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"But we took you to stately homes!!!" - Survivors of Dysfunctional Families(1000 Posts)
It's December 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."
Touched by your post hissy thank you. The thing is that she has sometimes been supportive, she was actually quite good in my first pregnancy and things felt easier for a while. But I am out of favour again now!
Don't think we overlapped then as dd was born may 2011. My mother can be lovely too but doesn't change the fact that she's a narc and the rages turning against people is just awful.
Sorry on phone, can't write much.
I don't think my mother is a narcissist. My FiL definitely is though, no question, he is totally toxic. Unfortunately he is also quite famous in DH's home country which makes it worse for DH. On the plus side, we are no-contact with him at the moment, thank goodness. It is still really hurtful and painful for DH but I am just glad that he doesn't ever come anywhere near my babies!
I know my Dad is trying to be supportive - he came to see me several times when I was in hospital over the summer when my mother not only wouldn't come but also tried to prevent other family members from visiting (!) - but my mother is extremely controlling.
So sorry for what all the posters are going through on here. I think those of us still in contact with toxic parents forget that teally this behaviour just isn't acceptable. (thanks Hissy for reminding me!!) As I am still in contact I need to not let her vent at me. She says sorry afterwards and it rarely happens, and unlike a lot of mums described on here she is absolutely fine with me, just not dsis. So frustrating!
Hey kalidasa sorry to see you here as well as on the HG thread! hmm, do you get cystitis or migranes a lot too? wonder if we can cross-index HG, migranes/cystitis and difficult parents!
I'm sorry about your mother. Highly controlling is so difficult to live with
Im reading a quite good book atm, Mothers who Can't Love by Susan Forward. Wondering if it's worth a read? If you know a bit of psychology it's not all that advanced stuff but she has a writing style that manages to summarize things well sometimes. Toxic Parents was also very good. As long as the HG lets you read, maybe they could be worth looking at.
The last months of pregnancy and first months of the baby being there, bad family stuff is very raw. Be gentle on yourself ....
It's stepped up a notch here. We were going to pick her up tomorrow but DP finished today amazingly. I rang her and said we'd travel and get her today thinking we could relax on Xmas eve and give her an extra day with the DCs.
'No you can't. Your DB is here (he wasn't staying, flying visit)'.
I said it'd be about 2 hours before we'd get there but she was most put out and waffles about her packing - it's only 2 nights. I ended up putting the phone down on her.
DP is furious! He can't believe that she wouldn't want us in the same room as DB, who I do get on with, and his wife. While they got ready to leave and she finished her packing. Fucking disgusting.
He's going to up the ante by going on AND on about my lovely mil who just loves having family around, at any time, and how much she loves me
Don't know about a correlation btw HG and horrible mothers, but something reminded me of it the other day. Someone was asking about accupuncture and it reminded me when I was pg with DD and so ill and just desperate and I found an accupuncturist but I wasn't earning and she was all "well, it's not proven..." and basically persuaded me out of it
And I've read back over my threads recently and DD was such a terrible terrible sleeper until 10 months and I just realise how low I was for so long: pg and then horrible sleep deprivation. The therapist said a while ago about the time around childbirth being a vulnerable time (the years around it) and he thought I'd been particularly emotionally vulnerable when we moved in and the time we were there, and it's true.
Interestingly, DD slept through a bit before we went away for the first time in years, to a friend's wedding in Holland. A week without DM. 6 months later we moved out. She said she thought something changed from that point and I suppose it did, I saw there was another life out there.
golly gtb. it must have been so hard for your husband as well as you - sleep deprivation, ill wife in preg, older son ... and his MIL. Not only directly undermining him but also stressing you out. So glad that you did manage to move out!
Little bit of good news here, our older son has some noticeable attention problems at school. We are trying to do things a bit differently at home to relax a bit more, but also we've been told now that the child-doctor thinks he needs broad tests to find out what is going on. It's quite a relief, we knew there was somethign going on, the teachers thought so too, but the child-doctor first didn't want to take it any further. Now it's going to happen, following a meeting at school. Phew.
