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

(984 Posts)
toomuchtooold Wed 28-Nov-18 16:34:23

It's November 2018, 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 - August 2017
August 2017 - December 2017
December 2017 - November 2018

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
The Echo Society
There are also one or two less public offshoots of Stately Homes, PM AttilaTheMeerkat or toomuchtooold for details.

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."

Shepherdspieisminging Wed 28-Nov-18 20:10:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

toomuchtooold Wed 28-Nov-18 22:26:26

How you handle the NC depends, I think. Is she round your cousin's very much, are you going to run into her? Then I would suggest just going "grey rock" (Google it - it's a description for how to be boring and make NOD/psychopaths lose interest in you,), remove her and her crew from your social media (you can do it by unfollowing/filtering them off of stuff if you don't want to unfriend), and don't answer her calls. Just sort of fade away. If you don't make it really obvious that you're going NC, you just make yourself boring and unavailable, she'll likely eventually move on. It also deescalates things, doing it that way - I don't know if she would be likely to get violent, but if that is an issue be very careful.

Regarding Christmas, if they want to see you, you plant a big smile on your face and you say "no" in a way that they can't argue with. "We have plans" or "Thanks for the invite, but no " Don't give explanations, as they can pick apart explanations. Is there anywhere you can go for Christmas? Even(!) if it's just going to church, get you away from there for the day.

Shepherdspieisminging Wed 28-Nov-18 22:38:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ladybee28 Wed 28-Nov-18 22:43:32

Oh, Christmas guilt...

December will mark 18 months NC. DM lives in another country. I have no idea who, if anyone, she's spending it with.

The sadness is approaching and I'm not sure what to do to stave it off...

Seems like my only options are guilt and sadness or refreshed anger. Why can't I find any decent middle ground? When does the acceptance part arrive?

(Doesn't help that I just binge-watched the series Parenthood – top tip: do not watch family-focused shows at this time of year!)

UpstartCrow Wed 28-Nov-18 22:58:51

ladybee28 18 months is too soon to get over it all, and anniversary dates take a bit longer. I find it helps if I have something planned to do during that period.

I've been contacted by a genealogy company who asked me to help them find my mother as she has an inheritance coming.
My families favourite game is 'you're damned if you do and damned if you don't' and I'm back in the game again! She will need the money, she won't want it because of where it comes from, I will get the blame.
I think I did the right thing, she can be an adult and deal with making the choice about what to do with the money.

ladybee28 Wed 28-Nov-18 23:08:00

@UpstartCrow I know you're right. I do have other things to focus on (DP and DSS are getting gloriously SPOILED this year) but she still slips into the back of my head in quiet moments... first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Can you pass the buck with this genealogy company? Give them the contact details of someone else in your family? (Apologies if there is no-one else to pass them on to, I'm not sure of your story)

Napssavelives Thu 29-Nov-18 05:46:08

Also struggling with Christmas guilt. It’s been just over a year since we saw my mother. can I ask how you explain NC to your kids? We rarely saw my mum but occasionally my eldest who is almost 6 has asked curiously when we are going to see her and I don’t know what to say, I’ve managed to avoid the conversation for so long but I know I owe him an explanation. It’s hard, j don’t want to cause him any pain. Contact has been so limited over the last 3 years I didn’t think he’d notice that much, the 4 year old hasn’t. I’m trying to protect him from pain, I’ve moved away , I’ve made sure their lives are nothing like mine was and I want things to be normal for them. I don’t know how to explain this to him.

I feel guilty myself for cutting contact, then my son asks I wonder if I should just suck it up . But the problem is I can’t forgive my mum for what she did. I disclosed sexual abuse to her as a kid and she didn’t believe me, sent me back to my abusers house, kept them in my lives then went onto lie about all of this. She lies and manipulates to make her self look better in all of this. She left us home alone from young ages, was emotionally distant and cold. Very very emotionally abusive to me as a teenager when I began go struggle and told me I had no reason to be stressed. For years I put on an act to keep the peace, I hate conflict. Bit too many times I’d spend time with them and they’d drink too much and arguments would happen. My kids being born was the turning point and I couldn’t comprehend what happened anymore and seeing her was causing me so much anxiety and pain, not just during the visit but before and after. So I did it. I couldn’t keep up the act anymore, but maybe I should have done. Kept contact as low as possible to keep everyone happy. I’m not trying to cause anyone pain, I’m not trying to punish anyone. I’m trying to protect myself and my kids from a not very nice environment. Sorry that was really long .

blackcat86 Thu 29-Nov-18 06:25:33

How would you best support a partner with a toxic family? DHs mother is a martyr, catastrophising everything (every time she's in a car she 'nearly died') and using emotionally charged statements (DD is 3 months and was unsettled with her, really wanting a cuddle from mum and bed so she went on repeating 'Oh I'm just evil grandma' in a whiney voice). FIL isn't the brightest and the whole family has an over respect of war veterans (great to have done military service but it's obsessive). There is continual talk to dead relatives (my father would have been 125yrs old today, I miss him - his DM is 70). DH has BPD, anxiety and depression none of which is ever acknowledged as if it's a big collective secret. It's the same for his cousin with bipolar. DH feels his sister has always had more more practical and financial support. PILs say they are supportive (they tell the story of DDs birth like their own which of course they love because she was really unwell and they can say how upset they are) but don't actually do anything. For example they'll say they help with DD but actually just watch me do everything. DHs other cousin is very dominating despite clearly financially abusing her mother. All we hear about is how wonderful her kids are as well as how great DHs Dsis is for selling poppies - her and her bf are unemployed and I haven't ever actually met her. Weve been together 4yrs, married 1.DH constantly asks them round for dinner or for his dad to help with DIY (despite his dad being terrible at it) yet then inevitably gets annoyed and disappears leaving me to entertain them. I've said I'd support him going nc but he doesn't want to do this. I've tried to encourage him to contact friends to meet up (he declines invites from friends and then invites his parents round) but he doesn't. We're at a point now where I facilitate PILs time with DD as I'm on mat leave so DH isn't seeing them as much but it often ends in them arriving quite late so they can ambush him. Any ideas as I'm at a loss. I did wonder if it was a golden child scape goat scenario but then surely they'd love to use DHs MH to beat him over the head with? I appreciate he probably feels obligated to invite them round lots but then he clearly doesn't enjoy it. Help!

Hisaishi Thu 29-Nov-18 06:32:29

I'm still in contact with my parents and seeing them at Christmas. They have chilled (a bit) as they have aged, but it's still so hard to forgive them for all the emotional pain.

What is bothering me today is looking around and realising how few friends I have. Part of the reason is that my parents always encouraged me to look at other people as stupid/a waste of time/beneath us. It has been very hard to try to undo 18 years of indoctrination from them. Meeting people is hard, trusting them is almost impossible.

When I hear other people talk about how busy Christmas/new year is, I feel really sad, I have people I meet for coffee occasionally but not more than that.

Hope those of you who are struggling at this time of year are coping today.

SpareBedroom Thu 29-Nov-18 07:54:12

LadyBee I’ve been NC 6 months and I struggle with the guilt too.

The problem for me is that I am quite good at putting up a wall against my emotions (I had to learn to do it, as a child), so I am able to put a wall up against the guilt too, but I don’t want to do that because part of the point of going NC was so that I could feel more ‘myself’ and kind of complete and whole and able to access those emotions freely. However, when I do, the guilt comes back and I feel terrible about the NC. A counsellor would probably suggest I ‘sit’ with the guilt and just let it pass, but that’s really hard to do without it overwhelming me and feeling I have to capitulate. It’s a catch-22.

I have found it helps to mentally divide my M into two people. There’s my mum, and there’s X (I use her real name but obviously I can’t put it here). My mum is the person I’d have liked her to be (and actually she was that person some of the time - she’s maybe 20% mum at the most?). X is her real persona, the one with the narcissistic traits who has given me good cause to go NC. Basically, Mum deserves my guilt; X doesn’t.

Explaining it like that to myself helps keep the guilt proportionate, so I don’t have to block it and it doesn’t overwhelm me.

ladybee28 Thu 29-Nov-18 08:08:44

@Napssavelives: it's tough, isn't it? My mother was NC with HER mother for much of my childhood and told me way too much about why. But at the same time, you need to be honest with your kids.

Keeping it age-appropriate, I think you can explain some of your NC, just making 100% sure that there's no way your DS can worry that it's his fault.

If you're NC partly to protect your kids from your mum when she drinks, for example, you can frame it around safety: explain to him that Grandma drinks alcohol that's not good for her and changes how she acts, and when she acts that way she's not safe to be around. You've decided not to see Grandma for a while to make sure DS is safe.

Or, "Grandma did and said a lot of things that hurt me very much when I was little. I want to make sure you're safe from that kind of behaviour, so we're not going to see her for a while."

Keep it true, and keep it short. You'll do great - sending hugs.

ladybee28 Thu 29-Nov-18 08:21:27

@SpareBedroom The problem for me is that I am quite good at putting up a wall against my emotions (I had to learn to do it, as a child), so I am able to put a wall up against the guilt too

Oh, how I hear you on that one!

I like the idea of the 2 'personas' you've described. Thing is, I don't remember so much of my childhood with her that I don't trust my percentages - how much she was great and how much awful. My background worry is that I've blown it out of proportion and I'm 'punishing' her (as she says) unfairly.

And that just breaks my heart.

My mother is like a tornado - unpredictable and powerful and funny and awe-inspiringly beautiful in a lot of ways, and whatever she's feeling fills an entire house. But she's also about 4 years old on the inside, too. Incredibly naive and fragile and scared, and everyone automatically wants to pull her in and protect her. Until she changes again, and then she drains all the energy of everyone around her and explodes in huge torrents of emotion...

She did a phenomenal job of raising me, in so many ways that I'm endlessly grateful for. But she was also incredibly scary and unpredictable.

I never knew who I was getting into the car with at the end of the school day (I learned to be able to smell it within about a second and a half and I can still read the energy in a room within my first breath). Would we be singing at the tops of our voices with the windows down, with 20 tubs of ice cream in the back? Or would she sit in stony, lip-curled silence for half the journey and then slam on the brakes and scream and hurl herself against the steering wheel? Would she cry in silence the whole way home, or would she be chattering excitedly about her latest project?

There were so many versions of my mother, and she denied so many of them (5 seconds after the fact, 5 years after...) that I don't trust myself to judge. I'm just going off something a therapist said to me, which was: "If everything had been fine, you wouldn't be wondering."

And that's probably true. I just wonder if I've wondered too much.

Napssavelives Thu 29-Nov-18 08:34:54

I’m NC to protect them from the at times toxic environment, she has poor boundaries . Also protecting them my protecting myself, seeing her has such a bad impact on my mental health and they need me to be well to be be my best self to look after them. Is that selfish?

Storminateacup1 Thu 29-Nov-18 08:59:29

Hi all, I’m so sorry that so many of you have toxic parents, I’m glad you’ve found others to help you through it here.
I was recommended to come onto here by a fellow poster after I started a thread about starting the NC journey.

I won’t bore anybody with the details, as I tend to waffle, but it’s on the other thread if you want to know why we’re starting this journey.

My F is currently being ridiculous, and asking for trivial things back (like lightbulbs) which they’ve given to me before, and other things like gifts they gave to us years ago.
It’s their usual trick after an argument, try and get things back so we feel like we’re missing out on things by not talking to them.
I don’t think they understand that this really is it, that’s probably my fault though, I’m constantly being guilted back into the fold each time by my F after my M has had another fit of rage.

