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"But we took you to Statley Homes" Dysfunctional Families Thread

(819 Posts)
Snowdropfairy Thu 31-Mar-11 14:04:18

Forerunning threads:
December 2007
March 2008
August 2008
February 2009
May 2009
January 2010
April 2010
August 2010
November 2010

Please check later posts in this thread for links & quotes. The main thing is: "they did do it to you" - and you can recover.

crje Tue 24-Apr-12 15:11:37

Am a lurker here -and hope I can get some feed back.

Background- middle child of 7 raised by sahm who is bad socially as she is jealous of others. She was from another country and moved to marry dad.She was very lonely . Dad had overcome disability to do well for himself but felt he had something to prove to his father. They were very wrapped up in their own problems. They seperated when I was a was a mud slinging drawn out mess.......

Have been struggling with my parents since my teens-I don't feel I owe them anything as they were so absent in my times of need. I never had help with homework-relationships......once id a hot meal most days their job was done. Not much money but enough for cigs and drinks for them.

So now im 38 and im not speaking to my dad-Ive just cut him loose as he was needy and demanding ,it was always one way with him. My mother has been sick lately and is regressing and behaving like a child,am angry that they felt they could lean so heavily on me when they had done so little for me.

There are 3 of the 7 who don't see our dad- we see our mother irregularly. When we feel able to take her........

They have not put in the work to deserve a good dutiful daughter imo
but i feel it is a bad reflection of me that I feel this way.

Siblings get on well but don't discuss the 'parents'

Finding myself very short/mean to family and in laws who make demands of me - ive 4 kids and seldom get/ask for help. Id rather manage myself than get used/hurt again.

My kids are now at the age I was when things in my life were at their worst and I see how vunerable teens are and feel so sorry for the teen me who was so let down by her parents.

Am I in the right place ???

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 18:20:46

NEW THREAD HERE, as requested by a scary, hissy person wink.

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 14:45:15

Just a very little ramble, PP. Just before I read your post, I was wondering whether this recovery malarkey is something of a feminist issue. Isn't self-scrutiny almost a requirement of women, along with the expectation od self-effacement?

Do fewer men than women undertake this process? If they do face it, are they as prone to self-question as minutely as we do here? Is that a gender issue?

Can't pursue this much more today; call it a note for later smile

PeppermintPasty Tue 01-Nov-11 12:05:08

Hello all. Re your above post puppy, I too have this recurring thought-it's almost a nightmare!-that I will just repeat the patterns set by my mother and visit them on my DC! It's ridiculous really, but so hard to shake off-on the one hand my logical thoughts and my heart tell me that I am nothing like her, that from the very moment my dc's were born I treated them differently to how she treated me and my siblings,'s so hard to keep it in perspective sometimes! I find I am constantly reassessing and scrutinizing my "parenting style" (whatever the hell that is) and sometimes it feels exhausting. Do others do this too? I don't want to fall into any bear traps along the way-or rather, I don't want my children to!

I think it's wrapped up with the "being-too-critical-of-yourself" thing, all this reassessing of oneself. It's annoying too because there is a heck of a lot about me that I recognise as strong and fair and kind etc etc. It's a bit like crossing a bridge over a ravine confidently at first, only to find that you've run out of rope and floor about 2 feet from the other side. Just how is that damn bridge being kept in the air??!!

#sounds klaxon for "rambling" alert#

Anyway, I am going to get some counselling! It must be done! Can you help me with what i should look for when researching counsellors? Are there particular specialisms I should seek out, or particular kinds of therapy?

Thank you x

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Mon 31-Oct-11 21:56:41

I also wanted to react to this:

I know that I am not as detached from my children as other parents are. I know that I see them very much as linked to me.

It's true that narcissists think of the people closest to them as extensions of themselves. Is this what you are worrying about?

Narcissists see their partners and children as extensions of themselves, in a functional sense. As if their children and partners are a limb for the narcissist to move around at his/her will.

What you describe sounds to me more like the empathic link of a highly nurturing person. It is very different to a narcissist's conception of close family members. It has its own pitfalls, mind: the hyper-nurturing are likely to be less good at setting firm and consistent boundaries on their loved ones (or on anyone, for that matter). But it sounds like your children will in no way lack the nurturing that you did.

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Mon 31-Oct-11 21:45:02

It is a good sign.

Can you imagine your mother entertaining the notion that she is a narcissist and that she may have damaged her daughter? No, right?

Yet here you are doing just that. Well done: you're not a narcissist.

<removes cod psychology badge>

EraseandRewind Mon 31-Oct-11 21:42:05

Thank you both.
I have done a lot of thinking today.

I have taken a look at the daughters of narcissistic mothers website and a lot rings true.

It just feels so confusing. If my mother is like this and has no clue, how do I know that I know fully what I am like?

I know that I am already more insightful than she is and have to have faith that this is a good sign.

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Mon 31-Oct-11 21:07:36

*nurturing yourself while also nurturing your children.

