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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.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 18-Aug-14 15:10:51


I would suggest you read all the resources at the beginning of this thread because I think she was also a dysfunctional and abusive parent to you as a child as well. She trained you to serve her and put your own feelings to one side.

Your mother only wants you around to be her emotional punchbag; such dysfunctional people are damaged themselves. She will never be either the kind and delightful mother you want her to be and you need to accept that fact fully. She neither wants your "help" nor your "support". She hates life itself and everyone around her; this is why there is no-one else left. You cannot help or save someone who does not want to be rescued and or saved; her response to you makes that crystal clear. You really need to listen to what she is saying and walk away from her altogether. You would also not tolerate one ounce of this from a friend, family are no different.

You need to break the cycle and stop contacting her at all. No contact is the way to go with such disordered of thinking people. You carry on with the cycle in the hopes she will say sorry for all the crap she has put your through; she has no intention at all of doing that. Such toxic people never apologise nor take any responsibility for their actions

Its not your fault she is like this; pound to a penny she saw abuse of various kinds in her own childhood herself from her own parents and never had or even sought the necessary help.

Put your own self and your own family unit first for a change; this may be hard for you to achieve initially as you have had a lifetime of damaging conditioning at her hands but it needs to be done for your sake as well as your childrens. They also get nothing positive from the relationship with their dysfunctional grandmother. If she is too difficult or toxic for you to deal with, it is the same for your both vulnerable and defenceless children. They need you to protect them from such malign influences. One of the worst things you can do here is continuing to expose them at all to such toxic people like your mother.

I doubt very much she will commit suicide; you only think she has done such a thing. As LookingThroughTheFog rightly states being scared that she has killed herself is very much part of the control along with FOG.

I would consider counselling with regards to your own relationship with your mother and use that as a stepping stone as well to enable you to break free completely of this toxic woman. Counsellors though are like shoes, the first one you see may not fit in with you. Also you need to see someone who has not bias at all about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment.

moochops Mon 18-Aug-14 15:40:45

Thank you, Attila. I did have some counselling a few years ago - initially went because I felt unsettled at my place of work thought this was causing anxiety and stress. But by the end of the first session we were talking about my relationship with my mum and that set the scene for the remaining 5 sessions! So, I am aware that this relationship isn't healthy. It is difficult, though, as she is alone and I am all she has. But each time this cycle occurs I find myself feeling just that little bit more negatively towards her. A couple of nights ago I couldn't sleep because I suddenly remembered something she said a few years ago (during a similar difficult patch) about how she would always manage to see her grandchildren - I wouldn't know she was there but she would make sure she saw them! I felt creeped out when she first said it, but the other night I found myself quite scared because I remembered she has a key to our house. I know it is daft, what on earth do I think she would do? I just feel stressed, I think, even when I know my fears are silly.

GoodtoBetter Mon 18-Aug-14 15:50:13

So, three and a half days and narc mum has finally cracked grin whatsapp just now from her:
"been ill, chest but slowly getting better. Any reason why no news from you?"
Classic. Ignoring for now.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 18-Aug-14 15:54:26

"It is difficult, though, as she is alone and I am all she has".

You are all that she has because your mother in the course of her life has managed to alienate everyone else with the result that they've all walked. Its hard being the last one left but you really do have to walk away now from her. You owe this woman nothing really. She will only continue to abuse you otherwise, you cannot afford to keep perpetuating this cycle because its really a continuous one.

I would revisit counselling as well, you need more sessions and more than five as well. BACP are good and do not charge the earth. Choose your counsellor though with care.

So she would always manage to see her grandchildren eh?.
Grandparents in the UK do not have automatic rights to see their grandchildren.

If you are worried that she is going to enter your home with a house key get the locks changed. Take back some control bit by bit.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 18-Aug-14 15:57:03


Your mother cannot even go 4 days without bothering you!. Typical narc behaviour this.

Ignore your mother's message; radio silence needs to be maintained. Did you anyway block her from this app or did something within you prevent you from doing this?.

As said before she will give you no peace as long as you are in her life in any shape or form.

What are your boundaries like with regards to her anyway, I think they are still set far too low and you tolerate far too much from her at all.

GoodtoBetter Mon 18-Aug-14 16:05:51

She's such a weirdo, she's just really annoyed I've dared to come down here at all. She doesn't feel the need to bother me like this usually.
My boundaries are too low, you're right but I'm working on it, bit by bit. First by ignoring her on whatsapp and have been talking to Dbro and have worked out what to do about xmas day as I don't want her in my house. We're going to go out for lunch without her. She can see me briefly at her house on xmas morning if she behaves herself.

GoodtoBetter Mon 18-Aug-14 16:23:38

It's good to talk to Dbro as he has much better boundaries (helped by living abroad), helps me see what could be possible. Going to gradually scale back weekend visits a bit too.
Needs to be done and Dbro told me something which is spurring me on....
The 2 days he was at hers before joining us at the beach she said again (had said something similar when DD a baby)..."DGS (i.e my DS) is my little man. Of course I love DGD but I don't really knowher as well" angry she's over 3yo now FFS and she's far more verbal than DS. But clearly her own GM isn't interested. sad angry

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 18-Aug-14 16:26:34

Narcissists tend to either over value or under value the relationship with grandchildren. They make favourites and make them also their narcissistic supply.

Honestly goodtobetter, you would do far more good if you were to keep your children well away from her as of now. They get nothing positive from this relationship and you yourself find her too difficult to deal with. Your boundaries as you rightly state are way too low still which to your credit you acknowledge.

MommyBird Mon 18-Aug-14 16:32:37

Hello smile

I posted on the last thread about my MIL.
She is toxic. Its been a year since we saw her.

It was DHs birthday the other day and she has texted wishing him happy birthday and "I will allways love you" nice bit of guilt thrown in

He is thinking of us meeting up and talking and getting everything off our chest.
For the first time in 5 years I feel I can stand up to her.

Is it worth it?
It'll be interesting to say everything infront of FIL as I think he has been told her side of the story.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 18-Aug-14 16:44:02


What would you want to achieve from such a meeting and what would the most likely outcome be?. I would argue that these are two very disparate things. It will all end very badly and I do not need a crystal ball to tell you that.

