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"But We Took You To Stately Homes!" - Survivors of Dysfunctional Families.

(1000 Posts)
garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 18:18:50

It's November 2011, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.

Forerunning threads:
December 2007
March 2008
August 2008
February 2009
May 2009
January 2010
April 2010
August 2010
March 2011

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

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 18:19:20

Welcome to the Stately Homes Thread.

This is a long running thread which was originally started up by 'pages' see original thread here (December 2007).

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 parents’ 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 emotionally abused and/or physically abused. Some are not sure what category (there doesn’t 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 whether 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

Personality Disorders definition

Follow up to pages first thread:

I’m sure the other posters will be along shortly to add anything they feel I have left out. I personally don’t claim to be sorted but I will say my head has become a helluva lot straighter since I started posting here. You will receive a lot of wisdom but above all else the insights and advice given will 'always' be delivered with warmth and support.

Happy Posting (smithfield posting as therealsmithfield)

I have cut and pasted this because I think it is fab. Just in case anyone misses the link.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Tue 01-Nov-11 19:14:20

Thanks for that, garlic! I have to say the misspelled title of the previous thread made my eyes sore every time.

More helpful links:

Daughters of narcissistic mothers
Out of the FOG
You carry the cure in your own heart
Help for adult children of child abuse
Pete Walker

Some books:

Homecoming
Will I ever be good enough?
If you had controlling parents
you and your mother can't be friends
Children of the self-absorbed
Recovery of your inner child

gobbycow Tue 01-Nov-11 19:39:28

Hello........this is how i felt.

Once.....and now I see it all very differently.

More revelations coming thick and fast. I will share...but don't want to be shouted at.

I have seen narcissism today in such a stark way...it made me giggle, and then get really mad, and then feel really calm...that I knew what it was...and it wasn't me.

My xh has found out that a lot of people know that he physically attacked me. He is furious. How dare I share the details of our personal life with "strangers"! How dare I?

This is how I dare!

Because in that moment....he, on his own, brought my world and my children's world, crashing down. I asked him if he really expected me to be complicit in his denial? To really expect the devastation of our lives by him, to be kept as a dirty little secret...by me....to keep MY LIFE, and MY EXPERIENCE, AND MY FUCKING FEELINGS A SECRET!!!!!!!!???????

WHAT?

Well no. No way.

Do you see how you get to not exist? Well I do exist. The NHS spent good money on me "Existing" in my therapy....that is what I asked for.....that is what I appear to have.

I have been advised "not to engage". But If I don't engage...I don't get these revelations.

I engaged. I sent a message saying that he had left me speechless by his attitude, that he expected to keep such a massive life event FOR ME, a whole real person, secret. What kind of person, from what kind of world does that?

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 19:54:48

Brilliant links, ItsMe, thank you smile

I've uploaded a Word doc containing the first three posts, with mumsnet url formatting so the next thread starter doesn't have to go through it all again!

Remember to add this thread to the forerunners, though.

It's here.
You may have to right-click it and Unblock.

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 19:55:48

Sorry, gc, that took ages. Will read you after a dinner break smile

gobbycow Tue 01-Nov-11 20:12:16

Apologies for:

Not acknowledging the work involved in setting up the new thread....including spelling corrections!

Jumping straight in.

Thank you for starting the new thread Garlic and It'sme. xx

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Tue 01-Nov-11 20:12:37

Ooh, such cleverness. You'll have to explain to me how to do that so I can save the opener of the EA thread in the same way.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Tue 01-Nov-11 20:14:00

No need to apologise for your posts on the support thread, gobbycow!
We've all done way too much needless apologising for our very existence due to our upbringing.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Tue 01-Nov-11 20:18:36

I admire the fire or anger in your post. I'm missing a lot of context, but the anger is pretty clear! Hold on to that: anger can be very healing, and I think it's a necessary step to really resolve the issues we're left with after close contact with the disordered.

gobbycow Tue 01-Nov-11 20:27:57

Not as much context as you think....Thisishowifeel.

And yes...I married my mother.

Twice!

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 20:28:18

How soon does it need to be done, Puppy? Could do it for you tomorrow night.

garlicBread Tue 01-Nov-11 20:29:46

Oh, gc! grin
Glad you're angry.
I'm hungry.
x

gobbycow Tue 01-Nov-11 20:30:28

Being a "gobby cow" was one of the "insults" that I have grown to rather like. They were threatened when I spoke out.....and now I am speaking out.

smile

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Tue 01-Nov-11 20:33:03

Aaaah, all is now much more clear.

hello, you!

Garlic, it's not urgent at all: in fact I've just spent way too long creating thread number 6 for EA just this very evening, so we've got a while yet until it hits 1000. I can send you the Word doc I made already, with MN formatting etc. It would be great to have a place that it's stored online so that anyone can use it to start new threads.

BibiBatsberg Tue 01-Nov-11 23:39:42

Shiny new thread, it's nice in here. Can't help but mention I'm another one who is very glad to see stately spelled with it's missing e (it's a disease, I can't help it) smile

Popped in here as I've just been reading an AIBU thread about a woman and her utterly vile abusive mother asking if a child can ever be responsible for causing their own abuse.

Much as I know intellectually the answer is a massive NO, emotionally there's still a loud voice in me that shouts 'well, you were a fucking irritating brat so yes, you did deserve some of it'

Fucked up isn't it really, I'm nearly 40 years old and still hold that belief in my consciousness angry

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Wed 02-Nov-11 06:42:47

Well, that belief is there and wants to be heard, Bibi. It's been around for ages and is a well-oiled machine now.

BUT that doesn't prevent you holding other (truer) beliefs now, and gently telling the (wrong) well-oiled machine that you know it's there, but it's not needed now, until it finally runs out of steam.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 10:11:32

My children have started to play together again. They have started to laugh, and play daft jokes on me.

Before emptying out the loonies, there was fear, resentment, festering anger...all bubbling away under the surface. In both of them.

He tried yesterday, to suggest that I was putting responsibility for me having a happy birthday on dd's shoulders. He failed. I told him that only someone as narcissistic as him could twist my birthday and use it as a stick to beat me with....and to manipulate a seven year old to join in was despicable. Project away, I said, you're fooling no one.

I still feel really mean confronting all this stuff head on like this. I don't know why. I still take too much responsibility for others peace of mind....at the expense of my own. That, as you say puppy and bibi is so ingrained.

I may well should stop engaging, but I see it as practising making my voice heard, speaking out, shining that very bright light into their dark corners. I have done nothing to be ashamed of...they have. I have no need to keep secrets, or tell lies. I refuse to be that kind of dysfunctional....and it's working on my happier children.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 10:13:22

it may well be that I should......

