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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)

ButterflySwan Sun 21-Jul-13 21:48:22

Oh filee so sorry to hear about your MIL, I'll never understand how some people react the way they do, I'm sorry for your loss. Keep reading & posting here, I'm sure it will help you greatly.

CrossWords I'm assuming you've been treated badly compared to a sibling? Please correct me if I'm wrong. I know what it's like to have been the 'scapegoat' while my brother was the 'golden child' and the huge impact it's had on my relationships, you have my support as I know how it feels. The book 'Toxic Parents' which was recommended on here may be useful, I found it difficult reading but suddenly everything fell into place, if you've read it apologies but if not you might find it a good place to start. If it helps you I feel my experiences have made me stronger, helped my marriage and also made me a far better mother than I would have been so in a weird way I'm in a place where I'm grateful for the dysfunctional family I grew up in. It has taken a lot of time & tears to get to this place mind you but every cloud has a silver lining. Take care.

pumpkinsweetie Mon 22-Jul-13 21:58:38

For gods sake, now mil is trying to ruin my dc birthday too. She has been putting the woh is me on the phone desparetly wanting to see dd on her birthday. I have said no, obviously, dh isn't happy what a surpriseconfused

Not that i would have said yes, but why phone up day before harping on, just to cause trouble that's whatconfused
I don't want her here, it causes to much trouble but when i say no dh is just as depressive as when the damn woman has visited.

Please help guys, what can i say to him to make him realise no is no without him getting upset everytime?

Bedtime1 Tue 23-Jul-13 03:15:50

I don't think you can say anything. If you don't want to go and be wants you to, his form is to still get annoyed . He should respect that you don't want to go. As for the grankids I think that Is trickier because they belong to you both. He wants to take them you don't want them to go, so who decides.

Bedtime1 Tue 23-Jul-13 03:27:53

Pumpkin - Could you let him take the grandchild say for one hour? Supervised by him. Nothing much will happen in an hour. Could you stomach just one hour if it makes you feel better to be there and in control of the situation. Just short meetings now and again perhaps?

Andro Thu 25-Jul-13 17:53:25

I need a hide out and a rant.

Has anyone had to deal with a parent who's rose tinted glasses (with regard to some of their children, not all) are welded in place? I've had 3 stinking rows with my mother today, all for the same reason. The reason is that I flatly refuse to allow one of my twin brothers to take my DC out; I don't trust either of them to keep my dc safe, my mother thinks I'm being spiteful, hurtful, nasty, mean and unreasonable. Oh yes, and her finale was that 'it not as if you're really their mother anyway' (my dc are adopted, I can't have children biologically and as far as my mother is concerned that means I'm not a 'real' woman).

My mother adores her sons, they are absolutely perfect in her eyes. It doesn't matter that at 20 they can't cook/do laundry/make a cup of coffee/understand that DUI is illegal, they can do no wrong. Equally, it doesn't matter that, not so long ago, one of them deliberately put cheese (which I'm seriously allergic to) in my food just because 'he wanted to see my reaction and thought it would be funny'. I am still, apparently, being very unreasonable not to trust either of them.

Usually I deal pretty well, today I'm ready to bang my head against a brick wall (I'd go NC but I adore my father, he has always called her on her behaviour, he has never condoned the pandering to of my brothers - unfortunately he was away a lot during my tween/teen years). My relationship with my mother is usually polite, this has turned her into a mama tiger again though.

<bangs head on table>

(there is a massive back story here as well, some 'Relationships' regulars will be familiar with some of it)

Hissy Thu 25-Jul-13 18:50:54

Popping in for a Straw Poll, a sanity check....

Please, those of us that are parents, those of us that are children of parents...

Under what circumstances would you move home to a place HOURS away, and not actually tell your adult DD/DS where exactly it was?

You've had a number of chances, you have told others, openly, but not your adult DD.

You have arranged utility transfers and have temp accommodation in case you need it, but are apparently confident of it being largely unneccessary, and you have already arranged to have things delivered to your new home.

But passing on a forwarding address, or an address of where you WILL eventually be, nor even a town.. to your adult DD.

AIBU to feel very let down and disappointed.