No, don't go there with any meeting!. I cannot emphasise too much what a mistake that would be. It will likely not end at all well because these people have fundamentally not changed. They will use you to criticise you again (also would you ever want to meet his dad ever again given his past behaviour as well?) and you will be back to the dark place you were in one year ago. You seriously do not want to undo all the progress that you and your family unit have made, any progress will all be undone in those few initial moments.

NC is precisely that so no meeting. Your DH still seems low contact with his mother but a meeting - no, no and no again!!!.

FIL will likely act again as the bystander in all this and will completely still side with his wife despite any reasoned argument from you both. Such weak men are programmed to do this, men like him are either enablers or have long left the marriage.

DH has been dragged back into FOG again if he is still not already stuck in it, its a pity that he ever actually saw such a message from his not so dear mother. She's still sticking the boot in and piling on the guilt.

MommyBird Mon 18-Aug-14 17:01:50

I think the difference for me is, I don't care.
I don't care. I don't care if she doesn't like the reasons, I don't care if she gets upset.
What's she going to do? Not talk to me?

Ive un attatched myself from her. Its been a year and I know, it's doable. I don't have to please her. I don't have to focus my family around her needs.
I don't need to do anything i dont want to.
DH can say NO to her know. He can stick up for himself because she wants/needs us, we dont need her.

I think he feels that its his mom and I get that and i think he wants to see if this year has made any difference.
IF we do.
She will have boundries, she will not have the Dds unsupervised, it'll be when its best for us.
Im not budging on the apology either. If she cant bring herself to do it, Thats it. Done.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 18-Aug-14 17:23:04

Is there any other evidence from them to suggest to you that they have changed?.

And I ask again, what do you want to achieve from such a meeting if it takes place?.

The problem is that she can still get to him, its taken one bloody text message (that is really non communication from her as well) to start all this up again after a year.

You owe them nothing really and as for an apology from her, well hell will freeze over first before that ever happens. It is NOT your fault they are like this, they are dysfunctional.

She could well do all that you say and more besides and start on you via your DH leaving you to pick up the pieces from such an encounter. I think you are far stronger than your DH who is still very much susceptible to their control and fancies.

Why would you want your children to see them at all given that they anyway will not see the children unsupervised?. Is that really a good idea given how they have behaved towards you as their parents?.

I would be extremely cautious about all this and I honestly do feel that nothing positive will come of it. I very much doubt you will have any apology from either of them.

You have done so well in the past year, I would really think twice about all this at all together with what you both want from such a meeting.

TBH if they have been or still are too difficult/toxic whatever for you to deal with (and they have been truly awful to you all) what difference does a year make really. I do not know these people but I know toxic people and they do not fundamentally change. Are the pair of them actually now willing and or able to take any responsibility for their actions?.

More thought is needed and if in doubt do nowt!.

The following factors as well have to be considered by both of you before you allow them anywhere near your children too:-

•Have they fully addressed their issues in SKILLED long-term therapy? (A few weeks or months is nowhere near adequate if your parents regularly mistreated you).
•Have they been treated for all the root causes of their dysfunction or abuse?
•Have they sincerely apologized and made amends for the hurtful things they did? Not just said, “I’m sorry”, but really talked it all through with you over many hours’ time?
•Are they very different people to you from the ones you remember?
•Do you currently have a healthy, functional and stable relationship with them?
•Do they respect your choices and boundaries as a parent? Do they follow your requests about how you want your children to be treated and to behave?
•Would you recommend your parents to your best friend as babysitters without any hesitation or worry, and feel comfortable giving your word that they’d never harm your friend’s child, without any doubt?
• For your DH - have you worked through all of your feelings about the mistreatment you experienced through your parents?

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 18-Aug-14 17:25:34

Those questions are all for your DH but you need to give all that a lot more thought as well.

LookingThroughTheFog Mon 18-Aug-14 17:32:13

I'd echo Attila.

It is very hard - I think everyone sympathises with him - to desperately want that parent that you just don't have. But she's not going to appear for the wishing.

Unless she's spent the last year in some pretty intensive therapy, she will not have changed.

MommyBird Mon 18-Aug-14 17:38:58

They, well. She. Thinks the way she has acted is ok and now that really pisses me off.
She ruined my life for 3 years and she's gotten away with it because I never spoke up.
I think for my sake and not hers, I want her know exactly what she has done, why she doesn't see us anymore and tell her exactly what I think of her, face to face and calmly. She isn't the victim.

I don't think she'll care. But i'll feel better.
I can finally stand up for myself and not be that poor first time mum with PND she could bully.

DH will side with me. Allways.
She STILL has 'no idea what i've done' and I want to tell her why.

If she is full of apologies then we'll see.
If she starts to pass the blame, thats it. For good.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 18-Aug-14 17:50:08


She ruined your life for three years and she still has this degree of influence over you both even now you no longer see them. She still has the capacity to disrupt the equilibrium that you in particular have fought so hard to achieve. Do not ever underestimate how horrible these people can be particularly when they feel they are under pressure to explain themselves.

I think after they have worn your DH down you will feel even worse.

Again nothing good will come of this because like all toxic people she refuses to take any responsibility for her own actions.

You can tell them all you want but it still will not achieve anything because they will still blame you and by turn their son for their own dysfunctional behaviour. They need you still to be their scapegoats for all their inherent ills.

She will not care what she has done to you, she is not built that way. She is not and never has been at all emotionally healthy. This is how dysfunctional people are, the rule book with regards to dealing with familial relations goes out the window when it comes to such dysfunctional families. Do you really think somewhere deep inside you that she will at all apologise?.

She would have bullied you anyway, its the way she was built. Infact regardless of whom your DH married she would have acted the self same towards any other woman.

If you meet and it does not go well you could well blame or resent your DH for putting you through this at all.

LookingThroughTheFog Mon 18-Aug-14 18:05:38

MommyBird, I can totally see that. I have fantasised about laying it all out for my father many, many times, usually after some chance meeting or comment via family. The temptation is huge, so I do get that.

If you do choose to go ahead with a meeting to lay it all out there, I think it's going to take careful planning. I'd strongly suggest that you don't have your children present at that meeting.

She is likely to cry. Loudly. She will possibly shout. She will possibly faint/have heart pains.

If she follows the toxic narrative, she will do anything to prevent you getting your piece out. She will do anything to avoid hearing it.

