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

(1000 Posts)
DontstepontheMomeRaths Sun 25-Nov-12 21:48:27

Thread opener here: smile
You may need to right-click and 'unblock' it after downloading it.

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

DontstepontheMomeRaths Thu 03-Jan-13 19:21:35

I have that old chestnut too Noddy about my dad's behaviour. Tbh I'm sick of my family normalising, enabling and pandering to his behaviour. It's neither normal or acceptable but they simply cannot see it.

noddyholder Thu 03-Jan-13 19:22:58

I said never.He hasn't seen the email she sent me yet feels he can comment Apparently she has showed my reply to her friends and they all think i am terrible BUT there was no reply so she has lied. The mail she sent was in response to one i sent her when she got back in touch after 7 months silence and i said glad you changed your mind life's too short she went nuts that i had challenged her silence! As my sis said if she showed them both emails side by side they would know the truth but she never will.

DontstepontheMomeRaths Thu 03-Jan-13 19:23:35

"but that not-seeing is a survival mechanism for her as for so many others" That's so true Jess, I think my Mum is very much like that about Dad sad

noddyholder Thu 03-Jan-13 19:46:31

I am at my wits end now with this. Have always protected him from her she sent him packing to me throughout his teens and early twenties every time he had a problem (break ups jobs etc) said she couldn't cope with it. I tried to involve him in our family as she doesn't 'do' traditional mum hmm because i felt sorry for him at significant birthdays etc as she doesn't do those either.

PrincessFionne Thu 03-Jan-13 20:59:19

there is also the possibility that many do have toxic parents and still support them do not realise ! my siblings support my toxic parents , all of them (siblings that is, not parents!); most seem to say the same (that they have siblings with contact,etc. but I know that they have suffered terribly at their hands, physically so obvious, but also EA which they have their own ways of explaining away. Actually the physical has been explained away too, altho they have talked about it too and so accept it as wrong in some way.


PrincessFionne Thu 03-Jan-13 21:02:40

the above was in response to Badvoc and Jess posting on previous page, but seems you are all making the statements now about your siblings too (mine x with those)

WhitePeacock Fri 04-Jan-13 00:26:15

Hello stately homers,

I posted several threads back about my difficult relationship with my mother. Have realised now, sadly, that she is very controlling, very angry and quite narcissistic. I am 30, with a DH and dd, and we currently live in one of mum's houses, having been v firmly pressed by her to house-sit after my dad died and she moved out of it several years ago. She owns several houses, which made it especially hurtful and difficult to deal with when - after years of squashing my admittedly feeble attempts to say we should look into finding a place of our own - she has now started saying she feels unwelcome in her own home and that she wants to sell this house, as "two women can't share a kitchen". I'm her only child and was brought up (as I now realise) to remain very dependent - until she changed her mind. I feel so rejected, as though I'm no longer anyone's child.

Sorry, massively long, though intended to be brief backstory! I just wanted a bit of hand-holding. I have now realised, with some therapy and the help of my splendid DH, that we are going to be FINE getting a mortgage and making a home for ourselves (this was quite hard after years of "no no, your DH doesn't earn enough for you to get a mortgage". I look after 2 yo dd fulltime but have also worked part time and freelance since before she was born, and look forward to having more time and more work when she is 3.) So we are about to start flat-hunting and I am excited as well as frightened.

Alas, we are going to see my mum this weekend for post-Christmas visit. Didn't see her over Christmas proper as she is fearsomely awful on Christmas Day (I have a less-than-prized childhood memory of her throwing the dressing-gown she'd bought my dad onto the fire one merry Yuletide.) When she discovered we'd spent a week before Christmas with DH's parents, she rang him up and screamed at him at work, and then sent him two rage-filled emails. We haven't spent Christmas with them in years, as I'm afraid of the fall-out from her, but when we finally move she can fuck right off and they won't be punished any further for her bad behaviour. Right now, though, I want to keep things superficially civil until we can move the hell out of Dodge (which won't be for some months yet.) So we have to see her.

Will anyone who feels a nervous dull ache in the tummy at the thought of seeing their parents send me a little mojo to help me get through the weekend? I feel so weak and useless and stupid and little and young. And horrible at the thought of her plying dd with millions of expensive presents, to represent all the time she doesn't spend with her - and how she wouldn't pick her up when we were all ill, in case she caught it and ruined her holiday. She's been such a stinker, but I've had nearly 30 years of believing her emotions were more important than mine and it was my job to make things right for her. I would be super grateful for a bit of fellow-feeling.

