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

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It's March 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
January 2013

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."

Helpful Websites

Alice Miller

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
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

"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)

mydaytocleanthefridge Tue 23-Apr-13 22:35:08

These are all really good ideas, thank you.

I know it will sound pathetic but I didn't actually know what you meant by 'self care'. The 'time for me' thing - yes, I have realised recently that most of my time is spent trying to atone for being inadequate - even my 'hobbies'...

The work /relationships thing is hard. I need help to recognise how I am attracting the same situations. So far I've just blamed it on myself not being 'good enough' (and a lot of people would agree)

jessjessjess Wed 24-Apr-13 06:38:33

Hi Stately Homers. I was on the thread a few months ago and wanted to come back and say thanks to the people who supported me, if any of you are still around.

I've come very close to having a complete breakdown recently, as I finally started to see my childhood for what it was. My mother was emotionally abusive and neglectful. She's got a really prestigious job and nobody would ever suspect her of it and that annoys the heck out of me. And my dad was... I can't write it.

I've got a lot of problems, including an eating disorder. I've also got a very supportive husband and a very good therapist. I've pretty much stopped talking to my parents, but my mum keeps sending me random stuff in the post. She texts me when she gets back from trips away saying things like: "We're home safely!" Great! I DON'T CARE.

Last time I saw her, she came to my house, told me how lovely it was that my cat had such a nice, safe home to grow up in (what, like I didn't have!) and then I offered her a cup of tea and she said: "I'll make it," and proceeded to go into MY kitchen and make a cup of tea for herself without offering me one.

I don't actually exist as a complete person in my family. Anyway. I'm sorry for the rant. I actually came here to thank those of you who helped support me when the levee started to break.

jessjessjess Wed 24-Apr-13 06:39:18

p.s. the cup of tea thing is exactly the kind of thing that only SHers would get, I'm sure.

themidwife Wed 24-Apr-13 07:20:50

Hi Jess, I hope you're starting to recover now. Indifference will eventually be yours I hope as that's the ultimate result I think. It certainly is for me. There is NOTHING they can do or say to bother me in the slightest now. Yes I get the cup of tea thing! Totally!

jessjessjess Wed 24-Apr-13 08:22:36

Thanks midwife. Hope you are doing okay.

Meery Wed 24-Apr-13 20:08:41

Oldtoys I so remember the "lazing around" issues when growing up. When we were secondary school age my parents both worked full time. My mother worked 10 til 6, so we didn't see her in the mornings before going to school, and were back before her in the evenings. That hour or so after school was not for crashing out watching children's TV but for setting the fire, hoovering up and general housework and for getting tea ready. Woe betide us if we were caught out skiving! We got very adept at looking busy when we heard her key in the lock smile

oldtoys Wed 24-Apr-13 21:53:04

i get the 'tea' thing too Jess, completely understand. In fact, mine would go as far as snooping through bills, letters if left on the kitchen counter, under the guise of 'I'm just helping you tidy up!'

I have learned to use my voice - telling her to leave it - I dont rifle through her things, nor does my mother in law rifle through our things or tidy up or rearrange ornaments or tidy kitchen cupboards when she visits, so nor should you mother!

they are an absolute ludicrous species

Yes Midwife - I think if we can find a level of indifference in our attitude to them, then THAT is success and progress for us. I'm trying hard with repeating the mantra 'I dont give a sh**'

and repeat..Lots of helpful things quotes advice on Pinterest too by the way, I find it's a great way of clearing my mind and helping me escape by looking at pretty things for a while

oldtoys Wed 24-Apr-13 21:57:33

meery - more or less household skivvies for your mother then. Rings a bell here too. Ridiculous moodswings from her at mealtimes, always a stress. And no sooner than we finished our last bite than we were ordered to do the washing up. No lingering at the table, having a chat about our day, or any worries etc Hell no!

Thankfully my home now is the opposite - dishes can wait! I need to listen to my kids every day amd let them know I listen to them. I never felt listened to sad And consequently in friendships now, I wonder why on earth anyone would want to hear anything I've got to say. Much easier in my own company, or spending quiet times with a handful of close friends

kikiliki Fri 26-Apr-13 00:21:09

I have been seeing a good friend who doesn't know my background and for some reason I've felt compelled to talk about my childhood. Drips and drabs of it anyway. I have quite a strong aversion to talking about it though which leaves me sort of stuck being pulled both ways..

My dad was ... Is ... A very angry anxious man. My mum is dependant and self absorbed. My dad quite strongly fits the profile of someone with borderline -swinging back and forth between love and hate, for example. He was violent, blaming and emotionally quite cruel. I was quite afraid of him. I still had flashbacks of incidents from when I was little until I was nearly 30. All mum cared about was making sure we hid the problems as she was scared that he'd lose his job if anyo e found out.

