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"But We Took You To Stately Homes!" - Survivors of Dysfunctional Families(1000 Posts)
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It's March 2013, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.
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 up, 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 use 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."
Personality Disorders definition
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
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
"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)
Thanks for replies- food for thought.
DS1 and I have been struck down with a virus (his temp hovered below 40 all night- turns out to be tonsillitis). So I won't be posting for a bit.
Rose-hope you and your son are feeling better soon
<waves to all from bed> thanks Dontstep
rose bad stuff going round at mo it seems! DD had temp hovering over 102 for 12 hrs last week, followed by week of illness.
Hopeyou are both feeling better v, soon.
Hi everyone. Apologies for not reading through past threads and so perhaps stomping on an ongoing conversation. I lost Mum a year ago and am now PG with DC1. Mum wasn't affectionate or loving through my childhood as I recall it and ghere are certainly deep issues I carry due to my childhood but I don't know if she was toxic per-se. I do have a bunch of baggage though and really want to work out how to be a great Mum to my DC and not repeat patterns.
Any advice about where to start without spanking £££ on counselling?
Hi everyone thanks for the new thread midwife.
No time to read all or post as should be on school run!
welcome here remembering I am sorry to hear of the loss of your mum, especially as you are recognising issues
you've certainly come to a good place for learning and exploring, and validations, sharing and loads around that here. I have found this place more helpful than any other place I've been before because its concentrated 'toxic talk', its specialist in that sense and totally focussed on this issue. You might find reading through the threads will give you a great sense of recognitions? I do not know where you can get free councelling; actually do docs offer 6 weeks free by referral? That might be a good place to start. It might be a bit tough going during pregnancy? Others will be along I'm sure to offer support ... keep posting xx
hi remembering, this is a good place to post. Just talk and write it all out. It really helps to gather your thoughts rather than have them rambling around your head. Good to make steps on this before you have your baby too. I think many of us found that having our own DC has been a major trigger back to our own childhoods and now we are questioning lots of things that just weren't right or correct or fair or kind or safe for us as children or teenagers.
Lots of questions, lots of insecurities, lots of whys and confusion is common amongst so many of us. The good thing from acknowledging our past is that we know how to parent so much BETTER than they did back then. Our futures are brighter than our pasts because we are conscious of how to do it better, and what NOT to do. So that gives us something to look forward to I think.
I know for me, my days are easier in spite of the painful memories, if I focus on my home, making it the safe nurturing place it should be, and if I am kind to myself - if I don't want to do something, like visit someone, or attend something, or explain myself to someone, I don't have to. Not making sense there, but I feel often that yes I seek approval EVERYWHERE from anyone, and try to please others before myself. Each day I try not to do that now, when I actually remember to that is.
Sorry long post. Again.
Btw Hissy - thanks for a brilliant idea - I asked my sister if I should email the identical email that my sis received plus my identical email direct to mother, then sis said, well possibly that is what mother would want us to do. To keep the drama going on and on.
But I still want to rumble her about her lack of empathy or compassion in not taking my feelings into account, and effectively blanking what I wrote with a duplicate 'sermon' which made no sense whatsoever.
And yes, I would like to choose an alternative form of forgiveness, if such a thing exists. But I think it's such a dense area - at what point are we to 'forgive' someone like her who has been so violent?
If she were a criminal, who was convicted of assault, would I still be able to forgive her? Well, actually maybe, as I would know that her punishment had been properly given, that she was in prison for doing what she did.
but as it is, it is so hard to forgive her as she is still doing her thing, acting like she is the perfect community member, perfect grandmother, perfect everything, and worst of all, she thinks she already has been forgiven for everything she ever did to my sister. What a bloody mess.
i had another flashback too of when I was about 7 and my brother was around 7 weeks old - she had laid him on her bed, he was screaming hysterically, uncontrollable screaming. I went in, and said he's crying, pick him up! And she calmly as anything said oh that's what babies do, and continued to TIDY HER WARDROBE. As though none of us were there.
oldtoys, are you or your sister Christians?
If so, well it says in Luke17:3-4 - to forgive if they repent. Has your mother repented? A person who has genuinely repented will realise that some wounds take time to heal and they'll give you the space you need, and they'll work to earn your trust again. They won't push you to just get over it and won't ever say things like ''well God has forgiven me therefore so should you'' because that's just manipulative.
In the last thread, somebody posted a really good essay on forgiveness in these situations, but then it was deleted - maybe somebody has a link to it. It was great, I'll try and find it.
My MIL sounds very like your mother, down to the Bible verses being thrown around.
SmellsLikeTeenStrop - well her sense of forgiveness is your latter statement, that God has forgiven her, therefore so should we.
She has never apologised, never offered to make amends, never suggested how best she can help us heal - as she clearly believes she was entitled to use that form of 'discipline'. So I'm finding difficulty at the moment in complete forgiveness and what that will mean in the real world, having to deal with her. Do I just block out the memories? Even though they still cause so much pain? Do I just think of other things when a memory comes? Do I fake a relationship with her, if I am supposed to have forgiven her? How can my behaviour be true to myself yet living a lie in my 'good' pleasing behaviour to my mother?
She didnt' consider it assault, or violence, or abuse - but although these are just words to her, these words are never spoken in relation to what happened. Except, unless I am imagining it, yes it was abuse - because it started when my sister was 13, and ended only when she left the house to go to uni at 18. So 6 years, 365 days in a year approx 1000 odd days of it.
