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

(1000 Posts)
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

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Sat 05-Jan-13 02:19:13

Theveryhungrymama-i'm so sorry you & your dbro had such a horrific upbringing, there are no wordssad
I don't exactly know what happened to dh growing up, all i do know is that he was beaten toosad.
And upon reading your post i'm wondering too whether flashbacks is what my dh suffers from as when mil or fil contact him, sometimes even sil his mood changes instantly and he almost looks scaredsad

Like you mama, sil1 has always been the golden child and now dh has gone partial contact, if mil cannot get hold of him she uses sil1 to do the dirty work for her.

I thought dh was coming along leaps & bounds since telling mil where to go at christmas, but i've found out he's been contacting sil1 through fb.
So i'm guessing it's only so long before sil1 sets him back againsad
And the worst part is, the whole family have been harping on about pil seeing dc (they & i are nc) and also about why i won't allow sil1 to see my dcshock, well off course i won't, they have another thing coming!

Even now the unwrapped dcs presents are being used as a bargaining tool by ils, ive told dh i'd rather go out and get dc & extra present myself than take anything from them, especially at the cost of seeing any of that evil family!

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Sat 05-Jan-13 11:32:02

The fact they're holding on to your DCs christmas presents and using them as a bargaining tool says it all really. Really blatant manipulation attempt, well done for not caving!

Midwife99 Sat 05-Jan-13 11:57:13

Yes mine have withheld the DCs Christmas presents too. Bloody appalling isn't it?

HappyNewHissy Sat 05-Jan-13 12:05:27

I posted my dSis presents to DS back to her, same day.

She is the most treacherous of the lot. My DS had way too many gifts anyway, I ended up holding some back for next year/Easter or sommat.

No one will ever hold me to ransom again. A guilt trip sparks off on my Twatometer, and I dig my heels in and that's that. The fact that they react spurs me on tbh.

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Sat 05-Jan-13 12:35:59

I just don't get why they bothered even buying them in the first place tbh and i'm rather pissed of as i bought for all the family!!!
Dh took all their gifts to them on christmas eve and arrived back with just his own presents, none for dc of anyone of the ils.

So basically i shouldn't have wasted my time trapsing around the shops, spending money that could have been better spent, especially seeing as we aren't that well off at the moment!
I will know next year not to bother, if dh wants to, he can sort it all out and buy gifts because i'm not interested.

It makes me laugh how they are all willing to accept our gifts without seeing dc but not the other way round. Toxic & money grabbing

noddyholder Sat 05-Jan-13 14:35:56

Thanks everyone. I am shocked as I have seen more pics last night and today of us with his extended family on beaches holidays etc looking very happy having fun bla bla I just had no idea. I could get in touch but not sure I want to. I don't want to have to deal with 'another' situation atm iygwim My mother still talks about him like he is the devil and never stops slagging him off. She cut my sister out of her life and has said she will never forgive her for seeing him. My sister said he is a very sweet bloke just lives in a little cottage with his cat grows veg etc quite solitary. He just couldn't live with her she was very volatile and so he left but he saw us for about 8 years from time to time and then she stopped all contact and he moved abroad.

financialwizard Sat 05-Jan-13 15:20:53

Just wanted to check in and welcome all the new posters. You have all been through horrendous things, and I really feel for you all.

sparklyjumper Sat 05-Jan-13 16:44:26

To some of you who had clearly abusive parents, were your parents ever nice and loving, were there good times? Do you think that they actually thought they were doing the right thing or knew exactly what they were doing?

My parents especially my df actually thought they were doing a good job. Like my df actually thought putting me down was going to be some sort of reverse psychology or like he was teaching me to be realistic. He used to call me 'woolworths fodder'. But they could and were a lot of the time very loving and caring. But the atmosphere, sometimes you could cut it with a knife. Sunday mornings dm would sit and watch kids programmes with me and let me get the cushions off the sofa to make a den. Then you'd hear df stomping around upstairs and we'd have to turn over and tidy up as he'd normally be in one of his 'moods' and wouldn't tolerate kids tv, then noone would speak, we'd all sit round in silence. Ha currently curled up on the sofa with ds, the duvet and Ben 10, and noone can stop me.