My Dad has just sent me a friend request on fb. I'm reeling. I saw him at Mums 70th do a few weeks ago but didn't speak to him much. But he's never apologised for threatening me 2 years ago and now it seems he wants to brush it all under the carpet. The worst thing is I bet he's going to go nuclear if I don't accept.
I've hardly seen him in the last few years. It's made life a lot easier. He's so unpredictable. It was a big deal going to mums do but I wanted to. She's the enabler but I am fond of her and wanted to see extended family.
It's only a matter of time until Dad blows his top at something or someone again. It's who he is. My brother got it in the neck not too long ago. I just want to get on. Life is hard enough as a lp without dealing with people like that.
Hello meerka I haven't read that one but I am reading a book about 'emotionally absent mothers' which is quite interesting. I've read a lot about attachment/attachment and psychotherapy - partly because I have had a lot of therapy one way and another the last few years! I had a bit of a breakdown shortly after I started seeing DH as I found the process of attaching/bonding with him so frightening. I also had mother-infant therapy with DS during his first year, which was so powerful that I am now a sponsor for the centre where I had it. As part of that they did the 'adult attachment interview' which I found pretty devastating but certainly informative! Despite all this therapy this year is the first time I have felt consistently angry with my mother: lots of therapists and counsellors have commented in the past on my lack of anger in general so I think it's good that I am finally feeling it but it is hard to handle as well. DH comes from a very different national/family emotional culture (rather more Latin!) and just cannot understand why I don't just lost it and shout at my mother. In fact he keeps asking if he can shout at her instead. We are meant to be going to stay for New Year and I really think he might lose it.
goodtobetter DS turned 2 a couple of weeks ago and he only started sleeping through the night about six weeks ago! It is such a struggle. I really think it makes a HUGE difference to your experience of having a baby/toddler whether or not they sleep well. Some friends of mine whose babies have been calm and slept well from the beginning just seem to inhabit a totally different world from how I remember that first year especially!
Can you ignore the friend request dontignore? It's easier said than done though I know.
I'm a survivor or whatever that means, (to me it just means plodding along) Lets start with me, I was born into a family of 5, one older brother and one sister 10 years older, my early memories good mum was loving she used to put me on the back of her bike and she would take me to playgroups, bake cookies she was lovely, i felt so close to her that all changed when I was around 5, mum became detached explosive she would shout at me hit me for no reason it was treading on egg shells around her, mum would pick me up from school wheeling a huge suitcase with papers in, she would disappear for days at a time, i remember crying into mrs tutty (the lovely dinner ladies) arms one day walking home from school with mum an ambulance was waiting she was dragged into it kicking and screaming that was the first time she was sectioned. Nan came to stay to take me and my brother to school it was nice the house felt relaxed, going to visit her mum had forgotten who we were, (she was in some sort of delusion) she came home after 6 months and dad expected the house to go back to how it was, mum started back at work and looking after me & my brother again pretty much straightaway, the abuse started up full force mum would hit us, with hairbrushes, slippers, a metal spatula used for cooking, she tried to drown my brother, after the abuse happened she would say I'm going to tell your dad how naughty you have been so we would get into trouble again she would also bribe us with treats pizza etc so we wouldn't say anything , she would lock us in our rooms so the house wouldn't get messy, even if we needed to pee she would shout at us for leaving. She was sectioned again, and returned 3 months later, the abuse started up again, hitting name calling etc. Mum one time was hitting me and i kicked her in the stomach, she hit me harder my sister came in who was 17/18 at the time and said I'm not getting involved,
To top it off my dad forced us to move school as it wasn't good enough. I loved school it was my safe haven I had lots of friends my new school, no one liked me i had no friends i was bullied to top it off mum stopped brushing my hair and helping me change (I'm severely dyspraxic you see) so as well as getting hit & bullied at home I had to contend with it at school, I ran away when I was 10 with 7 pounds in my pocket with my only friend from school I was found but still when I arrived home my mum hugged me and said why did you do that as soon as the police left mum slapped me and said how could you embarrass me like that. I started secondary school and subjected to bullying once again, I moved to another school but I was still teased and life with mum was becoming unbearable at aged 13 I was sexually assaulted on holiday by a 28 year old man, mum told me it was my fault when mum gave me the worst beating, she pulled my hair out pushed me down the stairs, got a knife and told me that she was going to kill us both, I ran out of the house barefoot glass cut all of my feet open to try and get away from her, mum said she was sorry and both my dad and brother told me to forgive her, dad started sleeping on the sofa and mum left him.