They were supposed to be coming here for Christmas, along with my sister, but I don’t want to unblock their numbers for long enough for them to ‘get’ that they’re obviously uninvited. If I did that I know I’d have a barrage of abuse awaiting me.
Knowing them they’ll try and turn up on Christmas Day and we’ll have to ignore them.

Any advice at all on how to deal with this? I know deep down I need to suck it up and let them know they’re not welcome but I don’t want to talk to them full stop.

SpareBedroom Thu 29-Nov-18 09:36:31

ladybee I completely get how you feel about not being able to work out what those proportions are. I don’t know how much of what I ‘feel’ is what my M taught me to feel. My M is a master at getting me to take on the shame she should actually be dealing with herself - counselling helped me realise that. The adult me can see that she’s doing it in the present. I have extrapolated backwards and assumed that that was how she behaved in the past, too, because logically it ‘fits’ the complicated emotions I have, but I can’t prove it categorically, because like you I don’t remember well enough.

It’s really tough, isn’t it. I think what your therapist said about the wondering is worth hanging on to, though.

Can I just say as well that your M sounds a complete nightmare. The very fact that you had to ‘read’ your M’s unpredictability and react accordingly is enough on its own - it doesn’t matter whether she was subsequently ‘nice’ mum or ‘mad/nasty’ mum. The fact is, it should have been her responding to the unpredictability of you, the child, not the other way around. You were having to be the adult while she was allowed to be a child - that’s all wrong.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 29-Nov-18 09:37:40

Hi Storm,

How is your father managing to contact you about returning lightbulbs of all things?. It sounds like he also needs to be blocked here because he is your mother's enabler and hatchet man (so not a nice man at all really). He has also failed you abjectly as a parent here, quite apart from your mother. He must not manage to guilt you back into their dysfunctional fold again. I presume as well that your sister is the favoured sibling (although such roles are interchangeable).

What is your role here in your family of origin?. Your reference to her rages made me think of narcissism; narcissistic rage is quite a frightening thing to behold. Female narcissists cannot do relationships at all so the men in their lives are either discarded or are as narcissistic as they are.

Do not let these people in at Christmas under any circumstances.

Hisaishi Thu 29-Nov-18 09:45:03

Ladybee, my mum is similar except she is not awe-inspiring or amazing - she is basically a bitter, nasty, lonely woman who judges everyone as beneath her.

But the moods! Exactly the same. Will she be lovely and kind and buy me magazines and chocolates today? Or will I get yelled at for existing? Or completely ignored?

I can be a bit moody myself and I am terrified my daughter will say the same about me when she's older. But I try so hard and I never ignore her or yell at her. I hope my moods don't fill the house like my mother's do.

Even now, 3000 miles away from my mother, I can feel her personality bleeding into me. It's like I don't know where I end and she begins. She has no boundaries.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 29-Nov-18 09:45:13

Oh goodness, I have read more about your parents Storm and your mother is her own disordered of thinking horror and alcoholic to boot. Your dad has basically enabled her throughout. Your life at home was never stable.

No contact is the way forward here; ignore any attempts such people make to contact you. Block them all and seek real life support for your own self from Al-anon and NACOA (particularly them as they help adults too).

Its not your fault they are the ways they are; you did not make them that way.

Storminateacup1 Thu 29-Nov-18 09:57:47

Hi Atilla,

Thanks for the reply. DH didn’t block my F’s number, it was all quite sudden for him, and so my F sent a range of texts to him.
DH didn’t tell me at first, but I got the gist when he started collecting random bits from around the house.
I’ve blocked them both, along with my sister, though I let her know why and that I will get back in touch in the future. She didn’t seem phased.

My F was abusive when I was a child/teenager, physically at times, though hasn’t done anything since I was 14/15. My M always uses this as a ‘remember when I protected you from F when...?’ And I absolutely have no idea what she’s talking about. There was no protection at any point, she just claims I’m wrong and imaging things as I like to ‘play the victim’.
He’s a large man and very intimidating at times, and he had one of those demeanours where you feel you’re always in the wrong.

My sister could be described as the favourite I suppose, mainly as she lives with them, is very subservient and doesn’t have to pay a penny to live there.
The only real bone of contention is that she is a lesbian and they say she’s ‘confused’ and ‘sick’.
We’ve had many falling outs over their disgusting behaviour, and how they treat her, but she just gets in with it and doesn’t bother challenging them.

When it comes to my role, I suppose I’m the sensible and reliable one. Any issues? Storm will sort it! Need to vent? Storm will sort it! Got so drunk you can’t stand, and your partner is shouting abuse at you down the phone and won’t come and pick you up? Storm will take you in!
So, doormat I guess.

Her rages are definitely legendary, the entire family has faced her wrath before.
I honestly don’t know why they talk to her anymore, she’s spiteful and awful.
Just the other day she was calling my auntie selfish and ‘a bitch’, in her own house no less, for not wanting to buy a house with her to renovate and flip. She’s ridiculous.

I know I shouldn’t let them in, and don’t want to, but then they’ll be able to tell everyone I ruined their Christmas.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 29-Nov-18 13:24:22

Your DH has now hopefully blocked your Dad from further contacting him. They weren't going to get anywhere with you easily and that is why they contacted him in the first place. He was far easier to manipulate as well. I take it as a given that your DH has come from an emotionally healthy family as well. It may serve him well to read "Toxic Inlaws" by Susan Forward, you could read "Toxic Parents" by this author as a starting point.

Let these people say what they want; such people like your parents really do have no friends and there is good reason why. What they utter is just hot air.

Do not let them into your home at any time of the years let alone Christmas. Work out your boundaries here and stick to them like glue.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 29-Nov-18 13:29:00

Hi Napssavelives

re your comment:-

"I’m NC to protect them from the at times toxic environment, she has poor boundaries . Also protecting them my protecting myself, seeing her has such a bad impact on my mental health and they need me to be well to be be my best self to look after them. Is that selfish?"

Not a bit of it.

Dysfunctional family stuff can and does go down the generations but it looks like its all going to stop with you because you have not treated your children in the ways you were treated as a child. Unfortunately for you, and that is a gross understatement, your mother simply repeated the same old dysfunctional pattern with you rather than seek the necessary help.

SingingLily Thu 29-Nov-18 16:25:16


That could so easily be my mother you are describing. As for making friends, well I can chat to anyone quite easily but as soon as they show interest in developing a friendship - a real friendship, requiring trust and emotional investment on each side - I close off and run a mile. When you've spent your childhood being invisible and your adult years actively trying to make yourself invisible, it's hard to make that leap, isn't it? So I understand what you are saying.

But hold on to the fact that you try so hard to be different with your own daughter, never ignoring or yelling at her. You are doing everything you can to make her feel loved and she will know that.

Hisaishi Fri 30-Nov-18 06:09:17

lily yes, exactly the same as me, sooo hard for me to keep friends, I realised I have very surface level friendships recently and it's hard. But opening up...UGH.

My father just does/says nothing. We have no relationship (people always ask me if my parents live apart when I say this - nope! He very much lives in the same house as my mother - he just isn't part of family life on any level. I read recently that Japanese fathers spend 40 minutes a day with their kids on average. This was relayed as a sad and telling fact about how much they have to work. For me, 40 minutes with my dad per day would have been a huge improvement. Every time my husband spends time with my daughter, I'm amazed.)

Louby6 Fri 30-Nov-18 07:01:57

I have a situation that has caused so much pain and still tears it’s ugly head from time to time. I’ve never written it out before so I hope it makes sense. I have two beautiful daughters, both in their early 20’s now but when they were 6 and 8 my husband and I separated and he took our daughters for a weekend in another town to stay with my older sister and her family. While they were there , her older daughter of 12 took them down stairs and tampered with them. We had no idea until they broke down several months later and confided in me. They were both extremely upset but scared of the older cousin so went along with it. I rang my ex husband and told him what my girls had told me and he was very upset as well . We got in touch with my sister and she became furious and claimed I was mentally un well and had made it all up. I took my girls to our Dr and then to a councilor and there was no way they or I had made anything up. Since then we haven’t been welcome at any family gathering, my parents would have Christmas with my other siblings and grandchildren then come to me on Boxing Day. My girls lost out on aunts, uncles and cousins , and my niece responsible having denied it all just carried on happily. I have had years sitting in the bath room crying on Christmas Day knowing they were all together. My father found it all very distasteful so opted to brush it all under the rug and my mother who I am close to went along with my father as it was the easiest option. I have since re married but feel very sad that even now our little family is very isolated.

toomuchtooold Fri 30-Nov-18 08:42:23

Louby I don't know all that much about your sort of situation - there's others on here that can advise better - but I do know that sexual abuse tends to run alongside other sorts of abuse and a sort of culture of fear and putting appearances ahead of protecting the vulnerable people in the family. At the very least, your mother and father and your sister were happier to cover it up than confront it - imagine this hadn't even happened to your kids but to someone else's, how much would you have wanted your children to have contact with people who would brush something like that under the carpet? Could you see it as a lucky escape?
Do you have other siblings who you're in contact with - are there relationships to be fostered there? It is hard, specially at this time of year, it would be nice to have just a nice normal uncomplicated family.

I heard something really interesting on Radio 4 yesterday. They were talking to the son of this woman who, along with her daughter, was killed by her estranged husband. They never came to the attention of the authorities because the husband was never physically violent, but instead used coercive control to scare the shit out of his family and keep them in line. The son's description of his upbringing was very familiar to me. You can listen to it here hopefully if the link works, otherwise it's yesterday's Radio 4 World at One - the interview starts at 26.11.

Louby6 Fri 30-Nov-18 09:22:08

Thank you so much for taking the time to think this through and to reply. We have felt beyond hurt over the years at the lack of belief and support from family, we tried so hard to sort it out but were faced with poisonous emails, letters and phone calls. My sister had me jumping through hoops to prove it happened . My Dr told me it would have been easier if it was a neighbors kid as we would have discussed it and moved forward but unfortunately with family there is no moving forward and we were seen as trouble makers. There was no concern for how my girls were effected or for their innocence that was lost. Yes I do have two other siblings but am only close to one of them. The other two are very close and holiday etc together. There are so many more details here but we genuinely have been left on the outer for years and years. The biggest hurt besides not believing my daughters is loosing the extended family to share special times with and to form bonds with cousins etc. my girls have never done anything to deserve this.

NoraButty Fri 30-Nov-18 18:16:33

Thank you for the new thread.

@Tara336 About the wedding stuff. It sort of helped in our situation as we'd both (OH & me) said we'd like to get married but neither of us fancied a wedding, for 101 reasons - funnily enough not one of those at the time was because of my parents.

Can't believe yours booked a massage! Wow! That is some stunt to pull.

I expect mine would have caused a fuss in some way, been late, said I looked fat/ugly, sneered etc. She's more covert and passive aggressive than an out and out scene causer. Very good at twisting things to play the victim/martyr etc.

I hope you find a solution. I was with my OH for over 10 years before we got wed but I feel closer to him now than I ever have. It's like I officially feel loved for the first time ever.

NoraButty Fri 30-Nov-18 18:36:38

Please can I have some advice?