If you do manage to get it out, she will respond by denying it all - it didn't happen the way you remember it at all. You will be at fault; she may find actual faults, or she may twist things so that you got things wrong. She may well mock your feelings or do something else to devalue them.

Your husband will have to listen to all of this.

FIL will let her behave this way. He's seen and heard this all before and he's used to the role of keeping her happy at all costs. That's how she thrives.

So I'm not saying don't see her, but before going in, be very, very aware of the possible outcomes and try to work out if you getting it all out will be worth all of that. It may be that she won't let you get it all out anyway.

She STILL has 'no idea what i've done' and I want to tell her why.

My guess is that she does know. She just chooses not to look there, and she'll fight anyone who tries to make her.

RonneandFrankie Tue 19-Aug-14 00:08:30

sorry this turned into a bit of a rant/vent

Really amazing to find a place to talk about this kind of stuff. So, so often I hear stuff like "But she's your mother, you have to love her" or, "She was just doing her best, give her a break" etc.

I have been NC with my mother for 3 years now, and no "good" contact for over 4 years. I'm 24.
All of the horrible things she did over the years, and it's taken me so long to come to the conclusion that she had control over those things. She would only yell, scream, hit and manipulate us at home - at work she was a favourite, the nice, caring woman who always put others first. If she can control herself at work, she had no reason to come home and do those things to us.

I am still so incredibly angry at her. I feel like she's caused a lot of damage and there's just always ripples throughout my life of how I react to things because of how she treated me.

Sometimes it was little things - calling me fat, stupid, bitch, ungrateful etc. All starting from when I was around 14. That would upset me, but didn't seem that bad. Just her losing her temper. It was when I was older than I realised that I was actually terrified of her, and that was wrong.
One minute she'd be my best friend, and the next she would lose her shit and I wouldn't be allowed out of my bedroom for 3 days except to use the bathroom (including being banned from going to school, because I might tell my friends lies about how mean she was.) I was self-harming at 15 and she found out. Her response was to tell me how fucking ungrateful I was, living with me was so much hard work, etc etc.

It was always brushed under the carpet as "mum has PND." For ages I accepted that. But if you can control yourself when you're at work, why not at home? I always seemed to cop it worst out of us kids (they're all technically half siblings - I've found out I look pretty much spitting image of my biological father...I think that may be one reason she detested me so much.) I started to think it was my fault. If I was the only one who drove her to behave like this, it must say something about me more than about her, right?

As I got older she started drinking too. Usually 2 bottles of wine a night. Wouldn't feed my younger siblings. Would wait until I got home from school or work and then just leave, to go out on dates to get laid. She hadn't done the shopping for a month, so there was hardly any food in the house. Just cheap boxes of wine and packet mac'n'cheese, if we were lucky.

One of the last times I saw her, she came into the shop I worked in (I was 19) and started screaming and hitting me. My boss had to call the police to remove her. Just after midnight on my 20th birthday, I sat in the back of the car with a friend and bawled my frigging eyes out when I realised that my mother wasn't going to contact me to say happy birthday. I think that's when I realised that my relationship with my mother was over.

I remember asking her to apologise for her behaviour at my work. That's all I wanted - she had a habit of never apologising, so I wanted that from her. What she did was clearly wrong. She refused. She said the word "sorry" had no meaning in today's day and age, so she wouldn't be using it. I just had to come to terms with that.
My ultimatum was that I only ever wanted to hear from her again if she apologised. Although she wouldn't do that, she did get drunk and abuse me on Facebook one night, and then call my work on my 21st birthday to tell me what a piece of shit I was, she's ashamed of me, doesn't like the type of person I've become, etc.

I hate going out on Mothers' Day, because it pisses me off that people assume I should be spending it with my mother. I still flinch whenever I hear the clicking of heels on the ground (she always wore heels.) I feel that over the years she's helped make me damaged goods. I still have so much anger directed at her, that just spurts out every so often.

MommyBird Tue 19-Aug-14 07:33:16

DH hasn't mentioned anything since and i'm not going to bring it up.
I felt so angry last night, like I wanted to rip into her! I imagine its how The Hulk feels when he hulks out.

It just feels like she's got away with it sad
Even a Happy Birthday message had a guilt trip thrown in.

LookingThroughTheFog Tue 19-Aug-14 08:56:06

RonneandFrankie, have you had any counselling to help you deal with some of the anger flare ups?

I'm glad you're out of her way now. Well done for staying strong.

MommyBird the...

It just feels like she's got away with it

I know that feeling too. However, being in the joyful place of having been distant from Dad for a few weeks, I can tell you how I deal with it. (It's a lot harder to see it clearly when he's been about.)

Your MIL has lost. She has lost the only thing in her whole life that is worth having - the power. That's the only thing that she's ever wanted, and now it's gone.

Who has the power at this precise moment? You do. You have it all. You have complete control over your relationship with her.

What she wants to do with that little guilt trip is to test you - how likely is it that you will misstep and hand her a big, walloping dollop of that power?

This is why people here are advising you not to see her. There's such a huge potential for you and your DH to get hurt, and more than that, if you do the precise thing that she wants you to do, you will have handed that power back to her. You will probably feel humiliated by it all. You'll have to start from scratch, and this time, she'll know that she can reel you in because she has before.

That's when she'll have got away with it.

At the moment, she has nothing, and you have everything. Don't change that.

GoodtoBetter Tue 19-Aug-14 09:16:48

Excellent post Fog Totally agree with that.

GoodtoBetter Tue 19-Aug-14 09:26:35

DM is at it again. She Sent text msg after no response to her whatsapp..."Have been ill, not heard from anyone, no phones at all down there?"
After a few hours I texted back, "Back tmrw, have had a lovely time with Dbro".
Get one back "Have been ill"
Ignored for a while then she phones Dbro but only lets it ring 3 times before ringing off. He didn't pick up.
After a while I wrote back "oh dear hope you feel better soon". She responds "No have told you throat chest v bad no stomach, can't eat or drink only water."
Ignored that and at 830 this morning get "Can Dbro eat with you? Throwing up".
Am currently ignoring that.

LookingThroughTheFog Tue 19-Aug-14 09:33:37

I don't know whether a chirpy 'yep, no problem.' would help at all.

