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

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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

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Sat 02-Feb-13 10:57:31

Nar4, your parents are evil. Is it worth keeping them in your life just to have contact with other members of your family, who, if I read your post correctly, deny or dismiss the horrendous treatment you've suffered at your parents hands?

Bedtime1 Sat 02-Feb-13 11:01:49

Thanks for input fi and others.

Haven't spoken to mum or younger sister for 2 weeks. I'm getting the silent treatment

Midwife99 Sat 02-Feb-13 11:12:47

NAR the family members who defend their treatment of you are also abusive. You don't need that shit. Stick to your lovely little family & the ILs

craftycottontail Sat 02-Feb-13 11:15:00

Hello everyone, just found this thread (thanks to someone linking to it in the pregnancy board).

Just want to say you are all wonderful people for dealing with the shocking things parents do, and thank you for sharing as it gives others strength to know they're not alone.

I'm in a state of NC with my mum atm because of her latest antics. Over the summer she had loaned me some cheap plastic plant pots and asked for them back but I couldn't find them. (She has a habit of 'giving' things then ages later demanding them back). Out of guilt I bought her a load more. Found out I'm pregnant in Sept, repeatedly tried to contact her throughout Nov as knew I would be hitting the 12 wk mark and would want to tell all tthe family. She ignored my calls / texts until about 4 weeks from my first attempt, saying she couldn't see me right now because of 'a certain event that happened 30 years ago that you may remember'.
I'm 28!!!! But I imagine she's referring to getting married to my dad - they got divorced after 8 yrs of marriage, and 20yrs later she is still all 'woe is me' about it.

I caved after that as we'd told the whole family our news, so I texted her back to ask when was she going to stop dwelling on the past and focus on the future, that I'm pregnant and had wanted to tell her in person but never mind. Got response, no congratulations, nothing except a text saying that she was sorry she hadn't been able to be a good wife/mother - all about her.

Found the blasted plant pots in the garden shortly after that so dropped them round and was just going to leave them on her doorstep as was still narked about the whole situation. But she saw me coming and invited me in so in interests of being civil and open to a change in attitude I went inside. After some pregnancy talk (still no congratulations, more accusatory tone for not telling her earlier / in person) she said that she HAD to have these long periods of no contact with me because of my bad energy. (She's involved with this weird guy who claims to be a prophet and has her wrapped around his little finger - she's incapable of making a decision without him and he teaches her loads of damaging crap about energy and auras etc mixed in with Christian teachings).

She also told me in that conversation that she didn't attend my wedding because she couldn't bear to be in the same room as my dad. At the time of my wedding she told me she couldn't attend because she didn't agree with my choice of husband and that I should consult her prophet about finding someone better.

You know that tight feeling you get in your chest where you feel like you're either going to explode or cry or somethin from all the bad stuff being thrown at you? Well I felt that in my just-showing bump. So I got up and left, saying that ALL I wanted from her was some common courtesy. She slammed the door behind me and we haven't spoken since.

I don't want her to meet my baby and I want her to stop being this toxic influence in my life. I'm terrified I'm going to end up treating my child like she's treated me and my brother, so while I'm happy about having a baby I'm also just incredibly apprehensive about being a mum.

There's so much more background to my story but that's more than enough for now. It really drains me just thinking about it all!

FairyFi Sat 02-Feb-13 11:57:32

Nar you are very lucky to have such supportive ILs and DH indeed. you have a whole family who know how to behave, be supportive and respect you.

I would seriously try to 'get away with' as much as you think you can in terms of lying, keeping them at bay, etc. The rest of the family, in supporting their appalling carrying ons are absolute abusive, and no, in the normal run of things, we do just give benefits of doubts, etc. Oh just an off moment, or weren't thinking, they didn't mean it which make sense in other relationships, but in these types are more of an affront and a denial to us of what we know is really happening. I was trying to explain my abusive FW Ex this morning (and NarcM etc), and I thinkreally only the physical stuff actually hit home, and I found myself thinking, again, why am I bothering, but friends wonder and want explanations, so I stuck pretty much to the worst of it, explained I didn't want to really go into it. Do you know, in explaining the abuses wrought upon m y DC in one particular incident where he held one up high above his head by the arms screaming and raging in theirface, then running off up the stairs still raging, and threw her onto the bed pinned her down, bent over her and yelled two inches from her face (she was of course barely breathing so wracked with sobs and fear, and I was tyring to catch up with him and hammering my fists on his back to make him stop with every ounce of strength I had, all completely useless, with no thought for what would happen to me after), it hit me how much more damaging it was to be terrified in this way and confused than being hit by him. That sounds awful, but in every one of these events, a hit was a simple expression of anger loss of control, whereas this is so tortuous to understand or ever be able to confront, as the source of the rage is completely forgotten in the turmoil!