I'm in a quandary. I last saw my parents the week after our wedding, my mum pouted, sneered and never asked how it went etc. My OH was there too (unusual as he's normally at work) and he saw for himself how she totally ignored the wedding. I was due to see them (as per usual pattern) the week after but I cried off citing being busy at work.

It's been about 6 weeks since i've seen them, my mum sent me a text message a few weeks later (she never normally texts) saying they were going on holiday and hoped to see us before Christmas. I didn't reply, I blocked her number, and my dads and their home phone. They won't think this is unusual as they have never contacted me by text or phone for over 2 years so may just assume I have changed numbers.

They're due back next week and their only way of contact is through my dad's FB messenger. I haven't blocked him (yet). Or they could call round but this is unlikely unless I ignore any contact on messenger.

What do I say when they contact me? They have no idea that I don't want to see them anymore. I feel they will assume that they can carry on with us meeting once a week as for them nothing has changed.

I have never mentioned the hurt they have caused over ignoring/being moody about the wedding. I'm pretty sure they will expect me to just suck this up as this is what I usually do.

I was thinking if my dad asks to meet of just saying 'No, I don't want to'. and then if he pushes to reiterate that I don't want to and then block him from being able to pester. But I wonder if I should give more substance, e.g. I don't feel like meeting up with you because i'm very upset for the way you treated me etc.

Everything i've read says to resist getting into a conversation about the whys and wherefores but it's in me to explain myself. I feel like such a coward for not saying what is on my mind.

Can someone please point me in the right direction.

NoraButty Fri 30-Nov-18 18:56:57

@Louby6 I haven't been through what you have but I have some experience as someone close to me, his father was arrested for under age porn. The family of the father rallied round and minimised and brushed it all away whereas the mother was left dealing with the emotions of the child.

It's not good at all, ideally the father should have been shunned and the child given priority by everyone concerned but it just didn't happen. It was as though the extended family wanted to minimise their own shame as they did not want to face up to how they somehow might have been responsible. It's selfish selfish behaviour, simply refusing to look in that mirror.

What I can say is that the mother took every single step possible to protect that child and now that child is a grown up and is doing very well. They're well balanced, has excellent boundaries, knows they are loved and cared for, has a bright future and no apparent underlying issues.

I hope I don't speak out of turn when I say this, I mean it from a good place and from seeing things unfold over many years. It's not fair at all that your girls have missed out on what could have been, but that could have been wasn't real. What they have is real. And if that is being believed and loved and nurtured and protected by their mother then they have many riches. You really don't need a big family to feel loved, you just need to feel loved.

Louby6 Fri 30-Nov-18 20:25:23

I have read your reply and cried, you are so right and I had never thought of it like that. I have two beautiful, strong, capable girls who are both successful in their chosen fields . We are very close and I couldn’t be prouder of them. I need to stop mourning for what could have been . With all the hatred I’ve received from my siblings and the stress and pain they have caused, we are well rid of them. My father passed away 5 years ago and that was the last time we had to see them. I visit my mother once a month as she is three hours away and we never discuss the rest of the family, except my brother. I’ll alway feel angry that my parents never stepped up at the time and helped in anyway, especially as it was their granddaughters that had been effected. It’s something my girls will always carry but hopefully have healed from.

SpareBedroom Fri 30-Nov-18 20:31:59

Hi Nora.

The short answer is that I think there is no good way of going NC. Unless you’re really lucky, it will be messy. But I definitely wouldn’t try to explain - it won’t help and will only give further ammunition. I got a lot of kickback from the rest of the family (on behalf of my M) because I wouldn’t explain, but I stuck to my guns because I just knew my M would use any explanation against me.

I went NC in June. I kind of slipped into it following a straw/camel’s back-type thing. I didn’t announce it, and to start with I think my M thought she was ignoring me (she used to do that if I stepped out of line (her line, not mine, that is). I just blocked her everywhere as you have done and kind of hoped for the best really. I was angry enough at the time to just do it like that.

After a while I had to tell other members of the family that I no longer wanted to see her, because it all started to affect everyone else, including our 19 year old daughter, whom she was persistently contacting by text and telling the rest of the family she had ‘the right’ to see. Telling the rest of the family that we’d fallen out prompted a level-headed aunt to point out to my M that pestering our daughter would make things worse rather than better. Also I felt that getting the situation out in the open would prevent my M from exploiting it by saying one thing to one relative and something different to someone else. And I did send one final text telling her we didn’t want any birthday or Christmas presents, because she started pestering DH about his birthday and I didn’t think it was fair for him to have to say it on our behalf, but I blocked her again immediately after sending the text.

I thought I could just quietly sidle away from the relationship but I couldn’t. There are ripples that go on for some time - flying monkeys, scenarios you haven’t planned for, people that don’t know yet who wade in and say things you have to respond to, illnesses in the family that throw everything out of balance etc. I think the ripples might go on indefinitely actually, although I’m hoping they’ll get further apart.

Good luck. Just do what your heart is telling you is the right thing for you, and muddle through on the rest, because you can’t really plan it, much as you’d like to. X

NK1cf53daaX127805d4fd5 Sat 01-Dec-18 04:00:31

Sorry so many people have toxic parents. The penny has finally dropped with me that I don't particularly like either of my parents.

Growing up I was the difficult child. I'm the eldest but apparently I was a whingey baby and demanding child. My siblings were a dream according to my mother. When I was younger I was very much a Daddy's girl and he always comforted me and we were close. This changed in adulthood and then he sustained a brain injury and doesn't really communicate with me at all.

Some examples of my mother:
1. My DP has been with me 17yrs and says he has never heard her compliment me
2. Myself and DP went through a very bad patch this yr (early days but there are improvements). I mentioned to her there'd been violence in the past and she said 'it can't have been that bad or you'd never have left him with the kids'
3. DD was being assessed during the yr and she second guessed and undermined my action. Denied the diagnosis and minimised whilst all the professionals were saying how well I'd done recognising it at a young age as it's quite a subtle disability
4. Doesn't like any of my (wonderful) friends My single friends are selfish, my gay friends are selfish, my married with kids friends are too relaxed at parenting
5. Corners me every 6 months to tell me I've lost my spark and I'm not the person I used to be. Uses it as an opportunity to tell me I'm missing out on my kids, have a terrible system at home etc.
6. Manipulates the kids into saying negative things about me, such as phone usage. Also does this in front of my Dad which further alienates him from me as his thinking is so rigid. He stopped talking to me for 4 months this yr because I was thinking of splitting from H. He said it was attention seeking.
7. Has opinions on everything down to how many washes I should put on per day, to how I don't have time to iron (I like ironing).
8. Compares me unfavourably to my sister who is like her mini me. Me and my sister get on but my sister can't see or won't see how she treats me

Just a few examples but what do you even call this. I've never felt good enough. I used to feel loved but now I don't even feel liked by either of them. When I try to pull away from her it's like she seeks me out and trys to draw me back in. Two days ago she mentioned the spark thing and said a few nasty things, then yesterday she wanted to go for lunch. I never know which mother I'm getting.

Has anyone any tips?

toomuchtooold Sat 01-Dec-18 07:06:46

NK you're the scapegoat in the family. "Can't see or won't see" is a great description of how it is for your sister - as the golden child she's probably bought into your mum's messed up worldview without really realising how messed up it is - the one advantage of being the scapegoat is that you're far more likely to eventually see the dysfunction for what it is.
I would suspect your mother pulls you back in because she's used to having you there as the scapegoat, and if you aren't around then who is going to take the blame for any negative feelings she has? She might once have to take responsibility for her own feelings, and that would be painful for her. My advice if you want to stay in contact is to keep her on an information diet, tell her as little about your life as you can. Stick to boring, easy subjects like the weather and the TV. Being around you will be less satisfying and that may make her more grumpy and hard to get along with but she'll have less to attack you with and she might also want to see you less, which would be an advantage I guess? It might be possible to keep your relationship ticking over on a sort of politely pleasant basis. I don't have any advice for actually improving or deepening the relationship - I think with most dysfunctional parents it's not going to work because honestly, if they would be like that with a little 4 or 5 year old, there's no way they're going to start being loving towards us as adults. Just my (jaded) opinion.
With your dad, I do wonder (you'll know better) whether things might improve if you had a way of seeing him without your mother? She's triangulating between you, controlling the flow of information, so he's getting a wrong view of you. I don't know whether that would be possible.

Louby I would second everything Norabutty said - that was beautifully put. Painful as it is to realise this stuff about your family, I hope you are helped by the pride you should feel for how you protected your daughters and put them and their feelings front and centre in your life.

NK1cf53daaX127805d4fd5 Sat 01-Dec-18 07:48:33

Thanks Toomuch for replying and for the great advice. Of course I've pulled back before and see usually accuses me of acting horrible towards her or being ungrateful. But this time I need to stay strong and do what's right for me.

Notwhoyouthink35 Sat 01-Dec-18 08:41:08

Hi everyone

I think I come from a toxic family and I think I was the ‘scapegoat’ child. I am continuously told that this is not the case though and I am in fact the child who got more than the others. Been NC with mother for 6 years. I’m going to list some things that my mother has done and can you let me know what you think.

- Growing up, nothing was ever an accident in our house, it was always somebody’s fault. I was frequently told to look after younger siblings but warned that ‘if anything happened to them it would be my fault’. Once my younger brother hurt his hand out playing. I was so scared of getting the blame that I lied and said another boy had hurt him. This caused a big argument as my mother went to the boys door. Another time I was sewing and lost the needle. Mother told me that I had lost it on purpose so my younger siblings would be stabbed by it, followed by it will travel to their heart and kill them.

- Has continuously told me throughout my life that I am different/difficult/demanding etc.

- I had a expensive hobby that my other siblings did not have. The cost was continuously spoken about and brought up to me as an adult all the time. Particularly when I have accused her of being abusive. How could she have possibly been abusive when I got all that money! (It wasn’t that much, think £15 pw maximum and she isn’t poor)

- I was moved out the family home at 17 into a council flat. Mother then told me I should ‘let nature take its course’ and get pregnant (long term boyfriend). I did inevitably become pregnant.

- Relationship with said boyfriend was abusive. He hit me several times. Once when I went to her house crying (still very young at this stage) she said ‘well I know how annoying you can be’ still welcomed said boyfriend into house etc and often took his side if we argued.

- I was allowed much more freedom than siblings (I’m not the oldest) and pretty much done what I wanted from age 15. Used to come home at 3/4am and nobody bothered.

- Mother had absolutely no interest at all in our education. I was badly behaved at school despite being pretty clever. When I left school at 16 she offered no guidance or help in finding a college placement/job etc. Really didn’t care what I done.

- Has done many manipulative things which has caused arguments between myself and my siblings and then plays the victim.

- Has sat crying when she is unwell (with flu/cold etc) when I told her that she should get a grip and that some children have to cope with cancer treatment made a big song and dance about it saying I was uncaring and horrible to her.

- Has said that I think I am better than everyone else in the family because I have a degree and good job.

- When we fell out 6 years ago she done something quite horrible but I do think I had an over reaction to it. She has made no effort to make up with me. However, when she has argued with siblings she will go to their house crying and apologising. I should add that I was extremely nasty (perhaps truthful) during the argument which my siblings wouldn’t do.

I should also add, that she has helped me in the past too. For example she did help me get on the property ladder (has done the same for siblings). Helped with childcare. I sometimes wonder if I am the problem. Is it me who is difficult?

