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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

DontstepontheMomeRaths Mon 22-Dec-14 20:38:57

New thread for when full

DontstepontheMomeRaths Mon 22-Dec-14 20:38:40

New thread for when full

TheHoneyBadger Mon 22-Dec-14 06:18:33

you capitalised it!

Hissy Sun 21-Dec-14 16:57:42

ha ha! I meant rugby training! couldn't bribe ds to go without moaning, so didn't get any in the end...

TheHoneyBadger Sun 21-Dec-14 09:15:36

ahh rugby - my only experience of it is seemingly endless waits on the train platform to switch to midland mainline trains.

i shall be in the sunshine on the 8th of jan - can't wait.

Hissy Sat 20-Dec-14 19:54:40

hmm... I may stop by asda tomorrow on way back from Rugby...

Meerka Sat 20-Dec-14 19:40:27

Oooh just been told the asda snowflake glasses are 1.50 pounds!

Hissy Sat 20-Dec-14 18:27:55

hampshire was sunny but cooooold today!

GoodtoBetter Sat 20-Dec-14 13:20:02

Sunshine here smile

Meerka Sat 20-Dec-14 11:45:26

ahhhh sunshine. can you put some in a box and sent it to the Stately Home please smile

Have a great time =)

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 20-Dec-14 11:40:15

Of course, albeit from sunnier climesfsmile.

Meerka Sat 20-Dec-14 11:02:40

And to you too atilla thank you

hissy's christmas thread has a theme of snowflake glasses running through it, 5quid from asda, several of us are going to raise a glass to the Stately Home types on Christmas Day, join us? smile

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 20-Dec-14 10:57:57

I would like to wish all of you fellow Stately Homers a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

flowers cake and wine to you all. Am only sorry that its virtual but I will raise a glass to you on Christmas Day.

TheHoneyBadger Sat 20-Dec-14 07:02:49

gosh so she wanted a daughter who'd be like a best friend without ever having to actually put in the groundwork to that relationship? without having to mother her, love her, look after her when ill, get to know her, support her etc? just magically give birth, ignore her needs her whole life but her be her best friend? pretty crazy and entitled eh? definitely not your fault x

Meerka Fri 19-Dec-14 23:16:08

Sucan Forward has released a wise, warm book "Mothers who Can't Love" (she wrote Toxic parents, an excellent book). it might be worth a read. It talks about guilt. Toxic parents might be a better first read though, thinking about it.

Meerka Fri 19-Dec-14 23:14:53

It is not your fault, as atilla would say.

It is not a lack in you either if you cannot find any warmth or love in yourself for her (assuming you find yoruself feeling warmth and love for your husband, children and friends; if there is a pattern of lack of warmth, then that may be a different matter to look at). But assuming you feel warmth towards other people who are loving, then your lack of feeling towards her is not a deep lack within you.

Your mother's feelings were negative towards you. Children are very bright and often very sensitive. You must have picked up on this.

It's kind of funny in an unfunny way that she wants a daughter who is a best friend, when she never gave you the love, nurturing and encouragement that enabled you to trust her and to have the chance to like each other.

You can't have the champagne of a loving and close mother-daughter relationship without all the hotpots and casseroles of love, time spent together, interest in you, arguments, kindness, discipline, homework-watching, guidance, (healthy) consequence-setting, school interest and cuddles comforting nightmares.

can't leap for the stars without building the space-ship first ...

Follyfoot Fri 19-Dec-14 22:57:49

Thank you for that Meerka, it makes a great deal of sense, especially about the need to experience love to be able to develop it in return.

A while ago my mother said something negative about me as a child and I said you never say anything positive about me as a child. 'There's nothing positive to say' was her response. I cant tell you horrible that was - I was a timid child who worked hard and did as I was told. She used to boast about how when I was very small (under 5) I was sick in the night and I didnt disturb her, just cleared up and went back to bed. Another similar episode was as a young teenager, we were away on holiday. I became ill with D and V but my parents still went out for the evening and left me there. The hotel staff were worried about me as they could hear me going off to the loo to be ill multiple times. That seemed a bit surprising to me, but I suppose being cared for and about wasnt something I was used to.

Another time, I broke my leg and dislocated my ankle aged about 8, but my parents still went out for the evening and I didnt get taken to hospital until 2 days later. Lots more examples I could give, but these give a flavour of life in our house.

A bit of me thinks I should forgive her, would like to think I'm a forgiving person, but I dont feel anything towards her really, like you say the love must never have developed. I do feel guilty though, that I am not the person she wants me to be (although she has taken to saying how proud she is of me recently which means nothing tbh) and we dont have the relationship she wants 'I always wanted a daughter who would be best friends with me' she said....

