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

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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

pumpkinsweetie Thu 28-Nov-13 19:44:36

Well done suzy for standing up to hersmile, wish my dh would find the courage to do the same!! Must be so hard when families put the guilt on though.

Here in the land of fruit bowls, it turns out dh has had more texts of mil. She doesn't give up easily does she, maybe she expected the fruit basket gift to work some kind of magicgrin

Oh well it all started because dh accidently text mil a text that was meant for me, which included the words sexy lolgrin. Anyway she answered back in a series of texts. One beginning with "i'm sorry i'm not pumpkin, how r u all miss you all"


"Did you text your sister happy birthday?. If you let me to the house i promise to be good "


"Love and miss you all so much, half of my family is missing" "Miss you all" "I miss helping you must need help now & again" "sorry for going on" (again wtaf!).

This woman is fruit loop short of a cereal box A: She made her bed B: She can lie in it C: She should thank her lucky stars dh still contacts her D: Help??? That fucking woman was a hinderance when she used to visit my home & no she never helped, she just made mess and sat on her arse with my sky remote!!

The good thing is, dh as far as i know hasn't answered these texts.
The bad thing is, the only reason i know about them is because i went snooping knowing she'd been in contact again.

So basically he is keeping things from me again confused
Good news is, he hasn't responded.

Just livid she is so "woh is me" so close to Christmas & Newbaby so she can put him in the fog again.
He needs to stop contact with her but i can't make him. He texts her something and it opens up a portal of doom!

Just marking my place as it had dropped off my threads I'm on.

singarainbow Mon 02-Dec-13 08:19:56

I am not sure if I have posted here before, or if I have been lurking for so long it feels like I have.
Long story, very short....
I was abused by my father for years as a child. I disclosed at age 12, mum didnt believe me, until father confessed a short while after. She never left him, and I remained at home until I left home at 21. When I was pregnant with first child at 28 I decided to cut him from my life, and remained in contact with my mum, they were still together. He left her about 6 years ago. Our relationship has always been difficult, she doesnt like girls, I have three older brothers, she re-creates history to remove any blame of what happened when I was a child.
I know she is toxic, and I always wonder why I still keep her in my life, but I am getting stronger. Last week I posted on facebook a brief message about my my abuse, like a coming out post, as a way of forcing her out too. I have no idea if this was a good idea, but it felt empowering. She texted me, "whats wrong love?", I didnt reply, she then texted the same speech she has said since I was a child " love you, not a lot else I can say"....actually its normally "I am sorry, what else do you want me to say?" I still havent replied, and dont intend to.
I dont have the energy anymore to challenge her, she never listens, and I just feel like shit.
I am hoping that she will just slip out of my life quietly, and leave me alone.

JemimaPuddle Tue 03-Dec-13 14:40:41

I'm not really sure if I belong here. I don't know if my childhood would be classed as slightly emotionally abusive or not. Probably not.
I'm struggling with it at the moment. My mother is emotionally inept to say the least.
Providing I stick to the weather or the price of biscuits we get on fine but she is utterly miserable and has been my whole life.
My dad died a few years ago - he was wonderful. He & my mother were no longer together when he died.
We were having a heated discussion a few weeks ago as she was dismissing my siblings depression out of hand and I was trying to talk to her about it. During this conversation she said 'I know you wish I was dead not your dad' I replied asking if she'd loved her patents differently, she said no so I asked why she'd think I would love him more.
She then went on about how much she did for me as a child (driving me to an activity) and that actually because of this I should love her more.
It's not normal to think that about your children is it? Or even to tell them that's what you think?
Am I overreacting?

JemimaPuddle Tue 03-Dec-13 14:56:41

Apologies, my stuff is little trivial for this thread I think. Hope no offence caused.

No it's normal. Lots of people come on here and say it's not that bad compared to some etc. We welcome everyone here and her comments were unpleasant, upsetting and manipulative.

Please talk more if it helps

JemimaPuddle Tue 03-Dec-13 15:07:56

Thanks dont she said to me today 'look what a mess I've made of raising you'
I don't think it's ok to say that to me. She's said loads of stuff over the years. One of the worst was when we were discussing how some people we knew with grown up children were divorcing. I said something along the lines of it still difficult for the kids but perhaps not so bad as if they'd been young children. My mums reply "that's why I stayed with your dad when I was so miserable; I waited until you were grown up"
She's since denied saying this

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 03-Dec-13 15:20:30

I do not think you are or have overreacted at all.