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Wed 02-Nov-11 10:29:02

What makes him think that you are putting responsibility for having a happy birthday on your DD?

I was going to recommend ceasing to engage. There are times and people with whom proclaiming our limits is useful, and a good exercise in being heard, and others with whom it is best to just accept that their view is their own, unable to change, and hopefully unable to affect us.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 10:39:23

She is concerned that I have a good time on Saturday. We have been invited to a bonfire, so it will be nice. But he always made a massive deal of birthdays and of course won't be here, so it will be different, no doubt, as will Christmas.

I don't know if he has laboured that particular point...I haven't said anything, only that we will go to the neighbours "do".

If it was down to me, I would hide under my duvet for the day....but obviously, that is not an option.

Helianthus Wed 02-Nov-11 11:33:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Wed 02-Nov-11 11:40:17

If you really can't cope, a professional would be able to help you best. Do you have a therapist? Can you ask to be referred to one if not?

In the meantime, don't beat yourself up: you realise that your feelings are problematic, and you know what it is in your childhood that they link to. With a little bit of help from a therapist you'll be able to get the tools to understand and cope better - which is what you are looking for.

What are you afraid will happen with a daughter?

PeppermintPasty Wed 02-Nov-11 11:40:27

Hi Helianthus. Start by telling us why you feel so much horror, if you can. It sounds like you need to unburden yourself, and if it's about your relationship with your Mother you've come to the right place. There's no judgement on this thread whatsoever, only support.

WailyWailyWaily Wed 02-Nov-11 12:03:04

Hello, I'm new to this thread too so I'm sorry Helianthus but I probably can't help much, though it looks, from the reading I have done so far, that there is help for you here.

I just wanted to check in as I will have some things to say about my totally crap parents and my desires not to be like them. But I think I have a bit of catching up and reading to do first and I'm a very slow reader...

I do wish that I had discovered this site ages ago as a lot has happened this year with my parents that perhaps I could have managed better with a bit of advice first.

So many things are standing out at me from what I have read so far-

- I have always been led to believe that it was all my fault, I'm the one who asked for all the shit, if only I was a little bit less selfish, if only I considered their feelings more, if only I helped out more...bla bla bla

FFS I'm nearly 40 I haven't spoken to either of my parents for months, they have very little idea why I'm so pissed off with them but neither of them has actually bothered to ask me either (or enquire about their grandchildren). They bitch about me endlessly to my siblings who do their best to stick up for me but my parents do not listen to anything but their own opinion.

OK gotta go for now as this is proving cathartic but emotional too.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 12:07:07

Just to agree there....whatever happened to you will not be passed on...because you are already too self aware.

I hope you feel safe enough to start talking here, and with any therapist you may have.

If it helps, having a boy was a massive problem for me, for all kinds of reasons....and it's fine, he's fine, we have a good relationship.

This thread is a fine place to say what NEEDS to be said. No one judges. Just listens and supports.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 12:09:03

And hello to WWW too!

Yes I have sat here typing and crying. The crying is the pain being sent into the universe...floating away, forever. Crying is good.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Wed 02-Nov-11 12:20:38

Just because you had crap parents does not mean you were trained to be a crap parent yourself.

Just because you had a shitty upbringing does not mean that you are irredeemably damaged beyond all repair.

Your experience, coupled with awareness, may even help you to be a better parent.

And most of all, Helianthus: you are not your mother.

Helianthus Wed 02-Nov-11 12:26:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Helianthus Wed 02-Nov-11 12:27:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 12:48:40

You already are a better parent.

It sounds to me that you are working incredibly hard to be so! It also sounds like you are plain old knackered by the work that you have done. Be kind to yourself...you have already come so far!

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 12:49:43

And you are so allowed to be angry....really, bloody angry. You have every right to feel as you do.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Wed 02-Nov-11 12:50:29

I hear your pain, Helianthus. God, how tiring it is to be therapised and feel damaged and broken, and to climb mountain after mountain and still have more to climb, when you feel you're running on empty.

You tell me: why should you be a better parent to your daughter than you experienced?

Helianthus Wed 02-Nov-11 12:52:48

because I am a moral person who always does the right thing. But I am tired of doing the right thing for people who have abused and exploited me in return. I am sick to death of doing 'the right thing'. I am very very tired and now I just want to be mean and angry and bad.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Wed 02-Nov-11 13:11:07

Go ahead and be angry. Go ahead and want to be mean and bad. It's not wrong to want it.

I have something of the same fears as you describe, Helianthus, and I don't even have any children. I am very afraid that the similarity between children and the adult narcissists in my life - who have the needs and demands of a small child - will trigger aversion in me and that I might therefore mistreat my own children, if I have any. I hope I won't ever mistreat a child.

Conversely, I know that when I left stbxh, one of the many deciding factors was when I realised that while I was willing to pander to the needs of an actual child, I wasn't willing to do it anymore for another adult.

So while there are tons of similarities between small children and our narc parents/partners/etc, there IS a key difference, in that children are children, while narcs are not. So when you are doing the right thing for a child, you are not doing it for someone who will abuse and exploit you in return. You are doing it for someone admittedly needy, but who has these needs for a very good and healthy reason, and who will grow out of it.

It does seem unfair - and sometimes unfeasible - to draw on a well of nurture that wasn't filled for us, yes.

You seem to be bitter about doing the "right and moral" thing in a way that seems like right now you feel it is being imposed on you - am I perceiving that right? Is it, though? (something imposed from outside, that is)

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Wed 02-Nov-11 13:45:16

Oh and, hello: I'm having a little crisis of confidence and self-esteem of my own that I want to unravel. It might belong more in mental health than on here, but I know the regulars here so I hope you'll humour me.

I have become a procrastinator.

I have never been one before; this is a new development and I don't like it. I also think I have an addiction - to Mumsnet's Relationships board. It's seriously interfering with my work, in that I can now spend whole days doing NO work, and MNing instead. This is not good, and I am not proud of myself. There is a project at work that is my sole responsibility, and that I have literally not touched since February (= the month I left stbxh and the bottom fell out of my world). My boss has been understanding, but I am taking the piss now.

Before, my (learned) anxiety would keep me on top of my workload: I had to be perfect, didn't I? (this is the link to the Stately Homes thread). Now that I'm on meds, in therapy, and putting my learned modus operandi into question, my anxiety levels have gone poof. Which, in itself, is a good thing. But it also means that the tool I had to keep myself doing necessary tasks has gone. I am revelling a little too much in the newfound freedom that I do not have to be perfect.

I have the feeling that procrastination is just another form of self-hatred. Now that I've reduced my usual methods of self-hatred, it's just popped up again in another place, like a Whack-a-Mole. Arrgh!

I also know that the MN thing is a way of channelling my co-dependency into something other than shitty relationships. This is also a good thing in itself, which has snowballed in a way that I do not feel able to control.

