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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."

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

@Firstborngill

Try this link.

"But we took you to Stately Homes" - survivors of dysfunctional and toxic families http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/3588850-But-we-took-you-to-Stately-Homes-survivors-of-dysfunctional-and-toxic-families

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.

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?

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

@MotherofaCat

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?

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

@MotherofaCat
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 http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/3588850-But-we-took-you-to-Stately-Homes-survivors-of-dysfunctional-and-toxic-families

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.

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

Thank you toomuch

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

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

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?

SimplySteveRedux Fri 17-May-19 17:46:26

I did wonder @Helpmyhair2019 if you had a golden child sibling. It was rather scary to admit to myself that literally everything that you wrote mirrors my own experience growing up.

From personal, very painful, experience please believe me when I say your mother, and father via his weak, passive, acceptance, sees your children as a weapon with which to attack you. She will never, ever, change. Narcissists like this simply don't, through choice.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 17-May-19 14:09:33

Steves comments to you also bear repeating:-

"Your mother using her "you'll give me a stroke" crap is all part of the FOG - Fear, Obligation, Guilt triad - you feel an obligation because she's your mother, then she immediately guilt trips you with something serious. Also with regards to the money you mentioned.

Listen, you aren't like them. You are raising your children properly with physical and emotional love. Truth told, the last thing you want is your children around these people. These people never change, and they will seek to implode your children's emotional welfare, just as they did your own. These abusers, and make no mistake, they are abusers never change.

It sounds like your father simply stood by and let your (narcissistic?) mother do as she pleased. A counsellor once said to me - beside every narcissist is an, often passive, enabler. Why did he do nothing during the course of your childhood? You can rest assured that he will do nothing to stop your mothers crusade against your own children too; turning them against you".

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 17-May-19 14:07:53

Helpmyhair2019

Thought your brother was the golden child in this scenario here. Your family of origin is deeply dysfunctional and this has already split. Your brother is acting in his own interests here by saying this to you and not in yours. He, like your like dad, is basically telling you to shut up and not rock the boat. But the boat is already sinking and what he is saying is mere window dressing. It may come to pass that SIL may take her H's side here. He may well be replicating this dynamic in his own family, it is yet another reason to stay away. You need anyway to be around people who are radiators, not drains. Your brother is a drain on you.

I’ve always in the past felt sorry for my dad having to live with her and he always says ‘just do it for me’ when it comes to conforming to my mothers behaviour. I don’t think he does this on purpose to be horrid to me but it is horrid isn’t it? I’m not making it up and exaggerating am I? Arghhh - I’m 41, I feel too old for all this. I’ve also realised that I’ve over the years let older women and men in the workplace treat me and speak to me in a way I would not accept from someone younger. I have this inbuilt thing where I feel I have to show respect due to age.

NO you are neither making this all up nor exaggerating. Let your 42nd year on Planet Earth be a freer one for you. "Just do it for him" - what a shitty thing to say to a child!. He has happily sacrificed you at her altar here. Your dad really does not deserve you feeling at all sorry for him. Women like your mother cannot do relationships and need a willing enabler; this is your dad to a tee here. If otherwise not discarded he is likely to be just as narcissistic as his wife is; he has also failed you here as his daughter (and your siblings for that matter) completely. He is really her secondary abuser and willing accomplice to her schemes. He therefore cannot be at all relied upon either and also gets what he wants out of the dysfunctional codependent relationship he has with her. What you write about re older people in the workplace is interesting and relates very much to your own parents telling you what they think about you; they are projecting their own selves onto you. It is not true that we have to blindly accept our elders and supposedly betters.

Do not be further sucked into the FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) here.
Neither you nor the previous poster are being mean to these now old ladies. These people have fundamentally not changed since your own childhoods and both you and she are now further suffering as a result of the chaotic and abusive backgrounds you both come from.

Helpmyhair2019 Fri 17-May-19 13:02:32

Thank you Attila - yes my brother is the golden child. You are spot on. I tried to tell him how I felt and what she still does and he gets upset and begs me not to split up the family. I love my sister in law and my nieces too and wouldn’t ever want to not see them even tho I know his blinkered approach to my mum is not right. Is that normal? I don’t want to lose the only people in my family who don’t make me feel crap.

I’ve always in the past felt sorry for my dad having to live with her and he always says ‘just do it for me’ when it comes to conforming to my mothers behaviour. I don’t think he does this on purpose to be horrid to me but it is horrid isn’t it? I’m not making it up and exaggerating am I? Arghhh - I’m 41, I feel too old for all this. I’ve also realised that I’ve over the years let older women and men in the workplace treat me and speak to me in a way I would not accept from someone younger. I have this inbuilt thing where I feel I have to show respect due to age.

