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"But we took you to Stately Homes!" Survivors of Dystfunctional Families

(986 Posts)
Meerka Wed 20-May-15 17:33:58

It's May 2015, 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
July 2014
March 2015

Dec 14- March 15

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."

Meerka Wed 20-May-15 17:35:27

Atilla doesn't seem to be around at this moment so I've taken the liberty of posting a new thread. here's the link to the last one.

Hippymama1 Wed 20-May-15 17:43:21

Thank you Meerka... Just marking my place on the new thread.

pocketsaviour Wed 20-May-15 17:54:36

Well done Meerka! brew

GoodtoBetter Wed 20-May-15 17:59:35

Hello,

Gas I did open it carefully and then resealed it. It was a party dress and a card with €20 in, addressed to "My darling G2B's DD" (iyswim), says she loves her and maybe she'd like to get herself something with the money too.
If (continental sized if) she had made any moves to reconcile/apologise/make amends I would be more inclined to believe it, but how can she storm off across the world without saying goodbye and then bleat on about how much she loves them? Well, I know that really, she's such a fucking martyr and history rewriter that she has convinced herself it's all my doing. Just lies if she's challenged. So, the only thing is to ignore. Unfortunately I sent a thank you card for DS' present in March (written by him: Thank you for my present), so will do that, she can write her name in a card, nothing else.
I did that as it felt right but now I wish i hadn't because she is just doing what all narcs do and instead of seeing an olive branch and trying to mae amends she just sees it as weakness on my part and thinks she can side step me and have a relationship with them via me, while ignoring me.
So, we are moving house next month and I won't be giving her my address. Because if she won't even make the tiniest step then this limbo bullshit has to stop. If she won't even make the first step then I'd rather just have NC at all. I think that's easier for the kids too, instead of these presents and declrations of love turning up twice a year but being totally ignored in between.

GoodtoBetter Wed 20-May-15 18:00:21

Oh yes, thanks for the new thread, Meerka. You are a star

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 20-May-15 18:18:50

Thanks for doing that Meerka and you've also managed to put the links in as wellsmile.

You're a star.

Think you are doing the right thing there GoodtoBetter by not intending to give your mother (she is really not worthy of the term) your new address.

GoodtoBetter Wed 20-May-15 18:35:06

Yes, Attilla I think it's the only way. They really are just narc supply, something to martyr herself about. Dbro saw her in Dublin (she travelled down for the day to see him) and he said she asked nothing about us or the kids, didn't even ask him about his own life, just endless monologuing and talking about herself. For four hours.
So that says it all. If it were me, I'd be desperate to find out about them, see photos, anyhting. I don't think we are real to her at all really. Just part of her drama porn.

smellsofsick Wed 20-May-15 18:42:22

Hi. First time posting on the stately homes thread and I'm here on behalf of a friend.
I'll be very brief, I don't know her that well but yesterday she talked to me about her terribly abusive and controlling husband. She's still with him. He controls all her money.

Anyway her childhood was also an abusive one and I'm trying to support her in the tough decisions she has to make.

I believe there are traces of a personality disorder in her DH, starting with narcissism. I wondered if there were any books out there that you may have read that would help her to understand better who he is and what she's dealing with.

Thanks for reading this.

Meerka Wed 20-May-15 20:03:46

Other people may be able to answer better but Lundy Bancroft's book "why does he do that" sounds like a good start. It's very highly recommended and the author has worked with women trapped in bad relationships for a very long time.

Light's House has some bullet points on narcissism.

There is a recently-posted link which is quite interesting too here.

I hope your friend is okay flowers

Booville3 Wed 20-May-15 22:30:07

Like I've said before how sad that this thread just never ends & yet at the same time it brings such comfort knowing you're not alone in these awful situations!! I'm having a particularly down day today I just can to believe my own mother would treat me the way she has/ does!! Not sure if people will remember my previous posts but she is so obsessed with my ds she doesn't see me as a dd at all I think I'm at the point of having to go nc - I just wish I felt more positive about doing it!

PeppermintCrayon Wed 20-May-15 22:31:27

Thanks for the new thread Meerka.

Good I hear you on the idea of not being real to them. My 'family' have an idea of me and never liked the actual me to get in the way of it.

smellslike it's lovely of you to support your friend. Another vote here for Lundy Bancroft.

As your friend's childhood was abusive she has been conditioned to expect abuse. It will be hard to break away from her DH as it effectively means breaking away from everything she knows, all the structures that exist in her psyche. I haven't done it personally but the Freedom Programme is meant to be excellent.

As for me... Last week my therapist told me that he notices constantly how harshly I treat myself, that I am really unkind to myself and I always find reasons to blame myself for things. It reminded me of that saying: be careful how you speak to your children as it will become their inner voice.