Life became quiet apart from school where I was still getting bullied horribly suddenly everything fell apart I felt unable to come to terms with everything that happened, I tried to end my life my stomach was pumped, but they said I was just trying to get attention, 2 weeks later I tried to hang myself and took an overdose as well I was admitted to hospital and spent 6 months in an inpatient unit. I felt a lot better, things with dad though were strained I still felt angry at him for not doing anything about the abuse , he said he didn't know I'm not sure if I believe him even now. After that things were okay I started a new school, but I found drink and began drinking a lot, I left school went in out of college & jobs I just couldn't seem to heal emotionally and then my nan died unfortunately when i was 17 she was my rock, i went off the rails again, drinking doing drugs,
I was homeless as well living in a hostel 6 months later I met OH, who healed me, we had a little girl bought our own home, I've redone my GCSE's done an Open University certificate of HE, & I've gained a place on a mental health nursing course, I'm still on sertraline (I probably will be for the rest of my life) it mellows me and calms my anxiety. I haven't seen mum since I was 17, 4 years ago she cut me out of her life I tried to introduce DD to her I travelled all the way to the Isle of Bute in scotland but she didn't want to meet her. I've been doing well but I wonder when I will heal, I'm petrified of hurting LO and being a bad mum. Sorry to go on so much but I thought I'd share my story.
Yes, kalidasa I was on the sleep threads. It was "only" 10 months but it nearly killed me. In the end I tried shh, pat at about 9.5 months after she'd got down to waking every hour and then not settling, I got bronchitis and needed to go on the ventalin mask at the emergency doctors. I just snapped and thought, this will kill me. I read about a shh pat technique on MN and gave it a go that night and it worked and soon we were down to 2 wakings and then none. I really felt it saved my life.
DH was trying to look after me and the house (DM pulled the "disabled" card...we all know how disabled she turned out to be..not. She wouldn't lift a finger) and DS who was a bit challenging at that age. He is a quiet man and doesn't complain, but he started smoking again in secret.
She never said don't have accupuncture, but I wasn't earning so would have to ask her for the money and she made it clear she wasn't prepared to pay. It wasn't that expensive, I was just so desperate with the HG.
Ugh, how unpleasant ... are you and yoru brother able to unite to withstand him and support each other?
After a few months of being OK, mum is back to her normal self again. I've got the family coming to my house for Christmas dinner - do I cancel them or grit my teeth and carry on as planned? Any advice please?
yellow if you were a bad mum, you would not be thinking you were one, IYKNIM. trust me, you are a good one You will heal, but you have to heal yourself. Your H can't/won't. What he did was support you, believe in you and love you. You need to look at yourself and know that you are good enough for him, for you, for your DD and for everyone.
Seza if cancelling is what you need to do, go for it. this is your life and you don't have to put up with bullying. EVER!
My mum is an alcoholic, and this year is the first Christmas I've had not living in the family home. I managed to buy a house with OH. I am the oldest sibling, and last night my younger sister Messaged me begging me to go round in the evening on Xmas day, as in her words 'it'll be the worst Christmas ever'. I know without me to be the buffer, my mum could well turn on her (and she knows that too). I feel torn with guilt. I desperately want to be away from the situation, but feel as though I'm throwing the other two siblings into the fire by not being there.