So her way of looking at it, is that we should respect her as our mother, otherwise, bad things will happen to us - ie, a family friend died, and mother told us she hadnt spoken to her mother for 6 years and now look what happened. What a terrible thing to say. I told DH about her comment earlier last week when she emailed as I hadn't answered phone for days, she 'thought I had had a car accident....silly me'. He wasn't impressed with her.
Sorry I'm rambling on
Oldtoys I think you are talking of two things here, forgiveness on the one hand, and how you manage your feelings towards her.
the forgiveness thing totally lies with her, as everyon'es been saying, fo rher to demonstrate repentence and ask for forgiveness, so totally her responsibility. This would show huge things in terms of being aware of what she's done, that is were her fault, and tha she was truly sorry, and wantedyou to know that - all of us here I think know this is nt the case tho! sadly!
the other bit, is managing your own rfeelings as a result of their actions. Mine have never asked for forgiveness, but I don't want to 'carry' anger and hatred, resentmetn and blame and all those negative things (which I felt I shouldn't carry if I was a good forgiving person! - my views have changed!). I got out being angry, went NC grieved all the pains and loss of parenting, and although not sure whether I still feel scared of the male parent, I know that I would not want to get revenge in any way, or be nasty even if they said hello, or feel the need to 'do' anything towards a relationship int he future. Just come to a place of little feeling now towards them. They are jsut some people, this hasn't come from forgiveness of them IYSWIM, going back to the original point, but only from me sorting through my feelings, without the knowlegdge and validation I've received since signposted to this thread!
I don't think its truly a situation where foregiveness is applicable based on that and the knowledge of the narc condition! So I am not ever expecting to be asked for forgiveness
Guilt trips - frankly dispicable - the blaming, all part of the horrible cruel game.
ooo .. long post! but thats my take on it, and I'm not tied in knots anymore trying t find a way or have emotions running around... I do sometimes get flashbacks which can be very upsetting and take me by surprise, causing some upwelling! Still just catch my self getting caught up iwth the whole 'lack of pretend family' if that makes sense? - that i don't miss them but do very much miss what families are supposed to represent oh well
Hello everyone. I joined very late on the last thread. Thank you for all helping me to get started on dealing with this. Just marking my place.
Toxic parents don't repent!
Oldtoys, sorry for all the things you have experienced. Don't bloke the memories. This will make you ill. Try and feel the emotions from your childhood. This will help heal the pain. Repression results in headaches, backache, skin allergies, stomach aches etc. As Alice Miller says "the body never lies".
Thanks for the welcomes. I will try to get my thoughts a little straight and post some of it soon
Oh oldtoys, I can see how difficult this all is, what books have you read so far?
I grew up going to Church and I still do from time to time but a modern, very different one, to my childhood one. I do find her over spiritualisation and attributing everything to the enemy or God and bad things happening, as well as, as I've said, justifying her abusive behaviour through it, deeply disturbing. I really do. It's not normal. She is narcisstic and self absorbed.
You have every right to go no contact for some time, you don't have to play happily families or brush it all under the carpet. The guilt and obligation can be over whelming but keep talking and make the right decision for you, for your peace and emotional well being here and for your family.
I have read some good books on forgiveness but personally imo if they're abusive, you can try and let go of the past, have counselling etc but to truly heal and stay healed and whole, it is far far healthier to not see them any more or have some distance at the very least and new boundaries. As she'll just hurt you again and again. So you'll never truly feel able to move on. Does that make sense?
wow. yes. You make such perfect sense - thank you FairyFi Don'tstep, I can't thank you enough for giving me such clarity on it all today.
I was in a confusing mess all day until I read your latest posts.
I now know that is why I feel such peace when I am physically AWAY from her literally hundreds of miles, 4 hours drive away, and why I feel unable to eat or sleep when I have to visit her house. (Unschoolmum completely links to your theory on the body never telling a lie etc)
The religious stuff is verging on insanity, I can see that now, it is very very disturbing. And doesn't even make sense - her 'sermon' emails contradict everything.
Low low contact feels like the most simple & right thing to do.For self protection too.
I can't thank you all enough for giving me space to talk here, and replying with such logical advice. Really, I am overwhelmed. Thank you. I am feeling more content now. Able to think a lot clearer and to shift my focus to more positive things going on in my life other than her.
Yes true the body never lies. Close proximity or physical contact with my parents makes me feel nauseous & I start pulling my hair out - something I used to do when I was a teenager.
Oh god, yes!
At Xmas when things were really bad I was in bed with the most horrendous migraine for 3 days!
They actually make me ill!
I am all for forgiveness if the person truly repents their behaviour...but few ever really do ime.
My siblings would be genuinely shocked to know how much I resent them.
The idea that I should have been treated any other way is just not one that occurs to them.
I see my parents on my terms now.
And I like it that way.
I see my siblings very rarely anyway, so no loss there. I do wish I saw more of my nephews and niece, but maybe that will come as they get older....
My eldest nephew loves it here. After the last party here he told my sister that "I love auntie badvocs house, it's full of beautiful people"
I think he means that we play with him, and have fun. Not that we should be adorning the pages if vogue!
What books has everyone read and which did you find best and why? Has anyone done work on improving their psychological boundaries or boundary strength? This is my next focus.