I've had a lot of therapy and I am far better than I was but now suddenly I am feeling very vulnerable.

I've been lurking on here for a while, but I had a major 'trigger' event a few weeks ago and have been a mess ever since.

I really don't know where to begin, I always knew that my childhood, or at least the latter part of it was not normal and that I wasn't happy. I planned, meticulously to take my own life at 15 but stopped short. The thought that it would've been my brother, then 8 who found me and that I'd be leaving him behind was enough, but I had a massive breakdown anyway. Not that it was dealt with, or for that matter noticed. Despite dropping a couple of stone and self harming including pulling hair out.

I was treated as a skivvy, constantly criticised and nothing I did was ever quite good enough or good enough at all, but they'd both still happily take credit if someone outside praised me.

From 12 I had to pick my brother up from my GPs house, walk him home, help him with his homework, cook dinner for 4 of us. I also had to either wash or dry up, make my own packed lunch, clean my bedroom twice a week and the bathroom, thoroughly every other day, walk the dog twice a day, iron my own school uniform and in school holidays, look after my brother, at home, with no company or budget for entertainment. I had no choice in any of this and wasn't even thanked let alone given pocket money. My brother has never had to do any of this. Ever.

I got a job as a waitress when I was 16 (post GSCEs) and worked from 7pm-2/3 am for £2.50 per hour cash in hand on a Friday & Saturday night. From that point I was expected to buy my own toiletries, sanitary products and most of my clothes. We weren't poor, although neither parent is well educated both always worked. They owned their own home, car and we had UK holidays (lived in Northern Ireland).

The first, real, stand out thing that made me wake up and realise that I didn't have a good life was the day I went to collect my A level results. I'd done well at GCSE and was initially predicted AAB at A level. However I think that the grind at home and work got to me and I was too tired to focus on revision. I dabbled in speed and found out that despite what I'd been brought up to think, I was actually attractive to the opposite sex and became fairly promiscuous (this became much, much worse later). Anyway, I knew full well that I'd done badly in my exams and warned my parents, who of course didn't listen.

I ended up getting a C, D And N. I was devastated and when I came back to the car and told them, they sat stoney faced at first and then asked me what I was going to do. I was distraught and genuinely didn't know. They told me to get out of the car and go and get it sorted. They then drove off. It was 15 years ago, so pre mobile phones. I didn't have my purse, house keys, jacket or anything and my school was 8 miles from my home. I was a complete state and after I resolved to get a clearing place as far from home as I could (Plymouth in the end) I called my lovely auntie who rescued me. A few weeks later I moved to Uni and only visit briefly since.

3 years ago I had my dd and the relationship improved slightly as I realised how hard being a mum was. It has dipped again since as memories have emerged and I can't conceive of how I could've been treated the way I was as I couldn't imagine doing it to either of my DC.

My Dad is by no means perfect, they are both spoiled (DM was youngest of 10 and spoiled rigid, DF was the only boy of 4 and idolised by his mother), but I've always been closer to him. I know that I make excuses for him in a way that I don't with mum.

My parents love my DC very much, although I already recognise that the relationship isn't quite, 'normal' either, but I put it down to only seeing them for a few days at a time a few times a year. They were visiting a couple of weeks ago for my DS's first birthday. An innocuous comment I made with no malice at all about DB still living at home caused an almighty screaming match, entirely one sided as I struggled to remain composed in front of my poor DC and DM called me nasty, vindictive and controlling (ironic really as that is precisely what I now see her to be). She stormed off upstairs and I took the kids to feed the ducks, pretending all was ok.

I've just distanced myself from her since then. My DH is incredibly supportive and sees it for what it is. She hasn't said sorry, but is trying to carry on as if it never happened. I'm not prepared to do that.

Bottom line is I'm feeling really really worried at the minute. I'm so terrified that I'll be the same with my DC and end up destroying my relationship with my beautiful little girl and boy.

So sorry it's so long and this, of course isn't the half of it.

...ooh & i was once actually told that i should be grateful as I had a great childhood, what with us being National Trust members (those bloody stately homes!)

CreepyLittleBat Fri 26-Apr-13 20:55:22

You've done the right thing distancing yourselves from your hideous parents. They treated you like a slave and withheld emotional support when you needed it.
You will NOT be the same with your DC because you are a person with a lot of self-awareness and intelligence who wants something different for her children. You're not like them! That's part of why they treated you so badly. The hijacking of your ds's birthday is classic - how dare he be the centre of attention and not them? My grim parents did this to my son too. They had us dancing attendance on them every special occasion and launched a load of vitriol on us when we started to break away.
I know you're under loads of stress and it distorts everything, but you sound like a lovely person and a great mum who has built a life for herself in spite of an awful childhood. That's something to be proud of.

something2say Sat 27-Apr-13 10:55:56

Hello stately homers, can I join in please?