I think that was me trying ot make sense of it, and I just can't, so I'm not going to, I can't trust that he won't still do that, or my male parent won't, so I am NC. Would I get back in touch? there is no relationship would be my answer. Its not about taking the good with the bad, underneath is so flawed that there is nothing to base a relationship on. Although now, if my male parent started I would just phone the police and let them deal with it, someone should have called the police on him years ago whilst we were all being battered.

My biggest wish is that the services that are supposed to 'help' would spend as much time on these forums as we do in order to properly understand how it is for us, and what hell on earth is as a child living with parents like this, that travels with us into adulthood, the likes of police, the justice don't make me laugh system, and SS who continually seem to leave the vulnerable vulnerable and desperate. The justice system particularly who are in charge of contact orders that send children into the arms of abusive fathers which I hear of so often.

Well, ranty ranty me! I think it is these latest couple of newcomers with their traumatic tale s that have got me all feisty again.

Take care ladies. Be strong against them and protect your families. I had most of my realisations when I first become pregnant and had the responsibility of my first baby to care for - my NarcM told me 'you will understand when you have children', and so I hung onto that and thought someday it will all make sense, happily for me it suddenly made no sense whatsoever! I couldn't understand those words atall. I have to try to stand firm when I made a decision that has caused huge distress in my child, knowing that I cannot, say, support lying, etc. and therefore give a consequence for that, but it hurts me to hurt them, so I struggle and have to continually think in that situation that they cannot expect to lie and I'll support them, for instance. I'll pretty much always give a warning in the first instance of wrong doing whlst they think on it first and I ask them should I support this, etc. It so hard to learn a way thats right when your own pathway through childhood was so fraught with pain, confusions, and coldness. Having a child has been the number one thing to open my eyes fully to all the abuses, obvious and subtle.

Sorry thats so long! Hope some of the above makes sense! This is the first place I've found to talk about this stuff, and have become a lot stronger as a result, and certainly found more clarity.

best wishes to all for some happiness today in the beautiful weather xx

FairyFi Sat 02-Feb-13 12:07:54

welcome crafty some of my above rantings were meant as an address toyou too, especially wrt having first baby. You talked of being terrified of being the same. Do you think your DM & DF are terrified they will hurt you?
Do they feel wracked with guilt at what they've done. <throws hand in air> of course not smile

I have shouted overly at mine sometimes and been wracked with guilt and apologised after. I was even getting the FWex behaviour being copied by DC to me (which was torture for me), but now I am able to be much calmer and deflect it, because fundamentally I cannot stand to shout and have certainly never hit (even though I was beaten til I wet myself - it doesn't make me inflict it - but I was very scared I might)

Also to take, lots and lots of strange ideas go through your head/dreams in your first pregnancy, big worries, how will I be, etc. its all part of adjustment to and getting ready for being a good mum, which you are already proving, by protecting your unborn baby from the nasty stressful environment and leaving. You already are different. take care xx

FairyFi Sat 02-Feb-13 12:09:44

Little bit at a time, but do come back and tell more if you need to, when you're ready.

Its time to let go of it all and move into your new life. xxxx

pumpkinsweetie Sat 02-Feb-13 14:23:35

Exactly midwife, 're others in family that agree with narcs are also abusive!
I found this out with dhs aunt at Christmas shock

Theveryhungrymuma Sat 02-Feb-13 15:27:52

I saw dm and dsis in town today. Dsis with her ds and nb. Dm cooing and just being bloody lovely, like they were sisters. ( they hadn't seen me watching from behind a market stall) i can never remember a time when dm was like this to me and dd. even if I went up and said hi and they'd been civil to me, they'd have carried on with their day, leaving me and dd as the outsiders we are to my family. A very strange feeling, numb tbh.

Sorry I dip in and out of the thread, struggling at the moment, have been taking sjw and will be seeing the dr re my counselling referral, I won't let them grind me down

Thanks to all of you who cheered me up about my test. I hope to redo it soon! To add insult to injury it turns out dnan has paid for my golden girl sis to take an intensive course, which she's passed. Every spare penny I've had has gone on to driving lessons in the last year. Dsis couldn't possibly have had to pay her own way , ohhhhh no! shock

Theveryhungrymuma Sat 02-Feb-13 15:36:43

Crafty cotton, I just wanted to say I had the same feelings as you when I was pregnant. I honestly decided at 39 weeks that I would be such a shite mother that I was going to give birth and then make arrangements for dh to be her full time carer and we split up as to limit the damage I could possibly do to dd. thankfully dh told me to think about things and I can honestly say I am a brilliant mother, I would never ever put dd in the situations or even think some of the shit things my dm used to say to me. Ok I get stressed and don't know what I'm doing sometimes but you have the insight of what these actions can do you will endeavour not to do them to your dc. Honestly dd is a joy and a wonder i love her so much i feel like bursting.
and nc with dm and dsis are the best things to happen to me, getting into a much better place than ever!

chocoholic89 Mon 04-Feb-13 00:32:50

Hi all not having best time at the mo! Still not having contact with parents and now spit up with bf.So its jus baby and me as not from this area.Really have hit bottom now.ONE reason we split up is because of my parents them causing us to row and get inbetween us.Am so sad.