Toxic parents by Susan forward helped me.
It made me see that even though I wasn't sexually abused, or anything awful like that, the patently I recieved was "inadequate".
It did help me,knowing I wasn't the only one, too.
daughter of narcissus - only just started reading.. I have heard its good and an enjoyable read, but I think its very boring so far - purely because I couldn't be less interested in the intricacies of how life was supposed to be lived by the rich and famous and the social expectations and niceties, unnecessary and uninteresting 'bulk' to my mind (you know, how servants were employed, how being a winter resident was so important or not, how awful and boring it was to be in this 'class') that could be too soon a judgement, I am still hopeful of some real grist, and less of the lives of the rich and famous as I don't really have an appetite for that.
Boundaries are my biggest challenge right now, but I have put a lot in place, just don't know where the lines lie on many things.
I'm pleased to see a book review here unschool xx
well I'm reading 'Quiet - the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking' by Susan Cain
Not directly related to the narc mother etc but helps me immensely as I was always told by her to be more sociable, etc etc when all I wanted was to be left alone to read etc as spending time alone gave me immense peace in a very chaotic stressful household back then.
This book is giving me the justification I need to be who I am, and not listen to that critical voice telling me I'm 'too quiet'
Going to read the Toxic Parents one next.
OT- also a fan, did you see her TED talk?
I like Children of the Self-absorbed also transactional analysis is good re boundary-building. Less keen on Toxic Parents and Alice Miller, found too full-on for my situation but i know lots on here have found helpful.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
ws interested in the TA book that you mentioned Salbertina as I'm into boundary building right now... is it just called TA? Considering CBT too as a tool to repatterning
Tangerine- only you know whether she should look after your child. If you're feeling uncomfortable though really think about why. If you're feeling it, he will too, and he doesn't have the language to tell you why. Could you not mention the dirty nappy situation? Not feeling like you can is as much of an issue as the nappy.
I was once in a shop with my then toddler ds and mother, he was trying to test her and I caught her about to smack him. Will never forget her face as she looked up and saw me measuring her up. I would've straight put her on her arse!
tangerine go with your instincts, rely on yourself to know best, your DC your call totally, too bad if any don't like it... not their DC so not their decision. We can't be cowards about this, regardless of potential 'huge drama' its better to have that than your DC suffer? You have seen her rough handling and neglect, so much so that you are now not sleeping.
Wet nappies for hours don't really pose a problem but dirty ones do for them, on many levels, it is unhygenic and neglectful of her, plus you know she smacks, even though I guess shes knows you wouldn't agree with that?
I think you have all the ticks necessary here. xx
TF, you know what you have to do. You child is. Not being looked after properly.
Feign a tummy bug or something, then a 'not himself' and feverish. Then say tbh, you happy to leave things the way they are, with you. And then get the cousin's mum to do a playdate if that works for you.
You have to make the right choice for your child. He's suffering, and only you can stop that.
My DS is 7, and a forced change of clothes that were too small was enough to put me off letting my DM having DS too often.
Just say you want to change the arrangement to half days. You do not need to explain or apologise. You're his Mum and an adult. Trust your gut. Don't be afraid and if she reacts badly, feel free to withdraw all visits there without you and arrange more play dates separately with his cousin. Her reaction will say it all.
The fact you're awake worrying, is a sign as others have said x
I would call her on it. State that his nappy needs changing when dirty or he will get a sore bottom. If she mentions he should be potty trained by now, just shut her down. He's your son, you'll know when he's ready. She's had her chance, it's your turn, your son.
Firm boundaries are needed. It's that or she sees him less.
It's scary though, when you start to assert yourself x
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
They were birthday clothes, bought in his year size. He's always been enormous, so it was never going to fit.
When he asked to change, repeatedly, she told him it'd make her very upset if he did change out of them. Skinny jeans too, even if they'd have been the correct size, they'd have looked crap.
He's 7, he can tell me the idiotic stuff she does, and I can do something about it. Your baby can't tell you. He cries and screams to tell HER he's in distress, but, as she did with you, ignoring him, making him suffer is rewarding for her. Gives her a sense of control, and will make her victim pathetically grateful for any accidental kindness she shows.
Stop putting your fear of her before your son's comfort/wellbeing. Please. She neglected you, badly, and now she's doing it to your baby.
Don't ever feel bad for standing up for your children.
My DS didn't even START potty training until after his 3rd birthday.
Have you told your H what your M does to his son? Could HE not make an executive ruling, and take the fallout, if you are too fearful of her to do this?
I know how scared you feel, but please take a moment to realise that the amount of fear is irrational, as it's your childhood fear.
We're all with you, we all want you to be strong, and not let your mum abuse and neglect your child.
TF good plan. .. shame for you about birth plans tho (as they don't normally include parents!)
yy normally a prime time for serious narc behaviours! so well done for preempting that. Good luck with successful plan.
I got smacked very hard, and beaten (if I didn't run fast enough!), maybe they would blame their upbringing, buy I've never smacked. I remember MIL smacking (didin't witness it) took DC back to her and made her apologise to DC, was shaking with grrrr....
Fairy- while you're on, there are lots of TA books- "Introduction to TA" is a good one, also old classics such as "I'm okay, you're ok" HTH
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
thanks Sal will look it up on-line - although I have to say again how unbelievably helpful this forum TA is!
