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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 Sat 18-May-19 12:30:06

Helpmyhair just to add one small point to Attila and SimplySteveRedux's excellent advice - the fact that you are worried about losing your brother over this is a sign of just how dysfunctional things are in your family. If your mother and brother had a healthy relationship, your brother would be able to arrange things so that you all saw each other away from your mother. But you know your mother would put him under pressure either to facilitate access to you or to choose between you. That's not normal. I mean none of it's normal. Your brother (and your dad especially) are totally co-opted into enabling your mother. There's usually a psychological payoff for people doing this - your brother I guess gets to see himself as the good guy with a good relationship with his parents, your dad I don't know (my dad was in this situation and what he liked was having someone else to take the responsibility for his decisions. Nothing was ever my dad's fault as long as he did what he was told).

ClosedAura if you do a post on Chat or AIBU or whatever, you get a lot of clueless people with nice parents who just want everyone to get along who'll inadvertently gaslight you by saying "oh I'm sure she didn't mean it badly." They think they're helping. Their mum wouldn't mean it badly. My mum bloody well would. They don't seem to understand that it doesn't make you safer pretending you're dealing with a pussy cat when you're actually dealing with a bloody tiger. I also think you get people on those threads who are the same as our parents and actively enjoy undermining us.

Hey listen should I start a new thread? We're at what 976 with this post?

toomuchtooold Sat 18-May-19 12:36:45

Right, I did it, here's the new thread: Stately Homes May 2019

woodcutbirds Sat 18-May-19 13:16:18

Thank you toomuch

MotherofaCat Tue 04-Jun-19 23:07:36

Hi fairly new to mumsnet so unsure if this is an active thread?
Had an awful night being verbally and emotionally abused by my toxic mother. I went to take her for lunch and we had a disagreement about her cannibas use that made me walk out... since 3pm I've been getting verbal abuse from her first via text which I blocked her number so she moved on to WhatsApp then snapchat then Facebook messenger and the emailing me lots of abuse calling me everything and threatening to tell my work about my mental health issues etc. Shes even contacted my 12 year old niece and told her all sorts of horrible things about me saying she wont talk to her if she is in contact with me etc. I'm so emotionally drained and cant stop crying. I keep blocking her but she just finds new ways to reach me, recently through my niece. My mum has always been a violent alcoholic and drug user but I stupidly thought she was getting better until today. I dont know what to do. I feel so upset and alone. My older sister hasn't spoken to her in months because of the venomous abuse she subjects us to every time she is drunk but today has been constant. I'm so drained.

avocadoincident Thu 06-Jun-19 07:41:52

This thread is coming to an end but the very much new active thread is here:

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

avocadoincident Thu 06-Jun-19 07:43:05


I would copy and paste your message on the new one but in the meantime I think going no contact is your best option (although I know it's not the easiest).
Have you gone nc before?

Firstborngill Fri 05-Jul-19 09:39:03

Just joined this site after googling yesterday following another awful afternoon helping my mother. I am 63 years old now, Mum is 83 and has been diagnosed with Dementia with Lewy Bodies. My father has just gone into a nursing home. I can’t walk away from Mum, although I’m so tired of her verbal abuse (always when I’m alone with her). I feel I will be abandoning my sister & brother in helping with her care. I want to be finally free - what should I do to help myself?

SingingLily Fri 05-Jul-19 09:45:48

@Firstborngill, you are going through a tough time, no doubt about that. I'm glad you've found Stately Homes. It's the right place to be. Unfortunately this is an old thread. I'm not very good at techno-stuff but will try to send you a link to the current thread where you can post again. Good luck.

SingingLily Fri 05-Jul-19 09:50:43


Try this link.

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

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