Help me! I don't want to get fired.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 13:52:27

That's a really massive point. Children do not suck you dry in the way that narcs do. Yes they're hard work, demanding, exhausting...but as you already know from your son...you achieve a balance. You get stuff back! A snuggle whilst watching a disney film, hearing them laugh or sing....simple things, nourish the soul in a way that a narc does not and can never begin to.

I always say that the good bits are sooo much better than the bad bits are bad with children.

I have found in my children, an ability to identify my inner child's needs and to give to myself what I never had....because I can identify with those things in my children. It's a separate thing, but I can see the huge gaps that I had, and fill them for myself.

I know what you mean about always doing the right thing...the moral thing....where's the prize then?

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 13:55:18

Puppy....this stuff is totally consuming and utterly exhausting. I think you are being very harsh on yourself!. Last year, I threw myself into the therapy, including these boards, totally.

It doesn't last, maybe by realising this, you are ready to dip your toe back into work? Baby steps?

JosieRosie Wed 02-Nov-11 14:12:10

ItsMe, I hear you about procrasinating!!!! It's the same for me - I find it incredibly hard to be self-directed at work and spend a lot of time on here. I was just wondering the other day what that's all about. I was going to discuss it with my therapist but I feel ashamed - isn't that stupid?! I've learned my lessons well about being a 'good girl' and never showing 'weakness' hmm

My golden child brother had a MASSIVE blow-up at my sister at the weekend, in front of both parents (I wasn't there). She's so upset and I know how she feels - he called me an effing c* during a row in front of the family at Xmas a few years ago. I got zero support from any of them at the time and still feel quite bitter about that, but I'm determined to be a better person than my sister was, so I'm supporting her as much as I can. Part of me feels sorry for my brother, in spite of him being so vile. And I'm soooo angry at my parents for causing all this in the first place! Good thing I'm seeing my therapist tonight smile

Helianthus Wed 02-Nov-11 14:13:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lolaflores Wed 02-Nov-11 14:32:06

Waily Baby it is for you to understand your pissed offness. In your own time. You will never ever get them to understand. Move your focus to yourself. Whilst you exist within that feeding frenzy, the bitching and mainpulating, you will never get your feet under you. Stay clear until you feel it is a fair fight and you have forgiven yourself and understand yourself and love yourself. You start healing, they are what they are and likely to remain the same till the cows come home, have their tea and go back out again.
By the way, it is really a tough road but the rewards are boundless.

fluffythevampirestabber Wed 02-Nov-11 14:41:39

Just saying hello on the new thread (with the correct spelling in the title grin)

I'm struggling today - loads of stupid stuff to do with XH where I feel a bit under attack on a thread I started and it's so hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there that my XH was/is my mother over the back again, and it's all just one fucker setting you up for the next fucker and trying to break out of it all is just so difficult.

I'm lucky though - The Upgrade is very supportive and caring and is genuinely really good for me and sees right through the XH and my mother (well what I tell him anyway)

Oh I'm just rambling. Feel free to ignore me blush

garlicBread Wed 02-Nov-11 14:44:45

Golly, are we sharing a brain today? grin

ItsMe, I want to thank you for your 'well-oiled machine' post, which prompted a very healing two-page journal entry. I'm now in possession of a beautiful, shiny and sophisticated "GOOD MACHINE" (uppercase always) - I understand it much better now! I've offered it a new FREEDOM MODULE, with a permanent open option to work with the new module or just sit back and appreciate its work to date smile

"GOOD" MACHINE works for me: not only is it a very, very good machine - outstanding of its type, and self-built with loving care over fifty years - but, also, it has a very strong 'being GOOD' module which it has always executed to near-perfection.

Not needed so much in the new freedom circumstances, but excellent in and of itself. I'm not abandoning 'good', of course, but it needs to be done differently in the new setup and the FREEDOM MODULE will advise on developments.

Oooh, I want to go and create a picure of my fabulous, perfect, redundant machine now! I won't, though, not now anyway - I'm also suffering from procrastination.

I agree with Josie on that, I'm afraid. I found it extremely hard to give up on trying to perform ... In fact, I haven't given up on it. What I did, kicking and screaming, was transfer my drive over to my self-therapy project. Having not done any work since April, and very little since last November, I finally got around to telling my clients I'm unable to perform as before due to illness (this is true enough) and offering the choice between very slow work very cheap, or leaving me. That means I'm bone-scrapingly poor but have committed myself to my own psychological health for the first time ever.

I don't see this as perfect - ideally, I'd be able to afford the best therapist in the world for thrice-weekly sessions and adjust my life as I went along - but was unaware of my need at the time when I could have afforded it. I wish I'd understood this earlier BUT am nothing but proud of having understood now, and made my investment!

Mumsnet does more for me than any of my therapists and books. I believe I needed both. The 'old me' would not have identified with the threads that now engross me. They engross me now because I identify. It's a self-education tool for me. While I'm thrilled when someone finds my contributions helpful, that is NOT my motive for joining in; I'm here through self-interest smile

Helianthus, I'd just like to say how honoured I feel that you choose to engage in here, with us. We are women. Does it bother you? Maybe there are many aspects of your life, as a woman, you feel we share. Not just the being-abused stuff, but also our general approach to life and balance of priorities; maybe even our humour and interests? It would be nice to think so.

lolaflores Wed 02-Nov-11 14:47:46

I love it here too. There is a part of me that does not come through elsewhere. A much calmer person, not being a clown. I don't feel self concious about what I feel or think, i can state it openly. Writing it processes it much more profoundly than with a therapist. I always feel I talk too much, and don't believe half of what I say. But, writing it somehow makes it permanent and distilled and therefore recorded or something. erm

garlicBread Wed 02-Nov-11 14:56:06

Reminder to self: Shadow Work. This has relevance to posts above about feeling "bad". I think I'll save it for my journal tomorrow ... and there may be further posts to inspire me!

I'm feeling the lurve today. The Stately Home is a warm and well-appointed gaff, illuminated by the shining brilliance of the women and children inside it.

Oh, Helianthus again: Near the beginning of "Homecoming" Bradshaw advises the reader to go out and look at small children in all their wonder, humour, trust and fascination. It's important to do this with children of both sexes. Whenever you play with a little girl, what do you see?

garlicBread Wed 02-Nov-11 14:57:47

Oh, don't "erm", Lola! I c&p vast chunks of my posts and others' replies to my diary. It's invaluable.

garlicBread Wed 02-Nov-11 15:07:57

Heck, just re-read my posts and think I'm coming across as a know-it-all blush Put it down to over-excitement with my new FREEDOM MODULE! I do not know it all, obviously.

