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

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It's November 2012, 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
November 2011
January 2012

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


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.

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:

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

HisstletoeAndWhine Wed 28-Nov-12 21:43:59

I echo thos hugs and back pats!

Well, I'm back. Took me 10 sprays of rescue remedy to get in <hic>

Got the 'what are you doing for christmas' stuff. I held firm, said I was having Christmas at home this year. She told me SisDear is not coming up. I stuck to my plan.

SisDear not coming up is a plot, a scheme on sisDear's part. I'm sure of it. I go there and SisDear can weep and wail saying my going NC with her made it impossible for her to go, that I hounded her out of Christmas. Yeah right. I'm not falling for it. Let them ALL reap the crop they sowed!

Got asked about Christmas eve... Was non-commital. Got asked to bring boyf. Said he'd probably not want to come. It just came out, but it means that I don't have a say. It's not true, I'm sure he would if I asked him, but I'm committed to NOT mixing pleasure with 'family'.

I have to refuse Christmas eve too don't I?

When Mum starts up with that, I can say that she could go and see sis for Christmas, have Christmas cooking etc off. I will wait for the 'we're all on our own' and keep the 'yep, like I was all those years, abroad and abused, like I was when ex left, in trauma, seriously in shock and you both revelled in leaving me for emotional dead, and then ONE of you rubbed it in, and the other one has failed again to support me' response as a back up conversation shutter downer smile

Apparently mum is going to SisDear after Christmas/NY. That's not going to influence my plans ONE jot.

Perhaps the reply won't get used, perhaps it's a broken record of 'No, I've said I'll not do 'socials' or family stuff again.' I am my own family now.

notarealorphan Wed 28-Nov-12 22:04:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kiwigirl42 Thu 29-Nov-12 03:14:11

notarealorphan thank you for your kindness

notarealorphan Thu 29-Nov-12 09:01:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BiddyPop Fri 30-Nov-12 16:08:41

Sorry guys, I've been away and not had access. HotDamn, I see what you're saying, and I am not going in trying to have a row, but if she HAS really done that to me, I will call her on it, expect that it will be all about me spoiling her lovely gift, yada yada yada, but it will also give me the chance to tell her, in the presence of others, how it is not all about her and that I will not be disrespected the way she has done to me. So if she wants to do something about it afterwards, it will be her to deal with it (and it will also make my Dad realise what she's done - he does enable her a bit but will call her on some things that she has to back down from when she tries her ultra-controlling and pushing away family stuff).

Mind all of yourselves, I hope to get a chance to post properly tonight.

HisstletoeAndWhine Fri 30-Nov-12 21:02:53

Is it really worth taking them on, head to head?

Won't they just deny it, minimise it, and blame us anyway, isn't us knowing the truth, telling them what we believe, calmly, matter of fact, and then just backing off just a little more?

God knows if I'm getting this right or wrong, the FOG is so thick and hard to get through! sad

HotDAMNlifeisgood Fri 30-Nov-12 23:10:27

I don't know, Hissy. I did, and now kind of wish I hadn't bothered.

HisstletoeAndWhine Sat 01-Dec-12 08:22:07

I have the similar dilemma, I've said my piece to mum, nothing changed, Sis still gets mum trotting down there, I still get told to hget over myself. I'm now being painted as the baddy.

Plus ça change...

So, so what? I was an alchy, a nutter, an everything-under-the-sun, I was a scarlet woman for daring to date again. Now I'm someone who bust up a family. Pah! Family? Families don't do that.n what I 'bust up' was a tissue of lies. It doesn't work for me, it hurts. So... I'm out.

For them to insist on me staying in is selfish, but we knew that already. It's for THEIR needs.

Their needs. Their problem. If I mattered that much, they should have treated me better.

BUT it feels so shit. It felt so crap to let the abusive ex go, it was physically excruciating, a pain I bore in deliberately inflicted isolation.

I did it, I got through it, I survived. I'll get through this, I'll survive and thrive on the other side.

Cripes, knowing the awesome transformation of my life post Ex, I know I'm in for even better when ALL negative clingons are scraped off!

I'll find that focus to get me to the grass on the other side, as I did with ex.

It's the next step in my life. The one towards even more happiness!

[penny drops]

Dawndonna Sat 01-Dec-12 10:08:38

Despite having been married to the same man for 20 years, I too have been some of those things Hiss. Trust me, life is far better without them.
Good luck!

