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

(1000 Posts)
DontstepontheMomeRaths Fri 23-Aug-13 16:00:41

Thread opener here:
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It's August 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
March 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 your 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 defences 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 behaviour. 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 offences 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 behaviour. 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 realise 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

This final quote is from smithfield posting as therealsmithfield:

"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

GoodtoBetter Fri 23-Aug-13 16:04:42

Marking my place.

pumpkinsweetie Fri 23-Aug-13 17:10:41

Marking my place.

Hissy Fri 23-Aug-13 23:57:48

Me too!

Phoenixwoman Sat 24-Aug-13 16:45:35

Hi all, I think I fit in here and just wanted to share my thoughts.

I've always known something wasn't quite right with my parents, particularly my dm who never seemed to want to spend time with me. It was always a chore and I was told how lucky I was to have any time with what with her being so busy and having to work so much to look after me and my sibling. It got worse as we entered our teens and we really started to realise what she was like and the extent of her drinking as well. Every day was spent worrying about what her next explosion would be about, what foot would I put wrong today. When I got affection it felt forced and insincere, not real. I've never felt comfortable with physical contact with my family and don't enjoy hugs for example but do with my dh and dc.

I've never felt good enough and have workede hard to get good grades, educated, have a career, get married to a lovely man, then have dc, do everything the 'proper' way, all the time desperate for approval and love I never get back. I cry over the dm-dd relationship I will never have because she doesn't want it, doesn't seem to like me. Even as a married adult I would seek approval/advice before making decisions, like a child. My dh would be exasperated by it but I just couldn't make my own decision, be my own person?????

As I have got older and especially following the birth of my own dc I have realised what 'normal' is. I know how it feels to love my dc and want nothi more than a relationship with them where I see them regularly and want to spend time with them. It's such an intense desire to be near them I can't understand why my dm doesn't feel like that for me. I have started create distance between us though it's hard and I feel guilty but she has made it difficult and many of my family have shut me out. She dislikes my dh a lot as he gives me more power over her. She has accused him and others of controlling me as she knows me better than anyone and I wouldn't disobey/go against her as I have done.

I have done some research in toxic parents and it all seems to fit with NPD. I was up reading late last night as it was like a light bulb had been switched on, it all fit, I am a scapegoat, I have all the features of an ACON and I'm starting to finally realise the way I feel (doubt, anxiety, low self esteem) are not my fault. I said realise, actually I think I did that a while ago, maybe I should say I am starting to believe that this is not my fault.

Anyway, I'm rambling, there is so much to say, get out, release and I finally feel brave enough to do that! Sort of anyway. Hope this makes sense to someone and someone can relate????


spanky2 Sat 24-Aug-13 17:40:03

I understand what you are saying .Try reading Will I ever be good enough ? It is so helpful .

spanky2 Sat 24-Aug-13 17:41:07

People don't really understand . I am trying to come to terms with the fact my parents don't love me.

Meery Sat 24-Aug-13 18:06:51

Slightly off topic but just musing how dysfunctional families impact down the generations. I thought i was close to dsis she's the only one who really understands when i have issues with dm. Its the bits that people with normal families dontsee or get that she's onto straight away. We talk alot and get our families together regularly.

Today i found out she got married. Over a year ago. Maybe we're not so close. It hurts.

Hissy Sat 24-Aug-13 19:15:14

Oh Meery! What a shock! sad poor you!

Littleen Sat 24-Aug-13 19:38:46

can relate a lot to you, phoenixwoman - I also keep trying to do all the right things to get some acknowledgement, and never take any decisions without consulting my parents, as I am so desperate for their approval. I'm still unable to break that cycle, so I can't really give any advice sad

pumpkinsweetie Sat 24-Aug-13 19:38:53

Oh meery how upsetting x

Meery Sat 24-Aug-13 19:48:44

Thanks hissy. Im sure I'll be ok in a day or so it's just i so crave a normal family that do normal things that a secret wedding has really thrown me. At least I've been spared a bridezilla occasion.

I guess i just need to speak to dsis to get closure on this and move on.

Pw apologies for ignoring you. Wil reply when I've read your post properly.

TotsAway Sat 24-Aug-13 20:13:11

Hi, posted a thread and someone recommended coming here. It's not about my parents but my PILs, MIL in particular. Without writing a mammoth essay, MIL is quite selfish and has a lot of insecurities/beliefs that have had quite an effect on DH. I don't think she's a narc (although I'm really not sure) but she does put herself at the centre of any issue and relates everything to herself and what she thinks/feels and DH is left with a lot of guilt and very beholden to her. She either loves or hates everyone so the inference is you have to do what she wants else you're in the bad books. She has some weird views on various topics and is very stubborn so won't ever listen to suggestion she might be wrong. She'll throw 'calm' temper tantrums if she doesn't get her own way - so won't shout or rant but will just keep repeating her opinion as fact and getting upset/anxious if she's not listened to/agreed with, so she gets her own way anyway without ranting.

Basically it's very hard for DH to feel he can really live his own life without her always having a little bit of control over it, always pulling the guilt strings when she wants her own way. Usually it's fairly minor, like what half of Christmas Day she gets or DH having to spend 10 mins finding just the right birthday card to please her but it's a 'drip, drip' effect and ends up causing quite a bit of stress over the weeks/months. FIL is generally ok but is very much an enabler so when the shite hits the fan he gets just as bad. DH is slowly starting to be able to talk about and process that their behaviour is wrong, it's not his fault, and think about dealing with it but I want to help him (and me) find where to start.

I looked through the links at the start of the thread but was a bit overwhelmed with all the various terms and ideas so could do with a good place to start and unravel what's going on with the PILs and how to help DH start to unpick it all. Don't want to recommend the Toxic Parents book to him first off (even though I think it might be perfect) as just labelling them 'toxic' would be too much for him atm.

Hissy Sat 24-Aug-13 20:58:45

I was talking about narcissism with my therapist last session.

Narcissism can be on a spectrum, right?

pumpkinsweetie Sat 24-Aug-13 21:56:23

TotsAway the things you mention totally remind me of similar traits my mil has. Especially the wanting control over Christmas, needing an extra special card etc etc. Hating someone if they don't follow her 'ideals'. If dh is like my dh, he was probably is clouded that it's all normal behaviour but still placates her every whim. This itself stresses my dh out for the weeks/months leading up to up to it. It even makes him ill & withdrawn and even short tempered.

I at first didn't notice my mil was toxic until many years after being with dh, even after living with her. The time it became apparent was when we had our children, especially the iminent birth, wanting to take over etc etc. Over time i started to notice my dh was scared of his parents.
In the end it materialized fil had beaten dh as a child and later on fil also started his campaign too.
Mil got worse and pushed her expectations onto my pfb who is from a past relationship, saying in front of her about her eyecolour, origin, and how it is nature not nuture re children. This caused a lot of problems.
Fil became verbally abusive last mothers day because he thought we hadn't got mil a present and proceeded to blow up in my kitchen saying he didn't want to see his ffin grandkids again, fuck this fuck that etc before dh removed him from our home. It was that night dh confided in me about being beaten.

TotsAway Sun 25-Aug-13 08:17:23

That does sound so strangely similar to my DH's situation pumpkinsweetie. DH is so used to MIL/PILs behaviour that although he's starting to realise it's not helpful he still sees it as just what they're like, and yes, feels he has to placate them in everything otherwise he's in the wrong and feels guilty that he's hurt them in some way, and yep, it makes him stressed, moody and a bit short tempered, when usually he doesn't even seem to have a temper he's that laid back.