Also people like your mother have a nasty habit of rewriting history to suit them. She sounds absolutely ghastly; do you wonder of yourself why you have any sort of relationship with her now?.

Do your siblings have anything to do with her at all now?.

JemimaPuddle Tue 03-Dec-13 15:29:31

I do wonder why I have a relationship with her. Probably wouldn't bother but have 2 DCs who adore her.

Oldest sibling has nothing to do with her, youngest sibling is living with her at the moment recovering from depression/job loss/end of relationship and is getting the brunt of her at the moment.

Sorry I meant NOT normal. That's what I get for typing on the run blush

She seems to have got the 'poor me' routine down to an art with the guilt tripping.

Singarainbow I'm so sorry for what you've been through. This thread has been very quiet of late but please post whenever you need to. We always try to reply when we can on here.

Have you had any counselling? I can't imagine what you've been through. It's awful. She was complicit in your abuse and seems to have re written history. You're only at the beginning of this process of cutting her out of your life, please post on here whenever you need to, as you process things and deal with the days and weeks ahead.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 03-Dec-13 17:12:40

"I do wonder why I have a relationship with her. Probably wouldn't bother but have 2 DCs who adore her"

They also see her mistreat you as a parent and become confused by all the mixed messages. I doubt very much that your children like her very much actually let alone adore her (you perhaps would like to think that because you may be hoping against hope that she will treat your own children better this time around unlike yourself and your siblings who suffered at her hands). Such people certainly do not make for being good grandparents.

I would have to state that if she is too difficult/toxic for you to deal with, then she is certainly too toxic for your children to be anywhere near her.

A percentage, like everyone else, has children. Then those children grow and have children of their own. The not-so-loving grandparents expect to have a relationship with their grandchildren. The only problem is, they’re not good grandparents.

Many adult children of toxic parents feel torn between their parents’ (and society’s) expectation that grandparents will have access to their grandkids, and their own unfortunate first hand knowledge that their parents are emotionally/physically/sexually abusive, or just plain too difficult to have any kind of healthy relationship with.

The children’s parents may allow the grandparents to begin a relationship with their children, hoping that things will be different this time, that their parents have really changed, and that their children will be emotionally and physically safer than they themselves were.

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, because most abusive people have mental disorders of one kind or another, and many of these disorders are lifelong and not highly treatable. (Others are lifelong and treatable; however, many people never seek the necessary help.)

The well-intentioned parent ends up feeling mortified for having done more harm than good by hoping things would somehow be different — instead of having a child who simply never knew their grandparents and who was never mistreated, they have an abused child who is now also being torn apart by the grief involved in having to sever a lifelong relationship with the unhealthy people they are very attached to.

They also see her undermine you at every opportunity and some toxic parents can and do take advantage of this to get the children to also gang up against their parents. There is evidence of that on another thread that has been posted today; do not let that happen to you.

singarainbow Tue 03-Dec-13 17:40:18

Thanks Dont. To be honest I have had counselling since I was a kid....not with any success (at the beginning my dad used to take me/collect me). As an adult I have had counselling off and on, only just re-entered it with DP as we had made a massive mistake in our lives that was purely made on pre-programmed behaviours, rather than what was right for us. We recognised this, and are trying to rectify this. As a result this has brought up alot of stuff for me, I am struggling.

JemimaPuddle Tue 03-Dec-13 18:10:19

Thank you so much Atilla for taking time to post that. At first read through its given me a lot to think about and I'm sure I will read through again a few times at least so I can digest it. I really appreciate that, thank you.

singarainbow Fri 06-Dec-13 19:28:42

I havent spoken to mum for over a week, but now I am all churned up at the thought of sending xmas card, presents. I know I shouldnt but feel it is a massive decision that I really need to think about. Something so small, is causing me alot of pain.

pumpkinsweetie Fri 06-Dec-13 20:22:23

Must be hard singarainbow, i would say really think before sending anything, and make sure you are sending it because you want to and not because it is expected.
Also sending things can sometimes open up a can of worms, i learnt the hard way last year when dh whole family thought they were forgiven and welcome back into our lifes all because i sent presents.

This year i'm not going to, as no contact should mean what it says on the tin. Dh still has phone contact, i told him i'm not getting involved and am unbothered whether they realise no gifts this year and he can choose himself whether he wants to buy or not, although like i said presents open up the portal don't they.

