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Why do parents deny abuse - and I come back for more?

(74 Posts)
Dojos Sun 21-Jan-18 20:54:18

I can't possibly write down a whole 40 years here! But I am just desperate for some other perspectives - and I can take anything you say.

Middle of 3 children, parents had a pretty rough upbringing. My own can only be described as fraught. My parents marriage was rocky, they're still together tho. Neither of them speak to their own families as they've managed to alienate them all with their harsh tongues or controlling with money. There were a lot of arguments, beating leaving bruises on my and my older brother (but not my younger sibling), emotional abuse, and frankly loving at a very basic level but in a totally screwed up way. I have never felt like I wasn't loved. But its left its mark - I am totally traumatised by some of the beatings. My siblings and I aren't very close as we are constantly pitched against each other and I can't remember a conversation with my parents where they don't spend the whole time slagging each sibling off, ultimately turning us off each other. My brother has pretty much cut my parents off apart from the odd visit with his kids. My sister lives close by to them, forced to by them after they controlled her enough to get her to abandon her life in another city and any boyfriend she's ever had. She is also volatile and aggressive, she beat me on my hen do and at my brothers wedding party, and she slammed my newborn down on the kitchen counter during an argument. I've kept her at arms length ever since, but it is heartbreaking as I don't think she is an awful person either. The one common thread we have? All 3 of us have been groomed to rely on my parents financially. They worked very hard for their money and gave us a great education. But working hard meant a lot of family stress, there was much quality family time. And we weren't allowed friends to the house either. Helping us financially has essentially given them total carte blanche to let their opinions run riot on our marriages, our parenting, what we spend our money on. Some I get of course and I don't know how to express my gratitude. Which I do regularly. But if we don't do as they say, they emotional and verbal abuse is debilitating so it's just been easier to go along with it all.

Mum of 3, great job, extremely low self esteem. I was the quiet middle one, I never stood up to them. I would call my self the glue of the family, peacemaker as I constantly help the other two navigate my parents and calm my parents down when they've done something my parents down agree with. My mum has said I will never be as good a mum as her amongst other delightful put downs and it pretty much caused my first ever depression a couple of years ago. She is narcissism personified - only her feelings will ever count and she is unable to look at another side of a story. Im terrified of being like them, so much so, I can barely discipline my own kids. I have a loving husband who I push away thanks to my parents constantly making out he's a terrible husband and father. I can't list all the examples as to why he is not - but he's just great. And I have let them poison me against him to the point I (very wrongly) don't usually find his opinion valid. My parents have managed to make me think their word is God.

Why its come to a head
My Dad put massive pressure on us to send the kids to private school - we couldn't afford it but he said he would pay until we were on our feet. (I had to take a couple of years out for our special needs child). I worked my ass off to get an MBA (which I funded) and get an awesome job so I could try and get some financial independence and ultimately control back from them. Then two years ago he decided we shouldn't be renting and to find a house to buy, he would give us the deposit. So we looked and found one. Who would say no? In a normal family this would work just fine! Except every single conversation has been an opportunity to call me all the names under the sun. We put an offer in on a house and at the last second my Dad asked for 50% ownership for his 10% deposit.

At this point I just said to myself stop. I realised that he used to control with the fist and my mum with her tongue. But now Im too old for that (not always tho!) they do it with money. If I let them help us with a house - the control and my inner voice which is actually theirs, will never end. So I said thank you but no thank you. I couldn't cope with all the aggressive conversations. We've decided to rent a cheaper place and put the kids in public school. And frankly we will all be just fine. And the RELIEF I felt. I felt so bloody free.

Except they lost the plot. You'd swear I was making my kids homeless. And then they denied being aggressive. So I listed a lot of abusive episodes from my childhood. I told them that my brother and sister have been worried about them looking after my kids as they'd seen them be a bit OTT with discipline and patience. My brother won't leave his kids with them. (Personally I am uncomfortable with their lack of patience and ideas of discipline, but have mostly been impressed at how different they are with my kids than they were to us)

And I thought great, its going to be unpleasant but this is the moment where we can put it all on the table and start healing. BUT THEY DENIED IT ALL. And not only that they have been messaging my husband saying they are worried about my mental health. I sat in a bar with my brother last week and he has denied to them that he's spoken to me recently. My sister says what Ive done is unforgivable. They have all rallied against me, despite my brother and sister saying supportive things privately. I have lost my sister for good, and don't feel like I can trust my brother so much.