Do they also ever flatly deny things happened? Like df will still point blank deny things ever happened or say I was too young to remember and I must have dreamt it, luckily dm has the memory of an elephant like me so I know I didn't.

Badvoc Sat 05-Jan-13 16:50:31

Yes sparkly.
My mum denies stuff happened or says she can't remember or that they "did their best"
Sound familiar?

Badvoc Sat 05-Jan-13 16:51:36

Noddy...don't let your mum keep you from building a relationship with your f if that's what you want

Sunnywithshowers Sat 05-Jan-13 16:55:14

Hi sparkly

My parents were loving at times, particularly my mother and stepfather. My mum is remorseful for what we went through as kids, but doesn't understand why some of what she did was wrong e.g. confiding in me when I was young.
Even now she occasionally describes me as her 'best friend' which makes me feel a bit blah.

But I have mostly forgiven her for the past. We had a huge row a couple of years ago - she made a joke about me at 11 that touched a nerve, and I ended up shouting that my childhood at that stage was shit. Mum minimises memories in her head to protect herself, and I find it massively frustrating and disrespectful. But she is loving and supportive of me.

My stepfather and I don't talk about his violence, but he did apologise in the past (and meant it). He would do anything for me and has been more supportive and loving than my dad. He hasn't been violent for many years which is a massive relief.

I'm lucky that I'm close to my siblings so I have people around me who were there and validate my memories, if you see what I mean.

Dad has mostly been absent from my life. I have a couple of memories of my early childhood which are good. I think he wants to be more involved with my life but doesn't know how, but I don't know if I can be arsed. I'm 41 and I haven't yet forgiven him for the ways he's rejected me.

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Sat 05-Jan-13 17:31:36

MIL denies stuff she's done/said to DH and SIL1. Or she'll tell them that it's 'their interpretation'. It's part of the abusers script, along side ''it was your fault, you pushed me too far'' and ''you were always a problem child''.

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Sat 05-Jan-13 18:09:33

My mils favourite catchphrase is "what did i do son?". That's all she ever says in response to things she's done in the past or recently.
And fils is "i hate you for doing X"

Midwife99 Sat 05-Jan-13 21:41:57

That's the confusing thing isn't it? Of course they weren't all bad. I remember my mum spending alot of her time driving me to/from dance classes & competitions & endlessly making my costumes. I remember always having nice clothes & shoes & toys. But ... It's as if as soon as I got to about 9 or 10 my childhood was over & it was as if they thought thank god she's grown up - let's get on with our lives!!!

financialwizard Sat 05-Jan-13 22:26:41

My Mum was exceptionally cold and distant. She did not physical contact either, and as I grew up Dad covered things up (like accidentally breaking something) so I didn't get in trouble as opposed to being honest and stopping her from screaming obscenities or hitting me.

Any time anything bad happened to me it was more to do with how it made her feel than what had happened to me. When I was raped she was devastated by the shame of it and told anyone who would listen that she was very stressed that I had to have an HIV test. Like it was a picnic for me! When my exh beat me and controlled me she was glad that I got out of the situation but only because she could play the martyr again and mother my DS.

The good times with my Mum are few and far between and all I can really remember is her throwing money at the problem me to make it go away.

Sunnywithshowers Sat 05-Jan-13 22:59:34

My best mate killed herself in 2005. My DM and my DSis were a pain (especially DM) as it became all about them and their feelings.

PrincessFionne Sat 05-Jan-13 23:26:07

words fail

Theveryhungrymuma Sat 05-Jan-13 23:51:37

Evening all, thanks everyone for the welcomes and thank you for the acknowledgement of my childhood. People really don't believe me if I've been brave enough to mention it. It's good to know I'm not a fantasist or prone to exaggeration as dm would have me think!

