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statley homes thread - dysfunctional families

(890 Posts)
Mummiehunnie Wed 11-Aug-10 16:53:25

I had a look back and could not find the old thread, for adult children who grew up in unhealthy dysfunctional families, and were abused as a result!

Mummiehunnie Wed 11-Aug-10 16:57:24

Hi, I have no posted on here for a while, and just wondered if any of the folk that used to post were around and if they remembered me?

Well, after about 9 months of no contact, I am now on limited speaking terms with my Mother, and have been for about a month.

She had some op's, one about Jan, and one not long ago (only found out about second one after back in touch), she told me today that the second one showed up cancer, and she has to have a third op quite soon!

I feel a bit churned up about it all, wondered if any one around to talk?

I remember when father had heart stuff, I was beside myself with fear.

I have researched her condition etc, and I feel churned up, but not upset, crying, scared etc as I was years ago with my Dad, I feel kind of ok about it, the emotions are not very strong with me over mother!

1footinfront Wed 11-Aug-10 18:46:11

Hi Mummmie Hunnie

Im still around.

Things have improved rather dramatically for me, back with DP and he has moved back in, lots of talking, lots more listening and stacks of honesty, hasnt been easy but we are getting there and working ( bloody) hard. Lots of good stuff going on with me personally, feel like im getting to where I want to be emotionally. My therpist is amazing ( although she is on her summer break now, she must need it!)

Things with the parents are ok, we have had the loss of my Mat GF and it has been hard for everyone. Am getting criticised by dad for my re-taking up smoking again ( its temporary!) he told me I was such a disappointment to him and I said "oh thanks thats great!" and he went quiet. Small victory.

Im here to talk it over with you mummieH

Love to you and all other statelyhome posters, hope everyone is coping ok.

Love from 1foot xx

ItsGraceActually Wed 11-Aug-10 23:30:25

Oh, well done mh

Perfect timing, too. My lovely mum has backed out of a promise she made ("doesn't remember saying that") and has completely stopped with the little gifts, not to mention the unexpected visits grin

This will be entirely unconnected with the fact that her big birthday party has now passed successfully, so she no longer needs my help ...

How are doing with taming your own?

ItsGraceActually Wed 11-Aug-10 23:31:52

Great post, 1foot! Good luck, and love to you too.

VictoriasLittleKnownSecret Thu 12-Aug-10 08:39:43

Can I pose a question as a parent here?

I have a teenager who I love and adore and am frightened she will describe me as the dysfunctional parent who abused her.... I read something she wrote in anger saying about her awful childhood. Her father and I have divorced. To my knowledge there is no history of abuse or anything awful (sex abuse) against her.

Life was a bit stressed when they were small because I was a working 'effectively single parent' with him away a lot. When he was home he had issues with alcohol but none that the kids would have been overly bothered by/aware of (if that makes sense?) He abused me but never them. In fact since the split, the two older children have been furious with me for mentioning the past abuse and almost sided with him against me. They claim that I am remembering their life differently to how it was, so I feel that I did keep a good 'cover' or front for them. They seem angry that it is now in the open (<never my plan - forced by aggressive confrontation by ex and police involvement one night)

I feel desperate that one in particular seems to be rejecting her childhood and marking it as dysfunctional/traumatic yet at the same time it was 'normal'

I love her and want to be the best mum for her. I constantly question whether I need to back off (she's 18) and give her space and independance or whether she needs support and love. At times it feels as if she is trying to paint an untrue picture of her childhood to fit with how she feels. That is very hurtful. I recognise she is unhappy but I tried my very very hardest as a mum and being the scapegoat for her emotional issues is very upsetting.

I may be in the wrong thread and you may tell me to bugger off to the land of failed parents........but I just wondered if anyone can shed any light for me.

ItsGraceActually Thu 12-Aug-10 12:04:02

I think you need replies from various perspectives, victoria, especially someone who was in a similar position to your DD. It's nice of you to care about her state of mind - in time, I think that will count for a lot

Leaving aside the fact that 18-year-olds are supposed to be questioning their identity, fretting about life's imperfections and so forth - the early years you describe are likely to have affected your DCs' emotional security.

We all rewrite our past to some extent. Your two may have chosen to believe both parents were wonderful (understandably), meaning they've had to invent their own rationale as to why you split. Your ex creating a scene has blown their story. They're still children really, so their instinctive reaction to that is anger - like a toddler whose toy is broken! I imagine your daughter is feeling a conflict between her preferred version of events (it was fine) and the fact that's been forced on her (he's an abuser). You don't need me to tell you that any child will blame the responsible parent for whatever upsets them - and that's you.