Why can't I just walk away?
My Dad is seriously ill and on drugs that alter his personality. Not that that explains the other years. I love him to pieces, but I cannot handle the mind control anymore. Several days silence has caused me so much pain I even vomited with the stress. I am not mentally ill. I haven't made any of my childhood memories up. I have an excellent memory - my whole family knows I do. I have a message from my mum two weeks ago saying she is worried about my Dads aggression - and now she's rallied against me too.

If I cut contact, I make myself ill, and possibly send my Dad to a much earlier grave. So I reached out to yet another abusive message and said its all gone too far but I don't know how to move forward. Their response? To message my husband trying to force the house deposit on him and state yet again they're worried about my mental health. My husband has commented to me he's never seen me so sane smile I cannot believe they are now trying to use him against me too. The sad fact is if they are not financially involved - they literally lose all ammunition for their emotional abuse.

What on earth do I do? Why can't I just live my life the way I want and try and build up some semblance of self esteem and a say in my own life. I can't even bloody cut them off because of the guilt of what I know it would do to them both.

uglyflowers Sun 21-Jan-18 21:01:59

Look, why would you feel guilty? Any sane person would walk away from this shit show. Walk away and don't come back. My family situation is weirdly similar to yours. Money used for control, siblings pitted against each other, abuse all denied etc. I walked away from all of them and it is great. Fuck the money. I owe no one anything and I am free from all that mess. Do it too.

Mrsjellybum Sun 21-Jan-18 21:14:15

That sounds like an earful situation to be in.
Have u had any counselling. Maybe getting things straight in your head about what's happened to you as a child ( and adult for that mater) may stand u in good stead for finally cutting ties with them so u can get on with ur life without feeling guilty

Mrsjellybum Sun 21-Jan-18 21:15:17

* awful not earful

Charismam Sun 21-Jan-18 21:25:14

Well I believe it. You are going in the right direction re=structuring your life, even if it's going to be big changes so that you don't need their money any more. Once you don't need their money then their power over you will be reduced to ....................... pouting. I used to rush in to a tense silence with my hardwired people pleasing but I've learned to ''punish'' pouting by not contacting them.

Apart from the beatings there is similar dynamic in my own family. They encouraged me to need them. every thought, plan, feeling, opinion I ever had, they 'd talk me out of it or tell me ''no you're not sad'' {insert as applicable}. I have also taken more money than I should have from my parents and so they have confused gratitude with obedience over the years. I had a huge row with them both when they joined forces against me to agree with each other in disagreeing with me (a decision taht was mine to make) adn then accused me of a lack of gratitude. Instead of trying to reason with them I got really mad and told them there were going to be hundreds more occasions when I was going to do something that they disapproved of but that did not mean I wasn't grateful. It was difficult to finish that sentence. It took me about 10 attempts to get them to acknowledge that one central message.

So my advice would be to carry on adapting your life to what you can genuinely afford with your own incomes. Don''t people please to fill a silence (if they make their disapproval felt with a sniff and a silence)
Back away instead of trying to please.

Charismam Sun 21-Jan-18 21:30:47

ps, you don't have to cut them off - at the moment it might be more useful to you to ''grey rock'' them.

If you were to announce dramatically that you're cutting them off then you'd be cast as dramatic, exaggerating, callous etc... and while on the one hand you could say what does it matter what they think, you know that it would be excruciating for you to have to deal with them thinking all of that about you.

There'll be a big drama no doubt about you changing the DCs schools but once you don't need that money from them any more and if you are keeping your distance but haven't cut them off completely then 1) they can't go around telling everybody that you've cut them off boo hoo and 2) they'll be a bit confused.

I think my parents even realised, fleetingly, that they had overstepped a boundary in our argument which was about two years ago now. I was so mad at my parents at that time. Their own parents were dead by the time I was 10 so they had nobody to 'model' parenting adult children to them. Neither of them had it modelled to them. So they just carried on in the same gear, getting offended or put out or angry if I didn't instantly accept their advice or do what they thought was the right thing to do.

FellOutOfBed2wice Sun 21-Jan-18 21:31:13

This reminds me of my maternal sixes power dynamic. Lots of narcissism and control via money there. It destroyed my aunts marriage, she’s made very few decisions for herself in 60 odd years. First things first, you recognise it all and that’s good. You’re breaking out of the cycle. Next stop therapy to get it all straight in your own mind. You’re clearly strong. Good luck.

