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

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DontstepontheMomeRaths Fri 04-Jan-13 14:12:43

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

It's January 2013, 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
November 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

Badvoc Fri 04-Jan-13 14:18:08

Thanks mome.
Here's to a new thread and a new year!

forgetmenots Fri 04-Jan-13 15:11:04

Thanks for the new thread smile lets hope it takes longer to fill this one smile

sparklyjumper Fri 04-Jan-13 15:14:34

I'd like to join this thread if I can. I'm quite glad I found relationships and that it's not just about that with your partner.

Sometimes I wonder if it depends which angle I'm looking at my family from, two sides to every story.

I believe my df and possibly my dm to be alcoholics. My df would say he isn't because he doesn't need a drink the minute he wakes up, and because he can stop drinking for days if he chooses. My dm would say she isn't because she only drinks 2-3 cans a night, and because she drinks less than my df and is in control.

I still have a relationship with my parents, a really good one at times, probably a different one to what I think is the norm.

The worst thing I remember from being a young child was being very poor and hearing my parents argue and fret about money. They got married and had my brother and sister really young, they never worked consistently, and I'm told my dad had a breakdown around the time I was born. He always liked a drink, they'd both before I was born been involved in petty crime, df had been in prison. Then they'd turned to God and I was supposed to be their 'new start', to do things differently. It wasn't until I was around 5 that I noticed my dads idea of discipline was to shout, well bellow and smack, all the time. But I guess maybe that's just the way it was in those days.

I remember being at school and feeling really embarrassed that my dad didn't work, and pretending he was a mechanic. I remember feeling sad that we didn't go on holidays, or even a day out, ever, not so much as a swimming trip or to the cinema. I remember when I was about 6 or 7 my dad whacking my 16 year old sister around the face and telling her if she didn't want to live by his rules she could go, and she did. Shortly afterwards she became pregnant, and I remember the atmosphere in the house, and my dad crying and getting worse. I knew he had depression but didn't really understand what it was.

I remember my df going to see a doctor about his depression, then coming home and saying he couldnt' get better because of 'us lot', how could he get better with my brother and I around arguing, being cheeky. And how he should never have had us. Wasn't cut out to be a father, and all his kids are 'mental'. He still says things to this day to my dm like 'it's no wonder all our kids are mental with you'.

I remember he was really negative, if I bought a drawing home from school my dm would praise it and tell me it was beautiful and I could be an artist. Then my df would shoot it down and say it was crap and my dm was giving me false hope.

At some point my df started spending most of his time in his bedroom listening to music or watching his tv, he blamed me for this, said he couldn't live in his own house because of me. I could never quite understand why as all I wanted was for us to be a happy family. He promised us once we could go on holiday to a caravan, that we would all go and get new clothes I was so excited, I think because when I was a child I always believed that one day things would change and we'd be normal. Then he changed his mind and said what would be the point as my brother and I would just ruin it arguing anyway and that was that.

I know my parents were always borrowing money, a tenner here and there, they'd make little lists with the things they needed and on the top was always fag, then cans, then bread, milk etc. And we'd go over to my aunts to borrow some. Then one time they all fell out probably because she wouldn't borrow to them and my dad told me they all had aids. I had no idea what Aids was but do remember asking my aunt if she really had it and getting told off.

One thing that really sticks out in my mind was when I was about 10, I must have been cheeky to my dm and he started whacking me around the head over and over until my ears were ringing. I actually realy despise him for that almost out of everything. I can't imagine ever being in the frame of mind of a grown man whacking a little girl round the head. I always think what if I'd fell, what if he'd caused a head injury?

Money got better when my df started getting DLA, he was diagnosed with depression and agrophobia, we started having nice things then, but I think around that time his drinking got worse. It went from him having 4 cans each night to having 8 and staying up until the early hours 3-4am. I was blamed for this because he said he and my dm didn't get any time to themselves so they had to stay up after we'd gone to bed.

His drinking got really bad when I was about 18 and had started work, my brother and I would have to be up for work and dm and df would often keep us awake all night arguing or loudly drunk talking over the blaring tv at 2 and 3 in the morning. We'd get up to beer cans and full ashtrays every morning. If you dared say anything he'd walk around pissed bellowing 'it's myyyy house, myyy house I tell you, I'll do what I fucking well like, and if you don't like it, fuck the neighbours, fuck you all he'd scream. He'd go on two to three day binges and bring random people back to the house.

He also suffered a massive heart attack around that time but it didn't stop him at all.

It wasn't long after that I left to be with my now ex who turned out to be violent, to be fair my dad tried to persuade me to leave him as despite his ways I know he cared in his own way. My dad even threatened my ex in a drunken stupor, although not the right way I think he didn't want me ending up like him and my dm.

