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"But we took you to Stately Homes" - survivors of dysfunctional and toxic families

(566 Posts)
toomuchtooold Fri 24-Feb-17 09:30:22

It's February 2017, 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 2015 - Nov 2015
Nov 2015 - Feb 2016
Feb 2016 - Oct 2016
Oct 2016 - Feb 2017

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.

The title refers to an original poster's family who claimed they could not have been abusive as they had taken her to plenty of Stately Homes during her childhood!

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
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:

Toxic Parents by Susan Forward
Homecoming by John Bradshaw
Will I ever be good enough? by Karyl McBride
If you had controlling parents by Dan Neuharth
When you and your mother can't be friends by Victoria Segunda
Children of the self-absorbed by Nina Brown - check reviews on this, I didn't find it useful myself.
Recovery of your inner child by Lucia Capacchione
Childhood Disrupted by Donna Jackson Nazakawa

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."

mylongawaitedlife Fri 24-Feb-17 11:42:26

smile thanks for the new thread.
The link on codependency I watched lately is here:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=14ZteUqTsME
I like this lady's way of putting things, she seems quite straight talking, but there must be loads

justagirl484 Fri 24-Feb-17 21:09:32

Keep wanting to cry today...really shocked at how triggered I have been lately....to the PP who mentioned me having C-PTSD- yes- I have been told I have. Formal diagnosis is actually Borderline PD, but my DBT therapist for BPD told me BPD and illnesses like NPD are actually forms of Complex PTSD- I looked it up online and I had all symptoms of C-PTSD. Really thought I was getting well but I feel I am slipping back....

justagirl484 Fri 24-Feb-17 21:15:10

I still feel like my head is a twisted place. I cannot blame it all on the abuse but a lot of it is. The trust issues, rage, and paranoia. I would love to join a support group. I used to post on a forum called NAPAC- but when I tried to find forum the other day I couldn't find the link.

OhTheRoses Fri 24-Feb-17 21:31:32

Hmm intake of breath for this. Am sure my mother is a narcissist. Certainly at 56 am still waiting to please her. I wasn't pretty enough, good enough, constantly put down and ridiculed a bit. But I had everything: Beautiful clothes, home, food, holidays, my friends thought she was fab, her friends called me a "funny, difficult girl. She only beat me up once, told me she should have had an abortion, that no- one would love me as much as her ( did I mention two step fathers). And I came out of it OK. Happily married, friends career, etc ( was a bit anorexic on 20s but pulled through it alone).

Now, dd who is 18: Anxiety, self harm, overdoses, depression, low self esteem, anorexia, gay. Repeating year of 6th form. Wanted, loved, clever, adored, two stable parents, happy childhood, praise, love.

Where the fuck did I go wrong and what might she put on this thread.

Sorry, I thought I'd got over my first 18 years and would never treat a child of mine with anything but the utmost live and respect. But somewhere I must have gone wrong big time.

I'd never ever have thought my parenting was so bad a child would end up in this mess. Although my mother has always implied I'm a shit parent especially as DD has never had a pony or designer clothes

At present I feel like the shit child and the shit parent.

OhTheRoses Fri 24-Feb-17 21:34:24

Sorry just reread and understood my inadequacy as both a child and a parent. What a fucking failure!

mrwalkensir Fri 24-Feb-17 21:44:47

OhTheRoses if the new evidence coming out is right that anorexia etc may have a genetic component, and she's having to come to terms with being gay, it may very well be more that she's lucky to have a warm loving family to help her get through this flowers. If she hadn't had somebody as caring as you, she could be in a far worse state

OhTheRoses Fri 24-Feb-17 21:51:43

I wanted my children spared what I suffered. I get the genetic bit. So why weren't my mother and grandmother anorexic. OK my mother is small boned and a petite 8/10 but dd and I aren't her build although she was a ballerina and there are links I suppose.

