DB are not what you call idyllic... so it's not necessarily straight-line cause/effect.

OhThisIsJustGrape Sun 23-Dec-12 10:26:16

I grew up in a household where my parents spent every weekend arguing (Dad worked away all week). The rows were horrendous, made worse by the fact that Dad often refused to argue back and would just sit there whilst my mum threw cups of tea/plates of dinner at him.

She would then storm off in the car leaving us children with no idea when or if she would return.

For years, whenever this would happen, we would beg and beg her to not go (she always returned a few hours later) but by the time I was 13 or so I gave up and started to wish she would just go. She used to threaten to divorce my father and I used to sit there thinking go on then, please do.

It affected my future relationship massively, when I first got with DH at just 17 my natural response when we argued was to turn it into something massive and hysterical. I honestly thought that was what you had to do - I would try and provoke a reaction. Luckily DH had more of a spine than my father did and refused to put up with it and showed me that every row, especially when usually over something silly, did not have to end with me storming out and saying that was it, we're over.

Mum and dad never did split up, my mum died shortly after their 25th wedding anniversary and the last few weeks of her life (she was terminally ill) were spent in deep devotion to each other. My father adored her, god knows why, we all adored her. If only she could've seen that during the rest of their marriage and our childhood, we would all have been much happier.

They should've split up though, no question about it. What they put us children through was horrific, even though we had happy times too and they were under tremendous financial stress for the majority of their relationship - still no excuse. Luckily all us children are in stable relationships, DH and I have some major issues but thankfully not related to my childhood.

BelleDameSousMistletoe Sun 23-Dec-12 10:27:23

I can remember being very uncomfortable with the song "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus" and the line in Merry Christmas Everybody that goes "What will your daddy do when he sees your mummy kissing Santa Claus?" because the answer was that he would punch Santa and then punch my mother.

My childhood was mostly spent in fear that my dad would kill my mum. I used to fantasise about waiting until he was asleep and then stabbing him so we'd all be safe.

I realise this may be more extreme than many other situations here.

I haven't gone on to have abusive relationships or get involved with alcoholics or addicts but my relationships have generally been with unsuitable men.

DowagersHump Sun 23-Dec-12 10:28:46

It was awful which is why my POV is always LTB.

I have very fucked up attitudes towards relationships and always pick terrible men so I've been single for years.

I felt like my mother always put my father first and that was hugely damaging. They would have massive violent rows and make up after we'd gone to sleep and act like nothing had happened the morning after. It was really confusing

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:38:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:40:48

I have had horrible anxiety illnesses intermittently through my life which has had a limiting effect upon my career and just joining in /enjoying stuff in general. I don't trust anyone with the exception of my son and one of my cousins. I have lots of friends many of whom I actually love but deep down, I don't trust them as such. I always think DH is dead or doing something he shouldn't if he doesn't get home on time. I don't react on it cos I know its bollocks but then I'm carrying round the stress and horror of imagining it all. Me and my mum were talking about memories last night and I said I wish I didn't have any. Somehow she can remember stuff without the argument or the storming off that occurred during the event. She is kind but a bit deluded. I haven't seen or spoken to my father for years because he is horrible. They divorced when I was 23. Just in time for me starting adult life so instead of planning for myself I was trying to cope (again) with their drama. My life is pretty good now but I could just scream when I think about my parents and my childhood. My opinion is don't do it!

elizaregina Sun 23-Dec-12 10:42:23

yes we had alcholism too - by the end my mother brought metal plates as they wouldnt smash when thrown!

Thankfully by the grace of god I have a wonderful wonderful DH now who is the total opposite from the men in my family!!!!

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:43:05

Reported my 1st post... Silly phone sent it too quick!

Muminwestlondon Sun 23-Dec-12 10:45:50

Yes, I also had an alcoholic father that I considered murdering, I always hoped he was dead when he didn't come home until late. He died a few months after my parents divorced - I assume his work was done and he had no one left to abuse. My Mum still seems to think screaming abuse at people is normal, which is why I no longer see her and my sister moved to the other side of the world.

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:46:30

Grape - YY to storming off sad

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:52:38

Yes, MumIWL, how many of us or our siblings moved faraway or living overseas? I bet its quite a lot. I never go home, I am convinced something non-specific and terrible will happen if I visit (stupid, I know).

BelleDameSousMistletoe Sun 23-Dec-12 10:52:41

Muminwestlondon - sad

BelleDameSousMistletoe Sun 23-Dec-12 10:55:06

I live miles from my family - three hours drive - even though my parents finally split when I was 30.

Christmas was always a really scary time and it's only since having DD that I am starting to enjoy it although I still find it a very tense time. Like I'm waiting for something awful to happen.

FunnysFuckingFreezing Sun 23-Dec-12 10:57:19

My parents argued a lot and occasionally threw things at each other as did DH's parents. I still view my childhood as happy and accepted that that was just what parents did. The consequence has been that me and DH both make every effort to understand each others POV and rarely argue.

I am glad my parents stayed together though as it would have been much worse for us children if they hadn't. We were never caught up in the crossfire really and they were both loving parents, just couldn't get along with each other. In fact they still can't aged 84 and 87!

OhThisIsJustGrape Sun 23-Dec-12 10:58:26

The storming off thing took me years to remove from my mindset when having a row with DH. It was just my automatic reaction to even the slightest thing. So glad he turned me around before I ever put my children through what I went through.

I was just 20 when my mother died and still in a place where I'd never really questioned why she behaved the way she did. I wish she was here now so I could have it out with her - as I said before I adored my mother and miss her every day but there is a huge amount of resentment towards her for being so fucking selfish. The insults she used to scream at our dad should never have been heard by young children, the time she told him she'd had an affair years previously (which was never mentioned again), the time she chased him around the house with a carving knife... The list goes on.

As an adult now looking back I can see very clearly that she had some serious MH issues and I know that certainly in the later years alcohol played a big part in her behaviour.

And deep down I think she just wanted my dad to stand up to her, not meekly take whatever she, quite literally at times, threw at him. I'm angry at him too for not doing something, anything, to protect us from it.

LilyVonSchtupp Sun 23-Dec-12 11:19:09

sad sad sad
My experience is similar to many posters here especially ArtVandelay, Muminwestlondon and BelleDame. All my siblings have MH issues, I suffer (to a lesser extent than them) from anxiety and OCD.

puds11isNAUGHTYnotNAICE Sun 23-Dec-12 11:30:29

Thanks for starting this cogito, I've just split up with my DD's dad, as i thought it would be best not to grow up with arguing parents.

This thread has really re-enforced the fact i made the right decision.

I was worrying i had made a mistake, so thank you all for sharing your experiences.

LilyVonSchtupp Sun 23-Dec-12 11:31:03

Rethinking this, I'm not sure if our problems stem from the warring parents staying together or the DV, alcoholism and mental abuse from (MH affected) DF. My DM had few options, no job, no money, no family nearby to help. She did divorce him when I was nine but they did get back together for a few years until I was teenager.

DF family b/g is very abusive with depression, mental illness and violence all quite commonplace. It's probably not fair on my DM to characterise her as a warring parent. More someone who had no choices. sad

Muminwestlondon Sun 23-Dec-12 11:45:43

Yes LilyVS, I think you are right. We should look at the reasons in the first place.

I think though that if my Mum had left when we were little instead of 16 and 15 we would have been a lot better off. She said it was due to having to go into B & B etc, leaving the animals but a lot of other people did it. In the end she "chose" to stay with a violent and abusive husband.

I am sure my father was abused. Sent to boarding school at 7, brought up largely by nannies or his beloved grandmother in school holidays. Both his parents were substance abusers.

My Mum has a lot of mental illness in the family. Phobias, irrational behaviour, personality disorders and schizophrenia. I can see elements of mental illness in my own behaviour and it is hard to stay on the straight and narrow sometimes. Luckily I have a very "normal" DH.

I once read that the children of alcoholics can never really relax and enjoy themselves and that is certainly the case with me.

GrrrArghZzzzYaayforall8nights Sun 23-Dec-12 11:45:50

My earliest memory is my parents having a loud hair pulling knock out fight next to the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. My parents separated and got back together a few times before a separation when I was about 13 and divorced at 15 when my father wanted to remarry (he didn't marry that fiancee but another one 2 years later).

I never remember them being a loving couple, it was always like two individuals who happen to share a house and kids and didn't much like doing either. I don't they stayed together for us at all, I think they did it because they did it because they didn't know what else to do and all the support then was for them to stick it out. Really, there warring was the least of my problems. The major relationship problem with them was the barbed comments from them and their side of the family towards the other. As a kid stuck in the middle, you want the parent there to love you so you don't want to disagree but you want to stick up for the other one as well. To this day, I cannot insult DH in front of the kids and I do not take other people insulting DH and/or I or trying to start age inappropriate debates to them or in front of them lightly, I will shut the whole conversation down to stop it.