At a guess she wants weeping and wailing and falling to her bedside.

Have you decided what you're going to do about this in the future? I know that you want to stick with WhatsApp, but when you get this sort of bombardment, what you're going to do about it?

I mean like, regardless of the contents of the messages, you'll only read and respond between 5 and 5:30 each day.

It just feels to me as though she's still intruding an awful lot. You get the beep, you check the phone. She's making you do those things and then having to start building energy up again to resist some more.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 19-Aug-14 09:39:25


What LookingThroughTheFog wrote in her post of 8.56.

She hasn't got away with it really, by staying away from her and being no contact she has not got what she really wants i.e. you all to control and have power over. She cannot or will not ever behave herself here and no discussion would ever end well.

Its not your fault she is so disordered; her own birth family unleashed that lot of damage onto her.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 19-Aug-14 09:44:00


I expected nothing different from your mother; its the usual health related problems to get your attention again and for you to jump to her tune (which you did; any contact from you opens the gates to bother you even more).

Your boundaries as you have rightly surmised yourself are still way too low and you need perhaps outside support from a counsellor to work further on these. Your brother has only managed to escape her by putting emotional distance (i.e. ignoring her messages) as well as physical distance from her; you need to start putting more emotional distance between you and she. Her messages are all very passive aggressive in tone as well. You need to ignore all messages from her as of now.

You will never be free otherwise, she will never give you any peace.

MommyBird Tue 19-Aug-14 09:47:10

God. You're right. What was i even thinking!? sad

In my head. I think that the year SHOULD of made a difference. To normal people, you'd be heartbroken right? If you had hurt your son and his family that bad you'd missed out on birthdays', christmas and his wedding?

I need to remember she isn't normal. I cant talk to her about anything because she can't accept her being in the wrong.

How can people like them behave the way they do and think its ok. Everytime we have hearf from her its been how bad it has been for HER, full of excuses and lies.
No apologies or even asking how our DDs are.

It was our youngests 1st birthday before my DHs and we heard nothing from her. She probley didn't even know.

Im so angry at myself for even contemplating talking to her!

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 19-Aug-14 09:59:04

Hey don't be angry at yourself Mommybird.

As you rightly state, such people are not normal (or for that matter emotionally healthy) at all. They don't feel the same as emotionally healthy people do because its always all about them and what they want. Your MIL and FIL who is also her enabler in all this (he also needs someone to idolise) are dysfunctional and thus the "normal" rules in dealing with familial relations do not ever apply.

You have done so well in continuing to protect yourself and your children from such malign familial influences. That is one of the best gifts you can give your children.

iknowimcoming Tue 19-Aug-14 10:22:23

Hello, haven't posted in ages and have namechanged recently but had lots of support on here in the past, and have been joyfully nc with my dm for 2.5 years now. My db will ocassionally mention her but I don't get involved, which I know he finds difficult but that's the way it is. I'm also now having therapy which is a real eye opener and has been very helpful already, unravelling strange tangled beliefs that I have grown up with. One of the best things I've learned so far is that my perception of something isn't necessarily the reality. Not sure why I'm waffling really, but just wanted to say hi and much love to all, keep strong!

LookingThroughTheFog Tue 19-Aug-14 10:29:20

No, don't be angry! She's had this behaviour down to a fine art for a long time.

You caught yourself in time - you haven't fallen in. Praise yourself for that, perhaps with a big slice of cake, and chalk it up to experience. Tomorrow will be easier.

How can people like them behave the way they do and think its ok.

I have no answer to this. When I look at Dad and even more so at his mother, I see what a massive amount of fear they have. You can see it when their control starts to wobble. They must have power, control, victory because they're absolutely terrified of what will happen if they don't.

LookingThroughTheFog Tue 19-Aug-14 10:30:02

Hello, Iknow. I'm glad it's going well and that therapy is helping!

Hissy Tue 19-Aug-14 11:04:16

good. I doubt your DM has even been ill.

I knew the 3 days peace would come at a price.

Your DM completely ignores YOU if you're unwell, so just say (if asked) "oh well we don't apparently pander to illness in this family, so I just did what you do in this situation. Absolutely bugger all."

I'd also be tempted to send her 'Enough of the passive aggression/emotional blackmail eh? It won't work with me, or anyone else'

No more replies. By doing this she is purposely ruining your time away.

Flight mode, remember? Switch off the ways she has to contact you BOTH.

MommyBird Tue 19-Aug-14 11:06:10

Gosh. Can you imagine if i'd agreed sad
I'd of been right back here moaning to you all again. I would of been kicking myself.

Yes about the control!
At the start, it was more about getting her own way, being able to say and do whatever she wanted and she knew damn well my DH would roll over and do whatever she wanted.
Then I came along.
From outside looking in, it was like my DH was the parent and she was the 18 year old.
Moaning about not having money, skiving off work becaus she didn't want to go in and just being childish.

When you start to question her behaver..a light went on in DHs head and I think seeing how my parents are aswell.
It went on for years.
Then towards the end we started to put our foot down and say no, thats when the control thing really kicked in.
It was like, 'How dare they not do whats best for me?!"
She couldn't understand it. None of her phrases was working and oh man. Did she wobble.

The texts off the flying monkeys started, guilt trips, manipulation. She didn't have control of my DH anymore, she couldn't use the 'I AM YOUR MOTHER' line as he had a family and I was their mother.

I do have my little bubble though.
I love the fact, that I know she is a complete walkover to my FILs family as they wouldn't stand for it and she'd be gone. She cant do enough for them and is up their arses grin
They also dislike her and she slags them off rotten!
Everyone she works with dislike her because they know what she's like. She slags them off and is lovley to their faces! Instead of thinking that maybe its her, she is adament its them. All 30odd of them grin

She is so 2 faced.
And I know, she will grow old lonley.
So i guess she hasn't got away with it has she?

GoodtoBetter Tue 19-Aug-14 16:27:36

On the way home with two tired but happy little people, has been a lovely holiday with Dbro. He's been a lot of help and I'm heading back determined to reduce contact further with DM. I've using what,she,said to Dbro about DD to spur me on if I wobble.angry

GoodtoBetter Tue 19-Aug-14 16:29:04

And yes, i doubt she's been ill. She'll no doubt stage a miraculous "recovery" now we're all back.angry

LookingThroughTheFog Tue 19-Aug-14 20:14:38

I'm heading back determined to reduce contact further with DM.

