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

(1001 Posts)
OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Tue 17-Nov-15 10:53:52

It's November '15, 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
Oct 14 – Dec 14
Dec 14 – March 15
March - Nov 2015

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."

babs7051 Fri 20-May-16 14:28:00

Hi everyone,
I've been wanting to post for a while and finally decided to today. Sorry if this is long and confused I just want to get it all out.
I am my dads carer I go to my parents house mon to friday and also either sat or sun. I work in a shop on weekends as well.
I feel trapped, I don't want to be doing this anymore, my dad is so annoying it's unbelievable, silly things like asking if his dinner is hot when I've just cooked it, telling me every time I make gravy how to make it. Occasionally my husband will come up with me and everything he does is perfect, I'll get moaned at for not putting enough sugar in the tea while my husbands tea is perfect even though there's less sugar than what I put in! I know it sounds petty but it all adds up.
My mum leaves her breakfast things for me to wash up and gets me to sort out bills and stuff which I don't think I should be doing but mum works part time and the looks after my dad for evenings and weekends so I feel guilty if I don't do it.
I want to stop looking after my dad, I have a little boy at school and I never get a whole day with him and he doesn't like having to go to grandads house se everyday in the holidays. Both parents undermine me with my son which I hate, I don't know how to stop it. My mum once took my child off the bus into town because she wanted to go shopping despite me saying that I didn't want to and me and my son would go straight home.
My childhood was okay, a bit of dv and ea.
I don't know what I'm trying to say but I'm at breaking point and don't know what to do. Sorry for the long post and thanks for reading.

MissTriggs Sat 13-Feb-16 16:57:16

anyone else off to see their parents out of a sense of duty next week?

god it just makes you so sad....

ThursFriHappy Fri 05-Feb-16 15:19:24

Been reading through the above posts, just shocking all of them. Florentina1, you had me in tears.

Yesterday I went NC with my parents.

It was my 50th birthday last month and I was going away to celebrate it so the last call I got from them (on Xmas Day as it happens) was nothing short of nasty. They have a knack of being nasty round my birthdays because they don't want to celebrate it. Every year. My birthday seems to bring out the worst in them.

I vowed from that call that I would never speak to them again. I sent back the birthday money they gave me followed by a text.
Apart from the flying monkey, my niece, I feel liberated already. Had a little guilt wobble yesterday, but feel great today. Even managed a belly laugh, first one in a long while. Onwards and upwards.

I have read Toxic parents and I see the alcoholic chapter sums them up to a tee.

portinastorm Wed 03-Feb-16 21:40:14

thankyou kitchen knife > having this support is amazing x

florentina1 Wed 03-Feb-16 09:44:56

These 'friends' are wonderful aren't they. I used to have to get on 3 buses to visit my mother. My dad died when my DD was a few months old. So DD, feeds, nappies, toddler and a folding Pram, lugged on and off the buses. I weighed 6 stone at the time.

One of the few days that I was really brave and turned round and left again was when she said, Oh you're here are you, I was going to go shopping.

I started to put my coat on when she said, "people tell me how lucky I am to have a daughter, but I tell them. My friends are so good to me, I will take them over family any time"

MN should have been around them. I would have been told about NC and saved myself another 50years of abuse.

GastonsPomPomWrath Wed 03-Feb-16 09:13:18

My mum has got me on a knife edge at the moment. My husband still has her on his Facebook and she posted something yesterday about moving to the other end of the country. This is the first we knew about it. Honestly, I wouldn't care if she moved to Mars but we've been trying to sort some things out and it makes me feel like she's going to do a runner before we can, that will really muck things up for us.

Anyway, I don't use Facebook but I have a look back through her posts and it's all passive aggressive posting about mothers and how great mums are and nobody can replace your mum. Thanking all her brilliant friends who have stuck by her in the last year (meaning the year I haven't spoken to her) and people making comments about how she deserves a nice life after everything and she's a great person. Some of these people are supposed to be my friends!