Guess its about trying to accept that the relationship isnt 'normal' but that isnt my fault. That might help lift the awful awful guilt maybe?

dawntigga Fri 19-Dec-14 20:41:49

GtB yes, yes she is fgrin It's hard not to laugh at them when in your head you're saying you're an intolerable wankbadger.

Follyfoot if it helps I felt relieved when mine died. Also, I have this as an earworm now, thanks!


free2Bme Fri 19-Dec-14 17:42:01

Yes I do see what you mean GoodtoBetter. She sounds as if she is cast in a similar mold to my Mum so I do get it.
I suspect her decision to send the gifts has complex motives-probably not purely to manipulate you or get a reaction but perhaps some of that is involved.
You recently posted an article which I found very interesting-it reminded me of my own Mum and caused me to ask myself some deep questions about my own parenting and how my Mum's modelling had affected me.

DontstepontheMomeRaths Fri 19-Dec-14 17:32:45

This is filling up fast being Christmas. I'll add another thread for when this one is full. I'm happy to e-mail attachment with all the weblinks in square brackets to anyone who posts more, so they can set a new one up fast in the future, as I'm hardly about. Just let me know.

Meerka Fri 19-Dec-14 16:31:37

follyfoot firstly feelings are just feelings. It may feel odd not to feel warm towards her, to feel .... nothing .... but there is no need to feel actually guilty because of that. It's what you do with the feelings that count, not the feelings themselves.

Secondly most people develop feelings - or don't - towards someone on the basis of how they are treated. If there are no feelings towards anyone in the world at all, the person may perhaps be on the sociopathic scale ... though there are plenty of people who are diagnosable sociapaths who live quiet, ordinary and decent lives.

But most people tend to reciprocate feelings. Children are pre-disposed to love their parents but they need to experience love in order to really develop lovingness in return. You say that she can be kind to your DH and son. That implies that she was not kind to you, not until very recent years.

If she treated you with indifference and unkindness, or a coldness or worse, then it is normal not to develop feelings of love towards her.

Mind you I'm guessing a bit on the basis of what you've written. Would you like to say a bit more, if you feel comfy with that?

either way, it's how you act towards her that is important now. Some people can take steps to look after their aging parents that show care, without ever being emotoinally engaged - often for good reason.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 19-Dec-14 15:36:57

and when I write "her orbit" I am referring to GoodtoBetters mother here.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 19-Dec-14 15:35:08

I actually think that narcissists have made the terrible choice not to love.

G2B's mother has acted in solely her own interests time and time again; G2B and her children are bit part players in her orbit of which her mother is in her head at the centre. Am not one bit surprised that this woman herself had a terrible relationship with G2Bs grandmother; toxic family crap like this does filter down the generations.

My narcissistic BIL is similarly clueless as is MIL for that matter as well.
He did a not too dissimilar dramatic flounce when he decided to cut us off because we would not do as he commanded.

They always need to be right all the bloody time, he feels still very wronged all these years later.

Hissy Fri 19-Dec-14 15:03:47

The 'wronged GM'. yes, because they are absolutely unable to relate anyone's revised reactions to them because whatever they do is absolutely right and justified no matter what.

The DM in this equation is probably totally and utterly clueless as to what Good's problem is. I dare say mine too.

For this reason my dm thought it was OK to ignore her own DD birthday (mine) but not my son's. But she managed to ignore my poor son, yellow faced with fear, shaking and in tears when she and her H kicked off in our home last year.

I wish my life was simpler, and that I didn't have this shit to deal with.

GoodtoBetter Fri 19-Dec-14 14:48:52

free2beme Thanks for the comments and I'm sorry you have a mother similar in any way. You're right, it is like a breath of fresh air being NC, it really is, in so so many ways. It's lovely, although hard too and complex emotionally. I think my mother tried really really hard to be a good mother (she had a terrible relationship with her own mother) and I think if I'd never grown up or become independent or met a partner, things would be hunky dory. My first thread was called "My mother hates my husband" but it wasn't really him, it would have been any man who took her place in my life.

I don't find the comments bullying, I appreciate people taking the time to advise and I appreciate your comments too. I don't think she sent them to manipulate, or at least not only that. There is a whole other story going on in her head where she is the poor, wronged grandmother who loves her darling GC who have been snatched away from her. She misses them so dreadfully and the only thing she can do is send them presents from afar and hope their wicked mother doesn't destroy them. I think she really believes that. If it pisses me off, so much the better....but it's all about HER really, her and the drama she's scripted in her head and of which she is the star. She does love them in her own fucked up way, she loves me too in as far as she can. It's just such an unhealthy love and so conditional that I can't participate in it...iyswim.

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