NK1cf53daaX127805d4fd5 Sat 01-Dec-18 08:48:47

Hi Notwho

I'm no expert but some of what you are saying sounds so similar to me and you do sound like the scapegoat. My mother has labelled me the family drama queen so even if I slightly disagree with someone or something it reinforces what they already think. It's tough being labelled as demanding isn't it?

Mine has helped me on the property ladder too and is generous but she is so cold and lacking in empathy. She is a lovely grandmother and very affectionate to my kids but I have noticed she has less patience with mine than her other grandkids and labels them immature etc

Hisaishi Sat 01-Dec-18 08:50:34

notwho sounds like my mother. I have deliberately never taken money from her from the age of about 16 because I know it will be held against me forever and ever. I will NEVER allow her to be alone with my daughter. When faced with women/girls, she is vicious.

I'm 'difficult', 'stroppy', 'a nightmare' etc. Been called all those things since age 5 or 6. Think I'm 'better than everyone else'. No guidance in terms of education/jobs/hobbies etc.

I definitely hear you.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 01-Dec-18 09:03:36


re your comment:-

"I sometimes wonder if I am the problem. Is it me who is difficult?"

No on both counts. Its not you, its your mother. Its not your fault your mother is like this, you did not make her this way. Her own family of origin did that. The difficult and or insensitive charges are often lobbed by toxic parents at their children when both are not true. The children are merely the scapegoats for all their inherent ills.

Your own abusive and dysfunctional childhood played a huge part in you winding up with an abusive boyfriend in your teens.

You do not mention your dad at all; is he at all present in your life now?.

Such people can and do help with material things like for instance childcare and getting onto the property ladder; however, such people use money to further control their victims. They also use such to load fear, obligation and guilt onto them too. As for childcare I am glad she is no longer used; such disordered of thinking people often do great harm to their grandchildren by continuing the toxic dynamic. A good rule of thumb generally is that if the person is too toxic/difficult/batshit for you to deal with, its the same deal for the kids also.

No wonder you have been NC with her for 6 years, that needs to continue. I personally think your reaction to your mother six years ago was completely justified given the circumstances that you grew up in. I hope you continue to remain free of your mother's (and any of her associated flying monkeys) malign influences.

Notwhoyouthink35 Sat 01-Dec-18 09:05:09

Hisai - My mother has a thing about girls/woman too. Always said that ‘boys are easier’ I have never taken a penny from her since I was about 20 because it gets dragged up continuously.

NK - It is horrible being told you are difficult/demanding/nasty/overreacting. I genuinely wonder if I am. I mean deep down I think I am the ‘normal’ one but it does play on my mind.

I’m glad to hear that both your parents have ‘helped’ you too. Because I’ve been told continuously about how ‘lucky’ I am I did wonder if I was just ungrateful.

Pickledpickles Sat 01-Dec-18 09:05:48

Hi everyone, I'm new to the thread.

Ugh, Christmas guilt. I'm NC with my sister, brother, auntie, cousins and associated in laws. My dad was a functioning alcoholic and I was the family scapegoat. Mum is the only one I have contact with and we are very close despite everything. I truly believe she was misguided and tried to keep everyone happy and couldn't see how much damage was being done to me in the process. I was 38 when I decided that I'd had enough of my siblings being utter bastards. I was always too much yet never enough. They are much older than me and jealous of my opportunities (uni) and close relationship with mum. They all saw my mum as the victim and me as the problem. That's hard to deal with when you're a child. They continued well into my adulthood and I finally saw the light and mentally told them to fuck off. My mum is really upset with me about it but I've explained that my mental health is so much better now and that I'm not missing anything positive, and am actually free of the negativity. She argues that my children are missing out on relationships with cousins, aunts, uncles etc but I see it as protecting them from judgemental and nasty people who hate their mother. They send presents for the children but I'd rather they didn't to be honest. I got enough grief for telling them not to send me birthday cards any more. Seemed pointless when I just throw them straight in the bin.
My mum has a special birthday coming up and a family friend has said about a big family meal but there's no way that's possible. I'll be the bad guy though for not agreeing to it. I've organised things in the past for my parents then been moaned at for the choice of restaurant with people complaining they didn't like that type of food even though I went there with my parents frequently. I was even accused of organising one event for selfish reasons! I'll just organise something special for mum with my children and the others can do something else. They don't bother much with mum anyway, but complain that I do. Can't win.

My Christmas will be so much nicer without their negativity. I really hope they don't send cards.

Notwhoyouthink35 Sat 01-Dec-18 09:16:05

Att - I don’t know my dad and have never met him. Mother left him when I was a baby. She actually told me that he came looking for us, but she got my step-dad to warn him off (she is actually proud of this).

Step-Dad has actually never really treated me differently. I mean he’s not been a hands on Dad with his own kids either, just not really interested in us but provided and worked hard. He has distanced himself from me since I went NC with mother. Still speaks but he is dry.

Mother does still see my kids although as they have got older they have recognised her strange ways. For example she told my 15 year old that I shouldn’t be allowing him to get the bus home from school (safe city, busy bus route around 5pm) yet I was out and about on my own until whatever time I decided to come home at that age! She always slips my children £10/£20 when they go to see her, I think this is to sort of buy them into coming back.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 01-Dec-18 09:16:17


re your comment:-
"Mine has helped me on the property ladder too and is generous but she is so cold and lacking in empathy. She is a lovely grandmother and very affectionate to my kids but I have noticed she has less patience with mine than her other grandkids and labels them immature etc"

Lacking in empathy is a huge red flag and is indicative of narcissism.
People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles and yours is scapegoat. She is patently not a lovely grandmother to your kids but like many adult children of narcissists continue to believe in that work of fiction (you've been well trained). They tend to want to believe that their parent will somehow behave better with their kids even though there is direct evidence to the contrary.

She is simply doing to your kids a variation of what she did to you; like many narcissists she is scapegoating them, labelling them as immature and favouring her other grandchildren. It does not even have to be verbal to harm, a look of disdain, a pinch is enough and all this is happening in front of your very eyes. You probably remind her in a lot of ways of your dad; a man who she herself despises even now. He has also failed you abjectly by throwing you under the bus repeatedly to protect his own self from her. He remains her hatchet man here and women like your mother always but always need a willing enabler to help them. He certainly cannot be at all relied upon.
Your sister here is a copy of your mother and the golden child, itself a role not without price. However, she is as yet unaware of the price to be paid.

Again money has been used to further control you; it was not and never given to you for any altruistic reasons.

You all need to stay well away from your parents; do not let her keep on pulling back into her dysfunctional world and worldview. This is what she wants but you need to drop the rope she keeps on holding out to you.

As for improving the relationship, forget it. It won't happen because it is not possible to have a relationship with a narcissist. You will eventually have to grieve for the relationship you should have had rather than the one you actually got. Again, its not your fault she is the ways she is.

Would also suggest you read the website entitled daughters of narcissistic mothers.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 01-Dec-18 09:24:33


Sorry to read about your biological father, a man whom your mother likely also despises even to this very day. As for your stepfather, it seems that he and your mother are very similar and are very much two peas in a pod. He has continued to side with her at your expense to protect his own self, he is truly a weak man and a bystander.

re your comment:-
"Mother does still see my kids although as they have got older they have recognised her strange ways. For example she told my 15 year old that I shouldn’t be allowing him to get the bus home from school (safe city, busy bus route around 5pm) yet I was out and about on my own until whatever time I decided to come home at that age! She always slips my children £10/£20 when they go to see her, I think this is to sort of buy them into coming back."

It indeed is so I would keep your kids well away from your mother.
Your teen is 15 and mature in some ways but they are not fully wise to her manipulative ways. Do not minimise what she does here by saying her strange ways. They are also being manipulated here by your mother and its likely being done in front of you as well. I presume they keep the money which is understandable but it should be handed back. Money is used by narcissists to further control their targets.

Babdoc Sat 01-Dec-18 09:50:36

Nora, you say that you would like the chance to explain your reasons to your parents for going nc, but don’t want to create an opening for them to argue or pursue more contact.
I suggest you write them a letter, detailing all the abuse and all the hurt you felt. This may be cathartic in itself, and you may find you don’t need to actually post it.
But if you need them to read it, so you can obtain closure, then go ahead and post it.
The great thing about posted letters is that you aren’t exposed to their reply, in the way you are on the phone or social media messenger services. You can simply make your statement and withdraw.
I did this with my toxic parents and never saw them again. It was incredibly helpful to at last put down on paper all the pain and anger that I’d carried for 30 years.

blackfadder Sat 01-Dec-18 11:13:44

Question-how do you deal with the aggressive flying monkeys?!
Have been NC for a few months, much better.
However have been contacted with other family.
Emotionally I'm detached from all of them now in order to maintain a stable head space.
I don't want relationships with any of them.
There is a lot of acknowledgement of the person's abuse, but they either accept it as normal for the person, or hope it will change. Neither are true and they are angry at me for keeping away.
If I engage with them the person will start again on the abuse. So I am not seeing or contacting any of them.
Yesterday got an aggressive 'don't be falling out with us, we've not done anything wrong' and can see that this will be more hostility towards me.
Bar moving away (not feasible) how do you deal with this?
I will never make contact again, with any of them.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 01-Dec-18 11:37:09


Refuse to react.

Recognize their manipulation and attempt at FOG (Fear, Obligation, and Guilt), and do not engage with them.

The mere fact that they’ve taken this intervening action means that they have little interest in anything you have to say, and have allowed themselves to be totally influenced and manipulated by the narc abuser.

These flying monkeys are not interested in hearing your side of things so they need to be ignored completely. Once they’ve had their say, you can point out that they’ve obviously come to their own ideas and conclusions without ever talking with you alone and getting your side of the story, so their opinions are invalid, and you have no interest in anything they have to say. End of discussion.

Block all their means of contacting you on any platform. If you can’t remove yourself physically from the narcissist and their Flying Monkey brigade, then at the very least, you can remove yourself emotionally.

A good example of this would be the concept of the “empty suit" in Aikido: that you are an empty vessel, and merely use the opponent’s energy to win the fight. Tire them out, and then walk away.
In fact, walking away is ultimately the best technique you can possibly have to remove both the narcissist and their monkey minions from your life, permanently.

It can be incredibly difficult and painful to do this, especially if the Flying Monkeys are family members or woven closely into your social life, but you have to take care of yourself by whatever means are necessary.

blackfadder Sat 01-Dec-18 12:24:49

Attila thank you.
I feel no FOG. Just a desire to be left alone.
There is 1 member I will miss but tbh its not worth the shit and not sure i can trust them anyway.
Narc member gets in touch every 2 months or so.
I think if I can get through 1st xmas, easter, summer etc then their memories of me will fade and i will blend into significance.
Dont think confrontation will work with flying monkeys just escalate narc situation.
You are right, empty suit.
They are accepting of narc, i have more insight as not blood related, from the outside the further i move away the more toxic the situation looks.
Thank you.

SingingLily Sat 01-Dec-18 12:30:59

I'm having a bit of a wobble. It's all those Christmas ads with happy families caring and sharing. They seem to be non-stop although that's probably just me being over-sensitive. This is my first NC Christmas and 90% of me is relieved but the other 10%, the bit fermenting away at the back of my mind, keeps bubbling up.

Over the last year or so, I had been limiting contact with M - difficult to do as F has advanced prostate cancer and depended on me to be his carer. I blame her for the cancer's progression, by the way. She told him for months not to be such a wimp when he told her how much pain he was in. Her view is that doctors know nothing and sheer willpower is all that's needed to cure serious illness. She's such an expert in everything.