KindDogsTail Sun 21-Jan-18 21:42:54

Good luck. You are thinking clearly.

Dojos Mon 22-Jan-18 13:53:05

Thanks so much ladies. I had beat myself up to the point I was calling myself an ungrateful spoilt brat. (There's my parents inner voice again....)

I have therapy booked tonight and I'm back on sleeping pills.

I feel so let down, the reason I let them in financially is because I genuinely thought it was their emotionally constipated way of 'making amends' for past mistakes. And it was a cold wet slap in the face when the denied any past mistakes and I realized that in fact they are just controlling me as much as a teenager.

For my own well being I just can't cut them off, but how will I ever cope with that first face to face or phone call since this awful shit storm. (I liked that expression). How do I create the barriers I need to keep them from ruining me again.

Bloopbleep Mon 22-Jan-18 14:09:39

I’m so sorry you’ve experienced this. You need to keep your kids away from the toxicity and try to have minimal reliance on your family. I totally understand being made to feel as if you need a parent to help all the time (I came from single parent family) and even in my 40s with kids of my own my mum still tries to control me with emotional blackmail and offers of support that never materialise. I hadn’t even considered that the reason I don’t get on with my brother is that my mum may have created that dynamic and it makes a lot of sense. He takes her point of view about me, plays the victim like she does and is an entitled shit.

I was diagnosed as autistic in my adult years and my mother, not understanding, tried to turn it into a mental health issue (clue: it’s not a mental illness) and often has “concerned” chats with my oh about how I should be medicated. I was far more compliant on antipsychotics (for an illness I didn’t have) and she wants me to return to that place.

Keeping minimal contact (which is a recent thing) has made my life a lot happier. I still get conflicted about not turning to her for support or telling her things about my life but it’s safer for us all not to.

OP I hope you can release yourself and your own family from the toxicity of your parents. In the end who cares what they think? If it doesn’t fit with what you think then it’s unimportant (yes really)
Good luck x

GreenFingersWouldBeHandy Mon 22-Jan-18 14:16:56

she slammed my newborn down on the kitchen counter during an argument. I've kept her at arms length ever since

Fucking hell. Do you actually want her anywhere near your children?

Your entire family sounds fucked up. Glad you are having counselling and hope it helps, but for God's sake stop feeling guilty. Just go NC and set yourself free.

KindDogsTail Mon 22-Jan-18 14:19:15

How do I make barriers [while still staying in contact].

Telephone calls -
if they telephone at a bad time, explain politely you are busy just now and will call back at x o clock.

If you hear an unpleasant tone, or emotional black mail starting, try to get off the subject on to something more general. Then after a few minutes find a polite reason for ending the call, and say you can call back another time.

Visits -
Keep these quite short. If you live a long way away and have to stay then no more than two days. (Have a reason for no longer.)

If you live nearby then stick to an hour or two at the most.

Watch if any if them are drinking alcohol, even just a social amount. My experience is that this can mean nastiness to come.

Try to talk about pleasant things about which you have a genuine mutual interest. try to stay away from the nasty subjects including the latest gang up against x family member. If you are the target, get out quietly as soon as possible, but do not engage.

If necessary say you do not want to do x, or talk about y.

Make sure you do nice things away from them with your own husband and children.

Watch out for any of your own behaviour to your children being the same, (possibly in disguise).

Could you try to do without the sleeping pills? No caffeine after the morning, no screens from the late afternoon onwards, some valerian?

It is such a good idea you are seeing the therapist.

WhiteWalkersWife Mon 22-Jan-18 15:43:17

Walk away, block them and call the police if they come near you or your family. They dont seem to bring you anything positive: they lie, blame manipulate and harm children- this includes your sisters actions.

I would seriously look into speaking to someone about this. How does the father of your assaulted newborn feel about them? Does he support you?

Why cant you cut them off? Your brother perhaps not but the others have assaulted you, theyve failed to protect your children or assaulted them. Quite honestly from the sounds of things even with barriers you need to draw a line. Will you call the police if one beats you up again? If your child or partner is harmed by them?

Lisette40 Mon 22-Jan-18 15:52:14

experienced something similar Op. It's very hard but they walked out in a strop a couple of years back and that's been that. No more control by using anger, no more listing of all they've done for me while abusing me. As someone once said the great joy of adulthood is choosing who to spend your time with. I think my parents were too immature and damaged to be good parents and reluctantly I've had to realise that they are unlikely to change, even though I suggested counselling. Be good to yourself and get clear.

