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"But we took you to stately homes!!!" - Survivors of Dysfunctional Families

(962 Posts)
AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 23-Oct-14 18:19:26

(New thread as previous one is full).

It's October 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

Hissy Thu 23-Oct-14 19:25:10

ooh, already? thanks Attilla!

GoodtoBetter Thu 23-Oct-14 19:28:25

Thanks Attila. I was sorry to hear about your FIL, not because I give a rat's arse about him, he sounds horrible, but I'm sorry if this stirs up all kinds of crap for your poor DH to deal with. I hope he's OK and you can support him.

As far as my crap family goes. I haven't replied to any winged monkeys yet although my fingers physically ache from restraining myself.

cloggal Thu 23-Oct-14 20:01:17

what can we actually do about toxic people,in the end?

We've gone NC pretty successfully. Moved house, the works. And yesterday a belated birthday card drops through the door. As if they are just letting us know they know where we are. We are right back to square one, flinching every time a car passes the house. They have us back in a state of anxiety.

The full story is too long, I've been on several previous threads asking for advice - but seriously, when it's old people sending pathetic-sounding, wheedling messages, turning up uninvited, posting 'gifts', what can you actually, properly do? There were no direct threats of violence made. I'm sure I read somewhere that if an average person could reasonably tolerate it, it wasn't legally considered harassment. How can this even be? What if the people making the contact are not 'average'? What if they are seasoned, abusive manipulators? Why isn't it enough to say 'I don't want to have contact with this person, they must now leave me alone'?

Our approach has just been to never, ever respond. But they're not going to quit, are they? I can't see the police taking this at all seriously. We just want (need) them to stop. Sorry if this is really angry, and self-indulgent, I don't even need a reply -I'm just so exhausted with this shit and I can't believe there's no simple way of ending it.

TaleTastic Thu 23-Oct-14 20:01:53

Hope you dont mind me joining, I was directed this way after my thread went a bit AIBU

Essentially the problem is I'm left out of family occasions because of a health condition which can make it difficult for me to eat out. They don't seem to care that I'm not there or how this might make me feel. After three years I'm getting a bit fed up tbh and very hurt that nobody appears to give a shit.

If I say something, I will be at fault and it will be an argument. If I suck it up (again) it will just keep happening. I want them to see my point if view but I'm realising it's unlikely...

Thanks Attilla it's so busy I'm not keeping up.

Do you want me to add all the links? I have a template here?

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 23-Oct-14 21:42:48

Yes please re adding the links, that would be helpful.

It was more important to get the new thread up to support those who needed it and your great advice.

Give me 2 ticks and I'll add it in.

The thread opener with links:

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
July 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."

GoodtoBetter Thu 23-Oct-14 22:18:53

OK, I think I'm finally geting a grip. Thanks for telling to hold off until I'd calmed down. Have had a good think and on balance think it's best to ignore this nonsense, it's not even been sent to me after all. I have asked DBro though to NOT say to uncle that he agrees to forward it to me (they don't know he has already). If he's going to tell them he doesn't want to get involved then he can't also agree to send me this crap, it just makes him a winged monkey too. If they want to speak to me they can write to me themselves.

<channels kick-ass swan>

Pippin8 Thu 23-Oct-14 22:21:07

I've posted on the last thread. I've been NC with my mother for 2.5 years now. She works for a charity & was doing a session at DS2's school on weds & collared him to ask him for tea on Saturday. It's just like her, all oh look at me I'm such a great grandma. In reality, she never contacts him, she doesn't even know what he likes to eat, he gets birthday & xmas cards with money in posted & that's it. He is 15 so is free to make his own mind up, but I wish she'd just piss off.

I guess I'm just saying even though I'm NC she still has the power to affect my life.

HumptyDumptyBumpty Thu 23-Oct-14 22:27:42

Thanks for letting me know about the new thread mome.

Attila I'm also sorry (for you and your DH) to hear that, I hope you are okay.

cloggal that sounds awful. How sinister and controlling. Are you okay?

good I think that's v sensible. I have to be honest and say I wondered if your DBro was going a bit winged monkey from your earlier posts - I think he's trying to be everything to everyone?