My feeling is that you're doing the right thing. You're allowing her to work through her conflicting 'pasts' in her own time, while keeping a line open to the unattractive truth. If your kids know they can ask you anything about their early years, and get an unbiased reply, you have already given them the one thing most Stately Homers pine for: validation. I don't know if this has been any help to you; I think she'll figure things out in due course and appreciate how you've respected her emotional well-being.

I can't think of an appropriate book for her particular situation, but suggest you support her if she ever mentions counselling. My 'past' was a fabrication at her age; if I'd known how invaluable therapy would be, I'd have gone like a shot!

ItsGraceActually Thu 12-Aug-10 18:47:12

Links to previous threads

December 2007
March 2008
August 2008
February 2009
May 2009
January 2010
April 2010

Smithfield's foreword:
Welcome to the Stately Homes Thread.

This is a long running thread which was originally started up by 'pages' see original thread here.

So this thread originates from that thread and has become a safe haven for Adult children of abusive families.

One thing you will never hear on this thread is that your abuse or experience was not that bad. You will never have your feelings minimised the way they were when you were a child, or now that you are an adult. To coin the phrase of a much respected past poster Ally90;

'Nobody can judge how sad your childhood made you, even if you wrote a novel on it, only you know that. I can well imagine any of us saying some of the seemingly trivial things our parents/siblings did to us to many of our real life acquaintances and them not understanding why we were upset/angry/hurt etc. And that is why this thread is here. It's a safe place to vent our true feelings, validate our childhood/lifetime experiences of being hurt/angry etc by our parent?s behaviour and to get support for dealing with family in the here and now.'

Most new posters generally start off their posts by saying; but it wasn't that bad for me or my experience wasn't as awful as x,y or z's.

Some on here have been emotional abused and/or physically abused. Some are not sure what category (there doesnt have to be any) they fall into.

NONE of that matters. What matters is how 'YOU' felt growing how 'YOU' feel now and a chance to talk about how and why those childhood experiences and/or current parental contact has left you feeling damaged falling apart from the inside out and stumbling around trying to find your sense of self worth.

You might also find the following links and information useful if you have come this far and are still not sure wether you belong here or not.

'Toxic Parents' by Susan Forward

I started with this book and found it really useful.

Here are some excerpts;.

"Once you get going, most toxic parents will counterattack. After all, if they had the capacity to listen, to hear, to be reasonable, to respect you feelings, and to promote your independence, they wouldn't be toxic parents. They will probably perceive your words as treacherous personal assaults. They will tend to fall back on the same tactics and defenses that they have always used, only more so.

Remember, the important thing is not their reaction but your response. If you can stand fast in the face of your parents' fury, accusations, threats and guilt-peddling, you will experience your finest hour.

Here are some typical parental reactions to confrontation:

"It never happened". Parents who have used denial to avoid their own feelings of inadequacy or anxiety will undoubtedly us it during confrontation to promote their version of reality. They'll insist that your allegations never happened, or that you're exaggerating. They won't remember, or they will accuse you of lying.

YOUR RESPONSE: Just because you don't remember, doesn't mean it didn't happen".

"It was your fault." Toxic parents are almost never willing to accept responsibility for their destructive behavior. Instead, they will blame you. They will say that you were bad, or that you were difficult. They will claim that they did the best that they could but that you always created problems for them. They will say that you drove them crazy. They will offer as proof the fact that everybody in the family knew what a problem you were. They will offer up a laundry list of your alleged offenses against them.

YOUR RESPONSE: "You can keep trying to make this my fault, but I'm not going to accept the responsibility for what you did to me when I was a child".

"I said I was sorry what more do you want?" Some parents may acknowledge a few of the things that you say but be unwilling to do anything about it.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I appreciate your apology, but that is just a beginning. If you're truly sorry, you'll work through this with me to make a better relationship."

"We did the best we could." Some parents will remind you of how tough they had it while you were growing up and how hard they struggled. They will say such things as "You'll never understand what I was going through," or "I did the best I could". This particular style of response will often stir up a lot of sympathy and compassion for your parents. This is understandable, but it makes it difficult for you to remain focused on what you need to say in your confrontation. The temptation is for you once again to put their needs ahead of your own. It is important that you be able to acknowledge their difficulties without invalidating your own.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I understand that you had a hard time, and I'm sure that you didn't hurt me on purpose, but I need you to understand that the way you dealt with your problems really did hurt me"

"Look what we did for you." Many parents will attempt to counter your assertions by recalling the wonderful times you had as a child and the loving moments you and they shared. By focusing on the good things, they can avoid looking at the darker side of their behavior. Parents will typically remind you of gifts they gave you, places they took you, sacrifices they made for you, and thoughtful things they did. They will say things like, "this is the thanks we get," or "nothing was ever enough for you."