Bedtime1 Mon 04-Feb-13 02:48:26

Choc I am so sorry. You will get through it with your little star.
It must be so painful. You sound like such a great person. It's frustrating that your parents have come between you both. What's happened?

Midwife99 Mon 04-Feb-13 05:36:55

Oh no Choco - can your relationship with your DP be rescued?

pumpkinsweetie Mon 04-Feb-13 06:25:41

Oh dear Choco, how did you split up?
Sorry to be nosey, just hoping it wasn't all down to your parents?

If it is that reason, don't allow them to split you apart.
I'm sure you & your little pickle will get through if this is for good. You & your baby against the world smile

NotQuitePerfect Mon 04-Feb-13 08:13:49

So sorry Choc. It's true what others have said - you & your little one against the world. Things WILL get better, honestly. Be kind to yourself. Xxx

Tiggy114 Mon 04-Feb-13 09:42:17

Hi all. Feeling very positive today. Gonna see doc tommorrow about councilling. I have told my parents they can't have dd today because i want her with me. (istood my ground grin) looking at all the positives. Because of how my parents treated me, i am extra loving with my kids. I would never, ever smack my kids and if i do lose my temper, i try to talk and not shout. I have managed to break the cycle of bad relationships and now have a patient loving partner ( and i care less and less by the day that my parents hate him). I feel like i'm slowly crawling out of the cocoon my parents bound me up in. Thanks to all who gave me support here over the last week. I think that really hrlped to kickstart it all.

Theveryhungrymuma Mon 04-Feb-13 09:46:07

Hi tiggy, so glad to read that you are feeling so positive smile well done for standing your ground I hope all goes well with the counselling request

chocoholic89 Mon 04-Feb-13 10:06:58

They are 1 reason theyv been horrible to him in the past treat him bad bt he dont understand what its like to have these 'parents' and he jus had a go at me.I asked him to leave as I don't want shoutin infront ov lo bt I just cryed all night.We r over no going bac bt it hurts me so much.

chocoholic89 Mon 04-Feb-13 10:41:31

Other reasons he has just been goin out at wkends not spendin time with us.Found things on his phone wile I was pregnant and I jus keep brining it up.I wish all this upset would go away.We don't live together so its not like he is helping me.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Mon 04-Feb-13 11:06:39

choco well done asking him to leave. I know it hurts so much right now, but from what you have said here it does not sound like he brought much to your life (no help with childcare, shouts at you, undermines you re: your relationship with your parents). I hope that in time, when the pain lessens, you will see that you made the right, self-loving choice for yourself and your DC.

chocoholic89 Mon 04-Feb-13 12:00:16

I just don't know what to do with myself today.Feel as if everything is my fault.I mean I'm on my own nobody to support me

photographerlady Mon 04-Feb-13 15:08:33

Thank you for the advice and its been helpful reading through everything that has been shared thread (and the ones before)

FairyFi Mon 04-Feb-13 15:17:30

thats really encouraging to hear tiggy I am so pleased for you..

Oh no Choc I am so sorry its not been working out with your bf, but it sounds like you have done the right thing in asking him to leave if he wasn't being supportive, and was shouting (which you haven't accepted, very well done!), pluls he's been undermining you over your parents situation, and now to hear that you had other suspicions anyway and no help; I suspected he wasn't really adding to your life, but perhaps continuing on his own life and he acted as if yours was getting in the way of that sad and [selfish] of him.

Come here as much as you need to get it off your Choc and out of your head. Remember how you stood firm yesterday and had to tell him to go because of the shouting, and you know what you want and need him to do. If hes back wanting to step up to his part in this relationship that would be different, but otherwise try to stick with your strong act of making him leave. Nothing you have said is your fault. Your parents are not your fault, and you struggling to deal with them is not your fault. He is trying to make this out to be all your fault and so are you parents its a lot to stand up to! but you can just reject that and refuse to accept it. You have been doing everything to keep you and your little man happy, all alone, already, plus trying to be good gf! No hoops to jump through, give yourself the week to recover after all the emotional upheaval and have another think about things then, when you feel calmer.

You've done nothing wrong here Choc and we are all here wanting to support you (albeit in our virtual world together) . Plenty of hand holding here for you. take care xxx

FairyFi Mon 04-Feb-13 15:18:47

off your 'chest' Choc and out of your head - that should have said!

MechanicalTheatre Mon 04-Feb-13 15:20:28

CanIRing your post describing your family reminds me of my family exactly (way too many pronouns in that sentence!)

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