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"But We Took You To Stately Homes!" - Survivors of Dysfunctional Families(1000 Posts)
It's July 2014, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.
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."
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
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."
fillie no, my mum was amazing when I was younger, lots of baking and cuddles and going out to places, especially since my dad worked shifts and theres 10 years between me and my brother so for a long time it was just me and my mum - then my parents got divorced just as I was starting to obviously get older/develop i.e. boobs/attract male attention (I looked and behaved much older as a teen than I was) and I think my mother saw it as "competition" all of a sudden?
She started going clubbing (never really done it before having been with my dad from 18) and took me with her (I was early teens!), I had an older "boyfriend" (nothing really ever happened but not from his want of trying) whom she then slept with and then moved in (he was 19, she was mid-30s, he was a cocklodger in the truest sense of the word, demanded we get sky but didn't work and my mother was on benefits etc and now says she couldn't understand why I wasn't just happy for her in that time period?!)
So...yes, its been downhill from the last 15 years or so, now she's come full circle and is "Christian" (said my children were "bastards as me and DP aren't married yet) and doesn't drink (looks as though I've admitted to sipping meths out of a paper bag on a park bench if I say I've had a glass of wine in the evening) and views any sexual activity (especially pre-martial) as disgusting and immoral
I am NC at the moment and it's making me unhappy. I much prefer it when we're all getting along
that's the FOG love, that's the FEAR of the OBLIGATION and GUILT.
you are NC for a reason, remind yourself of it and while it is sad that you have had to do this, you didn't CHOOSE to take this relationship to such a place.
"I much prefer it when we're all getting along and I wish we could all start back at purely being civil to each other and build a relationship from there".
I think it unlikely that even a civil relationship would be possible primarily because your mother and her enabler of a H are not built that way, they do not want that. Its their way or no way as far as they are concerned and their treatment of you to date has been utterly abysmal. These people were not and remain emotionally unhealthy parents to you and they would be utterly appalling role models as grandparents as well.
You would not have tolerated any of this from a friend, family are truly no different.
Apart from the FOG that Hissy so rightly mentions, this was never a healthy relationship to begin with. It was likely too that you were only getting along better with your mother because you were doing precisely what she wanted you to do.
Tirednow Have you read the books in the first post and mentioned again by Attila upthread? I'm reading Toxic Parents now and it (together with this thread) certainly make you realise that you're not alone, a lot of parents have the same problems. I haven't got on to what I hope will be "how to deal with it" in the later sections of the book. I ordered the Controlling Parents book a while ago but it hasn't arrived yet.
You definitely do need to protect your DC from her and it may be that long-term NC is the only way to do that properly. When you start speaking again after a NC period, do you address what caused the split or do you just sweep it under the carpet and try to carry on as if it never happened? I think that's been the problem between me and my parents; not addressing things, leaving unresolved issues.
I'm certainly still hoping that I can have an ongoing reasonable relationship with my mother (she isn't as bad as yours, thank goodness) but I'm looking for ways to handle our relationship better as adult-to-adult and not get sucked back into the controlling parent / miserable child roles again.
modest I would completely freak out if my M turned up unexpectedly at a wedding fair! She's "taking a step back from you" probably in the expectation that you will go grovelling for her attention and approval - DON'T! She's holding the "we won't come to your wedding unless you do what I want" over your head as a big threat. I think you have to fact up to the fact that they may very well not come, whatever you do, because it's unlikely that you can meet all her demands. Practice a speech something like "We would love you to come and be a part of our wedding, but it's our day, not yours, and if you can't accept that, then it's better if you don't come." Think about what you will say to other relatives / family friends. Something like "We would love M and D to join in our special day and have done everything we can to include them but they don't like some of the arrangements and so have decided not to come."
Weddings are certainly fraught with difficulties, aren't they? I'm also getting married soon (the clue's in the name!) and M started to
interfere make "helpful" suggestions but I nipped it in the bud. My DP and I sat down together and agreed what we want from the day, then presented it to M as a fait accompli. Not as in, we've booked it all and it's all sorted, but rather, we don't want the type of wedding you would like and were trying to organise for us , we want to do xyz instead, but you can help us choose venues etc. I admit to being a coward as I blamed my DP for anything I thought she wouldn't like: "Oh, DP would never agree to that" even when it's me who wants things that way. She knows that DP would prefer to get married abroad with NO family present, so the threat that we'll cancel everything and just elope has kept her in check and so far it's all going smoothly.
She offered to pay for the wedding, but that raised some red flags with me, so I declined. I've suffered a lot with financial controlling behaviour in the past but that was mainly my father, so it might not be a problem with M, but I wouldn't take the risk.
