Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

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

(1000 Posts)

Thread opener here:
You may need to right-click and 'unblock' it after downloading it.

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

BooHissy Sun 20-Oct-13 15:25:21

The biggest battle we have to overcome here is our fear of facing up to the truth bout our parents. The fear is all consuming.

When we analyse that fear, and it's intensity and power, we realise that it's the fear we had instilled in us in childhood. Our fear of the big grownup bullies, their standing in doorways, clipping our ears as we ducked under their arms, their banging fists on tables, shouting or hitting.

Try to find the adult within, and help the adult comfort the child that was so badly failed. I found if I made my head stick to the facts, it's easier to be constructive rather than allow my childhood fears stop me from doing what i'd do in a heartbeat if not my family.

BooHissy Sun 20-Oct-13 15:28:37

Oh that kiss and farewell from your friend's mum has made me well up!

She knew! sad

GuyMartinsSideburns Sun 20-Oct-13 15:29:30

Sorry - don't know what happened there with the double posting, Il reply properly when I'm on the laptop cos this phone is obv being a pain.

i appreciate all of the replies so much, its good to know that i didn't deserve any of it and it wasn't my fault, despite what theyd have me believe. I've had a good cry and feeling much better. I was fine for months, it seems to have resurfaced today. I think i went through this when preg with my other two, i think you question your own upbringing etc when you've got a child on the way. I certainly wont be 'parenting' the way they did. Xx

GuyMartinsSideburns Sun 20-Oct-13 15:40:00

My friends mum - she was truly lovely. I always remember her long blond hair and hair-wraps, and dungarees! I always think of her when i smell the body shop dewberry. I really should let her know how much she meant to me, one day. As it turns out I don't live more than about 30 mins by her now, but i digress. Yes i now believe she knew sad

Sorry i don't have a great deal to reply at the moment, i feel pretty tired now. But thanks again so much for all of your support xxx

TheDrugsDontWork Wed 23-Oct-13 17:41:46

Hi everyone, I have been reading but not posting recently but thinking of you all. Not sure if anyone will remember me but I posted a while ago about problems I was having with my parents. I'm early twenties and live abroad, my mother is, I think, a narc and my father is also abusive. I have been feeling pretty good about things recently, haven't seen them for 5/6 months and am in very low (email only) contact. Anyway I just need to post to try and get my thoughts in order while I decide what to do (if anything).

For the last couple of months I've been worrying about Christmas, last year I went back to see my parents. Living abroad with another family had made me realise how dysfunctional my own was and how bad my parents were. My mother said several times I shouldn't have come back, could get an earlier return flight, was so ungrateful and should at least pretend to be happy to be with them. On the way to the airport she said how all the people I thought liked me didn't really, they didn't know the 'real' me, didn't care about me etc., only her and my father did and would be there if I needed them. Earlier last year my father told me he 'fucking hated' me and I was a 'fucking horrible person'. Anyway the family I live with here invited me to stay this Christmas and I agreed, I think they know things aren't quite right with my parents though we haven't talked about it properly. I planned to only tell my parents when they asked.

So my mother emailed me a while ago saying how she was hurt and upset I didn't talk to them much, they just wanted to be involved in my life and why was that too much too ask. This was after she invited herself to visit the same week I had friends planning on visiting. They work full time and can't easily get time off, she doesn't work and can easily come away for a few days but told me I should cancel my friends as she was more important, why had I invited them and not her etc. She hasn't mentioned it again after I didn't back down straight away.

Then my father emailed me recently asking a specific question, after I'd answered he replied talking about how he'd held me when I was born, him and my mother were so proud of me and would always love me. He told me not to forget who my parents are. This is typical of him, he used to say things like that when I was upset after he'd hit me/sworn at me as if that would make everything ok. I expect my mother had told him I had reduced contact. I replied to another part of his email.

Yesterday my mother (after a three week silence) asked me my plans for Christmas. I told her, and sort of excused it by explaining someone here is having an operation and will need lots of help, Christmas is esp busy etc (all true). Then I get an email from my father saying how my mum loves me so much, misses me, is so so proud of me blah blah blah. That she's now upset I'm not coming home for Christmas and I should tell her she's the best and how much I love her. I can't do that.

