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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

noddyholder Mon 31-Dec-12 20:03:34

The more you can see it as not you the easier it gets. I still go back and forward over everything she has done but I have more good days now. smile

NewPatchesForOld Mon 31-Dec-12 20:03:56

Now poor DD1's friends have made other plans so she will be spending her first NYE being legally allowed to drink stuck indoors with us.

Mumfun Mon 31-Dec-12 20:15:44

Rough so sorry youre going through that. My mother behaved awfully over my wedding and my brothers. She created merry hell over the date of my brothers wedding. When I did what my sister asked and let her come and look at wedding dresses with me - there were 3 at the end and one was obviously much more stunning on me - she said very strongly I should go for another dress. She didnt want me to have attention! YOu are among friends here who know what it is like.

My advice is to be totally onside with fiance what you want and go for it. Dont let them bully you to make you feel bad. Its your day!

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Tue 01-Jan-13 08:25:06

Just a quick question to sufferers of toxic parents; Do you suffer diahreah or sickness due to stress from the harrasment your parents cause??

The reason i'm askin this, is because i'm getting rather worried about dhs frequent illnesses, but they do seem to coincide with the pil stressing him out iyswim?

I'm just wondering whether extreme stress can make you ill?
I know that when they stress me to the maximum, i get exzcema on my legs & sometimes mouth ulcers and i'm only the dil!
Tia x

ledkr Tue 01-Jan-13 08:37:39

Yes stress can cause physical symptoms but maybe you should just get checked out too. Use the opportunity to see what support your go can offer.

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Tue 01-Jan-13 08:55:14

Thankyou ledkr but i very much doubt my dh will visit the gpsad

Badvoc Tue 01-Jan-13 09:59:53

Have had a cluster migraine havead ache since Boxing Day sad

ledkr Tue 01-Jan-13 10:28:21

No they don't do they? My dh doesn't even have one! If he gets lots of stomach probs though he should get it checked out in case it's anything else. I get the shits when stressed but not sickness.
badvoc I find syndol amazing for my migraines

droves Tue 01-Jan-13 11:06:57

Pumpkin , when I was in contact with my toxics , I suffered seizures , was very underweight ( I left my mothers house weighing 5& 1/2 stone ), had very bad OCD symptoms , and was constantly having asthma attacks and cold sores attacks and seemed to come down with every virus going.

I cut them out . Years later I'm never Ill , I haven't had an asthma attack in years and am now completely off medication as I just don't need it ( lungs apparently normal now wtf ? ) , haven't had a fit or blackout in 10 years , get a cold sore about 1-2 times a year , and I'm a healthy weight ...still have the OCD ,but it's managed and I'm off the ads . My doctor thinks the illness I had was encouraged by the stress and cutting them out did me wonders .

Not that I don't have stress at all ( 5 kids , one has autism , trying to do first year to finally get a degree ) , but it's the type of stress that matters .

When I was in contact with the toxics I was in a constant state of flight or fight . You know that feeling of being on eggshells ? , always full of adrenaline because I was afraid of what they would do next . It cripples your body's ability to fight illness properly .
When I cut them out I sunk into a depression ....sounds crazy , but it was my body's shock at the sudden lack of stress hormones and adrenalin ( that's how my doctor explained it anyway ) . Once I got used to normal life the depression lifted and I'm in a very good life now . I'm so lucky to be surrounded by people who genuinely love me and each other .

My friends and remaining family ( who are not toxics) are honestly nice people , a blessing to me who helped me heal from what had happen before .

Pumpkin , I'm not surprised your dh suffers illness when in contact with his parents , and your skin complaint is well known to be aggravated by stress .

If your not ready to cut them out , then limit contact as much as you can , and remember to keep in control of when you do have contact with them . Keep it at a managable amount and don't let them pop round whenever they please . Caller I.D is a sanity saver ...screen all your calls and if you don't feel like answering them don't . Best piece of advice I heard is re a phone call is ....a phone ringing is a request not a command .

Everyone on this thread , I hope this year is happy and as toxic free as possible for you x

Badvoc Tue 01-Jan-13 11:16:08

Well I have started to doubt myself a I knew I would...
Did I over react on Xmas day? Aibu?

droves Tue 01-Jan-13 11:23:39

Badvoc if you were not stressed you wouldn't have that migraine .

Hope your better soon x

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Tue 01-Jan-13 12:05:32

That sounds awful drovessad, but i'm glad you are now free.

I & my dc are nc with pil, but dh hasn't made the leap yet.
He doesn't visit much, but inbetween visits he is harassed by text, phone & email all to his mobile. Only this christmas have the landline calls started, but thankfully with caller ID installed the calls go ignored mostly.