Midwife99 Sat 01-Dec-12 11:49:15

I had a neglectful childhood because my parents were too busy being publicans & boozing it up to care for me. They moved frequently to run away from my father's affairs & business failures so I had a hard time at new schools too. They went on holiday without me every September over my birthday & left me with relief managers. Even their night off was spent going out to another pub boozing. The last holiday they took me on aged 12 - they put me in a room in my own on the other side of a French hotel & did their own thing for 2 weeks. Unsurprisingly a waiter from the hotel let himself into my room every night & raped me. A few years followed of being felt up by their disgusting drunk "friends" before I left home at 18.
I'm now 45 & have 4 kids & 3 husbands under my belt & this year have finally told my parents how my childhood was for me & that I need some space from them. Although they ignored me as a child & in my 20 & 30s now they're old & frail they want me to help them & visit frequently.
Anyway - they are refusing to leave me alone & keep sending hysterical texts, voicemails & emails asking to see "their grandchildren" ' for me to "sort things out". I just want them to leave me alone but still feel guilty!!

Dawndonna Sat 01-Dec-12 13:00:52

Why should you feel guilty? Would you allow one of your children to be raped? Would you even put one of your children in a position whereby that could happen? Of course you wouldn't. Don't feel guilty, change your number, tell your children why you are not allowing contact and live a happy and guilt free life.
I talk the talk, but haven't always walked the walk, but am doing damn fine at the moment!

garlicbaubles Sat 01-Dec-12 13:25:58

I realise it's part of your 'coping', Midwife, but i felt shocked by your statement that you were "unsurprisingly" raped repeatedly at the age of 12. It would only be unsurprising if men usually were rapists, only being kept from assaulting children by the vigilance of others.

I can see that your teenage years would have caused you to reasonably think this was the case - but your horrible experiences were a direct outcome of your parents' incompetence, not simple neglect and inevitable circumstance. Please don't underplay the horror of what happened to you.

It would not be wrong for you to turn your back on them completely.
If you want to find a middle way, make it entirely on your terms and your rules. Don't play games with them. A therapist can be very helpful with this - or even a solicitor - should you want professional backup. I found Stately Homes invaluable!

Midwife99 Sat 01-Dec-12 14:27:28

Yes I realise my cold emotionless way of referring to the rapes is a coping mechanism. I didn't shout rape or report it so I felt responsible for it for years. In fact until recently I have referred to it as sexual assault & only now use the word rape, which is what it was. The child that I was then was not equipped to deal with the situation of course!!

I spelt it out in no uncertain terms some months ago in an email to my parents. My father replied about a week later that he needed to think about what I had said. Since then nothing but requests for help & the blackmailing voicemails etc. I finally told them & they have completely ignored what I said.

I have unplugged the landline to stop the constant ringing (from marketing calls & my mother!) They did leave me alone for 3 weeks & then a hysterical voicemail from my mother "we gave you some space, what more do you want? You need to sort yourself out now".
The thought of seeing them makes me feel nauseous!

Midwife99 Sat 01-Dec-12 14:59:55

Oh - have just read back through the thread!! Sorry I didn't introduce myself!! Re Xmas - my parents "don't believe in Xmas" but I bet they suddenly get all Christmassy this year when I've gone NC. I used to feel a bit bereft at Christmas too but this year for the first time I really just want my kids & me to spend it together without any outside influences. It's quite freeing to choose isn't it?!! grin

HisstletoeAndWhine Sun 02-Dec-12 09:16:50

If you're posting on here Midwife, that's introduction enough!

Expect the panic to continue, it's par for the course.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Sun 02-Dec-12 09:36:52

I hope you and your children get the Christmas that you want this year then, midwife

Your parents' voicemails seem to me to show that they still don't think you have a right to your own feelings.

HisstletoeAndWhine Sun 02-Dec-12 09:44:09

Indeed HotDamn! Ring any bells for you there love? ;)

Dunno what's worse, when they ring and ring, or when they don't.

My dad hasn't bothered since June. Neither have I, but even SisDear made 2 or 3 calls before stopping

Dawndonna Sun 02-Dec-12 10:11:59

Have to say, I love that she hasn't rung. I still think the birthday stuff is funny. But I'm 54 this week and it's taken me a very long time to get to the point where I can find things amusing.

itscurtains Sun 02-Dec-12 19:29:01

Hi Stately homers,

I'm an occasional poster, under various guises, but frequent lurker on this thread. I didn't want to selfishly gatecrash here and so had posted this in legal, but no response as yet. Some of you have given me good advice in the past so wondered if you guys had any experience of this and could advise - feel as though I'm causing trouble but really just want to stand up for myself iyswim?