When F finally felt ill enough and miserable enough to admit to me he was in pain, I scooped him up immediately and took him to the GP. Diagnosis and treatment quickly followed - thank God for the NHS - but by then, the cancer had already spread. I'd already helped my DH to deal with aggressive cancer/chemo a few years earlier and understood what was ahead so I supported F throughout, taking him to all his appointments and treatments and trying to keep his spirits up. M never came with us and - this might sound strange - during those long days waiting around at the hospital, F and I had real quality time together. We talked about all sorts of things and became very close. The normal tension - having to hide our thoughts and walk on eggshells - just wasn't there.

However when M realised that F and I were getting close and therefore she was beginning to lose some of her control over him, she began a long and calculated campaign to cut me off from him. He was reduced to whispering to me whenever he thought she was out of earshot, asking me to stand up to her on his behalf. I did my best. Truly. But in standing up to M in order to protect my sick father, I'd committed the cardinal sin and when her inevitable meltdown came - nuclear level, this time - F did what he has always done. He sided with her. He denied the truth and left me exposed. He had needed me to defy her on his behalf but couldn't admit it and so it meant the total bucket of vitriol was emptied over my head. M actually accused me of trying to kill F "by lying to the doctor about how much pain he is in. The painkillers are too strong. He is being over-drugged". She kept trying to stop him from following the hospital's advice and although I turned myself inside-out in order to stay calm and try to reason with her, the constant battle against her ignorance and obstinacy wore me down. The strain on my health, both physical and mental, began to tell and it was driving my DH nuts. He and DSis tried to intervene with M and got a special bucket of vitriol for their troubles.

Three months ago, my parents moved to a sheltered, warden-assisted flat. M's decision, of course. My elderly and barely mobile father is meant to wait on her, you see, not the other way around. Now that it is quite clear that his days of being useful are over (and I won't run round after her), she has secured a warden service. Poor warden.

M rebuffed all my offers to help them with their move (apart from handing me a large bag of mixed items to dispose of for her. When I went through it later to separate anything for recycling, I found some badly stained bedding shoved in at the bottom. Sums it all up really. It was clearly all I was fit for).

The day before the move, I collected F to take him to the surgery for his next cancer treatment and unusually, M came too. She practically shimmered with resentment in the back of the car so I knew she was gearing up for another meltdown but she held it all in until I dropped them back home. That's when she shrieked at me to "go and never come back". I was clearly no longer useful, not even as a taxi service. F got hold of both my hands, with tears in his eyes, and pleaded with me to stay, and I wavered, but M shrieked more vitriol at me so I just said, very calmly, "This isn't working. If we are going to re-open old wounds, which have never really healed by the way, then there's no point. I'll go. Good luck with the move tomorrow". And I walked out.

Since then, there have been two dramatic attempts to draw me back, including M's alleged collapse in the street, but I haven't responded to either. Recently, middle sister rang DSis to say that M flatly denies telling me to go and never come back. Oh, and F backed M up. As usual. DSis lost it and told middle sister a few painful truths to explain exactly why she believes me and how it is precisely the sort of thing M does say when she gives way to her inner toddler.

I don't ever want to see my mother again. Ever. There, I've said it. And if that makes me a bad daughter, all I can say is that a lifetime of being a good and dutiful daughter hasn't made one iota of difference to my mother. She sees me only as "useful" or "not useful". And yes, it hurt to realise that but it's the truth. M doesn't love me, has never loved me and is probably incapable of loving me (or indeed, anyone). F might possibly love me but not enough to shield me from her. Even when I was a child and needed protection, he failed me.

F has spent the whole of their marriage enabling her. In fact, he idolises her. "Your mother is a wonderful woman" he says. And in return for his devotion, she belittles him openly, saying "Poor thing, he can't help it, you know, he can't help being useless", speaking about him as though he can't hear her even when he's actually sitting next to her. She actually hisses "shush" at him repeatedly whenever he tries to speak. Sometimes he rolls his eyes behind her back but that's the nearest he ever gets to standing up to her. His life must be hell 24/7 but then I remind myself that it's his choice to live like that and that he inflicted a few cruelties of his own on me and on my DSis along the way, so my sympathy evaporates. They deserve each other. But I don't.

Finished ranting now. So sorry about the long post but I can't tell you how good it feels to finally let it all out. I feel I can breathe again now.

WillNeverLetYouBreakMe Sat 01-Dec-18 12:42:21


I am new to this thread. Can anyone tell me what my issue is and how I can be better.

My mother has always been cold and lacks empathy. I have so many examples from my childhood which are full of isolation and unavailability. I was the bad one, the difficult child, the selfish one, the unstable one. I was always full of rage, my mother was so controlling and overbearing that when I would rage, she would make me look like I was an ungrateful and disobedient daughter. My siblings could do no wrong and when they did, it was because they learnt bad behaviour from me. I tried so hard to reach out to my mother. I wrote letters explaining my feelings as a teenager. She humiliated me and told me how disappointed in me she was instead. That was the last time I expressed any vulnerability. After that, I just raged. I am now in my late thirties, I have gorgeous DC and I am a mess. Itell my DC I love them everyday, I overcompensated for my loss in childhood by being loving with my DC. Now, all of a sudden, I am becoming distant and detached from my DC. Why?????? I am horrified. I get upset so quickly, I am being what my mother was. I cannot deal with this.

I cannot shake my anger at how I should have been raised with love. I was a nobody to my mother. She accepted all the glory from my achievements and left me full of shame for any minor transgressions. It was always about her, her happiness, her sadness. I was left to cope with bereavements, turbulence all alone. Even then she would take digs at me.

I cannot do that to my children. Yet, I am seeing signs of becoming that. Please help me. My DC is are all still little, so hopefully haven’t noticed yet as I mask it, but they will notice soon if i don’t change, because my earliest memory of my mother being detached is from age 5 and oldest DC will be 5 soon.

Please help me.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 01-Dec-18 13:03:01


Have you had any therapy to deal with your childhood at the hands of your narcissistic and otherwise disordered of thinking mother?. I would seriously consider finding a therapist you can work with and a person at that who has NO familial bias about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment.

It is NOT your fault that your mother is the ways she is; you did not make her that way. She simply made you her scapegoat for all her inherent ills.

You do not mention your dad in all this, is he still around?. You probably in some ways remind her of him, a person whom she herself despises.

People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles; your sibling was favoured whilst you were and remain scapegoated. I think that what you are feeling is pretty much normal but remember you are your own person here and not an extension of her. Now your eldest is coming to the age in which you were first aware of ill treatment it all comes to the fore. Deal with your own fear, obligation and guilt here re this person through therapy. You won't become like your mother because you do not and never would treat them in the abusive ways that you were yourself treated. You also have two qualities that your mother absolutely lacks; empathy and insight. You will need to grieve for the relationship that you should have had (and anger is part of the grief process) rather than the one you actually got.

I hope you have absolutely nothing to do with your mother these days. You owe this person precisely nothing. If you have any contact lower this with immediate effect and make yourself far less available to her.

Notwhoyouthink35 Sat 01-Dec-18 13:24:11

Do any of you guys get really emotional when someone does something nice/sweet for you? I think I’ve spent my whole life having to fight for everything and having simple things made difficult that I feel shocked when someone makes my life easier in even a small way.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 01-Dec-18 13:26:00


You are right; your parents do deserve each other and both are locked in a destructive dance of codependency. Your father has really acted as her hatchet man throughout your life and he cannot be at all relied upon either. He (like my late FIL) was both a bystander and a weak willed individual who doted on his wife whilst she looked at him with an expression akin to hate. They both get what they want out of their ultimately destructive relationship and his comment re his idolising her does not surprise me one bit. Its typical of such men.

You are likely not going to get through to this person. Their entire identity may be wrapped up in "helping" the narcissist and they are in just as much emotional danger as the narcissist if this pattern does not continue. They are probably enmeshed with the narcissist, which means interpersonal boundaries are so poor that they cannot tell where the narcissist begins and they end. They may get defend the narcissist, get angry, or simply deny everything (FIL denied everything). We often hear, "I'm doing the best I can!" or "It's not me, it's the narcissist!"

As for the ads take no notice. They are selling a fantasy PC based ideal really and its not akin to my life or in all likelihood many other people's for that matter. Its all done to make money and I am not surprised that everyone is welcome in Tescos, of course they are if they spend cash!. Even the people I know who have emotionally healthy families are run off their feet and also dislike this time of year.

Enjoy your no contact Christmas this year.

These are both narcissistic statements in and of themselves, spoken by people who don't really want to take responsibility for the things they are doing or change them. And you already know what that means. It means it's pointless to even bother.
No contact is still and always will be the best strategy for dealing with narcissists and with their enablers. Again, narcissism cannot exist in a vacuum. There are always enablers. When identified, they should be subject to the same rules as the narcissist. If that's no contact, then it is. It's sad that this can result in going no contact with people you love, but they are not protecting you and are in fact enabling the narcissist to abuse you and others, so it's up to you whether you think you deserve better or not.

WillNeverLetYouBreakMe Sat 01-Dec-18 14:02:18

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I am on a therapy waiting list. It was for anxiety and now my whole existence is dawning upon me and I need it more urgently. Will see if I can get seen sooner.

It feels like a revelation that my childhood was not normal. I was made to believe that I had a great upbringing and any bad bits were of my own making. My lovely daddy passed away when I was young (hence still refer to him as daddy). He was amazing and loving and warm. I remember my mother also making his life a misery with constant criticisms. I still feel traumatised by his passing. He loved me and smiled lots.

I was not physically mistreated by my mother. I wasn’t the cinderella of the family either. My mother also helped me financially which makes me feel bad too. I just wish she was a warm loving mum. I know she loves me, she just has very unfunny way of showing it.

NotWhoYouThink35, I too feel overwhelmed and a bit awkward when someone pays me a compliment. I am not very good at receiving them and I am also quick to criticize - a trait I have that I do not like.

NK1cf53daaX127805d4fd5 Sat 01-Dec-18 14:28:33

Notwho - I've been told I was selfish and ungrateful since I was old enough to remember

NK1cf53daaX127805d4fd5 Sat 01-Dec-18 14:41:31

Attila - the lacking in empathy is something I find really hard to deal with. In one way she helps out so many people but if it doesn't suit her the empathy is non existent

SingingLily Sat 01-Dec-18 16:37:43

Thank you, Attila, thank you! You are so right but I think I needed to hear that. After the initial period of feeling so low and upset, I'd started to feel nothing at all and it worried me. I couldn't work out whether it was because I'd become so desensitised over the years that I felt nothing or whether I was more like M than I could bear to admit. So the sudden wave of anger was unexpected and kind of knocked me sideways.

Calmer now. Still angry, but at least I feel something again, so that's got to be healthy.

M is what she is and she won't change. F is the same. I realise that. However, I've changed and I'm not going back.

I hope, Attila, that you too enjoy your Christmas. wine smile

Notwhoyouthink35 Sat 01-Dec-18 17:14:28

My siblings all think we had a fantastic childhood with a loving mother (they were treated differently I suppose). I do think she loved us and I don’t think she necessarily means to do the stuff she has done.