WailyWailyWaily Wed 02-Nov-11 15:40:18

Helianthus I also find it difficult to get on with other women, I find it really hard to trust them. I have only been on MN for a couple of months having stayed away for years. I have found it a huge education about women in general. Yes there are some on here that I avoid but there are a huge majority that don't live up to my pre organized expectations. I'm slowly starting to talk to women in RL too but I wouldn't go so far as to say I have close female friends.
I only have DS's and I am trying so hard not to damage them (both my parents have told me that my kids will blame me for everything that goes wrong in their lives.)

garlicBread Wed 02-Nov-11 16:00:56

my parents have told me that my kids will blame me for everything that goes wrong in their lives - you mean if you're the kind of parent they were, and your DC grow up as unhappy as you did?
That ain't gonna happen, is it?

Talk about blaming the child for the parenting! The only thing to learn from what they told you is that they don't take responibility for their on actions. But I guess you knew that.

gobbycow Wed 02-Nov-11 16:09:19

Garli...not a knowitall...but you DO know SOOOOOOO much...you've learned and grown so much in the time that I've "known" you...you are amazing, and I always find your insights and your generosity so amazing. :-)

Ah now, you see....there's always a new thing in here!

I had a problem with women too, until recently. I only had male friends. I found women to be manipulative, fake, shallow, and bitchy. I was never one for all that huggy shite they went in for, and calling each other "hun", (that still actually makes my skin crawl) BUT; today my friend Marie gave me a massive bear hug...yesterday my friend Morag did the same. I barely recognise myself.

This was not an aim as such...it has just happened in tandem with everything else. I am much more open I think....boys/men do that protective thing, and keep everything at arms length and very simple, and that was enough for me back then. I found that gay men didn't take to me though....and funnily enough, they do now!

It's the vibe of me that has changed....as a by product of all the work I think.

And that's another thing....I have invoices going back four months, just sitting here. I don't care...I'll get round to them at some point, and I hoovered yesterday, for which I gave myself a massive pat on the back... Don't under estimate the energy that all this requires....just the grieving is knackering...trying to work out what we are grieving for is even harder!

WailyWailyWaily Wed 02-Nov-11 16:24:04

garlic yes thats what I mean and I'm trying very hard to not be like them but its very hard.
They are actually polar opposites of each other and divorced 34 years ago. My Mum is the narc my Dad is just weak (but married to another extremely selfish woman - the evil step mother).

PeppermintPasty Wed 02-Nov-11 16:29:53

Helianthus, do you worry you'll do her physical harm? As well as emotional? Look, if yes, then I have to put my hand up to that fear too. I'm not expressing myself in an angry way-maybe because I don't fully understand(yet) the impact my mother has had on me, but I do get that blood-red-boiling rage inside me sometimes when I am dealing with my 4 yr old who answers me back that bit too much, or my 18 month old when she kicks me repeatedly with her feet while on the changing mat. Not every time, usually when I am tired or something else is not quite right.

I haven't abused them when this happens, at least I don't think I have (I may have put dd in her cot more roughly than I otherwise would when I am like this eg, or snapped verbally at my ds) and as quick as the feeling comes up, it goes back down. And then I feel shame, and horror and feel like I am looking at my children with another person's eyes, iyswim. I wonder who that person is?!

I find it exhausting, all this watching of myself, and self analysis, but I am realising that I'm deeply worried about my effect on my children. God I go on about it on here so much. It is, I think, something women tend to do more than men(which garlic touched on at the end of the last thread).

Anyway, I've lost my thread a bit, sorry.

garlicBread Wed 02-Nov-11 17:18:22

So maybe this is a good time to introduce my Shadow, after all.

WW: I'm trying very hard to not be like them but its very hard ... My Mum is the narc - Are you trying very hard not to be a Narcissist?
When Narcissists admit to being narcissistic, they say with great contentment. A Narc who tries very hard not to be one is rarer than hens' teeth.
So, OK, what is it, exactly, that you're trying not to be?

PP: feel like I am looking at my children with another person's eyes, iyswim. I wonder who that person is? - Who is it? Are you asking rhetorically, or is it not immediately clear to you?

It took me ages to identify my 'demons'. I don't normally use that word, as it implies evil and I am not evil. I have thought back to my imaginary entities from childhood, have listened to my inner critics (plural) and have written acres of thought & feeling. And drawn a bit, and acted a bit. These entities are ALL facets of my Shadow. All my very own, though sharing many qualities with everyone else's smile

I've got a couple of Shadow workbooks. Each year, I find my responses and appreciation growing. Nowadays, when I feel the incredibly fierce, strong and angry man inside me (it's really like having him standing behind my shoulder - just called him up now!) I don't shy away or turn to fight him; I have a little chat. When I feel the good little girl (she sits on my lap, or hovers round my legs), I comfort her and try to keep her safe. I write long letters to her. There are a couple of Mothers in me, too - a soft, compassionate, home-baking Mother and a critical, demanding virago (the public and private faces of my mother.) There's also a powerful, capable Woman and a playful Woman - these are more like Jungian archetypes, I think. I have an inner Artist, who's a teenager, and an Inventor who is the Artist's twin. Plus lots more, and I haven't yet met them all! I am a very crowded room grin

I'm still reading on integration/actualisation and don't expect to be there any time soon. I need to clarify what I'm trying to say about my Shadow - there's a bunch of stuff about narcissistic rage and other fleas, which came up on a thread last week - it's going to take at least one journal entry. But, just in case nayone's feeling weird about "looking through someone else's eyes", I hope you find it reassuring to hear it's perfectly normal smile

PeppermintPasty Wed 02-Nov-11 20:18:40

Yes of course I do see it garlic, it's the same as when I read about the mothers in you. I have something like that in me too. Can I ask, what do you do when virago mother surfaces? How do you handle that? Your personal one I mean, not "how does one handle that", if that's not too er..personal!!!

I need to have a little think.

WailyWailyWaily Thu 03-Nov-11 09:45:58

OK, I am not actually like my mother in most ways, however I do find that I sometimes become very self absorbed which is one of her traits and this does worry me. She has no idea that she is narcessistic. The fact that there is probably something actually wrong with her has only really ocured to me this year as her behaviour has become even more odd, or maybe its because her odd behaviour is effecting me more than it has done for the past 20 years. I am concerned that my self absorption effects my relationship with my kids as I push them away and descend into a pit of self pity.

I'm a little like my father in many ways; I will do anything to avoid confrontation with loved ones (strangers are a different matter), I tend to be placid and compliant and spend a lot of time trying to work out how my behaviour is causing the behaviour of others.

Odd, I'm finding it a bit easier to write today.... I normally avoid this subject at all costs as I get very, very emotional. It was a big thing for me to start writing yesterday and I think its going to take me a while to get to the end. I have considered CBT but I worry that I will just spend the whole time blubbing and not actually work through any issues - could cost me a fortune.

