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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

VivaLeBeaver Sun 10-Feb-13 22:28:14

It gets worse. DD has told me tonight that my mum told her that if I'm ever to busy to play with her then she should threaten me with social services. Then if I still don't play with her dd apparantly should actually ring social services. shock

DD told me not to worry as she wouldn't actually do it. I had to tell dd that I don't honestly think social services would give a shit! grin

What sort of mother tells their grandchild to blackmail their mother in such a manner! I know my mum and she wouldn't have been joking.

DB said something interesting today, that mum recently said to him that she knows she wasn't a good mum to us when we were growing up.

I have to say she had a fairly dysfunctional childhood. My gran wasn't wanted by her mother. So my greatgran kept all her other kids but gave my gran to my greatgreat grandmother who ignored my gran by the sounds of it. So my gran had no parenting skills and brought my mum up badly. So my mum never had a positive parenting role model. Its all quite sad really.

NotQuitePerfect Sun 10-Feb-13 23:00:49

Beaver so sad at your post. sad

Breaking the cycle is the most important thing and it sounds like you're doing that already. Good work.

FairyFi Sun 10-Feb-13 23:03:53

omgoddess viva time to tell mother that she will be threatened with SS if she doesn't stop trying to fuck up their heads?!?!?! crazy bloody creature.

This sounds like mine would be if I wasn't NC I have to say... just bloody crazy.

Yes it is very sad. Mine was rejected by hers, but she's gone on to reject me! sad Whats the saying about 2 wrongs? hmm.

I never had a story, spent my days and nights in fear, never cuddled, well loads of abuses /neglect, but I couldn't not read or cuddle or love mine. I was told I would understand her when I had my own. I have now, and I completely understand her EVEN LESS! grrrr....

I simply can't stand by and watch them suffer. It does sound like you are all on top of her though, especially important that your DD is! You seem to have engendered some good management strategies. You are all talking and understanding that she's very sad and making dramas out of thin air. Sounds just like projection to me (who's not being played with?)

Well managed xxx

Bedtime1 Mon 11-Feb-13 02:34:08

Viva - so awful. Really is awful that she has said this to your daughter, hope your feeling a bit better now.

Bedtime1 Mon 11-Feb-13 03:06:19

I remember when I was a teenager me and my mum had been to Manchester shopping. We got into a argument on the way back on the motorway. It was really busy and raining. She said if I didn't shut up she would drive into the back of a car. So I must have said something ( probably my fault) but she sped up really fast to another car and we nearly hit the one in front. I was screaming saying please stop I'm sorry, I'm sorry, begging her to slow down, She wouldn't slow down until the point where we nearly hit the car in front. It was so scary. The rain was really bad and I was frightened to death. Anybody else had this?

Also something came back to me. My mum and dad had an argument when I was about 6 and she went out at night and said she was going to kill herself. I sat on the window ledge until she returned crying. It probably was one of her dramas dad was saying time for bed but as a child I believed she was going to do it. It was scary.

Anther time me and my sister were taken in our dressing gowns in middle of night upto her mums. She walked/ dragging us .It was about 15 mins away pitch black. Dad chased us in his car. Funny but I didn't realise it was us in our dressing gowns until sister told me recently. I thought we were dressed in the middle of night.

I also remember mum saying don't ever speak badly of your mum because others will think badly of you. Those words really resonate with me as I thought everything was normal in our family. Like how families lived.

Anyway there is a lot more things but in time I'm sure more things will come out.

At the moment I haven't spoke to mum or younger sister in a couple of weeks. She Always leaves it a while then the phrase I use is starts trying to chip away into talking to me. Using young sister to, to try and get a reaction.

That got me thinking I had a row with my husband, a particularly bad row and in those times all I want to do is ring my mum. Long for the woman who gave birth to me to understand and support me. I always feel empty and lost. I have this block in my head that says " if your mum can't understand you, who can" I find it so hard the woman who has given birth to me, can't support me. In these times I become weak and sometimes resolve to ringing her. I don't even know why I do it, after all that's gone on and I know that her opinion is never for the good of me but for the good of herself. Such as what she can get from it, so I can never trust her . In the past when I've talked about splitting up after an argument she says " well we can get a house together" therefore this makes me think she's looking at her own interest and I can't really trust her opinion or form a conclusion to what's best for me. I end up feeling confused. I'm always confused. So my point is I don't feel I have anyone to talk to when I have rows with my husband. I know I should talk to him but sometimes it would be nice to have a sympathetic ear, someone who can just put things into perspective with no ulterior motives. Who do you talk to when your upset if the row is with your husband and you can't talk to him at that moment?

Sometimes I long for love from my mum so much my heart bursts and it's unbearable pain. The thing That hurts the most is how can she give birth to me then reject me, In life I feel rejected a lot and I'm sure it stems from this.

Thanks for listening

NotQuitePerfect Mon 11-Feb-13 07:40:13

bedtime just read your post and really feel for you. Have you asked your GP if you can be referred for cbt counselling?

I did this last year and although it's not a cure-all it can really help you to get things into perspective and give you some coping strategies - not only for how to behave around your mum now but also for dealing with the way you feel about the past.

