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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:

Homecoming
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

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.

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