TF the awful thing was with the smack, DD (pre-school) came to 'us' as parents and said 'granny smacked me' looking all confused and upset, her NSDF remained motionless, whilst I started shaking! His NSDM smacked her and I looked to him and said, well? .... absolute silence.... not even a look, nothing.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Tangerine, my Dad once looked after my daughter when she was a baby. I returned at 7pm and my Dad told me she did something in her nappy at lunch. She had poo in her nappy for 7 hours and her skin was almost bleeding. This was before I understood how toxic my parents were. I never said anything to my Dad and even allowed him to look after her again. The same man pinned my son down when he was 4 and beat him for playing with the cutlery. At the time, I couldn't go with my instincts because I was so enmeshed with them. You seem more aware than I was then.
Sorry Fairy, I was also smacked and caned as a child. My parents deny it!
glad you're changing arrangements to have your son only with his cousin in the mornins Tangerine. Small steps, but you must be strong and assertive with her, even if you feel like you're dishonouring your mother or being disrespectful
the thing with these types of mothers is that they THRIVE on the power and control over you, even when you're an adult. And for some reason, we LET them.
it is hard to break the dependency on a mother figure, regardless of how nasty she has been.
But it's time to change - you have a new future with your own little family, and a massive duty of care to put your son first, who cares about your mother's reaction? Maybe it's about time she started to get a response from you. Maybe it's time?
And YY to getting your DH involved in speaking up as your protector - he doesn't need to have an argument, he can just answer calls for you, or answer her questions or you can say oh I don't know, you'll have to ask DH. Especially if you have a newborn due soon, you need your nest protected!!
oh and the one and only time mother looked after DS when he was 18mths we had to go to a wedding, we returned late that night to find her sitting up on our bed, holding DS in a blanket, saying he just wouldn't sleep, I'm so exhausted.
Never mind the fact that she's had kids of her own, she didn't have to be sitting straight up at 1am?
Then next day, DS was able to tell me in his own little way 'Granny smack hand'. I was
I am proud of myself that I have NEVER left them with her since. Hard, as yes I'd love more chances to do normal things like that so I could go out more with DH etc, but it's not worth it. So we do nice things during the daytime instead, like lunches out with the kids, or visits. And it's just as nice as we don't have the stress of having her involved. She just seems to add a bitter tang to everything.
first time out after baby, when baby was about 3 months, stayed at MILs so we went out and she, and her partner, babysitting.
Only went to a pub 10 min drive away. I was nervous leaving baby, had mobile on and ready for any calls. However, although I saw a signal when I went into the pub, there clearly wasn't one whilst I was there. As I started to leave a succession of messages arrived with my baby crying and crying in the background. MIL partner was calling and relaying that baby wouldn't stop crying, etc.. please come home.. probably 4 or 5 messages!!!! I was desperate to get back, finally got back and could hear her from outside the house
I couldn't have been more flabbergasted to see her left, propped up at one end of the sofa ON HER OWN!!! Her bright red teary face broke straight into a smile when she saw me, and MIL said something along the lines of what a little 'sly one she was' that there had been nothing wrong all that time, as she sat there still jumping with the left-over from all the sobbing. OMG How you could sit a screaming baby on the sofa on its own and call it, basically , devious!??????
Sorry, just another memory, but they are coming thick and fast.
oh gawd thats just appalling neglect unschool and OT the 'smack hand' - they are like a race of aliens to me right now... so far from whats right, caring and 'normal'!!!!
hadn't realised quite how toxi mil is?!! well happy to say 'ex' mil! what a bitch!!! very grrrrr...
Never mind the fact that she's had kids of her own, she didn't have to be sitting straight up at 1am?
What, and miss out on the opportunity to be a martyr?
Sorry for everyone whose baby were cruelly treated.
I need some reassurance today. I've just come out of a two day headache following a letter sent to each of my kids from their grandmother. The letters are okay. In fact, she even tells my son she is proud of him and how she missed the time they spent in the park together. So the re-enmeshment messages start going through my head i.e. maybe she is not so bad, perhaps it's just my Dad. But then I remembered the email I got from BOTH of them recently telling me I was a failure as a mother, my son was horrible and they would only be leaving money in their will to my daughter. I also have a letter from her telling me I am a bad mother, know it all, jealous, ruined my children and that she must protect my brother from me. The headaches began shortly after I read the letters to the kids. I think my headaches are mainly anger related. I think it is anger that she is such a hypocrite. The funny thing is when I read the letter to my son he just replied Bullshit". He doesnt suffer fools! I did smash up something she gave me at the bottom of the garden expressing how I feel (not too loud because of neighbours!) which alleviated the pain a little but I feel so frustrated that I have done so much work on myself and still get these headaches and migraines.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
tough this morning, just a quick visit to send support to all in the face of all the crazies! and thanks for validations from my posts, they mean a lot. These things that they all do the same, or don't do! the same... and yes, getting that reciprocal support can make all the difference but such efforts involved to get to that point, very worthwhile to do xx
I've just wigged out on FB. My mother posted some crappy BNP propaganda share thingy and I called her out on it. Then my (estranged) father, who divorced my mother years ago, joined in. I have had dad on FB as a way of keeping in touch with him, as we'll often go years without him calling. I've posted elsewhere about the nastiness I get from his wife on FB.