Mil has stepped up her game this week, as per pre festive normal by ramping up her texts and phonecalls to dh, asking when and expecting to see dcconfused although she knows full well we are nc and the dc are disallowed from seeing them. She even said she saw my eldest dd walking home from schoolshock (fucking scary)

singarainbow Fri 06-Dec-13 23:34:23

pumpkin that sounds scary! I suppose the issue for me is that although I know NC is the way to go, I havent actually comitted to it. I understand what you mean about the can of worms, and I do not want her to think it has all been glossed over. Do you send anything from your kids?

PeanutPatty Fri 06-Dec-13 23:58:20

Marking place. Will come back soon..........

amazingness Sat 07-Dec-13 04:26:57

hi everyone, how is everyone handling xmas this year?

I've recently gone no contact for the last 4 weeks - parents live 200 miles away thankfully, siblings abroad, elder sister was often violently disciplined several evenings a week growing up, for very trivial misdemeanors. I witnessed lots, but never received punishments.

Since having my own 2 DC, I've struggled with flashbacks & as You said upthread Atilla, the grandparent relationship is really bizarre as I dont feel comfortable with their approach, as I have too many bad memories of domestic life swirling around my head.

anyhow, An incident happened at Halloween - I posted HERE

since then, she arrived unexpectedly at my house one afternoon, after the school run I arrived home to find her waiitng oUtside my house in the car. She had driven 200 miles by herself (& brought pyjamas/sweets for DCS & a jar of lemon curd for me...) That day saw her start a huge hour long argument with me, in front of DC, over the Halloween incident, & I just asked her to leave. She had planned to stay overnight. Never had I had the strength to speak so strongly to her before.

Since then, I've had zero contact from my father but weekly voicemails from her with typical nasty tone of voice/tearful/angry etc etc

I havent replied or responded. I've deleted her off my FBook friend list etc

Anyhow - now there is pressure from my siblings to visit the family home on 26th/27th Dec, since they are making the trip from abroad, for some reason, to visit, spend 4 days at xmas, with our toxic parents.

My gut instinct is telling me to stay at home, since I'll be 30 weeks pregnant by then. I just dont need the stress! BUT I know my lack of effort to attend will be construed as offensive to siblings...& of course parents

how do I deal with the xmas fuss? just step back?

sorry long post

singarainbow Sat 07-Dec-13 04:44:35

amazing - do your siblings support your decision for no contact? I think its really important to do what is best for you and your family, protect yourselves. If siblings do not respect this, or try to accomodate your wishes in their plans (come and visit you seperatley) then that is their problem, not yours. Things are already awkward with your parents, it wont get any worse from not going.

amazingness Sat 07-Dec-13 04:51:16

thanks sing - the sinlings do see why I'm low low contact, but it seems like theyre regressing back to being teenagers the closer it gets to xmas - they want to grab a hope of that 'family' togetherness, want to see my dc's, want to sit in front of parents open fire, want to 'pretend' everything is wonderful it seems. I just dont get it!! they are both 30's & single, no families of their own, brother recently told parents he is gay

i dont need to be there - i dont want to, it will be too stressful emotionally for me to see or hear my parents voices

amazingness Sat 07-Dec-13 04:58:27

deep down, I KNOW Its my people pleasing tendancies coming up again,

where i used to think as a teenager, oh if i just do what everyone around me tells me, then there wont be any further family arguments/no one will get hurt.

i think ive changed too much in the last month to go back to going through with pleasing them all...I just wanted validation that as a 35yr old mother of almost 3, I am ALLOWED to stay in my own home for the entire xmas period!!! Gah!!

singarainbow Sat 07-Dec-13 05:24:28

Who are you looking to for the validation? I think your are well within your rights to stay at home, you know that too. If you feel it, and your immediate family feel it, what more validation do you need? If your siblings want to hold on to the hope of a normal family life, that is up to them, you don't need to get involved. That is not your issue to take on board, you have enough to deal with. They are grown ups, let them look after themselves. Stay home and enjoy the liberation!

amazingness Sat 07-Dec-13 05:35:55

just hearing it here is sufficient validation for me! thanks Sing (for being there at this early hour to listen) smile

singarainbow Sat 07-Dec-13 05:48:43

Good luck amazing ... happy to be here...just coming to end of night shift, what's your excuse for this ungodly hour?

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