How has she managed to convince so many that I'm the devil incarnate and she's the bloody angel Gabriel?! Many people don't know about the abuse that I've suffered at her hands but some do and one of the people telling her how great she is is one of those people.

whitehandledkitchenknife Tue 02-Feb-16 22:47:06

That is good to hear port.
And consider us your surrogate sisters in the mean time and as well as.

portinastorm Tue 02-Feb-16 22:09:19

yes knife. i have a wonderful best friend who has been and is like a sister
but at the moment her father is very very ill and understandably she is seeing a lot of and supporting her own bio family and sister - so understandably I'm keeping a low profile - but she has supported me a lot over the years.and is there if i really need her.
I do have other good friends who know , but I dont want my rubbish family dominating all my relationships

whitehandledkitchenknife Tue 02-Feb-16 21:14:42

moonlight another thumbs up here for counselling. The self doubt may never go away completely, but the support and validation you receive from seeking out help will help enormously. And give you strategies to manage that self doubt.
Brave, brave girl that you are.

port I couldn't have done what we did without her and she couldn't have done what we did without me. I love the very bones of her and would walk over hot burning coals if need be to support her. My heart aches for you in this respect. FWIW - my sister was my mum's golden child and it was a heavy burden that she bore.
Do you have someone in RL who could be a surrogate sister?

portinastorm Tue 02-Feb-16 20:45:21

thankyou kitchen knife

I wish I had my sister with me but unfortunately she is " the golden child" and it is in her best interest to stay in that position.

I have tried many years to explain how their words and actions made me feel , but my sister believes i was the problem because my scm tactic was divide and rule .
I have effectively isolated myself from my scm , sister and dad. and yes i am also practising silence is golden, I imagine eventually they will have nothing to talk about because I am giving them nothing to talk about.

many thanks x

moonlight1705 Tue 02-Feb-16 20:37:55

Thanks for your reply portinastorm it's good to I am not having completely irrational fears.

It has has been a bit of a relief to get this off my chest after so long.

portinastorm Tue 02-Feb-16 20:37:30

hi moonlight , depending on where you live there may something in your area , if you google support for survivors of sexual abuse and your area it should bring something up. Otherwise your Gp.

I first went into counselling in my twenties when i thought i was pregnant and terrified that i would repeat the cycle of abuse. in terms of my personal and emotional development counselling was a life saver . But the reality of other peoples response to what i had experienced ( validation ) was something that took years for me to accept , and i still doubt myself and waver.

all the best

whitehandledkitchenknife Tue 02-Feb-16 20:35:15

Port - keep strong. Card sending validates their behaviour. Not card sending gives a clear message.

My sister and I held out against a torrent of verbal abuse from our siblings after my father died. We had a 'silence is golden' policy.We didn't respond to any forms of contact and when our mother died a little while later, we asked the nursing home and funeral director to communicate on our behalf.

You don't have to explain or justify. Stay brave.

moonlight1705 Tue 02-Feb-16 20:19:52

I did consider whether it would be best to get some counselling at some point. Not sure where to go to - my gp?

I have not done it before as I am not sure quite how I feel about it all and how to explain it to someone.

portinastorm Tue 02-Feb-16 20:11:42

moonlight - you said your dad left for a year - to deal with his behaviour - how did he do this " therapy" , counselling ?
it's great you now have a reasonable relationship , no doubt helped by your mums response and support , putting you first. however you didnt get support in how it made you feel , your feelings were tucked away in a box called shame , perhaps its time to open that box with counselling.

Its natural to worry about your own children when they come along.

I would say always be aware and take no risks , very important that bounderies are in place and lines not crossed.

There was an interesting programme last year about none acting out paedophiles, men who had unhealthy interest in children but didn't act on it, maybe this is your dad now? I would say any child would need protection and your dad as well so temptation was never put there.

Unsure about telling your partner , its a very emotive subject, my partner is a very caring , liberal and intelligent person but as our adopted daughter was removed due to risk from her father that has brought up very strong emotions and we have never , and will prob never met him.

when you have children as a good parent you will never put them at risk ever.

all the best x

portinastorm Tue 02-Feb-16 19:51:39

reading everyone's stories is so inspiring but also sad that we have all had such rotten experiences.

Florentina I can relate to the 40 years thing , I have had that all along , I replied that we used to put children up chimneys and work them to death down mines , doesn't make it right that it happened a long time ago.She just cant admit , even as an adult, that she may have got it wrong and looked at putting it right................ somehow

Tonight i'm having a wobble , i haven't sent a card for so called mothers birthday and have a missed call , prob from my dad who will be getting hell at home i should imagine and will be calling to get me to call - which I most definitely wont be doing.hope they don't keep ringing , this is the bravest thing i have ever done. and its scary ! no going back now.