If I'd have had a magic divorce wand, I would have wanted them to do it when I was about 10, before we moved. We moved for a fresh start (my father had been working away from home for years so we moved closer to where he worked most of the time) and it went downhill very fast, my brother never really recovered from it and my mother's addictions got worse without the family support she had where we started. I'm not sure it would have made anything for me better - it wasn't better after they divorced for me as neither were fit to be parents alone or together - but I think it would have been better for the family as a whole not to have gone through that for the sake of wanting to make it work.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 23-Dec-12 11:54:11

Some of these stories are truly terrible and thanks for sharing. Is there anyone that didn't experience the more severe/extreme stuff... DV, alcoholism, psychoses, etc ... but merely endured regular rowing, sniping and general bad-tempered behaviour that wants to comment? I ask because, quite often, women on this board seem to believe that certain behaviour is not quite serious enough reason to get out and disrupt children's lives and that they should simply tolerate and put a brave face on it.

Again, from an adult's perspective looking back, how does relatively low-level unpleasantness & misery in a parental relationship affect kids?

beckyboo232 Sun 23-Dec-12 12:05:45

My parents finally divorced when I was 15-it was a massive relief. I grew up in a war zone and have no memories of a time when my parents even liked each other. I wish very much that they had split at least ten years earlier, but stayed and it turned from a situation where they were mutually pretty ambivalent but at least friendly to each other to a situation where my father ended up having multiple affairs and being violent and full of hatred in the end. It wasn't nice to grow up with.
I guess it affected me in that it made me very strong, independent and determined never to settle or stay for my children's sake. It also destroyed my relationship with my father ultimately. It has made me reluctant to trust people, my poor dh had to work very very hard at winning my friendship/trust/love.

beckyboo232 Sun 23-Dec-12 12:11:32

Cogito-most of my parents relationships was as you describe low level dislike, disrespect, day to day sniping at each other before it got bad DV affairs etc. it was horrible the consistency of it eroded my feelings and our 'family' far more than the chaotic year when they finally split did, by then the damage for me was done. It was a very screwed up view of what a relationship should be, and it did screw me up for a long while. I hesitate to blame my parents for my adult decisions but there is no doubt it did effect me. With my own dh my experiences have made me determined that it we ever go from love to toleration I would never stay.

TheArmadillo Sun 23-Dec-12 12:13:57

My parents rarely drank (and certainly never got drunk) and although my mother has narc traits there was never any deep mental health problems or similar. They were emotionally abusive (and my father sometimes physically so towards me/sis but at a time when smacking was popular so borderline abusive behaviour).

"regular rowing, sniping and general bad-tempered behaviour" - sums up my parents relationship. There was no violence as such apart from my dad banging his fist down on stuff. They couldn't sit in the same room or have a conversation without sniping leading onto shouting. They never were physically affectionate or said sorry or made up in any way. It was constant.

I find it hard when people assume I had/have an ally in my sister (we are very close in age). Our relationship has always mimicked our parents. We have sometimes been able to have superficial conversations but it never lasted long (think minutes). Partly because of our role models, partly because our parents (mum especially) played us off against each other - divide and conquer I think was their golden rule of parenting. It took me a long time to have a second child because I couldn't see any positives in it for my ds.

The one thing I hated in our house was noone took responsibility for anything - you always had to find someone else to blame it on.

TheArmadillo Sun 23-Dec-12 12:15:07

My dad did throw stuff sometimes but only when everyone else had left the room.

CuriousMama Sun 23-Dec-12 12:17:34

Positively it made me not choose and aggressive partner (like dad).

Negatively it made me not respect my mother as you should. She was far too weak and I never forget her leaving me alone with him. I'd never do that to mine not that they'd be in such an enviroment.

CuriousMama Sun 23-Dec-12 12:18:11


quanticovirginia Sun 23-Dec-12 12:31:25

I wish DP's parents had left each other. By the end they wouldn't even remain in the same room as each other. A lot of mental abuse which came mainly from MIL. Now FIL has passed away this is now being directed at DP and me.

Consequently DP has a very warped view of relationships and refuses to marry me despite having been together 15 years and having two children. he also refuses as a quite conscious decision to ever say he loves me (and never has although as they say actions speak louder than words).

MardyArsedMidlander Sun 23-Dec-12 12:38:17

'but merely endured regular rowing, sniping and general bad-tempered behaviour that wants to comment? '

Yes- and the same as above. I still have huge anxiety issues, can't cope with conflict or people disliking me, terrible choice in men, the belief that sticking with an abusive relationship is what you do...
I also hate social occasions- as they would always have huge rows, storm out, go places but with an 'atmosphere'- particularly if it was a special occasion. I would be DYING for them to just once put a 'brave face on' and save the arguing till later- but they never did sad
It made me determined I would never marry and have kids- and put them through anything like that.
My mum died very young, and my father was absolutely devastated and died soon after. He thought it was funny that they had what he called a 'noisy' relationship- I didn't.

ArtVandelay Sun 23-Dec-12 12:41:01

This is so sad. Sorry everyone. It does seem like we've all developed some coping mechanisms and skills to get through it (hopeful).

MardyArsedMidlander Sun 23-Dec-12 12:45:16

'The one thing I hated in our house was noone took responsibility for anything - you always had to find someone else to blame it on. '

^^ YY to that. Even now, the phrase 'that's YOUR fault' brings me out in goose pimples...

Although there was no DV as other posters have detailed, the constant fighting and then angry silences have made me a peace keeper in the worst possible way. I will always take responsibility for anything rather than let others take the blame, that way I can control things. I am only just getting to grips with being assertive rather than just keeping quiet to keep the peace. My communication skills in relationships have always been pretty rubbish because I never saw my parents talk to each other and they still don't, they are still together after forty odd years and if there is something I need to tell them I have to tell them separately as they just will not talk to each other. It's ridiculous really and now I am a parent I am determined to break the cycle and show my DD how a relationship should work and how she should have respect for herself and any future partners she might have.

monstermissy Sun 23-Dec-12 12:46:42

As someone a year on from splitting from a 16 year abusive relationship (alcoholic dh), this thread has left me in tears. I have children who will grow up with these issues. I am also guilty of continuing to yell etc cause that's all I know. I've been thinking of counseling and after reading this I'm def going to sort that out. I can't change the past but I can ensure their future is different. My eldest has seen and heard things no child should yet is such a fantastic child he's inspirational truly. Thankyou all for sharing, I really needed to hear it at this time.

D0oinMeCleanin Sun 23-Dec-12 12:52:06

When I was 12 I begged my mum to leave my dad. When she refused I asked her to put me into care instead, she told me she'd 'think about it' shock, although she never did.

I left home at 16 with the first unsuitable man who came along.

I still adore her. She is my best friend. Although I feel very protective of her. I feel more like I am the parent sometimes and she relies on me heavily for emotional support when things go wrong although I rely on her equally and she offers me a lot of practical support.

I get on better with my Dad now we have found some common ground but I will never forgive him for my childhood and still to this day think I might have made better life choices if I had have been placed in care when I asked for that.

CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Sun 23-Dec-12 12:52:07

I think you can take heart monstermissy that these stories are from people whose parents stayed together mostly rather than call time. I'm sure your DS really is fantastic and that he'll thrive now that you have stepped away from the abuse.

ChristmasKnackers Sun 23-Dec-12 12:53:45

My parents split when I was 14. I was a bit sad, but my mum was completely honest from the beginning. She told me about her affair and how she didn't know what to do. I told her to leave.

It was really hard for me to see my Dad so upset, but for some reason that didn't seem as important as my mums happiness. I guess I was much closer to my Mum.

20 years down the line and my Dad is much happier with his wife and my Mum is still with my step dad and I love them all to bits.

I am a happy person and don't think any of this has had too much of an impact on me, but who knows.

NamingtonChangersons Sun 23-Dec-12 13:17:05

Yes, my parents are still at it with the low-level shit after over 40 years of wedded 'bliss'. No DV or any form of addiction, no affairs, but... still.

If anyone tries to tackle them about finding healthier ways of doing things, tell them to STFU or tells them it's upsetting to witness/overhear, then they immediately become the tightest-knit couple ever and protest that they adore each other, it doesn't mean anything, it's 'just how they are', whatever. If you then go on to point out that it's not fair on others to have to tolerate it, and upsetting for their adult children as it was when they were kids, you're either laughed at or shouted at for being weird or oversensitive or you're trying to attack them, you're trying to cause a scene, you're the one making things awkward for everyone... Take your pick.

Basically, neither of them seem capable of realising that they should fucking control their tantrums and stress, much less why they should.

I am very anxious and have felt depressed since I was about 3 yrs old. This is not an exaggeration. Because we never know what could trigger one of the episodes between my parents or when one would happen (one incident could have them going mental at each other, a subsequent, identical incident could have them laughing happily together and hugging. There's never been any rhyme or reason to it all), both my brother and I are incredibly controlling of every aspect of our lives. Until we met our current, lovely partners, I've always picked EA arseholes and my brother has been dumped for being anxiously controlling (not abusively, just being so stressed that it ended up being controlling). I've never made much of my life for various shitty reasons, but one of them is that I've always had to be so hyper-vigilant that I can see every way an idea might fail, and I have no faith that anyone can be trusted, that they could sustain support, being nice, and so on. I expect everyone to dislike me, treat me badly and let me down, although I hate myself the most.

I feel like I don't know who I am very well; my childhood was spent trying to protect myself emotionally from the hurt, from my brother's bullying, which was clearly a manifestation of their crap at home, be responsible for my mother's feelings, try to be the referee and then listen to both of them slagging the other off to me (roles they forced me into, as the oldest child). That didn't leave much room to just be myself, to feel secure enough to develop myself and above all, that there was never enough time (between the rows and horribleness) to relax and get on with being a child.

