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I need help please! Another 'distancing self from awful parents' post.

(32 Posts)
Lostlou Fri 06-Oct-17 17:00:08

Posting about this for the first time and I have just started looking at 'Stately Homes' today. I will probably post in there in future but think I need some clarity before I dive in.

I've just been reading another thread here on 'relationships' called "How can I forgive my parents (especially my mum) so I can let go and move on. Life is too short!" and a lot of the comments made really resonated with me.

My 'relationship' with my parents from childhood is giving me some major pain - so much that I can't really articulate it at the moment - it would take so long so I'll drip feed it in for now. I had a major meltdown about it a couple of weeks ago that had me in floods of tears. My partner asked why I bother with them, if they have hurt me so much. In all honestly I could only say that it's out of obligation / expectation maybe. I think I've know deep down that the way my parents treated me wasn't actually normal and used to hurt very much when I saw my friends and the other girls in school with their mums and how different, alien almost, their relationships were to me.

I'm currently trying to distance myself and start by setting boundaries. The main problem I have right now is how to do this.

I live about an hour's drive from my parents and a few weeks ago they decided they were going to come down to see me. I'd already made arrangements that day so I'd said "that doesn't really work for me". On my way back home from where I was I get a text from mum to say they were 'in the area' (bollox they were viewing a house 45 mins drive away) so they were already in the house (they have a key). Same thing again this weekend just gone. It was my birthday on Sunday and again I'd made plans. Dad rang about 9am to say they were planning to visit around 2:30 that day. Both expressed surprise and disappointment that I wasn't available to them. Then mum says "oh well, we'll turn up anyway to drop off a card" and they do exactly that!!

The immediate situation sounds so trivial I can't believe I'm posting about it, but it's part of a so much bigger issue so please bear with me. Mum sounds so breezy and chatty but still expresses extreme disapproval at my behaviour quite regularly (I'm 44). However, her behaviour now is nothing compared with how it was in my later junior school years / teenager / 20s (I'll have to post about this later I can't deal with it now).

It's a very strong word but I almost think I hate her. I can't bear it when she tries to give me a hug (my father a little less so but it's still there). I actually cringe and want to pull away.

I hate myself for the way I feel. I hate how I have this burning resentment for how they f*cked up my childhood - and seemingly now my adult life too. I'm sick of being the dutiful daughter who seemed to be a constant source of disappointment to both her parents growing up and to a lesser extent still now.

I appreciate I'm an adult now and those were things that were happening in my childhood. But I need to kick back against and sort myself out but I hardly know where to start.

Thanks! flowers

TemptressofWaikiki Fri 06-Oct-17 17:06:35

Change the locks! They are abusing your right to privacy by turning up whenever it suits them and letting themselves in with a key. That is the first step where you can take control.

MoonShapedPool Fri 06-Oct-17 17:14:54

Please do change the locks- they are massively invading your space and privacy and showing no respect for you. I hate parents like this, mine are similar so I haven’t had contact with them for 18 months now and have no intention of having a relationship with them in future. It’s ok to be angry, it’s ok to not like them and it’s ok to put your own needs first. I know It’s bloody difficult to break out of the obedient daughter cage but you absolutely can. Believe me it’s terrifying and empowering and will honestly be the making of you! Stay strong flowers

MoonShapedPool Fri 06-Oct-17 17:18:07

Forgot to add - you will probably get loads of people on here or in real life saying you only get one mother, you will miss them one day etc etc and that’s a normal reaction for the lucky lucky people who don’t understand how devastating these parents can be to your confidence and self esteem. Look after yourself, put yourself first

Lostlou Fri 06-Oct-17 18:36:43

Thank you ladies! It's really helped that you recognise and validate what I've said. It's almost impossible to explain to someone who has a 'normal' relationship with their mother / parents what it's like.

Any yes, I have had the 'one mother' thing. From a relationship counsellor would you belive - not in relation to this particularly but in the context of relationships generally when my marriage was breaking down. So I felt that I was just maybe 'wrong'.