OhTheRoses Fri 24-Feb-17 21:54:17

I'm not in a great place tonight. History repeating itself. I thought I could trump that. Wouldn't have had children if I thought they'd suffer.

mrwalkensir Fri 24-Feb-17 22:15:58

History isn't repeating itself - you love and care for your daughter, and couldn't have predicted what (probably genetic) traits she'd end up with - you're doing the best you can whereas your parents didn't.. I've only started surfacing from this sort of thing at 50 if it helps - feel I should have seen through their crap years earlier and stopped beating myself up, but it's bloomin hard especially when they're so nasty (remembered being jeered at and people who didn't know her thinking she was cool) . You're probably the best parent she could have, just doesn't feel like it now and might not for years.

OhTheRoses Fri 24-Feb-17 22:29:46

What about my lucky? What about my turn to have some joy? Not happening at either end. When will I be able to relax and breathe. Oops maybe never! Hey ho, if it wouldn't hurt dd I suppose I could just end it. As it is failed as a daughter, failed as a parent. Can't do anything about it.

mrwalkensir Fri 24-Feb-17 23:26:27

You didn't fail as a daughter- sounds like you had a mum who treated you as an accessory. You're beating yourself up because you're worried about your daughter that you love, so that doesn't sound like you're a bad mother to me. Think you need to start being nice to yourself ( and I know how hard that is)

Makealist1 Sat 25-Feb-17 10:35:10

Hi roses.mrwalker is right. We all worry about our kids - unless we're narcs, and then we would instead be worrying about how their behaviour reflects on us. It's natural.

I know you feel in a bad place at the moment, but you can't take on the responsibility for what is happening with your DD.As you can see from other people's posts, even those abused seem to manage to get on with life - in the end, generally. Your DD is not only a function of parenting but also her own personality; what is happening around her [ sexuality issues, school ?, social media - who knows] and the fact that she is only 18 !

Have you been able to talk to her? Can anyone else ? Maybe you could 'share' ? Are some of your feelings in effect emotional flashbacks to the negative internal messages you yourself were fed ?

Just keep loving . Hope this makes sense

mylongawaitedlife Sat 25-Feb-17 20:09:47

Sigh.. without going into every last detail, after the texts I posted towards the end of the last thread there was quiet.. then DM has been in touch, and I'm fed up and wondering whether I should go NC contact again, the trouble is I feel like I play into her hands either way.
Today she sent texts trying to control my day by coming round with family. I didn't reply as was out, busy, had plans anyway. 20 minutes later she texts a second message to say she has 'decided' that as I'm not responding to her the offer is no longer on the table. I still haven't replied.

Just fed up. Even though I don't reply to her because I don't want to be drawn into this push/pull, drama thing she does, she still 'wins' either way. If I reply, she has gained the drama, has me engaged in it in some way, can possibly control me. If I don't reply she gets to be a huge victim at her end. Either way, whether I reply or not as soon as I see her name and messages, I"m 'aware' of them, and checking because sooner or later there will be another one, and no longer looking forward to and enjoying the things I was doing in my day. My mind is elsewhere and actually today I think friends noticed and I weirded them out by being absent and odd.
I feel like my whole life has been about her, and I want to be free, and live.

pizzafrenchfries Sat 25-Feb-17 20:59:51

I've been wondering for a long time about my relationship with my mother. Growing up I would always make out things were great, she was laid back, we were close.... but now I look back and I don't think that was really the case. I've been having counseling for other reasons and it's made me realize how angry I feel with her... when I was a teenager I was severely bullied at school, I wanted to kill
Myself I suffered extreme anxiety attacks and I invented imaginary friends because I felt so alone. When I eventually told my mum about this she took me to a doctor but also a psychic and tried to convince me my
Imaginary friends were people who had passed. It sounds completely ridiculous and even now I feel myself wanting to rise to defend her about it.... but in truth I feel so pissed off that she didn't help me when really I was quite ill and struggling. She constantly told me I didn't need anti depressants/I didn't want that (depression/anxiety) on my healthy record. Even now when I eventually managed to admit to her I needed anti depressants she was so so anti them and constantly asks if I'm
Ready to come off them yet.