The happiest time of my childhood was when I was about 14 and my mum told me she was going to leave my Dad. She went into massive details about how she didn't love him anymore and why, which was awful, but the thought that they wouldn't be together anymore made me so joyous that I didn't care. On the way back from swimming practice, she used to point out a little house for sale that she told me she was going to buy for us when she left him. The house was also on the bus route to and from school and my heart would soar twice a day as we went past.

Of course, she never did leave him. And I started feeling sick and on the verge of tears... No, not twice a day but even more than I did to start off with sad

The very worst thing, however, is that I can feel myself slipping into her patterns of feeling that so many tiny little things my DP does or doesn't do are an indication that he doesn't love me, nay, that he looks down on me, that I am invisible to me, that he thinks I'm inferior, etc. Just stuff like me asking him to change Ds's nappy whilst I go to the loo and then he hasn't done by the time
I get out (because toddlers are hardly easy to change nappies on!). I keep snapping at him now and then in front of DS and it's like I get into a groove and can't stop. I feel like throwing myself to my knees and shouting, "For the love of God, someone STOP ME!". At least being aware that I must stop is a first step.

NamingtonChangersons Sun 23-Dec-12 13:17:27

Shit, that was long, so sorry!

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Sun 23-Dec-12 13:22:50

My parents are still together - 43 years married. I grew up hating my father, because he was a bully and later on, resented my mother for never standing up to him. My mum is so subservient to him, defers to him for decisions, and never steps in to tell him he is being a bastard. He cheated on her, yet felt the need to confess all, putting her through hell, yet she still stayed with him because he made her think she couldn't cope without him. Even now, she doesn't like certain things he does/says, yet won't ever challenge him on them. My dad destroyed my self worth/confidence/self esteem over my entire childhood. The only times I was not on the receiving end of some put down/insult/screamed orders was when he worked abroad at different times. I can vividly remember desparately hoping they would divorce, even though I knew of kids whose parents had divorced and it was always seen as a bad thing for them. There are a few things that stand out in my memory - one was being ordered to weed the front garden while he was at work 'or else'. I was utterly terrified of what he would do, so even though it was pissing down, I weeded the garden. Neighbours thought I was mental to be gardening on such an awful day. To this day, I cannot stand gardening. Cruel/unusual punishments, engineered to cause the maximum pain/suffering - being a parent now myself, I know how inappropriate and cruel his actions were while my mum stood by and let him do it. That realisation has caused me so much heartache, realising how bad that stuff was, and knowing my mum stood by and let it happen. That has damaged our relationship, when previously we were so close. My smile irritated him. I was called all manor of 'bitches' throughout my childhood, and my mum never told him not to speak to me like that. Much later on, my brother got engaged, and my dad thought he was funny in calling his fiance some sort of 'bitch'. She did not take kindly to that, her dad went mental and threatened to 'batter' him, he went grovelling with an apology and then all was well. I can remember thinking 'no one ever stood up for me when I was being insulted like that'.

My dad is an abusive, controlling, fucked up individual who made sure I never stood a chance of making the most of what I had. I've done OK overall, in spite of his efforts, but I do resent the fact that because I have no self belief and no one to lean on, I always seem to fall short when I want to move on with my ambitions. I am working on that slowly, but it takes a lot to undo nearly 40 years of being told you are nothing but a little bitch and you won't amount to anything.

I pity my mum as I know she would have a fab life without him, and it pains me to know that the reason she won't leave him is he's convinced her that she needs him, and that only he can help her with anything she needs help with. The truth is he would be lost without her, she does everything for him, and she's more capable and stonger that he ever has been. If it came down to who would fare best, no question it would be my mum, and yet she doesn't see it at all. I also resent the fact that I had to be the one who stood up to him, and even now I still feel the repercussions of having done that. All I ever wanted was my mum to stand up for me, to tell him he was being a bastard, and to leave him for her sake as well as mine. It took a break down, counselling and therapy for me to get to the point of standing up to him, and for a while I felt fantastic. But, as he's been good at all his life, he slowly chips away at others' strengths, and now I'm the 'family outcast' as all my wider family will happily spend time in their company, and pretend I don't exist.

If I sound bitter, it's because I am. I don't have a family I can lean on/rely on, and it's all down to him and his manipulation, bullying and intimidation, yet he paints me as an awful person. The most painful part is people believe him, and think the worst of me because he is so good at twisting things round to make him seem reasonable. That is hard to deal with at times, especially when I stuggle and need someone to lean on. The rage I feel at those times is overwhelming, and pretty much stems from a childhood spent watching my mum be walked all over by the same bully who made my life hell.

RobinsBaubleSparkles Sun 23-Dec-12 13:35:05

When I was little it was my biggest fear that my parents would split up. They were always arguing and didn't even sit in the same room together etc.

Now that I'm older I wished they had just split up. They did for a bit, when I was a baby, but got back together but they would have been better staying apart, TBH.

My Dad died of cancer when I was 13 and while he was ill they were quite loving towards each other. My mum was his carer.
When he died my mum was devastated but now that the grieving period is over my mum doesn't miss him that much anymore. She says he made her life a misery, which I can see. It's tainted his memory a bit, which is sad because he wasn't a bad person just probably suffering from depression. It's a shame.

FunnysFuckingFreezing Sun 23-Dec-12 13:46:14

Cogito no DV, alcoholism etc in my family just lots of arguing which only involved us DC as we could hear them shouting. My sister has MH issues and was always very sensitive to the shouting whereas it went a bit over my head really and I would just think oh FGS just grow up! DH on the other hand hated his parents arguing and used to cry when he heard them. Overall it was far better for our family to stay together and I think the reason they didn't separate was generational ie they are now in their 80's and not part of the generation for whom divorce was normal

gettingeasier Sun 23-Dec-12 13:53:14

I hated growing up in a single parent household and thought life would be so much nicer if we were a nuclear family with a car, colour TV and orange squash in the cupboard like everyone else I knew.

As an adult now I can see my situation was for the best but I have had issues which its taken me years to address and honestly I think stem from my childhood.

XH grew up in a loving environment, his parents madly in love stable home etc but he is fairly screwed up.

I dont know but reading this thread is making me feel for all the drawbacks and the chopped up way my DC have lived these past 3 years with the one night a week /every other weekend thing maybe it is for the best our marriage ended

It feels like you cant win either way

JoandMax Sun 23-Dec-12 13:58:23

My parents have been married for 40 years and honestly I don't thi k they've liked eachother for 35 of them!

There was/is no DV or abuse but the low level bickering, sniping, silences, muttering under the breath.... Over the years they have frequently told me seperately how much they want to leave etc etc but it never happens.

It's so stressful to be around them, the constant digs and comments drive me crazy. Especially now I have my own DCs as I don't want them to be around that kind of relationship.

I have no respect for them really, I care about them but I just don't want to hear it anymore. They also do the passive aggressive thing with me and my siblings and fall into the typical middle class stereotype of caring more about what the neighbours think than their own family. I've never been told I was loved or proud of, I think their feelings towards eachother clouded their feelings to everything else, so much bitter resentment.

For me I'm lucky, I met my DH when I was 19 and my PIL treated me as their own from day 1, total unconditional love and support. They have a great relationship and seeing them and how DH was really helped me. 12.5 years on me and DH are very happy and my ILs still are just amazing.

My brother and sister suffered more, a string of failed relationships behind them. They're now settled (ish) - but my brother doesn't always treat his wife well at all, I see a lot of my Dad on him. My sister has struggled emotionally and is now in a relationship with a man my dads age. The age gap isn't a problem as such but she has conflicting feelings about it sometimes.

It has taught me lots in terms of what not to do to my DCs, that bringing them up in an unhappy home is not the right thing to do.

LessMissAbs Sun 23-Dec-12 18:41:05

Very positive - from a relatively early age, I knew what to avoid. When I found myself getting arguementative and overly critical in my relationship, I knew the signs and was able to take steps to address it and stop. As a result, I've always been drawn to calm, slightly quiet, decent men and have been in a stable relationship for 15 years.

montage Sun 23-Dec-12 19:10:15

I read a thread on here once where the OP was agonising that she did not want her children to be from a broken home, and another poster said it was better to be from a broken home than grow up in one. That summed it up exactly for me.

MatureUniStudent Sun 23-Dec-12 20:06:39

Bunch sad

aroomofherown Sun 23-Dec-12 20:09:09

I'm sure some of you are my siblings! My parents are in their 80s but I really wish they'd gotten divorced when I was younger. Even now my mother bullies my dad, but he believes he should stay because he made a vow.

No DV or alcoholism, but just arguing constantly (well, Mum complaining about Dad and Dad trying to please her, even just typing this is making me cry again sad) and Mum threatening to leave. As a young child I remember that not scaring me, just curious about it, almost excited.

I now live on the other side of the world. I am fucked up wrt relationships. I'm single and childless and can't imagine believing that anyone would love me enough to stay with me. I also bite my nails very badly and have general anxiety and lack of confidence. I'm successful on the outside but not at all on the inside.

So nothing serious, but I know it's held me back and I still regularly wish Dad would have the guts to leave her. Even after 57 years.