YOUR RESPONSE: I appreciate those things very much, but they didn't make up for ....

"How can you do this to me?" Some parents act like martyrs. They'll collapse into tears, wring their hands, and express shock and disbelief at your "cruelty". They will act as if your confrontation has victimized them. They will accuse you of hurting them, or disappointing them. They will complain that they don't need this, they have enough problems. They will tell you that they are not strong enough or healthy enough to take this, that the heartache will kill them. Some of their sadness will, of course, be genuine. It is sad for parents to face their own shortcomings, to realize that they have caused their children significant pain. But their sadness can also be manipulative and controlling. It is their way of using guilt to try to make you back down from the confrontation.

YOUR RESPONSE: I'm sorry you're upset. I'm sorry you're hurt. But I'm not willing to give up on this. I've been hurting for a long time, too."

Helpful Websites

Alice Miller

March 20080

Further information from March 20081, a US Domestic Abuse website:

Domestic violence puts all individuals in physical and emotional jeopardy, especially children. Parents are often unaware of the effects that violence can have on a child. You may think that the children don't notice it because they can't see it, but they can always hear it and feel it.

Shame and Isolation Children are rarely able to tell anyone what is going on at home. They may feel embarrassed and ashamed.

Low Self-Esteem Children may feel responsible and blame themselves. It is also likely that the children are not getting the necessary emotional support from either parent to ensure healthy development of their self-esteem.

Child Abuse In approximately half of the families experiencing domestic violence, there is physical and verbal child abuse.

Excessive Responsibility Children often have to "parent" their mothers and/or fathers or take responsibility for younger siblings. They are often robbed of a normal childhood.

Inconsistency and Chaos Unpredictable behaviors from both parents take their toll on the children's mental health and well being.

Incest Domestic violence agencies throughout the country see a substantial number of families where not only physical and verbal abuse exists, but incest as well.

Violent/Submissive Behavior Children often repeat behaviors they learn from their parents (the perpetrator or the victim).


ItsGraceActually Thu 12-Aug-10 18:49:04


Broken links:

Personality Disorders information


VictoriasLittleKnownSecret Thu 12-Aug-10 21:49:59

Thanks. I have actually suggested counselling. She's very private and refused. Her sister took the offer up and has found it very useful. I find it hard that she will not open up but I'm not pushing.

ItsGraceActually Thu 12-Aug-10 22:22:15

Tough on you, huh. I hope she finds her sister's viewpoint interesting enough to follow through with her own process, at some point in the future. Also, I hope you manage to stay open and non-pushy: you must feel so frustrated at times! x

silentcatastrophe Fri 13-Aug-10 14:12:44

It's odd, to survive abuse, in some ways. Both my siblings and I have been stripped of confidence, and fight to find ways to live instead of ways to die. One of my brothers is hell bent on the latter. Without confidence, it is impossible to plan ahead, to have a future. My life for decades has been about treading water, waiting to drown. I am hoping that by now, a shore is in sight, and I can get to it. Oh it's horrible. I do so want to have a life I can call my own, not just for me, but so that my children can follow a new route.

Nemofish Fri 13-Aug-10 18:28:01

silentcatastrophe your post made me ache with recognition. I have worked through an awful lot of stuff, and I am just about to take the last serious 'healing' step, and also the first step into a new life. But I am so afriad, I feel stuck. I just don't feel brave enough to do it.

Dd is off to school and I will be starting a new job at about the same time.

This says it best for me, I hope Kelly Clarkson doesn't mind...

I lose my way
And it's not too long before you point it out,
I cannot cry
Because I know that's weakness in your eyes
I'm forced to fake, a smile, a laugh,
Every day of my life.
My heart can't possibly break
When it wasnt even whole to start with...

Because of you
I never strayed too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learnt to play on the safe side so I dont get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust
Not only me
But everyone around me
Because of you
I am ashamed...

I watched you die
I saw you cry
Every night in your dreams
I was so young,
You should have known
Better than to lean on me.
You never thought of anyone else,
You just saw your pain.
And now I cry in the middle of the night
From the same damn thing...

Nemofish Fri 13-Aug-10 22:20:15

Sorry all I appear to have killed this thread stone dead with my Kelly Clarkson karaoke...