Dh still has the tendancy to be guiltripped as he hasn't gotten out of the F.O.G yet.
He isn't quite there yet iyswim, and they have him in a vice trying to pull him between them & i, as they are very angry i won't allow any contact with dcs.

Infact so angry, we have had the entire family against us & talking about us behind our backs-sil2 is the only one in his family who is 'normal' and even she has admitted to dh that she is also getting harrased by mil through her own ex husbandsad

I despair i really do.....and i do think the stess he is under is affecting us all, him, me, dc, and my family as i'm continually down about ils behaviour.

What makes me angry is that mil claims SHE is depressed, wtf, she has no shame whatsoever.
Infact she is such a rancid bitch that he won't even wish her own so happy new year because SHE cant get her own way, the woman is sick and the rest of them are not much better.

Pils and other ils have managed to ruin most of this whole year including my dd 2nd birthday, mothers day, fathers day, dhs birthday, my birthday, christmas & today-because they can't let anyone be happy, no they phone him and text him manipulative stuff to make him down and non committal to me.
Infact dh didn't even come to dds birthday party with me, because mil kicked off...

Sorry about my continual rants, just at the end of my tether with it.

I do hope all of you are having a lovely stress free new year, lets raise a glass to all us poor suffererswine

HappyNewHissy Tue 01-Jan-13 12:19:11

Just wanted to check in. Sadly my phone can't cope with massive threads, so I can't access this one on anything other than my laptop, which is ailing too.

I know this has been a tough time for so many, but we are almost through it, we're nearly there.

We can take this time now to recover, heal and try to put our boundaries back in place.

My Christmas was mostly uneventful, just snappy, crappy behaviour from Mums H, a bit of ridiculous guilt tripping from her too, but I ignored them.

Here's to a HAPPIER new year. onwards and upwards dear Stately Homers! grin

jessjessjess Tue 01-Jan-13 13:06:46

Hey everyone. Happy new year to you all - I hope 2013 brings peace and happiness for you all.

A huge thank you to those who offered advice for my friend. Haven't told her I posted on here but can give better-informed advice as a result iyswim. I think people find scapegoating hard to understand. I don't understand why someone would favour their sons over their daughter, but that doesn't mean I don't believe it. (Which I think is why a lot of people invalidate - they don't understand, so they don't believe.) I think she finds it hard to simply say "my parents were abusive". It's a hard thing to say out loud.

Really interesting stuff about forgiveness - why do people go on about forgiving and forget/omit/ignore the part about "if he repents"? I'm not Christian but am memorising that quote to repeat as and when it's needed.

I'm not sure why this never dawned on me before, but I think my grandmother is a narc.

Notarealorphan I had no idea physical and emotional pain affected similar brain regions until you said that and I googled. Wow. I never knew that.

Hugs to you, Patches. That bloody sucks and I'm sorry.

Badvoc, I think you were seeing the situation in terms of what it meant and symbolised, and DH was seeing it in a more practical, immediate way. I doubt it's helpful to ask yourself AIBU.

Pumpkin that is excellent that he texted her to say that. First brick in the wall. Stress can indeed cause physical symptoms, but do check them out regardless. I have skin problems (urticaria), with seemingly no cause.

notarealorphan Tue 01-Jan-13 13:30:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RobotLover68 Tue 01-Jan-13 14:28:17

notarealorphan thanks for that link, I'm going to give it a try - it's free! Have been very low the last few days and am struggling to feel positive about anything. Having been having some severe anxiety attacks too, which had stopped a few years ago grrrrr

My mother died a few months ago and last night my sibling told me that my father has been going on and on about how beautiful she was, how wonderful she was, how caring she was, never had anything but a kind word for everyone she met - ffs! this is the woman who told the same sibling after my dad had beat them up "if you think you're going to the police, I'll back him up all the way and say you're lying"

the man is rewriting history - is this normal when someone has died?

Someone up thread asked if anxiety can make you physically ill - the answer is "yes" some of my symptoms - feeling sick, being sick, going dizzy, feeling unable to breathe, feeling hot, feeling cold, shaking, crying - I'm a mess aren't I sad

notarealorphan Tue 01-Jan-13 14:48:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

roughtyping Tue 01-Jan-13 14:59:50

Notarealplan, thanks for interesting links.