Anyway, I've deleted the whole lot of them. Mum, dad, stepdad, unpleasant stepmother and her nicer daughters, a stepsister I haven't spoken with in 10 years...
I keep crying because I know that I don't like my father - I've loved him for years but he really, really is this unpleasant person who I can't respect and barely love any more. He's ignored me for years, and only really pays attention when I do something that makes him angry. Which has been the story of my life. I'm meant to be doing an essay but am in tears.
Lately I've been angry about my childhood, and have just started reading Toxic Parents. It confirms what I've felt about what I went through.
Sorry for mega-post, thanks for being here.
well done sunny for tough decisions, sounds horrible . Maybe the grieving for leaving them behind starts now? No apologies please! Or we'll all have to start
Thanks FairyFi. I will speak with my mum again (I love her, and know she doesn't want to hurt me). But dad? I think he's been lost to me since I was a child. Time to let him go I think.
Grieving - it is that Fairyfi. That is how i feel this week. Heavy, emotional & could cry at any second. Taking another simple day today, spending nice afternoon with dcs who kerp me very busy and preoccupied.
But yes tangerine you said headwrecking, it is that.
Be kind to yourselves today. We are all making progress no matter how small. Cutting ties is hard. But would mean peace calm and a clearer future for many of us.
It does feel like grieving doesn't it? But i don't grieve for my lost relationship with my dad, i grieve for the kind of 'normal' relationship i never had with him. I get upset when i see friends on fb posting pics of family meals. Espec xmas. All the pics of happy families. Pics i'll never have. I'd love to have a massive xmas with all the family over, eating, laughing, playing board games but i grieve for the fact that that will never happen. I get jealous of other people's relationships with their parents.
I still miss that marrisab but know that I couldn't hve had that with them . and this is better than living that life just to spend xmas with painful company playing games and saying we were 'with' people, which somehow it feels there is pressure to.
take care OT I have come to realise now thatall these things pass and we move on.. rest as much as you can and go easy. take care xx
sunny it sounds like you made a good choice
Fairy, Oldtoys and Marrisab I agree that it is grieving. Susan Forward talks about this in her book Toxic Parents. She suggest having a funeral to mourn the loss of our fantasy for a good family. I was thinking about having a little 'service' myself for this.
I haven't been on here for a good while, which can only be a good thing!
Will read through on how you are all getting on shortly, this thread is already filling up fast and even more so soon as mothers day is fast approaching!
Some of you may know the background surrounding my ils, others may not.
So far i still remain estranged from my pil & sil and dh sees very little of them. Of late we have grown closer without pil causing trouble in our life's, which is really good as we have been through a lot in the last few weeks, money troubles & i have recently had a miscarriage
Today my mums mammagram came back abnormal and it has really threw me, obviously i'm very worried and want to try my best to support my mother until we find out the results. But of course mil is on the phone to dh tonight pressuring him to ask me to bring our dc to her house on mothering Sunday.
I don't need mils shit right now and are estranged, why on earth does she think i want to spend the day with her after all she has done? Why pressurise my dh when she knows i'll say know, to cause trouble that's what and at the moment i really do not need this fgs.
last year on mothers day there was a disturbance involving fil threating behaviour at our home, i even have the thread to remind me of it! Why do these people start crap at times when its most unwanted?
I can only hope my dh doesn't go into his depressive ways now, as i can't deal with that on top of everything else. It will only be so long before he starts begging me to go to his mothers with him-i wont give in, i don't want those people back in my life, their toxic poison leaking out all over us.
oh my dc finally got their presents of pil a few weeks ago, were alrite but stank of mould where they had stored them so long near back door apparently. Bargaining tools obviously got too much for them to store.
mil had even bought me a bracelet, the exact same plastic one i received last year and my dd by a diff relationship got noticably less than other dc-nothing changes there then ....
will start reading through some of your posts x
have only a minute did a skim read pumpkin so sorry to hear of mc for you, thats really tough.
What a load to handle with your dms news too time for DH to step up, and I really hope he does for you. sending you wishes for strength through all this lovely. xx
Pumpkin I am so sorry to hear your mc , your posts always resonate with me.
Can I venture a response to something you said?
You said 'why on earth does she think I want to spend the day with her after all she has done?'
She doesn't. She doesn't care whether you want to spend the day with her. It hasn't entered her head. She also doesn't think she has done anything wrong. She believes she is entitled to this, and you are obliged to comply. Nothing more and nothing less. You're making the very natural mistake of imagining she is sane and not a narcissist.
She thinks what she is doing is asking her son to visit with their grandchildren. She is so utterly self absorbed that this supply is seen as non negotiable, and won't consider any other circumstance.
Her treatment of your dd is a disgrace but again it is all about her - detach from her and don't ascribe feelings to her that she isn't capable of.
I really hope given what you've Ben through your DH understands this time. X
A marriage guidance counsellor once said something useful to DH & I regarding wider family interference. That we two & the children are our family. The others in the extended family are outside the little bubble around us that we should see as a shield.
I'm sorry to hear about your miscarriage pumpkin
I'm slightly anxious about Mother's day. I didn't buy mum a card, and as she lives abroad she wouldn't get it in time if I did buy one. And I'm still bloody furious with her about the BNP thing. Gah.
Thankyou everyone, so far dh is very understanding and seems somewhat unaffected today . Fingers crossed mothers day is lovely for us all and not blighted by these toxic people!