PrincessFionne Fri 04-Jan-13 00:54:42

oh hey peacock plenty mojo for you! and some adult you too to take care of your inner little girl as you visit as a grown woman nurturing your innner little girl as you travel through the visit doing the grinning and bearing to achieve your own successes in the end.Glad you see that she is not more important than you anymore, or ever was. You now see her as she is, but I would not guarantee that this visit would prevent her pulling the rug from under you at any time anyway. Just tell her your DD has the latest bug doing the rounds, whilst you get yourselves set up for your own home!.. and then tell her its turned into a chest infection, and then the horrible noro! (and just to post the presents, ha!) you take care, some holding you up from me x Fi

WhitePeacock Fri 04-Jan-13 09:37:36

Bless you FI that is just what I need. I have been toying with the "gross bug" idea grin, but there will be some people we like and haven't seen for ages around this weekend. They should also mean mum behaves better, at least while they're around. "Pulling the rug out" is exactly the way to describe it. I think I shall use it in my mind and if she starts doing it I will imagine casually plopping down to sit heavily on said rug! Thanks so much for moral support.

fresh Fri 04-Jan-13 09:47:48

Peacock, don't beat yourself up about the nervous dull ache - it's the response of a normal person. Feeling weak and stupid is how you've been programmed to feel by her - narc mums try to keep their kids in this position as it reinforces their feeling of omnipotence. But you're not weak and stupid because you can see through her. I know this sounds ridiculously simple and I know that dull ache very well. From what you say you're well on the way to being free of it, but it's hard and you'll waver. Don't beat yourself up about that.
Noddy I don't know your family but this is my theory about narc mums: from the word go they teach their children that the mother's needs are paramount, and if they're not met then the mother may disappear. Therefore, challenging her when you're old enough to work it out is very frightening for all concerned: you, her and the siblings who may still at some level believe it. Your brother sounds like he's never been allowed to get away from it because his life has been controlled by her moods (sent packing when she couldn't cope etc). So she's in charge for him. So challenging her is too scary for him, hence his trying to bring you back to 'toe the line'. Don't. You only have responsibility for yourself, not her or him. Sorry, haven't put that very well but hope it makes sense.

noddyholder Fri 04-Jan-13 10:03:50

Thanks fresh I am a mess today no sleep! My brother is of the mind she is not giving him grief atm so he won't rock the boat. I only gave her what she wanted as she said she wasn't into family etc so I stopped contact. (she said it at least 6 times) She has always controlled us and anything that happens she refers it to her eg how she will cope with someone elses illness etc. I have been teh mother all along and now I have said enough both brothers freaking out

Badvoc Fri 04-Jan-13 10:27:59

I remember nice my mum coming into my bedroom when I was a it 13 and asking me to pack her a bag as she was leaving.
So I did.
Off she went.
She was back about an hour later.
And furious with me for doing as she asked.
I feel I nothing for her but pity.
That's not right, is it?

noddyholder Fri 04-Jan-13 10:35:49

Everything my mum did is coming back to me I had forgotten loads. badvoc that is the sort of thing mine would have done. sad. Mine did things like slapped me round the face when I had my hair cut without her knowing (I was 18) and I took a pair of jeans out of my wardrobe and she had cut one leg off them??? She said it was to teach me how it felt to have something you liked ruined I had dropped a cup in teh sink the day before and it broke.

Badvoc Fri 04-Jan-13 10:47:13 remembering loads of stuff too noddy.
I told a friend once about the packing bag incident and she looked so shocked I have never told anyone else.
Why am I embarrassed by HER behaviour? Why can't I tell my dh just how awful it was?
I spent a lot of time out of the house as I got myself a car, went away for weekends, to see friends, even to the cinema on my own anything to get out of the house.
I remember once I was very upset. I had broken up with a bf who I loved very much but who was taking me for a mug. After a silence of some months he rang and wanted to give it another go. I said no, but was very very upset when I got off the sister looked at me like I was something she scraped off her shoe and proceeded to lay into me about all sorts of crap...that's how I found out that mum had told her they paid for my car! Just a pack of lies and bile.
I went out.
See a pattern here?
After a few weeks my sister apologised...her excuse? She wasn't used to seeing me upset.
How fucked up is that?
I see crying as weakness and something to be hidden and will only cry now if I am alone.
If I am ill I just go off on my own to bed...I don't like being around others when ill and I have recently realised its because I was always left alone when ill. Even as a young child. Mum would get very irritated if I had to stay off school ill and let me know it!
I am the total opposite with my kids...if they are ill they are on the sofa with drinks, TV, books, and they sleep in my bed if they need to.
Maybe a bit OTT but I never want them to feel like I did sad