Made statement to police a few months ago about historic abuse by family member. (I confronted some time ago, they denied it). No corroboration / evidence to justify proceeding with an investigation but police dc said they will if I want to. Hmm.
Anyway family member has been persistently sending letters requesting to see my children which I have been ignoring, but they have not stopped. Police say it may be seen as breach of peace and to keep diary recording dates of any calls , letters etc and they will warn them off if it continues to happen. In the meantime they said to ignore the most recent letter. However I feel out of control as this person is not respecting my boundaries, so I have basically written to them to make it clear that I want no contact and reiterated what the police have said re BoP. Completely non threatening in tone, just factual iyswim. Terrified of repercussions now though, I have ignored all contact so far but just can't cope with feeling trod all over by this person. I am sure they will try and discredit me further (have attempted to do so already, but not much I can do about that)
Have I made problems for myself, potentially with the police for writing back to this person stating they don't contact us further?

Thanks for any advice, hoping am worrying over nothing!

garlicbaubles Sun 02-Dec-12 19:56:07

I really understand why you feel distressed by this person pushing for access to your children. Having aggressively breached (denied) your boundaries when you were young and impressionable, they are now doing so again with the presumed aim of denying your own children's boundaries too. It's horrible of them - and, no doubt, feels beyond horrific to you. Their continued impact on you is evident in your uncertainty about telling them to piss off.

Your response is, afaik, almost text-book as a warning shot. You can check it with the police if you want to feel sure. After you've warned someone to stop contacting you, further efforts to reach you would be construed as harassment and should be actionable if they persist. Do ask the cops for confirmation, since it sounds as though you need official support: I am sure you've done the right thing.

What repercussions do you fear? Is there any possibility they could be realised, or are these the fears of your frightened inner child?
So angry that someone has done this to you.

itscurtains Sun 02-Dec-12 20:08:14

Thank you garlic. Yes its so scary telling them to piss off. They just don't want to take the hint, and yes its the lack of respect even for what my dc may or may not want. This person in a recent letter implied that my dc missed them, er no that's not the case at all.

The police did say it could be construed as harassment but I feel I've sort of disrupted the proper process (if there is such a thing!) because they advised me to ignore the recent contact and I didn't - I did try, but just got so angry and that's why I responded in writing, to make my position clear.
Re repercussions - I think I'm worried that this person will tell the police that I'm some sort of loon and telling lies and they then won't believe me anymore (this person has tried similar with people I know recently and I feel they do disbelieve me).

garlicbaubles Sun 02-Dec-12 20:27:34

Badmouthing and making "people" take sides isn't the same as following clear-cut procedures in law. Here is the CPS guidance on harassment.

I suggest you show the police your letter. If you have stated that you find this person's repeated contacts distressing and wish them to desist entirely, I believe you have made yourself perfectly clear. On a practical everyday level, it makes sense to block them from your phones and email, social networks, etc, and to tear up or burn all correspondence without opening it.

Have you learned any psychological tricks to disempower this person in your mind? A very easy one is to imagine them in front of you, spouting whatever rubbish s/he generally spouts, and to progressively shrink them until they're the size of a small flea, spouting in an absurdly tiny, high-pitched voice grin
Then you can swat them.

garlicbaubles Sun 02-Dec-12 20:29:32

... if their messages are actually threatening, don't block or destroy them. File them somewhere without reading, then open them in circumstances where you feel safe & supported. Threats can & should be forwarded to the police.

itscurtains Sun 02-Dec-12 20:43:48

garlic I will try that trick!

Yes I am going to keep any letters etc as the police have advised. Phone numbers all changed too. Not on fb etc.

Thank you so much x

HisstletoeAndWhine Sun 02-Dec-12 21:04:45

AFAIK, certainly in relationships, a 'please don't contact me again' communication is often advised to avoid any confusion.

Once that off you Fuck pop message has been sent and established, it's much clearer for the legal/police systems to come into action and defend your polite and clear request.

Try not to let it get to you. You do have a choice over who is and is not in your life.

You're making the right decision. You know this, stay calm, get help and advice. Remember that there are new harrassment laws in place now, so you're much stronger than previously.

You have right and law on your side.

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