All my siblings think I am the difficult one too. One (the golden child) doesn’t talk to me, for the horrible way I have allegedly treated Mother. Ironically she caused the main fall out between us, by getting me to fire her bullets. Then she went apologising for what I had said, when she told me to say it!!

NoraButty Sat 01-Dec-18 17:42:59

Thanks Spare and Babdoc Thank you for your advice. I've thought long and hard and I think i'll just try and stick to 'I don't want to' and see how that goes. I do feel like I owe an explanation but I suspect that might be because of my conditioning. My mum has always needed/wanted to know all my thought processes, I now have a habit of over explaining myself. If i'm going to stop doing that I may as well jump in and start with the end of level boss.

I don't need to worry about any of my family getting involved, i've not seen any of them for hmmm maybe 5 years, that was for a funeral, and before that it'll have been another 5 years. We've not fallen out but everything goes through my mum so none of us are close. We don't know each other's phone numbers or have each others emails or anything.

I mentioned to my OH that I was scared of them causing a scene and he thinks nah, surely if you say you're not wanting to see someone they won't try and make you. I didn't try and explain, I actually found it comforting that if they do cause a scene that he's the one with the 'what's normal' compass in the right place to be able to judge if they're being reasonable or completely batshit. I don't trust myself to be able to do that.

Attila I love your take on Christmas ads, so true.

NK1cf53daaX127805d4fd5 I'm not sure if you can relate, my mum shows no empathy at all to me, or to most other people. She does show some, or appears to have done anyway, to a few people over the years that she seems to feel sorry for. But, what seems to happen is gets over-involved, listens to their woes, integrates herself into their life, tells them what to do and then after X amount of time she starts bitching about them behind their backs and eventually washes her hands of them, she shuts off, it's like she's as cold as ice. She either bemoans that they never listened to her 'advice' or that they only talked about themselves and never asked how she was or complimented her.

I often wondered if she showed 'empathy' to these people because she considered them pitiful or beneath her, as that's how her 'caring' always came across. Whatever her reasons, it was never unconditional, she always always always falls out with people and the reason is always that she doesn't get the attention that she feels she is owed/deserves.

Milliy Sun 02-Dec-18 00:56:17

Naps As you have moved away can you tell your eldest that they live far away. This may do for now.
You are doing this to protect your children from having the same experience you did. If she didnt protect you from sexual abuse then why would you want her having anything to do with your children. There is nothing wrong with going no contact especially if it helps you . Feeling anxious and suffering negative mental health around her is bad for you. I know its hard but you have to look after yourself and your children and if she is toxic, which she is, then dont feel bad or guilty.

Pickledpickles Sun 02-Dec-18 08:49:48

Yesterday mum told me that my nephew and nieces don't acknowledge cards from me because I don't talk to my sister. When asked about it I said my sister was a bitch so mum says the same could be said about me and that we both have our faults. This is the sister who is 15 years older than me, blamed me for my mums heart attack many years ago, a car crash when I was a child and at school when the accident happened and who I was told would have a miscarriage because of my behaviour. I was a severely depressed and anxious child shouldering my parents marital problems and being told to how my dad's alcoholism. I wasn't bad or naughty. I was lost and am probably on the spectrum. The same sister then told me my much wanted but unplanned unborn baby was a mistake and that if I changed I'd be welcomed back into the family. This was what both she and my brother wanted. I declined. I've not spoken to them since except when necessary. My other sibling has not met my ds. He doesn't need people like that in his life. His own dad didn't want him and has only seen him once in nearly 4 years.

I realised a while back that my history of really relationships with men is down to the fact I was always told no one would ever want me as I am and that I'd be lucky to find someone to tolerate me. So I've hopped from abusive relationship to abusive relationship. Now that I've had that epiphany I've decided to stay single. I can't trust my judgement. I have very few friends as tend to choose toxic ones so I've trimmed my social circle right down as a protective measure.

Families really fuck you up don't they.

JohnCRaven Sun 02-Dec-18 21:02:41

I'm struggling with my family and Christmas and I'd really appreciate some perspective from people who've been there.

I'm the selfish one apparently. It was certainly the case when I was a child/teenager because I did always want things my own way. I learnt the error of my ways when I met DH 14 years ago but their version of me hasn't been updated. I was told I was selfish for suggesting we (DH + 2DCs under 5) stay Boxing Day night at my parents as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (we live 1 hr 15 minutes away siblings are within 20 mins). Apparently I was monopolising my parents time. But I asked my mum if they had any plans and she said no. I asked her if she'd like us to stay an extra night and she said yes. Then I hear on the WhatsApp grapevine that I'm selfish taking up all her time over Christmas.

Except Christmas Eve we're all at my DSis for an afternoon party so the whole family is together (I have 3 siblings with 8 kids) so am I monopolising that night? And Christmas Day all siblings have refused to visit my DPs new house on Christmas Day because they 'dared' to sell the family home a few years ago so to my siblings Christmas is dead if it's not in the house we grew up in. So I go every other year (DHs DPs other year) and they go to a sibling the other year. Boxing Day they do what they like but as they said they had no plans I thought spending more time with my DCs would be nice. Apparently that's 'monopolising' their time.

Fast forward to this year. Unexpectedly DH's DP's split up this year. FIL is with OW and MIL would be due to spend it with us. They've sold their family home so it would be at her pokey rental flat or our cramped house. Not much of a Christmas but we'll make the best of it.

FIL feeling very guilty has paid for DH, DCs, me and MIL to go to Eurodisney between Christmas and New year. Much better Christmas.

Apparently I'm now selfish for not spending time with my DPs over Christmas!! I've offered to go for the night and squeeze in around their plans and it's begrudgingly accepted but it's been made clear we need to clear off the next day.

I literally can't do right for doing wrong. I've spent the year supporting my MIL through an unexpectedly shit time. But I'm 'neglecting' my DM despite having 0 time to myself. I've cut back on my hours, volunteering and other stuff to make more time for DH, DCs and MIL and still reducing my commitments to find spare time for DM.

DM didn't have a good year with a minor heart attack which I dropped everything for and have regularly asked after her health. But as scapegoat child nothing I do is good enough and my siblings see her more so I'm black sheep as well!

My siblings had a virtual go at me (virtual as it was via WhatsApp) about some of my life choices (which are absolutely none of their business and don't affect them in the slightest) which my DM refused to stick up for me about. All I wanted her to say was 'leave her alone her choices don't affect you' but she wouldn't. DF goes along with everything for an easy life but privately said it was out of order and my choices are nobody's business but mine.

I'm dreading the Christmas Eve event because essentially I'm going to be ripped apart for everything this year. DCs are looking forwards to seeing their cousins and not going would be a severing for ever. It wouldn't be forgiven across the board.

I want to stop caring what they think.
I want to have some witty retorts when they criticise my life.
I want to be happy with my choices irregardless of whether they approve or not.

I could do with your perspective on how to make those possible. Thank you flowers

toomuchtooold Sun 02-Dec-18 21:30:47

JohnCRaven I'm sure Captain Awkward has some good scripts for awkward family get togethers, I'll try to dig one out tomorrow.
It's hard - I get that you don't want to care but you'll feel what you feel, and being upset that your family are unkind is perfectly normal. We all have the sorts of families where you feel like meeting them is more like a test of strength than a happy get together.
Regarding the Christmas arrangements, I wonder if you could maybe see the humour in the fact that you probably made your mother very happy by giving her something to complain about? As the scapegoat your job is to be in the wrong, if you're doing everything they want, they'll get fed up, as they'll have nothing to blame their own negative feelings on...

How do you want things to be next year? It sounds like you have spent a lot of time and effort on the people around you this year - maybe the new year would be a good time to refocus and think, who deserves your care next year?

JohnCRaven Sun 02-Dec-18 21:56:58

maybe see the humour in the fact that you probably made your mother very happy by giving her something to complain about?

Oh you are wonderful! You're absolutely right! I joke that my mum is never so happy as when she's moaning. I will indeed comfort myself with that.

I agree with refocusing. DC goes to school next year so want to spend quality time before then.

pineappleplanner Thu 06-Dec-18 09:11:52

Hello all I thought I’d come in and wave, reading through this thread and others has certainly made me feel I should.

I’ve recently cut my mother off about two months ago. I have had one call since from her which I ignored and a couple of incidents of her trying to turn up at places she’ll know I’ll be but not to see me to see my dd.
I’m trying to be strong as my dad is very ill but has enabled my mother to the extent that I cannot continue to pretend I have any desire to see either of them anymore. My dad will definitely tell the whole family how disgusted he is with me for not caring and my m will make sure the whole family turn against me saying I’m an awful dd after all they’ve done for me, a line that seems to come about every time the threat of me finally doing anything about the way they treat me occurs.

Since cutting my m off I feel better tbh. Every time I tried to explain to other family members it’s not me they’d say things like oh but when you were a child blah blah blah. I’m in my 30’s it’s no longer relevant aunty maud. My m also tells everyone in my family of my most recent ‘awfulness’ to continually update them with me being the sole cause for anything bad in the family. If I ever pulled my m up on any of it she had excuse after excuse. I asked her why she’s not bought me a birthday present in the last 7 years but literally buys every Tom Dick and Harry one and goes all out for my siblings, she told me she doesn’t know me well enough to know what to get me so it’s better to not get anything. She goes nc with me a week before birthday/Mother’s Day/Christmas to avoid admitting they’ve all left me out of any celebrations for it. I normally find out via fb or people telling me.

She paints herself in public as a ‘lovely lady’ very few people believe me when I say how she really is. Indeed my own best friend is struggling to believe me and that hurts so much.

My m had started to brainwash my young dd against me and that’s led me to walk away. I’m so tired of trying to build a non existent relationship the one I envy others who have it. The loving mother. I am now going to focus on coming to terms with this and raise my dd to know I am there for her and love my family.

Hisaishi Thu 06-Dec-18 09:25:56

Hello, just checking in. Hope everyone is doing ok.

I'm thinking about starting therapy again after Christmas, it's quite hard as I'm not in the UK so it's really expensive (150 pounds for the cheapest one I could find, wtf!) but I found someone who does online for a bit less so I might go with her.

I've been feeling extremely low the past couple of weeks. I don't know why, run up to Christmas maybe, or something else, I don't know.

I've actually made some progress the last few days - played piano, cooked decent food every night, had people round for dinner, did some training with my dog - but I feel constantly like everything might fall apart at any moment.

I've been trying hard to keep in touch with old friends as well as making new ones (we've been abroad for 10 years, staying at least another 5), but's so hard. I reach out to people and then retreat. I'm so scared of them rejecting me that I reject them first.

I got an email from my mum today and even though it's really innocuous and there's nothing bad in there, it still touched a nerve and made me feel all jittery and off.

Recovering from a bad childhood is so difficult.

Milliy Thu 06-Dec-18 11:39:43

Pineapple feeling as though your Mother is trying to play you off against your daughter is a horrible feeling. You also don't want her to grow up subjected to the same emotional abuse you have suffered. It's often when when we have our own children that we become more aware of our parents behaviours. With regard to you friend, I find it's best to not discuss my family with other people. They don't know how your parents are with you. They aren't there and therefor only see the public version that your parents want the world to see.

Milliy Thu 06-Dec-18 11:43:06

Hisaishi bad childhoods leave a horrible legacy. I get you feeling disturbed by any email from your Mother. I'm the same. What about Skyping therapy with someone in UK off the BACP website? May be cheaper if it works.

pineappleplanner Thu 06-Dec-18 12:25:16

Thanks @Milliy you’re right re my friend.My m has played too many games with me. I think after I had my dd I realised I was being bullied and my m wasn’t the person who everyone else seemed to be able to go to for help and comfort etc. I could never treat my dd the way I am treated by my m.