I am quite self aware, I think, just struggling to avoid the same patterns.

Now I've got the go and spend some time with DS2 smile

WailyWailyWaily Thu 03-Nov-11 09:47:13

I'm sorry Garlic I don't really understand the shadows, I'll think about it

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 03-Nov-11 09:53:52

Hey Josie, hope therapy last night was cleansing. Glad that you're able to validate your sister even though she was not able to do it for you in the past; that attitude may gain you an enlightened witness who has firsthand, RL understanding of what your childhood was like for you. What's your relationship like with your brother now? What he said is unacceptable - as is the enabling behaviour of the bystanders.

Helianthus expressing your anger to your family won't make a jot of difference to them, you're right. In what ways could you express your anger so that it makes a difference to you, though?

And thanks to you and gobby and garlic for pointing out that getting sucked in to MN is just part of my process to work through these issues. I think I was being too self-blaming when I said that MNing is an expression of my co-dependency: it may be that a bit, but it is largely, as it is for both of you, a way of obtaining validation and a venting space for myself.

Procrastination IS pure self-destruction. It sucks. WTH happened to my impulse control, eh?

Fluffy: no self-deprecation on this thread! What's being said to you on your other thread? (link?) Does their opinion matter?

Garlic I've been visualising my well-oiled machine as a bit of an evil Dalek that I need to stop feeding and leave to rust and crumble away. I like your interpretation that it works for me. No self-deprecation from you either, missy! <glare>

It's funny that so many of you have a hard time trusting women. I have a hard time trusting or liking men, and I long put off TTCing out of fear of having a boy. But I have fantastic deep relationships with women, which is odd, since it's my Mom who was the destructive narc. One view of it could be that I develop v close relationships with other women, because I am getting from them a composite mothering that I couldn't obtain from my own mother. Don't know why I hate men so much, though. Just think they're entitled, blinkered, emotionallly stunted bastards out to grab all they can get, the lot of them, if I'm honest. I'd like to understand where that view came from. I've had it since I was about 6.

gobbycow Thu 03-Nov-11 09:57:31

One thing I have discovered, as I recover from it all, is that I am not like anyone...I am quite myself.

I am not remotely like my mother or sisters, not remotely like my dad or any grandparents, uncles, aunts....any of them.

Becoming a parent made me realise that I am much kinder, warmer and softer than parents or Grand parents...and this is good. I wish I'd been my mum, and in a way, I am now, via my fairy godmother creation, Princess Bluebell.

I woke up at three in the morning and felt very, very alone and scared. I imagined Princess Bluebell casting a magic rainbow of blue light across me, no one and no thing could get through the blue light, and it really worked to comfort me and make me feel safe and warm.

I had CBT, after the ICT, I only had three sessions, as she taught me stuff to do on my own...I don't think CBT is a long term therapy generally speaking.

I have found THIS place is the best for getting it all out there, and crying and screaming and being angry, and sometimes even laughing.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 03-Nov-11 10:04:39

My Dad is a lily-livered enabler, and I hardly consider him a "man" at all. For me, a "man" is what I chose in my boyfriends and stbxh: an emotionally stunted taker. Arrogant, self-centred, and violent. And I had that view of "men" way before I become entangled with them (since about age 6, like I said). I understand why I would have made choices in men that aligned with this view, but where the hell did that view come from in the first place? It is a mystery to me.

gobbycow Thu 03-Nov-11 10:06:18

My mother indoctrinated my sisters and me to hate men. I was taught to believe that they are all evil and only want sex, that they are all rapists.

But that was at odds with my experience. It was the girls at school that tirelessly bullied me, and the boys who became great mates.

In The fourth year of high school, I got so sick of those evil girls picking on me, that I moved myself to another table in our tutor room. By lunchtime, it was filled with boys...not because they thought they could get something out of me, but because they liked me, thought that what was happening was rotten, and just wanted to be mates. NO ulterior motives whatever, ever. I have always had lovely platonic relationships with boys. And in my industry, the women are generally pretty unbearable I'm afraid. Their behaviour shocks me, a lot of the time, which of course makes my male colleagues respect me even more.
And my mother hate me even more.

gobbycow Thu 03-Nov-11 10:08:53

I might as well have not had a dad. He just sat at the end of the sofa and read books. I mean literally, just did not partake in anything. He played trumpet in a jazz band on a Friday night. They were crap. (AAAAAAGGGHHH! There now, I said it!!!) If my mother knew that I thought that.....oooohhhh it doesn't bear thinking about. She had him on a pedestal, and he didn't notice, or care.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 03-Nov-11 10:15:02

I had contempt for my Dad, growing up. Maybe I wanted a Dad who would stand up to my mother, and built my image of "man" that way. Except that the only form of power I knew was destructive narc power, so that's what my "idealised" man became. Cue rapist boyfriends and abusive stbxh.

Yes, that shoe seems to fit. That, and a precocious understanding of society's ingrained sexism. And, as you experienced gobby, my mother's own contempt for men.

Thanks, thread!

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 11:32:15

Wow, ItsMe, that was good! Don't you just love an "Aha" moment grin

WWW, please just ignore anything that doesn't seem to fit you. The very last thing this thread wants to do is pull or push you in any direction at all. Chuck your own stuff out, pick up anything you find interesting and leave the rest.

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 11:39:10

Chucking my own stuff:
I 'saw' my mother's rage face for the first time in 2009, two years ago. Stately Homes gave me the strength to recognise it and take a mental snapshot, instead of following the unconscious directive "It didn't happen, mummy was cross, that's all. You annoyed her but she's all right now."

This morning I did my rage face in the mirror. I can write about it easily if I'm talking about someone else, but am still feeling disturbed by my own. I've done my journal but am going out for a while before finishing this.

I probably should just wait before posting but, hey. I'm posting about self-care, aren't I?!

WailyWailyWaily Thu 03-Nov-11 12:16:28

Hmm this is hard... again...

I love my Dad, he is weak and very flawed but I miss him very much and I'm deeply upset that he has taken my step mothers point of view over mine. Because he just wants an easy life; no difficult discussions or uncomfortable truths from me and no bullying from my step mother.

My mother did spend my childhood telling me that all men are bastards and rapists too but this was so much at odds with they way she behaved that I reassessed my opinions in my early teens and my best friends have always been male. My mother does not respect the opinion or ability of any other human but especially not women. She would definitely describe herself as a feminist but in her head this means that she is better than men and I guess that this is why I would never describe myself as a feminist - in my mind I am just equal not better.