Jessjessjess- just did a quick google of PTSD, I was under the impression that only military people suffered it. I seem to meet a lot of the diagnostic criteria, I will try and get to the doctors I think, thank you smile

Pumpkins that could well be what is happening to your husband. When I went reduced contact I noticed every time I saw them, spoke to them it was some overriding feeling of gloom was taking over before the flashbacks started. Much like how the Dementors are described in the Harry potter books. My whole self would change, Instantly. How awful your inlaws are playing games with your Dcs presents. I hope that your dc are ok and not upset of their gps selfish actions?

Sparkly- good question, one I've been mulling over myself a lot lately. I think DF loved me deep down, dm no. Dm always knew what she was doing, always covering her tracks, I ironically remember good times when I went to museums or stately homes, DF was very good at that. Dm never bothered really, I never went to dance or brownies or anything that I wanted to, iyswim, as though dm couldn't care less. I remember no affection, cuddles or anything from either of them. Although I remember an incident as a teen where we had been in the garden all day or out with friends perhaps, I , in hindsight probably had mild sunstroke, sickness, chills, shaking etc I was in the bathroom being sick, dizzy disorientated, dm came in and glanced at me surronded by sick and walked out huffing. DF found me later and was attentive and kind to me for a change, could obviously see I was I'll. little things like that stick in my mind that dm really didn't care about her actions, I was an inconvenience. I deserved it in her eyes I think.

Yes to denial too. I was made redundant a few years ago, feeling very down and struggling to get work. A part time role came up in the off licence where dm works, I asked her to get me an application form. Answer was I don't want you working with me. Dh remembers this. Dsis finds herself needing a job and lands herself a role with dm. Of course now there have been a few mat leave/ sick cover roles going, dm and dsis informed me that they could have the baby while I worked... Uh don't think so! I asked dm why dsis could work with her and not me? Never happened in dms eyes, she always supports and helps her kids. Of course I'm now a stay at home mum, but laziest cow in the world for not going to work there when dsis and dm could have my dd and have offered, but i just win't listen and am selfish. of course I mess about volunteering, but that's not a proper job you see. Although its a shop in the same sense they work in. Gah.

Theveryhungrymuma Sat 05-Jan-13 23:56:39

Midwife I do remember my dm with school costumes etc too, she was actually very good at things like that. The cynic In me wonders if it was because dm would get lots of attention for her marvellous creations and prove to everyone she was a good mum? A bit all for show iyswim. I doubt she ever did a reading book with me in my life, but would pour over these costumes for what seemed like months, she'd bring them in the car and do them on her lap by hand while DF drove. Credit where it's due I suppose.

Theveryhungrymuma Sun 06-Jan-13 00:08:17

Sunny I'm sorry to hear of your friend, must have been tough having you dm being a pain in the arse while you were grieving. Xxx

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Sun 06-Jan-13 00:40:35

Sorry to hear about your friend sunnysad
It's astonishing how the toxics make everything about them, even at tragic times like that.

Dh seems a lot better in himself since having his phone switched of and to my knowledge has only once contacted sil1 over the internet & text our niece happy birthday.
Checked his phone tonight like always, to keep tabs on what ils might be sending and turns out he has a voicemail of niece, she says how she misses him & that she'll see him soonsad, this bit i do find hard.
Felt so sorry for her, and started to think about having them over when low and behold at the end of the message i can hear sil1 coaxing her-can this family stoop any lowersad, now using my nieces to guiltrip us.

I generally thought my nieces missed us and ive been told about how the younger one has been crying...i do miss the girls but seeing them goes hand in hand with seeing sil1.

Problem is, it isn't as simple as me just arranging them to come round as sil1 will harp on about pil and how we stopped them seeing dc & mil & mil that....and my nieces often have headlice and urine smelling clothes, i just can't bear to see them like it.
It's such a hard situation, mil harped on to dh over xmas asking why i don't allow nieces & dc see eachothershock, it's obvious and even for a toxic woman like her, she knows sil1s dc are unkempt, why ask!