When I became pregnant I remember going to see my parents and my df went ballistic, screaming at me to have an abortion. Then of course going off and getting drunk, I can't remember at exactly what point and I doubt he even remembers but he screamed at me that I was a bitch, a stupid bitch. He was going to kill my ex, smash his hands to pieces with a hammer. We didn't speak for months after that.

I probably could have easily had nothing to do with him really, but he is my df, I feel sorry for him in many ways as I know he's led a miserable life, had a horrible childhood himself. When his depression and drinking got really bad he didn't even bother to wash most of the time.

After my ds was born he did change a lot, he still drinks, possibly more than ever, but of course I don't have to be around it anymore. But his attitudes have changed a bit, he's apologised, said he wishes he'd done it all differently. If I was to ever even raise my voice to ds let alone smack him he'd be horrified.

He actually tells me he's proud of me now, he buys us all beautiful presents things he never would have before.

And my dm is still the long suffering wife, I guess.

I could tell a different story, the times we all played monopoly, or scrabble, the fact that despite it all we were always clean and fed, always taken to school. But I find it hard to remember many good times as I feel as though I spent a lot of my childhood and teens in floods of tears wishing I had a different family.

Thanks to anyone who takes the time to read this.

sparklyjumper Fri 04-Jan-13 15:22:41

Probably should have added my dm and df still to this day even though all of us have long left home, drink to excess and stay up until the early hours, and it's well known that they don't rise before midday. Df still goes on binges although they are getting shorter as his body just can't take it anymore, and then dm has to switch off and unplug all of the phones so he doesn't get woken up.

One thing I'm glad of is that it's made me despise drink. Apart from my party days in my late teens I don't touch a drop now. I know some people have a drink and enjoy it without taking it too far. But when you've watched your df vomit all over the sofa, fall down the stairs, found him lying in the street, gone through there fear of worrying he'll get beaten up or worse it's enough to put you off for life.

My df alwasy said it's the 'devils brew' despite his love of it. He knows it's contributed to ruining his life.

PrincessFionne Fri 04-Jan-13 15:32:08

thanks for preempting end of last thread and linking this mome

Just read thro the last page of the last thread, and just can't believe the level of awfulness. I spent so many years not noticing it, and then hearing others tell their tales on here and it sounds so sad. The 'its all about them', the 'competing'! (they've done it better, had it worse, and certainly spend all their energy telling their story of you to alienate the world against you, yep, tick, tick, tick).

What strength and resisilience you have shown to keep your lives on track - knowing you are doing the right thing despite all the continual bad press from narcs.

Keep it up ladies smile


trustissues75 Fri 04-Jan-13 15:38:43

Wow sparkly - that's a whole lot of hurt to deal with. I'm really sorry you've gone through that.

It never really goes away, I think. For me it's left me questioning everything. I always second guess myself and question my own judgement. I have a hard time separating what's abusive from what's not abusive.

sparklyjumper Fri 04-Jan-13 15:56:24

Thank you, I haven't read much of the other thread I was just looking back on it but it's so long.

Basically I'm the same, I do struggle to know sometimes what's normal. Unfortunately I've goen on to ahve tw bad relationships, both totally different, but I'm sure a lot of it stems from my upbringing.

My sister has followed a similiar pattern to me really although she left a lot younger. Bad relationships, she's moved on so much now though, really improved her life, happily married too. My brother sadly seems to be following the exact same pattern, it's soul destroying to watch. I don't think he sees it like that though. I just have a relationship from afar now and don't get too involved. Sometimes I dream about moving far away so I don't have to watch them getting older and killing themselves even more.

I have bettered myself too though, while I've still got work to do I'm in a reasonable job with some opportunities to progress. I manage my money well, have to, I'd go bonkers living on the edge all the time. I spoil ds rotten with cuddles and praise. I want him to feel that no matter what he is loved and wanted and valued.

sparklyjumper Fri 04-Jan-13 15:57:29

That was supposed to say my brother is following the same pattern as my parents, a carbon copy almost.

Midwife99 Fri 04-Jan-13 16:10:47

Hi all - just marking my spot!!hope you all have a very happy & peaceful new year!

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Fri 04-Jan-13 16:20:14

I hear you sparklyjumper, DM was an alcoholic, not DF thank goodness but he was always so busy working two jobs to try and support us while maintaining DMs drinking.

It is like having two different childhoods, one that was brilliant and the other that was horrible. Sorry to hear about your brother.

fresh Fri 04-Jan-13 16:31:12

There are so many painful stories coming out here, I'm shock at what's been done to us all.

Sparkly how strong must you be to have come out of that childhood and made it out the other side. In all of us there is a person who knows that we were treated badly despite all the bullshit we've been fed that it was all our fault. Hang on to that person ladies, she's right.