It's definitely only been in the past 6 months - a year that I've slowly started to realise PILs are toxic too and we've been together for 3.5 years. I used to think they were just lovely genuine people, with a couple of eccentricities but generally sound, would never have described them as toxic but from what I've seen/know now I definitely would. Am pretty sure there was no physical violence in the past (beyond a smack now and then which I don't approve of) but think PILs have used emotional stuff to make DH as scared of them. MIL walked out on the family and lived apart for 2 years when DH was 14, more because she was fed up rather than deeply depressed, and at first I thought this was just a sad event for all concerned but now I can't help seeing it as another example of her saying 'do what I want or suffer'. And I'm seeing that attitude more and more now, from both PILs, 'if we don't get what we want you'll pay until we do'.

Think me seeing it is really accelerating how DH is seeing it, because I don't take it lying down, but I feel terrible that DH is getting 'squeezed' between seeing what I see and not wanting to see his parents as toxic. He tries to placate them and defend their attitude where possible but it's always in a very defeated way, he admits he's knows they're in the wrong but doesn't know what to do. It feels like the whole issue of the PILs is a snowball that's growing, every issue that comes up now DH is realising more and more how dysfunctional their attitude is but doesn't know what to do with that knowledge.

It's very hard because from what DH has told me I don't think they're bad people, they themselves had a lot of issues with their own parents, but their attitudes are absolutely toxic and we can't put up with them. Hoping to find some sort of website or something that talks about the signs of toxic parents so DH could see the similarities and get some validation that what they do isn't just normal parenting, think that's what he's struggling with at the moment.

Phoenixwoman Sun 25-Aug-13 08:33:24

Littleen, I know exactly what your saying. I've started reading Your Not Crazy It's Your Mother and its like reading my life. The description of how ND affects daughters is perfect and the description of toxic mothers has mine down to a tee, even the phrases she uses. DH and I have been reading it together like this shock.

I realised a while ago and have started standing up to them and its caused such a rift in the family. Don't think I've got the strength for no contact but often daydream they would initiate it. Still think I'd come off the bad guy if it happened. However contact is reducing and although the stress and weight of the situation is always there it feels like I have some freedom.

Meery, did your dsis have any family at her wedding? Sorry you feel so disappointed.

Phoenixwoman Sun 25-Aug-13 08:37:38

Sorry another epic post. For those with in laws on here I feel for you. My dh gets so frustrated with me as I bury my head in the sand and 'forget' what has happened over the years to protect myself fr the pain. I can't not have a relationship with my parents, I just can't give up yet, and he can't understand how I would go anywhere near them. All I can suggest is give him time to see for himself.

A good suggestion I read was to write a list of all the bad things that have happened so you can glimpse at it when the guilt appears and you 'forget' what really happened.

Misspixietrix Sun 25-Aug-13 11:28:29

<Marking my place too> will try and keep up this time. Going through a dreadful stage with DM that has had me really upset. Meery what a shocking way to tell you that's really hurtful! sad

pumpkinsweetie Sun 25-Aug-13 11:31:14

Due to last night i will not be posting mil a letter infact everything has had a compete turn around.

Last night my dm & my dh went to a party of an old work friend. My dm got sozzled and told my dh he cannot go on treating me like this & pretty much blurted out i had been talking to her about ils. She said he needs to stop revisiting this as it won't end well and he needs to lay his past to rest etc. Things were mentioned that concerned dhs childhood, he wouldn't tell her how bad it was but went on to say he didn't want to become like his father. He then left my dm after saying he couldn't deal with it and went for a long walk in the rain & cold.

He came back late last night and he has finally opened up a little about the beatings, said it included belts and cigar burns amongst other horrid things but he said he doesn't remember much- i guess he has blocked it out. He then went on to say that he knows his parents are not good to be around the children and although hard i told him and we agreed he doesn't have to be scared anymore or be answerable to any of them & from now on it's best we ignore all calls from them.
We agreed there wouldn't ever be any contact from pil with the dc.

I know it isn't going to be easy but i think we are finally getting somewhere re standing united against them. I think he does need help with this and i know he could fail at any time but unsure of how to help him on his path? I have suggested he reads susan fords book, i'm hoping it will help him.

I have said i will not try to stop him seeing his parents but he is going to stop allowing the harrassment inbetween & have suggested if he cannot let go of seeing them he needs to have a larger gap inbetween to avoid being scared & badgered constantly.

Misspixietrix Sun 25-Aug-13 12:17:21

pumpkinsweetie so sorry about your DH. sad Its good i. A sense however that he is beginning to open up ~

Misspixietrix Sun 25-Aug-13 12:27:24

Just been reading the 1st post again and the one that sticks out to me is the "You're being mean" attitude. I distanced myself completely a few weeks ago after a really shitty time with her. Had her friends up enquiring as "she doesnt know what she has supposed to have done". Apparently causing a text argument 5mins after your Dd has just found out her Df has been blue lighted to Hospital is reasonable behaviour in her book hmm

Misspixietrix Sun 25-Aug-13 12:27:57

*ring up ~

pumpkinsweetie Sun 25-Aug-13 13:15:55

misspixie the "i don't know what i'm supposed to have done" is a line spun all the time by my ils. They also use it in a bid to gather more relatives to interrigate us if their bid to hasn't worked. As you say it's a typical sentence all toxic's use to fool you into thinking they are hard done by.
It doesn't wash with me anymore, the favourite used by mil presently is "i can't sleep" " i can't stop crying" words mentioned in her fb message to me yesterday and the "we used to be friends" - All guiltrips to add on pressure, but i know she made her bed and now she can lie in it as can fil respectively.

GoodtoBetter Sun 25-Aug-13 16:10:17

So, went to see the DM today and it's put me in a right grump. I was in a bit of a grump anyway because the DCs ( 2.3 and 5.5) are being AWFUL atm. It's really really hot here (abroad), we've just given up potty training DD (2.3) after a week because she wasn't getting it and it was too much, being cooped up in the heat. They are constantly fighting, squabbling, tantruming, wailing. Driving me nuts. So, there was a whole big fuss just before we let and then it was hot when we were out in the park. They were fighting over a toy in the park, so I bought them each a little bouncy ball. After a while DS lost his in the undergrowth and started wailing. We had a good look but couldn't find it, so I said there was another one in my bag at home and he could have that one. He starts his foghorn wailing and I just know DM thinks I'm a cold hearted cow, but a lot of it is just noise. I told him to calm down and he could have the one at home and that I'd count up to five to help him calm down and I wanted him to stop making the noise (not even crying, just "waaaaaah!"). She's all, don't worry darling, here come and look at this with me.....
I said to her, "You probably think I'm a right bitch, but the counting helps him calm down". And she said "no, I didn't say that but you're much harder than I was". She did all the, "every child is different, you try your best" bollocks but it really pissed me off the "hard" comment.
It's like a while before we moved out and she said I was "a very shouty mother, I wasn't like that with you" hmm....told DBro that and he laughed like a drain.
A few years ago when I was just pg with DD but didn't know it and feeling down generally (prob pg hormones in retrospect) and DS was getting up really early and being really stroppy and hardwork (about 2.5yo) she had a big go at me saying I treated him like I didn't love him, was always sharp with him, not interested in him. "I just feel so sad for him" she says, like he's some poor neglected mite with an awful cold hearted mother (i.e me).
These comments really get under my skin. I just feel so judged. I don't smack, I didn't shout, if I have to shout or there's a row I always make sure we make up and hug and kiss when everyone is calm. I think I'm generally a good parent, I told her they'd been awful this week and she knows I've had bad period pain, but I just feel she thinks I'm this awful shouty cold tyrant and it's not fair. I said to her, look I don't smack but there are things I won't have, like shouting, that awful foghorn wailing when he doesn't get something he wants, backchat, fighting, hurting other people...and the best way to deal with it is often a countdown.