You are right there forgetmenot, for a min i forget they are narcissists, when really of course pil care for no-one but themselves!
I wont let them ruin my day this year, i will rise above it x
Good for you pumpkin, glad to hear your DH is getting stronger too - it's not easy is it!
I'm still barely speaking to mum so for mothers day i got her a plant and a grandma card and will let the kids give her them. That way it's not come directly from me iyswim. God knows what i'll do come fathers day as nc with father.
How true, Midwife. Strangely enough, years and years ago, when we got on ok, my Dad told me that 'when he left home and got married, that was his family. No-one else'. His parents were fucked up too, but it hasn't stopped him going the same way.
I sent my granny a M. Day card. Mainly because she's 90-odd and I feel bad, even though she has been a bitch to me. Think I've just created flack - will have to unplug the phone before the 'thanks for the card BUT' call. sigh Didn't send one to my mother. Felt so sad in Tesco looking at all the cards with their messages to loving, caring mums.
send my mum a mother day card and also sent her a letter saying we are moving 4 hours away!
I sent a plain card that doesn't say she's amazing etc just happy Mother's Day. No gift sent. Just a card.
I didn't send a card (she's in Spain, I forgot to do it early enough blah blah) and will call her. I'll probably get the 'nobody sent me a card' pity party. Or she'll moan about our FB row...
I cried too at the cards I would have sent in the past, and now can't because they are a total sham.
I got the most understated, non-descript one I could find.
No 'friends for life' cards for me. My REAL friends, (an M N friends) treat me far better!
So, Happy MothersNet Day to us all! You really ARE the support I need, the ally, the one who is there.
To you all!
Sent mil a card thanking her for all her support and for being fab. M isn't getting one, we stopped speaking only recently and I can't bear the hypocrisy.
My little darlings have made them at school and I can't wait for the morning
I'm ignoring Mother's Day completely!! DH & I agree that I am the "only mother" in our family
Fortunately for me, my mother dislikes Mothers Day with a passion so have never bought anything for her for this day. Even if she did like it at all, I would have to think twice about buying her a card at all and actually would not nowadays do so.
Would like to wish you all a very Happy Mothers Day
Hi, I'm new, haven't posted on this thread before. I don't know if this is the right place. I really hope you can help me. I so want to have a better relationship with my mum, but I don't know how. I'm sorry this is long!
I feel like I'm the wrong daughter for her (there's just me and my brother). She would love for us to be best friends, and would love for me to share things with her. I would like to make her happy, but I seem to be completely unable to talk to her in the way she wants. Honestly, I have an almost physical reaction to her being around. I feel stressed and tense, and snap at the slightest thing. I don't know what's wrong with me! I'm in my early 30s, for goodness sakes. I feel awful that I can't be even normal with her, let alone the best friend she wants.
There are a couple of reasons I can think of why it's difficult for me to share things with her. When I was a child, she used to sit in my room for what felt like hours and talk about things I had done wrong. This was her form of discipline, but all I remember is screaming and crying for some space. I have a recurring dream still about hotels with no locks on the doors, showers with no curtains. I'm just running around trying to find some privacy and never managing it. A little while ago mum started letting herself in to my house when she came over, and I freaked out about it and asked her not to do it. I felt mean and unreasonable.
The other thing is that she talks pretty much non-stop. I'm your classic introvert, so it's a bit draining, but I also know that she talks about me to others. Quite often people we both know say to me 'your mum said this was going on with you, are you ok?' I had a really bad patch with DH a couple of years ago and she told lots of people. We're both Christians, and I'm sure she honestly thinks it is "sharing for prayer", but I guess it's natural for me then to be reluctant to say anything?!
I know that she can't change how she dealt with me as a child, and she can't change who she is (ie v talkative!). I haven't mentioned anything to her because I don't want to upset her. But I don't know how to change and adapt myself to be able to respond/react better, and to "honour my parents" which I really want to do. Please help
It is not your fault your mother is this way; her own birth family did that lot of damage to her. She is neither the mother you wanted her or desperately want her to be - and will never be either. All you can do is change how you react to her and to my mind this relationship is beyond any sort of salvaging. She's done you too much damage and has not apologised for her actions let alone take responsibility for same. You cannot rescue such a relationship by yourself; the other person has to want to put the work in and your mother will not be prepared to do that. She likely thinks she has not done anything wrong.
You were not put on this earth to be her best friend; that's the worst thing a mother can be to her daughter in my view. Its not your job to make her happy; what she has done is made herself dependent on you so you feel responsible and thus in an unhealthy state of codependency for her happiness and well being. Simply put, you are not.
Her methods of discipling you could be classed as mentally abusive. She was supposed to guide you and protect you, not harangue you in your room for seemingly hours on end listening to an imagined list of your own supposed wrongdoings. You were a child. She failed you then utterly as well.
You do not mention your Dad - is he still in your life?.
There are thus good reasons no doubt why you do not want to share and for you to be best friends. You cannot do or be either with such an emotionally damaged person; she will drain you dry and has constantly denied your rights to privacy. Small wonder you have that recurrent dream, she is not allowing you the right to be your own person now.
She oversteps the mark every time with you and disregards your very being. She has gossiped about you to other people. What was her response when you understandably asked her not to enter your home when she came over?. Did she turn on the charm, waterworks or get angry?.