I think the issue I have is trying to work out what I did that was so wrong that made my parents so disappointed in me / cold towards me. The earliest I can remember I would be around 8 years old and I hadn't done as well as expected in a school test. It was something really stupid like end-of-term spelling. My dad expressed his disappointment to me and I said "but I really tried my best". He just gave me this really pained expression and said "but anyone can try. You MUST succeed!" and walked away. I was 8 FFS!

My mother was / is a complete snob. She was determined that I would go to the all girls' private school in the nearest city. I hated it. I was bullied relentlessly. I used to sit in the bath aged around 13/14 and try and work out how much it would hurt and what would be the best way to slit my wrists. I desperately wanted some friends. I had one that I started to be friends with in my first year at high school and excitedly introduced her to my mum once when she came to pick me up from school. Mum politely said hello back but was a little quiet on the way home then said "you must be very careful being friends with x, she does talk rather common". I was devastated.

Sometimes my mum would just ignore me completely, and I mean completely blank me - like I didn't exist. We'd be having dinner and I'd ask her a question (something to me that was a perfectly reasonable question - nothing to challenge or be difficult) and she would just carry on eating as if I wasn't there. My dad once just exploded at her and said "will you not answer the child!!?" But he didn't help me, answer in any way, so I suppose he enabled her even more.

I wasn't allowed to go and see him when he came in from work. My sister and I would be allowed to say hello when he first walked in, then he would usually sit down and watch the news, or go into his study. Mum would admonish us "don't disturb your father. He is working". It was like something out of a Victorian family.

I wasn't allowed to go out shopping with my friends. I would be in town with my mum and see girls my sisters age (4 years younger) out in groups. I wasn't allowed out in the evening at weekends til I was 18. I couldn't choose what to wear - easily sorted as my mum would not allow me access to any funds so I couldn't even have sneaked out to buy something. I had to scrape funds together to buy things like tampax in my later teens or ask her to put them on the shopping list.

I had absolutely no autonomy - I wasn't allowed even to open my own post. Everything was filtered through my mum, particularly stuff that was personal (cards etc) and ESPECIALLY if she didn't recognise the handwriting. If I tried to speak to anyone on the phone she would position herself so that she could listen in. If that failed for any reason she would go to another part of the house and pick up the other part. Luckily I got wise to this as you could hear a tiny 'click' if you knew what to listen for so I would say to whoever was on the line "oh I think my mum must need to use the phone - she's just picked the other one up" which was the best I ever got to calling her out on anything.

If she thought I was lying about something (I never did), she'd accost my friends in the street, or even call then at home, and try to get things out of them. I know this because they told me!

When it came to choosing GCSE's I wasn't allowed to pick the ones I wanted. My parents pored over the ones they thought 'best' e.g. the sciences, Latin etc for career building. They were insistent that I pursued an academic career. All I wanted was to be a jockey! This was great ammunition for both of them because OF COURSE they have provided me with this upbringing of an idyllic location, my own horses, private schooling and THIS was how I repaid them. I had a job lined up at racing school at 16 but was told if I went and did it they would sell the horses and I would never come under their roof again. Great emotional blackmail, eh?

At school events I'd see the girls in my year laughing with their mothers / mother's friends, sometimes they would even walk arm in arm. I'd completely shut down by the age of 15 and all I wanted to do was push mine away.

She'd call me a slut / slag / whore / bitch (in front of my little sister and my dad). I lasted around 30 minutes of this verbal abuse one evening at dinner and eventually burst into tears. My dad just looked at her and said "are you satisfied now?" but did nothing to comfort me or help in any way. She got hold of my diary once, which I'd kept well hidden, so she must have turned my bedroom literally upside down to find it. Quite why she found it necessary to speak to me like that I'll never know. I was a virgin til I was 18. It was probably something to do with kissing a boy at around 15 / 16 or something (the horror)!

And I could go on, and on, and on. This is just the tip of a Titanic sized iceberg and I just need to stay afloat.

I feel a lot better now I've typed this. This is the first time I've ever set all this out to anyone.


Chaos777 Fri 06-Oct-17 18:38:47

They are stamping all over your boundaries.