I know I shouldn't let it bother me, but I feel like I shrink as a parent (especially as a parent to DS) in her presence.

Hissy Sun 25-Aug-13 17:24:15

I didn't even start potty training til DS was gone 3, so if it doesn't work now, don't stress about it!

Your mother was undermining you again. You got sucked back in.

Who the hell does she think she is criticising your parenting? She STILL throws tantrums and uses emotional shit to get her own way. If you're not going to take it from her (quite right) why on earth would you allow your son to try it.

Btw, the wailing is typical for that age. It won't last.

And certainly not if you are quick to nip it in the bud now!

You know you're a good mother, don't let her knock you!

GoodtoBetter Sun 25-Aug-13 18:07:59

It's this awful "UUUUHHHH" sound that is all about noise rather than upset and it drives me mad. Obviously if he's really upset I'll comfort him...but she does the poor little love routine and it makes me look like bad cop in comparison. It's like the sun shines out of his arse and I'm this stroppy shouty mother. Sometimes like most 5 yo he's a pain and I get annoyed.

The time when he was 2.5 I was just down and tired with the early waking and she was totally umsympathetic and turned it into saying things like I obviously didn't love him and why had I had him if I didn't enjoy him....(who the fuck enjoys a non verbal 2yo who wakes before 6 every day and tantrums and trashes the house?.... he was really hard work in those days). She has form for subtely interfering in discipline too.

Nobody ever does it better than her...she was super mum and "had no help".

If anyone else witnessed today they'd say I was making a fuss over nothing..but it's the backstory.

She just constantly gives me the impression I'm not doing it right.

pumpkinsweetie Sun 25-Aug-13 19:30:57

Goodbetter sorry your day went badly, just remember it's not you who is the shit mother, it is her.
She is trying to make you feel inferior, only you know what your child does and doesn't need.

GoodtoBetter Sun 25-Aug-13 19:36:09

Funny thing is when we lived with her she found him the same as I any 5 yo. Now it suits her for her to be supergranny and him to be poor little maligned mite.

Hissy Sun 25-Aug-13 19:50:43

Think about it, a NORMAL mum would tell you 'It's OK, hold firm and don't stand for tantrums'


Because that's how you're supposed to deal with tantrums.

Reward good behaviour, ignore bad at the very LEAST!

Trust your instincts woman.

Look at this logically, you'll know i'm right! smile

Hissy Sun 25-Aug-13 19:54:20

Her motivation here is to undermine you.

Remember this!

dragon99 Sun 25-Aug-13 22:24:19

marking my place too. Starting to realise how badly my mother has affected me.

Hit hard recently as she yelled at my DNephew who was making some noise in her home, not badly atall, just usual 6 year old stuff, and she yelled at him badly to shut up, also did the same to him when we were out somewhere and he was a bit noisy.

Took me back to all the time she yelled at me. Tried to comfort DNephew, I didn't dare say anything to my mother though. Feel bad I can't even stick up for a 6 year old.

dragon99 Sun 25-Aug-13 22:25:40

have ordered a few books mentioned on this thread, will let you know how I get on with them.

Meery Mon 26-Aug-13 07:43:14

Just to answer a question up thread and im sorry for not offering support to you guys as smart phone typing is not my strong point. Dsis and i have exchanged texts and i can accept what happened re her marriage afaik how it came about.

It was a quick registry do for tax reasons. No family or friends attended. I must stop overthinking and projecting but can't help considering that if dm was different Dsis would have done things differently. Dm has form for outrageous behaviour on social occasas you can well imagine.

Keep strong everyone.

Meery Mon 26-Aug-13 07:47:34

By not offering support i meant by being more than a little me me me at present. Sorry

pumpkinsweetie Mon 26-Aug-13 08:56:21

Just a thought meery maybe your dsis thought it was best to get married on the hush to avoid disaster with the toxics. She should have told you though atleast.

Me & dh were talking about marriage the other night (we aren't married yet, but i call him dh)- & i said if we ever tie the knot i think he should take on my surname & maybe we should consider changing my dcs names to my surname too, does that sound odd?? I don't want no part in his toxic family and if i had realised what these people were like my children would have never had their surname.
Even thinking of making a start by giving my unborn baby my surname when she is born?

Do you think i would be right in doing this? I just don't want to carry on their family line, i want rid of the toxicity and by changing surnames i think that's a start.

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 10:37:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GoodtoBetter Mon 26-Aug-13 11:22:02

my mother is still irritating me via telephone (latest thing is fussing about setting up a fruit and veg delivery, I'm not sure whether to commend her or get annoyed at the "I can't get out to the shops" subtext). But I would just like to shower this thread with the joyous relevation that:


Today is cloudy and coolish...about 30º (such a joy after 40º), we've had a long tramp round the village and through fields with the dog and it's similar tmrw so we're going to pack a picnic and go to the moutains and on Friday lovely friend is babysitting and DH and I are going to the cinema.

Happy days.

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 11:43:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pumpkinsweetie Mon 26-Aug-13 12:24:03

Oh tangerine, your dm sounds me, me, meconfused hope the rest of your birthday went wellthanks
It's toxic mils birthday fri, i wonder how she reacts when she realises her letter from me never camegrin
I'm hoping dh keeps his decision of ignoring her for a while.

If i was him i would buy her a present online and send her a funky pigeon card, although that i'm sure would bring with it a moan about the price tag, as we are skint until monday!
Aslong as he keeps up with ignoring her all will be okay. I'm glad i'm not treading on egg shells feeling pressured to allow her contact with dcs. My dm did me a favour having it out with dhsmile

Goodtobetter congrats on not having to live with her anymoresmilegrinsmilegrin bet you are extatic!!!
Hope you have a lovely picnic with your dh tomorrow.

Phoenixwoman Mon 26-Aug-13 12:33:44


Completely agree, confirmed when we've ever had to spend more than a few hours in her company. Not that she wants to spend time with us.

On this theme, did anyone else try their hardest to keep out of the way or out of the house growing up. I spent huge amounts of time in my room or as soon as I found the right people whole weekends at friends houses. I also worked most weekends and nights after school. I went away to university in a different city and moved in with my now dh within weeks of meeting him. Once I'd left there was no going back.

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 13:00:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Phoenixwoman Mon 26-Aug-13 13:07:58

Very similar story tangerine. She tells everyone she paid me through uni???? I think I got a load of shopping when she dropped me off and £50 as a gift for xmas. If they were skint I wouldn't mind but don't tell people they paid for it when I worked night shifts and went to uni through the day to support myself.

I moved in with now dh and love his family, they've taught me so much about what is normal. I've even learnt day to day basics too which I was never taught or allowed to do at home, things like cooking, cleaning, self-grooming etc.. Needless to day my dm hates them. sad

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 13:26:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 13:43:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pumpkinsweetie Mon 26-Aug-13 14:20:49

Spent the best part of an hour making sure ils cannot see any new facebook photos of the children and all my past ones except the birthday pics. Left a few on there to stop her noticing. I feel quite liberated having done itsmile

If any of them throw a wobbler, that being sil1 & mil, blocked they will begrin. Getting strong!