Not much to report here. Have my M,s birthday coming up, and pressure from my DF to send her a card. I don't want to. Not sure what I'll do, but I think I'll ignore. It's not a big birthday anyway.

pumpkinsweetie Thu 23-Oct-14 22:31:20

Marking place, as Christmas is approaching I doubt I will miss a year without an il saga...

cloggal Thu 23-Oct-14 22:55:24

thanks humpty, flowers for being so kind and sorry for the rant. We are okay. Just thought we'd managed it, thought it was over...

I'd say to you in return for your kindness to me, anything you're doing under duress, you probably shouldn't do in these situations. Being firm in your own decisions is key. good luck.

GoodtoBetter Fri 24-Oct-14 11:34:34

Hi cloggal and humpty. I think I remember your previous threads, cloggal. I'm so sorry they are still bothering you. How far did you move?

I spoke to Dbro about how the e mails from winged monkey uncle make me angry because it's people making up lies about me and it's not fair. He was saying basically that is doesn't matter what they think, if they don't belive me it's not worth me getting upset about. Then, I was having coffee this morning in a bar and the sugar packet had this little quote (supposedly from Einstein) on it:
Worry more about your conscience than your reputation, because your conscience is you, it's your problem. Your reputation is what other think of you and what others think of you is their problem.
I thought it was quite apt!
I'll talk to the therapist about it, but I know really I have to ignore it and detach. Still winds me up though. Dbro has told uncle he doesn't want to get involved and has agreed not to forward any more e mails to me. I think he was surprised how much it upset me, after all he's further down the line in this and he's not in the firing line or living 5 mins away from DM. I did want to hear things like this at first, but I've passed that point now...I don't want to hear it. WHich I suppose is progress in itself.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 24-Oct-14 11:56:59

My thanks thanks again to everyone for all their best wishes. DH is okay as far as it goes, I think he has an awful lot of stuff to process but we talk it all through. I have stated to him that his dad could have done an awful lot more but did not (channels J Kyle here). He agrees. This is one of the many problems with dysfunctional families, they make an already hard process even more bloody difficult. MIL is an emotionless cold fish and does her officious "I'm in charge" thang and BIL does not talk to us!.

Its half term next week and we're going to Spain for a few days so that will be good for us all. Am very glad we booked all that a few weeks back as well.

Here's another quote for you GoodtoBetter

"It is much easier to make good men wise than to make bad men good." Henry Fielding, 1749

Indeed, detach and ignore is the way forward. Channel your kick ass swan!!.

GoodtoBetter Fri 24-Oct-14 12:03:19

Where in Spain are you going Attila? Hope you have a lovely, relaxing break. xx

ifuknow Fri 24-Oct-14 13:31:37

Thanks for the link to this lovely new thread, no more scrolling on the phone - for now.
Enjoy your break in Spain Attilla you're spot on about dysfunctional families making a hard process more difficult.
They also suck the joy out of what should be a happy occasion too, such as Christmas.

GoodtoBetter Fri 24-Oct-14 16:06:55

Have done the whole writing our a response to rip up but it's not helpingsad still really want to send it. Going to hold out till therapy on tues. Why is it a bad idea to respond?

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 24-Oct-14 16:24:14

I would really urge you not to send any sort of communication even though you so want to. Doing that will be seen by them as a reward thus opening you up to be bothered even more!. You are still to your mother her narcissistic supply.

Your words will be used against you and twisted so that it is all your fault, toxic people always want the last word.

This is from Lightshouse:-

"In the simplest of terms, there’s nothing toxic people like more than:

1. Getting their way,
or
2. Causing a fight.

Toxic people like to accuse, tantrum, manipulate and smear their way to either one of the above or the other. Their out-of-control emotions and self-centeredness make the blame game and the smear campaign two of their favourite tactics for keeping you engaged with them so they can feed off you.