She perhaps did a mix of all three. What she did not do and has likely never done is apologise nor take any real responsibility for her actions.
What does your H think of her?.
You probably are very much in the FOG state with regards to her - fear, obligation, guilt.
How does your mother treat your brother in comparison to you?. Is he held up by her to be somehow better, the golden child?. What sort of relationship if any does he have with her?.
I would consider seeing a counsellor re your dysfunctional family background as this could help you further. It will be a long, painful and drawn out process but talking with someone may well help you in your own life. BACP are good and do not charge the earth. Also read the resources at the start of this thread if you have not already done so.
Hi sufficient hi all
There are boundary issues there with her sufficient. She expects SO much of you and emotionally disrespects you and suffocates you.
Keep talking here, get it out of your head so steps forward to keep you strong can be made. You want to honour her as your mother? Difficult, but low contact is the ONLY solution, where YOU dictate when you see her, your answers to her are not full of guilt or fear. If you have kids of your own, you already have a new future to focus on. Your mum had her chance and blew it. Low contact. Will make your life better - stay in control, change the locks if need be! Switch off phone, say it is wonky like I did. Protect yourself from this emotional bullet thrower.
LOVE your comment midwife99 that the only mother in your house is you. Tomorrow is a special day for us as a unit. Not HER. Sister has not sent anything, I sent a plain card. No plants etc. No need. Simple as that.
Attila, oldtoys, thank you for your thoughts. Wow. Quite a lot of what you say rings true. My mum has never apologised, and perhaps doesn't think she has done anything wrong. I never noticed this before, but I say sorry to my children all the time (I have a temper and can be a bit shouty), and it was only then that I realised my mum never did. I thought it was a generation thing I guess.
It's funny but the only people who have relationship issues with my mum are those close to her. My dad is quite distant from her (which is partly why she wants such a close relationship with me maybe) but they are still together, and my brother feels the same kind of suffocation and babying (no one has ever had to lift a finger at home. I try to help out now but mum never asks anyone to do anything). DB would have less pressure on him being a boy perhaps. DH thinks my reaction is entirely reasonable!
Anyone outside our close family thinks mum is the best thing ever - hospitable, generous, good listener, kind, do anything for anyone. And she is all those things, and it's never really made sense to me why we aren't closer. I'm not sure about fear, and I think that I do have some kind of obligation in a 5th commandment kind of way, but full of guilt, yes, that is me after every interaction!
When I asked her to ring the doorbell rather than let herself in she was surprised and a bit sad, but didn't say anything and hasn't done it since. I don't want to think that things are as extreme as you have suggested, although I really appreciate your posts. It does feel good to be talking about it. I don't talk to anyone in RL (apart from DH) as we live so close that almost everyone I know knows her too.
I found the book by Cloud and Townsend on Boundaries very good. I think that's the biggest issue as oldtoys said. But there are an awful lot of resources mentioned in the OP and it would be worth looking at them, as you start this journey of unpacking your past.
It's not unreasonable to need more space or for her to not tell other people about your private life.
When I read Anne Dickson's book on assertiveness I had a revelation, as I am a people pleaser by nature and have trouble saying no or standing up for myself, I think I'm always in the wrong. But that book taught me a lot of strategies for dealing with strong characters and realising my needs/ wants weren't unreasonable.
Don't let fear or obligation cloud the issue. Her behaviour was unreasonable. You need firm boundaries.
You can honour her without being her best friend! When you leave home you cleve to your new husband. The apron strings have been cut now. She should have women of her own age she is friends with IMO.
It talks in Alice Miller's book called the body never lies about how your body rebels against the 4th commandment when you're upbringing has been abusive and how profoundly it can affect you inside. You can honour and love her from a distance if you wish. There's nothing wrong with that. Far better than making yourself agitated or worse by giving in to her demands all the time.
Hoping some of this makes sense. Too tired.
sufficient I could have written your second paragraph:
" I feel like I'm the wrong daughter for her (there's just me and my brother). She would love for us to be best friends, and would love for me to share things with her. I would like to make her happy, but I seem to be completely unable to talk to her in the way she wants. Honestly, I have an almost physical reaction to her being around. I feel stressed and tense, and snap at the slightest thing. I don't know what's wrong with me! I'm in my early 30s, for goodness sakes. I feel awful that I can't be even normal with her, let alone the best friend she wants."
That is exactly my relationship with my mum.
She also was fond of beating me for hours. If I answered back, she would have a go at my dad for not doing anything about it and he would smack me til she pulled him away then have another go at him for going too far. She would sympathise with me afterwards but say I'd brought it on myself.
It was mothering Sunday that brought me here today.
Mum said she didn't want anything off us because we obviously don't care about her.
Db and I have been more vocal about her manipulation and selfishness of late. Db barely sees her though I have to as I can't afford other childcare (i have put very strict rules in place which she sometimes sticks to).
The fact is, though, she says this every year and every year we both spend more time and money finding her the "perfect" gift. This year, we've both had enough and are taking her at her word. The day after we let her know, she phones us both and asked us to come to lunch today because my ds wanted us all to be together. He didn't. When I called her on it, she said it was for his sake and she was sure he would want us to be together. Db has refused but my cousin is there today and I would like to see him so I'm going. Already dreading it and didn't sleep well.
I hate the person I am when she's around. I try to honour what she has done for me without forgetting everything else but...