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Mon 26-Aug-13 15:20:26

It's been a while since I posted here. About a year I think. Since then, I have been through counselling and realised I am not the most selfish, fat, ungrateful perskn in the world. I have realised that my parents - particularly my mother - have been at the root of much of my low self-esteem and my unwillingness to blame those at fault for the bad times in my life. For blaming myself instead I also realised how dependant I had begun on them and how they had manipulated that.

As a result, I have been gradually reducing my reliance on them for childcare, etc. I have not been spending time with them - unless unavoidable such as wider family occasions.

Stupidly, I have been putting off telling them that my son would not be going to their house before and after school anymore. He dropped in there this afternoon (he likes them in small doses and we all live in the same village). They had mentioned df's birthday tea and ds said that he wouldn't be there. When dm asked why, he said because he will be coming straight home from school now that he has a key...

Cue seven phone calls, three texts and two answer phone messages in under fifteen minutes - I was in the bathroom. The messages all complained about my not answering the phone when she had ds there and needsd to talk about him. When I rang back and I explained I had been in the bathroom but she still shouted about my not answering the phone instead of answering whether ds was alright - obviously, I didn't know about their conversation then. All I could thonk was that I was absolutely doing the right thing and that I wished I could move away from them.

I needed to tell someone but even my brother doesn't understand. I am scared of how much of a pain they will be now. I am scared that they'll act as though it never happened and I qill lose my resolve. I am scared the rest of the family will weigh-in trying to make me feel guilty. I am pleased I have said that I don't want her in my life. After I hung up, she texted me to say she has finished with me now (happens most weeks) and I texted back that I was pleased by her reaction because it proved to me I was right to want them out of my life. That I had had enough of having my childcare needs held over me for the last ten years. That despite it being her idea to watch ds so I could work, she has told me repeatedly that I have ruined grandparenthood for her.

She has just text saying that I am imagining them manipulating me by threatening to withhold childcare. That this is my fault anyway. That I am wrong to take ds away from them. I haven't said he can't see them. Just that I don't want to and I don't want them involved in my life any more.


HellesBellesThinksSometimes Mon 26-Aug-13 15:54:55

They just called round - unannounced - to 'sort this out' unhappy with my assertion that it was sorted out and my urging them to leave because I wasn't interested in rowing with them. They made a point of inviting ds round before they left.

I stayed calm while they were here but feel sick now. Gah!

They said I had changed. That I need my head examined.

GoodtoBetter Mon 26-Aug-13 16:19:29

Hello Helles, sorry to hear about your troubles with your parents. Stay strong. "I'm finished with you" "you've changed" mum says / has said that too. Same script.

pumpkinsweetie Mon 26-Aug-13 16:25:30

Oh my gosh helles they turned upshock. Remember to pretend you are out next time, how dare they intrude on your personal space!

Those phrases you mention are another saying toxics use, fil once used the " washing my hands with you" so similar and dhs aunt "you hve changed" this was all at Christmas when i kept non contact and didn't like the fact at last someone was taking control.

Don't back track because of their visit, stick to your guns.

pumpkinsweetie Mon 26-Aug-13 16:26:01

*they didn't

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Mon 26-Aug-13 16:37:29

Thank you both. They have the amazing ability to make me feel that I am being unreasonable.

I just can't keep having a relationship with my parents. There are no boundaries, as far as they're concerned, and I feel like a bad person when I'm with them.

Hissy Mon 26-Aug-13 16:39:29

Helles, stay strong. Your boy is fine, he needs to be independent if he's happy to be so!

Their réaction needs to strengthen your conviction, not weaken it!

Yeah you've changed, you take your own decisions now, and they are for the good of your family.

pumpkinsweetie Mon 26-Aug-13 16:49:01

Gosh the inlaws must have been literally stalking me on fb as they have pretty much noticed my sly customizations already by doing the same to all their posts/photos, i suppose it's to score points, oh well no more irratating quote pictures aimed at me on my timelinegrin
Lets just hope this hasn't set them off for trying to harass dh at work...

Hissy Mon 26-Aug-13 17:07:54

Use their lunacy against them.

Look around you, do other people you know live like this?

No, they don't. Not the happy ones.

Pumpkin, you need to set the boundaries, if they say anything tell them you have no idea what they're talking about.

Then just dismiss the subject in thé future.

pumpkinsweetie Mon 26-Aug-13 18:29:07

You are right other people don't live like this, i need to do what i need to do to keep them out of our lifes for good without obsessing over it.

Hissy Mon 26-Aug-13 21:42:04

You need to have the courage in your convictions.

Your H needs to be onside, and you do need to take all steps to control access to you all by these people.

pumpkinsweetie Mon 26-Aug-13 23:15:50

I think dh needs help to come to terms, realise his parents are both toxic. Again tonight he has said he feels extreme guilt towards his mother and says he feels awful his mother cannot see the dc. He even said he feels he is missing out on showing off his girls to his mother. But i tried explaining to him that of course he will feel guilt but it's all made worse by him not seeing it how it really is. When i said mil is as bad as fil, as she allowed the abuse to him from fil and she has emotional abuse towards him & our dc. He has said again he fails to see what mil has done wrong & feels stuck in the middle.

I'm guessing all of the above spells out how he isn't onside at allsad
I thought he had listened saturday, i thought we were getting somewhere...

How do i get him to stop blocking the truth out, he can love her, he can feel guilt but why won't he just admit she is toxic. Can he not see his own mother allowed him to beaten, he wants to show our dc of & have them around people like that. Really starting to feel anger now tbh, i try and support him but he needs to start dealing with the fact both his parents are toxic and feeling in the middle of us both is part of it.

I'm fed up and excasperated he feels in the middle when i feel as if i'm losing a battle that will soon not be worth fighting if he doesn't man up and deal with her.
I said he can still see her but if she mentions dc he must learn how to say no, ignore and realise the guilt shouldn't be on his part.

Mil birthday is fast approaching, i suspect a large woh is me from her to him. I hope he deals with it rather than rowing with me, why does he want our children around her. What is wrong with showing his kids off to those deserving people and actually starting to put them first in his head.

He said they haven't contacted him today, im wondering why he has starting to say this shit and think he must be lying.

How do i deal with this, how do i spell it out, his mother, father and one of his sisters are toxic, no good for our children and he must give up on this fucking fantasy of any of this family being anywhere normal enough to ever be around my children.

tangerinefeathers Mon 26-Aug-13 23:27:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Mon 26-Aug-13 23:37:34

Thanks TangerineFeathers, I think they will try the "everything's normal" approach over the weekend. This time, though, they will have to accept that I'm out of this drama triangle. I've tried asking them to behave like normal parents. I've tried modifying my own behaviour. I don't want to any more. And I don't need to any more. They can like it or lump it.

pumpkinsweetie Mon 26-Aug-13 23:40:13

That's the sprit Helles which dh would get to this stageconfused frustrated tonight

pumpkinsweetie Mon 26-Aug-13 23:40:24


HellesBellesThinksSometimes Tue 27-Aug-13 00:08:02

pumpkin, it has taken 35 years, an abusive marriage, a nervous breakdown and about 50 hours of therapy. Reading back, it doesn't seem like he's ready. Yet. Too many conflicting emotions probably.

All you can do is keep your children safe and be there for him when he is able to come to terms with it. If you push him, you will become the bad guy.

