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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

Midwife99 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:51:19

The sound of the phone ringing makes me cringe never mind hearing her voice which is now all babyish & weak as if she's at death's door. She's been "dying" since she was 49. She's 73 this year. My father never speaks to us on the phone. He used to go to Tesco's when we visited. He just sends nasty texts & emails instead. I actually hate them.

oldtoys Wed 27-Feb-13 22:15:29

Wow mine also does the babyish weak voice act too midwife on the phone.

Since not answering a ringing phone all evening, I've actually had an email from her asking was my phone broken as she thought i had had a car accident this week

Oh and gossip/riddle about the plight of a woman she knows whose terminally ill daughter hadnt spoken to her for 5 yrs and wasnt it terrible for the mother...its a riddle, as both my sis and i avoid avoid her as much as poss so i know well what she is trying to get at here

Exhausting seehmm

Midwife99 Wed 27-Feb-13 22:23:50

The utter narcissism & constant manipulation!

FairyFi Thu 28-Feb-13 00:55:22

mine use to 'take to her bed with pills' - I think sleeping pills but didn't know really.

curlylocks101 Thu 28-Feb-13 02:33:08

hi there, this is my first post on mumsnet. i've been reading through the forums and i think i'm in the right place - please let me know if not!

i'm in my early twenties and starting to have misgivings about my relationship with my mum while i was growing up. i can list plenty of ways in which i think the way she raised me has given me certain qualities and abilities but i realised recently that all of my childhood memories concerning the two of us involve me being told off for something. i wasn't a naughty child (far too boring for that!) but for things like (aged around 5-10 i think) wanting to 'help' with the cooking or on one memorable occasion, bumping into her with a shopping trolley and being publicly told off in such a way that i thought she thought i'd done it maliciously. or for crossing the room in front of the TV while she was watching. that makes her sound like a slob - not at all! my mum has always worked very hard, full time, which is something i'm really proud of, but again it makes me think that as we spent less time together than we would've if she didn't work, wouldn't she have wanted our time together to be fun and caring?

i guess i am just concerned as to why all my memories of my mum and i follow this pattern of being told off as our relationship now is friendly. thinking of my childhood self feels like i'm imagining a very serious little girl indeed, so much so that i'd think it abnormal if i met myself now. i feel as though i have two options -hope that this is a phase women go through (early twenties, plenty of very maternal friends beginning to have children)? or perhaps my mum and i would benefit from talking about this? if so, how do i go about this without it getting confrontational or making her feel as though she was a bad mum?

i realise this is way, way more trivial than many of the posts on here - i'm not likening this to emotional abuse! no way! - but it's been on my mind lately and it struck me that the mumsnet community were the ideal women to run it by. thanks!

FairyFi Thu 28-Feb-13 02:48:54

hi curly welcome smile

just gonna read your post, as it seems I won't be getting any sleep tonight anyway wink

FairyFi Thu 28-Feb-13 03:08:44

I get that you are quite unhappy about your memories, and felt trapped by her disciplines? Feeling like you were doing wrong all the time?

Do you think you have always examined your relationship this way, or just starting these thoughts?

To be honest if someone takes out their anger on an innocent child, that is abusive, in a repeated directly attacking way like with yourself sad. However, if you are free now to have accidents or walk across in front of the telly without her still behaving this way then maybe she was under particular strain?

I don't want to make excuses for her here atall, its much more important that you don't minimise the way it made you feel then and now, and it seems very relevant that you speak of 'all' your interactions feeling this way with her.

Do you feel relaxed around her, not having to tread on eggshells, or fearful of saying/doing the wrong thing now? What would happen if you did? and is your time together now feeling to you like she is trying to be fun and caring? or more about her? Does she indulge you and encourage and respect your boundaries /privacy? or demand to know and pry?

These are not things you should feel pressure to answer here, just some thoughts for you to put your thinking around, and to post back other things that might occur to you.

I think really if you feel that you are in the right place, tbh, you may well be. Your feelings of doubt around your treatment were strong enough to start you searching. Take your time, and there are plenty of links at the top which you could wander around aswell to see if they're helpful?

Let your thoughts wander and run passed you just taking a note of what comes up and follow your instincts. Please do keep posting and join in the chatter/experience sharing. xxx

FairyFi Thu 28-Feb-13 03:13:46

also a thought, that if do choose to ask your mum about this, stating clearly that you viewed yourself as such a serious little girl and that your memories were all of these tellings off, you will learn a great deal from her reaction. I think the top of the thread sets out the fairly standard responses from a toxic parent which would be useful to know if you are feeling unsure about possible reactions to expect.