These people too never apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions. Your mother blamed you (!) for her own irrational behaviour at this wedding fair, this is precisely what such toxic people do. She went along to that for her own reasons, basically to upset and upstage you.
Bride I tried blaming DP - he said I should. I tried to go down the route that they see DP more as the traditional bride as he's more excited about the planning. Now they've really taken against him but I think that's more because he will either confront them or remove himself from the situation therefore taking the wind out their sails.
When we tried to do the same when we turned down the money they took it as a personal affront. They don't want us to be able to do this without them and keep picking at any ideas we suggest. Even while saying that they're trying to be supportive.
The problem is that they still see us both as 16 year olds and even though we've been together 9 years and have a house together the relationship is somehow immature. They've even gone so far as to suggest DP is the controlling one when I agree with him rather than them. Even more of a problem is that when treated that way I react accordingly, raise my voice and cry. It's really annoying and I just get more upset that I can't be mature around them, even when I'm making a good point it's completely undermined by my tears.
I really appreciate all the helpful comments. Attila You've really helped me see how this behaviour isn't acceptable, she's supposed to be the parent and it seems like she doesn't care about me unless I do things her way.
Luckily my M likes my DP - so far, at least. He has helped me a lot to sort my life out (basically, supporting me to achieve some of the things my M has nagged me about for years but I couldn't do on my own, because of the procrastination and paralysis and self-defeating behaviour I wrote about yesterday.) Because I've credited him with getting me to achieve those things, she regards him as an ally and has subtly tried to get him to "gang up" with her to have a go at me about certain things. I've had to point out to him what she's doing and ask him not to join in. He doesn't really appreciate what she can be like as of course she's only saying things to be helpful / for my own good etc.
Tired now, that's a very extreme change of lifestyle for you mother! I remember in my teens my mum was single and we had some fun together, choosing bras, talking about boyfriends etc, but what you're describing sounds pretty unhealthy. Have I understood, she ended up moving your boyfriend in ...as her lover?!? Wow, that is not designed to boost her daughters esteem. And now SHE has her judgy pants on, no wonder you have a hard time with her.
How can she forget all that? Does she act like butter wouldn't melt? That would do anyone's head in!!!
OMG. My mother has a buyer for her house. Looks like she'll be gone before Christmas. Wow.
how arehow are you feeling about that good? you ok?
Hi Hissy. I don't know really. I'm a bit shocked. I mean, logically it's a good thing for several reasons. She's never been happy here, never made friends or contacts or any life for herself, just leeched off me. She's gettting on (70s) and would be better in the UK in terms of language and all that. It's better for me as I need the distance from her.
But then it's also a bit of a kick in the teeth emotionally. The fact that she has made no real effort to repair things, just keeps belating about how she doesn't know what she's done (even though she's read my e mail to my uncle outlining it all). Feels like she's just washed her hands of me and the kids completely. That I'll have to explain (to DS particularly) that Granny has moved away. It's better for them in the long run too, but....I don't know. I'm just still so stunned at what a totally weird and dysfunctional person she is.
But then, I can feel a sort of relief bubbling away under the surface too. If she really does go, might try and sort a little trip away as a celebration, is that really weird of me?
Feel quite conflicted really. Normal I guess.
Your mother GoodtoBetter was never interested in anything other than being right. I cannot stress enough about such people having a complete lack of empathy- that is why she thinks she has done nothing wrong and bleats about it. It is also not possible to have any sort of a relationship with a narcissist and you certainly need to put physical as well as mental distance from her.
Re your DS I give you this excerpt:-
"You will find that the children will eventually stop mentioning the loss of the narcissist grandparent if you are not bringing it up. If you are talking about your Nparent in the hearing of your children then you are inviting them to keep talking about it, too. I can not over-emphasize the need for your explanation to a younger child to be calm, pragmatic, measured and short. Long explanations make you look defensive which will tend to peak the interest of the child and prompt him to push the issue. You can gauge what is appropriate information depending on the age of the child. If the child is older and has experienced or witnessed the Ngrandparent's nastiness in action then you can say more.
Young children are not known for their long attention spans. This works in your favour. With younger children you have the advantage of distraction. It is easy enough to get the child's mind off onto another track. Every parent has done the distraction routine at one time or another. "Mommy, I want to see Nasty Nan today!" "Honey, we aren't going to see Nasty Nan today because we get to go to the park and eat ice cream." (Make up fun time on the spot if necessary for this distraction.) "Yay!!" says the kid and off we go. Subject changed, kid distracted. In time, Nasty Nan will fade from memory. Any bonding that may have occurred will dissipate in the process of time.