I haven't said much about my dad , he rescued my mum from her mum (who was also abusive and mentally ill according to my auntie, took her own life so prob right) but their relationship has always been unharmonious to say the least - not much love there ! she has always criticised him and they would physically fight as we were growing up which was very frightening, I also had anger issues as a teenager , but nothing as an adult, it was never a happy family.
my dad is what i would call vulnerable, prob has mild ld , cant read or write so very reliant on my scm, and while we have mostly got on he has often told me to just ignore her , which i am just unable to do anymore. im not sure if he is an enabler or his bar is set so low ( grew up in rural poverty , mental health would not be understood but hunger and cold was so my childhood idylic compared to his )

anyway thankyou again for having somewhere i can put this all , instead of just my head x
Hope they leave me alone tonight

pocketsaviour Tue 02-Feb-16 18:06:16

Moonlight I'm sorry for what happened to you.

Have you ever had any counselling or therapy to discuss this incident and how it's affected you?

moonlight1705 Tue 02-Feb-16 17:52:49

I have just stumbled across this thread and wanted to share as well.

When I was 12, my dad lost his job. Instead of dealing with it, he decided to sexually molest me. I was a fairly bright child and as soon as it happened, I went downstairs and told my mum.

She was brilliant, believed me, confronted my dad and he ended up moving out for a year whilst he got himself together. However, there was never any discussion of social service being called or me to get any help to work through it. I love my mum to pieces but feel slightly let down that I have been left to cope alone.

I have found my way into forgiving him and actually have a reasonable relationship with him now but it is a case of forgiven but not forgotten.

I have now got a serious DP who in the next couple of years, I will want to start a family with but I don't know how I am going to react. What happens if its a girl and her daddy wants to tuck her into bed when she is 12 and I get all freaky? Would I ever let a child of mine stay with my dad?

Should I tell my DP about the whole story? At the moment him and my dad have a good relationship which I know this would spoil. No-one else but my mum and I know.

toomuchtooold Tue 02-Feb-16 17:28:52

ofuckit, what pocket said, and also if that was my mother it would be because she was gaslighting the shit out of me. "Look at me, I'm such a concerned mother, your memory of me not intervening when you were being abused must be false!"

whitehandledkitchenknife Tue 02-Feb-16 17:19:00

What a git Imust. I hope that uni was your escape route/lifeline. And that you succeeded in life in spite of, rather than because of your upbringing.

whitehandledkitchenknife Tue 02-Feb-16 17:16:03

You've got in one fuckit

People like this won't change. They will 'adapt' as the situation fits, if they've been caught out red handed or challenged. But it will only be superficial. They have an extraordinary logical which operates only in their world.

Imustgodowntotheseaagain Tue 02-Feb-16 17:13:18

Not sure if I should post on this thread or the new one....

fiorentina, you poor thing! I feel so sad for 12-year-old you.

When I was 19 my dad sat me down to tell me I was "a disgrace to the family," I hadn't deserved my A level grades because I went to parties as well as studying, and I "wouldn't have got away with it (still not sure what) if my mother were still alive" (she'd died 18 months previously). It just about destroyed me. I thought I'd been doing really well, settling in at uni and making a great bunch of new friends.

ofuckit Tue 02-Feb-16 16:39:11

That's horrible pocket flowers

So basically, they will just twist the story to put them in a better light!

And clearly trying to apply reason to what has happened is a total waste of my time sad

pocketsaviour Tue 02-Feb-16 16:02:06

I have opened a new thread

Here it is:
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/2562518-But-we-took-you-to-Stately-Homes-survivors-of-dysfunctional-and-toxic-families

pocketsaviour Tue 02-Feb-16 16:00:17

Her narrative will be either that a) you deserved it because you were "behaving badly" with him or, b) it never happened, or, c) it didn't happen like that.

My mum was very similar. She used to go on about how she'd throw herself in front of a bus to "save" my sister, or how if she saw anyone threatening us she'd "punch them in the nose". Needless to say this was complete bollocks and in fact she allowed my dad to molest me for 2 years, continued giving him unrestricted access to my younger sister even after social services forced him to move out. She once asked me "WHY, why did you have to report him when everything was going so well and we could stay a family?" I said (leaving aside the batshittery of that question which I've only realised as I've got older and been through a fuckton of therapy) "Because I could see him getting ready to start on my sister, why couldn't you see this?" She said "Oh don't be silly darling, he would never have done that."

What can anyone even say to that? She just has her own version of reality, which bears very little resemblance to the one we live in!

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