Good stuff, GoodtoBetter.

Do you have a plan about how to make this happen?

GoodtoBetter Tue 19-Aug-14 20:46:32

Hi Looking, well we haven't seen her for 3 weeks. Dbro goes home on Thurs, so avoiding tomorrow and then will take him to the airport then, which will involve seeing her briefly when we pick him up. May see her this Sunday, but make the visit shorter than usual. Then the next Sunday I'm going to move to the next day, which is the day before we go to Holland for a week. Going to slowly miss the odd Sunday for various reasons and get it so that it's not every Sunday.
When we're in Holland there will be no contact whatsoever as I'm not paying for roaming. Not sure what to do about her looking after the dog while we're away. Going to ring a kennels tomorrow and check out how things stand, but not sure what to say to DM as to why she isn't looking after her if I do that. I don't think she'd do anything like refuse to have her at the last minute, but I'm not sure of anything about her right now. I think all she'll do is have the dog and then throw it back in my face with PA comments afterwards.
Dbro says Dm has apparently decided she could manage some curry (he makes a great curry) tomorrow and has been eating cheese with no ill effects. hmm
She also apparently has been trying to tell him that she never sees the DC. And has repeated her crap about DD "I don't see her very often, I'm sure she's a lovely little girl". She sees her ONCE A WEEK!

thecardinal Tue 19-Aug-14 20:50:07

Hello Stately Homes people waves

I'm screwing up my courage to write more, as my mum is deeply interested and invested in all my online activity (slightly awkward, as I'm a writer and have to be visible online), so I can't quite rid myself of the feeling of being watched. But I want to say thank you for this brilliant resource. I've been reading all the old threads: second week of attempted LC here and I think my parents are in the huff... Mum at least is used to my being online and available for a large part of every day. Sigh.

DontstepontheMomeRaths Tue 19-Aug-14 21:08:48

Hello cardinal that sounds extremely difficult.

Trying to keep up but it's been a busy few days but hello to all new posters.

thecardinal Tue 19-Aug-14 21:27:11

Hi momeraths smile

It is a bit crap. I think mum is more PA than anything, but there's this strong sense of ownership at work, if that makes sense.

GoodtoBetter, how frustrating! Many sympathies.

GoodtoBetter Tue 19-Aug-14 21:28:54

Welcome, thecardinal! My Dm is also very overinvested in my life, but at least she doesn't follow me around on the internet.....shudder.

LookingThroughTheFog Tue 19-Aug-14 21:29:29

not sure what to say to DM as to why she isn't looking after her if I do that.

How about 'Oh, sorry! I thought what with you being so ill recently you'd want the break...'

Don't tell her until it's booked.

The Sundays thing sounds good, but what are you going about the constant Whatsapp messages? The constant passive aggressive niggles are going to be hard to counter. Is there any way you can limit yourself to one response a day, perhaps one to all messages sent at a set time?

Welcome, Cardinal.

GoodtoBetter Tue 19-Aug-14 21:30:03

Did you tell them you were going LC or are you just trying to bow out a little bit?

GoodtoBetter Tue 19-Aug-14 21:35:04

I don't know what to do about the dog. Book her in (if I can get somewhere) and just do as you suggest or let her look after her and just not listen to any PA crap afterwards. She has two cats now (she didn't when this was arranged) so I could say, you have the cats, I don't want one getting spooked and you've not been well.
The whatsapp I am going to ignore for now (she doesn't do it, except when I'm trying to have a holiday away from her hmm) I am thinking of getting a new PAYG sim and telling her mine died/got damaged and giving her that and only putting it in the phone once a week. She has my housephone now (grr) so it's not like she couldn't get in touch if she really wanted to. Or, just grow some balls and ignore her and not worry about SIMs etc.

thecardinal Tue 19-Aug-14 21:35:55

Me, I'm just trying to cut down. Mum has always been very fragile and easily hurt and I am well schooled to avoid anything like conflict. Though I did unfriend her on fb because she was threadstalking my friends and having long, rambling arguments with them. She develops grudges when people do or say something she doesn't agree with (this has really come into force in recent years) and seems to fixate, searching out more opportunities to interact.

I have always been so aware of her unhappiness, and I know I am not an easy person. And my parents have shown so much love -- it all comes from love, rather overwhelming love, but love. But recently things seem to have turned more toxic than ever and it is getting too much. I'm also asking myself if I really ended up as I did -- incredibly anxious, disordered, terrified of disapproval -- entirely off my own bat! Sorry to rant smile

thecardinal Tue 19-Aug-14 21:36:21

And thank you so much all for the welcome!

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 20-Aug-14 08:56:32

just not listen to any PA crap afterwards.

On the one hand, it's not just about listening to the PA crap, but just hearing the PA crap. Even if you don't want to respond, it gets under your skin.

On the other hand, you might well get PA crap if you don't let her look after the dog too.

The cat's are a reasonable consideration though. I'd book something now if you can, and then the decision is done.

GoodtoBetter Wed 20-Aug-14 09:30:11

I'm at the hairdressers now but will ring the kennels today and see how the land lies. She'll take it as a personal insult if I kennel the dog but seeing as she's fucked off about us going away and not responding to her bollocks she'll probably get the arse about looking after the dog and accuse me of taking advantage of her. Urgh.

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 20-Aug-14 12:02:19

She'll take it as a personal insult if I

To be honest, it's entirely possible that you could follow that with pretty much anything.

She'll take it as a personal insult if I... go on holiday with my brother without her.

She'll take it as a personal insult if I... choose not to go around every Sunday.

She'll take it as a personal insult if I... don't respond to her messages within 10 minutes.

Basically, she chooses to be insulted by your decisions. That's her choice. You don't have to live your life based on her upset. You live your life based on your choices and she goes along with it.

GoodtoBetter Wed 20-Aug-14 12:07:28

I'm still dithering. I think she'd like the dog for company (she's said as much) and I don't like to disappoint people (big failure of mine...people pleasing). But I also think if I want to extricate myself from her and cut contact I can't be asking for favours or be seen to be asking for favours. If I want to break away more then I have to have the balls to not rely on her for anything. With a normal person it might be a bit of give and take but I'm not sure we can do that. Then again, I do make sure her car is serviced etc so I suppose I'm not totally taking the piss. Argh.

