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

(1000 Posts)
DontstepontheMomeRaths Thu 14-Aug-14 21:52:23

It's July 2014, 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
August 2013
December 2013
February 2014
April 2014

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

Meerka Thu 14-Aug-14 21:53:58


Hissy Fri 15-Aug-14 08:25:13



Like a Mexican wave, but from Portugal


Meerka Fri 15-Aug-14 10:30:21

That's a wave with added sunshine coming through the fingers then!

yongnian Sun 17-Aug-14 21:04:14

Hello all...sorry to dispel the sunshine waves with some gloomy clouds...just wanted to get some feelings down after an 'incident' which has left me i find myself in a horrible game I didn't agree to play, don't want to play and am not playing....but am endlessly defeated by and cannot win anyone....feel like I only exist for the person running the game to be trapped in it and beaten by it...(and therefore trapped and beaten by them) helpless and cannot escape...for some reason, my existence makes them feel so bad about themselves they want to torture me....these feelings are the ones I grew up with...springing from one of the toxic family of origin (there are two, they work in partnership).
Feel miserable, worthless and like not existing, which is presumably the desired effect by the perpetrator. So that they don't have to feel those feelings themselves.
Ok...I give those feelings back to you - own them yourself. I didn't ask to be born. I've walked away, you're welcome to them and you're doing a very good job of giving me the blame, and they are happy (apparently) to go along with it.
So - congratulations - you've won! Enjoy your 'prize', I hope it was worth it. I'll enjoy my freedom from illusion and real relationships with real people who genuinely love me for who and what I am.
Thank you for making a place to get that off my chest, fellow stately-homers...I'll be waving from the sunshine myself tomorrow, and being able to post here has helped create the possibility I might feel more like it.

GoodtoBetter Sun 17-Aug-14 21:23:38

Having a lovely time with Dbro and no whatsapp msgs for almost three days grin

Hissy Sun 17-Aug-14 21:34:24

yongian when you detach, it stops hurting a bit. You are free! You don't have to play theor game anymore.

Hissy Sun 17-Aug-14 21:34:53

Good nice to hear it! smile

yongnian Sun 17-Aug-14 21:46:56

Thanks Hissy...with this bit of it I don't know how to fully detach from something I feel I was literally born into and continue to be part of without my consent....I am currently NC with this particular person but not with the others so the NC is not full, IYSWIM... **exhales****
There must be a way.

Meerka Sun 17-Aug-14 22:50:34

It's really hard Yongian. How do you excise the network of feelings that have sunk so deeply into oneself, and intertwines with everything?

Just had a bit of a shock and choosing to laugh about it. Don't care if this outs me.

Last saw my father couple years ago. We all went out for dinner that, apparently, he expected to pay for ... Not that he told me that ahead of time.

Apparently he got all bent out of shape because I dared to ask for a second glass of wine from the waiter without asking his permission first.

I was 42 .... is it me or is that utterly ridiculous!

winkywinkola Sun 17-Aug-14 22:55:19

Meerka, if someone offers to pay for dinner, they don't need to be asked permission for a second glass of wine. I know you didn't know he'd said he'd pay but nonetheless, two or even three glasses of wine are hardly excessive. Be assured.

winkywinkola Sun 17-Aug-14 22:56:25

Yongnian, can you go fully nc? Is it feasible?

Stupidhead Mon 18-Aug-14 01:06:54

Hugs all! I lost the old thread so hopefully I'll keep this one ��

I'm still talking (via phone once a week) to my mother, she's 81 so there's another helping of guilt pie! I've actually started my own business(yay!!) the children and my fiancé are super proud and behind me. Fiancé financed most of it! I told 'her' two weeks ago, she never actually asked what it is I'm doing, so I didn't tell her. She called the other day and asked how my 'little' project was going.....grrrrrr! And again mentioned moving(to near us). It'll never happen, she enjoys being wanted and asked. Fiancé insisted (before he saw the real her) that families are important and she cared for me blah blah...unfortunately he said that to her which puffed her up no end. Oh and he was in a rock band when we met. She told me it'd never work as women would throw themselves at other words ,know your place ugly face! �� well it did and has!