IfGraceAsks Sat 14-Aug-10 12:43:39

Noy yet, Nemo. Hadn't seen that lyric before - how accurate! You sang it all right wink

Like you, I've been changing quite fast too! Stately Homes really helped me: I felt more in touch with my feelings around this stuff while I was involved with the threads, and found I needed a little while to answer silentcatastrophe's post.

I know just what you mean about hoping you can get to shore. My relationships with my family have changed (for me; not sure that they feel any different) and so have several small but very important things about myself. There's a way to go yet, though, and now my therapy's finished I have to find it without a guide. I've just got to keep swimming ...

Which has made me wonder if this symbolism is behind my love of water! Perhaps I should take up swimming (in a leisure centre) again. Hmmm ... thanks! x

thisishowifeel Sat 14-Aug-10 17:32:26

Hello all.

sientcatastrpphe....your post made me sob.

I went to London and Disney with the kids. He came too. I didn't have the energy to fight, AND do it all myself.

As in Cyprus, it was fine till day four, when one of his MASSIVE triggers, food, kicked in.

He tried very hard, very hard to stay connected to himself, but the journey home was a hell of insults and lies, gaslighting freaky nonsense. For hours all the way from Dieppe and round the m25.

BUT: My response was entirely different, and I didn't hit him. I simply stayed very, very calm, and named every single behaviour as it came up.

I said that every single time he questioned my mental health in any way, from calling me a nutter, to saying that I have false memory syndrome, he was in fact projecting his shit onto me, and that I would know what was wrong with him. He referred to dd as a "dolly" at one point, and I merely raised an eyebrow, and said hmmmmm.

It is as though he enters a different state of being, where his brain disconnects from his mouth.

When I did the freedom programme, I went to a session and told tham that h had told me that his friend had terminal cancer. I was shocked to the core when they laughed and said "oh yes, that old one"...they went on to explain to me that these men oftern either develop incurable cancer, or one of their friends does, which then has a miracle cure.

So when h told me that his friend, who had been given weeks to live with incurable lung cancer, is now miraculously in full remission, with a prognosis of years.....I hed to tell him. The freedom programme, he informed me at that point is an extreme feminist organisation, run by which point I suffered a nose fountain of my drink! And pointed out that his " therapist" is allegedly a freedom programme facilitator, and is she an extreme feminist lesbian? No he said....thought not, said I.

It's very funny really, except that people get badly hurt.

silentcatastrophe Sat 14-Aug-10 18:23:02

Well done, thisishowIfeel! It is SO SO important to be able to rise above a mad bully. I think that money in families is often used to control people. My father is like a toddler with a chequebook. It is very hard to step away and say well, actually I have my own worth. I think we seek approval from our parents, and long to be loved. When everyone was getting jobs and moving into work, I simply had no idea how to do it. I had no idea at all how to do anything.

It's horrible not being able to articulate what you feel, and feeling so isolated and miserable. When I was nearly 25 I was given Prozac, and it was the first time in my life that I didn't feel absolutely crap. What a revelation!

thisishowifeel Sat 14-Aug-10 19:31:30

I was given anti depressants at 13 or so. I remember feeling subdued and too tired to fight any more. I call them shut up pills.

That may be very unfair, and I accept that these drugs are way more sophisticated these days....13 was a long time ago. But they stopped me hacking away at my wrists, and overdosing on paracetamol and alcohol.

I didn't (and neither did my sisters) leave home in any kind of normal, healthy way. In every instance, it involved lurching from finding one "saviour" to the next, whether it was a punk band one sister ran away with, to violent druggy car thieves the other did, to just plain old emotional abusers, my poison of choice.

That's why your post resonated so's that staying alive thing that always felt like the tougher option. Always fancied carbon monoxide meself.......BUT I am not there any more. That's the thing...I really feel like something HAS changed.

I love my husband, I really do but, the healthier I get, the more I can see how very damaged HE is. There is NOTHING I can do, but keep on my own path, and love myself as my own saviour.

As I said to him over and over.....I do not want people in my life who hurt me....what kind of nutter would?????

So the upshot is....I realised he was moving back in, by stealth, a toothbrush here, a t shirt there, and I have stopped it. I have said that he should take another six months on his flat and we may review again then.

Nemofish Sat 14-Aug-10 21:37:30

thisishowifeel all I can say is that you deserve better, someone who really is capable of loving you and caring for / about you.

Just wanted to share this, it just 'clicked' for me today, how much I love my daughter, just as she is - she is 4, can't read, struggles to put on her socks and is obsessed with farting. And I love her with all my heart.

When I was a child, I was groomed to be:
The next prima ballerina (mum was a frustrated dancer)
The next Stephen King
The next Stephen Hawkings
An actress

During grooming for greatness was one of the few times that she was nice to me.