Coyoacan Mon 22-Jan-18 16:25:42

I think you should look into counselling, aimed at helping you put some mental distance between you and them.

springydaffs Mon 22-Jan-18 16:26:00

THEY DENIED IT ALL. And not only that they have been messaging my husband saying they are worried about my mental health

We should set up a club for those of us who have been deemed mentally ill for going against the toxic family script.

Be warned, they will not stop the mental illness moniker. It will go on and on and will never end. Just don't take it personally.

The reasoning goes like this: they are wonderful, actually truly wonderfully marvellous in every possible way. You criticise them, allege they are less than wonderful, and you are by default mad. You must be mad to not see how utterly flawless they are.

Like I said, don't take it personally.

Therapy. Years of. You can't possibly get any release from this without in depth excavation to overturn the poison they have sown into your psyche. It is the very least you need to do. You will never be entirely free of their toxic conditioning but my goodness you will experience much more of the heady freedom you experienced when you pulled out of the house. You need a therapist and in depth training to reboot your psyche. Worth its weight!

(BTW who on earth is prescribing you sleeping tablets?? shock)

Jaxinthebox Mon 22-Jan-18 16:36:00

You need some intense therapy to enable you to cope with your family and learn some strategies to help you deal with their shit.

Im sorry OP, there are many of us who have similar families to yours. I think I have over come the worst of the behaviour and then they do something else. Back to therapy again. It really does help.

Coyoacan Mon 22-Jan-18 19:09:06

We should set up a club for those of us who have been deemed mentally ill for going against the toxic family script


username7979 Mon 22-Jan-18 19:39:19

They rally together and agree to further abuse you. This is scapegoating. No contact or low contact with them and your life and your children's will take a more peaceful turn.
If you want to find like minded people, this thread is about toxic families:

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

Sidelook Mon 22-Jan-18 19:44:50

Please walk away, you have your own family to look after. None of it is your doing but theirs. You don’t need to live with this. The damage that has been done to you needs fixing. And you can only do that now by taking care of you. You have a loving husband at your side which is a massive positive. Don’t entertain negativity that they bring.

Sidelook Mon 22-Jan-18 19:50:51

You go back for more because you have been conditioned to do so. You know no different because this is how you were brought up as a child. You are an adult now, make your own choices. Your sister doing what she did to your newborn is further abuse and cruel.
Of course your parents are going to deny abuse. If they admit what they did it shows them to be weak. And people like that don’t like to admit weakness. They always have to be in control. But not over you, not anymore. It stops and it stops now.

Dojos Mon 22-Jan-18 21:46:30

If only it were so simple. I can't get over the fact that my mums own upbringing was emotionally abusive - she pushes you away and tests you to see if you really love her. Its exhausting. My Dad had an abusive alcoholic father. From the outside you just can't blame them. But how is it I can see cycles need to change but they can't? I spend every living moment questioning my competence as a parent - desperate not to repeat patterns.

I saw the therapist this evening - I feel better. She said to focus on my future with my husband and kids and I know she's right. love my parents to pieces - but it's so toxic it will ruin me. I wish this had kicked off years ago so I don't have to deal with the fact that their final years will be ruined by me.

I genuinely thought you would all say I was being ungrateful - thanks so much for understanding x

Ellie56 Mon 22-Jan-18 21:59:16

You are not ungrateful. You have just been abused appallingly by your parents. You owe them nothing.

Just concentrate on your husband and your kids. Move right away and change your phone numbers. Keep going to therapy and your life will be so much better.

One day at a time. flowers

Lillylollylandy Mon 22-Jan-18 22:12:33

You’re not ruining their final years. They are reaping what they have sown.

Your children, your husband and you are what matter here - this is YOUR future. Not your parents’.

WhiteWalkersWife Tue 23-Jan-18 00:28:58

You are not ungreatful op but think of your dc. Imagine yourself doing the abuse to them that your parents did to you. Would you tell future them that that excuses you? Or is the thought of doing it so horrible?

The truth is sadly op that they chose to be this way. They arent unaware of how they are, they just dont care.

You arent ruining their final years but by focusing on them they are ruining your present. As they have done your past and will continue your future unless you protect it.

If you said to your dh you wanted to go nc what would his response b?

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