In the meantime keep sharing on here, you are not alone. Keep strong. Your mother sounds incredibly toxic but you CAN take control, don't leave it too late!

BoffinMum Mon 11-Feb-13 07:42:52

Bedtime, <hugs>

BoffinMum Mon 11-Feb-13 07:45:08

FairyFi every family should have a live in mediator. grin

Midwife99 Mon 11-Feb-13 08:02:20

Bedtime so sorry - their rowing was more important than your feelings & yet you have to never criticise them. Basically completely disregarding your worth as a person. Not fair at all. hmm

FairyFi Mon 11-Feb-13 08:40:42

Hi bedtime its incredibly hard isn't it. sad for you with these struggles. What you said definitely resonated with me. I would always find myself in distress struggling to cope with a row or hoping that one day my NarcM would just become the person I seemed to still need sad . It was very painful for me to accept that person doesn't exist, and she cannot provide anything - like you say, its all twisted around to be her needs [sharing a house]. I would also feel angry a lot at times when [I imagine] mothers could be there for their daughters, and she wasn't for me. AT times of great stress when DC dangerously ill, or like you fallouts with partner - which were all the time! - whether it was just him ignoring me all the time or me getting blasted again.

The biggest single thing that made the change for me was NC, and I started to face everything alone, well I was with a partner at the time, but he was abusive so he would also blame her behaviour on me when it suited him, but to the world 'support' me.

I did feel back in control more once I had done the NC but I was very mixed up for a long time over it, but at the same time the space that was left was an awful lot happier, less conflict and confusion. I remember the huge energies I would put into pleasing her, or trying to sort out the relationship problems 'that I caused' confused In keeping my distance through NC i could properly separate out which behaviours fitted where. tThe ways in which I appeased her and needed her, keeping me childlike I thought, emotionally.

It has now been a long time since I have seen her or them, or had any kind of dealings with them, many years in fact. I am alone, but I do not feel as alone and desparate as I did when I was around her doing this awful sinister soul dance to her tune.

Keep talking it out here where at least everyone can support and understand the similarities to our own situations! take care xxxx

VivaLeBeaver Mon 11-Feb-13 08:43:56

How to people cope with the thought of never seeing a parent again if they've gone NC?

I feel guilty already as well as a bit sad at the thought of never seeing my mother again. What when its her birthday, Xmas, she's ill and in hospital or on her death bed?

NotQuitePerfect Mon 11-Feb-13 09:03:09

I went nc with my father about 10 years ago (I was about 40 at the time).

I simply decided I'd had enough of him hurting me, laughing at me, belittling me, telling me I was stupid/ugly/worthless. He moved house without telling me, ignored the birthdays of my children & continued to tell me how much I am hated by my siblings right up to the point if nc.

I can honestly say I feel nothing for him now. His own behaviour made it easy for me to finally bring things to an end.

But you must be absolutely sure Beaver - 100% sure - don't be tempted to use the threat of nc as a bargaining tool to try to get her to behave better.

Sorry, I didn't mean that last bit to be patronising. I hope you make the right decision. I have never looked back, it was liberating, but then I had absolute irrefutable evidence that my dad felt nothing for me and any idea that there MUST be a shred of affection there was entirely in my own head.

Good luck Beaver.

GoodtoBetter Mon 11-Feb-13 09:07:30

That's FOG, Beaver Fear, Obligation, Guilt. Very powerful stuff.

Midwife99 Mon 11-Feb-13 09:29:50

Fear Obligation Guilt - once you overcome those the thought of never seeing them again is a happy one.

My grandmother was not visited by anyone except me. They took her equity & bought a pub with it & moved 150 miles away & so she followed & moved in, they completely ignored her & she moved herself out into a home 6 months later & as she was so lonely.

Eventually they went bankrupt & moved back to our "home" town. She followed again & went into another home. I also returned to the sane home town & visited her weekly for the rest of her life. My dad took control of her finances so would go once a month to pay her rent but didn't even go upstairs to say hello to her! Then my other grandma sold her house. & moved into another home near them. They took her equity too & never visited. She had a heart attack 6 months later & my father phoned me in the middle of the night to send me to the hospital - I sat with her for 12 hours until she died. They didn't go to her. Luckily she had arranged her own funeral & my father didn't go. A year later grandma 1 died. My father & aunt fell out about money & both refused to arrange her funeral. So I had a phone call from a funeral director saying, we have your grandmother's body & don't know what to do with it! I arranged the funeral (with a 6 month old baby in a pushchair) & again my father didn't go to it. So ...... they spent both grans' equity on booze & crap & now have nothing & say they can't afford to send my DCs Xmas & birthday presents & pressure me to visit. No.

FairyFi Mon 11-Feb-13 09:46:10

viva She moaned to the rafters to everyone else about me, but still has never made any attempt to show kindnesses or to come to a place of reconciliation, or offer any attempt at responsibility for her awful actions. If she called to see me on her deathbed (i imagine she's not likely to) I would go. If she said hello in the street, I would say hello. I don't feel any need to be rude or unkind to her, or him, preferring to just leave them be.