GoodtoBetter Wed 20-Aug-14 12:27:22

OK, full-on narc rage from DM. Dog is going to the kennels.

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 20-Aug-14 12:49:28

Goodto, you're following a script.

You are, in that last post, panicking because you want to make your own choice - your panicking so much that you're almost physically unable to make the decision (I recognise it because I've felt it a lot).

You're desperately trying to justify what ought to be a perfectly normal choice or transaction. The counting of favours done in either direction; this is your mother - would you make your children count favours you've done for them? It's not a normal part of a functional parent/child relationship - you both should do what you do because you want to because the other simply matters.

You're putting yourself down - the fear of 'taking the piss' is overwhelming. You're saying that you don't have the balls. You're attacking yourself horribly for being in this situation where NONE OF IT is your fault. You've been conditioned to only ever see the bad in yourself.

Jesus, your wanting to make people happy is something you've put down as a negative! There's nothing wrong with it! It's true that you need to be aware of when people therefore take advantage, but actually wanting to make people happy isn't actually a fault! And if people do take advantage, it's not because you're weak or wrong or bad - it's because THEY are horrible people!


Massive, massive hugs to you. It feels horrible. I know it does.

Here's a little thing that I learned about myself from therapy. It may not relate to you, so apologies if I'm projecting.

I want to please people. I want to please people to the extent that I feel panicking fear at the mere possibility of not pleasing people.

I must do the right thing all of the time. If I make a mistake, I risk angering or upsetting people which is nearly as bad as not pleasing people. It comes with a risk of being literally hurt. It got to the point where I was so addled and broken that I'd hurt myself if someone else wouldn't just to make the whole thing feel 'normal'.

I am constantly scrabbling for perfection in myself, I go all out to impress others, and if that faint praise doesn't come then I work harder and harder and harder. Without the praise, I feel empty and lost and I stray too close to the physical pain.

The contestant scrabbling leaves me exhausted. Cripplingly tired. I am more liable to make mistakes, so I come down on myself hard when that happens. I call myself all the names under the sun.

I note other people living to a lower standard than I've set myself, and that enrages me. It's unfair that those people get to lie and cheat with no repercussions, whereas I'm stuck scrabbling for perfection.

I must work harder. I must avoid the pain of angering people, and I must strive to be the most impressive person in the room. I panic and my mind spirals out of my control because I'm tired and I can't keep up with my own and everyone else's demands.

Does any of that sound familiar?

This is where it came from:

My father did not love me. He did not protect me. I learned early to try to be the perfect daughter for him - I gave 100%, I put myself second always, hell, I was conditioned to protect HIM above all other people. How fucked up is that for a parent/child relationship? We'd taken the wrong bloody roles!

Always there was this tentative promise that he might one day love me if I just tried a little harder. The comment 'you're getting there' was said to me so bloody often along with 'I'm proud of you' but the latter only followed an achievement. He wasn't proud of me for just being. He never, ever said 'I love you'.

So the little Looking tried harder and harder and harder to please him and get that tantalising, promised Love. Only him. Nobody else mattered, and I learned to cripple myself trying to please him. He dumped me anyway. Literally walked out and refused to speak to me for 3 weeks. As I grew up further still, I had literally no clue how relationships were supposed to work. I didn't understand unconditional love until my children were born. I understood myself to be basically unlovable; after all, if I couldn't make my own father love me, what hope was there elsewhere?

So I continued to sacrifice myself for other people - colleagues, partners, the person in the street - I'd go all out to make them love me. I couldn't keep up. I'm human, apparently. I will fail, and that hurts so much it scares me.

Therapy taught me to look at myself regularly and think 'who am I trying to impress here?

The only answer should ever be 'me'.

Does it matter to my future happiness and wellbeing that I slightly misunderstood that instruction at work? No. I'm human, it happens, and I'm prepared to take responsibility.

Do I want to make someone happy by pleasing them? On some occasions yes, on others no.

Will I let them take advantage of me? No. Giving is now done on MY terms because I choose to do it.

Does it matter that Dad cannot love me for who I am?

No. Because I do.

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 20-Aug-14 12:54:07

Sorry, in the time it took to write that, your last post came in.

thecardinal Wed 20-Aug-14 12:55:48

Oh Lord, Goodto, I'm sorry to hear about all this. thanks to you.

What Looking outlines above is so horribly true. That's how my existence is and I am knackered by it. I'm starting to wonder if my parents have been less loving, than engulfing. It was always "we love you, now try harder."

I don't know if it does apply to you, but definitely examine those reactions.

GoodtoBetter Wed 20-Aug-14 13:00:11

It's all unfolding now. Feels like the world is shifting. Will write later.

Meerka Wed 20-Aug-14 13:01:54

goodto, congrats for standing up to her. I hope you're ok. Remember, you are a reasonable woman, she is not.

thecardinal Wed 20-Aug-14 13:03:32

YY to that! Take good care.

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 20-Aug-14 13:05:23

Hope you're OK, GoodTo.

Meerka Wed 20-Aug-14 13:09:18

Can you call on your husband for support while this is going on, good?

GoodtoBetter Wed 20-Aug-14 14:36:27

Thanks everyone. I'm not experiencing the narc rage, she went off on one at Dbro and he told me what she said:

Called my Dh "sly" said he was a crap father

That she basically brought up my DS for the first year of his life. (WTF?)

That I had invited her "in the coldest voice imaginable" for Xmas dinner last year. That she only had a tin of beans in the house so she had to come for Xmas dinner (that doesn't even make sense)

That I had said I hated every minute of living with her (pretty true, but I never said it)

That DH had turned me against her

That we only moved in with her as we couldn't pay our mortgage (WTF?)

That we "have had her fucking life savings" The money I have is basically the money left when my dad died.

She's told my uncle (her brother) "everything" and he is keeping an eye out for houses in N Ireland but she doesn't think she can afford to go back

The only thing keeping her alive is her cats (so not her GC then?)