MardyArsedMidlander Sun 23-Dec-12 20:12:56

Namington- your post gave me chills. I could have written that- right down to my mum telling me she was going to leave my dad and picking out a house. She never did- he had a nervous breakdown and then SHE had one...

And yes, I have always been the weird over sensitive one who can't take a joke...

Mum stayed for 10 years through horrific DV. It has seriously fucked up my MH. I never saw my father again which was just dandy as far as I was concerned. Always LTB if he is any kind of abusive. You can choose, your kids cannot.

dondon33 Sun 23-Dec-12 22:10:31

Oh Christ! where do I start? Mine shouldn't have been together for 1 week
DM met stepf when I was 2 and they remained intent on destroying each other together until I was 27, during which time my 3 siblings were born.

We've all had problems growing up and well into adulthood, I'll speak just about my own problems/feelings: Anxiety, severe depression, nervousness, difficulty forming and maintaining relationships, emotional numbness, never feeling loved or supported. I was SA when I was young from a young age until I was 11/12 (another family member) and even then I knew I couldn't go to either of them about it so locked it inside myself as I knew they'd probably both blame each other and probably enjoy doing so.

There was alcohol abuse, DV and affairs on both sides, they'd argue and fight without drinking but mostly it was alcohol induced. If there wasn't arguing there was ice cold silence between them - a competition to see who would break first, it could go on for weeks (the drunken stuff would restart once the pub had been visited but back to quiet the next morning) it was so confusing to the 4 of us who were wandering around wondering wtf mood we'd come downstairs to. As I was a fair bit older I'd try to ensure the others had food, clean clothes and got to school on time, often having to make myself late so I could take the youngest to school.
I hated xmas as a child - I learnt very early it was another excuse for yet more alcohol and spent all the ones I do remember on egg shells, watching other famillies enjoying it all.
Oh there was periods of kicking out when he wouldn't get a job, we'd all breathe a huge relief - only for him to be allowed back when he'd found short lived work. And so it would continue.
I always swore I'd be out of there at 16 and the first chance I got I was gone - with a controlling, bullying fuckwit, 10 plus years my senior who I shouldn't have been with. (Who after 16 years I managed to be rid of)
I took the others out of there as much as I could but ultimately had to keep taking them back to mayhem sad They still behaved like before until my mum finally left (after finding someone else)
The relationship I have with her is still almost reversed as in I'm the mother she's the child.
I absolutely don't respect any advice she's ever given me on relationships/children - believe me she tries to shock
I don't have contact with him, siblings still do but not me - that's a whole other fecked up story though.

kernowgal Sun 23-Dec-12 23:13:10

Reading all your posts has been a real eye-opener - I could have written bits of all of them, and some of them I could have written almost word for word.

My parents' relationship was never violent but they haven't been happy for at least 20 years. My dad could certainly be accused of emotional abuse at times, but my mum gives as good as she gets. I am constantly on eggshells as they both overrreact to each other's comments and as a result there is a constant tense atmosphere. In my adult life I have never pulled them up on it but it does make me think twice about visiting, because I cannot relax around them. My brother and I have both had breakdowns of sorts, anxiety issues (my brother is not working, hasn't been for several years now), depression. My dad has clinical depression and if his AD dose isn't right everyone suffers.

Neither of their parents' relationships were great, and it feels like that's been handed down the generations. I once said to them that they should split, but they stayed together. Then my dad had an affair and moved out briefly, but had a breakdown, got sectioned and made several suicide attempts around the same time, so the affair was lost in all that. I don't know if they ever went to relate; I doubt it. I still have no idea if anyone else in the family knows about that time.

I loathe the constant bickering, the shitty comments from my dad towards my mum, her blaming him for things that are quite unreasonable (I pulled her up on this earlier) or expecting him to be fucking psychic or something. I left my recent ex because his behaviour towards me was so similar to that of my dad towards my mother, and I (with the help of you ladies here) finally realised that this was not a healthy relationship and I would be better off alone. I would rather be single than in another relationship like that, and it has been an eye-opener about my previous dalliances too. I'm rebuilding my self-confidence but I am a people pleaser, hate conflict and am not in the least assertive. I can't deal with arguments and end up taking the blame to resolve the issue and then get really resentful and bitter. I'm generally a happy person but there are definitely a lot of unresolved issues there.

It is genuinely a huge relief (although also desperately sad) to know that I am not alone smile

stopthebusiwanttogetoff Mon 24-Dec-12 23:57:56

I wished mine had split. They finally divorced when I was 18, and haven't spoken since. They were incredibly acrimonious and angry, having moved to separate bedrooms during my dad's affairs when I was about 5, they argued daily (or silent treatment) and their blatent disrespect and dislike of each other made any family time very unpleasant and tense. I think it's probably part of why I'm a people pleaser/need to be liked, struggle with critisism or injustice, and am currently separating from my dc's dad - I can't bear for people to think badly of each other and I don't want to end up in a relationship filled with bitter resentment. I'm not blaming them for my behaviour, just speculating in response to how it may have affected me.

Lavenderhoney Tue 25-Dec-12 03:33:45

Cognito, I grew up in an atmosphere of sniping and knocking of self esteem. They took such pleasure in each others bad luck.
Df began drinking heavily. He was a horrible shouty drunk and they used to shout at each other. I hated bedtime, hated getting up and smelling the beer, hated coming home form school to find the misery, hated going to school as I was so tired from being kept awake crying.

Dm said she couldn't leave him as he might burn the house down, wouldn't cope without her, he bought all my pets /toys and I would have to get rid if we left..
she had loads of excuses. No one ever asked my dad. I knew nothing about him. He was like stranger to me who happened to live in the same house.

I remember being at a friends and her dad was there ( I was around 13) and I was really uncomfortable with him just joining in with family life a normal man- I asked when he would be going out and was horrified when her mum said " go where?" and they all looked puzzled.

It was generally considered within my family I wouldn't marry and have dc as growing up with them would have put me off forever hahahha. Yes, hilarioussad

They should have split. Later, when they were really old They rewrote history for each other and it was sickening listening to their Brady Bunch memories. I used to beg to go to boarding school. They could have afforded it. They preferred me at home.

Yes, I would say its affected me. I have no idea how to argue, just shout, I avoid confrontation unless I get very worked up, and I have no measure for Normal male behaviour. I was terrified to have a boyfriend for years ask was terrified I would get pregnant and have to marry him. I was told and believed marriage was for ever and you could not split up.

I Am not very good at friends either, as I didn't have any when a teenager as a) other parents didn't like mine and I couldn't invite people. B) I was so tired and unhappy at school no one came near me.

I wish I had had a pastoral help or something when younger. It took me about 10 years to get in a position I should, have been emotionally at 18. Maybe more. I left home at 16. I'm a bit upset now and I might not come back to this thread, so happy days your way.

FellatioNelson Tue 25-Dec-12 04:02:56

I left home at 16 with the first unsuitable man who came along.

I think this is a very common theme for women who have experienced dysfunction in their own parents relationships. I think it is equally or more common though, in women whose parents have not stayed together, and those who have witnessed a string of unsatisfactory relationships with their mother (as I did.) I spent most of my childhood acting as listener/counsellor to my mother, who never got over my father leaving us for someone else, and as a result I felt rejected and substandard and unlovable.

The motivation is the same though, whatever the circumstances at home - to prove that you can do it differently and make someone love you, and stick around. Sadly, though it is rarely the case, at least not at the first attempt.

Even more scary is the young woman who has a child far too young and with a completely unsuitable man, in the blinkered belief that she can change him if she loves him enough. She wants to provide a child with the perfect example of stability and family harmony that she didn't have. Sadly though, despite her best intentions she often recreates the same situation she grew up with, because she chose the wrong man and the wrong time. Either is tough, both is impossible. And women know this, yet they do it again and again.

I think women who have witnessed happy, loving, mutually respectful long-lasting partnerships between their parents are the ones who grow up with the greatest sense of self worth and self esteem, and who don't need to saddle themselves to the first available, useless bloke just to be able to say they have someone. They are the ones who have faith that a really good man who is worthy of them will be along eventually, and they are not afraid to be alone in the meantime. Those women are blessed.

My parents got on ok but my mother left about five minutes after I finished my last A level. My dad immediately got together with someone who, and I don't say this lightly, hated me. What life would've been like if that had happened when I was 8 rather than 18 is grim. Of course i'm not suggesting she shouldn't have done what she thought best, and I never noticed any terrible fights.

Lavenderhoney Tue 25-Dec-12 17:53:00

When I left at 16, I was supposed to be doing a levels and expected to go to uni with physics. I couldn't bear the thought of living at home for another 2 years so I sorted myself a live in job at the other end of the country. Left a few days after leaving school. Didn't tell anyone til I was there.

So thankful I didn't get boys then and had no interest in being rescued. Too ashamed for a bf to come round my house and way too uncool to get invited to any dodgy parties to meet boys/ men. Didn't smoke, drink, swear... I was very dull and very much a Grey man. ( woman).

In a way it ruined a potiential career too, as it took at least 12-15 years to get to where I should have been at 21-22.

The Internet and mn would have made a big difference I think, if I had been clever enough at that age to use it.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 25-Dec-12 18:09:51

Part of me thinks I'm glad. I had a secure childhood, didn't realise the extent of the unhappiness till later. I'm glad I didn't have two homes, etc.

But sadly I think a lot of my marriage has been influenced by my childhood.