Why do you keep a journal? I used too as a teenager it is full of angst but as I'm one of those people who cannot remember any of the little things about my childhood it is my only source of memories. Photos I cannot trust as I have been told the story behind them by my mother.

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 13:43:45

I kept a 'thought dump' journal from the age of about 16 onwards, WWW. I developed a habit of binning then when they were full, as two of my partners read them and used them against me. I still dump thoughts in my book, but its purpose has changed since doing therapy. It's now for deliberate exploration of my own psychology. I'm not in therapy any more (ran out of funding) so I use workbooks for guidance - and these threads.

You're right, it is hard work. Don't try to force stuff, but do sit down with a pen in your hand (or keyboard) when you work on difficult issues. It's surprising how much you find you already knew; it was just waiting for the right moment to come out smile

I love my Dad, he is weak and very flawed - this is what I said about my mother until about a year ago. I've got to say I don't think much of a parent who allows their children to be abused by their partner. It's not a question of incapacity to stop the partner's abuse, more that she actively chose her partner - violence and all - above her children's safety and emotional health. I understand her, for sure, but, as one of her abused children, I can't condone what she did.

JosieRosie Thu 03-Nov-11 14:03:14

Thanks for your message ItsMe smile Therapy was good last night, we talked about how my sister and I are very stuck on putting people into boxes - the 'good' box and the 'shit' box - when actually the situation is much more complex than that of course! It feels very comfortable to put my brother in the 'shit' box and for that to be the end of the story but on the other hand I do feel terribly sorry for him, because he's had inadequate, dysfunctional parenting too. He's a victim of their abuse as much as I am, even though he was 'golden child' and my sister and I were 'scapegoats'.

As useful as last night's session was, it also made me think that CHRIST I have a lot of work to do to get my head around my family! It's so bloody complex and so hard to disentangle yourself from the mess sometimes. I just keep reminding myself how much progress I have made in therapy already and how much it's helping me.

Waily, if it helps, I am a feminist and no feminist I know thinks she is better than men just by virtue of being a woman. Feminism doesn't mean you are a 'female supremacist', it just means a commitment to advancing women's rights so we are viewed and treated equally to men smile

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 14:05:38

My mother's rage face is the face of any human in the grip of uncontrolled fury - contorted. The lower jaw protrudes, the mouth drawn outwards in a snarl. The upper lip curls to a thin line. The eyes, framed in folds of scowling flesh, open wide and glittering. The skin flushes, mottled red; the head thrusts forward, making the sinews of the neck stand out like throbbing columns. Constricted in the swollen throat, the voice quavers and rises to a sobbing screech, spitting out hatred with showers of saliva.

This is the 'snapshot' I took of my mother. It's the face of a tantrumming child: less forgiveable on adult bones. When I did it in the mirror, I noticed my heartbeat speed up almost instantly. It pounded in my ears. There was a knot in my stomach; an ache in my chest. My eyes filled with tears, but I didn't cry.

Those are physiological reactions to the face I pulled; that's how it works. I didn't feel enraged, but making the face of fury caused my body to go into something very like a panic attack. This is why I don't rage any more, Peppermint. Rage is uncontrolled and feeds on itself. Depending on the situation, I can 'rage' on purpose to achieve a purpose (more useful in histrionic Brazil than the UK, I found!) and, when I'm truly, deeply and justifiably angry I use my voice. I've got a new Angry Voice. It's amazing! It's strong, powerful ... and controlled. To control my voice, I have to control my breathing. This stops me going into fury.

When I feel fury - the mad, unthought, animal reaction - I stop. I just stop everything, just for a nanosecond. This grants my brain enough time to have a thought - I'll resume breathing (properly) and decide whether to pretend-rage, express genuine anger, fight, flee, freeze or do nothing. I learned all this in my second or third year of therapy; it's working very well so far!

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 14:29:21

I have raged a lot. I'm rather ashamed of all the frenzied, screeching rows I've had! I can remember there was noise, anger and fear but I can't remember what happened, what was said or how I felt. What I know is that my rages were defensive. I was under attack, emotionally or physically, and I always seem to have been trying to explain myself - trying to justify myself against an accusation or to defend an argument (like husbands are supposed to be faithful!)

My mum's rages are defensive, too, but against attacks on her self-fantasy. I think this is true of all narcissistic rages. Her narcissistic self is so fragile that almost anything may threaten it: the one I took the 'snapshot' of was about my refusal to join her village committee. I think I'd said it was full of small-minded people fighting each other's egos (true!) and this threatened her idea of her importance. The words spat out by a raging narcissist are attacks against the target, not defenses of the speaker. For example, she didn't say "The committee's central to this community, you don't seem to realise its importance" or "You're letting me down, the committee's central to my community standing" - she told me what a spiteful, selfish, snobbish, etc piece of shit I was.

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 14:41:28

We never acknowledged Mum's rages. When I was small, she used to vent anger by smashing crockery against a brick wall. It wasn't harmless fun - it was a terrifying fury. All of us, little children, witnessed it. She told us it was a healthy way to get rid of anger. Well, it was healthier than smashing us against a wall, but her anger wasn't healthy. It was narcissistic: all about her injured fantasy. And, witnessing such violence, we could only know it might one day be us instead of a pile of plates.

We were told it didn't happen. In their many, spectacularly violent rows, Mum's neck would go blotchy before Dad hit her. That is the only feature I remember. But she raged. The family myth is that Dad's the one with the temper and poor, long-suffering Mum is sweet. It was a lie. But I needed to believe in 'sweet' so I bought it, the consequence being that I chose not to acknowledge the ugly face of Mum's rage. Having done that, I went on to pretend other people's rages didn't happen ... and to blot out my own sad

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 14:49:20

My father never lost control. He was the temperamental one, he who must not be crossed for fear of his terrifying anger. He terrorised us all. But his 'rage' was calculated, more like sadism than fury. His needs were the only needs that mattered. Whether he needed peace and quiet, a bike ride, food, or to abuse one of his children, the slightest sign that it may not be instantly catered for would produce violence. (This was particularly difficult when his need was to hit one of us - I remember having a conference with my brother about exactly how much hurt we needed to show, at what point, in order to minimise the battering.)

I can do Dad's controlled violence, too. He taught me. I'm proud of it - I have used it to break up fights, or prevent them.

I've only done unctrolled violence once - I threw a hairbrush at a boyfriend. He was so shocked, it made me realise it wasn't normal outside my family home; I've never lashed out since, not without thinking.

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 14:50:06

The End! Thank you for the dumping ground blush wink

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 14:57:03

Gobby, I'm loving Bluebell's shimmering rainbow of protection smile smile

I wonder if she makes it out of the same magical blue light that forms my invisible shield?

Paradoxical, isn't it, that the tools for sanity make us sound completely mad grin

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 03-Nov-11 15:08:15

No blushs for brain dumps! This thread is BrainDumps"R"Us!