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Mon 31-Oct-11 21:06:41

It was wrong, E&R. It wasn't fair. It was hurtful to the child that you were: you needed support and nurture from the guiding light and love in your life, your mother, and instead she tasked you with making her happy. That inversed the parent-child relationship, and it was not fair on your young self.

You deserved proper mothering, but you didn't get it. Even now as an adult, this makes you suffer. Listen to that child's voice in you. Grieve with her. Be the one to love her where your mother couldn't, and her suffering will eventually be soothed.

As long as you are the one to respond to the needs of the little voice inside you saying "What about me?", and you do not ask others to fulfill that child-you's needs, then you will not be imposing your issues on your children.

Yes, it means you will have to be nurturing yourself while also nurturing yourself, which is very unfair considering that you did not receive proper nurturing of your own from your mother. But you are well-equiped for the task: you are full of empathy and love. You have enough reserves of love and empathy despite your shitty upbringing (and even because of it... more on that later) to be able to nurture yourself AND your DC, so that you can avoid the trap of passing on your issues to the next generation, the way your mother did with you.

garlicBreathZombie Mon 31-Oct-11 17:42:47

Yes, it makes perfect sense. Welcome, E&R smile

This will have to be quick - you're not like your mother because you're self-aware. You are, however, probably right that her insanities are driven by a similar emotional 'hole'. The difference is that she unconsciously followed the patterns that made her so, while you're here asking questions.

Have you looked at There are links to more good websites, and books, on the first page of this thread.

You're not weird, you're hurt. I'm sure your parenting is fine, and it will get even better as you learn about parenting yourself as well.

EraseandRewind Mon 31-Oct-11 17:25:06

Hello everyone,
I started a thread earlier today about my Mother and Itsmeandmypumpkinnnow kindly answered me and suggested that my Mother is narcissistic.

I am not quite ready to accept that yet as I feel that she is not cruel or unkind, just hugely lacking emotionally and not able to think about others and thus not able to put others (like her children's) needs above her own.

Anyway, I just wondered if others can recognise some of the feelings I have.

I just feel like there is a big hole in me.
I am quite an emotionally intelligent person and am very empathetic and when I was a child I was easily manipulated by my Mother.
She would make me feel guilty for having a life outside of her (she was a single parent) would make me feel like I needed to be around to make her happy.
I was the 'good girl' who made things better. It was very suffocating, but I believed that we had a good relationship as that is what she wanted to project (and maybe believes).

Every now and then this need to be acknowledged by someone surfaces. A need for someone to say it was wrong and wasn't fair and that I suffered.

I feel like a child who wants to scream 'What about me??'

And this is where I worry. Does that make me as bad as her?
As an adult I should not be in a position where I am demanding it be about me.

What is normal and what is something that I should worry about?

I know that I am not as detached from my children as other parents are. I know that I see them very much as linked to me. I want them to be free to feel whatever they want to feel, to be whoever they want to be and for me not to react inappropriately.

Does this make sense to anyone else?


garlicBreathZombie Mon 31-Oct-11 17:19:05

We've both written posts about blinkers irt family, lola!
You sound very healthily angry smile

lolaflores Mon 31-Oct-11 16:23:33

The nerve being, the blinkers I was forced to wear. The blinkers which always told me I was paranoid, hateful and a worthless person. In reality, me keeping this position enabled others to feel better about themselves. Whilst i got eaten alive in full view of everyone, well it was because I was so odd and stubborn and generally a fucking pain in the arse. I deserved it. Now, i realise it is down to apathy, indecision,fear of what might happen and if they might be implicated. Fingers being pointed, tough questions asked. A light being shone on dark corners. Bit too close for comfort for some. Sorry if I sound a bit mysterious, but there is not enough space and or time to do the flow chart needed to explain all this. suffice it to say that today, the wisdom others have brought with them was invaluable to me.

garlicBreathZombie Mon 31-Oct-11 16:13:28

It was beautifully written. What nerve?

lolaflores Mon 31-Oct-11 15:48:30

oh christ that last post felt very very close to a great big nerve.

lolaflores Mon 31-Oct-11 15:47:56

Thank you all for your sanity and wisdom today of all days. Just what I needed to hear to stop me gently coming to a stop. I think I am in the foothills of some of those states above, but i am working my to them.

I am finding it easier to spot other peoples spinelessness. The convenience of no decision as opposed to doing something. Rocking the boat. Hiding under the long grass of stagnation, lurking in the shadows with everyone else whilst someone else is skinned for your amusement. And as such, easier to shrug off their whining and self pity, leaving me better able to hand back the shit that is theirs and nothing what so ever to do with me.

garlicBreathZombie Mon 31-Oct-11 15:15:36

smile smile Thank you!

It's not a festering wound but a healing one. I feel light, bright, strong, in full possession of all my faculties at long last, no longer trampled, denigrated, nor violated. Safe and free. Ready to enjoy the world and all its manifold opportunities.