Upset a toxic person, and they’ll be shooting infuriating drama-baits your way and just waiting for you to bite the hook. And they know just what to say to keep you tossing and turning at night, just trying to think of some way – any way – that you can stop them once and for all and make sure the truth about who you are prevails. But if you’re wise, you won’t bother.

Because the only way to win with a toxic person is not to play.

And until you accept that fact, you’re anybody’s sucker. All it will take is one bloated accusation, one lie, or one insinuation about you, and you’ll forever be the toxic person’s most treasured source of satisfying fun and games. If you don’t know how to leave the bait alone and find another, quieter, more indirect route back toward being left alone, you never will be.

Abusive people know that as long as they can set and keep their hooks in you, you are stuck being there for them to use and abuse – to feed on. When they want to, abusive people will say and do whatever it takes to keep you glued painfully to them and their world, because if you are stuck to them, they will always have you handy for whatever emotionally abusive purpose they want.

You may need to cut contact altogether if you are in an entrenched personal relationship, and if so, you may get hoovered and manipulated into staying connected. This is often easily done by deliberately upsetting you so much that the urge to call or contact them just to have your say will be intense, because the lies or other distortions being propagated are so hurtful. Don’t fall for it. Just ignore the whole thing, walk away and wipe your hands. There is no winning such battles. The greatest reward is freedom from the toxicity, which only comes with your non-involvement.

Of course, if there is a legal matter or similar to attend to, by all means, defend yourself appropriately. Non-communication isn’t the same thing as being a legal or occupational doormat. However, responding personally to the drama baits and the manipulations designed to tempt you into fighting back is a reward for toxic people, so wherever logistically possible, let the lies, accusations or other nastiness go completely unresponded to.

The sooner you do, the sooner it will start to become quiet, which, given certain toxic types, can take long enough without additional delays being thrown in. Don’t tell yourself you have to reply — learn to recognize your refusal to respond for what it really is — a sign that it will be over as quickly as possible because you knew how to ignore drama-baiting and send the toxic person looking for a better target.

So when you find yourself invited into an ugly tug-of-war with a toxic person, simply drop the rope immediately, walk away and LEAVE IT BE FOREVER. Because the simple fact of the matter is, toxic people can’t have a tug-of-war with you if there’s nobody holding on at the other end".

Hissy Fri 24-Oct-14 16:51:35

DON'T SENT IT GOOD!!!

GoodtoBetter Fri 24-Oct-14 17:35:00

Thank you Attila and Hissy. I know you are right and that extract from Attila is SPOT ON. I will hang. It's just really hard. sad The urge to respond is so strong. But I'll sit on my hands some more. wink

thebrideishighbutimholdingon Fri 24-Oct-14 20:03:21

Hi Good , I don't know if you saw my post towards the end of the last thread:

I completely understand why you want to reply to your uncle, to set the record straight, but no good will come of it. You thought previously that he might be reasonable and prepared to see both sides of the argument, and so you sent the factual record of the behaviour which led to the NC. Having read that, he is still completely under your M's influence and on her side. Therefore any rant from you now would just be more evidence (to him) of how unreasonable you are being. Ask your brother to stop forwarding any more like this; it's not helping you

You want to send it because you are being unfairly accused of being the bad person here, and you want to defend yourself. Of course you do! But they will never see it like this, no matter how many times you explain it. Then you would only feel worse.

thebrideishighbutimholdingon Fri 24-Oct-14 20:06:21

Or what Attila posted, which puts it 10 times better!

GoodtoBetter Fri 24-Oct-14 20:12:48

Yes, I did read what you said and it was very perceptive. It's this painting me as the bad person, as if it's what I have done to HER. It's so unfair, so unjust. But it's true, there isn't any point writing back, it'll just be twisted. I mean, if he reckons as long as she's not a serial murderer then I should suck anything and everything up and stop casuing "unnecessary hurt", really...what's the point. It's annoyed me that he's gone through my brother as well. Say it to me face, you coward! I'm really disappointed in my uncle. And hoping my cousins (the children of the sister my mother hates) don't pile in as well.

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