Change the locks if possible. Don't rush to respond to messages.
Don't answer the door if they "drop in as they're passing".
Detach and become impersonal.
Treat them like a work colleague, be polite, civil, calm.

You clearly feel obligated to them, almost dutiful. You are not.
You are their daughter, not their possession. They do not own you.

As parents, their job was to offer you unconditional love and protection.
They have failed.

You feel unloved, disapproved of, and a disappointment to them.

It is time for a new relationship, in your own time, on your terms.
Mutual respect, consideration and support - or start to consider going low contact.
Above all, it is time to put your needs first.

Chaos777 Fri 06-Oct-17 18:39:30

Cross posted - my apologies.

Lostlou Fri 06-Oct-17 18:45:54

Chaos777 thank you for being so kind. I'm just crying so much I literally can't type now. xx

MoonShapedPool Fri 06-Oct-17 20:34:20

Oh sweetheart I’m so sorry for everything they did to you, they sound awful. Please get it all out if it helps, on here or in a journal or to a trusted friend. It wasn’t anything you did/didn’t do, this is all on them - there is something wrong with them NOT you. I’ve been through exactly the same feelings I’m just further down the path so can see it dispassionately. I was a lovely little kid and a kind responsible teenager and they made me feel like worthless scum - I bet you were just as lovely! The feeling of freedom you will get as you realise their opinions of you are twisted and wrong is AMAZING - especially when you realise that you don’t even care what they think. I’m so excited for you, you have taken the first step by questioning the status quo and you will just fly. It will be painful, you will cry buckets, shout with rage and grieve for the wonderful mum you should have had but you will find peace and acceptance. Much love and strength to you flowers

TemptressofWaikiki Sat 07-Oct-17 00:45:06

It’s tough when you were brought up in such a warped family unit. But you don’t owe either of them anything. You do not even have to see them at all if that makes it easier. And please don’t let anyone emotionally blackmail you with stuff, like you only got one mother or father. So, what, you did not deserve to be treated the way you did. You are an adult now and can do whatever you like, including not being available. Especially, given what you described, actual autonomy in terms of the privacy of your own home is a good start. Stop them from just letting themselves into your space. Actually vocalising what it was like as a kid and growing up is a really good start to realising just how unreasonable their behaviour is.

Cricrichan Sat 07-Oct-17 03:12:42

You were abused op. Your mother sounds narcissistic. ((((())))

mylaptopismylapdog Sat 07-Oct-17 03:29:05

Definitely change the locks. It is difficult to distance your self for family members like this but it is so much easier when you don't have to waste emotional energy on coping with the rubbish they load on you.

Lostlou Sat 07-Oct-17 09:00:37

Thank you SO much everyone. Sorry for this short message but I'm at my partner's and DSD house at the mo on my phone.

Will post a bit more later when I can. I need to start a plan to tackle this!

Love to you all xx

DancesWithOtters Sat 07-Oct-17 09:10:24

Why the fuck are they letting themselves into your home without asking!

Change the locks!

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 07-Oct-17 09:11:35

Your parents failed you abjectly LostLou and still do; its not you its them. People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles and yours here is scapegoat, you are the scapegoat for all their inherent ills.

Women like your mother are narcissistic and your dad was and remains her willing enabler. Women like your mother always but always need such an enabler to help them. He was her hatchet man here and is someone else that cannot be at all relied upon now either. He happily threw you under the bus so that he did not get hit by it. Such toxic people never apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions.

I hope you have changed your locks now.

I would also suggest you post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" threads on these pages and read the resources at the start of that thread. "Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward is a good book to start reading. The "daughters of narcissistic mothers" website is also worth reading.

And never listen to the people who spout "oh you only have one mother". They never had a mother like yours and you do not want to go down that rabbit hole.

Blossomdeary Sat 07-Oct-17 09:16:32

It is fine to hate someone who has behaved in a hateful way towards you - so ditch the guilt right now!