And so on, all startling talents that I inherited, naturally, from mother dearest, and I can tell you now that while I am an intelligent woman and I have a way with storytelling and words, I am not likely to be The Next Big Thing anytime soon.

But that is okay. I have spent so many years trying to unearth some huge talent for something, anything, and I didn't realise where it came from. I couldn't give two shites if my daughter never takes to the stage, I love her no matter what she is or isn't capable of.

So I am going to really enjoy myself using my natural aptitude at massage to be a good therapist and work hard to become a great therapist! smile

swallowedAfly Sat 14-Aug-10 22:06:34

Message withdrawn

Nemofish Sat 14-Aug-10 22:12:45

Don't think that you are any of those things, swallowedAFly.

smile Feel free to chat when you are ready.

IfGraceAsks Sun 15-Aug-10 00:33:01

You are most welcome, swallowedAFly

Reading, admiring and learning from all your posts. Thank you so much for being here! And well done!

I'm on (yet another) downwards swoop. Not sure why, just hoping it will unravel itself. silentcatastrophe's post really shook me. I rarely admit how little I care about living. I've made sure to live with curiosity & enthusiasm, but have run out of enthusiasm. I had a life-threatening illness once, and was astonished by the strength of my instinctual will to live. I need to hang onto that memory sometimes.

I've just been given some hope of change! Possible good news - not massive, but it might be enough. I've had a letter from the new owners of a company I invested in 20 years ago, which went bust. Apparently there's some vestigial value in the original shares It won't be much, and I shan't know for several months - but I think, if there's a couple of thou, I will NOT use it responsibly but buy a ticket to somewhere exotic. That's always worked to heal my heart, and my heart feels wounded now.

Feel free to tell me if you think I'm being an idiot! I'm on the breadline, remember - I should really spend it (if it comes) on electricity, a car, or drumming up business. Is my idea just another way of avoiding responsibility for my own life?

Castles in the air at the moment, anyhow. I'm going to take a pill for a very long sleep; hopefully I'll be better able to reply thoughtfully tomorrow.

thisishowifeel Sun 15-Aug-10 09:44:29

swallowedafly, Those words will be very familiar to many of us on here. I don't know you, but I'd put money on you being none of those things....that's why you're here. Start anywhere, it will start to flow out of you.

Grace....GO!!!!!!! If we HAVE to be alive, then be reckless! If you have the chance to do something like that, then do it....who knows what will be there for you. Life can sometimes turn on a penny...I've seen it happen to people.

Reckless Ruby is one of my, and dd's favourite books, about a little girl who refuses to be defined by others.


weegiemum Sun 15-Aug-10 10:01:04

I made up my mind to post on this thread last night, and here I am doing it.

I too don't know where to start - my problems are with my mother and sister (who remembers a very different childhood to me). I'm having some excellent help from a clinical psychologist at the moment (that's when I knew my problems were genuine as how hard is it to access a year of therapy on the NHS?!!), I suffer from recurrent severe depression and panic all the time that I am being a bad mother to my 3 dcs.

I am luckily in an incredibly strong and secure marriage, and my father is a good support (parents have been divorced for a very long time).

I think I just want to put up my hand and say "me too!". I also suspect that my mother will be along to read this at some point - she has previous form!!

goingincircles Sun 15-Aug-10 11:19:15

i'd love to believe i'm not effected anymore. the reality is thought that whatever layer of confidence i've been able to build at any point, or whatever sense of having a purpose or a role 'out there' or in the lives of others, it's always able to rip away in a second and feel like an utterly false lie. i can remember as a young teen laying on my friends bedroom floor saying, if i my own mother can't love me... the dot dot dot being me drawing the conclusion that there must be something so fundamentally wrong with me. now logically i've addressed that and can talk about what she is and what she did to me and how i couldn't possibly have been the things she said i was as a little girl but...

even though the logic is there that feeling of being fundamentally wrong, unloveable, unfit for this life and totally different and to and less than other people is still there. i can hide it well and i can not believe it in one side of me but when i'm 'falling' in the night, my thoughts and feelings spiralling down it's who i am .

it's a conviction that i'll never be right, that i'll never be able to live properly and that i'll always be scared and at core alone and that i will always have to hide, that i am something that has to be hidden.

no matter what i live on the surface inside i'm this scared, confused little girl getting it all wrong and not knowing what the rules are or how to be to get it right. it's like everything on top of this is just a flimsly fabrication but this, alone, scared, ashamed is real.

don't know if that makes any sense but had to start somewhere.

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