The thing that pushed me was seeing my friends with their parents and what their relationships are like and accepting that I will never have that and not being prepared to risk my improving mental health by being around people who have such a negative impact on me.

pumpkinsweetie Tue 27-Aug-13 06:58:02

Thankyou Helles, i'm trying not to push him, but it is so hard when i suffer too from him enabling them.
Since me & dc went non contact, all ils keep doing, is pushing, pushing, pushing for contact and i was starting to feel harrassed by my landline ringing all day and dhs complaining of his mother not seeing dc.

I'm not expecting much, i just want him to stand firm they will not be seeing the children instead of playing his dms guilt trips out to me which of course don't make me feel guilty as i know i'm doing what's best, but i'm constantly having to explain myself in return to him when he comes out with the "mum's done nothing wrong" "she's not getting any younger" & the typical "mum's been crying, i hate to see her cry". I try not to sound harsh when explaining to him she has done things wrong, she isn't someone i want my dc around & he will agree for a very short while and the next day week i'm explaining myself again.

How do i put it softly that his mother is toxic? Is there a different word to describe it? I have even thought of showing him my old threads about her behaviour but if i do that he will see all this too...

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Tue 27-Aug-13 08:29:37

I don't know pumpkin he really does need to get there in his own time. I didn't listen when xh tried to tell me about dm. Of course, he was trying to control me too so that was a bit different. No wonder dm and xh didn't get on!!

Has he been for counselling? Seeing a stranger's reaction really made me realise how abnormal my family is. Was, my family is ds and me now. Also, realising how little I tell wider family and friends about dp's was a strong indication that everything is not right.

I feel so much sympathy for you both. The thing is, your dh's parents have had decades of practice at manipulating him. They are at the root of his deepest beliefs about himself and the world. He cannot see them as they are. It's not that he won't, he can't - it isn't possible. He's been conditioned to their 'normal'.

Try not to make it about feelings. Make it about facts. Maybe write down (less emotional) as factually as you can, all the things that have happened that mean il's cannot be allowed to see dc's. Just keep referring him back to it.

This will be very difficult, don't row about it. He'll be trapped and it will you v them rather than il's v the facts, as it should be. Make it clear that you love him and, because of the harm your il's have done to him, they should not be allowed contact with dc's.

Get your anger out on here instead. It's understandable to be angry.

pumpkinsweetie Tue 27-Aug-13 08:57:15

Thankyou Helles this is why i come on here because i'm angry and frustrated but i obviously don't want him knowing that or he really will feel in the middle. Thing is i don't stop him seeing them & i'm quite happy for them to phone eachother, it's just that every visit/phonecall he gets sucked in all the more.

I have tried telling him in a factual way, sometimes he listens, but other times i get denial and guilt trips.
He even went completely against me last month by taking my 3yo to the supermarket to meet mil, i was at my wits end worrying the whole time incase fil was there or mil saying nasty things to my dd. And i got threatened last week by him saying if he left me he can do what he wants and take my dc round thereshock

My dm dealt with him saturday, having had enough of him treating me like this. He came home we talked, it was calm, thought we were getting somewhere re non contact between mil & dc staying as it is but after last night it seems like our talk was all for nothing.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Tue 27-Aug-13 09:06:37

I really would try writing everything down pumpkin it would at least save you having to repeat yourself over and over.

Would he not consider counselling? The situation is clearly putting a strain on your own relationship - particularly if he's making threats about leaving. Some relationship counselling would at least give you a safe place to express yourselves.

If he hadn't been so totally brainwashed by them, he would be able to compare your defence of your childrenwith his momother's enabling of his abuse and realise she was wrong. <hugs>

pumpkinsweetie Tue 27-Aug-13 09:29:36

He won't consider counselling or seeing a therapist, he says they are quacks. I have tried pointing him in the right direction, ie telling him of books and websites that he can research when under the fog but so far he hasn't done either.

For 10 months he was coping ok with me & dc going non contact, except from at Christmas when it became apparent he was being pulled again. But most of those 10months were bliss and our relationship went from strength to strength but upon allowing one visit in May we have gone completely backwards again.

I shouldn't have went ahead with that visit as it opened it all up again and mil expected to see dc again because i allowed it that one time.
I don't know why i went ahead tbh, i think it was guilt, the pressure and my dm even thought it was a good idea at the time. I however very much regret it and wished i hadn't given in daydreamingly thinking things would change when obviously they never will. 3 things went wrong with that visit, mil was dropped of by fil of whom came right into my door, she bought my niece with her and dh was visably withdrawn and snappy the days leading up to and after the visit.
Mil again didn't follow my boundries set, yet even now dh denies she did any wrong doing.

Phoenixwoman Tue 27-Aug-13 09:34:47

Pumpkin, its so hard to believe that your own parents could treat you that way and not love you. It's taken me years to come to the point of just googling what might be wrong, I've spent a long time thinking about it, reading this thread but never contributing, discussing it with dh etc.. It even took me a while to post on here in case I'm found out. I'm terrified she'll find my kindle and see the book I've bought on toxic mothers. It's bewildering how much control there is even when I don't live with them, I'm almost frightened in my own home.

One piece of advice I've read is to make a list of all the things they have done over the years so when you start to waver and get sucked back in or doubt your own feelings (because it's easier to feel loved even if it isn't real) you can review your list and remember reality. That's one of my aims of the week, to write my list.

I totally see why you're frustrated with your dh, my dh has his hand in his mouth constantly when discussing my family. It's so hard to hear the criticism/truth from him, sometimes it's easier to blame him for his opinions than it is to blame their actions. I totally see where your dh is coming from.

pumpkinsweetie Tue 27-Aug-13 09:45:00

Hi phoenix what strikes a chord with me is you being frightened in your own home, i think dh suffers from this. He is almost on tenterhooks, especially at Christmas, i think he is scared they could turn up at anytime and tbh so am i, i have my blinds closed the majority of the time.

AlisonClare Tue 27-Aug-13 10:39:21

I'm relatively new here and just caught sight of this thread - I have a lot on my mind re an uncomfortable relationship with my parents and am feeling very low today. I think that I undersand that it's OK just to write it all out - might make me feel a bit better anyway.

I'm the firstborn of 5. My mother, emotionally immature who only knew how to get her own way by having temper tantrums and throwing things around, my father an enabler who I now think didn't really want children at all. My mother favoured my brother who, as a boy, was good looking, intelligent, sporty and a bully. He is now a complete mess, living a dissolute and self destructive life.

Diaries from my teenage years record entire horrible conversations - my attempts to make light easy conversation with my mother, who would randomly take offence and a shouting match would ensue. My endless resolutions to 'be a better person'. My Dad tellng both me and my brother that we were a disappointment to them - at that point I was on track for three good A levels, was deputy head girl, was in demand as a babysitter locally, did more than my fair share of housework (my brother did nothing), competed at county level in athletics and was responsible for the training of the younger girls at the local athletics club. I'm not sure what else I could have been doing.

Dad paid unnecessary attention to the bodies of me and my sisters - emphasis was put on being slim and he would often ask us to stand still so that he could look at 'how slim we were'. My younger sister became dangerously thin. I don' think he ever crossed any boundaries, but I knew that he never hugged from the heart. As a compassionate adult, I can say that he has an unintegrated/immature sexuality.

Somewhere around the age of ten I made a vow that I would be a better mother than my mother. No surprise then that I started a family with almost the first man that I met - older than me, charismatic and an alcoholic. He too was the eldest in a dysfunctional family. A lovely man, actually, but anyone who has lived with an alcoholic knows how exhausting that can be.

