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Issues with my parents - irrelevant now but it hurts again, need a rant(23 Posts)
Not sure why but I've recently been thinking a lot about everything that's gone on with my parents in the past. We have a decent relationship now but for some reason a lot of negativity has resurfaced in my head.
Some of it is new though - I guess it's come up because DD has started school and I'm really changing the way I think about parenting (as you do, naturally, when you have your own child). I feel like I was an afterthought. Mum was always quite honest about the fact she was never broody and I was a result of the biological clock. They loved me but I was never treated like a child, I just had to fit in with them. They didn't play with me. I was a mini adult who just needed to be taught stuff, I was a very clever precocious child and now I think about it everything they've ever been proud of about me has been due to academic achievement. Grades are everything to them, even though they have fuck all to show for their intelligence (debt, crap business etc), I wonder if they would have loved me so much if I wasn't smart. I still need to tell them when I do well at something and avoid telling them if I 'fail' (recently took a break from my degree and didn't tell them for months) - I'm 24 FFS.
They are crap with my DCs, I know I shouldn't expect them to be great - it's not actually a requirement for GPs to be great with their DCs is it (so I keep reading on AIBU) but I guess it just makes me resent them and shows up the way they brought me up too. They have such ridiculously high expectations, I already feel like my DCs are disappointments because they are normal.
So the other thing... I was abused as a child, by mum's younger half-brother. That in itself is no big deal TBH (thanks to decent therapy) but I can't shake the fact that it's my mum's fault I never prosecuted - she was the one who cried when the police/SS came round, not for how I'd been hurt (come to think of it that has never ever been mentioned) but giving excuses for him. Later she begged me not to prosecute because he wouldn't cope with prison. So I left it, I was 13, what else could I do.
One thing that bugs me is the very first thing they said when I told them - that they'd always suspected something. WTF does that mean. Why were they letting my uncle 'look after' the 4yo me up in my room if they had some inkling it wasn't right. Why didn't they just check, once would've been enough. I feel like if they had found out at the time though it would've been brushed under the carpet anyway. My uncle admitted it to my mum/grandma but they've happily kept that secret. I feel like I'm the criminal not him.
Sorry, totally nonsensical rant, I should edit/rearrange it but nothing would be good enough anyway.
Eeek was my ranty writing that bad? off to bed but will check in the morning <needy>
No advice Haunty but couldn't read and run
Not surprised you needed to "rant" at the very least.
From an outsider's pov you sound extremely and needlessly self critical - it sounds like you are incredibly calm about what you have gone through (your uncle admitted it and your mum did nothing? Wtaf?)
You are not the one with the problem here, your parents/ family sound deeply abnormal. Your dc are very lucky to have a mum who recognises this and has provided a stable and loving upbringing, and let them be "normal" - there is absolutely no way being normal = disappointment
BTW is there any chance of prosecuting now? Do you think it might be something that would help?
I was abused as a child, by mum's younger half-brother. That in itself is no big deal TBH (thanks to decent therapy
I beg to differ. ALL child abuse is a VERY BIG DEAL FOR THE VICTIM and IMO anything that can be done to bring an abuser to account in a Court of Law should be done regardless of how much time has passed since the date(s) of the offence(s).
However, before you consider contacting the police, are you saying that you were abused from the ages of 4 - 13 years and that when you were 13 there was a police investigation/social services involvement that was centred around the abuse you had suffered at the hands of your mother's half-brother?
At your mother's instigation did you deny that you had been abused or were statements taken and any charges dropped because you were 'encouraged' by your mother not to give evidence?
Are you still living in the same police regional authority area where the abuse took place and where any investigation was undertaken?
To the best of your knowledge, was any police investigation/social services involvement solely centred on the abuse you had suffered, or did it also involve other alleged victims of your mother's half-brother?
Does your mother's half-brother have dc?
Do you and your dc see your parents and grandmother on a regular basis, or do you have sporadic contact with them?
I am guessing that this matter has not been spoken about in your family for something in the region of 11 years and as it has, to their mind, been so successfully swept under the carpet, it is not surprising that you feel like I'm the criminal not him.
My darling, YOU are NOT the criminal. You NEVER WERE the criminal and you NEVER WILL BE the criminal. The criminals ARE and ALWAYS WILL BE the adult who abused you and the adults who FAILED YOU.
I hope that, together, we can help you find the courage to do what needs to be done.