Milliy Thu 06-Dec-18 12:32:34

Pianapple My Mother was like this. Always being lovely and helpful with my friends but treating me like I wasn't important. Friends said how lovely she was and how lucky I was. This confused me growing up and I thought it was me who was bad and I tried harder to be the daughter she would approve of. Didn't work. I'm an only child and grew up with no family other than them.

Hisaishi Thu 06-Dec-18 13:10:36

Milliy Yes, I'm also thinking about doing that. As I live in Asia, I do also think it might help to have someone who knows the culture here because definitely some stuff here contributes to my feeling of not being well these days. Also, the time difference is awful. But yes, someone in the UK may also work better. I may give several people a go.

My mother was the same as yours. My friends often say how lovely my mum is, it's really annoying (especially as several of them willingly spend LOADS of time with their parents.)

Milliy Thu 06-Dec-18 15:04:57

Hisaishi smile

toomuchtooold Thu 06-Dec-18 16:40:02

Hisaishi I did therapy via Skype with a UK based therapist - happy to give you her details if you want, just PM me. Appreciate what you mean about wanting someone who understands the culture you live in though - I also live abroad, and what I find particularly hard is that I get quite anxious when I can't immediately read someone's emotions or if a social interaction doesn't go 100% right, and of course that happens the whole time when you're outside your home culture.

avocadoincident Sun 09-Dec-18 09:48:38

I'm new to posting on this thread but have lurked for a while wanting to get involved. Is there anyone on here who's mother is alone. I've had 6 years of NC but we are a small family, I'm an only child and my mum is many times divorced and she also doesn't speak to any of her fMily, in fact

avocadoincident Sun 09-Dec-18 09:55:13

(Posted too soon)

So anyway, I was saying she doesn't speak to any of her family and was NC with her own mother.

I can echo the other posters here saying it's worse with the run up to Christmas as the guilt of knowing she's alone heightens all the other emotions.

Whilst I'm here I may as well get it all out,since going NC, I've got married and had a second baby which she knows nothing about and the stress of that can be unbearable. We live about an hour away from each other so bumping into her isn't a massive concern but is possible if we both happened to be in our nearest shopping town.

My first child is now an adult and has some contact with my mum,so she's in an awful position of not necessarily lying about the baby but by not mentioning her new sibling, the stress on her is awful too

Milliy Sun 09-Dec-18 11:51:19

Avocado my Mother is alone and recently widowed. She lives on another continent. Yes I feel the "guilts" and it's hard. I'm very minimal contact. Your situation is not easy is it. An hour away is not a lot. It must be hard on your eldest, being the keeper of secrets. Does this cause trouble between you and your child? Can I ask why you are no contact with your Mother?

avocadoincident Sun 09-Dec-18 12:34:18

My eldest and I are close and open. She has witnessed my mother's behaviour so many times and been on the receiving end of it herself. Bless her, she offered to tell my mum about the baby if I wanted her to but I would never put her in that position.

The reason we are NC...where do I start? She was lovely (I think) when I was very little and also close to my daughter when she was very young but as soon as anyone gets a mind of her own she doesn't like it. She's manipulative, lies, and thrives on arguments. She does not have any stable relationships with anyone. She will not take any responsibility for any argument. She never respected me when I was a parent to my own daughter, often over riding me and doing her own thing.
There are many examples I could give but so many I have blocked out.

I paid for counselling last year and it helped a lot. The counsellor said it sounded as if my mother has borderline personality disorder. That helped to know but then I think k should I be supporting her through her mental health problems.

She has never tried to see me or contact me during 6 years. I would never allow that to happen with my own children.

Milliy Sun 09-Dec-18 18:09:48

Avocado. my Mother and Father went to another country and didn't try and see me for over 25 years. They turned up when one was ill. I brought up my children without them in my life as I didn't know where they were but I was very happy to do so. I didn't want their toxic behaviour focused on my children.

Milliy Sun 09-Dec-18 19:41:00

Avocado counselling helped me too. Just because your mother has a personality disorder doesn't mean it's your responsibility to support her. She won't ever see that she needs to work on herself as she thinks she's always right. The guilt is hard but accept you feel guilty as an emotion but learn to step back from the feeling and not act. Let it go smile

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 09-Dec-18 21:09:35


You cannot act as a rescuer or saviour in any relationship.

It is not your fault your mother is the ways she is and you did not make her that way, her own family did that. Guilt is truly a useless emotion in your case and you are not responsible for your mother.

What forms of contact take place between your mother and your daughter. Has your daughter considered lowering contact levels?
I would read up on narcissistic personality disorder with regards to your mother and see how much of that fits in with your own experience of her.

avocadoincident Sun 09-Dec-18 21:57:53

Well I'm really glad I posted here. Everyone has been really helpful. I think I'll just reread your comments over and over to keep me focused. Normally I don't think of it at all but Christmas is a test, it's both our birthdays this month too and I often feel sad that she's getting older alone and I wonder who will do the practical elements of her care as she ages.
Funnily enough I never feel sad on my own birthday that she's not been in touch yet like I said earlier I wouldn't dream of allowing a situation to keep me from my own children. That's what I can't get over really, the fact she can just walk away and stay away.

avocadoincident Sun 09-Dec-18 22:02:38

@AttilaTheMeerkat there is sporadic text contact between my mum and daughter. Clusters of messages and then nothing for months and months. During contact periods they may meet for lunch but it's as little as twice a year. But still it's like a bomb waiting to go off. I feel it's inevitable that my mum will find out about the baby and my eldest will take the brunt of it. She says she's ok with that but already the guilt is obvious

Milliy Mon 10-Dec-18 00:10:23

If your daughter continues this contact I hope she won't feel guilty and beholden to your mother and feel that she needs to attend to her in older age. It's hard isn't it. It is hard to deal with the guilt. I'm trying very hard to not feel responsible because I'm not.

Lizzie48 Tue 11-Dec-18 17:32:02


She was lovely (I think) when I was very little and also close to my daughter when she was very young but as soon as anyone gets a mind of her own she doesn't like it.

Yes this is familiar to me as my abusive father was like this. He could be a very fun daddy with us, and would often play with us. But when we started to have our own opinions about things, he hated it! We were never allowed to disagree with him. (He was an ardent Tory, and that was the only right way to vote according to him.)

I do think looking back that he was a narcissist. He was made that way by his family history and through bad things happening to his family during World War II, and he wasn't a well man in later years, with Parkinson's Disease. So we always made excuses for him.

But a lifetime of walking on eggshells and always having to tow the line is exhausting and it's very emotionally damaging.

My DM used to walk on eggshells as well. She taught us that the person wronged in an argument should make the first move to put it right, be the one to make a cup of tea. So wrongs weren't addressed, they were buried under the carpet, as it wasn't right to hold grudges. It sounded very noble and I bought it for many years, but it's resulted in a lifetime of hurts that weren't dealt with.

I only now understand how wrong that was.

Thankfully for me, I don't have to even think about contact with my F, as he's dead. (There was SA involved as well in any case, so it definitely wouldn't be happening!). It's more complicated with my DM, as she means well, but she doesn't like talking about anything unpleasant, she just gets upset, which is hard work.

Wrybread Thu 13-Dec-18 14:01:40

Ack. Dm phoned me yesterday. I only answered because my sister has been ill and I was worried something had gone wrong.


She wanted me to meet up with them so I could reconcile with them. And that means that as well as my dad bring willing to apologise. I would have to apologise.

Except they have rewritten what really happened to a version full of lies where I caused all the problems. Rather than the actual version where F behaved badly and I left.

And they forgot about the abusive and manipulative emails they also sent....I didn't mention that though.

Mum said how she wants to see us over Christmas. I said she was welcome to take the dc out. But she insisted that we all needed to come together.

I made the mistake of trying to explain why I can't do that, naming some specific things F had done over many years.

DM firstly tried to say maybe F has dementia.

Then that the things I mentioned didn't happen.

Then she tried religious coercion.

And that's when I got angry.

I told her that she was trying religious coercion and that she was being that really didn't go well, and she kept saying the same religious coercive things. And I ended up shouting at her that she was abusive and I wouldn't let her use religious coercion on me.

My dh heard must of the phone call and he agrees that she was being manipulative and abusive. It was good he was there because I'm so used to second guessing myself and minimising their behaviour.

I don't even know what I think or feel about it, today.

I can't believe that I actually named the behaviour. I wish I could have done it calmly. But I'm so anxious when I'm on the phone or face to face with either of them. It feels like I can only dare to say it like that. So she'll probably explain it away as me being hysterical etc.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 13-Dec-18 14:14:21


Did she call you on your landline; I would get caller id for your landline if you do not already have it. I would block her number anyway and prevent all means of her contacting you going forward.

I do not blame you at all for acting as you did, anyone would have done the same. You cannot reason at all with the unreasonable. But you need to protect yourself more going forward.

Would suggest too that you do not let your parents anywhere near your children. If your parents are too toxic/difficult/abusive for you to deal with, its the same deal for your kids also. Do not inflict them on your children. Toxic parents turn out to be toxic grandparents more often than not and use the kids to get back at the parents.

Wrybread Thu 13-Dec-18 14:42:05

It was on my mobile.

My siblings and my F all have ill health, so I've not blocked their (DM and F) numbers in case of emergencies. But I'm starting to think that I need to. Or just to ignore phone calls and then they can always text in an emergency?

DM has always been very good with my dc and they miss her. It's very sad.

She did actually say during the phone call (when talking about us all needing to be there with them) something along the lines of me needing to be there too and not wanting to say something that might upset the dc if they ask why I'm not there. Grr!

I told her that the dc already know that there's a problem at the moment.

But I did feel like she was almost threatening to say something not nice if I wasn't there too.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel bad for reacting like that towards them. I would love to be calm and reasonable. I actually did manage it until the last bit of the phone call.

But she really refuses to understand that I don't feel that emotionally safe around F.

And she has completely wiped out from her memory, some stunningly bad behaviour by my dad. She even told me that the one thing she did remember, happened in a completely different time and place.

It didn't.

I get flashbacks. I know exactly where I was when it happened.

But my F is a headworker. He's probably worked on her memory of it.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 13-Dec-18 15:02:49


I would in any case keep your children well away from your parents because of how you as their mother is treated by them. I would also look into ignoring their phone calls, perhaps your sister can call you on a separate phone number.

Wrybread Thu 13-Dec-18 17:18:40

I think you're right. I've just been hoping that it wouldn't come to that.

Excuses I'm telling myself:

- My dsis and I have each others numbers. But if something serious happened, it's likely my dm would ring.

- If I block their number then my dc won't be able to ring them on Christmas day /birthdays etc to wish them well etc.

- I want to keep communication possible in case a miracle happens and they respect my decision

But basically it feels like a really big step to take.

All their behaviour shows they don't respect my boundaries and have no understanding or wish to understand how harmful their actions are.

Dm has a shared religious belief with me. My dad supposedly does but his actions over the last few years say otherwise.

I reckon dm has been praying and feeling that we need to reconcile. I don't think they realise that reconciliation isn't possible when there's gas lighting going on and continuing manipulation. Given they're not willing to admit what they're actually doing, and say sorry for that, I can't exactly forgive them for it.