He died when our children were 12, 10 and 7. Previously my feelings about my parents were that I wouldn't be free to be me until they were dead. Now another thought crept in - panic that I no longer had a buffer between myself and my parents. That was the frist real red flag I had that the relationship wasn't good.

Over the last few years, I've had little choice but to accept help from both sides of the family in the bringing up of my children - both sides are toxic. I've monitored the contact and, for the most part, certainly with regard to my own parents, they've been better with my children than they were with me. It has exhausted me though.

A few years ago I met a man and happily began to discuss marriage. I realsied that my dream of a big wedding was under a cloud because the last people that I wanted to be there were my parents. Apart from anything else, none of my children would be happy with this, so - being quite a practial person - I addressed it head on. I wrote all my feelings down, including an apology for 'not being the daughter they wanted me to be' - what person form a normal family would ever write that?? - and sent it to them. I wanted things to be talked out and mended. My Dad read it first, told me he wasn't going to let my Mum see it as it would upset her too much. I had to go and visit to get more a response from him, and all he would say was that I was 'difficult'.

This was a little over three years ago. Since then, the relationship that I was in has come to an end and I feel that I'm falling through the cracks in life. Things seem to be dropping away from me left, right and centre. As I taught my children to love my parents, the don't understand my feelings at the moment. I feel exhausted and misjudged. Mum and dad celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next month. I'm going to be hard pressed to even send them a card.

I've kind of decided to 'absent' myself from my life - to just go through the motions because it seems that whatever I do, some stuff from my childhood seeps through and spoils whatever I have in the present.

Phoenixwoman Tue 27-Aug-13 11:00:33

Pumpkin - it's true, I'm always on tenterhooks that she'll pop in unannounced. Perhaps she'll pick up what website I'm on or what dvd I'm watching and make a snide belittling comment on it to make me feel like an idiot. I'm terrified she'd find me on here and stalk me, hence lots of name changes and I try to swap details like dc ages or dp/dh etc... So frightened to be my own person. She's got some other family members on it too, probably without them even knowing what they're doing.

AlisonClare - I completely understand I've kind of decided to 'absent' myself from my life - to just go through the motions because it seems that whatever I do, some stuff from my childhood seeps through and spoils whatever I have in the present. So sorry for the loss of your dh and having to deal with two sets of toxic parents.

LadyFlumpalot Tue 27-Aug-13 11:01:09

Hello, am new here. Just been lurking recently as have just finished CBT and one of the things that came out of it was that a lot of my low feelings stem from a lifetime of feeling unloved and, well, pretty useless.

Mum once said that I'm just like my father and it's hard to love people like me. She regularly jokes that if me and DH split up, DH is welcome to go live with her and I can go fend for myself.

She loves and adores my son but makes it clear he is the only reason she sees me. For example - she doesn't work Fridays so we used to spend the day together. However, DS is about to start nursery on a Friday (his 15 hour place) and my mum has just completely kicked off about when she will get to see him. I suggested we could do nice grown up stuff together and she just went "nah it's alright". sad

Crikey, sorry about the essay, that was cathartic!

AlisonClare Tue 27-Aug-13 13:19:34

Thank you Phoenix

bellasuewow Tue 27-Aug-13 13:53:57

Alison Clare we have a lot in common I went through this, I read toxic parents and I was surprised at the guilt I felt and how I felt a burden had lifted once I could see this, I think we all go through a long period of time of thinking our lives were normal it is hard to realise and then come to terms with how dysfunctional our parents were and that we were abuse din various ways. I have the confidence to realise and deal with that now but it still affects me. I am no contact with either of my parents and they have certainly not been beating a bush to my door.

bellasuewow Tue 27-Aug-13 14:00:00

Ladyflumpalot I question your assumption that your mother loves and adores your son whilst treating his mother and her daughter so badly. If she was capable of love you would not be feeling so unloved. By unquestionably believing she loves your son you are letting her off the hook as you were a lovely loveable baby that she did not love or show love to this reinforces that she is capable of love and you are unlovable. Loving grannies don't have favourites and manipulate the next generation. I would limit the contact with your ds if she cannot behave respectfully to you and as for the bitchy comments about your husband but sorry how dare she if you are so hard to love tell her to piss off and stop trying what a nasty put down she sounds impossible to love herself, sorry but I recognise some games here and now I'm getting angry...

LadyFlumpalot Tue 27-Aug-13 14:16:10

I get really confused Bellasuewow, because sometimes she does lovely things for me, like giving DH £100 recently so that he could take me for a meal and a day trip out. When I miscarried last year she came round to look after DS whilst DH and I were in hospital, she cleaned, cooked my favourite meal and did a huge shop for us.

Then other times she is just so nasty, condescending and belittling.

It's such hard work trying to pre-guess which personality she is going to have.

GoodtoBetter Tue 27-Aug-13 14:58:38

Ladyflumpalot my mother can be very generous indeed, but then it will always be thrown back in my face eventually, even if not for years. It's hard not to feel bad at the moment she's being nice, but I hate feelig beholden to her so always try to refuse.
Also, my mother I think means to be nice, but then when she doesn't get her own way or is annoyed about something her default reaction is to tantrum and throw things back at you, to manipulate and guilt trip. I don't think she is scheming or calculating as such, it's just how she reacts. Her emotional responses are set this way.
It's like before we moved out she said "I can't believe you're doing this to me (refusing to allow her to bitch about DH behind his back), you'll give me a nervous breakdown". To which I told her not to say things like that as it was nothing more than emotional blackmail. Her response was "how can you say these things to me, you're driving me to suicide". I mean, what can you say to that? I think her entire life has involved reacting like this, it's part of her DNA now, martyrdom.

tangerinefeathers Tue 27-Aug-13 15:06:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GoodtoBetter Tue 27-Aug-13 15:10:25

yy tangerine

tangerinefeathers Tue 27-Aug-13 15:12:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Viking1 Tue 27-Aug-13 16:10:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pumpkinsweetie Tue 27-Aug-13 18:35:31

Hi viking i think it was to scare me into giving in, obviously a learnt trait.
Did worry me though as i have no idea whether any of his abuse was documented so obviously i would need proof it this was ever to happen in the future. I do hope it was a moment of madness when he said it as i found it very scary & hurtful aswell as almost ultimatum like, well it must have been when i felt forced to agree to a further visit, which i'm not going through now.

I will stand firm on this & there is no backing down at all. Christmas will be a nightmare but it always was even when we were in contact.

When or if he mentions dc contact again, i am going to say a straight "no" and leave it at that because whilst he is in this cloud of denial there is no breaking through the clouds.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Tue 27-Aug-13 22:32:07

I agree - they would screw us up a lot less if they were always horrible instead od switching.

Good plan pumpkin - best not to turn it into a discussion which might suggest that you would change your mind.

Day 1 of self-imposed orphanhood and no contact. So far so good smile

This sounds dreadful - I suppose it is dreadful - but it really would be so much easier if they were dead. I could come to terms with it all without the constant fear of what will happen next. Maybe I could even start to remember what was good about them.