Sorry, my OP wasn't too clear - to clarify:
The abuse was when I was young, I guess around 3-6 but in truth I have no idea how many times or exactly how old I was, other than remembering that it happened a lot. Basically he was a desperate 16(ish)yo who thought simulated sex with me because he couldn't get a GF, he'd be on top of me and I'd be naked (he still had underwear/t-shirt) and would then tell me to go away while he shut himself in the bathroom after. There, you now know more than my parents do, since they never asked.
It didn't go on until I was 13 - I'm not sure when or why it stopped, he probably figured I wouldn't keep it secret as I was getting older. After that (and even while the abuse was going on) he was like a big brother, taking me places and doing fun stuff, stuff that my parents should've done but as I said in my OP, they didn't. I miss him sometimes, I am not scared of him in my dreams, now THAT is fucked up.
Basically I 'forgot' until I was 13, and only remembered when I moved back into my old room/bed where most of it happened. I then told my teacher who obviously had to take it further. There was no question of other victims.
Been waffling for too long, got school run but will be back later
OP, I am so at what you went through. You say in your opening post that you have "a decent relationship" with your parents. But I don't think that's true: you have a lot of unfinished business with them, all of it highly traumatic:
I can't shake the fact that it's my mum's fault I never prosecuted - she was the one who cried when the police/SS came round, not for how I'd been hurt (come to think of it that has never ever been mentioned) but giving excuses for him. Later she begged me not to prosecute because he wouldn't cope with prison.
There, you now know more than my parents do, since they never asked.
One thing that bugs me is the very first thing they said when I told them - that they'd always suspected something. WTF does that mean. Why were they letting my uncle 'look after' the 4yo me up in my room if they had some inkling it wasn't right.
he was like a big brother, taking me places and doing fun stuff, stuff that my parents should've done but as I said in my OP, they didn't.
I think that this negativity you say has surfaced will only be resolved once you get closure on all these points. That can only happen in one of two ways: getting your parents to acknowledge your feelings and their responsibility in what happened to you, or if that's not possible, reaching acceptance within yourself that this happened, that it was traumatic, and that your parents were responsible.
Can you confront your parents? Can you access some more therapy?
My relationship with my parents is extremely similar to yours. I too always felt like an afterthought, but in a different way. My mum had my older sister and then accidentally got pregnant with me 6 months later. She had no hesitation in informing me that I was a "mistake" when I was about 8 or 9 - the memory of her saying it stands out very clearly in my mind. Like your parents, they never played with me, although they did take me places from time to time. I worked very very hard academically I think as a way of trying to get their attention but that didn't even work - they never showed much interest.
When I was about 7 I was abused by my mother's friend. It didn't resurface for me until I was 19 but when I told my mother she said I had to forget about it and that I was trying to make her feel guilty. Like your mother she never asked me what had happened. Also, the fact that she never actually asked who it was (as I didn't mention his name at first) tells me pretty definitively that she suspected all along that it had happened and I was just confirming her suspicions.
I can never forgive my mother. My father doesn't know about it as I was told by my mother in no uncertain terms that I wasn't to tell him. I feel far more angry at my mother than I do at my abuser so I can relate to you on that point re your uncle. My abuser was kind to me in ways that my mother never was. He showed me affection and was interested in me. Yes he abused me but the thought of him doesn't scare me. With time and talking I have realised that yes, the abuse was bad, but the way my mother treated me was worse.
At least with my abuser I can say he was a sick fuck. I can dismiss him. He had no duty of care towards me, he was just a random weirdo who picked me as his target. I feel pretty much "over" the abuse if that makes sense. I feel like it happened, and it was bad, but it doesn't dominate my life at all.
My mother on the other hand is my mother. She should never have told me I was a mistake. Just like you should have no idea whatsoever, OP, that your parents weren't broody. What kind of cruel fuck lets their child know they weren't really wanted? Why on earth should you ever know that?? Also, if my so-called mother knew I was abused, why didn't she ask me about it? Why didn't she offer to help me? When I told her first she just brushed it off and when it resurfaced years later and I told her again she just brushed it off again. She just doesn't care. That is far, far worse than the abuse I suffered IMO. The one person who is supposed to love me most in the world doesn't give a shit about what happened to me.