I am a survivor of abuse too. No contact for years. Still get very upset about it but have done loads of work and generally pretty stable. Recently been doing self esteem work which has been wonderful. Sort of the last hurdle really, to address some of my insecure behaviours. So things are good.

But I got a phone all from surrogate mother to say my father has been in touch about some money someone has willed and I have a share. I am upset. I said yes please to the money, but felt like they'd be saying yeah yeah, she wants the money.....

Some of my friend say who cares what they think?

I agreed on Tuesday. By Friday my abusive mother had sent one of two cheques to the address of my surrogate mother, including a card.

It said about who the money was from and then she thinks of me, she is sorry she wasn't a better mother, she hopes I am doing really well, she can't go back and undo the past but if I want to come back I am always welcome.

When I think of her, I think of what she used to say to me before sexually assaulting me.

I have been quite thrown by this. I hate proximity to them. I feel like saying fuck you, and fuck your money.

But I need a few things and it would come in handy. But I feel it shows me in a bad light to accept money.

One of my mates was excellent. We shouted fuck them a few times to each other, he said to tell them to put the money in an account and I don't even say thank you.

When I got home I talked to my boyfriend about it and he concluded that I think the note didnt cover an adequate apology and what I actually want is for them to acknowledge the severity of what happened to me as part of their family.

So I thought, ok maybe I'll write to her and give both barrels in a not to show I'm fucked up kind of way.

Now I can't be arsed as been through it so many times in my head.

Yet I am still in bed mulling it over.

Also got to consider if they die and I didn't make it up with them. My boyfriends father died and he says I don't understand what actual death of a parent is like, which I appreciate although to me they died when I left seven years ago.

Thoth you folks would understand and help me hash it out a bit please xxx

themidwife Sat 27-Apr-13 12:03:35

Hi something - welcome to our group of amazing survivors!

Re the cheques - have they withheld the second cheque? Is this bribery to make you get in touch?

The money is yours from another relative not them so accepting it does not mean you have to thank them. Take the money, burn the letter.
Why should you see them again?

something2say Sat 27-Apr-13 12:18:27

Hi Midwife. The second cheque should come soon. It is actually a substantial amount from what my father said, but won't count chickens yet.... I don't think they are with holding no. I don't know if they expect me to come back.... I just guess the whole thing pd me off..... I shall be glad when surrogate parents have moved house as that is the last link for my father to get through to me......thanks for your reply x nice to know someone's out there. What doesn't kill you eh? Have a nice Saturday xx

Oopla Sat 27-Apr-13 12:28:43

Babiesinsling- I had a strikingly similar experience, really struck a chord what you've written.

Do you find it really hard to relax and enjoy yourself? After years of responsibility I wasn't ready for I feel very boxed in a lot of the time.

Am only about 2 months into NC but already feeling heaps better. If you ever need someone to listen, feel free to pm me x

themidwife Sat 27-Apr-13 14:28:43

I had a dream about being forced to see my parents last night - weird eh?

One thing I'm struggling with - my DD aged 9 keeps asking why we haven't seen them & when we will. I just say oh they're ill all the time (they are) & not up to visits but I feel guilty. Then I wish they would die so I don't have to deal with it anymore which in turns make feel even more guilty!! Sigh!! sad

something2say Sat 27-Apr-13 14:55:17

Does your daughter know why you don't see them? Is it ever going to change? If not, maybe language of her understanding? X

Oopla thank youit's strangely comforting to know that I'm not alone, or mad, or over analysing completely.

Yes, I do find it extremely difficult to relax, ever. It's something I need to work at. I set standards for myself at an I achievable level. I'm constantly second guessing people & if I get a positive response, I'm looking for negative subtext too. So the combination of things means I'm never 'off'. On honeymoon I had an elderly Malay masseuse tell me I was the tensest person she'd ever massaged blush

I hope you gain confidence & stay strong. I'm currently swaying, feeling guilty for not contacting. I go back & forth. DH is helping me.

creepylittlebat thank you. I've been nervous about posting but I knew that people would be supportive. The self centred behaviour is a real kicker. One birthday (an adult one) they were visiting and we went to the seaside, a nice place, not cheap. They fussed that £6 pp was too expensive for fish & chips so I had to pay, for it all, with my birthday cash (DH refunded me at the next cashpoint), she moaned that it was cold even though I'd advised to bring a jacket (July, but you know, windy at coast...) & I do mean moaned & moaned. We were saving fora house deposit, so DH bought me a really nice bottle of wine (£15) & took me out for a meal. I had one very small glass of wine before we went out. When we got back there was 1cm of wine left in the bottle. There was other ordinary wine open, but she had to drink that one. DH challenged her, she slurred that she should've had a present as she gave birth & did the hard work confused I can't imagine being like that with my DCs.