I feel for the previous poster who wonders if she is just being mean to a poor old lady. It’s how I feel when she throws the ‘I’ve had a stroke and I will have another if you carry on the way you are’ card

ClosedAuraOpenMind Fri 17-May-19 10:51:00

thank you Attila

nice to feel a bit more understood

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 17-May-19 07:43:07

Hi ClosedAuraOpenMind

Glad that you're now on this Stately homes thread.

I have now fully read that other thread of yours on relationships re your mother now at home and her behaviour towards your SIL. The little you wrote initially was telling though it was not picked up on by many; the fact that your relationship with her had been difficult since your teens. The other comment that many did not pick up on either was this one, "M has history for bursting into tears at the drop of a hat, and for over-egging any kind of drama, and generally playing the victim".

She is still playing the victim and over egging any kind of drama (i.e with your SIL). A lot of people went through what you described and her behaviours throughout have been abusive. Sadly no-one ever thought it necessary to protect you as her children at that time from her abuses of you all. She never sought the necessary help and blamed her inherent ills on you people instead. I would think she was herself treated abusively as a child but its a reason, not an excuse for how she has acted. You do not do this to your DD now and unlike your mother also I would think you do apologise and take responsibility for your actions. Toxic people like your mother never do these things.

If anyone is a cow here its your mother (and she is not worthy of the term), not you. She is reaping what she herself sowed with her now adult children. I am not totally surprised that one of your brothers has nothing much to do with her either (his relationship with her was also in all likelihood terrible too). You do not have to become more obligated or responsible for her ongoing care needs, on top of which you're not going to be thanked by her for doing so. Not surprisingly either, she does not want to move out of her home although that decision will likely be taken out of her hands in the end.

Your mother was not a good parent to you when you were growing up (an understatement) and such people more often than not become or are toxic as grandparents as well. If she is too toxic/difficult for you to deal with, its the same deal for your child too.
You would not have tolerated any of her behaviour from a friend, your mother is no different.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 17-May-19 07:16:58

Hi helpmyhair

re this part of your comment:-

"I don’t feel I can go totally non contact (I wish I could) as I love my brother and his family dearly and this would upset him but I think I will go as low contact as I can".

That is the first time you have mentioned your brother and I would ask why these people's needs are seemingly more important here. What was and is still his role here in your family of origin's narcissistic set up?. Is he the golden child here, is that the reason why you think he would be upset at you going no contact with your mother and her secondary enabler/bystander/enabler being your dad?.

As for your dad he certainly cannot be replied upon either. Women like your mother cannot do relationships so always need a willing enabler to help them; this person here is your dad. He also gets what he wants out of this relationship so will continue to throw you (and your brother) under the bus for his own purposes.

I am not at all surprised your kids do not want to be around her, they are seeing all too clearly how you've always been treated. Your parents were not good parents to you when you were growing up and fundamentally neither have altered since your own childhood. Do seriously consider finding a therapist and one who importantly has no familial bias about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment. Read the "out of the FOG" website and read up on fear, obligation and guilt. The website "Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers" could also be helpful to you.

ClosedAuraOpenMind Thu 16-May-19 21:09:40

sorry, just realised I forgot to put the bit I copied over in bold.....

ClosedAuraOpenMind Thu 16-May-19 20:52:25

it was the constant looking for attention when I was at school, only for it to go on my joy-riding DB, it was all the continual comments of you'd be pretty if only you wore mascara/a different lip colour/ whatever, it was the time she stood in the hallway and hurled shoes at me for whatever reason, it was the times she told me my father would kill himself because I was a little slut, it was the fact that she didn't talk to me about anything, ever, like not telling me about periods, let alone asking if I needed sanpro leading to me going to school with toilet paper stuffed down my knickers. it was her not expressing any sympathy when I dragged myself out to a family dinner 2 days after an ERPC for a MMC. it was all this and more.

now I realise a lot of people went through worse, and I do believe in her own weird way DM loves me, but it does mean I find it difficult to deal with her sometimes

I posted this on another thread about my relationship with my DM, and some of the responses don't seem to think her behaviour was abusive....

I know a lot of people go through a lot worse, but it's taken me a long time to accept that my mother had been abusive towards me, and now I feel like I'm doubting myself, and just being a bit of a cow to an old lady who's had a bad couple of years

wondered perhaps what people in this thread thought....I've lurked for a while but not posted on this thread before

Helpmyhair2019 Thu 16-May-19 14:08:17

That makes total sense -
I know my husband is kind. But I still let my head tell me he’s only doing it to be nice and really I am horrible and nasty and bitter!! It’s mad!

Helpmyhair2019 Thu 16-May-19 14:06:58

I just add that I am very lucky and my husband is amazing and I am 100% happy that I am bringing my children up in an emotionally healthy and loving way - though letting them see their mother being spoken to that way can’t be good for them

Helpmyhair2019 Thu 16-May-19 14:05:32

Ahhh thank you for your replies - I really needed to hear all this. I don’t feel I can go totally non contact (I wish I could) as I love my brother and his family dearly and this would upset him but I think I will go as low contact as I can. I’ve recently been moved into a different anti depressant for anxiety rather than depression and things are just seeming clearer in my head and I can see her behaviour is not acceptable and I do not deserve it. But after 40 years of believing I did it’s hard to get my head around.