Badvoc Fri 04-Jan-13 10:51:26

....I don't know whether to write a letter to my parents and explain further why I am NC for a while?
It won't make a jot of difference I guess, but may help me?
I don't know...

Salbertina Fri 04-Jan-13 10:54:09

Badvoc- am nc for 1st time, finding v v hard esp being overseas and xmas
I suggest write that letter explaining but don't send...not easy sad

noddyholder Fri 04-Jan-13 10:56:25

Well I have NC and it was getting easier esp as I had done one xmas. My sister is also NC and that is helping me a lot.

Badvoc Fri 04-Jan-13 11:00:40

I Just don't see what the future holds for a relationship with any of's like they are all ok and I am the one rocking the boat iyswim?
Think I will leave them to it.
My siblings can deal with mums illnesses and MH issues from now on.

noddyholder Fri 04-Jan-13 11:04:17

I think the time does come to put yourself first. My mum can never change She has fallen out with all of her family her children friends etc over the years. She still can't see it is her and as my sister says she never will. Give yourself a time frame to really live your own life how you want and see how it goes maybe? I am starting from today as I am so exhausted and it is affecting ds and dp now

PrincessFionne Fri 04-Jan-13 11:04:22

OH AWFUL NARCS! Cut a leg off your jeans & slap you for hair cut (gasp!) packed her bag for her to leave and then blamed you (gob smacked!). WTF - I can relate to the neglectful nursing - was in so much pain didnt sleep for 2 nights and was vomiting - needless to say, was ignored. A friend called round and was horrified to find me in such a state and was running getting bowls for me to vomit in. Narc was very cross at me cos 'you kept me awake with your groaning all night' huh, she'd have taken the dog to the vets before it got in that state. Lovely love Fi

Badvoc Fri 04-Jan-13 11:10:37

Am just very sad.
I guess that want change any time soon
Sending love to all x

HughPughBarneyMcGrew Fri 04-Jan-13 11:27:29

I'm a name-changer, as it's a small world where I live smile.

I went NC last October. Just had the most calm, relaxing Christmas ever. Feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. But, of course, I am the one 'hurting the whole family'. On days when I wonder if I did the right thing, I cast my mind back about five years, when sis and I were kicked out the house for having an opinion and sat in a muddy field for two hours; we're in our 30's, ffs.

The biggest challenge for me is having to constantly check my own parenting skills. Luckily, I have an understanding DH who is great at gently saying "er, no, that's not how you deal with this situation," without making me feel crap.

I take heart from reading these posts; you are all inspirational and strong and please keep posting because it helps more than you know...

noddyholder Fri 04-Jan-13 11:38:36

Hugh same here our xmas was the best ever. I always was aware from a young age that my mum wasn't 'normal' but had lots of other good people and I learned about being a parent from them.When I look at my son I just can't believe she can treat us like that but she has been doing it so long. I am 47 and spoke up for the first time this summer

Firsttimer7259 Fri 04-Jan-13 12:00:46

After a good xmas (and man was I nervous having gone NC after last years disaster) I was just breathing freely again when the postman delivers package from narc F. Ive opened it feeling sick and anxious. Its stupid that this makes me feel like the 'bad' one. I know there have been plenty of christmasses where I have sent him presents and he didnt and I shrugged it off. Anyway, I refuse to read stuff into this...whether on the choice of presents or anything else...I know what I know

HughPughBarneyMcGrew Fri 04-Jan-13 12:05:53

Noddy glad to hear someone else has had a good christmas! I think children are the catalyst for that light-bulb moment. It wasn't until I was a parent that I got that 'woah, this isn't right!' realisation, after years of being told 'you don't understand, wait until you're a parent.' Oh, the irony!

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