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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:

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

financialwizard Sat 25-Oct-14 22:12:17

Ahhhhhhhhhh. My mother is a toxic mess. Now she has manipulated my 13 year old into spying on us and took great delight in recounting his disatisfaction at my parenting choice. He is 13. If he misbehaves he knows there will be a sanction. Chuff off Mother. You're not welcome.

Rant over. Feel a bit better

GoodtoBetter Sun 26-Oct-14 09:22:59

That doesn't sound good, financial. How much contact are you in with your mother? Can you reduce it further?

I had a dream last night that my uncle understood and thought my mother was mad too. Quite disappointed to wake up and remember he's been monkeyed. sad

TalkingintheDaaaaaaark Sun 26-Oct-14 12:58:53

Hi TaleTastic and welcome, it's good to see you over here. Hope you're doing OK, I think some posters might have inadvertently missed your post in the general thread swap-over flurry!

I'm not actually that regular on here (as the regular regulars know!) but pop in from time to time.

I do think your family absolutely "meet the criteria" as it were for you being on here... And yes, your thread did go a bit AIBU, didn't it. Well done, anyway, for taking that step and coming on here! Brave of you. smile

Good sorry I missed the end of the old thread but I gather your uncle's sided with your mother big time... So sorry to hear but unfortunately I can't say I'm surprised, most people just do not want to know, do not want to see the truth. They're just too cowardly.

And no, don't try and exonerate yourself to him. The only person who really, really needs to believe in you is you. Save your energies for deprogramming yourself from all their toxic mindfuckery!

And a general hello to all, wishing everyone strength!

GoodtoBetter Sun 26-Oct-14 13:28:58

Hi, TalkingintheDaaaark (think I've got the wrong number of a's smile). Yes, my uncle e mailed my brother asking him to intercede (why he couldn't e mail me I don't know, I left it all quite open) and said it wasn't as if my mother was a serial murderer or anything and that I was causing "unneccessary hurt" to her anf my own DC by "cutting a grandmother off from her GC". Still soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo tempted to write back and give him what for but have promised myself I will at least talk to the therapist about it first on Tuesday. But it's really really really got under my skin, which is part of why I should ignore it, but it's hard.

GoodtoBetter Sun 26-Oct-14 13:29:53

WelcomeTaleTastic I read your thread but didn't post, your family sound like the Stately Homes type. I'm sure you'll get great advice and support here. Welcome. xx

cloggal Sun 26-Oct-14 15:21:25

Just caught up on the last thread, hope your DH is okay, Attila, I dread the day that happens to my DH. Feel for you both.

Thanks goodtobetter, we didn't move that far but thought out of sight, out of mind with no forwarding address was enough. We've decided just not to respond. It's worked well enough so far. I think you should do the same if you can. We have had our fair share of disappointments where well meaning and not so well meaning family members are concerned, I know how hard it is when you want to clear your name, put the record straight, convince people you're not being monstrous... But you know you're not, and it's not them who would have to live with the results of resumed contact after all. Sending strength flowers

TalkingintheDaaaaaaark Sun 26-Oct-14 22:36:27

Good well obviously your uncle couldn't write directly to you because you are a Big Bad Wolf Daughter who has heartlessly cast aside her Poor Tiny Victim Mother and as such must be approached with caution and circumvention...

Sorry, it must be very disappointing, I know you'd hoped for better from him. That dream sounds very poignant. How we long for recognition and understanding. Hope Tuesday's session brings you some clarity.

TalkingintheDaaaaaaark Sun 26-Oct-14 22:37:14

Far too many aaaaaa's in my seasonal name, btw!!!

TalkingintheDaaaaaaark Sun 26-Oct-14 22:39:27

My version, not yours, I mean! Dios mio, I'll stop now!

GoodtoBetter Mon 27-Oct-14 06:48:24


financialwizard Mon 27-Oct-14 08:51:38


I can definitely go lower contact and son came home telling me he has had enough of her crap. Will see what happens.

Meerka Mon 27-Oct-14 09:05:22

atilla I caught up and saw the news about your FIL. Very hard time for your husband, I hope that you and he will manage this difficult time alright.

Hello to everyone

talking I saw a sentance in a post of yours that really resonated ... "being a second class citizen in your home". It does bloody awful things to your self-esteem doesn't it. Still struggling with that all these years on.