Anyhow. Thank you for reading & being here. One day at a time.

Oopla Sat 27-Apr-13 22:14:46

Thank you babies -you too x Sounds like you have a lovely DH on side though smile

Midwife- Maybe just lay out a few carefully chosen facts and let DD come to her own understanding. My DD (also 9) asked why she's never met my dad, I said that he went away when I was very small and although he lives nearby he doesn't want to see me. She replied that he doesn't sound like a very nice man and who would ignore their little girl. Used this opportunity to say that although DD's dad and I are not together anymore he still very much loves her and spends as much time as he can with her.

BallerinaZeena Sun 28-Apr-13 11:49:46

Just hunted this thread down after seeing an old one.

Just got a call from my mother, diverted it, got a message. 'Hello Zeena, calling to catch up, I haven't heard from you.'

Well I haven't heard from you either! And I don't really want to. My heart rate has gone up and I feel anxious. God I hate it.

Anyway, had to tell someone. Admitting my anxiety seems to help. Will now read the new thread. smile

themidwife Sun 28-Apr-13 14:25:36

I've been so good at hiding my issues with them that she doesn't know anything so will think what to say. My eldest DS doesn't mention them & my DS2 saw them last autumn because he was staying near them & my M told him I'm not talking to them because they asked me to shampoo their carpets when I was busy at work. shockshockshock

zeena do you regularly have the guilt trip re contact & want to s ream that phones work both ways! ? I do. In fact I'm currently 2 weeks I. To my latest bout if no contact & they go on holiday tomorrow. I'm feeling extremely anxious as I don't know whether to expect a call & I'm bracing for the why haven't you called, we love seeing the kids on skype interrogation. Well let me see, 'the las time we spoke you stood in my 3 year old's bedroom shrieking that I was nasty & vindictive, you have not said sorry' is what I need to say. I don't know if ill have the guts.

I may divert the call too. How do they do it eh?

CelticPixie Mon 29-Apr-13 10:28:23

Can you believe that my mum had the bare faced cheek to accuse me of "whinging" yesterday?! This coming from someone who, if whinging was an Olympic event she'd win the gold medal.

I so had to to hold my tongue. I wanted to scream, "yes because you never whinge do you?". No you only do it everyday, however I know that if I had said that we'd have be subjected to another long sulk. Funnily enough she'd spend most of the afternoon doing nothing but whinging about the arthritis in her hand plying up. All we go was "oooh ow, me hand. Oooh ow me hand". In the end I snapped at her to just take a pain killer if it was that bad.

I don't think I mentioned this in my first post, but my mum has never cuddled, kissed or hugged either me or my brother in our lives. I've never suffered from a lack of love because my dad is very tactile and is always hugging us, but I find it odd how a mother can't show her children affection. I'm always hugging my DD's FFS. What the hell is wrong with her? Miserable cow.

Sorry rant over.

AnAirOfHope Mon 29-Apr-13 10:41:23


2 weeks of going nc for the first time with my xfamily. I have not talked to any of them.

Two weeks ago i called my mum the only one i talk to and said i was short on mortage by £80 and my xfather shouted he would not help cos he has.bills to pay too. He spent £200 on wellies to walk the dog but didnt offer any money to stop his dd and gc going homeless.

The shocking relisation of my father not giving a fuck about us being on the street is horrable. (I got the money for mortage and its fine but they dont know that)

He shouted over my mother to get rid of my phone if i needed money. I only ever phoned my mum so now no phone calls.

I was ment to take dn 8yo on holiday but i told my sister i cant afford it so its off (i can afford it but i want to cut all contact with them)

The total lack of care for me from my xfamily is truly heartbreaking even tho they are all total shits.

I have wanted to call my mum but stopped myself by thinking I could be on the street with my 17 month old dd and they would not give us a room in there 3 bed house or give me £10 towards rent.

I really want to txt him that i will get rid of my phone so dont call me and to tell him he is a emotionally, phyisacally and verbaly abusive man that does not beserve a family or children but i dont want to waste my free txt on him.

The never call me, come see me, they belted me as a child and negelected me as a child and told me my birth was an accident and they never wanted me. My mum told me im out of sight out of mind. I was in hospital and ill and they never came to see me or help with childcare.

I have had it. I will not shout or tanturm or try to point out they are wrong and curel. I will slip way and forget them just like they did to me.

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