MichelleEva Wed 26-Dec-12 03:41:08

I grew up with arguing parents. They constantly argued since I could remember. The effect of their fighting on me is profound. I was very depressed, shamed, and scared all the time. I could not invite my friends to my home because I do not know when they would start fight. They also throw cups and plates on the floor. Sometimes, my mom would cry through dinner or lunch and did not cook for me.

I want to form a support group to talk about these past expereinces and hopefully I can get some closure from the horrible expereince I had

imip Wed 26-Dec-12 06:51:53

Like so many others here, I grew up in a family destroyed by alcoholism (dad) and domestic violence. My dad was, and is, a cunt. No other way to describe it, really. I think my mum had the potential to be a nice person, but dad turned her into a women who lied and became quite selfish. Dad would always be at the pub, come home and hit mum, destroy the house, wreck furniture. He would invite friends home and they would end up in fist fights - seeing your dad beat someone unconscious on your front porch is possibly not a great memory for a child. I was only ever hit a couple of times, but I was always teased. I was always ten-tonne Tessie. I was big as a kid, I slimmed down in my 20s and 30s, but the affect on my self esteem was massive. I am angry that I didn't move out sooner (I was 21). Two reasons I guess, I didn't have the confidence. Mum and dad just mumbled through life (constant money problems, eventual bankruptcy, hiding from bailiffs etc). And I had much younger siblings I felt I needed to protect.

Mum constantly 'borrowed' money from me. She took my last few hundred dollars from me the day I moved overseas. She constantly lied. She was unable to clean the house (this sentence fills the feminist me with dread) we grew up in a filthy house, we didn't always have beds, mattresses dirty. As my three brothers got older, there were fist fights with my dad. Though the usual tactic when he went off was to leave the house and run away for a few hours.

I'm interested to know what others think. But when I had children (oldest dd is 6), I started to get very angry with my mum allowing us to be brought up in such a house. My hostility to her has grown, she blinds it all and thinks we had a nice enough upbringing, though would say dad had a bad effect.

Like others mention, I and my siblings have MH issues. I am the most 'normal'. I went to uni and got decent jobs, brought my own flat before I met dh. I found becoming a mum has made me reconfront my upbringing in a way I never expected. I used to be just glad that I had got away, now I cannot imagine how my parents could have done that to us.

Dad had constant affairs. I remember reading one letter from a women he had an affair with, she threatened to put a bomb under the house and blow us all up. Certain things stick out in my mind like when my dad pretended to hold a gun to my brother and my head and shoot us. Our crime? We were half Australian half Irish, not 100 per cent Irish. I constantly wished he would die. Even now, I've always demanded boyfriends do not come home late when I am in bed and walk around in their shoes. The sound of shoes on wooden floorboards scares me.

Ultimately, my parents have managed to fuck up five more lives (mine and my four siblings) along with their own. My younger sister tried to take her life this year. She is a stripper, has breast implants - self esteem issues??? Her and I are really quite useless without a partner, she got a boyfriend a few months ago and her MH has improved, though superficially I imagine. two brothers still live with my parents. One is schizophrenic, after about 15 years of being unable to work, his medication has reduced a lot of his symptoms and he is able to work. Icannot break contact with my parents because of these brothers, but I do live on the other side of the world.

FellatioNelson Wed 26-Dec-12 07:02:58

Jesus imip that is horrendous. sad Stories like yours make me so angry, and unfortunately I am of the very hard-line school of thought that some people should have their children forcibly removed with no second chances and then be forcibly sterilized. They can fuck up their own sad, seedy, violent lives if they so wish, but how dare they take so many innocent children down into that vile cesspit with them? angry I know these things go in unhappy cycles and they were probably the victims of abuse themselves, but I DON"T CARE. Too much compassion for things that have gone before only enables and perpetuates the cycle, and it needs to be stopped. I think so many people's awful MH problems can be put down to dysfunctional early childhoods.

RubyrooUK Wed 26-Dec-12 08:22:03

I don't have a horrific story like lots of people on this thread, who have clearly had an appalling, scarring time.

My parents split up when I was 12. I was furious and devastated at the time and for most of my teens (my mum was also long term ill so I felt I had to care for her). My dad was eternally unfaithful and basically never did anything at home - no DV but it destroyed my mum's confidence totally. He was very cruel to my mum at the worst time of her life while she was very ill.

It was definitely the right thing to split up. I don't know whether my dad is happier or not as he's not good at discussing feelings. But he seems happy enough with his girlfriend.

And my mum is definitely better off without my dad and has since remarried a man with whom she is very happy. She is still very anxious but has gradually become so much happier, it's lovely.

I think it had a big impact when I was younger. I went out with men who were the opposite of my dad who I could walk all over. Then I worried that I was becoming my dad.

And then I met my DH who is challenging, annoying and sometimes difficult. He is also an amazing parent who adores his son and doesn't slack off at home. He keeps me on my toes but reassures me. Being with him and his faith that we will be together forever and share our lives has helped me put to rest my issues about my parents' marriage.

And if we no longer get on at any point, we will split up as I don't personally believe that children seeing an unhappy relationship does anyone any favours.

So I think really that my parents splitting up was the best thing that could have happened even though I was angry/upset for a very long time. The alternative would have been worse.

BelleDameSousMistletoe Wed 26-Dec-12 08:55:50

Inip, your upbringing was worse than mine but similar in many ways. It's very, very similar to my father's. My fear was that I might grow to be like my father but that has not happened. I find myself hyper vigilant with men - any hint of too much drinking/or other addiction and/or aggression or violence and I'm gone.

I think I may be much older than you (I am 47). I hope I am because I've found it easier to deal with things as I've got older. Grown to like/love myself and be more accepting of the things that made me who I am. I hope this comes to you sooner than it did for me. ((hug))

purplewithred Wed 26-Dec-12 09:09:40

Low level but constant bickering, Atmosphere and dutiful resentment with an icing of financial insecurity.

Left me with very low expectations of men and marriage which I carefully replicated in my own marriage.

If they had split would it have been better or worse? I have no idea - it would depend on what replaced it. If my parents had just gone on to repeat the same pattern again with new partners then it would have been worse than if they'd stayed together. If they found healthy new relationships then better. I suspect.

cronullansw Wed 26-Dec-12 10:48:20

Those parents who warred should look at themselves and accept their mistake.

I'm always here saying parents should stay with the kids, as that is their No 1 function, to provide for, care for, to nurture. So what if you don't like the noise DP makes when they chew their yoghurt/whatever, that is immaterial to your No 1 function.

You life is over as being first pick or even second pick in the ''what shall I do today stakes'', you are a parent.

Kids DO take the negatives of domestic troubles onto themselves, they take sides, they try to break up fights, it affects them. And as for the claims that it's perfectly acceptable to have two parents, living apart, sharing parenting blah blah, thats rubbish - the parents should be at home, together, looking after the kids and putting aside their trivial, pathetic little problems to look after the kids.

I'd guess this is anti feminist, but it's my belief.

And I speak as one who was brought up with a parent missing and a succession of temporary replacements.

My DP get's on my nerves occasionally, I've discreetly, a long time ago, strayed from the marital bed. Yet our child is with both his parents, being brought up in a loving happy home, and we have a loving happy kid. My brothers SWT wife left him for another man, (well, several other men. In fact, a constant, never ending stream of other men, sometimes even in small groups), and the daughters aren't best friends with darling mummy these days.

RubyrooUK Wed 26-Dec-12 12:14:09

Cronulla, the way I chew does annoy my DH. That's not a reason he would leave me. That isn't even remotely comparable with domestic violence, abuse or even just someone destroying a person's confidence and self esteem.

I am glad my parents split up. They are happier and my mum and I are exceptionally close. I think she is one of the most amazing people on the planet.

Sometimes the selfish thing to do is to show your child you will settle for an unhappy relationship. I'd rather my son knew that a real partner in life is supportive, fun and helps you tackle your problems.

Plus I am now lucky enough to have a big extended step family which has brought me masses of joy. So there isn't only one answer - parents stay together. You have to do your best, that's all.

Procrastinating Wed 26-Dec-12 12:43:13

There was dv with mine, but I was not aware of until I was an adult. I used to believe the stories about my mother's injuries. What I remember is the shouting. Like others here, it was worse on special occasions would often go on all night.
I still have a jolt of fear if I hear a raised voice and have very few happy memories of childhood. I used to sit on the stairs and hear the shouting, sometimes I would go and beg them to stop but they both shouted at me. Even when there was no arguing the threat of it would be there. I was very lonely and anxious and that feeling has stayed with me.

On the positive side for me it has meant that I could identify an abusive man a mile off, I have never had a bad relationship and I don't think that was just luck.

coffeeinbed Wed 26-Dec-12 13:09:45

If I had a penny for every time my mum said "I'm going to leave your father, I've had it. I'm packing my bags" or after every screaming argument about money - my dad is spectacularly useless with it, I'd be richer than the Queen.
But she didn't.
It left me with absolutely no idea what a healthy relationship is like and just how this mutually respecting malarkey works.

sweetkitty Wed 26-Dec-12 13:29:45

Oh this thread is so familiar. My Dad is teetotal but he was never around, he went to work, came home had his dinner then went out to work again, except he wasn't working he was probably drinking tea and chatting. I can't remember him being at home for a full day including weekends. When he was there all he and my Mother did was argue, scream at each other, throw things, occasion DV. Dad would buy my Mother alcohol and she would sit and drink it on her own whilst he was out, then she would be pissed when he came back. Money was v tight it shouldn't have been but my Dad undercharged for jobs and took 3 times as long to do them, they were crap with money, we would always be in arrears and I would be sent on the borrow. I never knew Dads stayed at home in the evenings and weekends.

