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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."

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.

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