One last thing (insomnia ranting!) she hurt her leg in the garden which needed dressing. She emailed my brothers and rang me, but we weren't to worry...!!! Golden boy called for an hour from America wasn't that sweet! And other one offered to come down of he could get time off,that was so kind of him...I just told her to make sure her stupid dog didn't sit on her leg. Like usual. It's a fecking Rottweiler cross! But she doesn't believe that as only common people have Rottweilers ��

But I'm doing great x

GoodtoBetter Mon 18-Aug-14 09:40:04

So, three full days with no whatsappsmile last full day of our holiday. sad

Hissy Mon 18-Aug-14 09:58:22

Good be prepared for a pity party when you get back... don't pander to it at all.

Tell her that she is not to terrorise you like she does, and emotional blackmail you. The WhatsApp thing won't ever be allowed again, her messages were ridiculous and unacceptable.

Adopt the reverse role of Parent vs Child and discipline HER. She's been outrageous and way out of line.

She can take it or leave it.

If she can't cope, after all this time, then seriously the bet thing for her would be to sell up and go back to England.

She's making her own life harder because she won't help herself.

And the reason you left her house was that she was making YOUR lives a misery, undermining your family and marriage and you wouldn't allow that. IF your relatives ever ask or give the impression of any other reason, advise her that you WILL set them straight. You'll not cover for her abysmal treatment of you/your H/dc.

Draw a line and make sure she knows what side of it she's on.

Meerka Mon 18-Aug-14 10:11:14

I know it sounds silly but him getting all upset becuase I didnt ask permission before asking for a second glass of wine during the meal somehow confirms thigns. On a journey of realising just what a control freak he is. I mean ... I knew, but each tiny incident sort of takes me a bit further and frees me up. I can live with his disapproval, but something insides always wants his approval.

But when you look at it dispassionately, he doesnt love me at all (what sort of father doesn't answer when he's told his daughter is in hospital with sepsis, then gets angry when I don't immediately answer his email months later?). He just wants control.

Fuck him. <keeps telling herself that> Fuck him. A hollow man.

Meerka Mon 18-Aug-14 11:28:16

What's annoying, and what's made it hard to realise exactly what went on in the teen years, is that both he and my stepmother seem so nice on the outside. So thoughtful and sensible.

I remember people telling me what nice parents they were. This was when I wasn't allowed out from my room at all except to eat, and mealtimes were so painful that it was a lot easier to make an excuse not to eat and to take leftover food from the plates at a restaurant where I was a washer-upper. Where I had to use loo paper for sanitary rolls. When I wasn't allowed to watch TV because I wasn't allowed downstairs .. sigh. He went crazy mad at me once for using the phone to get the number of a friend (i'd lost it) from another friend when she were on a holiday in a place where there was an explosion. Wanted to check she was ok. I wasn't allowed to use the phone twice, even though I'd only been on it literally for 1 minute while my other friend got her number.

My stepbrother was home during the phone incident and he said he thought it was awful. I think that was the only time someone else was around when they were being like that.

It wasn't as dramatically awful as my biological mother. No hands round neck and all night screaming fits. But it's still a pretty shit way to bring up a teen.

Ho hum. I'm so glad that I have my own family now.

No one will ever, ever control me again. No one.

EvilHerbivore Mon 18-Aug-14 12:42:28

Very tentatively place marking as its a new thread, building up to actually posting, hope that's OK?

Gingermum Mon 18-Aug-14 12:57:09

Oh Meerkasad sad

Marking my place too if that's ok. Mum died two years ago. Enabler who gave out mixed messages, dad still alive, though in early stages of dementia. A mysoginist with two daughters. Bullied and humiliated me.