So I'm now undecided whether to ignore them completely or remind one/both of them what they said to me and that as it was so unpleasant last year it's for the best I stay here. Writing this I can see that my mother has most likely manipulated my father into trying to guilt trip me. He doesn't know what she said last Christmas and is more reasonable than her, but also falls for her martyr/perfect mother impression. I'm leaning towards just ignoring them, as much as I wish they would they will never apologise for what they've done/said and won't accept they could be wrong so trying to reason with them will most likely only make me feel worse. I know in my heart they don't actually want to see me at Christmas, it's just another thing to make a fuss and make me feel bad about.

I'm sorry this is so long, I was trying to be concise but it all seems relevant background and I feel better for typing it out.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 23-Oct-13 18:42:12

I would ignore them, you get nothing nice from contacting them anyway.

Your father being a weak bystander of a man (all narc mothers need a willing enabler to help them) has also acted of self preservation and want of a quiet life. He would always choose his wife over you.

They both made last Christmas miserable by using sewer based language on you, why potentially go back for yet more of the same?. No point at all in reminding them what they said to you, they will likely deny all knowledge or make it all out to be somehow your fault anyway. They just want you there to make you the scapegoat for all their ills again.

With regards to Christmas I would make your own traditions. Be with people who actually care about you and make you happy!. Sod them. (I am going away for the festive season and I could not be happier honestly than to be away from my toxic inlaws and parents who take the word disinterested to a new level).

pumpkinsweetie Wed 23-Oct-13 19:23:32

I agree with Atilla TheDrugs, your Christmas will be much better and pleasant without her. You will begin to enjoy Christmas, although at first it will be hard.

I know my ils will be on the warpath at Christmas, but i shall not be opening up that can of worms again. Dh knows this and i suspect he won't miss the hassle they cause.

Dh is becoming stronger, although he wobbles at times, atleast now he isn't allowing their words to take over his mind completely.
His aunt is in hospital with kidney problems and he had 3 texts, one from mil, fil & sil all asking him to text her goodluck....hmmm i'm not one to be nasty but why is he being conjuled into wishing her goodluck when surely his cousins could tell him of the situation and leave it up to dh to wish his aunt well off his own backhmm

I suppose the aunts illness will be used as a tool to try and win back contact with our children. I can see it now, woh is me, oh woh is me, your fathers heart cant take the upset, aunt isn't in best health ....etc etcgrin Oh well i won't be backing down so i guess if they all die (not likely) it will be our fault!

BooHissy Wed 23-Oct-13 19:55:51

Oh you are all being so brave! I'm thinking of you all!

Distance, disengage, detach.

I'm surviving atm, no contact since sept, so far so good. It's the carrying on as usual with the elephant in the room that pisses me off the most!

TheDrugsDontWork Wed 23-Oct-13 20:17:51

Thanks Attila and pumpkin, you have both confirmed my feelings and 'sod them' is exactly the right attitude!
I know it's no coincidence they've started with the 'We love you, we miss you' now when they know I'm starting to live my own life. My mother has never said it before. Most of the time it doesn't get to me, I know it's an act, just sometimes I want it to be true so much I doubt myself.

pumpkin they really are stooping low using your DH's aunt's illness like that. I know it's not easy for you but your DH is lucky you can help keep things in perspective and remind him what his parents are really like.

BooHissy do you feel better for going NC? Have they accepted it?

GoodtoBetter Wed 23-Oct-13 21:45:58

Drugs, don't respond, it all fuels the fire. And don't go back for Christmas, it's not like anyone enjoys it, is it? I would just ignore or if you feel you have to respond, reiterate you're not going back for Christmas this year bright and breezily and rapidly change the subject.

HissyFucker Wed 23-Oct-13 22:21:08

blush do pardon my french? AF is one of my most important MN peeps. She was one of the only people that cared enough to PM me and ask me how I was when freaky ex left. I owe everything that I am now to her pretty much.

I digress.