I've only done unctrolled violence once - I threw a hairbrush at a boyfriend. He was so shocked, it made me realise it wasn't normal outside my family home; I've never lashed out since, not without thinking.

I've had that, except it was me that was shocked at myself and made that a one-off. Stbxh wasn't so shocked, rather infuriated. He threw a lot of things around in our time together... Mom was proud of her family heritage of throwing stuff at one's spouse. Told the stories of great-grandma X throwing sugarbowls at her husband's face with considerable glee, and did likewise to my Dad. It took me throwing a coffee cup of my own to realise that this shit isn't funny.

This: I remember having a conference with my brother about exactly how much hurt we needed to show, at what point, in order to minimise the battering. makes me very, very sad

gobbycow Thu 03-Nov-11 15:50:01

My mother's finest moment was a tray with four bowls of tomato soup, with spoons...across both the kitchen and dining area.....to hit the wall, with expected results...It was intended for my dad.

My mother was often violent, and raged too. The thing she would do was yell, and contort and all of that....and then storm off....and I would wait cringing for the return, which would ALWAYS happen, not once, or twice, but over and over....and you could never quite predict which return trip would involve being battered. Mainly slaps and hits around the head.

I hit h. I totally lost my temper, after a sustained attack of verbal abuse from him. I snapped and did a fine old impression of my mum.....which TOTALLY horrifies me, and horrified me at the time. I am so deeply, deeply sorry that I did that. It makes me feel sick.

Yes garlic bonkers...but when I share Bluebell with others, they are super quick to invent their own princesses!

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 16:06:29

Yes, I've you to thank for Princess Grace!

Ahhh ... The stormy exit, followed by an even stormier re-entry: "And another thing!" I suspect 'normal' people don't realise that walking away doesn't work with actual rage. The rager's fixated thoughts whirl ever faster during the break, so they're likely to come back even madder than before.

Do you find it hard not to laugh when people throw things? I'm pretty sure it's an anxious reaction but I really have to watch myself! Luckily, I don't get much exposure to violent actions these days, except by babies.

gobbycow Thu 03-Nov-11 16:39:02

I used to find it hard not to roll my eyes when she came in for her encores!

I turned round to her after she hit me once and looked her right in the eye...and said very calmly, " so quite what did that achieve then?" I don't think I've ever seen anyone quite so "mad". Gulp.

Bear1984 Thu 03-Nov-11 19:20:18

Wow gobbycow! Wish I could have done that. Although I remember when I was 13, my mum was mocking me after I had told my sister how my guinea pig had looked after he died because she asked (although I refused twice but then gave in) and then she used this as an excuse not to eat her dinner even though she hadn't even seen him! So yes my mum came to yell at me for doing such a thing, mocked me because I was silent and had my arms crossed, and then made jokes about me to my sister... I then retaliated by pushing her, she fell onto my bed, and I ran for the door as I was going to get out the house and never return. However, she had gotten back up, grabbed me by my pony tail and dragged me back. I remember her being so outraged, but it was the first time that I was so proud of myself for standing up for myself. She never hit me after that.

But back to the present, she has been pestering me over and over. I'm about ready to push her again if I see her! She just ignores the fact that I told her I don't want anything to do with her, and that to arrange contact it should be done by DP. So if she chooses to ignore that, I'll ignore her!!

(rant over)

PhishFoodAddiction Thu 03-Nov-11 20:24:10

I'm really sorry to just butt in here, but can anyone help me?

I've posted before a little bit.

Anyway, today I was at counselling (relate) talking about my family, and I told the counsellor that my step-dad would whack/kick/smack me when I was little. She was horrified and asked if my still-at-home siblings were at risk of this. I'm sure he doesn't hurt them.

I feel awful. I must have been a bit over-dramatic when I was explaining. She looked genuinely aghast.

Step-dad would just just get very cross and lash out physically. For instance, once I was laying on the floor on my tummy, with my legs bent up behind me and was waving my legs. He told me to stop and I didn't, so he kicked me in the leg. It wasn't that hard but left a bruise. Once I leant against a jacket that he'd left on the back of a chair, and he hit me across the arm. My mum would smack as well, I thought it was just 'discipline'.

I think I've made it sound worse than it was.

I wish I hadn't said anything now, am scared that the counsellor will want to try and involve SS or something. Believe me, if I thought he was still hitting/ kicking/ lashing out then I would say something but he seems to have 'mellowed' a bit since my time (big age gaps between me and sibs).

Feel like I've said the wrong thing and overplayed it somehow because although I can see that it was a bit wrong, it wasn't exactly child abuse.

Sorry, it's a bit rambly and incoherent, am a bit upset.

Bear1984 Thu 03-Nov-11 20:38:09

Phish, IMO, if he kicked you enough to leave a bruise, then it's not just "discipline". And to be kicking in the first place raises alarm to me. To me, it is still abuse. Don't feel that you must have been overdramatic, because you were being honest about what has happened and how you felt about what has happened. To me, it feels like you're almost "trained" to believe that the way you were treated wasn't that bad, but in reality, it's a form of abuse. That's just my thoughts on it. How old are your siblings?

When I was younger my mum did abuse me, hitting, pushing, smacking, pulling hair. She never did it to my siblings though, which always led me to believe maybe there was just a problem with me. So I did always think maybe she wouldn't be that way with DD. However, and although she never has, now that I've come to realise what my mother is actually like in recent years, I wonder how I ever trusted her with DD in the first place. I now don't, because although she's never done anything physically, she started to poison my DD's mind.

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 20:40:59

No, sweetheart, it was abuse. Families teach their members to 'normalise' these things. You end up thinking everybody does it. But they don't.

I'm sorry; I remember my shock when it first started sinking in. What ages are your sibs?

gobbycow Thu 03-Nov-11 20:42:47

I have had wine.......disclaimer.

Phish.

No. You are not over dramatic. Your counsellor is right. It is horrifying.

The problem for us is that it became normal. It is what we know, it is the ONLY thing that we know.

You have NOT overplayed anything. It is as "worse" as it sounds! Yes it is child abuse..More than a "bit wrong". That's why she looked aghast!

You have every right to be upset.

And you are not incoherent or rambly.

PhishFoodAddiction Thu 03-Nov-11 20:49:38

Thanks for replies- I feel sick and really tearful. I know it wasn't 'normal' as such but didn't think it was so bad. I thought all kids were smacked in those days (I'm late 20s).

I have 2 sibs still at home 14 and 9. I love them so much. I don't know if they get a smack (ie a slap across the backside) now and again, but I know step-Dad doesn't lash out in the same way. He seems a bit more able to control himself now.