Remember, you are the parent. You're older and therefore more experienced which is the point of being the parent. The child is dependent on your good sense and protective wisdom. You're smarter than your child; use that to your advantage (such as using the distraction method). You are the final authority. This is not a negotiable issue. Kidlet doesn't get to decide on this one because they lack the understanding, wisdom, experience and good sense that, hopefully, you have. So don't look like you're unsure or open to quibble. You'll undermine yourself if you look anything but firm and resolved on it. Use your advantages as parent to smooth the effects of the cut-off. Over time this will all quiet down. Kids tend to accept what is. It will happen more quickly if you follow the above advice.
Most of all, do not operate from a fearful mindset. Don't be afraid of your children's possible, or actual, reactions. Don't be afraid that you are depriving them of something important by cutting off a set of grandparents. You are only "depriving" them of bad things. Reassure yourself with that truth. Family is not everything. Blood is not binding. You are escaping the Mob Family. What should connect us is how we treat each other with love and respect. This is always a good lesson to teach our little ones. If any part of you is unsure of your decision then, for Pete's sake, don't show it. Your resoluteness will go a long way toward reassuring your children that you are acting in everyone's best interest. If your children know that you love them, they are going to feel reassured that this decision is also based in your love for them. They will find an added sense of security to know that you, as their parent, are willing to protect them even at the cost of your relationship with your own parent(s). Rather than being fearful, see the plentiful opportunities in this. You are protecting your children from someone whom you've experienced as being abusive; you are reassuring your children that you are in charge and are watchful for their best interests (creates deep sense of security); you can teach healthy family values which include that family doesn't get a pass for abusive behaviour; you can strengthen and reinforce the healthy relationships in your extended family. Kids are less likely to feel like there is a void in their life if you fill it with good things.
Cutting off from your narcissist parent is a good thing. No need to act otherwise. Your children will sense it is a good thing by how you behave. Model how you want them to respond and it is likely they will imitate. Don't be afraid of their questions. Kids are amazingly resilient and well-equipped to handle truth. Parents are supposed to protect their progeny. If your child doesn't agree with how you go about that don't worry. They will often disagree with your decisions for their best interests. Nothing new there. It is your job as parent to make the tough decisions. If you know it is the right decision then proceed with confidence. Showing confidence is a quality of leadership. As a parent you are supposed to be a leader. Lead...and they will likely follow".
And plan that trip away as well!!.
Wow, Good, that's quite sudden. Did you think she'd never actually do it, just whine about how impossible it is? From everything you've written, I think it can only be a good thing for you and your family.
Do you think you need to go away to celebrate? Won't it be a joy just being at home and around the neighbourhood without worrying that you might bump in to her?
I'm not surprised she's going. She's never been happy here, always moaning about it and comparing it unfavourably to "home". In some ways I suppose it's her big chance to go back, so in that way I'm doing her a favour. She won't see it like that of course. I think it's a good move for her as things stand. Obviously it will make my life easier on a day to day basis.
We probably won't actually go away because if the sale goes through it would take at least a month and then it's very near Christmas and as far as we know DH will be street sweeping for the council from January and so not able to have a day off really.
Maybe we'll have a nice day in the mountains instead. Christmas Day will certainly be less stressful if she's gone by then.
Thanks Attila that's really helpful that piece about talking to children, I'll use that if/when it comes up with DS.
fillie she says now that she's "apologised" so doesn't see why I cant be over it, in fact she says now that I should be (and should have been at the time) happy for her because she was happy since splitting up with my Dad.
She didn't understand at the time that I didn't want to hear about their "activities" or give her 'tips' (that I was only supposed to have gleamed from TV/magazines I guess as she went absolutely mental when she finally found out I'd first slept with some, called me "impure" and threw me out, this was a boyfriend btw and totally consensual not some randomer off the street)
I'm beginning to think that her ideas around sex/relationships are not "normal" - she told me about how my brother was conceived (I was 9 at the time) and is weirdly over invested in the conception of my children but on the other hand is getting more prudish and conservative as she gets older (starting with the "gays aren't normal" type comments even though her sister is and has been out nearly 20 years)
Thats just the tip of the iceberg though, the more I think the more I come to the conclusion lots of things in my teens (some before) weren't actually right and normal and general teenager things, maybe?
Well GoodtoBetter this is where you will need to hold your nerve and wait until it has actually happened...
I remember with my DM, and the situation wasn't nearly as tense, but I had already been excluded from being told that she had seen something she liked, offered on it etc. She told me they had accepted an offer, but that was it. she deliberately lied through omission.
I had an inkling that she was going to leave me out of everything, but had to step back and let it happen. I wanted to see what she was capable of.