No, mum is not accepting NC, she rings weekly, sometimes more, leaves as if nothing ever happened voicemails. drives. me. batshit. to the tune of £45 of therapy every other week. angry

GoodtoBetter Wed 23-Oct-13 22:47:18

They're good at that, these narcs. My mum TOTALLY denied she'd hung up on me during the kitten nonsense. "No I didn't". Calmly said it had never happened. I think she even believed it herself.

HissyFucker Wed 23-Oct-13 23:11:20

My mother used to ignore me for weeks. My crime? having a not brilliant day (thousands of miles away, in a shithole of a country, holed up in a flat for MONTHS at a time with an abusive man)

I'd ask her about it, she'd deny it, to my face. If I pushed it, she would spout all manner of contradictory shite to get me to STFU.

Basket case.

ColinButterfly Thu 24-Oct-13 13:23:09

I've come here for a vent, what is WITH these families and the rewriting of history and their own actions where they paint themselves as victims? Why just when you think you've heard the last of them, do they crawl out of the woodwork? They don't like you, want nothing to do with you, you make your peace with that and they don't like that either!


pumpkinsweetie Thu 24-Oct-13 14:33:28

Totally agree ColinButterfly, it drives me completely insane watching the circus that is dh familyconfused

When we were all in contact nothing was ever good enough, they wanted more then more again, sucked the life and soul from our relationship and when we finally decided enough is enough they don't like that either and now go through dh and give him constant put downs and pressure for all stupid reasons.

Makes me wanna tear me hear out sometimes, when will this green spillages that call themselves 'family' ever realise it's indeed them that are the problem, not others.

Like always say, the "woh is me" is always in the background grrr

Cleorapter Thu 24-Oct-13 18:26:33

Hi all,

This is my first time posting on mumsnet, I come across this thread while having a wee lurk and breathed a sigh of relief that I wasn't the only one with an awful family, although it goes without saying that I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

My mother is a narcissist, my father an enabler. I always knew there was something odd about them, but grew up thinking it was me, I was the problem child, unloveable, I deserved all the abuse I got. I deserved being punched and kicked, hit with belts, being screamed at for every little thing. I didn't deserve it, I was a scapegoat and I know that now.

My mother is a manipulative, truly horrible person who has every member of our family wrapped around her little finger. Well, everyone but me now. Every important moment in my life she would make about her. She ruined my eldest daughter's birth by screaming at me that I didn't stick up for her when the midwife was 'rude to her'

I had just endured a 44 hour labour and was high on copious amounts of drugs I didn't have a clue what was going on.

When my second daughter's birth was imminent I tried to control the situation so she wouldn't get 'upset' again, I tried to make her welcome (I hadn't discovered she was a classic narc at this stage, and stupidly thought I could have a relationship with my mother) she didn't want to be involved with my labour. That's fine. Everything went well, it was a lovely water birth which was miles apart from my first, rather traumatic birth. You think she would be happy? Oh no.

The next morning she started abusing my OH telling him he was disgusting and a user because he hadn't kept her informed enough while I was in labour. (!?!??) (Like I said, it was a water birth, his hands were in the water with me, not really ideal to be holding a phone!) I caught wind of this and lost it. I told her to stop ruining the best day of my life, and she just had to make everything all about her. Basically called her out on the bullshit she had been putting me through for years.

Later on that day she "attempted suicide"

I'm not being callous, no one member of my family saw anything and after being looked over by the doctors at hospital they sent her home implying she was attention seeking. She demanded I be by her side and my responsibility was to look after her. I had a newborn baby of whom I was Breastfeeding. In her eyes she was more important.

This was the tip of the iceberg, there's so many other stories I could tell you, birthdays ruined, any good news I had she just has to rain on my parade. She acts oh so generous and buys things for you only to throw it in your face later (I now refuse anything from her) She's a truly vile human being who pulls the strings of everyone around her.

I have very limited contact with her now. I would have cut her out but if I did that I would never be able to speak to my dad or brothers or grandmother as she is their gate keeper.

Phew. That feels good to get out. She's damaged me so much, I've always felt I was unloveable, never good enough. She always claimed I was a horrible human being who didn't deserve anything. Now I know projection is perception, but the emotional damage is a hard thing to shake.