TiffanyTortoise Tue 27-Aug-13 23:21:55

Been lurking for a while but I am finally plucking up courage to post and admit to what's going on with my DP's. I am feeling on the slippery slope back to depression which I've had on and off for years. Depression came to a head 2.5 yrs ago and I've put a lot of work into working out why and I realise low self esteem and letting myself be treated badly by others including DP's is what's the root cause.
I have never been good enough for DP's and I let them go on and on about things that they see as a failure. What's bugging me more recently is that they're doing the same to DS1(but not to his face)and this hurts me so much. He isn't what they expect him to be. He has aspergers syndrome symptoms so he isn't doing what they see as 'normal'. As DP's don't believe in conditions such as Aspergers, ADHD, dyslexia etc I have never voiced my suspicions to them. They think it's poor parenting etc.
He is a fulltime student but struggling with the course, he's not interested in a relationship, or out clubbing, learning to drive etc. He isn't sociable/outgoing and has not tried to get a part time job. They keep having a go at me about all this and there is nothing I can do to change DS1. I love him and accept him as he is. They can't see the many positive qualities that he has. He is waiting on resit results and doesn't feel confident but I am dreading that if he doesn't pass that I'm going to tell DP's and I will get another hard time. I should be focusing on how my DS feels not what they've got to say about it. All my life I've tried to please them but never have. When things have come to a head (usually over DS1) I am told everything is my fault and it's me that's the problem.

I don't know why I'm posting this except I feel I need to. Sometimes I feel life would be easier if I didn't see them anymore.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Wed 28-Aug-13 07:50:30

Hi * TiffanyTortoise*. That is very unfair of your parents. No wonder you're anxious and depressed! You are good enough. You are better than that. You are strong and brave. You have dealt with two people treating you badly for years and you are protecting your child. You are everything you should be. Your parents are the ones who aren't good enough because they can't show love.

What sort of relationship would you like to have with them? Do you want to stay in contact? If you do, what level of contact would you want to have. It is very unlikely that they will change so it's a question of finding what you can cope with.

TiffanyTortoise Wed 28-Aug-13 21:04:34

Thanks Helles. You're right, they are unlikely to change. I need to find a way of coping with the relationship. I've been trying to reduce visiting/phone calls down to two visits per month and phone every week. I don't really want to cut contact completely but I don't want to dread having contact with them. I'd like to be able to stand up to them without it being an over the top angry spouting of how much of a disappointment that I am to them. I feel guilty writing this. It's not every visit/call that's bad. I know they won't feel for me/my family as I would like them to feel but wish I could not let it bother me. I want my family/me to be accepted as we are. I can't live up to what they want us to be -we're an average family (which I think is OK to be)
Helles you have come through a lot to get where you are now and sound is if you're making moves to remove yourself from this negativity - so stay strong.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Wed 28-Aug-13 21:16:36

Just remember - you don't have to tell them anything. If they don't act like someone you would want to tell about the good and bad in your life, don't. Keep it superficial. Ask about them. That should engross them enough to keep them off topics that are important to you. Toxic parents are selfish and self-obsessed. It's all about them so they are a good topic for distraction!!

DontstepontheMomeRaths Wed 28-Aug-13 21:27:56

Hi Tortoise. It's very tricky, I still long for my parents to approve of my parenting, of me. To feel proud of me, to feel they like me. I've spent years wanting that, trying to earn that and feeling guilty when I say bad things of them. I've begun to break away from that since going NC with my Dad over a year ago. But it took him threatening me, for me to finally go NC. I still see my Mum but it's hard, she does try and guilt trip me into recommencing contact. I see her once a month but rarely speak inbetween. I used to tell her too much and then I was gossiped about with my brothers.

Hels advice is very good.

How you feel is understandable. Try to protect yourself. It's a journey of self awareness on this thread and realising how damaging our parents have been/ are. And it hurts at times.

I've cried many times when I think of how I'm treated and how I long for a loving Father who approves of me and I'll never have that. He hates my son. He's just been diagnosed an Aspie and Mum now says if he'd known when he was younger, maybe he'd never have got so angry with him. I don't think so! Made me so angry at the time. So it's ok to hit a 2 year old if they're NT? Errrr no.

Please feel welcome here. Whatever you choose to do, you'll be supported.

Phoenixwoman Wed 28-Aug-13 22:31:54

So nice to feel like I belong somewhere. Even though everyone's circumstances are different I recognise all of your feelings. Still grieving that close mother-daughter bond and think I always will. Working on confidence is hard, I find I analyse every little thing. For example organised a night out with friends and its been cancelled because it's an important date for one friend which had skipped her mind. Why am I taking this like a personal rejection? I think it's because I had to message them to clarify details and was the last to find out it was cancelled. I never feel like a central character, always on the periphery. A bit like Gunther in Friends.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Wed 28-Aug-13 22:59:54

Phoenix that's your mother's influence talking. I often feel the same way - that I don't quite belong. I struggle to have close friendships because I am so busy watching for signs of rejection. Luckily, a few years back, I met my best friend. Actually, I wasn't that keen on her to start with but she was there on the darkest day of my life and that is written on my heart. Because of that, whenever I doubt our friendship, I remember that day and overcome my fears. Is there any anchor like that you can remind yourself of when you feel left out?

For a long time, I needed everyone to like me. And to like me more than they liked everyone else or it proved that I wasn't good enough. Madness. Filling a hole left by my parents. There are now a handful of people that I know I matter to. What a thing to be blown away by! There are people I matter to. The real me. And one of them, for the past few months, for the first time ever, is me. My view of me matters and it cannot be dictated by my parents. Nor anyone else. Wow! Bit of a rant but hopefully it shows how far counselling has brought me and gives hope to those who are just starting the journey to accepting they are not the sum of their parents' opinions.

Phoenix you matter. You were invited on the night out. That means you matter to your friends. That you are someone who it is pleasant to spend time with. There has to be someone who is the last to be told and sometimes it is your turn. Don't take that as a rejection. It isn't - there are 7 billion people on this planet but it was you who was chosen as a friend by that group of people. Each of them want to spend time with you. Focus on that. Focus on their regard for you.

I'm sorry that I've gone a bit therapy-speak but it's what I was thinking.

ThunderbumsMum Wed 28-Aug-13 23:17:45

hellesbelles that is a great post.

It is awful to hear everyones' sad stories but comforting in some way to see it's most likely my mother is mental, rather than me being the awful, 'difficult' person she always tells me I am.

This is part of an email I received a couple of days ago:

I understand that you told [dm's husband] that [one of dm's previous husbands] [irrelevant, harmless story that is true]. Where do you get such rubbish from? Why do you make up such daft and hurtful stories? This is a complete fantasy on your part. Your behaviour in making up such stories (of which there have been a number) really upsets me and I wish you would not do it. Its purpose, as I read it, is to belittle and humiliate, and not surprisingly, I don’t like it. You wondered while we were here why I was so upset by the [incident when I was 14, me and siblings and dm's then husband made a joke about an item of her clothing that looked silly, that item of clothing came up in conversation last week when dm's current husband was there and I mentioned she used to have one]. You seem bemused by my irritation with you. I will tell you why – because your amusement at that time was not at any time, real amusement. After all why is having Gucci more acceptable? Its purpose then, which I remember well, and was behaviour in which you indulge in from time to time, was to mock and not to tease. The so-called laughing on your part (and only your part though your tried hard at the time to get the other children to join in) went on and on and on and its effect was cruel and its intention was to humiliate – and you succeeded. It may be that that was not your intention but that is how it was interpreted by me at the time.

I spoke to my dsis about this today, she said it's not true and not to let it upset me. I was thinking maybe I should respond but I feel like it's probably not worth it. Over the last 25 years she has alternated between gas lighting me and telling me that the fairly serious abuse I suffered (which she enabled) was my fault because I am such a difficult person

DontstepontheMomeRaths Wed 28-Aug-13 23:21:13

Did you organise this night out Phoenix? And then the whole thing was cancelled just because one friend couldn't make it?

Did you only find out from clarifying details close to the event?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your post. Hence all the questions but I'd have felt deeply hurt in your shoes.