All my counselling was about the abuse and that helped to a certain extent but I was still stuck in a rut that I couldn't seem to get out of. Then when I was depressed my lovely nurse asked me about my mother. Up to that point I still had the illusion that my mother was fine and that the abuse was the problem. Well, the flood gates opened and years of anger and hurt that I never realised was there came spilling out. When I talked about it I realised that she basically has neglected me emotionally all my life. The nurse was shocked by some of the things I told her. And she gave me the best advice I've ever been given, which basically was this: My mother will never ever be what I want her to be. She an emotional husk. I have tied myself in knots for my whole life trying to get a drop of loving kindness from her and it's nearly driven me mad. I have to stop. Deep down I still wish and hope and long for her to love me properly, and that'll never go away but I am now no longer relying on her for support that never appears. I've moved away from her and it's the best thing I ever did. I am happier now than I've ever been. I see her a few times a year and treat her like an acquaintance. It seems to suit her fine and it prevents her from hurting me further.
Sorry for the essay, I think I needed to get that out!
Eeeek that's such a scary thought! I know it's pathetic but I am reluctant to rock the boat because they are all I have other than DH. I don't think they see me as a concern of theirs though, other than in practical terms (occasional lifts etc). I don't remember how it came up but during some discussion back when now-DH was living with us, they said they knew they didn't have to worry about me anymore because I had him.
It's reversed now, I am the one who mum complains about dad to, I know I'm not a kid anymore but I'm still her DD and I don't want to know about all the details of her OM (emotional affair from what I gather, usually I zone out) while she giggles like a teenager FFS. But I put up with it as there's nobody else, DH is bordering on disabled ATM and we are snowed under.
They aren't horrible people they are just useless and didn't have a clue how to bring up a child. I hate it when they say what a great parent I am, WTF would they know?
So, on top of the criminal neglect they showed you in choldhood, your mother now expects you to parent her?
I'm disgusted but not surprise.
I'm also not surprised you are scared at the thought of confronting them: you've heard of the "Fear, Obligation and Guilt" (FOG) that children of dysfunctional families are trained to remain in vis-a-vis their parents? That's what you're feeling right now.
There is a better way: one where you no longer feel afraid to say "No, I don't want to listen about your marital issues" to your mother, where you no longer feel afraid of saying "This is what you did to me when I was a child, this is how it felt at the time, and this is how it continues to affect me to this day."
Sorry x-post - cailindana it's like looking in a mirror. Did your mum ever confront her friend?
I remember finding a postcard from my uncle once and I was so angry and hurt that they were still in touch, but I just got told off for questioning it so again I left it. I think that was the first time I OD'd.
Don't apologise for the essay - this is a safe place, rant away
Nope never heard of the FOG but it certainly resonates. I jump to their defence when DH says anything remotely negative about them even though it is always correct.
You say they are all you have other than dh, but in reality do they add anything to the quality of your life or do you feel that they just take? If its the latter then I would seriously consider reducing contact- how dare your 'd'm now expect you to be her parent/ friend/ confidant? I'm utterly horrified that a mum can treat a child in this way
Haunty, I am furious on your behalf, reading this. I won't bore you with the details of my own past, but being pregnant with a late first baby is making me realise that my passionate desire to protect this child stems from the fact that my parents didn't put themselves out to protect me from anything, including abuse (though minor in comparison with your experience), bullying by a vicious teacher, and longterm contact with a known paedophile priest. I feel I shouldn't blame them - they both grew up in extreme poverty and deprivation and had no basis on which to base an idea of proper parenting - but at times I do. They were more worried about making a fuss, calling attention to themselves or making out that their child deserved more than was being offered her, than they were about what was happening to their child. They 'settled' for very little in their lives to save on what my father calls 'hassle', and didn't see why their children should ask for any more.
There is absolutely no point in me confronting my parents - any past attempts have led only to total incomprehension and 'you don't understand, that was the way things were back then' - and I know now that no form of confrontation will get me the kind of acknowledgement I want, and I have come to terms with that. I console myself that I saved my little sister from the abuse and by being the first in the family to go to university, got all my younger siblings out of the trap of our environment. I did something good.