TalkingintheDaaaaaaark Mon 27-Oct-14 10:25:46

I know, Meerka, it's the gift that keeps on giving, isn't it... I think some things you just have to keep on working at, you heal one layer and then there's another. The old onion analogy.

Often I've found that making positive changes actually brings up more layers to be dealt with. Which can come as a bit of a shock. I guess I just try to accept that this is an ongoing thing, a work in progress, which doesn't necessarily go in a straight line, but moves in the right direction overall.

<old lag emoticon>

Meerka Mon 27-Oct-14 13:08:51

yes! exactly, you reconstruct one bit into a better,healthier shape and then realise there's so much more. So many more layers.

<joins her in the toxic parent prison cell>

mutternutter Tue 28-Oct-14 06:37:55

Marking my place. Will update when get time

TalkingintheDaaaaaaark Tue 28-Oct-14 09:09:40

<passes the snout to Meerka>

Stupidhead Tue 28-Oct-14 09:21:49

Thank goodness I've found you lovely people who own my sanity again! Place marking for when I get pre-crimbo panics, much love to you all x

Auntlinny Tue 28-Oct-14 09:48:25

Do you think that there are different levels of toxicity? is it something that can be turned on and off? Are my shitty feelings around my mother about something to do with her or am I simply over sensitive? Most of the time i just don't know .... she is pretty controlling and very much likes having her own way. But what I really hate is the fact that she can be tetchy and mean spirited for no reason and she just loves to throw the past at me and things that I apparently said and did as a child (not that I remember). I have not had any contact with her for three months since she called on my child's birthday and was really snotty for no good reason. One of her favourite lines regarding my kids is 'Don't keep them from me" ... like I deliberately connive to stop contact to hurt her, when in fact I just want to avoid the endlessly negative conversations. Last Christmas she didn't send my 7 year old kids (her only grandchildren) a single thing - not a card, nothing - but blames me, because I hadn't phoned her. She made the first few months of my kids' life a misery, with endless negativity about my choices (she didn't agree with breastfeeding, for example, nor did she like me going back to work when they were 18 months and she described my lovely nanny as weird in front of her) and comments around how she never had help and so I shouldn't expect any from her, alongside accusations that I was unreasonable for not allowing the kids to stay overnight at her house alone (they were 6 weeks old and breastfed for fucks sake!).
I am an only child and I now live on the other side of the world, but she still manages to make me feel bad. My Dad died a few years ago - he was a lovely guy, but very controlled by her and supported her for a quiet life, I think.
Sorry if this sounds confused. I am confused and this is my first time on this thread, although i have been following for a while. I know that these are classic lines , but my experiences don't compare to some of the really sad stories on this thread and i feel like a bit of an imposter.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 28-Oct-14 10:44:42



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.'

I don't think toxicity is turned on and off as such; such unreasonable people like your mother have never been emotionally healthy at all. People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles; your late father was a bystander and her enabler who acted out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. Your mother is controlling and you are the scapegoat for all her inherent ills. It is NOT your fault she is the way she is; her own family of origin did that lot of damage to her.

You are not being over sensitive at all; your mother's actions are all those of a toxic parent along with her responses. I would have a look at the resources on the post dated 23-10-14 by DontstepontheMomeRaths. Toxic Parents written by Susan Forward is a good starting point for you and I would suggest you read that publication.

FOG - fear, obligation and guilt are but three of many damaging legacies left by such people to their now adult offspring. That is likely why you feel bad, she's made you feel bad because she blamed you for her own past problems.

You seem to have put physical distance between you and your mother; now you need to put more mental distance between you and she as well. She was not a good parent to you and is certainly not a decent kind grandparent figure to your children. They would get nothing positive from this relationship either. You need to grieve for the nice relationship you should have had but did not have at all through no fault of your own.

Remain no contact with her and bar her from all means of communication; no contact is precisely that. You would not have tolerated any of that from a friend, your mother is no different honestly.

GoodtoBetter Tue 28-Oct-14 12:27:43

Welcome AuntLinny I see Attila has given you some great advice. I would definitely recommend reading the links at the beginning of the thread.
Just had a session with the therapist and talked all about my uncle and I feel much better and glad I didn't respond. This week I am to concentrate on thinking about me and my needs and what thinking of my self and being selfish means, how to put my self first. Also to try to have a little break from the constant thinking about DM and try to shut her off a bit mentally and think about what makes me happy, enjoy my family, etc and then report back.
Off to work this afternoon, which should help clear my mind a bit too.