I've been NC for long enough now that I feel like they are not quite real but am currently oddly paranoid I'll bump into them (which could happen).

Booville3 Wed 20-May-15 22:38:48

How long have you been nc peppermint? Is this just with your parents or your whole family - siblings etc? That's one of the issues I'm finding hardest knowing my siblings will always side with mum she has a lot of power overall of them even if they can't see it!

IKnitSoIDontKill Wed 20-May-15 23:13:28

Thanks Meerka

I haven't called my mum. But she left me a message saying she needed to talk to me and it was urgent, so dp called. My grandma died. sad

She lived abroad and had severe dementia, so hadn't seen any of us for two years, once it was clear she really had no idea who we were and found us being there really upsetting. So it was expected. But I'm in bits.

The funeral is going to be next week. I don't know what to do re. my parents now. Do I play nice and pretend it's fine? Blanking them at a funeral seems very harsh. And I feel so awful for being so stressed about my own crap when someone just died.

smellsofsick Thu 21-May-15 06:46:24

Meerka and Peppermint, thank you so much. I'm going to talk to her later so I'll tell her your recommendations.

Meerka Thu 21-May-15 08:14:55

Iknit Im sorry about yoru Grandma.

Could it work if you decide to see each parent as a client or customer? Step back and treat them as if you were in professional mode? It's very hard to do in times of emotion like funerals but it can help. You don't need to blank them as such but treating them with a degree of reserve can be helpful.

Another trick is to write on a piece of paper how you want to act - calm, neutral, reserved - and maybe the names of the people you truly love and trust in life and put it in your pocket. Then touch it secretly if / when you start to struggle with them.

GoodtoBetter Thu 21-May-15 08:21:01

Sorry to hear about your Grandma Iknit, I think Meerka's ideas sound like good ones. Be kind to yourself, do wht you can manage. xx

popalot Thu 21-May-15 08:21:17

Someone said to me, what if you just said 'no' to her? I said, (after a long pause because I had never considered that an option before), she would go apeshit and have a massive rant at me and I hate confrontation. And she said, but what if you just walk away? I said, she'd storm out and wouldn't talk to me for a few months. And she said, what's the problem with that?

Have to admit, I haven't tried it yet but if you're wondering whether to go nc for a while, this might be the way to do it. Let her rant and rave and storm off after you've put her straight about something. I can't imagine doing it for real tho, hard enough when she goes on one if I don't do/act as she pleases without resisting!!!

GoodtoBetter Thu 21-May-15 08:34:53

Sounds like my mum, popalot. What produced the current NC for me basically was that: not running round trying to appease her. When she slagged me off to my brother, not answering her phone call and then when she started ranting, not answering e mails and just basically ignoring her. Drove her so mad she stormed off to another country.
I think she was just so amazed at my change in behaviour she didn't know what to do, she tried all her usual tricks and nothing worked.

GoodtoBetter Thu 21-May-15 08:36:32

But it's actually terrifying to do it. You're sooooo conditioed to follow the usual rules, to coax and cajole, to appease, to smooth things over.
It's liberating too though, to basically say "I won't stand for this shit, I deserve more".

Meerka Thu 21-May-15 08:41:09

agreed - it is terrifying and it is liberating.

PeppermintCrayon Thu 21-May-15 09:34:13

Booville I'm NC with my whole family. Parents for about two years. I have one sibling who was supportive of the idea in theory but couldn't handle the reality and kept trying to manipulate me into seeing them. My extended family are all pretty horrendous. So I've ended up making a total break. It can be hard to explain to people as they seem nice but everyone who knew me in childhood has reached with a total lack of surprise that I've gone NC.

Iknit I'm so sorry to hear about your grandma. Can you take someone with you so you don't feel it's you on your own trying to deal with the situation? Would it help if you left right after the service?

popalot those are good questions! And as others have said it is terrifying but liberating.

Booville3 Thu 21-May-15 17:07:55

I don't know whether to reply to mothers most recent to let her know I have no intention of any future contact or whether to just continue to ignore the messages until she gets bored & stops sending them! I still can't accept why she is the way she is with me - she wouldn't dare treat my siblings in the same way but I know now no matter what I do I can't change her so I need to try & move on completely!

Theymakemefeellikeshit Thu 21-May-15 19:49:09

Iknit So sorry about your grandma. i second the suggestion that someone goes with you. I think it needs to be someone who knows what is going on so they understand if you suddenly say stuff this

Booville Inclined to go for the ignore her.

Booville3 Thu 21-May-15 20:27:44

Peppermint you sound very brave!

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