- and thanks for that, too! THIS is where I want to be ... and I'm getting there. x

Helianthus Mon 31-Oct-11 14:58:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

garlicBreathZombie Mon 31-Oct-11 14:44:42

I'm continuing to let my family fade away, itsme. It's funny, I was thinking about it this morning, before I read your post. I've been going through a rather odd, unplanned process of reviewing each relative according to their deeds - it's not a pretty picture. There's only one whose actions I don't condemn (the Lost Child) and he's the one I know least well!

This morning's revelation was that, the longer I go between contacts, the greater my clarity of view. Last month I decided not to return calls; there've only been a few, since I've been distancing for two years now. I'm also beginning, tentaively, to feel like I could get back in touch with a handful of real friends - without shame for my long silence. I suspect that, as my relations take up less space in my head, the extra room is slowly being filled by healthier thoughts and feelings.

But I will not actively sever contact. I'll go to weddings and funerals if I'm asked. I'll send Christmas cards. My aim is to put my family members into the same emotional place I keep for people - co-workers, friends' partners, neighbours and so on - with whom I have friendly acquaintance but do not particularly like. It's not for me to judge, only to set and affirm the boundaries of my own life. My new and, I dare say, most important boundary is that I've stopped overlooking obnoxious behaviour. I've put a lot of work into fixing my blind spots. I think that, now I've started "minding", they will choose to stay away.

I want to stress that this is the way I do things; I'm not saying it's better or worse than anyone else's approach. It's comparable to the way I dealt with my drink problem. I went to rehab, did my meetings and (still do) my steps, and, after 8 months sober, learned to drink reasonably again. It is more logical to stay away from alcohol and, I am sure, more logical for many to stay away from their families. Nonetheless, everyone's problem is their own and everyone has their individual attitude to it.

I am an alcoholic who drinks. I am a toxic family survivor who sends Christmas cards. Either of those may change in the future; I don't know, because a pivotal part of recovery is to give up 'black & white' or 'eternity' thinking! I used to envision concepts like flexibility and adaptability as soft and stretchy, like fabric or plasticine. They are gaining more assertive qualities for me now, like the insistent adaptability of life forms and the strength-giving flexibility of sprung steel.

I haven't answered your question but maybe you'll identify with some of my words?

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Mon 31-Oct-11 13:24:31

Well look at you, raking in the younger men! smile Funny, that, for someone who tends to think she's not worth it wink

SkinnedAlive Mon 31-Oct-11 12:42:24

No, pumpkin this is another guy I met in a club. Its weird, I have 3 short guys (all very young) interested in me just now. The lovely Hungarian, a very nice Turkish vet, and the rather crazy (but good at kissing) Brazilian. None of them are taller than me and short men just aren't for me, sigh. I feel a little like a teenager again!

My whole family are dead so I don't have the problem with having/not having contact. I can see it must be very, very hard sad Sometimes I would like a confrontation and answers from them, but I know I would never get any or it would be outright denial as to what actually happened

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Mon 31-Oct-11 11:44:43

I think I see what you're saying, lola, and I agree.

I think that there is no prescribed path to defining ourselves on our own terms. It could pass by a number of different ways, from remaining in frequent contact, to cutting contact completely, as long as we feel sufficiently grounded within ourselves.

lolaflores Mon 31-Oct-11 11:37:29

itsme, i am becoming of the mind that we must find our own sanity within their toxicity. Lead by example, stay ahead of their game playing, realise that as an adult, their behaviour is not your problem. By becoming more grounded around these people. I believe is life enhancing. You become more true to yourself. They are part of you, but you have to work that bit harder to define yourself on your terms. Perhpas not for everyone, but it is what I am trying to do. It is not a forgiveness thing either, just a way of finding peace through a long process. did that make any sense to anyone?

ItsMeAndMyPumpkinNow Mon 31-Oct-11 09:59:06

Skinned is this the hot younger man you mentioned in your thread? smile

I want to muse to this informed audience about cutting contact. I've heard from so many MNers who have cut contact with dysfunctional parents and who unanimously call it the best thing they ever did.

I am tempted to cut contact, but not sure yet whether it's what I want to do. I will probably be testing the broken record statement of boundaries as a first option.

However, I have just realised yesterday that if I cut contact with my parents, I would be the third in 3 generations of my family to do so, and it did not bring happiness to the two previous people upstream in my family tree who did it: my grandfather still passed his issues on to my mother after cutting ties with his family, and my aunt on the other side stayed with a man who beat her after cutting ties with hers.

I have a feeling that my grandfather and my aunt would also have called cutting contact with their parents one of the best things they ever did. But they did it as a kind of retaliation out of anger, I guess, that did not go hand-in-hand with them processing their own issues.

Now, I believe that I am processing my issues, although obviously I have only a subjective view on that. So I wonder: Will I only be said to truly have processed my issues if I am able to tolerate and accept my parents as they are, without rejecting them for not being the parents I would have liked them to be?

lolaflores Sun 30-Oct-11 11:15:23

Good woman skinned alive saddle up that horse and well....riding is involved. Take what you need from where you can find it on your terms. And if you can't get a snog at Halloween,,,when can you.

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