I still don't really believe she did it. But she did. and then some.
Rest assured that she will be moving because of you and yes it will be "your fault".
You know this a no-win situation, because the dice that she rolls only ever comes up with You're right, everyone else is wrong.
Hello again, DM is now in the hospice, what a relief. I can relinquish all caring responsibility and just visit as I feel like it, this time it really looks like it won't be long.
Modest I also had a terrible time with my DP about my wedding. DM made snide comments how she'd give it 6 months, refused to come dress shopping with me, carried on about what a waste of money it all was. DF never stood up to her. Several of my friends were getting married the same year and seeing the enthusiasm and happiness of their DP made me feel like the most unworthy person in comparison. Eventually me and DH decided to marry without telling anyone, just a handful of friends attended, I've always felt like I missed out though, but
I know that DM would've sulked all day because it wouldn't be all about her.
Goodtobetter do you know for certain that DM has a buyer lined up? Could she be testing you to see how you'll react? I hope that you're able to enjoy a peaceful Xmas. I'm actually looking forward to Xmas for the first time in about 30 years. No guilt tripping about leaving DM on her own, where she'll 'just have a chicken'.
modest hi, welcome. Your DM sounds incredibly difficult to deal with, how horrible for you. Weddings do seem to be a flashpoint, particularly for narcissistic parents - I guess the idea of a whole day not about them is too much
My M was up and down while I planned my wedding - we did manage to get along after I pointed out to her that her expectation of planning my whole day was NOT going to happen, and was deeply unreasonable!
On the day, though, she acted like a massive drama queen, weeping all over various kind
gullible relatives, and generally trying to make it all about her. Ignore ignore ignore. Your wedding is for you and your DF to enjoy and celebrate. A normal mother would be happy to see her daughter happy, would want to help and join in, not control and defeat and suck the joy away.
You are normal, she is not. Hold onto that. And good luck with the planning!
good, that's tentatively good news, right? How are you doing?
ifuknow how are you feeling? Is it all relief, or is there any bad stuff creeping its sly way in? Hope you're just feeling free and light.
Stil NC with my M. She's rung once, which I've ignored. I find it hard - def FOG going on, but also sadness that my DD isn't cherished by her grandma - she's learned to stand independently in the last week, and my M doesn't, and probably won't know about it. That feels really sad to me. My DH is being a legend though, getting me through the wobbles and putting up with me being weepy and grumpy a lot.
Interestingly, my best mate, who knows my M really well (has been subjected to her interminable rants/waffle) said, when I told her about the NC, "good. She's always been so negative, and puts you down. It's horrible". I'm so grateful to her for being a true mate and not being sucked in by M.
ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGH. My uncle has just e mailed my Dbro asking him to intercede. So angry. Really tempted to tell him (uncle) to fuck off.
Good your DB needs to deal with this.
he needs NOT to tell you this shit. he needs to see the winged uncle for what it is and not react. at. all.
your DB needs to use the therapist as a sounding board before he passes on any info from DM/DU. got it?
this is DM decision, it will be better off for you (and her) if she goes home, and you aren't going to try and change her mind. she is old enough to make her own choices.
you are old enough to make the best choices for your family.
i'm bloody angry with him. I don't like his oversharing. I know some of it has served you well, but you're very vulnerable right now and this shit sets you back.
he needs to act better as a db and protect you a bit from this.
My uncle's msg:
I haven't contacted you through this debacle. I did exchange a couple of emails with G2B but from their content didn't think that anything would be achieved by continuing the conversation. As you now know from G2B's mother she is in the final stages of selling her house and relocating to the UK.
I am sending you this email that she sent me this morning in confidence. I have no problem with you sharing it with G2B.
I continue to be at a total loss to understand how a daughter can completely cut off a grandmother from the love and affection of her grandchildren. It's not only unnecessarly hurtful to G2B's mum but think of the reaction of the children, now and for the rest of their lives. Understandable if G2B's mum was a serial murderer. But totally incomprehensible otherwise.
You are the only person now who bring any sanity to the situation.
G2B's mum will leave Spain now regardless. There is nothing to be gained by extending the hurt even further.
Hopefully you can find a way to intercede.
From my mother to my uncle:
I´m still a bit shellshocked. I´m just having a quiet day and going on with clearing out stuff. Thank goodness I did so much early on. It´s really hitting me hard now about never seeing the children again. I thought I had taken it in but I hadn´t really. The two little boys last night were so lovely. It hit me with a fresh shock, to think what I am missing.
I am soooooooooooooooo tempted to write back "How about an apology for a start?" that I am literally sitting on my hands.
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