My mother totally resented me I think she's a narc and I'm the black sheep with my brother as the golden child. She was very lazy, house was always dirty, she slept a lot and was emotionally abusive to me.

Thy split up when I was 16, she had a suicide attempt (although it wasn't apparently even though she wrote me a note) they got back together finally splitting up when I was 19. She was horrific to me after that I left home at 20.

I've suffered depression and anxiety in my adult life, I cling to DP too much. I still see my Dad, haven't spoken to my Mum in 4 years.

blueshoes Wed 26-Dec-12 14:48:02

Cognito, my parents had an unhappy marriage due to intellectual incompatibility. They married after a whirlwind courtship. My father had affairs and was out of the house a lot for work/golf/leisure.

Therefore, there wasn't much tension at home. I would not have known about the affairs if my mother did not tell me when I was around 11. My mother was unhappy but made it clear that this would not split up the family (and neither would my father despite his infidelities).

I am very grateful they stayed together for our childhood, which was secure and not wanting materially. It was the best thing they did for me and my siblings IMO. Emotionally, they did not provide much support but that was more to do with their personality than the dysfunctional marriage.

Relationship-wise, I have trust issues with men (because of my father's affairs). I would never consider a man like my father for a life partner. I married a gentle and reliable man after spending time to due diligence him properly. All my siblings married late and well.

My parents' dysfunctional marriage taught us to take our time before committing to the right person.

Feckthehalls Wed 26-Dec-12 15:50:08

Most people here seem to be describing childhoods with obvious, traumatic conflict between parents . They are glad they split up, or wish they had.

None of that surprises me really.

Blueshoes your contribution is very interesting. No obvious conflict, yet they were not happy together and you are glad they did not split up.

Food for thought for me !

LookingForwardToMarch Wed 26-Dec-12 16:08:14

Definitely a negative thing for them to stay together.

By the age of 11 I was regularly asking them to get a divorce.

Never had blazing rows, but the passive aggression was breath-taking

Plus the fact I had to listen about the others affairs from both of them. Gave me a pretty warped sense of a 'normal' relationship and had a couple of disasters that mimicked theirs.

Thankfully broke the cycle and have a long term normal relationship now smile

imip Wed 26-Dec-12 17:26:34

Thanks belle . I am not that far behind you actually. I am 41, however I had four children (actually five, my first dd was stillborn almost seven years ago), in pretty quick succession, so I guess I realised this all later than others. I thought I'd come to terms with my childhood, but seeing how innocent my children are, and actually, how scared my oldest daughter became of me one day when I got really mad at her, made me revisit it all again. I got cross at dd and shouted at her, not great, but it happens, and she was so scared.

I always thought myself and my siblings would avoid addiction. In my 'prime' I had my fair share of drugs and alcohol without getting addicted, all recreational. Was gutted when my sister tried to overdose earlier this year that she was also an alcoholic. I thought we knew better sad

gobblegobs Wed 26-Dec-12 17:56:46

This thread has been an opportunity fir introspection. I grew up abroad in a culture which prides itself on strong family ties(ha!).
My parents argued constantly, occasional physical violence. Staying together for us was the honourable thing to do, the ultimate sacrifice.

The biggest impact it had on me was that I had no 'safe' of unconditional warmth and security I could retreat to when going got tough! We were sent to best boarding schools, never wanted for anything materially and much much loved by our parents. Despite this their relationship left me longing for a positive role model fir a marriage.

Result: I was always looking for the security. Married early to the wrong man, got involved with a married one as was going through a divorce (re divorce- one understood why I could not accept the finality of a marriage and accept my lot in life). I feel regret at getting married and immeasurable guilt for the affair. corollary to my parents
However have been given a second chance in life.Loving husband and a beautiful son. If I can provide my son with that safe place in life in our home, my life's work would be complete.

gobblegobs Wed 26-Dec-12 17:58:54

Sorry for typos. Posting from the phone

gobblegobs Wed 26-Dec-12 18:42:09

Looming over my rumbling message realised never answered your question, cogito.
It definitely negatively impacted my relationships, thought they are offended if DB or I date suggest that.

Should they have split up? Hard to say considering the financial implications in times when alimony and maintenance were not well defined.
Amazingly, DF has plunged into depression since DM's demise a year ago. Constantly watches pictures and movies of their time together, talks incessantly of her, become a recluse. Some mysteries will never be resolved!

smileyforest Wed 26-Dec-12 19:13:27

Oh parents marriage unhappy....I ended up marrying too young first time....(thats what my Mum did)...that ended and then married a man so completely different..but ended up to be with great man...and Mum is jealous.....because he treats me lovingly and with respect...Mum has always wanted to leave my Dad....they bicker and argue....but actually think they are 'great together'...they are very selfish...not interested in anything I've done...never been active grandparents.....I have struggled with relationships....I do put most of the blame on a stressful childhood!

aroomofherown Wed 26-Dec-12 21:58:02

See, I did the opposite - never married. Escaped to another county and to being a recluse.

BelleDameSousMistletoe Thu 27-Dec-12 09:49:01

imip just ((hugs)) again. x

Ifyoulike Thu 27-Dec-12 12:30:01

My father was unpredictably violent, self-absorbed, and extremely controlling (removing all light bulbs from sockets, turning water and heat off to 'punish' the whole household as an example).

My mother withdrew into a deep depression in her bedroom and hardly ever came out, leaving us children to raise ourselves and duck and dodge our father's insane tempers.

Neither of them worked, all of us children were homeschooled, so the house was a 24/7 pressure cooker.

I used to beg my mother to leave him, as everyone in the house was utterly miserable, and she used to say she was waiting for the youngest kids to grow up. I feel guilty for it, but I hated her so much for that, almost more than I hated him (and I'm another who used to fantasize about stabbing him, just to save us all).

After approximately 20 years of that misery (and after I'd left home), she did leave him.

The children who were raised within the marriage (including myself) = breakdowns, hospitalisations, self-harm, suicide attempts, substance abuse, terrible relationships.

The children who were mainly raised after the split-up = happy, confident, sociable, generally thriving, affectionate relationships

The difference between the two groups of siblings is extreme, and based on my experience at least, I would never stay in an unhealthy relationship "for the children's sakes". It was so soul-destroying, and not only do I still harbour a lot of hidden rage against my mother for not protecting us, I have a hell of a lot of self-hatred for being the 'reason' she stayed.

dondon33 Thu 27-Dec-12 12:31:02

imip I can identify with so much that you wrote angry

The 'lying in bed listening to the footsteps' has just jolted my memory as well as my stomach. I also get cold shivers if I see someone do the 'drunk' thing with their hands - like wringing their hands over and over, my SF used to do it constantly when pissed, usually while he was verbally obliterating my dm or one of us.

I also fully realised and understood the severity of my childhood AFTER I had my own DC and I hated especially Dm for that.

We also have to suffer the complete and utter fabricated and false account of their version of our 'happy' childhood. It's like they've blocked out the reality and instead installed in their own brain, some fucked up version of Mary Poppins - none of us accept this/we all remember the truth.

I'm sorry about your siblings, it's awful and unfair. From 4 of us- there's only one that lives relatively close and that's only because of the type of job that sibling does.

Signet2012 Thu 27-Dec-12 12:35:33

Mine divorced when I was 16. I wish they had done so years earlier. Infact when they told me I actually said to them about time!!

There wasn't any abuse so to speak just very angry lots of shouting smashing things etc

It has took me til 30 years old to realise its not normal to argue like that and dp has shown me the best way to communicate. My ex and I pretty much mirrored my parents relationship.

RockinD Thu 27-Dec-12 17:34:00

My parents married in 1940, when my mother was 19 and my Dad was on a three day leave from the army. They basically didn't see each other again until he was demobbed in 1947 and from then on they made the best of it. Their marriage broke down completely in 1961, but they stayed together until my father died in 1993.

I was their only child conceived by accident in 1955. My mother, aided and abetted by my grandmother, tried to abort me, but it didn't work and she was stuck with a child she did not want and neither her or my Dad knew how to care for. She blamed me, very vocally, for the breakdown of the marriage and I carried that guilt into adult life.

After the breakdown, my Dad basically made himself scarce and I brought myself up. There was no support from the family - he had none anyway - and my mother was agoraphobic, OCD, anxiety, depression etc, and completely untreated. She was physically and verbally abusive to me until she stopped all contact with me when I was 33. My father never did anything to defend me.

The damage to me is incalculable. First husband violent, second husband gay, then a long relationship with a violent, abusive, alcohol dependent. I am very lucky to have found my current husband, but I find it almost impossible to let myself be loved and that causes problems between us.