Thanks for reading my babble (if anyone did!) I have read this whole thread and my heart goes out to all that were abused as children and still have to live with these horrid people now.

TheDrugsDontWork Thu 24-Oct-13 19:16:25

Hissy Sorry to hear your mother's not making things easy. I think it shows you've definitely made the right choice though and it will get better even if it doesn't feel like it now. I'm not sure I can say anything that will help, but I really feel for you and know how difficult it must be.

Colin and pumpkin nothing will ever be right, and they don't like that we could be happy and are better off without them. Pumpkin they will never realise they are the problem, I find it infuriating too but it does more harm than good trying to reason with them and make them see sense.

Hi Cleo sorry to hear what you've been through, esp around the birth of your children when the absolute last thing you need is your mother acting like that. You sound like you are well aware of her behaviour though, and you have your own family to focus on now with your DH and daughters.

I haven't replied to my parents, waiting to see what they do next.

HissyFucker Thu 24-Oct-13 21:39:43

Thanks thedrugs, she didn't call the other weekend, I felt better!

I kind of dread weekends now, waiting for missing a call, deleting a voicemail.
I"'m losing the anger though, the toxic parents book is helping a bit I think!

GoodtoBetter Thu 24-Oct-13 21:51:41

Hi Cleo, welcome. Your mother sounds horrible, horrible, horrible.
Hissy are you finding the toxic parents book helpful. I never got round to reading it and am now not living with her, but was wondering if it would be worth reading it now things are more settled?

HissyFucker Fri 25-Oct-13 06:37:21

- think reading this book, now that we're 'safe' is better.

I read the Lundy Bancroft book, Why Does He Do That, a few months after Ex had gone, and I found it really freeing.
It was a révélation actually!

GoodtoBetter Fri 25-Oct-13 08:58:14

Will get it then, thanks, pet. xx

pumpkinsweetie Sat 26-Oct-13 16:30:12

Oh wonderful, dh has one of his phantom illnesses and has been snipey on and off all day....wonder if it's to do with the toxic bunch againhmm

Every year is the same, it has recently just been my late brothers birthday and every year they cause trouble behind the scenes at this part of the year because as usual they want to be centre of attention. Dh pretends they haven't been in contact when i know for a fact they have (recent evidence on his phone)!
So they turn him into a liar too and the tummy trouble is most likely the pulling from their sideconfused

I hate that family with a vengence but i shall keep my opinions to myself as dh will just feel pulled in two and i will be the bad guy.

HissyFucker Sat 26-Oct-13 18:08:30

I think, somehow, you have to encourage him to be truthful with you, accept that he will speak to them, and that as much as you hate them and what they do to him, that you love him and don't want this to isolate you from him.

I'm beginning to stress out about christmas. Wtf kind of christmas will it be just me and DS? Aren't I letting him down?

I wanted to go somewhere, away. Too expensive. Even a hotel and a posh lunch is too dear. A local pub at £60 a head seems like too much for what it is.

I went mad for christmas food last year and it didn't cost me that.

And all this is before we get to how tf i'm supposed to deal with mum/presents etc

I don't have her address, her H last year took aver 2 weeks until he acknowledged my christmas gift, and even then didn't actually thank me himself. I want to have the cojones to say that i'm not buying gifts for those that thought so little of us to move hundreds of miles without telling us where, but that they can do what suits them.

I have no interest in having any kind of relationship with any of them anymore. They can think what they like.

Doesn't stop me feeling terrified and sick at the thought of doing/saying it.

GoodtoBetter Sat 26-Oct-13 19:43:55

Hissy DS only needs you. You can have a lovely Christmas just the two of you. Take the chance to make it special with some traditions that are special to you, doing things you both like, even if it means doing something like having a curry on Christmas Day
And your mother can fuck right off. No presents.

GoodtoBetter Sat 26-Oct-13 19:46:05

Of course I talk the talk but I'll end up having my not so D mother for Christmas lunch and wanting to kill her by the end of it, but I figure it's a couple of hours and the rest of the time we have do nice stuff together without her.

This thread is not accepting new messages.