But it is a problem when that person is your mother and your brain is full of "oughts" in relation to her - I ought to love her, I ought to be able to give her a hug etc. etc. So - ditch the "oughts" as well and start asking yourself how much of her company you can cope with. Your next step is to order your contact with her to suit YOU. Do it in an objective and guilt free way. Imagine she is a friend whom you have had enough of an think how you might deal with that; or a cold caller; or a Jehovah's Witness!!

Clearly you have no choice to have a bit of contact with her, unless you wish to cut the ties with them both, so plan it out to suit you.

Guilts and oughts are a massive part of our relation ship with our mothers and they can take over your adult life - which is crazy as it is there for you to live it and enjoy it. She wielded power over you when you were a child but she does not any more. You are a grown adult and entitled to order your own life as you wish and she just has to suck it up - she is reaping what she sowed.

It is I know hard to do this - been there, done that! - but self-preservation has to come first. You are not responsible for the way she behaved, nor can you turn the clock back. But you can set boundaries. She has to relate to you as an adult; but first you have to perform that difficult juggling act of relating to her as your adult self.

Oh - and change the blooming locks!!

LifeIsLikeTetris Sat 07-Oct-17 09:50:17

Some of what you have written chimes with me too Lostlou.

I have a relationship with my parents which is on the surface is a kind of veneer. We all know the rules and stick to the veneer. But the real one underneath must never be mentioned.

Occasionally I will refuse to go along with their version and they flatly deny or gloss over, (or in my mum's case become quite aggressive) regarding things which happened but which don't paint them in a good light. My role seems to be to shine a lovely light onto them at all times and photoshop events that were ugly. But I resent being forced into that role. It's so hard to explain!

I'm an only child and have sometimes doubted events because I have no-one else to corroborate them. Do you ever talk about this with your sister? I used to think if only someone else had been there to understand the odd dynamics in my family, then that would have been some comfort.

My father would use silent treatment to express his anger with both myself and my mother. We'd go for days in the most hideous threatening atmosphere which as a child I found terrifying. When I wanted to go to art college, he didn't speak to me properly for nearly a year, just used to glower at me. But even then I somehow felt powerless to walk away from them and I look back and could kick myself for not being stronger but I was afraid I suppose. They made me feel that I'd fail without their approval.

Somehow that's all been edited out now and I'm acceptable all the time I tow the line, play the game confused I'm now 52 and have very difficult feelings towards them which are hard to articulate. I even have to still call them Mummy and Daddy, and even that feels unnatural.

I would definitely sort out the key thing. It's so hard to change how you 'react' even though you know you need to confused

LifeIsLikeTetris Sat 07-Oct-17 09:58:07

Just to add, I've found being a parent myself has somehow made my feelings worse towards my own parents. Time and again something will come up with my own children and I'll immediately think that's not how they'd have reacted. And I'll feel angry at them all over again.

I remember when my Dd was small and playing up one day. My dad casually said to me, sometimes a smack is the best solution you know. I thought, yes, I remember that very well..and vowed never to smack my own. It's generational difference too though, I can see that. But even so, it was another moment of clarity.

schoolgaterebel Sat 07-Oct-17 10:06:13

What you experienced growing up is not normal (you already know this) but I just don’t wanted to say you deserved more from your parents.

I am a parent of teens and I feel one if the greatest acts of love it to give them wings to fly, they failed you.

Change your locks.
Don’t answer calls and messages immediately.
Don’t offer up too much personal information about your life.
Be vague and slowly distance yourself.
Don’t allow yourself to feel guilt or obligation.

Borntorunfast Sat 07-Oct-17 10:17:55

I just wanted to say I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry that you didn't have the parents you deserve. That they abused you in the way that they did, especially your mum. They are still trying to control you, by ignoring your wishes and imposing themselves o n your life. Do change the locks. If they say they're coming round, go out. Ask your partner to block them coming in if you're in. It's your home and your life and frankly you owe them nothing. If you can afford it have some therapy so that you can let go of the hope that they will ever change, that they will ever be the parents you wanted. I found that so hard, but accepting I wouldn't get the relationship I so desperately wanted helped me move on. I wish you all the very best, you were treated horribly but you now have the power to stop it, say no, take back control xx

QuiteLikely5 Sat 07-Oct-17 10:29:24

Please tell your parents that you lost your keys and needed to change the locks.