Christmas is so so hard.
Hissy - Thanks. She's doing that "Feel my pain" thing again and I gave her £100 last week to buy gifts as she's out of work and has nothing but she's still going on about needing to buy gifts, having no money etc. She's zapped my Christmas cheer entirely. At work today, I was looking forward to it and I've spent the whole morning with DS with me as it was an inconvenience for her to have him trying not to cry. Fucking hate her when she does this.
don't give her a thing, no money, no attention. refuse to allow her to bring you down.
i'd suggest cancelling plans, saying that if she's this bad, it'll be a blessing for her, surely...
passive agressive, but I don't care!
kali, just as a thought would it actually be really so bad if he shouted at her? He's obviously holding back for your sake but something must be very wrong for in her treatment of you / him / your son, or he wouldn't be getting so cross. It would depend on the fallout of course. One thing I've learned is the value of planning how and when you stand up to someone ... but it's a good thing to do. Life is so much freer and better when you move out from under someone's thumb. SO much better.
yellow Im so sorry for your awful experience growing up. It was horrendous. About beign a mum - this fear haunts me too, big style as there is / was a chance I would turn into my biological mother. She was about the same as your mother. I am getting external help and support to make damn bloody sure I don't. It also means being ruthlessly painfully honest with myself, over and over and over. And it means trying to be mindful and very aware of what I'm doing; catching those moments when he is annoying / naughty and pausing before I come in too harshly (also have very poor example from controlling father who cannot handle any disagreement at all). It's heartbreaking that she didn't want to see your lovely little baby. So sad.
seza ... cancel. Anticipate how she'll react and plan how to handle it. But do what makes life endurable and enjoyable for yourself. You are entitled to, as long as it's not at the expense of other people!
between ... your two younger sisters are still at home?
It's incredibly hard. You must have been so looking forward to your first christmas away and free.
But leaving your sisters there is very hard. In this case .... it is a very hard thing to do but I would gently suggest that if you can, go. Be there to protect them. It's Christmas and it will spoil it for you but this is something that you can do to protect your sisters and when they grow up they can leave and you will never have to go back.
Chalk this up as something more from your mother, maybe.
I say this as long as you can survive her. If you can't, then sadly you may have to simply not go. I have a bit of experience here - spent one christmas with my biol. mother. At the end of 5 days of ranting, taking orders like a slave (along with her husband and my half-sisters), listening to her calling the 13 year old a fucking little cunt at the xmas dinner table, being around the arguments and ending up with her hands round my throat trying to shake me ... I left. Told her that it was unacceptable to put her hands round my throat and she demanded an apology from me :/ We did not speak again for 5 years.
The point of all that is that I left my half sisters to fend for themselves. They were too young to have independent contact for themselves. I could not survive being around her. I would have gone down too, there's absolutely no doubt of that and without achieving anything useful along the way. But those two girls were left alone in that nightmare situation with no one to protect her from that appalling behaviour. They have both been scarred deeply by it in different ways.
It's something I regret deeply, that I couldn't help more. At the same time, it would not have achieved anything to sink myself if I'd stayed around. But I wish very deeply that I could have done more to help them and shield them.
So ... yes, my own personal view coloured by my own experience, is to go at Xmas if you can, to soften the impact of your mother until they can get free. But if you can't, then you can't. You are entitled to not go down.
Yeah, it will affect my brother and his fiancé ad my sister. I just feel like I'll either cancel and cope or else tomorrow will be unbearable anyway. Going to tell them I'm not cooking. I shouldn't have offered in the first place
yellow you have had a dreadful, dreadful time. You sound like a wonderful mother, and you have done brilliantly to get the qualifications you have and the university place as well as everything else. Are you really only 21 now? (I think I worked that out right.) My DH's father has also refused to see him and our little boy even when DH was visiting his city anyway, and at a very difficult time when I was very ill. It was very painful for him.