Is this a normal thing that normal people do, cos I can't imagine it myself.

All input/clues gratefully received cos I am without either.


No it's not normal as a parent, to not tell your daughter you're moving and where to. To basically relocate/ disappear off the planet.

It's so painful for you, their actions speak volumes.

What would you like to do about it?

Hissy Thu 25-Jul-13 21:11:08

Dunno really, not much I can do. I know whereabouts she is in the country, more or less the region, but not the town, address, nothing.

Have lined up therapy, did one session already, next one in a couple of weeks.

I didn't even know she had found somewhere until I heard others talking. I had to ask her if she'd found a house. in front of them. "yes" was her reply. This was only a matter of days where I'd spoken about her imminent exchange and the need to find something and to not worry about a rental being perfect, sound and affordable for 6m and to consider the winter weather.... She should/could have said then, 'well we've seen something we like..' no. nothing

She delivered something to my house, by agreement, left an envelope of nuts and bolts for it, this a week ago. No address. Even when I said I'd been invited down there for work do, she only said, oh that's in the next bay.

I've had, oh you must come and visit comments, but absolutely NO detail, it sounds so hollow.

In the midst of this, I got a text from estranged SisDearest begging me to call my DM as she'd need support for the move... erm Support? why? she is doing this, and it's been 2 years in the planning, she'd not breathed a word to me about anything bar the absolute essentials, and even that is being generous.

I think she has spun the NemeSis a line, a line of guilt about how I've not said Good Luck (I did, but not like I can get overly involved if I'm being actively ignored, is it?)

I am that close from sending a PA text, Hope the move went well, I'd send a Good Luck in your New Home card, except you haven't told me where you are exactly...

I'm cross, not surprised, but I hoped that it wouldn't go down like this.

Joke is, somehow she's made ME out to be the bad person.

I know I'm not.

A while ago I got buttonholed by my uncle, encouraged to make it all up with everyone. Wonder if he knows that I don't know where they are...

Tempted. I'd love to put him right on a couple of things, debunk all the crap she has been perpetrating.

Mostly I am in disbelief. I'm not as hurt as I was when Abusive Ex left and they all hid from me, no, that hurt like hell, i didn't see that coming.

This time it's different. I had an inkling. I was right. Being right sucks.

thanks for listening.

NotQuitePerfect Mon 29-Jul-13 20:33:23

Hand holding Hissy.

I feel your pain. My dad moved twice without telling me where he'd gone. It took a while, but I got the message eventually. It hurt like hell, and still does, years later.

My itinerant, chaotic sister frequently moves/changes her tel no & doesn't inform me. Then I'm at fault, of course, for not getting in touch. She can go the same way as my dad now - I give up.

It's taken years but now I understand what a distant but slightly understanding family member told me when I was in my early 20's : "the only people that matter, that really matter, are the people who live in your house" ie. your partner & children.

Let's try our hardest not to pass on all the dreadful, dysfunctional behaviour that passes for 'normal' in our birth families. Cherish those close to you, we can't change history but we can make the next generation feel valued and loved. smile

themidwife Mon 29-Jul-13 21:22:14

Thought you'd like to hear a funny in a terrible way story. Some of you may remember I went almost no contact with my parents last year although they won't accept it.

Anyway it's DS's 21st birthday today. DD keeps asking to see them too. So I arranged a meal yesterday at 530 at a local restaurant which has disabled parking literally outside the rear entrance a few steps from the table. I texted them 2 or 3 times giving instructions about where to park as I live in a very hilly place & they have mobility problems. We wait 30 minutes (DH, me & 4 DCs the youngest only just 4) & no show. Then a waiter comes over & says - there are 2 disabled people downstairs who say they can't manage the stairs. The chefs are going down in the private service lift to get them upstairs. They eventually emerge sweating & huffing both on crutches having parked down the hill. shock
I say why didn't you park in the disabled parking? (Pointing at the space a few feet away) Mother says - we didn't receive your instructions. How did they know I sent them then?!

