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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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Excellent post Fog Totally agree with that.
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.
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.
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
Even a Happy Birthday message had a guilt trip thrown in.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Those questions are all for your DH but you need to give all that a lot more thought as well.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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" she's over 3yo now FFS and she's far more verbal than DS. But clearly her own GM isn't interested.
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.
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.
"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.
So, three and a half days and narc mum has finally cracked whatsapp just now from her:
"been ill, chest but slowly getting better. Any reason why no news from you?"
Classic. Ignoring for now.
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.
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
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.
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