And I'm not willing to lie and pretend I've done things that I haven't, and that I'm sorry for the pretend things...Just so F doesn't lose face and can tell himself/others that I apologised too. Especially as I'm pretty sure they'd want me to also apologise for saying he's abusive.

TheDistantSky Thu 13-Dec-18 17:24:12

Checking in. Dreading the holidays. Still think it "wasn't that bad" but the critical voice in my head is quieter now.

NC for a year and a half. Ended up in a wheelchair this summer and they didn't even get in touch to see if I'm ok; they just keep moaning about how awful I am.

The FOG is lifting. Slowly but surely. And I've been offered CAT therapy on the NHS; 24 sessions to help deal with it all.

TheDistantSky Thu 13-Dec-18 17:26:27

@SpareBedroom just wanted to say that what you said about your mum being two people; mum and X really helped me.

TheDistantSky Thu 13-Dec-18 17:30:24

I have a question actually; could one change from being the Golden Child or Saviour and become the Scapegoat over time?

Could the dynamics change and siblings switch roles?

Wrybread Thu 13-Dec-18 17:39:03

TheDistantSky Yes, I've seen it happen with some extended family. Golden child was revealed as a not nice person. And their not nice behaviour had affected the parents.

Other child has become more favoured, but I wouldn't say they're completely the golden child. Firstly because they refuse to be grin Secondly because old habits die hard and they forget to treat him that way

Wrybread Thu 13-Dec-18 17:45:04

TheDistantSky it's horrible when you realise they don't really care. Are you still in the wheelchair?

I hear you on trying to minimise their behaviour. I'm going through that too. What is helping me at the moment is seeing how well dh's family treat each other. That puts my parent's behaviour in stark contrast and makes it hard for me to explain it all away.

Remember that they've spent our whole lives training us to accept and normalise their abuse. It's going to take time to deprogramme from that.

TheDistantSky Thu 13-Dec-18 18:46:11

@Wrybread only in the chair part time now, thankfully.

My DH's Family is a stark contrast to mine. It's lovely to spend time with his normal family but very bitter sweet. Makes me realise how much I missed out on and that lovely assured self-esteem you have when you've been loved and raised securely.
I'm glad his parents are there for the DC though and I'm hoping I'm loving them enough to break the cycle.

Wrybread Thu 13-Dec-18 18:59:04

Oh I hear you about the bittersweet bit. I love his family. They're not perfect (as in I'm not putting them on a pedastal) but they treat each other well and clearly love each other.

It's probably what helped me make the break with my F. Knowing how differently I get treated by them and dh, and realising that's how normal families treat each other.

I've also been able to be honest with them about some of this stuff with my family and they.....actually give me hugs. Real hugs. Not trying to make it better or explain it away, but simply giving me some uncomplicated genuine comfort when I need it.

IBlameJulieBindel Thu 13-Dec-18 20:48:17

Hello all,
I don’t particularly want to post any of my family backstory, but just wanted to say hello and to ‘be here’ if that makes sense. I’m sure that many of you can relate to feeling like you’ve spent hours IRL over the years talking out and reasoning through the whole bloody mess, and just not having the energy to dredge the whole story up again. We’re doing the yearly visit this weekend and I’m in my usual pre visit place (anxiety, slightly tearful, sad for how my family are). We’ve got some good strategies for keeping me going through the yearly visit and it will be fine, but it does feel worse at Christmas. I just feel sad for me, sad for my parents own childhood and family experiences, sad for my siblings. Anyway, I figured this might be the place to say that, so thanks for reading if you did, and very best wishes to everyone for Xmas, whether NC or not.

Milliy Thu 13-Dec-18 23:05:20

IblameJulie smile

fc301 Fri 14-Dec-18 21:41:04

Sorry I haven't read the new thread but have been helped (and hopefully helped others) on the last one.
I was doing really well having made it clear that I was not seeing the (birth) family at Xmas.
So instead of enjoying being left alone. And despite the fact that they know that I am working 3 jobs whilst trying to raise 3 children and safeguard my fragile health I have spent all evening sobbing. Once again they have rung me to lay all the blame at my door. They could not possibly have done anything to upset me.
So once again, and hopefully finally, I have told them not to contact me again and I've blocked them both on my phone.
How very sad and so totally fucking unnecessary.
My big crime? Asking to be treated nicer.

NameChangeToAvoidBeingFound Fri 14-Dec-18 23:30:18

Can I join? I don't know where I fit or what my situation is but I know my family relationships are toxic enough to make me ill. I don't even know where to start. This is probably all garbled and makes no sense as I'm writing it while crying but here goes.

My mum is a carer for my grandpa and my aunts as well as providing childcare for my nieces and nephews (my sisters are much older than I am). When I was younger I spent 90% of my time with my dad. We'd go to the library, museums, art galleries, libraries and the theater. My mum did the housework and cooking and her caring responsibilities and I rarely saw her until the weekend when we'd go away to a cottage on the coast she owned. But even then I didn't see her, and I so desperately wanted to. I craved her attention so much it was pitiful. My sister and her baby would come and my auntie who my mum cared for. My sister would lie around and mum would look after the baby and unless I was ill or it was a thunderstorm I wasn't allowed to stay inside the house. I'd be kicked out to play or with a book. At one point they'd set up my tent in the garden with my art supplies, cushions, blankets, juice, snacks and toys and a book and I'd only be allowed back in at mealtimes or bedtime. When my sisters baby was old enough to play I'd be send outside with her and told to look after her. At this point I'd of been about 8 and my niece 3. I wasn't allowed to play with my friends or do what I wanted, I had to look after her, but she was allowed inside. I hated her so much, she was fawned on by my mum. Now I have several nieces and nephews, and my mum still favours that sisters three children (with the main preference being the middle daughter) and another sisters youngest two children and I don't even think she realises. She goes out of her way to make sure she doesn't spend more on one than the other or give any of the others more than she gives one but you can see it, no matter how hard she tries to hide it.

When my dad died my mum had a mental breakdown and I became selectively mute. (Later I was diagnosed as being autistic) I also have several severe potentially life limiting conditions and my early life was one death prediction after another and I was a difficult child. Autistic with learning difficulties, mental health issues and behavioural problems while having a high IQ and testing into MENSA at 6. By that point my older sisters were 22-30 and I did not match any of my parents previous experiences of child rearing. I wasn't what she was prepared for or able to parent, however I am very much like my late father, who shared my diagnosis and IQ and he doted on me. Until they fought and then he'd need to escape to do his own thing. (His dad was physically abusive so when his temper spiked he'd leave, just in case) and my mum would sulk and yell and go on with what she needed to and just leave me there, first time that happened I was 6 or 7 and I should not have been left. I was severely asthmatic and have several allergies that cause anaphylaxis, but being taken with her while she was in that mood was terrifying. I'd not know how she'd react but I'd also know that even looking at her the wrong way would result in her screaming at me.

My dad supported and facilitated my learning, he taught me things and took me places, he wanted to spend time with me and enjoyed my company. When he was with me I had 100% of his attention. Thanks to him I had the confidence to do things and try. I sang solo in competitions (and won) I took guitar, drum and piano lessons, I had art shown in galleries, took part in community theater and got scholarships to the best schools. When he died my mum wouldn't let me take the scholarship because it was a boarding school and she didn't want to 'lose' me, but she didn't 'want' me either. I couldn't talk to her. She didn't care how I did at school, I wasn't allowed to take part in extra curricular activities because I needed to be home to look after my sisters kids or generally keep house. By the time I was 12 I could make a full sunday roast balancing a newborn, minding a toddler and helping primary school aged kids with homework. Mum and I would have horrific screaming matches, I'd tell her how much I hated her and how I wished that she was the one to have died when I was a teenager. Which is a horrific thing to say but I meant it. I never doubted how much my dad loved and wanted me, despite his temper and lack of domesticity, my mum however has always said had I of been her first born she'd never have had anymore.

My dad loved us all equally, but he worked nights when my sisters were younger and didn't work when I was born, so I was essentially his 'project' and his golden child, I was precocious and loving and difficult, which amused him. My mum doted on me when I was ill. When I was fine I was an inconvenience, because I wasn't what she wanted or expected in a child. I don't doubt that she loves me, but I've always been an afterthought. Whenever I'm/was with her her mind was always somewhere else, she was rushing off to do something else, or she was tired and wanted to be left alone. She regularly exposed me to people who are bad for my mental health and not only allowed them too but encouraged it. I've never been allowed to fight back because 'they don't mean anything by it', I'm 'oversensitive'. I do more for my family than anyone I know does for theirs and I'm regularly treated like shit for it. There are times when I'm home and mum comes in in a temper and my sisters is in and she sees it and they know I'll be going home with them or to thiers later if the temper continues as I can't cope with it. My sisters need my mums help so they don't say anything, and I don't say anything because I don't want to hurt her.

My mum is difficult and emotionally abusive, she regularly neglected me in favour of doing for others and when I bring any of her failings up she claims I'm misremembering things or that she doesn't remember or that it never happened. I have an eidetic memory, I CAN'T forget anything. Even now I try having a normal conversation with her and she ignores me completely. There is no response unless I yell at her for one and then I get, I heard you the first time, but no answer. I bring up how I found something difficult as a child because of my disabilities and it's always rerouted back to how difficult things were for her, how she had no help or support and she tried her best but I was an awful and difficult child and how I made everything harder but look at the nice things we did. I can remember three days between the ages of 11 and 16 where we did something together and there was no arguments. The 'nice' things she remembers were actually hell for me.

She loves me, I know this and I know my sisters love me even though they tease me but I can't say anything to her because some of the home truths would kill her. She is incredibly sensitive and I genuinely believe that she did her best given the hand she was dealt. She freely admits that I wasn't something she knew how to deal with and that because of my IQ and undiagnosed disabilities and learning difficulties she had no idea how to parent me because I could and would scream for days, but what she doesn't realise is that I was screaming because I was scared and confused and wanted her. I remember being punished and punished when all I wanted was a hug and reassurance that everything was ok and that she was there.

I'm now a mature student away at uni in my first year (I'm 24) and I'm struggling to balance uni work and relationships and her demands that I come home to help out most weeks (I'm stopping this in the new term because it's making me ill and I can't afford it).

It's only now with the support of one of my best friends that I can see how unnatural it is for me to be the scapegoat and the saviour/doormat for my family. It came to ahead while I was on holiday with him and other friends and I mentioned that I can't act obviously autistic because it's wrong and makes other uncomfortable and marks me out as different and he responded by angrily asking who says so and when hearing it is my mother and extended family was very firm in the view that there isn't anything wrong with me or the way I act and if it makes someone uncomfortable they can look away, and if my family feel like that they ought to find another skivvy.

I love my mum and my sisters, and I know that they love and are proud of me despite their actions. I know that if anything were to happen or if I were on the other side of the world and needed their help, they would be there in an instant to support and help me, but our relationship is so toxic. I have so much resentment in me against my entire family and their actions and I need to get it out. I NEED my mum to acknowledge them and validate them. But I know that she won't. In her eyes she is blameless and does more for me than anyone else but she doesn't and hasn't. She bought me things and made my dinners and did my laundry and when everything was calm and easy she was there and able to love me. When things were difficult I was the first person she punished.

I'd go low contact but I adore my nieces and nephews, and as hard as it is, I adore her.

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