There's so many more things that I think about her doing- she will
Never admit she is wrong, if I bring anything up about how I feel it is never ever her fault. She minimizes everything. When I had my child I gave them a slightly Unusual name (I know two people with kids with the same name So it isn't that unusual!) she had a breakdown at the hospital about how I had to change it. I am really struggling to let that go inside but when I confronted her she simply said she was unable to like the name and so reacted that way.

Is this all normal? Even writing the above has made me feel so angry but I don't know if this is just normal family relationships.

OhTheRoses Sat 25-Feb-17 21:51:32

We do talk. She's also had three rounds of therapy and has a psychiatrist. Not sure I'll ever get to the bottom of it. Sometimes I wonder how she'd have fared as my mother's daughter. X

Wearegoingtobedlehem Sat 25-Feb-17 21:53:29

Hi everyone, I'm a newcomer to this thread although I may have dipped my toe in some years ago. I'm really struggling at the moment. I was physically and emotionally abused by both my parents - and sexually abused by my dad. I have gone NC with my parents, for the safety of my dcs, but also for my sake. I think pushing myself so far over the years to appear like a happy family has caused me real problems. I frankly don't know how to fix things. We are not a big family, but I have a total of 4 relatives that I am trying to stay in contact with. But the awkwardness and lies are really killing me. I don't know how to move this forwards- really I don't.

mrwalkensir Sun 26-Feb-17 11:15:54

Sounds fairly classic Pizza. They insist on owning your emotions, iyswim

mylongawaitedlife Sun 26-Feb-17 11:42:01

pizza the baby thing sounds like a point where the (positive) attention should without question have been on you, it was your moment, your feelings, your baby. So she couldn't let that happen? What you describe she did made the situation about her, you weren't allowed to 'have' your feelings? And tried to take the control of naming your child too.

mrwalkensir Sun 26-Feb-17 17:11:45

wearegoing do the four that you are in contact with know about what happened?

HakeLively Sun 26-Feb-17 17:39:53

I have a thread going in Relationships at the moment about my mother but I have lurked on these threads for a couple of years or so.

Have gone LC with my mother at the moment and she hates it- I know she is waiting for me to 'get over whatever it is that's upset me this time' as my brother has told me. I can't get over it- there's no one thing- it's years and years of emotional shit thrown at me and for my own sanity I can't take it anymore.

I'm on tenterhooks at the moment though as I just know she will be thinking of something she can do to get my attention again. What will it be this time? Another cancer scare? The death of someone she wasn't remotely close to but will be deeply affected by the tragedy? My brother and his wife found out they're hanging another baby recently and she told me the news first, knowing my brother was planning on telling me himself the next day. It sounds silly written down but I feel like I don't even get to hear nice surprise news without her spoiling it for me.

Am never out every time my phone buzzes at the moment.

HakeLively Sun 26-Feb-17 17:40:42

HAVING another baby, Christ do I wish there was an edit button blush

HakeLively Sun 26-Feb-17 17:41:31

And nervous every time my phone rings. Stupid iPhone.

INeedToDoThis Sun 26-Feb-17 18:27:12

I just want to write this down, I don't think I'm brave enough to go into what happened yet which is ridiculous considering what many other people have been through. My mother is a narcissist, my therapist keeps telling me, and I've gone through the daughters of narcissistic mothers website more times than I can count. My fathers borderline between an enabler and a narcissist himself, I keep denying it, keep making excuses repeating her excuses but I need to stop and be truthful now so I can move on for my DD.
I'm sorry this is vague and rambly, I still feel a bit of a fraud especially considering what others go through, but thankyou for reading this anyone who does.

Makealist1 Sun 26-Feb-17 20:37:35

I need No One is a fraud here. We're all just people who want someone to listen to us - for once

Hang on in there. Ditto to Hake. First little steps and all that

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