Somehow, despite this, I have reared two happy, secure and confident children. I think that is primarily because I did not stay with their father.

wonkylegs Thu 27-Dec-12 17:47:18

Mine stayed together throughout my childhood (& my 3 siblings) and finally announced they were getting divorced within days of me announcing I was getting married.
Frankly divorce was the best thing ever for our family, together they made selfish & sometimes downright awful parents / human beings. As the oldest I often bore the brunt of some pretty nasty behaviour and it made for a miserable childhood for me, my brother has serious issues to although the youngest two were somewhat sheltered by us.

Since they've split I like them a whole lot more & they have become nicer to everyone. My dad has a new partner & has a new lease of life, he's a joy to be around.
I still can't forgive them for some of the stuff they put us through but I can get on with them now as individuals

caramal Thu 27-Dec-12 18:18:59

My parents were together for 17 years.. 5 of those was arguments, tension, bickering and making us kids choose sides..awful. Best thing they did was divorce.

IMO staying together for the kids sake when the love is gone/can't stand the sight of one another is never going to work

OnaPromise Thu 27-Dec-12 18:45:17

Mine didn't fight too much but as others have described there was a constant, bleak, tension in the house. It was so depressing. In fact everyone probably was depressed, including myself I now realise.

They did it for what they thought were the right reasons, but I've always thought that everyone would have been much happier if they'd split earlier.

I, too, legged it as soon as I could, but luckily for me I had the option of leaving for uni.

My mum left soon after but died only a couple of years later - something I felt sad and guilty about for years because she was just starting to enjoy herself again.

I think it made me into an anxious child, and more of an anxious adult than i could have been. Yes, and desperate to create an affectionate relationship, that rings very true.

OnaPromise Thu 27-Dec-12 18:48:16

There are some sad past histories on this thread. I hope people at least feel a bit of catharsis by writing it down.

domesticgodless Thu 27-Dec-12 18:56:12

Thank you for this thread from the bottom of my heart. I really mean it.

I remember telling a doctor once that everyone in my family was depressed and him laughing in my face (he was a real wanker). It was totally true. My mother ruled the household with hysteria, pointless anxiety and verbal attacks. My father enabled her by plodding around like Lurch from the Addams family serving her drinks and flinching when she abused him, which was often.

Some people are natural slaves and enablers. They take pride in serving an abuser and protesting their love constantly. It used to make me sick to hear my dad talking about what an adoring devoted husband he was and everyone who met my mum and dad telling me what a 'lovely couple' they were and how much my father must love her. I used to pray he'd just stand up to her one time, tell her to stop being such a miserable cow and making us all miserable. But he wanted to keep her a child so he could fulfil whatever sick role he had drawn up for himself.

I was her favourite target as the eldest child and he never stood up to her once. Rather he would turn on me because I wasn't enabling her the way he was.

I remember one Christmas when my sister and I were both adults, our mother threw some stupid strop and walked out of the house. He stayed and we both tackled him about why he allowed her to behave like this and always had. You should have seen his face. Outrage at us for questioningg She Who Must Be Enabled alongside fear and shame because he knew we were too old to take the crap any more.

They remain a 'devoted' couple but radiate anxiety and depression. I'm staying with them now and the atmosphere is awful. As for me I think I became something of an abuser like her- having married a 'safe' man I didn't really love and feeling deeply angry and frustrated. I've been diagnosed since with bipolar disorder which is partly ggenetic I'm sure but partly also to do with growing up in that awful, deadening, abusive atmosphere where bizarre behaviour was rewarded with devotion and feelings were denied and twisted all the time.

Having read this thread I realise leaving my unloving relationship was the right thing to do and my sons will benefit from it. Although I miss the stability and my ex's friendship and I've been very depressed since the split feeling I should not have had a family as I just spoilt their lives. I've always told them the truth as far as I can about why we split and as they get older I will be more honest with them. I told them I still liked daddy but we were fighting too much and no one wants to fight so we decided to be friends instead. Not the whole truth of course :/

gobblegobs Thu 27-Dec-12 18:57:21

Cathartic it is indeed.
Wonder how many of them realise the damage they do to the children as many posters on this thread have mentioned how their parents put on Rose tinted glasses and describe their childhoods as 'happy' or as my parents put it' our children never wanted for anything'.
I think a lot of them absolve themselves of any responsibility of having raised an anxious, insecure child by expressing the sacrifices they made in staying together for children's sake.

Let's learn and not do that to our children.

domesticgodless Thu 27-Dec-12 18:58:55

I just had a horrible memory of my mum taunting me one time about how fat I was when I was a teenager about to get an eating disorder. She would do it in this stupid singsong voice like a school bully. My father 'stood up' for me by saying with an indulgent smile 'now don't be provocative dear' . It was all just so disgusting, a horrible way to bring up children and I still can't forgive him. I have more respect for her as she got help and after 25 years of therapy is a bit improved.

He should have left her, took us with him and protected us from their sick relationship. At very least he could have stood up to her, told her to stop her abuse and that he wouldn't take it any more. I don't forgive him for that.

domesticgodless Thu 27-Dec-12 19:00:15

yeah gobble my mother definitely has the rose tints on and constantly congratulates herself on her happy marriage and wonderful grandchildren. She misses out the daughters as they are both depressed with chronic anxiety disorders and one is pretty consistently suicidal (me). But heck you can't do everything right eh :D

Lavenderhoney Thu 27-Dec-12 19:33:20

Rewriting history does seem to be a trait with some parents like this.
My bf came once ( under a lot of misgiving from me) and said I was so unlike them - and it wasnt like visiting parents, it was like a duty visit to an old couple who ran a boarding house once.
My mum, when I was small and asking where I came from, told me she took a fancy to me in my pram outside the supermarket and took me home. I have been known as the tesco kid all my family life. She did tell me it was a lie as o used to get upset and want to know where my real mummy was, especially after another bout of drunken shouting.

Actually this thread is very upsetting, as I though I had quite successfully erased my life under 16 - clealy not. Oh- and I was wracked with guilt at leaving my dm to deal with my dad, but left anyway. Even as an immature 16 yr old, I knew I was right.

voddiekeepsmesane Thu 27-Dec-12 19:56:53

Stepmother and father should not have been together for any longer than a few months rather than 13 years and having 5 children (+ the 3 dad already had)

Stepmother was 17, dad was 30 when they got together. By the time the marriage ended, 5 children in 7 years , alcoholism, mental issues,physical abuse ( only towards one another though we as children all saw it) infedelity and neglect was the name of the game.

I was 17 (at which time youngest was so neglected by her parents she was calling me mum at 1) I was booted out and told to stop treating the house like a fucking hotel ( I wish)

They have screwed up many children with their selfishness and it still continues till this day, even with all children left and having their own children and a divorce. My father even has a go at my mother and they have been divorced for 35 years !!!

Ifyoulike Thu 27-Dec-12 22:56:20

*I think a lot of them absolve themselves of any responsibility of having raised an anxious, insecure child by expressing the sacrifices they made in staying together for children's sake.
Let's learn and not do that to our children. *

gobblegobs this is so very, very true. My mother brags to any and all who will hear how she suffered through an unhappy marriage 'for the children', and how glad she is that she tried even if we 'don't appreciate it' (some of my siblings no longer speak to her).

It sets my teeth on edge, but I don't say anything because the web of denial and illusion is just too strong, I think her psyche would literally break if she realised just how much I and my siblings felt her inaction as weak and neglectful parenting. She can't seem to comprehend why any anger at all is directed toward her... after all, she is the one who 'suffered for us!'

Its just so sick and depressing it makes me want to bash my head against the brick wall again and again. Trying to keep the balance between her martyr delusion and my siblings' simmering rage, and every now and again she prods at them, almost as if she wants to make it explode.

I think people in turbulent relationships need to really take a good look at their children and ask themselves if their children are really happy, or are really even the reason for staying (rather than fear of change, finances, social repercussions etc). As one of those children once upon a time , its a horrible thing to have your supposed 'happiness' be held up as the reason for what was in reality keeping you trapped in a situation of torment.

imip Fri 28-Dec-12 06:42:52

ifyoulike, dondon sad

It is cathartic to write it all down, though I often think in could keep writing forever! I don't want to get bogged down in it all, dwelling in how shit it was. So many things I can attribute to my upbringing. Stupid things. As a result of our filthy home, I became something of a clean freak. However, since having kids, I've really let my house keeping go. Am frankly shit at it. I guess this is what happens when you have to teach yourself to clean. And teaching yourself the organisational skills with 4 young dds is mind boggling. I have absolutely no terms of reference.

My cousin has an alcoholic df. A 'nice' alcoholic iyswim. His and aunts marriage understandably broke down. My cousin sponsored his df through AA. A responsible, adult way to handle the problem of alcoholism. When one of these cousins graduated to become a nurse, my mum went on about how tough my cousin had had it and how she sent her a huge congratulatory text. I fucking blew my lid at dm. How hard did she think I had it ? she said she felt guilt every day and apologised. the only ever mention of her fuckedupness. I didn't speak to her for months. I was pregnant with dd2 at the time and we she ended up having to come over to help us out with the birth. I also remember when I brought my first flat aged 29, in a really nice trendy area at home (Australia). Busted a gut to save the deposit. My mum told me how lucky I was and how things always seemed to go right for me. Again, I was so cross, fuck luck, it was a deliberate effort not to have the fucked up life that my parents had created for me. I had worked damned hard despite in my working life always feeling nervous, anxious and incompetent. Actually, a little like a fraud.