Happy Mothers Day everyone! Remember - Fear Obligation Guilt!!
Sorry - berating not beating - it wasn't as bad as that!
Abusive people generally are often very plausible to those in the outside world.
Am I surprised that the only ones who have problems with her are those closest to her - not a bit of it. Its often the case.
Your reactions are very reasonable; your mother should not gossip about you and/or march into your home unannounced. She is also trampling over any boundaries that are also too low on your part, these need to be raised a lot higher than they are currently. I didn't think she would apologise for that action either i.e entering your home as she did and she did not. She was not sorry. I think you were personally brought up to primarily people please others.
Religion is important to you and rightly so but would urge you not to use that as a stick to beat your own self with. Her actions towards you were and remain unchristian. You would not tolerate that from a friend; family are no different.
I see also that your Dad is quite distant from her but they are still together (this is also because he gets what he wants from their relationship); he has also played a role here in your birth family's overall dysfunction and he also did not you fully from your mothers outbursts. He is therefore culpable as well.
How close do you live to your mother; perhaps moving house would be an option for you to consider.
Do keep posting here; this will also help you unravel things.
So I have not sent her a card, I called her on friday and told her I have not dent a card and happy mothrrs day early and that I hope she has a nice day with her other three children.
Im now angry because she is and was a crap mum and doesnt deserve the phone call I give her. This women let me get beaten up and adused, told me I was an unfit mum and she was taking my baby.
Hi sufficient - religion can sometimes be used as an excuse for abuse sadly. My in laws are "pillars of the community" - bell ringers, active church members, flower arrangers, WI president, Freemasons etc. They used to drag my DH out of bed & harangue (?sp) him for hours until he fainted for "showing them up & letting them down" in some way. They said it was their religious duty to make him see the error of his ways. He was in primary school at the time.
Man made religion is not the same as spirituality & goodness necessarily.
I had PND at the time and all I got from her was virbal abuse. No help or support.
Golden childs wife gets it and its all hearts love and her giving free childcare. The differece how she treated me and sil is so blantent it hurts more.
I got called mad, unfit to have children, swearn at, phone calls just to tell me how bad I was and all this when I was already feeling like taking my own life
Being family does not give you the right to treat people like shit and expect to still be family.
Mum I hate you, you will never change, you will never be a better mum and you have been a disappointment to me. You will never get that time back and I will never forget what you did to me and you should be ashamed of yourself. There is no exsuce for the way you treated me and my brother differently and still do. We dont talk because of the way you raised us, its your fault. You could have stopped it but you didnt. You are the unfit mother you are not fit to be called that by me. You are lucky I let you see my children at all and there will be a day when you fuck up again and you will not see or hear from me or my family again because you just cant change who you are. Your are an aduser and I see you
Hi AirofHope - I can understand your anger. I hope you find some peace & acceptance. For me that came after I went NC. I don't have strong feelings now because they can't hurt or manipulate me anymore. My life is my own.
Midwife- thats so encouraging to hear, glad NC has given you peace of mind. Not quite worked for me- decided to send carefully worded card thanking her for being good mum when i was v young. Of course, the clue's in what I'm not saying- how v controlling and invalidating shes been ever since but i chose not to say so. Am starting to feel quite powerful in our relationship for the first time ever
Air- good for you letting it all out! Sounds classic scapegoat/golden child situation. You have power now you have realised this, if that helps. Keep posting, lots of support on here.
AirofHope, I'm sorry to hear your story . You've been very strong and it's good that you can vent like that. You said something very wise which I think should be a mantra for everyone on this thread:
Being family does not give you the right to treat people like shit and expect to still be family.
Hellesbells I feel like you've agreed to go due to a lot of manipulation and guilt today. Please leave if she's being awful. You can arrange to see your cousin separately another time x
wishing you all your own Happy Mother's Days.
powerful words air well said. y yy
If its of any help, I use to feel guilt at missing out all the things, like today, when I would take the opportunity to send cards, flowers, etc. Mostly I would feel for her pain that she has 3 children but will only get from 2 (and actually they would frequently forget anyway
but that wouldn't really 'matter' ) I would feel that I was actively hurting her each time I did this. I don't now.I am a long tie NC now, but the distance is what makes all the different to disconnecting from the harm that relationship was causing me.
One thing that was very obvious to me, was her 'right' to be in my private life, in my room, taking my things giving them to others, sometimes taking siblings precious things and giving them to me! horrible! Marching into my house, demanding keys! and the awful slagging offs behind my back is extremely damaging to other relationships with me, young neices etc.
I think lifetimes will be gone before anyone else really sees how its been for me, especially as siblings have stuck with them, giving them excuses similar to gulf war syndrome basically but I also have to understand that not everyone goes NC of course, and thats their choice. thisis mine.
warm wishes to all xx
fairyfi hi, you mention 'gulf war syndrome' - well my doctor told me last year I had post traumatic stress disorder from what I saw back then and couldnt stop
anyhow. today has been super so far within my own house, just us, lovely food DH cooking etc cuddles with DC. But DH has asked 'are you phoning her' I said I may send a text.
feeling sick now. i have already sent the card earlier in the week which I know will have arrived. Do I really honestly have to hear her voice too? i know she'll be sitting at home waiting to see which one of her children 'bothers' to phone her
Don't call. It's the fog making you feel conflicted x
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