So meal ensues, mother shouts at the top of her voice - "Poor Daddy can't get into any of his trousers now!" (He's the man who repeatedly called me fat & "pregnant looking". He must now weigh 25 stone +) Then he pipes up "I don't know what you're feeding them all midwife, but they're all getting rather large!!" sad

They're both on opiates & not meant to drink but mother insists on having 3 Peronis. While the birthday cake is being presented to DS & we sing happy birthday she promptly vomits all over herself at the table & is led away to the toilets to clean herself up. Then we have to do the reverse service lift scenario with both my DSs, a chef & our taxi driver practically carrying them back to their car. They bought my DS a pair of M&S Essential £8 pyjamas for his 21st birthday & left my DH to pay the whole bill. shock


Hissy Mon 29-Jul-13 21:30:27

Oh dear god midwife, that is tragically comical!

Reminds me of the last 'date' I had with exBf, reminded me why I was right to end it.

You'll be able to laugh about it.. eventually!


GoodtoBetter Mon 29-Jul-13 21:31:43

shock midwife !!

themidwife Mon 29-Jul-13 21:36:58

It's outrageous isn't it?!!! <laughs hysterically>

Hissy Mon 29-Jul-13 21:42:26

Thanks, NQP! Very kind of you!

The whole thing has made me really want to be close to my DS. We're on holidays next week together and i'm really looking forward to it!

It's been a week since she moved, no contact. I spoke to my uncle today, and he's confused by it all. I'm going to go and see them next weekend on my way to the holiday destination. Perhaps the understanding of normal people will help me stop feeling so bloody awful.

It's so humiliating. I can't help myself wondering if people will look at me, exDV relationship, estranged from Dad, siblings and no my mother's left me, and think that it's me that has the problem.

If it is, I can't see it. It'd never occur to me to treat my son or anyone the way i've been treated. The very idea of me repeating any of that breaks my heart!

pumpkinsweetie Mon 29-Jul-13 21:56:50

shock Midwife, sounds shockingly not funny in a funny way!

GoodtoBetter Tue 30-Jul-13 20:04:09

Hello all,

I've been mulling things over a lot lately and something came up on another thread that made me wonder....

my engulfing narcissist mother has this thing that along with nothing ever being her fault hmm she has this massively heightened sense of injustice. Things that have happened or that people have "done" to her, she seethes with rage at the injustice of it, more than is normal. Does that sound familiar?

Also, she was complaining the other day that she hadn't heard from my brother in about a month, but she NEVER phones him and only rarely e mails. She does this to everyone, moans that her own brother doesn't ring, but never contacts him herself. Never contacts me off her own back. She's got the time and the money to be ringing my brother and my uncle and me and yet she never bothers, but seems to think everyone else should be making the running and has in the past cut people off of fallen out with them, when she's not making any effort to maintain the friendship.

spanky2 Thu 01-Aug-13 20:54:04

Your description of your mum is very similar to mine . Her behavior recently has forced me to go non contact. But she is so sick of me challenging her that her and my enabling father have also gone non contact with me.sad She needs to divide you and your brother to have control over your relationship .

GoodtoBetter Thu 01-Aug-13 21:29:14

Yy....have had 2 long running threads about her. We lived with her for 3 years and only extricated ourselves at xmas. She has always had a scapegoat and golden child. I've been the golden child til moving roles reversed. She's used money and inheritance for many years to try and control and divide us. So, the not getting in touch and then moaning, is that another trait? There are so many things they do like a script...tis so weird.

pumpkinsweetie Fri 02-Aug-13 06:57:40

Strange you say about the 'script' good, as i believe the toxics definetly all work to the same 'script'.
It's "woh is me, poor me" when they caused all the damage & my favourite is "life is too short" and "i'm not getting younger, fil may have a heartattack"grin fgs they do like to guilt trip.

Thinking about Christmas a lot at the moment, although very premature. It's been playing on my mind an awful lot, do i give in and allow 1day of contact to shut the ils up before xmas, say around the 15th or will they still cause trouble on xmas eve and day or do i stay nc and have dh pressurizing me all winter long ? Either is just as bad as the other, such a catch 22 situation......but i will be almost fullterm in my pregnancy by then i don't think i will be able to take the stressconfused

What do others with toxic parents/ils do at xmas, what works for you?