I fyou put yourself in the shoes of a mum, would you want your daughter to talk about this stuff to you or keep it to herself? I'd want the talk and honesty, you?

take care xx

unschoolmum Thu 28-Feb-13 08:20:21

welcome curleylocks, i agree with fairy that you can tell if she is toxic by how you feel around her now. Talking to her would be very revealing.

oldtoys Thu 28-Feb-13 15:23:47

sounds like she was preoccupied with other things Curley

FairyFi Thu 28-Feb-13 18:23:40

oldtoys you have reminded with your talk of not answering the phone must mean car accident, of exactly that for me... What IS that about!? yy and yet would never ring my mobile, but would phone around ppl's houses to find out where I was and if 'something' had 'happened to me hmm I use to hide out at others and she would demand all the telephone numbers of the various places I might be [in case she had to get hold of me in emergency] oh and my house key when I wouldn't provide (because I had already been told of all the inner workings and dust deposits, dirty knickers and the like at my siblings houses, so realised nothing was sacred!). So she didn't talk to me for weeks. A question is not a question you see, there is only one answer and if you get it wrong you will punished or repeatedly asked told until you get it right! hmm

FairyFi Thu 28-Feb-13 18:33:49

i was nearly 30 I shld add! [when the ringing round went on]

Midwife99 Thu 28-Feb-13 18:36:58

It's weird - last summer after I first went low contact I went on holiday with the kids & got back v late Saturday night. They had left messages on my land line & mobile the day before & that day demanding that I phone to tell me "how my holiday was". Obv I didn't. Got on with the mountain of laundry etc the next day & ignored the phone. They reported us missing to the police. angry

Midwife99 Thu 28-Feb-13 18:37:47

These are people who only had time to see me & my older DCs once a year in the 1990s! If we visited them!!

FairyFi Thu 28-Feb-13 18:43:06

Is there anyone who has an explanation for this crazy behaviour! it is because they are like very spoilt children and must have what they want when they want it. they are all just so simlar!

Hope the lovely nr to term lady on here is having a peaceful end of pregnancy/birth/baby without aggro from maternity ward marauding mother! Had meant to send best wishes and hopes for being left alone!

Midwife99 Thu 28-Feb-13 20:29:33

Yes me too - hoping she's ok!!!

Oopla Thu 28-Feb-13 23:13:23

May I just vent a bit please?

Started writing a confrontation letter to dm today, been mulling it over for days and couldn't get it quite right. Decided to go see her tonight. Just turned up. Haven't spoken for three weeks apart from the odd guilt peddling text.

She was drunk (as expected) when I got there. I didn't really have a plan of what I needed to say, just knew I couldn't carry on functioning until I did something.

It was so very eye opening. I watched her reactions, listened to what she was and wasn't saying and just tried to really observe which script she was reeling out. And lo and behold we started out with the martyr, she tried furiously to normalise, she followed every trick in the book to make me feel small.

I stood firm grin

We've had a really superficial relationship for the last few years because I've withdrawn completely in an attempt to keep her from hurting me, I asked her if she'd noticed this and if she thought it was normal. She said she had but couldn't say why. I told her I can't carry on this way because I'm too full of anger with her and we have to deal with things. She put on her rose tinted glasses and said she thought she'd done a pretty good job as a mum.

I honestly think she believes that too.

Mum said that she was a different person back then and she's not the same anymore, she loves her life now and she's not going to think about it anymore.

I asked do you realise that in drawing a line under your behaviour and moving on without dealing with any of it you've effectively shifted all that blame onto me, im having to live with that, is that fair?

She got quite violent at my insistence that she wasn't a good mum and threw me out. She wanted to hit me, I could see it in her twisted face.

I haven't even scratched the surface but I don't feel like I have to now. I have reminded her that I know, that None of it has faded into the background for me. That I don't have the handy excuse of being drunk to fall back on.

Feel like I can walk away now. I've seen that there's nothing to go back for. I am free of her.


Oopla Thu 28-Feb-13 23:13:54

Gawd that's long...phew!

Midwife99 Fri 01-Mar-13 00:02:55

That's great Oopla! How do you feel now?

Oopla Fri 01-Mar-13 00:07:44

Better! Feels like the start of something smile

Thankyou for listening midwife

Bedtime1 Fri 01-Mar-13 04:33:10

Funny you should say that midwife about your mum dying since she was 49, my mum always goes on about this and she likes to age herself by saying I'm nearly 60 when she's only early 50s. Se does this whenever it suits her, o make you feel sorry for her I think. She's also had lumps in her breast and cancer twice and also Alzheimer's and dementia. None of this is true it's just what she likes to scare me with. Or if we have ever been in an argument she will use any of the above reasons if she knows your right and have caught her out, she will then turn it round and say things like the above or I'll be dead soon etc then i will regret how I speak to her.