I know there's a post I haven't replied to but on my phone, will look back later

In bed, in a lot of pain - have hypermobility syndrome and usually ok, just a bit sore but can hardly walk today. Just lying down have shooting pains all over in joints ESP knees and ribs. Was meant to be going over to parents house but just too sore. Know they don't really believe I'm in pain, it's not something you can see - not even like arthritis where joints swell up. They will poke fun at me for this, call me lazy. If I went over I would be tutted at if I showed pain, took my painkillers etc. it's a crap thing to have, TBH it's taken a long time to even get doctors to believe there's something wrong - was told at one point that 'everyone's joints get sore as they get older' (I was 23 at that point, am now 26). Just feel down. Sorry for moaning. Going to get OH to help me into bath.

PrincessFionne Tue 01-Jan-13 15:49:39

so sorry to hear of your debilitating pain roughtyping but wonderful to hear that your OH is someone that believes and willing to help. (and its good to have a vent, really good wink.

I had a quick look at the <Porges> link plan and, on quick glance, wary of purely biological bases of theory as reductionist (also this was done in 06). The best change I ever made, which changed my life radically and very quickly was to go NC. It was imperative for me to remove myself from toxic situations that I could not yet manage as yes continual adrenalin stimulation will kill in the long-term by causing exhaustion of various systems, immune, etc. I have learnt many new ways of managing, inducing calm and different ways of thinking (which has brought the biggest changes). Given the space away from all the challenges one naturally goes into recovery, and can suddenly feel very down from it all (which can feel like its actually got worse!). The more space you have the quicker you can move on and make changes in your life, which wil make changes in your coping and stress levels and happiness. The more you take back control from these toxic people the better. Look to yourself, hear your own voice and use it. Patterns that we have learnt can seem hard to break even after having realised it all, I view them like breaking bad habits and try to identify when I start to go the same 'notsogood' route and supplant it with another thought to do it differently. This does make change. I'm finding the grieving of it all it taking me a long time.

We do have to work with our set of predispositions that we were born with, but all those around us who have made huge change and found happiness are living proof that 'biology is not destiny'.

Having the right 'abuse' counselling will make all the difference, as most relationship counselling doesn't recognise the difference within abusive relationship and can make the abused feel A LOT worse!

Raising a glass with you Pumpkin for better in the NY! <<hugs and comfort>> for us all in 2013 xxx

Badvoc Tue 01-Jan-13 16:13:15

Robot..I think that must be quite common, the re writing of history thing.
My parents certainly do it.
I was very ill when my ds1 was 18 months old. Rushed to hospital - gp thought that I had had a brain hemorrage.
Turned out not to be, but only after they did a CT scan and lumbar puncture.
Turned out I get hemi plegic migraines.
They came to see me the night after I had had the LP and I was - as you can imagine, lying in a hospital bed, scared and in mother started berating me because dh had our ds1 to bed with damp hair apparently...
She is an unfeeling, untactful, rude and emotionally blackmailing horror of a woman.
And my siblings can deal with her from now on.

Badvoc Tue 01-Jan-13 16:14:48

Rough typing....I was dx with fibromyalgia last year and my mother has never, not once, mentioned it.
Not asked how I was, if the pain meds are working...nothing.

notarealorphan Tue 01-Jan-13 16:24:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RobotLover68 Tue 01-Jan-13 17:59:14


Thanks for your kind words and insight - these behaviours are very confusing aren't they

Btw - downloaded the free PSTEC and listened and am already feeling calmer - thanks smile

Badvoc Tue 01-Jan-13 18:35:02

Have booked a holiday for next year with dh and dc (in uk but somewhere I have always wanted to go) and am phoning the OU to ask about re starting my degree course in feb.
Onward and upward......

roughtyping Tue 01-Jan-13 19:11:12

Oh Badvoc, where are you off to? What course are you going to do?

Have had the phone call. Why am I punishing everyone, this is the first New Year's Day they've not seen DS etc. We were meant to go to OH's parents for dinner then to my parents. OH has DS at his parents' house just now, I told my dad this morning that I was really sore, could hardly move etc and we probably wouldnt be round. Just had the call from my mum, why am I punishing the family, why have I not been returning texts etc. I asked her who I have not returned a text to as I've replied to everyone and her answer was "You know" hmm. She said 'everyone' was asking why I wasn't there. I asked why no one else had texted/called me if they didn't know where I was - she replied that she'd already told them I wasn't well. So why she felt the need to phone and shout at me and make me feel guilty I'm not sure. She said this is the first year they've not seen DS at New Year, why was I doing this to them, it wasn't fair to take him away from the family etc. I ended up backing down and saying I'd take DS round later, she sniffily said no, it was fine, they'd see him another day. Why all the fucking grief then. So not only am I stuck in bed, taking painkillers, can't even go down the fucking stairs just now beccause my knee keeps giving way, but now I'm crying because I feel so fucking selfish and guilty and terrible. It also makes me think, is she actually that bothered about seeing DS if she won't see him just to 'get one over' me.

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