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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.

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!

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