Look I get why it is hard for you to cut them out but you need to make the decision that promotes your own future health.

This woman has failed you dreadfully. You owe her nothing. You do not have to be afraid of her. She has got so much power over you.

You should not seek her approval - it is not important and does not link with your own happiness. Her approval is about her own happiness and what she thinks you should be doing. This is because she does not see you as an individual but as an extension of her.

All you need to say, after the locks are sorted is.

A) I'm busy please don't come by

B) please don't contact me I will be in touch when I'm ready.

You are in control; take the power away from her; confront your fears.

You will find that actually this woman is powerless - your father may actually point out she has brought this on herself

TemptressofWaikiki Sat 07-Oct-17 15:36:32

Great advice above but I would actually suggest you could also choose not being available at all and not even giving an explanation as to why. It isn’t your fault or responsibility to educate your parents to be parents. You don’t need to mention that you changed the locks or why. They should not be such cheeky feckers in the first place to intrude into your home without expressed permission to do so! They’ll soon find out and it changes the dynamics in your favour. You’d no longer be on the backfoot and can call the shots going forward.

I spent many years as the family doormat, not by my parents but grandparents and other family members. I don’t want to out myself but there was a major incident that caused me to take stock. I decided literally overnight on the above tactic and found it by far the least stressful option to go completely NC with all of them. And it prompted my parents to follow suit, as they too had been in a similar boat. It’s like I flicked a switch and shut all the bullshit off. Until I gave myself the permission to do so, I was constantly racked with guilt and suffered from stress related health issues. Stress and guilt levels are now very low. I found it incredibly liberating how overnight I stopped being the victim, feeling powerless and realising that I don’t have to tolerate any of the bullshit. I’ve applied this to other people too. I have far less acquaintances but much closer friends.

I appreciate that many people feel the need to tell their parents or others about the changes they are going to make. However, I want to reiterate that you actually don’t have to do anything. You can simply change the locks, stop answering the door and phone. You don’t have to have any confrontation. With some folk that is utterly pointless, as they won’t ever accept anything you’re telling them. Their feelings don’t override yours. You can totally rewrite the rules on how you deal with them, including not at all!

Lostlou Sun 08-Oct-17 08:43:34

Wow. I'm feeling quite overwhelmed here. I wasn't expecting such positive responses. It has made me feel so much better. It's strange really because each of you in your own way has hit the nail on the head and managed to articulate in a few paragraphs exactly the dynamics.

I'll try and say something to each of you but may have to come back to this post as I have to pop out soon.

chaos777 what you said about offering 'unconditional' love and protection is exactly it. There was so much CONDITIONALITY attached to my parents approval of me. I won't even call it something as strong as 'love and affection', merely approval, and I'll leave it there.

MoonShapedPool I'm sorry you went through this too. It is like some sort of grief, and definitely anger, and frustration. I think I need to stop wondering 'why' and just look at how to fix my own life and not theirs.

mylaptopismylapdog DancesWithOtters well I am renovating the house and was going to get a new front door so - new door, new key maybe?!

Cricrichan AttillaTheMeerkat I will need to look up this narcissism thing a bit more. It's interesting you say that, because one of the things I often used to wonder, especially in my teens, was how I felt like I was some sort of accessory to my mother, like an expensive handbag, and I had to look 'just so' on her arm (or should I say in her vice like grip). Thank you for the book / website recommendation too Attilla I will definitely get that book and look at the other resources on the 'Stately Homes' thread (wow one heck of a long thread isn't it!).

Blossomdeary the guilt and 'oughts' is a massive thing for me. My life and head are full of them. It makes me sad and angry. I'm on a self-preservation mission from now on. I'm sorry if you have suffered similarly too.

LifeIsLikeTetris my whole relationship with my parents is like a veneer - something I have to present to the outside world. It must have been massively difficult for you as an only child. I haven't discussed it with my sister and don't really want to (for now at least - though it may be necessary in the future). When we've spoken in the past about our parents (mother in particular) being 'difficult' she's admitted she had it a lot easier. She was definitely the golden child!