All this toxicness yet none of my ils have reported or helped sil1 with parenting problems, not one and it shocks me to the core they don't seem to care about those girls eithersad. I was close to reporting sil1 to ss last year as the kids came to mine in urine smelling clothing, crawling with headlice and the two middle ones wet and poo themselves at 9 & 14, yet continued to sit on my sofa and say nothing, not only that but they act strangley too and also mess themselves at school. When they left i picked the phone up and dh stopped me and still does now.
I've told him if i ever hear or see my nieces in such a state again i'm reporting it as i have a feeling something isn't rightsad.

I miss my nieces ever so much, but what do i do

Theveryhungrymuma Sun 06-Jan-13 00:41:58

Sorry to hog the thread, just wanted to pick up on something princess says up thread about competing. Dm is a classic for this, either better than me, she has a first class degree and brings it up nearly every time I see her. Eg- 'I'm thinking if of studying part time when dd starts school', her, 'well I've got a first class degree.' Uh ok, would you like to know what course, or?

Another time before DF and I were watching Bruno, the movie. I am in my 20s by this point, not as odd as it sounds , lol! DF says I think he is German, you can tell by the dots on his name, what are they called, I say an umlaut I think. Dm comes out with, 'you might know what the dots are called, but you don't know what an acronym is!' Just randomly, like that. an acronym! I say of course I do, she gets me to tell her what i think it is, I say NASA for eg. She says I'm wrong , and acronym is 'Like polish ( furniture polish) and Polish(people from poland)'she will not let up until me Dh and DF tell her she's right. Just had to prove she was smarter than me banging in about her bloody degree in the process! So pleased she was when Dh eventually agreed with her

Or there's the other way, dm neglects to send Dh and I an anniversary card. I use this to illustrate how little she thinks of me, ie she could have bought the card at work and posted it en route home, she has to pass my house. In response to this I got, I have sen which makes it difficult to remember dates, you have a warm house, my house is cold and damp and I have to work all the time, you don't and anyway why should I bother with your wedding. You don't know what it's like living in a cold house ( err I do, I lived there too once!) wtf did her cold house have to do with my wedding anniversary? angry

Anyone else's make ridiculous sweeping generalisations?dms bank account was emptied once, spent in Debenhams on a handbag, it was the thieving fucking Nigerians apparently. They are all at it. I asked her if that's what they told her at The bank. Dm carries on about how all Nigerians are thieves. All single mothers are lazy scroungers, no excuse for them not to work, they sit on their arses all day getting handouts apparently. Dms friend is a single dad, unemployed. ' you can't blame him really, he's got the lo to look after' ahhhhhhh. Ok.

Sorry for the hungryMuma hijack!

Theveryhungrymuma Sun 06-Jan-13 00:52:24

Pumpkins, not sure what to say, could you arrange for dn's to go out for the day with you and your family? You could arrange for sil to have them ready for you to collect and bring back? Then you would see the girls but not sil? Maybe treat them to some body sprays and smellies and things while you're out so that they have access to things like that, especially the 14 yo. Doesn't sound like sil bothers much that way. Might be very embarrassing for them if they smell at schoolhmm

pumpkinsweetieMasPudding Sun 06-Jan-13 01:06:31

That's a nice idea hungry, i shall see about getting in touch with bil.
I'm sure he'd let me take the girls out, well i hope he does anyway.
It's my dd birthday soon, maybe i could arrange an outing.
Only problem is, is what state they turn up to my house in.
If i didn't have 4dc of my own i'd have more time to help them iyswim.
Maybe they could have a nice bath at mine and borrow some of my dcs clothes if the worst comes to the worst. I know sil won't like it but those girls deserve a break!

Badvoc Sun 06-Jan-13 09:38:35

I would be ringing ss pumpkin.
Noone has to find out it was you

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