I've posted on chat recently as I have a very poorly bunny rabbit, I've had her 9 years she's old bun and she had an op recently. They told me on Monday when I picked her up that he doesn't see a happy ending and mentioned her being possibly put to sleep soon, I'm absolutely devastated as she is my baby, been crying and trying to take care of her the best I can as she can't walk properly now etc it really upsets me how my mum and young sister are so self absorbed, it's untrue, it's like they don't have the ability to show any care or empathy.
I said to my sister(shes 19) that she's welcome to visit bunny. The reason I asked was because not sure how long she has left. My sister was the one all this years ago who came with me to pick her up from the pet shop. Sister had her in a box on her knee. I'm really sad that she shows no care at all. Anyway after I said your welcome to come and see her she made it sound to me like it was an inconvenience to her and that she was doing me a favour. She said it as though she could do and made it very clear she would be putting herself out to come and visit. She then said it as though if she does me this favour. The favour of visiting my poorly bun then she would be expecting her tea and what would be for her tea.
I was shocked because I had told her the story as it was Monday when I had just got back from the vets with the awful news, was tearful etc. not only is it sad that she sees visiting bunny as a favour but she cared not one bit about how I felt. The last thing on my mind was making her tea. I'm angry that she could even think of me doing that when I'm so down at the moment . Is it just me or would you not perhaps offer to bring tea round or at least not mention the tea thing. There such a sensitivity chip missing.

And this makes me more angry at my mum as she acts just like my mum. A mini me a clone of her. Her actions and words just like mum. It makes me so angry that she has become a self absorbed little brat, who shows no care for anyone but herself but then expects the world in return and has the cheek to pick me up on the slightest thing. My sister wasn't always like this. Do you think she will change?

Anyway because of her being so selfish It hurts to spend time with her anymore. I have Been slowly withdrawing from her. Also she totally only sees mums view, she blocks out all of anyone else in the families pain if it's something mums done wrong she will still defend mum and not see our pain. I see h being abusive like my mum to me, because how mum acts I see it as emotional abuse and bullying.
My sister tends to hurt me a lot so I've had enough but at the same time I feel guilty from withdrawing as I've always done everything I can for her. It's hard but u have to say the truth is she's just not nice at all anymore and never thinks of anyone else. Do ou think withdrawing is the right hung to do? My mums so entwined with her . My mums already tod me in arguments in indirect ways that if I don't have a relationship with her or see her then I can't with my sister.

Then my mum always asks what she has done wrong when I don't speak to her often or if I don't return her calls. Well hello blackmail springs to mind and threats, buts he doesn't get it or doesn't want to get it .

Also someone mentioned the voice thing. Not wanting to hear the voice, well I know what you mean, I feel on edge. My husband doesn't like hr voice either. It sends us into like a panicky/ edgy feeling. It's it to be bad if our own mum does that to you. Perhaps it's because we wonder what drama it is going to be this time.

Bedtime1 Fri 01-Mar-13 05:09:00

We had bit of argument tonight too because what's she's done is got my sister to text me saying "I am taking mum out on mothers day" saying time etc and about me coming. I don't even want to send mum a card let alone take her out. This only came about as she is jealous that my older sister has organised to take dad out for his birthday. But really do you ask to be taken out for mothers day? And that's okay? Plus all she's bothered about is that when I'm upset at the moment. No care for that at all. Just that she's he'd done by.
So in the end I told her I didn't want to take her out. She didn't like that but she asked me so I told her. Then get a lot of voice messages saying things like " your not normal" I'm worried about you, your so angry. Your paranoid. Guilt trips. The truth is I've nothing to thank her for. All I remember of the year has been her causing drama and upsetting me then the turning young sister against me and lying to other members of family to cause trouble and lying about what they said about me .

Anybody else in dilemma about mothers day? I wish it would just go away!

FairyFi Fri 01-Mar-13 06:59:05

I am nc so no MD dilemma here. I am veyr sad about your bunny (9 is an amazing age!). You sound like you know what you're doing, just nervous about doing it.

She sounds typically awful, her and your sister, well done for your strength in seeing everything bedtime

Midwife99 Fri 01-Mar-13 07:15:57

I'm also ignoring Mother's Day for the first time. More ammunition for the "terrible daughter" campaign but I just don't care!!

Salbertina Fri 01-Mar-13 07:44:48

Yes me too - with resignation sad.

Not trying to make a point to her but for my own self i can no longer be hypocritical or play her game of "lets pretend everything's all right" -just because its okay with her does not mean its therefore ok with me, especially if i explain that is not so angry She chose to ignore my correspondence completely , didn't even acknowledge it despite it being v much in my adult voice and heartfelt , as well as fair and reasonable as possible.

She does not behave in a normal, empathic way- instead she is cold, emotionally stunted and utterly unresponsive to her daughter's life/concerns. Df and sibling have normalised and enabled this as a-ok.

After months of non-response to my mails, i received an invite to their wedding anniversary party - venue booked, all extended family invited, am expected to attend (how would it look if i didn't?!)
She can bugger off... angrysadhmmbiscuit

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