GoodtoBetter Fri 02-Aug-13 07:08:09

Hi pumpkin my mother is a master of the "I'm not long for this world" bolloeaux. When we moved out she kept on about who would look after her in "her last years". She's only 70 ffs. Her own mother lived to 92!!

Xmas is worrying me greatly too as there will be guilt tripping a go go and lots of awkwardness as it's the 1st in 4 years that we've been living away from her and even before that she totally took over anyway.

Meery Fri 02-Aug-13 07:38:07

Xmas is a nightmare. I always remember the first Xmas after we'd got married. A major sulk from dm as we chose yo spend it with the IL. I just didn't follow the rule that newly weds should spend Xmas with the brides family!

Dm living abroad and us having dc doesn't make negotiations any easier. She still expects us to pitch up at hers and has a hissy fit when i stick to my guns and say no. I believe that Xmas is for dc and have built up our own home traditions that i hope they enjoy. She is welcome to come over but has to be asked in the right way ie pleaded with. As it is she prefers to visit my dsis and announces in the woe is me voice ' Xmas is spoilt/cancelled ' if dsis has the audacity to go away for Xmas. Er no we're still here dm.

If she's not with us i feel obligated to send a parcel of presents over. It's barely appreciated.

pumpkinsweetie Fri 02-Aug-13 07:57:00

Thankyou meery and good, wish my ils lived far way! I guess it doesn't make it any easier though as they can still phone & write etcconfused

My dm isn't toxic and lives alone so we normally have her here for christmas, mil obviously doesn't like this and i think the jealousy aswell as her great toxicity mixes up and makes christmas a nightmare!
Christmas eve dh had constant texts and phonecalls harping on about wanting to see the gc and how is had to be on Christmas day or they wouldn't be getting any gifts, then we had the aunt texting going on and on about how mil is crying and hasn't she suffered enough bla bla bla. Dh went all depressive and we had a blazing argument, it was awful but i stuck to my guns.

It's not as if i haven't tried, we had them to christmas dinner twice in two years a few years back and they still weren't happy. Moaned about what meat we had to have, fil insisted we have turkey, insisted we use his steamer, insisted on watching horse racing, insisted kids can't open presents from them until the afternoon, insisted the kids were allowed to throw their wrapping and told me i couldn't pick it up until they finished playing and insisted they don't drink alchol. Omg it was like torture!! They moaned me and dh had a few drinks, didn't help with anything, didn't wash up, clear up & moaned we were to cook fils sprouts which he didn't bring until 2pm which meant they didn't cook enough, which of course was our fault!
And demanded to come on boxing day too, when i said no they kicked up a storm as per normal!!

Worst part is they didn't leave until 8.
All this whilst fil wound up and tripped up my dc which went completely unoticed by mil who made a barrage of insults throughout the day!

tangerinefeathers Fri 02-Aug-13 07:57:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pumpkinsweetie Fri 02-Aug-13 08:15:25

Oh tangerine, my mil is exactly like that, she used to bring along whom ever she liked without consulting me first or telling dh at last minute giving me no choice but to say yes.
She used to bring her other gc on many occasion, which in itself i had ni problem with but it was the fact she had no authority over them and the eldest used to pick on my dc leaving me to deal with it. Aswell as that mil made no attempt to help out with drinks or anything, i had to cater for them whilst she sat on her behind taking control of my sky remoteshock
Then there was the time pil bought along sil to christmas dinner......
Oh and the time mil insisted on staying at my home with my dm to watch my children whilst i went in labour, came back and my niece was at my home tooconfused, aswell as that my poor dm did everything for my dc whilst mil again sat on her arse. So my poor mother not only had my kids to look after but also mil and my niece!! Never again!

themidwife Fri 02-Aug-13 08:30:59

My parents are they opposite. They don't "believe" in Christmas. They still sit on their fat arses, drink themselves to oblivion & eat ready meals & puddings but they do that every day!

I do get the woe is meal guilt trip though - my mother has been dying since 1989! She rang in a weak whispering voice & said, "my heart nurse says I need to gather my family around me to tell them that I'm not long for this world & that they won't resuscitate me if I have a heart attack". That was 2 years ago! I've unplugged the phone since then!

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