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

(987 Posts)
toomuchtooold Fri 18-Aug-17 10:37:11

It's August 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
Feb 2017 - May 2017
May 2017 - Aug 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."

pullingmyhairout1 Fri 18-Aug-17 12:40:00

Thank you!
My Nan (her mother) who lives with Voldemort (her nickname from now on) wrote to me. I received the letter this morning. It read:

Dear Pulling,

A quick note to let you know your Mum & Dad will be away for the weekend. They are going to x place to see your Uncle. The coast will be clear if you want to phone or have a chat. Must sneak to the post box! Love Nan Ps. You have never seen this letter

I cried, and now I feel sad that Voldemorts mother feels she has to sneak around to see her own grandchild at 41.

toomuchtooold Fri 18-Aug-17 15:48:43

Oh pulling that is sad. She probably doesn't even think of it as odd any more.

pullingmyhairout1 Fri 18-Aug-17 17:00:14

She doesn't. She knows what Voldemort is. So awful, and I can't help her because I can't afford to buy a bigger house and have her live with me. She's 91. Fit and able yet Voldemort treats her dreadfully.

BadTasteFlump Fri 18-Aug-17 17:04:03

Hi again - could do with a virtual hand hold if anyone's around sad

Dsis came to collect her DC this afternoon - I was in a hurry as we were going out so we just went out to the car. As they were getting in she said to the DC 'you'll have to come and stay with us soon'. So again I stood there like a stuffed fart and didn't say anything (I will use the excuse that the Dc were all there again...).

But it's been getting me really stressed all afternoon that this is hanging over me - I've picked my nails to bleeding point blush. So I've just sent her a text saying 'keep meaning to say but the dc are always around - we would rather keep sleepovers at ours for now so there's no risk of the dc running into M'

And now I've not had a reply and I'm freaking out that I've started another big fall out sad

SpareBedroom Fri 18-Aug-17 17:18:01

Flump well done! smile I know it doesn't feel like it because you feel crap at the moment, but you've made a huge step in terms of making your boundaries clear.

I'm sure your DSis may have suspected this all along. There may not be a fall out at all. And if there is, it's not you at the root of it. You wouldn't be doing this at all if you had a 'normal' birth family. It's just your conditioning that's telling you it's your fault, but it's actually your M's.

Hang in there and keep busy (and congratulate yourself on hosting a successful sleepover!)flowers

pullingmyhairout1 Fri 18-Aug-17 17:28:30

Flump you've done the right thing.

BadTasteFlump Fri 18-Aug-17 17:30:51

Thank you both flowers.

Can't believe how wobbly this one little thing has made me feel sad

Still no reply - I'm going to be watching my phone all bloody night now. Maybe I should hide it grin

pullingmyhairout1 Fri 18-Aug-17 18:36:47

I blocked Voldemorts and Dads number and I'm tempted to check my blocked messages but I'm not going to.

randomer Fri 18-Aug-17 18:40:20

Does anyone have experience of dealing with horrible parents who are now very old and frail. Feeling confused

Lenl Fri 18-Aug-17 19:19:05

It's ok to set boundaries flump. Well done for sending the text but I know how you must feeling. The silent response is awful.

Try and keep to the forefront of your mind that you are protecting your children and at the end of the day how they are trumps how anyone else in your family. Also try and remind yourself that, as SpareBedroom said you wouldn't have to do this if it wasn't for your mother's behaviour, It's not because of you. You've just been conditioned for such a long time to accept everything in order to keep the peace.

I hope you are ok flowers

Lenl Fri 18-Aug-17 19:20:09

Sorry for the random typos and capitalisation. Phones!

BadTasteFlump Fri 18-Aug-17 20:00:48

Thank you so much, why can't my family be more like you lot? flowers

Still no reply but a nice big chilled wine has helped me give a bit less of a shit grin and I do feel relieved/happy that I've finally said it.

ChestOfDrawers Sat 19-Aug-17 14:27:56

randomer I haven't but others here have. What's going on for you?

flump massive well done. This is huge! I hope you can find things to help you wih the feelings it's brought up.

How's everyone today?

ChestOfDrawers Sat 19-Aug-17 14:30:42

I had my big family thing this morning. I feel utterly exhausted. It was OK... I mean it was a bit shit. No one was interested in me, no one asked me anything, and I got some little jibes. But it was good right? It was wonderful to see them right? They're wonderful and I had a fabulous time right? If I feel shit it's because of me right? Excuse me while I go and scream!!!

BadTasteFlump Sat 19-Aug-17 15:07:32

Sorry you had a shit morning chest flowers Are you expected to attend these get togethers very often? Maybe do a sickie for the next one smile

Still no reply to my text, and she is usually pretty quick with replies. My gut tells me I may be getting 'put in my place' by having my message ignored (I am still very much her 'little' sister after all hmm) but I'm trying to keep an open mind - hard as that is...

fc301 Sat 19-Aug-17 16:38:24

Sympathise chest. DPs due for a polite lunch to see DGC with my DH present. Those are my current boundaries. Invited for 12 but made clear I need to go out for work at 3.30.