As meerka said, being able to reflect on how you are doing, and admit it/seek help if you are struggling, is by far the most important thing. I had very bad PND after DS was born and I didn't bond properly with him, but I knew it was happening and I went to see my GP when he was just three months old or so. I was honest about how bad I felt (suicidal) and I said yes to all the therapy/help I was offered and I did it all. It was really hard and I still feel so sad that our first year wasn't happier BUT I know that I did all that for DS because I loved him and wanted to get it right. We have a lovely relationship now (he's 2) and although I am nervous about it I am also looking forward to having his little brother next month.
meerka in some ways you are probably right and it wouldn't be bad if DH shouted. Though no-one ever shouts at my Mum so it would be quite weird! But I would feel bad about creating a bad atmosphere for everyone else because a lot of the rest of my (large) family are going to be there too, including my sister with a small baby. We have agreed though that we are presenting a united front and if the atmosphere is too strained we'll just pretend that I have lost my "mucus plug" or something (nice!) and come straight back to London early. I'll be 36 weeks by then so not unrealistic that we would come back if we had any doubts (I really need to deliver at my local hospital as the pregnancy has been so complicated and I am meant to be seeing the psych people as well before I am discharged, just to be on the safe side).
Hi, I've not posted in these threads before. I cut my parents out a few months ago, they are both naracists in their own ways. I've been feeling guilty and feel like I'm turning into my mother with hugely affects my self esteem. Even when I remind myself of how she would act the rare time in a normal loving way to me, I find myself recoiling at the thought and doubting myself (is it a rare moment for me?) and feeling guilty. My dad sent Christmas cards for the DC with a note saying do not throw away £50 gift cards in cards. Which is ridiculous!
I feel guilty but they refused to accept my feelings of their parenting errors which although no physical abuse there was a lot of shocking stuff. But the house was clean so it's alright :/
Anyway, is it possible to love yourself when you can't stand your parents?
Just wanted to show some support for all of us at this difficult time, Xmas is such a family time and we just have to accept that our families are not normal but it's not our fault.
I've been NC with my narc mother since March and although I still have waves of guilt they don't outweigh the relief of not having to deal with her endless shit.
I'm making new memories with my own dcs and being the best mum I can be, which means being nothing like her
Stay strong all and merry Christmas
Thank You for the welcome and support - I will post again when time allows.. Wishing you all a lovely Christmas
Hello. I've been lurking a while, but am feeling really sad today, so risking a first post.
Following an incident a couple of years ago, which triggered a whole family dynamic I'd forgotten/buried, I went NC with both parents and got some (long overdue) counselling.
Basically my DM is hypercritical with very very poor boundaries, and my dad is very cold, also has very poor boundaries, and cuts off anyone who doesn't do as he wishes.
I re established contact when I felt able, and explained why I'd gone NC, which received responses I guess lots of you would recognise ("that didn't happen/you're too sensitive/well it doesn't sound like me at all/it was worse for others than it was you so you shouldn't judge" (the latter a personal favourite).
I'm at friends' this Christmas, I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to my parents. Doesn't help that my DB was golden child but behaves as my dad does, so has gone NC with them, but his photos are all over their house, despite him being NC over 2 years. There are none of me.
I guess my question for wiser souls on here, is whether it is possible to forgive? I am still so angry with them for the many horrible things they did, I read something on here a few days ago saying "as a child you were loved, and taught that you were lovable, and your feelings counted", and I feel sad and angry that I was taught that I was not lovable, that I only counted as an emotional punchbag for others.
I know they will never acknowledge that anything was wrong, I know the forgiveness has to come from me (for my sake), and, fwiw, I know that my mum didn't mean to be unkind, but was raised by a hypercritical mother herself (who in turns sounds like she had one...), which is why I want to be able to forgive, I want some kind of peace, and the cycle to be broken. Can it be done?
Thanks for reading, and sorry it's so long.
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