Meerka Mon 18-Aug-14 13:06:24

Ofc, evil, welcome (in haste). Have a brew

ginger I'm sorry to hear about your mother and father.

Toria2014 Mon 18-Aug-14 13:33:15

Marking my place.

When I got pregnant my biggest fear was being my mother to my child - I couldn't stand the thought of putting another human being through the pain I went through as a child. My baby is 7 weeks old and I really hope and pray I am not like my mother.

She wasn't horrendous but she was very self absorbed and my father was just a car crash of a father and did a lot of damage. She has always blamed him for all that went bad in our family and cannot or refuses to see her role in it all - she was complicit - but if I ever called her on it, she would deny it, say she did the best she could at the time, say I was making it up etc etc.

We still have a relationship now - but it has nearly gone to hell on more than one occasion - it is only my love for her that makes me keep things on an even keel. She has helped me a lot as well, thats why she is not all bad, she is just dealing with the fallout of her own upbringing, I can see that.

She did do something recently that made me so happy, she made the effort to come and see her grandchild - I never thought she would and I love her for it.

I hope my child never feels the pain of feeling abandoned, or unloved - I will do my best to make sure that doesn't happen, but the task is daunting as the spectres of my own childhood haunt me.

moochops Mon 18-Aug-14 14:12:00

Hello, I am struggling with my relationship with my mum right now. We go through cycles where she becomes increasingly difficult and tetchy culminating in an almighty row and a breakdown in communication. Recently, it has been like walking on eggshells being around her. At the moment, I haven't spoken to her for a whole week (we parted on bad terms) and I am worried sick that she has killed herself. I ought to call her, but the arguments are getting to me and I don't think I can take any more. She lives on her own and I have no brothers or sisters. I'm 43, have two wonderful children and a lovely husband who is battling a long term health condition. They need my love, care and attention, but they often come second to my mum. I am so tired of this cycle, I have honestly had 43 years of this behaviour, ever since being a small child, I have always worried about her and been overly concerned with her happiness and wellbeing. Our relationship deteriorated rapidly when I had my children. I'm sorry, I just need to share this with someone before I burst.

LookingThroughTheFog Mon 18-Aug-14 14:18:20

Oh Moochops, I'm so sorry.

Being worried sick that she's killed herself is a big part of the control. Remember Fear, Obligation and Guilt? She's got you wrapped up in the fear of what will happen if you don't speak, and guilty that it's all your fault.

Is she not taking your calls, or is she just not calling you?

LookingThroughTheFog Mon 18-Aug-14 14:18:52

(Also, really sorry for dipping in and out of the thread(s) so much. I'll go back and read the last posts on the last one.)

moochops Mon 18-Aug-14 14:39:33

Thank you, LookingThroughTheFog. Yes, we have been through this cycle so many times before, I am quite sure she won't do anything silly, but the fear and anxiety just eats me up inside. Our usual routine involves me ringing her , she never/rarely calls me. When we last saw each other, she was tetchy and kept deliberately taking whatever I said the wrong way. I was so upset at how she was behaving in front of the children that I (tentatively) suggested she may be depressed and suggested (gently) that maybe seeking some help would be a good thing to do. She took this very badly and tried to get out of the car while it was moving. I managed to get her stay inside but not before the children became upset and alarmed. When I dropped her off I said, "Please, let me know what I can do to help. I'm here if you want to talk". She just turned and looked at me like I was scum and said, "Yeah, alright" in a way that suggested talking to me would be the very last thing she would ever want to do. I truly, honestly, did not say anything so awful or hurtful that she should behave in this way. Honestly. I just want her to stop being so abrasive and negative all the time. I'm so sorry, I just need to get this off my chest. It has been like this all my life, I remember her being awful to me and feeling so confused because I didn't know what I had done. She used to walk out and I'd never know where she was going or if she was coming back. I feel like if I give way to all the things I remember then I will cut ties with her, but I just want her to be my mum.

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