Is this the first time this has happened?

ThunderbumsMum Wed 28-Aug-13 23:23:42

Sorry, I pressed post too soon. Des anyone have advice as to whether it is really worth engaging any more? I just can't be arsed with it all.

Her current husband also sent me an email, suggesting she and I go to therapy together. She has such a fundamental lack of insight in to her behaviour, it is completely pointless. I have already had a bit of therapy, which was enormously helpful; the more I read, the less I think I have anything to gain from pretending our relationship can be worked out.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Wed 28-Aug-13 23:30:15

Thunder I agree, not responding seems like the best plan. My counsellor talked a lot about the drama triangle and how to avoid it and escape from it.

Your mother is going for the pity-me guilt trip. Even if her recollection were accurate, you were a child. It would have been up to her, as the adult, to respond appropriately and not bear a grudge. Her recounting her version of this long-ago event just shows up how maladjusted her view of her life is. Remember that - she is manipulating you.

What's brilliant is that you are not letting her. You are not some little child who blindly believes everything you are told. You are strong and resourceful and respectful: you felt she had got it wrong, you checked with your sister and you resisted the urge to tell her she was wrong and, so, avoided joining in with her drama. That is fantastic. Well done. I am really pleased for you flowers

DontstepontheMomeRaths Wed 28-Aug-13 23:33:42

That's a horrible e-mail Thunder. She thinks she's got you all figured out and can see what you're like. But it's not true at all. Such a poisonous e-mail to receive, your heart must've been racing.

What an awful thing to say about you. Please don't respond. And I don't see the point in therapy as you're wrong and she's right, apparently. It would achieve nothing. I wouldn't engage anymore.

It's hard though. I used to want to fix everything, say sorry, even when I didn't think I needed to, just to make peace. But these people are toxic and they'll hurt you again and again.

I used to want to explain myself but it's wasted on people like this. They see what they want to see and we keep getting hurt.

As you try to disengage, the onslaught may get worse for awhile.

masquerade Wed 28-Aug-13 23:44:45

I hope its okay for me to post on this thread, because my own parents aren't toxic parents.

I started reading this thread because my daughter has recently decided not to see her dad anymore. She's 10 years old. My relationship with her dad ended when she was 2, I was very young at the time, it was an emotionally abusive relationship. A lot of what is posted on this thread about how your parents make you feel and the common things they say and do I can relate to. I wanted him to be a good dad to our daughter, I encouraged the relationship in the hope that he would be. When she was younger he was very good with her, he always cared for her reasonably well and he was very good at playing with her (better than I was actually). However as she has got older he seems to have become more critical etc of her and a couple of years ago I came to the conclusion that I was right all along about who he was. At that time it didn't seem like I could say our daughter couldn't see him anymore, I didn't have enough proof that what he was doing was harmful, but I warned him if he continued with his behaviour then he was going to damage their relationship. It recently came to a head when he said some nasty things to her, she was really upset and decided she didn't want to see him for a bit - at that time it was only a temporary thing, she did want to sort things out and see him again she just wanted some time to 'get over it' - although she did suggest that maybe we could ring childline and they could stop him being nasty sad

It escalated when I was forced to discuss it with him as it was time for her to see him and she still didn't want to go (I hadn't said anything up until that point, partly because I avoid conflict with him because it still upsets me and gets under my skin, but also I knew he would deny it and accuse me of being unreasonable in allowing her to decide not to see him so it seemed pretty pointless). He reacted as predicted, said she was lying, I was being ridiculous by letting her dictate arrangements, she was just manipulating me etc. Then he decided he would only see her when she apologised for lying and for the hurt she had caused.

Dd was fairly outraged at this suggestion and just decided she wouldn't see him anymore. I say 'just decided' because it really did seem like a very easy decision, she said she knew she risking him being nasty to her if she saw him again anyway. Over the next couple of days it became apparent that she was very angry with him, and now she just doesn't want to talk about it.

I've mentioned it since and she's still fairly reluctant to talk, she doesn't have anything she wants to say to him and she would like to forget he exists, she's deleted any photos she had of him and she even mentioned about changing her name. He's now blaming me for the whole thing, for ruining their relationship and demanding he wants to see her. I've had a solicitor's letter requesting contact be reinstated and for me to attend mediation.

I have been in touch with a children's counselling service, do you think it would be a good idea to encourage my dd to go and try and talk about it?

I've had an initial assessment myself with a counsellor through a domestic abuse organisation, even that very first appointment, which wasn't really counselling, made me feel better, it came at a time where he making me doubt myself a lot, and for someone to say 'yes that is emotional abuse you're describing' was a massive relief. I've talked very little about it and still have the overwhelming feeling that I won't be believed and people will think I'm exaggerating (e.g I know that I need to say my reason for declining mediation is his emotionally abusive behaviour, but the thought of him getting that letter makes me feel sick). This all makes me realise how important it is that dd feels believed in what she is saying, and I hate to admit that I've questioned her - at times when he is so adamant he didn't say those things, but I always end it with 'I believe you'.

Although I was young when we had our relationship given that I would have said I had a stable upbringing and a good sense of self worth and self esteem, I can't believe how long I put up with the emotional abuse, how much he wore me down and how fucked up I still am 8 years later. I'm terrified to think of the effect he could have on my daughter, who is so young and vulnerable, if this is what she grows up with. I'm also terrified that I will deal with it wrongly and add to it all.

I suppose part of what I want from dd seeing a counsellor, as well as someone for her to talk to and get her feelings straight in her and strengthen the belief that he is in the wrong not her, is reassurance that I'm doing the right thing. That its right to let her make this decision. And that nothing I'm doing is making it worse.

I can see that a lot of you have stopped contact with your toxic parent/s as adults, do you wish you had that opportunity as a child? Or do you feel they were still your parent/s and having them in your life was better than nothing?

I regret so much that I didn't just listen to my gut instinct and the advice of someone who could see him for exactly what he was and get as far as way as possible 8 years ago.

Sorry for such a long post, especially when its not technically the right place, I hope it doesn't cause any upset/offence.

HellesBellesThinksSometimes Wed 28-Aug-13 23:59:04

Wow Masquerade what a situation.

DS has counselling periodically - he was abandoned by his father after our marriage broke down - mostly for him to be able to talk it through without worrying about upsetting anyone. I didn't say he had to go but I explained why I thought he would find it useful.

Your DD sounds mature and resolute so, surely, if it went to family court, they would take her views into account?

ThunderbumsMum Thu 29-Aug-13 00:01:19

masquerade what is the legal situation? Is there a contact order in place? How mature for her age is your daughter?

If there is no contact order and your daughter is mature and could be considered capable of making an appropriate decision then you have options but otherwise, she may have more problems in the long run if she causes the upset of refusing to see him and is then forced to go anyway. Would she say to someone 'official' that she doesn't want to see him because he is unkind to her?

From personal experience, I think no contact would be best, if that is what she wants. But obviously, that is based on my experience, not hers. I also think you should consider carefully whether your dd really needs to go down the counselling route at this stage. She will probably be fine with your obvious love and support rather than making a big deal out of it by calling in a counsellor. Does that make sense? I'm not saying that what your ex-p has done is not a big deal, at all, but for a 10 year old girl, I wonder if it is helpful to make a drama out of it.

ThunderbumsMum Thu 29-Aug-13 00:03:00

Shit, that came out wrong. I hope you can see what I am (clumsily) trying to say. And I am sorry for you and your dd being in such a horrible situation.

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