She told Dbro not to tell me any of it. Where do I go from here? I'm not supposed to know about this rant and I won't put Dbro in a spot, but how can I realistically have anything more to do with this nutjob?
It's basically exactly the same as when we moved out, although at least she said a bit of that to my face.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 20-Aug-14 14:56:12


You cannot realistically have anything more to do with her now and even without your brother telling you all these things that she said. There's no going back from this.

He has managed to put distance both physical and mental between he and his mother, you need to do the same as he has done. You will also need to protect your children from their grandmother, it will do them no favours at all to be subjected to her at all. If she is not already she may well perhaps go onto choose favourites and make one of them her favoured grandchild (just as she did with you and your brother as children) and/or over value or under value the relationship with them. She will use them as narcissistic supply just as she has used you to date, she conditioned you and trained you.

It is NOT your fault she is the way she is because you did not make her that way. You can be free of her, really you can!.

Meerka Wed 20-Aug-14 15:36:57

good, in the gentlest possible way ... is this really such a surprise?

You know she twists everything. You have for a long, long, long time.

What she's saying - that you DH has turned you against her - is absolutely typical of someone who can't cope with the idea you might be thinking for yourself. As for the rest, it puts her in the position of hard done to heroine ... exactly where she likes to be, I suspect.

In the past, has she made these sorts of crazy accusations to your brother? And as Golden Child, you were exempt .. Until you started to stand up for yourself. Also she might be getting worse as she gets older.

Agreed you need to put the distance between you and her and keep neutral, neutral, neutral in dealing with her. Also that she needs keeping away from the grandchildren, as far as you are able to.

Do think you are lucky, actually, that you and your brother get on so well. Has he managed to come out the other side ok? Also, how do you get on with your uncle? Does he see the real person he's dealing with, when he talks to your mother?

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 20-Aug-14 15:38:58

Where do I go from here?

Where do you want to go from here? Thinking seriously and calmly, what position do you want to be at Christmas, so in four months from now?

how can I realistically have anything more to do with this nutjob?

Like Attila, I'm not convinced that you can, but you are going to have to make some hard choices.

Meerka Wed 20-Aug-14 15:50:25

are you ok, good?

GoodtoBetter Wed 20-Aug-14 16:30:08

I'm Ok. Dbro came over for a bit. He's going home tomorrow. He's been great. He's much further along than me and says he's has had about 1000 euros of therapy and so is much calmer. He just doesn't react, detaches and ignores.
This is all what she said when we moved out (some to me and some behind my back to Dbro).
It's sort of not a surprise and yet a bit foundation shaking, or at least stirs some stuff up...anger mostly.
I'll see her briefly when we pick up Dbro tomorrow. I'm not arranging to see her again. If she asks about Sunday I'll say we're busy, then we're away for a week and I'm not arranging anything for when we come back. If she cries and says she hasn't seen the children I'm not responding. She knows where their schools are, she can wave to them on the patio at break time. I'm not taking them to see her.
She's poison.
I was going to write to my uncle but Dbro has persuaded me that it's all more interaction with her and dancing to her tune and will just make me look as mad as her. If he's worth having in my life he'll see through it. Detach, ignore any attempts to create winged monkeys.
I think it was Looking who wrote a long thing about people pleasing....that is me to a tee. I think I might look into a bit more therapy at some point.
I feel like this is another new start. Time to be me, nearly 40 and I'm beginning to live my own life and learn who i really am.

GoodtoBetter Wed 20-Aug-14 16:35:00

In answer to the question, what do I want...I would be quite happy never to see her again. If she died tomorrow I would feel only relief.

LookingThroughTheFog Wed 20-Aug-14 16:58:26

Ok, while you can't arrange for her to die tomorrow, you can arrange to never see or speak to her again.

Completely. Cold turkey. Brother comes out of the house to the car and you drive off. You block or change your number in the phone. You don't answer the landline to her (see if you can get a caller ID). You delete the WhatsApp, and delete her from your Facebook if you have one.

You will not open the door to her. You will cut off any kindly family members wanting to pass a message along with a 'sorry, I'm not talking about Mum.'

You have to be proactive about this. If you start with 'I just won't respond' or 'I won't answer', you will find you still have to hear her, and she will bait you and bait you.

You don't have to tell her you're busy on Sunday. You just have to NOT TALK TO HER AT ALL.

2littlerascals Wed 20-Aug-14 19:35:10

In a previous post on a different thread I started I mentioned I've recently gone NC with my parents. This discussion is probably best here... Mother has narcissistic personality disorder. My brother and I got emotional neglect, some physical neglect. I then also had some sexually abusive behaviour from my brother. Brought up (but no longer) a Christian I was for a long time very "good" and forgiving about all of it. Until therapy for panic attacks/anxiety when it all came out and I saw it for what it was. And realised the effect of it all on me - years of emotional/psychological problems.

Thing is I feel stuck. Stuck in the anger, resentment, sometimes hate, pain, disappointment... of it all. Which parents stir up when I see them. Stuck in the memories. My brother - young and confused and emotionally abused at the time - has apologised but he's inherited a really good dose of the self-centredness. So he's not that much help.

If I break off from folks for good this will mean I lose contact with most of my family except Gran and brother. Uncles, Aunts, cousins will stay out of it - and away. That's too much for me. If I maintain some contact, from a distance, with cast-iron boundaries that will work probably but .... just want to let go of the emotional memories and emotional reactivity - and get out of the FOG - which I'm really in.

Going to read some of the recommended books but any advice from people who've got out of FOG (I'm a softie) and out of the memories be great.

Meerka Wed 20-Aug-14 21:31:17

Hello 2little. I saw your thread and have been thinking about it.

Is skilled therapy an option? Unfortunately it costs, the NHS is so stretched it's hard to get privately. Possibly some short term CBT therapy might help but probably longer term therapy would help greatly.

On a day to day level, I think a lot of us find living with the more difficult emotions hard. Practical things help such as hard exercise, some physical outlet for the energy created by the anger. Some people punch a cushion. Some people write it down in a diary or an unsent letter.

It does help a lot to have someone close you trust to talk to, specially if they have some degree of personal experience themselves.

For myself I swim and go to the gym (at least when im not knacked from the baby-sleepless-nights). I talk to my husband, must bore him silly poor man but he's very patient and understanding.

