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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:

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."

Chickenpie1 Mon 16-Nov-15 19:35:40

Thank you, I will check out the book. My sister is definitely invested in being the golden child although I think this puts her under a lot of pressure and I don't envy her relationship with my parents at all, they may do a lot for her but she has to put up with a lot of interference and judgement.
I feel quite sad about my dads role in all this. He was my hero growing up and I do feel really disappointed that he can't be there for me!
I've cried a lot today but actually feel loads better for getting this off my chest. Thank you so much

Theymakemefeellikeshit Mon 16-Nov-15 20:07:09

Hi chicken

says that she doesn't think my children like her
in all honesty they may not like her very much as she is not bothering with them. If she is spending so much with your sister's DC your DC will soon realize that they are low down in the priority list and like her even less. My DC have been there and don't find their grandparents very likeable and know they will never be able to compete with their cousin.

It is hard not to be intolerant when you are stressed. When mine were younger the excited and happy noise could go right through me. At times could find it worse than them fighting! When you feel like this is there time to sit with them and watch a DVD so you can all chill. Cuddle up together on the sofa.

Workinprogress2015 Mon 16-Nov-15 20:22:02

I posted this in relationships but think this is its rightful home...

It's been so cathartic getting some of this stuff out

Chickenpie1 Mon 16-Nov-15 20:37:27

Thanks They, I guess you're right, they probably don't like her that much, her house is full of pictures of their cousins and not them which they must have noticed, I am not looking forward to some difficult conversations with them about this in the future! I was looking at it from the perspective that she is the adult and its up to her to engage with them and blaming them for not liking her is in my mind crazy!

It's funny to think I feel stressed when actually I don't have the pressure of work at the moment but I guess I am quite stressed and have set myself quite high standards I suppose. I just feel very frustrated with myself when I find myself telling them to calm down or I'm getting annoyed at them when I realise I'm doing it because I wasn't allowed to show emotion and I can't understand why I find their emotions hard to accept/validate!
In my professional life I work with people with dementia and am usually the calm person that can sit with someone challenging for hours and build a connection. I'm not used to these feelings, it's like being a parent has triggered some nerve in me that automatically gets angry. I don't like myself very much at the moment.

Theymakemefeellikeshit Mon 16-Nov-15 21:41:12

Just because you don't work doesn't mean life is not stressful. I don't know for sure but I imagine you feel under more pressure to make DC's lives perfect.

I am not looking forward to some difficult conversations with them about this in the future!
At the risk of stressing you out even more the future may come sooner tan you think. Children are very perceptive. My DD wasn't much older than your eldest when the questions started.

Chickenpie1 Mon 16-Nov-15 21:54:29

Thanks!! I best get some reading done and get myself sorted!

prettyknackered Tue 17-Nov-15 08:19:30

Attila I don't mean to sound rude but you say exactly the same thing to everyone. Are you a therapist yourself?

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Nov-15 08:52:48

No pk I am not a therapist.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Tue 17-Nov-15 09:20:52

chicken, when it came to my oldest son and hard questions, I tried to answer in an age-appropriate factual way

"well, Granddad says mean things to Mama and about Mama. When people act like that, you try to talk it out and be friends. When they carry on being like that, you have to walk away. It's not a good way to speak to people"

Sometimes there are no easy answers and you just have to say what the situation is and let them think it over.

I do think that brushing things over and not facing them in an age appropriate way is not a good idea. It teaches children there are secrets and I think that it's a good idea to teach children that some behaviour is not acceptable. Honesty is (usually) better than brushing things under the carpet.

--- Atilla might you care to start a new thread? or shall I?

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 17-Nov-15 10:35:54

Hi Meer

Would you mind starting the new thread please; I ask only as I am never seemingly able to properly transfer the links over.

Thank you.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Tue 17-Nov-15 10:55:55

okay, this is the new thread Stately Homes Nov without the spelling mistake in the title, hopefully!

Please post there rather than here, ones posted here could get missed now.

<warm welcome and cups of tea for everyone, those who know they belong here and people who are just peeking in>

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