I don't have children but my partner has lovely DSD who will be 13 in a few weeks. He's quite strict with her, but in a different (fair) way. I also see her with her friends. A lot of my friends / acquaintances have children, many in their teens and I am envious of what a fun and well-adjusted bunch of young adults they all are. There is a lot of grief that I never had that, and that it has negatively affected me well into my adult life, as it has you too, so clearly.

And yes, doing the 'actual' reacting rather than just knowing I need to are very different things, aren't they!

schoolgaterebel you use exactly the same expression as I do. 'Give them wings to fly'. OK as I've said above I don't have kids, but this is exactly how I see a parent of older teens job. I've often said (when wistfully wishing I was still riding horses) when your child starts to develop wings you don't clip them, you give them the strength to fly. Yes they will come crashing back down to earth - perhaps more than once - but you pick them up, dust them off, have a bit of a readjust and set them off again. It's a critical entry point into adult life that I didn't get.

I will try and put into practice what you have suggested. It will be baby steps though.

Borntorunfast I have been thinking about therapy for a while now. I feel like I need to spit it out in front of someone who can be completely dispassionate and objective. I have no idea how to find a therapist who specialises in this particular issue - so if anyone has any pointers they would be very welcome. I hope you have found some peace.

QuiteLikely5 everything you say is right. It is ALL power, obligation and approval. This 'extension of her' I'm assuming as part of the narcissism others have mentioned. I really am going to have to look into this properly. I am really quite angry with myself because there are lots of pointers everyone has given - including your advice in what to say and thank you for that - and my initial reaction is 'they might be hurt or angry with that'... I've got a long way to go.

TemptressofWaikiki I'm sorry you were treated in this way, and your family. I have considered what I would call the 'nuclear option' and going NC but not sure if I could implement it. I will think about this one.

A general question for you lovely people out there. My mum often sends a text to say "are you in for a call"? I'm wondering about motives here because I only have a mobile not a landline, so what does it matter whether I'm in or not?! Why doesn't she just pick the phone up? So I have to respond yes/no. I've tried ignoring it, but this just precipitates further texts. What I might do this time is completely ignore the texts and just wait to see if she actually calls. I don't know. Usually I then call her to get it over and done with.

Oh and I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times my dad has actually called me, since I left to go to uni at 18. Maybe it's because he always relies on mum picking up the phone (or just texting the endless f*cking 'are you in for a call) message. Maybe that's just a generation thing, maybe not.

Thank you all - and sorry if I have missed responding directly to anyone. You have no idea what this means to me flowers

Lostlou Sun 08-Oct-17 10:40:35

AttillaTheMeerkat since my last post I have just spent the time reading this

OMG. I found my self holding my breath in horror reading through. My mother exhibited EVERY SINGLE ONE of the tendencies listed on here. I mean every one. I feel physically sick with shock.

But thank you for bringing this to my attention. I would never have found it otherwise. I see who my 'mother' really is now. xxx

cupcakesmakeyouhappy Sun 08-Oct-17 14:29:29

Lostlou - Hi smile it was my post you read. It does help typing it all down. I had lots of lovely helpful messages which made me look at thing differently. The memories can tear you apart but we somehow, have to be strong and find a way to break away from those memories and for me (also for you, it seems) is to distance yourself. Knowing how is difficult. The phone call amd wanting to pop in scenario.... I totally get that. I could never give my parents keys. Change the locks! Or tell them you have lost your key, you need theirs.
I have completely stopped being there emotionally and I have even ignored calls. I'm busy! I know it's difficult if they just turn up. I think, keep being unavailable and change your locks to start. As for the hurt and pain you carry that is something psychological you can get help with. My post helped me so much. I'm bei g so much kinder to myself. I see it as being kind to that lost young child inside me. You deserve so much more. Look after yourself. I always say to myself, they took my past, they're not taking my future. Take care and we are all here if you need to talk, it helps smile

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