Noddy that must have been a massive shock. Is there any opportunity for you to be in touch with him if you want to?

WhenLifeGivesYouLemons Fri 04-Jan-13 19:07:14

Watching Queen Victoria's Children. Does anybody recognise their own mother in Victoria's attitude and actions?

HappyNewHissy Fri 04-Jan-13 21:05:09

EVening! glad to have the new thread! I'll read back and pop by later.

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Fri 04-Jan-13 21:12:29

Marking placesmile

Badvoc Fri 04-Jan-13 22:01:42

Noddy. Hope you are ok? What a shock for you!
Been reading through my university stuff and hyperventilating - hope I am not being idiotic thinking I can do this...sad

Theveryhungrymuma Fri 04-Jan-13 22:36:39

I'd like to join this thread. Have already posted on the other post-stately homes thread re counselling I hope to start this year. I have been lurking on these threads for a long time, the first time I realised I wasn't the only one I bawled tears if relief that it's not in my head. I've read toxic parents and have been nc with ds and dm since September. DF left dm two years ago and I've no idea where he is : ( .
Someone said up thread , it's when you have your children the scales fall from your eyes. I remember newborn dd crying non stop with colic, I couldn't put her down or she would be in more pain, I had to take her to the toilet with me, still in a lot of pain from her birth myself , just looking at my beautiful little girl wondering how the hell anybody could do what they did to me, how this tiny little thing who needed me and Dh ,could ever turn into a hated person to be hit and spoken to like I was. I couldn't then imagine being my how my dm was and I certainly can't now.
I have so many things in my head, some don't make sense some are hazy memories, not quite all the pieces are together.
Since the birth of dd I've had to open all the hurt and pain up to Dh, to ensure dm never got my precious dd unsupervised ever. I just couldn't bare for her to be exposed to what I was. Before this I hadn't let on to the extent of how my childhood was affecting me.

That's one thing to come from this, I will always protect and love dd with all my heart, I hope she gets to adulthood with happy fun memories of her childhood with me and Dh.

Dm has really shown her true colours recently, I have been slowly withdrawing and I think she realised that she had nothing more to lose, so reverted to type, though she just gave me the catalyst to go nc with her and diss.prior to this Dh would often struggle to see my pov, or rationalise her actions eg, perhaps she had a bad day.

DSis is my mothers golden child and often does her dirty work, after going nc I received numerous phone calls on my landline, I have recorded these on my mobile phone. I play them back to myself when I feel low to remind myself that I don't want dd around these people. The last phone call she tells me I'll be a lonely old cow, nobody likes me anyway, they are just all talking about me behind my back as I'm a weirdo ,Nice. She rings my husband after this and tells him she's worried I have Pnd! No bloody wonder if I did!

There are so many silly things. On dds birthday I had washed her nappies and pegged them on the line. All the Los who were invited for dds birthday were in and out of the back door, you could see the nappies drying. DSis was so scathing, saying how convenient it was I had done a nappy wash that day, just trying to show off my kid was in cloth. I started using cloth as we are skint, she knows that. Everyone was commenting on the funky patterns of the nappies, all she could do was go on about me doing it for attention, wtf!? Why would my washing line cause so much angst to her?

Does anyone else get flashbacks? If I pull my brush too quick through my hair I am transported back to being a five or six year old, at school, I remember we had I think - hazy- gone to the wrong classroom and had to walk to a different part of the school. All the children were in their classrooms, we must've been late to start with. Probably what had annoyed dm.
I remember being pulled by my hair through a corridor which was where the toilets and water fountain were. We walked through the next part which was outside and exposed, dm stopped. We got to my new classroom which was a kind of portakabin. Dm told me, you know why you're in this class and not miss xxx, ( the one we'd just come from) it's because you're thick. I'm sure she was holding me against the pegs in the cloakroom. She just went, leaving me to go in the classroom myself alone. I can't even imagine doing that ,let alone the rest of it.

Every time I change a dirty nappy and smell it I remember my dm potty training dbro. Smacking and beating him every time he missed the potty. He was born in November and this was the summer holidays, he must've been, what, 21 months? He had real problems and would often soil himself, if I could smell he'd done it my heart would sink as I knew she would check his bottom and beat the hell into him. I remember dm would put his soiled pants in the wash and it would make our clothes smell too. Dsis would be given free reign to shout at Dbro and tell him it was his fault for shitting himself. Thise were the words she used, 7/8 years old! Dm would join in, nothing to do with the fact she should have cleaned the washing machine, or washed clothes separately that were shitty, oh no, she wasonly his mother after all. I vividly remember him peeing in the kitchen not made it to the potty I the bathroom, my mother whacked and whacked and whacked, I remember him crying and being flung on the potty. I can't see dbro in this memory now, I see my dd and wonder how the fuck she did this. Bitch. confused

This one literally comes back to me daily when dd has a dirty nappy, can't stop thinking of it, they couldn't have been far in age I think. Ironicly after 7 years, I mean 7 fucking years of dbro doing this, she takes him to the dr and it turns out he has a medical problem! Best mother ever then, informing the school, making sure he gets plenty of time to use the toilet, he got permission to use the staff one so he didn't get teased! No matter she'd beaten him for years and let her golden girl bully him about it.