Sometimes the emotions still come back and one thing I've learned is not to just bury them. To let them breathe and to give them space, but also not to wallow in them. Thinking over and over about how hard done to you are tends to create the habit of anger and feeling sorry for yourself. It's a sort of narrow balancing act to know when to give the emotions space and attention and when to say okay, enough. I do know that I really don't want to become a self-pitying and bitter woman when I'm older, decided that fairly young, so I have chosen (when the feelings aren't overwhelming) not to indulge in them often. It's helped slowly decrease the strength of the emotions over the years. This weekend I learned that some of my father's stuff that I had hoped would come to me because I loved it, has been given away. It hurts, and I'm both acknowledging that to myself and also taking a deep breath and trying to let it go.

Having said that (and it's only my experience) I suspect that as a 'good christian' you'll have had so much pressure put on you to forgive and to essentially pretend that you don't feel furious and hurt and bitter. Giving yoruself space and time to feel that way is probably the way forward at this stage.

Might it be an idea to let yourself feel all these more difficult emotions for a time, say 2 years, and then say that after that you're going to try to let them go? (maybe that wouldnt work, just a suggestion; practical answers are kind of hard to come by in this territory).

2littlerascals Thu 21-Aug-14 07:27:28

Yes. I'm not a pity party for one kind of person. I want to be up and at 'em. Only I'm not!

I'm in therapy. What I find is that going over it and someone being nice and sympathetic and pointing out how dreadful it was doesn't help me move out of it. And I then just feel shocking. I've come a long way (hospitalised with severe depression as had other stuff happen). But still my head is full of it all. I suspect what I do is shove it all down (very good at that as well taught...) and then woooosh it comes up again. I want to move beyond my story. I don't want the defining story of my life to be a woman who was made ill because she was neglected and trampled on by an NPD mother.

I was watching a v good youtube video on letting go, a Buddhist one. I think this is for me the way. I can't change what happened and what they did to me over 30+ years but I can "let it goooooooooooo".

I've decided I will dip in and out of my relationship with family. Contact when I'm up for it, NC when I'm not. My brother is supportive of it - he has had a v distanced relationship with them for years - and he is there for them to talk to. No guilt for me!!

I've been smoking, drinking too much vino, and been on medication (I had a dubious bipolar diagnosis, so overweight). I think you're so right - exercise to deal with the emotion. I find when I do meditation this helps too. It's about moving the emotional energy isn't it.

Ah well - nearly time for my double trouble to wake up! Have a cracking day and thanks for the input. Very good not to be alone in this, though obviously sorry there is so much c* around.

Meerka Thu 21-Aug-14 08:53:55

What I find is that going over it and someone being nice and sympathetic and pointing out how dreadful it was doesn't help me move out of it.

Yes, absolutely! I suspect that you may need a different therapist, one who challenges you a bit more. It's unpleasant but damn constructive, done in a skilled way. Space to talk is important but once you've had that, you need to move forwards and the right therapist can nudge you to face the thistles in your emotional shoe to get you moving forward.

meditation is supposed to be excellent. I'm supposed to do it too but er, bit lax there!

I do know that alcohol can hold back your recovery because it's a depressant. More so if there is a question of mental ill health

Hissy Thu 21-Aug-14 10:01:11

Good i'm so sorry this has happened, i've wanted to post earlier, but am on holiday and phone won't let me post when tethering.

When did your DM say all this? When he went there after being with you? Or over the phone?

She's shit herself while you and he have been away, hasn't she? Hence the manic texting/PA crap.

Now she's triangulating. sad not knowing your DB was already WAY ahead of her.

There's no way back from this, you can see that.

Once you've got over the initial shock of what she's said (basically the OPPOSITE of the actual truth) I think the whole thing will be blown open, and it would do her some good to know that actually your DB did tell you, because what she said was so heinous and wrong you had a RIGHT to know what this woman was saying about you.

It'll show here that there's NO support for what she says/does and that she has no allies.

I reckon that ought to be enough for her to finally ftfo back to the uk.

Can you still access your original thread Good? I suggest you read it and see where you started from. She was hell bent on destroying you and your family.

GoodtoBetter Thu 21-Aug-14 10:24:40

Hi hissy hope you are having a good holiday.
We came back from the beach with Dbro (where she'd been by turns ignoring and harrassing me by text) and Dbro was at hers that night and all the next day and has flown home this morning. So yesterday was his only full day. Her rant started the moment he got up yesterday basically. He actually recorded parts of it on his phone! But I don't want to hear it. He says if I waver he'll e mail me the recordings, ha ha! I picked him up this morning (so saw her briefly) and had a chat at the airport.
Basically I am not contacting her from now on apart from to tell her I've arranged for the dog to be kennelled. I expect after a few days she'll start another narc rage or hoovering, but this is it. This is the end. I won't do this any more. I can't. I won't have my children exposed to that crap and the favouritism of DS is as bad as ever. She will ultimately golden child my DS and scapegoat my DD and then set them against each other, or DS against me/Dh. Dbro pointed out that she will almost certainly try to "steal" DS and turn him against us. It's what she does. Slagging me to my uncle is an attempt at the same, an attempt to create a winged monkey, as is the ranting to Dbro, she's trying to triangulate.
So, a new era begins. She can service her own fucking car, she can sort her own fucking crap out and if she thinks I'm going over on Sundays to play happy families or seeing her at Christmas she can fuck right off. She can enjoy her can of beans on her own.
Dbro says he would go NC but he's almost NC anyway so he's just going to continue in the same vein and if some day she pops her clogs he'll happily share any inheritance with me, ha ha!
She will no doubt now disinherit me when she works out I'm basically ignoring her, but I don't care. I don't care at all, and that's quite liberating. I am not afraid, this is a new start.
I'm not going to tell her I know what she said to Dbro, there's no need, she's said it all to my face before and I was a fool not to cut her off then. Detach, ignore, she doesn't even deserve an explanation and anyway she would just say I was lying.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 21-Aug-14 10:28:29

"Basically I am not contacting her from now on apart from to tell her I've arranged for the dog to be kennelled".

I would not even tell her that your dog is now being kennelled, no contact from now is precisely that. Radio Silence from you now must be maintained and block all means of communication from her.

Good luck to you!.

Meerka Thu 21-Aug-14 10:57:03

< in awe of good >

GoodtoBetter Thu 21-Aug-14 11:10:07

Don't feel very awesome, but thanks. smile

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