Also when I got to an age where I could stand up for myself, he stopped hitting me. Around 12- 13 I think but my memory is useless.

It's like I have to defend them somehow. My H was so angry when I told him some of the things I was hit for, angry with them I mean, and then I felt like I had to explain/ defend them so he didn't think badly of them confused.

My head is mess just now. I keep trying to shut this stuff out and it just keeps coming back. I don't how long it will take until I feel 'sorted'.

Bear1984 Thu 03-Nov-11 20:56:20

Phish, you sound an awful lot like me! Late 20s, stood up for myself at 13 and stopped getting hit.

It does take time to see it in a different light. Counselling really helped me, and I'm starting it again on Tuesday (hooray!!) and there will be times where you will feel terrible when you go through the shock of seeing that what you went through is wrong, and then going through feeling upset and confused. But talking to your counsellor will help, and you have us. And it sounds like your DH is supportive, which I have found tremendously helpful with my DP.

Hugs

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 03-Nov-11 20:57:04

I know step-Dad doesn't lash out in the same way. He seems a bit more able to control himself now.

Could this be wishful thinking on your part? If that behaviour has worked for him in the past, there is no reason to think he will have changed.

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 21:05:14

It is a horrible feeling sad My sympathies.

I think you remember those incidents because you recognised them as unfair, even when you were a child who believed your parents had the right to assault you. They didn't have that right at all.

What would you think of someone who physically attacked you fro doing something against their rules now, as an adult? Say you picked up too many items to take to the changing room in a shop, which clearly said "Maximum 3 items at a time" and the assistant smacked you one across the face?

If it's not okay for a stranger to hit an adult, how is it better for an adult to hit a child who loves them?

This is probably why the issue keeps bugging you ... it's a matter of recognising this massive unfairness for the abuse it was.

I'd suggest calling one of the child abuse charities to talk about your younger sibs. I am really not sure if they would do anything but, in fact, a visit from SS might do your parents a bit of good.

PhishFoodAddiction Thu 03-Nov-11 21:05:37

Thanks Bear, my H has been great and counselling is helping (have had a few sessions before). It just seems to hit me anew every time.

Puppy- I guess it could be wishful thinking. I have been there when he's got cross and he hasn't hit them. He's told them to go upstairs or he's gone into another room. This is what makes me thinks he is a bit more controlled now.

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 21:06:45

The obvious thing is to ask them if your parents hit them.

WailyWailyWaily Thu 03-Nov-11 21:09:59

Phish. I'm a bit new so may not be much good at this but I think that you are not being over dramatic, smacking and kicking children is not OK.

PhishFoodAddiction Thu 03-Nov-11 21:18:58

Yes, I will ask them. The younger one will open up to me, even lets me give him cuddles sometimes. The older one is in a grunt rather than talk phase but I will try. Maybe I should be trying a bit more to have them at my house so they know they have someone who will listen.

Older sib realises that I am a bit different in that I don't smack my children (well apart from one hideous time when I tapped the back of their hands and never again).

Yes to the unfairness. Of course, as an adult if someone hit you for a minor rule break you'd be furious.

I must say though that I also have a sister (between me and the ones at home) and she has turned out fine! She doesn't really seem to have any emotional baggage.

It was a fairly normal home, just with short tempers and not much demonstrating of love. We had everything we could want materially, just not emotionally. Maybe it was partly down to my character as well that I needed more than they could give? Am probably rambling now.

PhishFoodAddiction Thu 03-Nov-11 21:26:21

Can I just clear this up- a smack on the bum for doing something wrong is not abuse is it? That is discipline, albeit a sort that I won't use?

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 03-Nov-11 21:26:57

Maybe it was partly down to my character as well that I needed more than they could give?

And so? Even if that were the case, you are allowed to have your own feelings, your own sensitivities. If your home environment felt hurtful and neglectful to you, then it was hurtful and neglectful for you. You have a right to have your feelings. Saying "when mum did x, I felt y" is not blaming anyone - either you or the parent. It is stating how you felt about a particular event.

Having said that, the behaviour you describe from your SD is most definitely unacceptable.

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 21:29:06

Being abused can never be your fault, Phish. You didn't make them hit you.
They do it because they can.

I doubt that he's 'mellowed', tbh. You don't need to be at peak fitness to assault a child. My mother's told me Dad hit their grandchildren as toddlers angry No-one else saw, he made sure of that.

I have told my nephews repeatedly (in front of their parents) that it's never okay to be hit or insulted. It's a pathetically small gesture, but I hope it's helped. If it hadn't taken me so long to start recovering, I would have made a lot more fuss about it - as it is, I called SS once and they gave my sibling and partner a talking-to. It stopped them for a while.

This sib has never questioned the violence in their family, except to complain about it in the same way as children do. That's what denial about one's own childhood does. sad sad

garlicBread Thu 03-Nov-11 21:33:41

Phish - when I was growing up, corporal punishment was still accepted in schools. There were strict rules, nonetheless (which some staff gleefully ignored). If you knew what you had done wrong, what level of 'crime' it was, YOU considered the punishment appropriate to the crime and it didn't damage you - it was wrong, but probably normal for the times.

There were lots of parents who never hit their children.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 03-Nov-11 21:37:40

Hi Phish,

Re your comment:-

"It was a fairly normal home, just with short tempers and not much demonstrating of love. We had everything we could want materially, just not emotionally. Maybe it was partly down to my character as well that I needed more than they could give?".

No, does not sound at all normal to me. To my mind your childhood home was the hallmark of a dysfunctional and emotionally unhealthy home. Your mother married someone who has proved himself to be violent and she went along with it for reasons known only to her. She failed to protect you from him and colluded in the violence as well. They are both toxic parents through and through. Both are as bad as one another and blamed you for their own inadequecies.

Its absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with your character; these two abused you and failed you abjectly in the role of mother and stepfather.

There can be no justification for the violence meted out to you. It was not your fault that this happened.

Unless you fully confront what they did, it will keep coming back to haunt you.

WailyWailyWaily Thu 03-Nov-11 21:40:12

My parents never hit me or my siblings, thankfully

PhishFoodAddiction Thu 03-Nov-11 21:42:43

Oh Attila sad

I don't want to believe it's true, I mean, it's my Mum. And they truly think they love me. I think we are all in denial.

It feels like 1 step forward then 5 steps back trying to get my head around all this.

Thank you so much for all your replies. I need to face up to this before it ruins the rest of my life, and my DDs too, don't I?

PhishFoodAddiction Thu 03-Nov-11 21:43:20

Sorry Waily, I keep cross-posting with you!

PhishFoodAddiction Thu 03-Nov-11 21:53:14

Bedtime now, if I can stop crying. Will be back tomorrow night. Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Thu 03-Nov-11 21:54:34

'night Phish.
x

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