But i know it will never work and I have let go of feeling guilty about that (because that would mean that this relationship was about me, but it wasn't, it was about her and only her, and he's up there with her on the narc front too).

Salbertina Mon 11-Feb-13 10:46:52

Good for you, Fi.
Feel for those worrying about NC. Have bern NC for a few months.

Its df's 70th tomorrow, no idea whether
to call/just let dc call or ignore (breaks mu heart to do that). However, he is saying that i am behaving as badly now as then (when a child!) and that it is my issue alone to resolve as it wad I who cut off contact angryangryhmmMeanwhile my quiet insistence not to speak ill of me in my absence in front of my dc is ignored. I also got a (Threatening?) reminder about their will and how i am no longer an executor hmm

Salbertina Mon 11-Feb-13 10:52:25

Am v sad- tone of letter seemed to imply that their money was all i cared about..
Chances are it'll all go on their care mad luxury holidays anyway so non-issue. But if there is any left and they don't want me to have it, so be it, i am not so desperate and refuse to play ball for the future promise of taintedmoney. Let db have it all and buy a 4th house with it hmmhmmhmmbiscuit

GoodtoBetter Mon 11-Feb-13 10:56:22

Mine does that too...uses money/inheritance as a form of control. sad

Salbertina Mon 11-Feb-13 11:00:55

What do you do? Had never thought it of mine that they'd stoop so low. Gutting. And his birthday too. Feel much mote cut up about this than they are/ could be wrong. Ive been poleaxed by dark depression since going NC-struggle even to leave the house that much. Last year i was running marathons, wtf happened? Now beating self up for playing victim.. Need midway path and to be firmly in adult mode.

flippingflup Mon 11-Feb-13 11:17:53

Hi,hope you don't mind me joining in? I'm currently struggling with some bad things from childhood. I've tried counselling but couldn't trust the counsellor (feel unreasonably like I can't trust anyone) enough to tell him the things that happened. I want to move on and put my childhood away, but I just feel stuck.

I'm not getting flashbacks anymore, but things are going around in my head, keeping me awake, causing me real pain evry day. It all seems so unfair, so disgusting, and at the same time it seems like it doesn't matter because it is only me that was hurt, wasn't anything horrific and I should just let it go. Does anyone have any advice to help me get through this? My relationship with parents is superficial but stable and I want to keep it that way. My brother tried to go nc with them, and it made things much worse for a while, he now has a friendly but superficial relationship with them which works for him.

VivaLeBeaver Mon 11-Feb-13 11:24:39

Salbertina, my mum uses her will as a form of control/threat with me and db as well.

Though even when we were getting on OK she would mutter about not giving me or db anything and say we didn't need the money and she'll leave it to my dd and nephew. So I suspect I wouldn't get anything whether I was talking to her or not.

Not that I'm bothered, I certainly wouldn't keep contact just for the potential of some inheritance. Even if it will be a lot and I'm skint grin

My Gran used to threaten my mum with exactly the same which pissed my mum off no end. My mum kept in contact with my Gran and at the end my Gran had cut her out the will anyway.

GoodtoBetter Mon 11-Feb-13 11:25:37

I ended up living with mine (and DH and DCs) for about 3 years and then it blew up and we've just moved out 2 wks ago. (There's long running thread on here all about it..My mother hates my husband). I'm doing friendly but superficial and have reduced contact to about twice a week.

Salbertina Mon 11-Feb-13 11:28:56

Viva, its awful how common this is! My parents increasingly disappoint me. Just cant get over it, ifykwim- depressed, stuck and reacting to them not shutting door on them as I'd promised myself. Feel

HugeSigh Mon 11-Feb-13 11:34:23

Hi everyone. I posted a stupidly long thread about my mum this morning but saw this and wanted to ask a couple of questions.

How do you go about getting counselling? I couldn't afford it really so is there something via the NHS I could access?

How do you deal with the guilt of NC -I will take the time to read upthread but honestly, the idea freaks me out despite a nagging voice saying it's for the best.

Does it have to be complete NC or can disengaging be enough?

Just so fed up with it all after a crap weekend sad

FairyFi Mon 11-Feb-13 11:39:12

yes, always the money thing here too. I stopped taking it (wouldn't cash the cheques I was given) was then moaned at for that. Would just say I'd lost and hope she wouldn't trust me enough with another one! But brought cash round instead, which is weird. forgot birthdays, or any of my interests and likes/dislikes but insisted on giving me money !?!? given up trying to make sense of them.

Sorry to hear your struggles flipping I hope you find the shared experiences here very useful for some sense making for yourself and that it will ease your current pain some.

Just wanted to also say, that 'a' counsellor could be far from 'the' counsellor for you, and the difference is very important for you and your journey. I did learn eventually to find someone that I felt relaxed and comfortable with (one that actually made sense to me), although now that I have found here, another thread and a specific support service I realise that only now do I feel supported and this stuff make at least some sense (for my part), not really for what they're doing, ho hum. Oh thank goodness for the flashbacks coming to an end. Keep posting and checking it I feel sure you'll find it supportive for you with what you say right now. take care xx

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