Thank you for reading my semi rant there, that was long! grin Very cathartic thoughsmile

Badvoc Fri 04-Jan-13 22:45:44

Muma...I am sorry that your childhood was so hard, and for your poor brother
I agree it's not until you have kids yourself that it really hits home...

Theveryhungrymuma Fri 04-Jan-13 22:50:48

Yy to drink sparklyjumper, Dh often asks if I fancy inviting friends over for drinks when dd is in bed. Too many nights listening to my parents getting more pissed, music volume going up and up and up, parents Turing in each other, turning on me in the wee hours. Waking up to beer cans and full ashtrays everywhere. Then off to sit my gCse exams for the day. Has put me off. I remember my father taking my quilt off me as a lay in bed. So I had to freeze all night, no ch. Another time he rounded me out if bed to ask if dm had ever hit me. I didn't answer, he kept on and took my silence as admission ( was true anyway, I thought it was a twisted trick, he and her often hit, threw me downstairs, punched p, kicked, spat at me, I don't get why he was asking tbh ) he then proceeded to punch dm in the face time and time again for her hitting me. She turned on me blaming me. If I'd said no, he'd have beaten me for being a liar. Dm just kept on about work the next day. No matter I'd just been hauled from bed to witness this and she had two other kids in their rooms. She wouldn't speak to me for months. It's only recently I can see how fucked up this is.

Theveryhungrymuma Fri 04-Jan-13 23:01:18

Thank you badvoc, it's all very raw as I have been burying it until I fell pregnant and all of a sudden I had dd and all these shitty memories, flashbacks to deal with, on top of the daily crap from sis and dm. I've seen you in the old thread, you should be so proud for enrolling at uni, I'm sure you will manage very well, you seem very intelligent and articulate from your posts on these threads smile

Sunnywithshowers Fri 04-Jan-13 23:07:46

Hello all

Another newbie here. A thread I was reading earlier has made me remember things. I've lurked on this thread from time to time.

DM and DF divorced when me and DSis were about 7. I think he was EA.
Mum married DSF who was violent and abusive. He is father of my DBro.
DF knew about the violence, instead of doing anything about it he threatened DM to get us put into care. He prefers my DSis to me and it's as obvious now as when I was a kid.

I was a parentified child, used as DM's confidante at a young age, know WAY too much about DM's marriages, second 'mum' to DBro at young age.

I went on to have abusive relationships - no surprise - but am in a (happy) 2nd marriage. I've done a lot of work on myself - psychotherapy, counselling - and am trying to kick my reliance on booze and food. I have good relationships with my siblings and have established boundaries with DM - she doesn't overstep these days. DF and I are 'distant'.

I'm feeling a bit blah tonight, hence my post.

DontstepontheMomeRaths Fri 04-Jan-13 23:08:11

Hungrymuma that's awful. Just reading all of that and Sparkly's posts has made me shock As someone else said, to come out the otherside of that, shows what strong people you are. Please talk on here as much as you need to.

Badvoc = You can do it! OU are flexible and if you're struggling you can call them and perhaps switch to a longer course or similar.

DontstepontheMomeRaths Fri 04-Jan-13 23:10:03

Welcome Sunny. That must have been very difficult for you. It's not appropriate to confide like that in small children sad

Sunnywithshowers Fri 04-Jan-13 23:15:12

Thanks MomeRaths (great name BTW smile) I don't think about it a lot, but every now and then I want to rant my head off about it.

jessjessjess Sat 05-Jan-13 01:51:19

Just found the new thread, hope everyone is okay, bit behind but will try to catch up.

Sparkly I'm sorry you went through that. Years ago I stumbled on a diary or letter of my mum's which said my dad had said we - his family - made him suicidal. In "real life" I have only ever told DH about this.

Welcome, hugs and sorry to everyone sense joining. Hungry it sounds like you may have PTSD? Just a thought, it's maybe the explanation for the flashbacks.

I want to thank you all for helping me through a really shitty break - my Xmas was ok but I had just started to have a load of memories come back and was feeling so lost and lonely.

The thing I find hard is my father is not a pantomime villain or even that bad so it's hard to think it's not all in my head.

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