Yes my dad has always enabled her. He said to me once he can see how she treats me but there’s nothing he could do as he didn’t want to upset her. If my husband spoke to my children in the way she does to me and always has done then I would pick him up on it straight away and vice Versa. It sounds very dramatic but I feel sorry for the 7 year old me. I can picture me being told how awfully behaved I was (I wasn’t, far from it - I wouldn’t have dared!) and truly believing I must be terrible and awful for her to speak to me this way.

She doesn’t speak to anyone else like this. She also is good at making sure she says things when nobody else can witness it. She always says these things in front of me and my children presumably as they were young and couldn’t back me up but recently they have been telling me that what she says isn’t acceptable and they don’t want to be around her.

woodcutbirds Thu 16-May-19 14:05:20

@HelpMyHair There is a strong consensus of advice on narcissistic parents which is that you should never waste your breath telling them how their behaviour made you feel, particularly not when you are hoping for a response from them. They will never listen. They cannot listen. You are not a real or whole or separate person from them. You are orbital flotsam to be dragged in and paraded or set to servitude as necessary. Your needs, wants, feelings and reaction do not exist.

Don't try. I know that sounds counterintuitive but don't. on;t waste another second of your life or a single breath of your energy trying to do this. It will never ever work. You can never ever improve the situation by attempting this.

Instead, focus on what you can do. You can read books on how to parent in a positive and gentle way to create strong, trusted bonds between you and your own children. You can work on not choosing partners or friends with similar personalities. If you find a good partner or good friends, you can work on not assuming they are always dealing veiled blows at you and start learning to trust them. You can work on feeling good about limiting contact with your family and always meeting them on neutral ground in public spaces. You can make some decisions on how to behave if you do have to spend time with them. E.g. you have the right to leave a room, house, town or country if the abuse starts again, without explanation or apology. You can read up on 'grey rock' technique and similar so you have a strategy for how to behave when they start acting up again. You can plan good holidays at Christmas, Easter etc - any time when you traditionally are expected to endure family gatherings. Free yourself up and don't confront them again. Your energy and mind have more important, interesting and rewarding things to focus on.

SimplySteveRedux Thu 16-May-19 13:50:55

Hi @Helpmyhair2019 and welcome!

Just because you went to private school, were well fed and provided for doesn't absolve your parents of their failure to nurture you emotionally. We see it often on these threads - people who've had all they could want materially, but are distinctly, and profoundly, neglected emotionally.

Your mother using her "you'll give me a stroke" crap is all part of the FOG - Fear, Obligation, Guilt triad - you feel an obligation because she's your mother, then she immediately guilt trips you with something serious. Also with regards to the money you mentioned.

Listen, you aren't like them. You are raising your children properly with physical and emotional love. Truth told, the last thing you want is your children around these people. These people never change, and they will seek to implode your children's emotional welfare, just as they did your own. These abusers, and make no mistake, they are abusers never change.

It sounds like your father simply stood by and let your (narcissistic?) mother do as she pleased. A counsellor once said to me - beside every narcissist is an, often passive, enabler. Why did he do nothing during the course of your childhood? You can rest assured that he will do nothing to stop your mothers crusade against your own children too; turning them against you.

You should look into going no contact, or as low contact as you can manage. I won't pretend this is an easy step, and I bear many scars as a result of my own efforts in this direction.

The books "Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward and "Childhood Disrupted" by Donna Jackson Nakazawa would open your eyes.

You'll also find lots of good information on the https://www.outofthefog.net/ website too.

The elder states people of these threads like Attila and SingingLily, maybe TooMuch too, will no doubt type more eloquently than I, later.

You can resolve this, I promise you. flowers

IrisAtwood Thu 16-May-19 13:50:50

Hi helpmyhair, I have/had similar parents. The only way that I got any peace and made significant recovery was going very low contact and when even that was too much I walked away completely. Giving you money does not mean that they have bought the right to abuse you. As long as you are around they will carry on. My mother is in her early 80s and not in the best health, but I couldn't take her behaviour anymore. Fortunately she has my sister, who is equally abusive.
It is hard, but it is worth it for my health and wellbeing. They were making me ill and I am glad to be away.
I also use a website called Out of The Fog which has some excellent resources.

Helpmyhair2019 Thu 16-May-19 13:42:19

I also dropped everything to help them both when they needed it. I took time off work to help the other one when one of them was in hospital. They begged me at the time to help. They now say I was over reacting, they never asked me and I insisted and how I’ve clearly got everything muddled up. She even said I was stupid to help them so
Much

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