They arrived at 1.40! I rearranged work to 4.30 & told them this. They fucked off at 3.45!

All very polite etc but now they've gone I just feel wring out. Gahhh.

fc301 Sat 19-Aug-17 16:42:27

*wrung out

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 19-Aug-17 17:28:50

Hi fc301

They disrespected and ignored your reasonable boundary here by turning up late; they took the mickey and their action of arriving so very late was done to undermine you. Its not respectful to arrive so late at all. There should now be no more "polite" lunches with these people because they will simply continue to mess you about.

You would not have tolerated this from a friend, family are no different.

No more rearranging your work hours either if they show up late, that is another boundary you can have and maintain here. I personally would not have them around again.

fc301 Sat 19-Aug-17 22:54:16

Thanks Attilla.
Yes it was a very passive aggressive 'fuck you' from my Dad. Am continuing very LC as I need to learn to distance myself and not let them affect me. My Mum is making some effort not to lose her grandchildren which I have to give her credit for.
Not in a rush to repeat. We have now proved we can be in the same room together. Will try to stick to seeing them at big gatherings as he's too much of a coward to make a scene in public.
Won't be dropping my hard fought boundaries anytime soon.
Appreciate as ever your true understanding and valuable advice 💐

ChestOfDrawers Sun 20-Aug-17 01:22:56

Fc301 wrung out, yes that describes it very well. I agree that being so late was a definite fuck you! My parents and siblings often do the same thing and it really irritates me. I often feel I have to let them stay later but I'm realising that it's their problem not mine if they have to have a shorter visit because they chose to arrive late. Sorry you had a rough visit. Enjoy the peace tomorrow!

Flump what if you allowed yourself to explore how you would feel about no reply, and start to process that? Otherwise your sister has the power to kind of paralyse you in the waiting if that makes sense?

I have been unpicking the visit today and fucking hell it wasn't great. I just feel so insignificant and invisible and unimportant. I feel angry and rejected and really sad. I can't believe this is my family sad I'm also worried I'm over-reacting because nothing major happened?

I have a bit of a situation unfolding. One of my siblings posted a load of stuff on the group chat afterwards, including something that reads like they are intending to visit us again next weekend?!! Wtf? I don't really have any relationship with this sibling, I just see them at family things every few months. This sibling treats me pretty badly. For now I'm ignoring it because it wasn't clear at all so might not be directed at me. If it is though what do I do?

Another question. This sibling uses gifts as power plays. The gifts are often total shit. But they are presented in front of everyone. M then gushes about how amazing it is. It's like it makes me indebted, and also serves to prove that they actually are nice and we do actually have a relationship. To cover up the fact that they are really shit to me and we have basically no relationship. How do I stop this? It's gone on for ages and I don't know how to say just fucking stop giving me gifts just stop it. I'm quite afraid of this sibling. (They are golden child, obviously.)

pullingmyhairout1 Sun 20-Aug-17 07:16:21

Going to see my Nan today because Voldemort and her side kick are on their jollies still.

Hope she's ok. She's in an awful position. Voldemorts is just as awful to her!

bestfakesmile Sun 20-Aug-17 10:28:58

Chest, make some plans next weekend that mean you will be unavailable. If they are planning to visit you again they will just find that you're not in! Otherwise do whatever you were planning to do anyway and if they turn up say, you had no idea they were coming, you are busy doing x or just on your way out. However it's probably easier to just not be there!
This situation (are they coming/are they not? I don't want to ask cos I'll look stupid either way) is purposely designed to make you feel uncomfortable and uncertain, so they can control how you're feeling. In the longer term I would play a very low profile on social media or even just block them all.
Wrt the gifts, they keep giving them to you because they can see that it makes you uncomfortable and indebted to them. You could tell them not to give you gifts but that would be you being 'unreasonable' in their eyes and so play right into their hands. Instead you need to cultivate an air of being perfectly comfortable to politely accept their gifts. Look at them, smile, nod, say thank you, but, no gushing gratitude or uncomfortable body language. As soon as posdible you put the gift carefully away out of sight and change the subject to something completely non-emotional (weather, something you saw on tv etc)
It might help to reframe the gifts in your mind as your sibling just giving you back something that they owe you, some respect to make up for past behaviours iyswim, then you don't have any obligation to feel grateful to them.
Pulling, have a nice time with your nan.

fc301 Sun 20-Aug-17 11:35:14

Chest yes that's exactly it. On the surface a pleasant polite visit but really they don't care or have any interest in me.
The being late thing is the just the latest way to tell me I'm not important enough. It's upsetting but I've come a long way in successfully distancing my emotions from their actions.

fc301 Sun 20-Aug-17 11:36:41

An emerging theme that I see you are experiencing too is inviting themselves/ others to my house! Wtf! This is basic manners people!

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