As others have mentioned, I do think that there is a family history of violence. My mum grew up in a loving family, has it flaws, but nothing that couldn't be dealt with. I think my dad's dad was a bastard, but he was a teetotal. I think perhaps also mental health problems were at play. What I do know is that this cycle stops with me.

Oh dear, see what happens when I dwell....

smileyforest Fri 28-Dec-12 08:47:22

DG....omg how I relate to what you have written. One thing I have done which I do feel proud about now...I have a home which is stress door is open to children are good....2 adults.2 teens....and I have treated them very differently..unconditional do feel pretty bad and a 'failure' for the two marriages behind me and suffer bouts of 'depression'....At times...I still crave for my Mother to 'love' me...she can my daughter...she delights at throwing that in my face...but my children are wise..and they do know some of the history....
Mum and Dad...profound to have 'stood the ground'....stuck matter what.....drives me nuts and makes me what expense? its taken til Im understand how a good relationship my Mother sees a man treating me well....and is so obviously jealous...but she lets me know in a very nasty way..
I'm always glad for Christmas to be over......just all so bloody false...and nothing I do will ever be right...I long for the day they may realise..their mistakes and say 'SORRY'!!!!! ?????

NiniLegsInTheAir Fri 28-Dec-12 11:56:22

I've read this whole thread with interest but havn't yet posted. Many comments here have me nodding my head and remembering how it was.

My Dad has a history of depression and mental breakdown, a very controlling, angry man. He used to hit me over anything, from as far back as I can remember until I was 16. I left home at 18 to go to uni and only ever came back from the summer. My Mum never protected me or my siblings, she told him not to hit us, but that was it. They were always arguing. Constant belitting comments, about my teeth, hair, you name it. He would regularly do a massive clean up of my room and throw away my possessions, nothing was sacred. I now have a hoarding problem that my family like to tease me about. Mum did nothing to protect me.

My younger sister (Mum's favourite who she always treats better than me) had an argument with my Dad when she was about 19 and they no longer talk. Mum sided with her and their marriage took a turn for the worst.

When I announced I was pregnant, within about 2 weeks Mum 'decided' they were going to get divorced. She rang me when I was shopping to tell me "but we're still happy you're having a baby" and I burst into tears in public. They still havn't sold the family house or initated any divorce proceedings yet although they live apart. I feel it was just for show - to take away any limelight I had for being pregnant.

I actually have a reasonable relationship with my Dad these days - we talk via email, send each other funny pictures etc. We don't tread on each others toes this way and it works. I've made my peace with the fact that he'll never be a Dad who will hug me, tell me he loves me or go out of his way to help me, but I get the feeling he cares.

Mum, on the other hand, I still can't understand. She still plays manipulative games - blames my Dad entirely for the argument with my sister and wants him to make things up with her. My opinion is my sister is not blameless and is very spoilt for someone in her mid-20s. Mum is very angry, hates every job she has ever had, has to find someone to hate but changes her opinion of people (love to hate and back again) at the flip of a switch. I can't get to grips with her. She has never congratulated me for anything I've done, when I got my degree, got married, bought a house, had my DD. When my sister got her degree this year it was like she'd cured cancer. She always complains that her children live far away from her - I've never had the heart to tell her why that is.

I can see that my sister has followed the same path as my Dad - always yelling at her partner, expects him to lie down so she can walk all over him. She expects everyone to do exactly what she says and Mum feeds that. I, on the other hand, have picked a husband very similar to my Dad (who has also hit me), as I don't know how to live my life without someone bossing me around. I met my husband when I was 19 and I have never been free.

Sorry for the epic post. I grew up thinking all of this was normal and its only in the last year (with help from a counsellor) that I've realised it really wasn't. I'm constantly paranoid that I'm messing up my DD's life too.

dondon33 Fri 28-Dec-12 17:49:01

Nini sad
Are you still having counselling? It took me a number of years in counselling to be able to make sense of my childhood, my parents and the life I chose for myself (and with who) Ultimately it forced me to realise and accept that I can't change any of it - it's how I chose to deal with it that mattered.
First on my list was to get rid of bastard exH, I'd already stayed with him way too long putting up with his EA, DV and a whole other host of his bastardfulness, (he really knew what he was doing when he met me and for this I'll always hate him, HE, by quite a good few years, was an adult, I wasn't)
Anyway - my point is that without my counsellor there's no way I'd have been brave/strong/confident enough to end it and in all honesty would probably be still with him now, if not dead.

It is cathartic to write it all down
I'm too scared to start, there's so many roads and branches of 'fucked up' that I don't want to visit, just reading these posts has brought back many many memories that I thought had previously been banished.

Hmm! Terms of reference..... I remember being a (very) young new Mum myself and often thinking
' I wonder how dm got my babysis to settle, to sleep, to take untasty medicine, to eat new foods, to use the potty etc...' then it dawning on me.... ' Oh yeah, that's right Dondon, SHE didn't...YOU fucking did it!'
Cleaning pah!!! I can still picture dm looking rather puzzled at why I slid out the cooker one day to clean under and around it (I'd spilt soup) Her remark ' you should have left it no one see's under there anyway' When I told her it would stink and fester, her piece of utter wisdom - 'Ah only for a few days' shock ((vom))

FromEsme Fri 28-Dec-12 17:58:37

My parents argued and ignored each other my whole life. Now they just ignore each other for the most part.

I was terrified all the time, thought their arguments were my fault.

I have a personality disorder and am generally terrible at relationships and friendships.

NiniLegsInTheAir Fri 28-Dec-12 20:49:41

Hi dondon. Yes I am still having counselling - through work so it's free but it's only short term. God knows what I'll do when it ends, it's my lifeline. In fact, it was a DV incident in April this year that made me realise I needed to talk to someone professional, and having counselling has opened up this can of worms about my upbringing, much like you describe. I'm unsure about what will happen with my husband in the future, tbh. So glad to hear you got out smile

Regarding my thoughts on whether or not I think my parents should have stayed together, I honestly don't know. I don't think them being apart while I was growing up would have made any difference - they're both as bad as each other. My youngest sister is a young teenager, and I've had to watch helplessly as she's been dragged through Mum & Dad's divorce/separation/whatever it is. I think she actually might be even more screwed up than my other sister or me. So their being apart hasn't helped her.

It's witnessing this that makes me unsure about leaving my own husband. I'm not convinced DD's life would be any better if we were apart. He hasn't ever turned on her (yet) but at least with me also in the house, I can deflect attempts by him to control her.

dondon33 Fri 28-Dec-12 23:17:04

Thanks Nini it was the best thing I'd done in my fucked up life.

You don't need to make definite decisions regarding your H, one day, when the time's right, it can just hit you, you could be ready for it or not but when/if it happens it will eat away at you until you act, When it happened for me I was amazed by the strength and determination I found within myself, the lord only knows where it came from.
Sorry about your sis sad I understand your concerns for your own dd.

NiniLegsInTheAir Sat 29-Dec-12 11:15:30

Tanks dondon, I'll remember that about my H. smile And you're free now at least, we can only improve our lot.

It would seem from this thread that there are some people out there who should never have children at all, let alone stay as part of a family unit. Knowing who those people are (and if you yourself is one of them) is the hard part.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 02-Jan-13 08:51:33


gobblegobs Wed 02-Jan-13 14:43:40

Glad you bumped it cogito!
Was talking to DB about the thread, he mused over our childhood and wondered if they genuinely had no idea the damage that constant parental arguing inflicts on a child. They may actually believe (and the straw poll here alludes to this) they are doing the child a world of good by sticking together....

MulledWineAndScully Wed 02-Jan-13 16:46:59

The way my parents communicate with each other is so f'ed up I don't even know where to start. As a child I was desperate for them to split up and my mum was always saying things like "if it wasn't for you and your brother I'd leave him". What a destructive thing to say to a child!

The kids whose parents were separated at least had something tangible IYKWIM. There's no 'counselling' available for the kid who's parents haven't spoken to each other for 2 weeks and communicate only through the children. I still live in a constant state of anxiety about everything, and when I see them I just can't wait for it to end - I feel like a child again. I live 250 miles away from them and I've got my own DD.

My father childishly sulks for hours / days / weeks on end about some perceived slight. My mother is bitter and twisted about everything. They visited us for new year and had a fall out which meant they didn't speak for several hours. I got that familiar knot in my stomach. Yet DH and I have jokey banter and my father says "awwww, don't fall out" as if we are children. I know it's terrible but I am embarrassed by both of them and I hate all this happening around my DD.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 02-Jan-13 17:08:55

That's a very good point about the counselling, or lack of. The assumption is that if you're under the same roof with two parents that's the ideal childhood, when it can be anything but. It's a powerful enough assumption that it extends to children of lone parents who feel they have to stick with a miserable two-person relationship in order to give their DCs 'something I never had'.

gobblegobs Wed 02-Jan-13 20:27:42

They fuck you your mom and dad....good ole Larkin

gobblegobs Wed 02-Jan-13 20:28:33

Sorry meant to be fuck you up!

MichelleEva Mon 07-Jan-13 04:40:29

My parents had been fighting verbally and physically since I was born. Their fighting has done so much damage to me and to my brother. I wish they had divorced but they did not. Many times I wanted to beg my neighbor to adopt me, but airing family problems was a taboo back then, and I did not know where to go to get help for them or for me.

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