Hope everyone is alright, thanks for the message Meerka. xxx

thebrideishighbutimholdingon Tue 28-Oct-14 14:51:44

Good I'm so pleased that you have overcome the desire to respond to your uncle. Your "homework" for the week sounds very positive too; I hope you find it more enjoyable and less stressful.

Auntlinny Do you have twins? Or (yikes) triplets or more? Your experiences with your mother sound really upsetting to me. Just when you needed a mother's love and help the most, she chose that time to hurt and undermine you. It sounds like you are doing the right thing by keeping her away from your kids and you shouldn't let her guilt-trip you into feeling bad about that. Easier said than done, admittedly.

Attila How goes it with your DH and ILs? I hope you are both coping.

thebrideishighbutimholdingon Tue 28-Oct-14 15:13:49

cloggal ^ what can we actually do about toxic people,in the end^
Sorry, I haven’t seen your previous threads. What you describe is really sinister but, as you say, the authorities are highly unlikely to take it seriously. You are not being self-indulgent! (Or, if you are, then this is the place where it is completely allowed.)

Not responding is definitely the best response, because that way they aren’t getting any feedback. I’m surprised that they are still at it as the received wisdom seems to be that eventually they will switch their attentions somewhere more rewarding. That makes me wonder - are they able to triangulate at all (is that the right term? I’m still new to this) by getting other friends or family members to report back to them on you? I mean, how else would they have found out your new address? Do you have a spy in your camp? Do you use social media – could someone be reporting back on your Facebook entries or similar? If they are still feeding off the scraps, as it were, then you need to find a way to turn off the supply.

TaleTastic That sounds so miserable for you. I would have expected your mother to try her best to accommodate your needs but for her to deliberately spike your food with gluten is horrible. You don’t sound as if you want to give up on them completely, so is there any way you can make some restaurant suggestions (ideally give them a choice of several) before the next family occasion is planned? Or arrange something yourself and invite them? Of course, that runs the risk of nobody turning up but at least then you know what you’re dealing with. Is there one relative you are closer to than the others, whom you might try first?

Did you have problems with them before you got ill? Have you always been the scapegoated “difficult child” or is it all down to the illness?

financialwizard Interesting name; can you magic my finances please? Is it your 13-y-o who was spying on you for his gran who has now “had enough of her crap”? If so, that sounds promising and it really does seem as if you, as a family, need to reduce contact with her.

cloggal Tue 28-Oct-14 15:38:01

Thanks thebride. We've wracked our brain about how they got the address, definitely would want to cut off any supply of information - but I think the reward they are getting is pity: telling others how hard done by they are and that they will courageously keep trying to 'heal the rift', i.e. Harass and bully us into submission. They'll keep going, martyring themselves in the process. I just wish you could simply and legally state that you wish no contact with someone and have that respected and your right protected.

Reading the stories on here always reminds me of how bad things were (before NC) and is actually galvanising in itself if that doesn't make me sound like too much of a vampire leeching off others' stories. I never have great advice to offer because I feel I'm still learning and getting to grips with it all. Thanks so much for yours thebride, you've confirmed my own gut feeling but it's hard to trust that alone at times. flowers

Pippin8 Tue 28-Oct-14 16:43:17

I'm starting to worry that my toxic mother is trying to worm her way back in. I posted last week saying how she had seen DS2 at school & invited him for dinner on Saturday. Well he's 15 so made his own mind up to go. He came back spouting all this crap about how much my family all miss me & care about me.

Since then he keeps dropping in similarities between toxic mother and I. Like how we have got the same ornament or how she didn't like the same person on x factor that I didn't. It's like he's trying to make me think that we have things in common.

Last night he showed DH something on his iPad & up popped a message from her. It's like she's always there. She's just come into some money aswell so I'm worried she'll start trying to buy his affection.

What can I do? I don't want him near her, but I can't say that or ban him from seeing her. I posted on the old thread how she's already stole DS1 away, so understandably I'm worried.

roundandround51 Tue 28-Oct-14 17:17:55

I dont feel ready to post a lot of detail but a question for those of you who have gone through this, if you were raised to be scared of displeasing your Mother, how do you ensure that you raise your (temperamentally similar to you) DD to not have that same fear?

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