But it strikes me that you could choose to pursue some form of acknowledgement, whether it's through reopening the police case or simply privately making your parents explicitly acknowledge what they allowed to be done to you. It sounds to me as if, having come to terms with the abuse through therapy, it's the fact that they chose not wanting the disgrace/prosecution for a family member etc over your welfare that is really hurting you. (Mine would have done the same.) Decide precisely what you want from this situation, maybe with the help of a counsellor. You are not the criminal. There's a bit of you that's still an abused child whose family are brushing the abuse under the carpet, so you feel that your emotions don't matter, and clearly your parents replicating some of their behaviour with your children is making you remember.
I say, like you, that I'm over the abuse, but to be honest, I can still see exactly what I was wearing and the feel of his hand on my thigh, and feel the appalling shame. Please don't belittle your own continued trauma, because you deserve more. Best wishes to you, whatever you decide.
Thing is I told them once that I was 'over it' (in a more Leave-me-alone way) and after that when I was struggling, self-harming etc, dad said "but you said you were ok " why the heck they believed that I don't know, it was easier to just pretend I guess.
Re: amount of contact, well ATM we don't see them more than once a month, it used to be a bit more but the novelty of grandkids wore off and they are busy
spending money they don't have doing their own thing anyway. The stupid thing is I feel I need them more ATM, though just for practical reasons, I gave up hope of any emotional support a few years ago.
I was musing on this on the school run, and I realised why I've been thinking about it so much. Since being with DH (9 years now) we've been very much "you and me against the world". But things have been tough lately since DH got injured, especially in the last few months as he's deteriorated and I'm working. We are close as always but because a lot is unavoidably being piled on me, rather than us, I'm starting to feel like it's me alone against the world, and it's made me realise just how little support I've got compared to what I deserve IYSWIM.
Thanks for the links, will have a look.
Also thanks to those of you sharing your stories - hope it helps to write them down, it's certainly helping me xx
When your teacher 'took the matter further' what was the outcome?
Were you interviewed by police or social services or did it simply come down to, at your mother's institgation, denying that anything untoward had taken place?
My teacher told HOY who told police/SS, and they rang my parents, at which point they obviously interrogated me (assuming I was in trouble IIRC) so I told them - that was when they said they'd had an inkling something wasn't right next day policewoman and a SW visited, that was when mum broke down and said what a terrible childhood her brother had (parental divorce and missing school due to illness... Yeah, no wonder he turned out like that eh? )
Had no choice, as it'd been reported, but to do a formal interview, one of those video things, it was horrible and I didn't say much other than to confirm there was no rape. We discussed prosecution (he'd already been arrested but had denied it) and it was left up to me. It was shortly after that when mum begged me not to.
I get the picture - and it's not an uncommon one.
Unfortunately, I'm running late for an appointment but I will come back to your post this evening and, in the meantime, I will be thinking of you and hope to be able to help you to find ways of finding resolution.
There can never be 'closure' as it's not possible to erase memories, but it is possible to reach an accomodation with the past that goes some way to ensuring that it does not adversely affect our present and future, or haunt us when we least expect it.
I know a few people who have also had abuse hushed up, it is scary how common it is. I am lucky I told a teacher first.
DH and I agreed this evening that we are on our own now. Anything my parents do, visiting wise, is (mostly) a bonus... There is no point wishing for anything else as it hurts to come second to a hair cut etc.
I feel vulnerable, even though nothing has actually changed.
Even though I've pretty much accepted the way things are with my mother, I sometimes still burst into tears and all I can think is "I want my mummy," particularly when times are hard. It's normal to want that sense of comfort and support and it's very hard to accept that it's just not there.
Something that's helped me a bit is the fact that I feel quite sorry for my mother. Now that I have my own DS I know what it's like to truly adore a child and want to do anything for them. It's a great feeling that she'll never experience. She's a sad shrivelled thing and she'll die that way, while I have a loving husband and a wonderful son. I've moved on and made my life better in spite of her, and I'm proud of that.
I have just made a decision.
I was doing some reading games with my 4yo - she's just starting to decode short words. I'd deliberately not pushed reading as I was an extremely early reader and wanted to let DD be 'normal' and learn with school instead of rushing ahead.
Anyway, she read some words and obviously we were really proud and gave her lots of praise, but my first thought was of telling my parents. I mean that's not normal is it. It is totally dysfunctional to still be desperate for their approval, and not just for myself but on my DCs' behalf too! And it's not like they withhold affection or pride or anything, they're always telling me how brilliant I am
So I have decided I will no longer rush to tell them of any achievements. If they ask I'll tell them but that's it. This is going to be REALLY hard.
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