Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
"But we took you to Stately Homes" - survivors of dysfunctional and toxic families(267 Posts)
It's May 2019, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.
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
November 2018-May 2019
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."
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
The Echo Society
There are also one or two less public offshoots of Stately Homes, PM AttilaTheMeerkat or toomuchtooold for details.
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."
Can I join you please?
I'll read through some of the previous threads and am very interested to read some of the books recommended.
I've worked through a lot of stuff over the last two years and feel like I've barely even scratched the surface.
My biggest issue at the moment is with my two dsis. One thinks it's all a fuss about nothing and whilst the other one knows there's a problem, isn't willing to unbury her head to deal with it. I know I can't and shouldn't make them do anything but I do need to find a way to accept that because there's a very strong chance they'll never do anything about it.
I started my own thread yesterday but only got one reply, the poster directed me to this thread. Here is my message below. I think I need to join this thread.
I just need to get my thoughts down on paper. I'm also happy to listen to others thoughts.
I think it's because I'm now a parent and I'm feeling content that I'm reflecting back on my youth and my home life with my parents and the lasting consequences of how I was treated.
I'll try to keep it brief. My dad was emotionally abusive, was downright nasty to me from about age 12 upwards. Called me fat and was always shouting at me. My mother stood by and did nothing. She would simper around him. What happened in our house was not to be discussed with outsiders. It was miserable at home.
Unsurprisingly I entered into an abusive relationship aged 19 with an older man, 16 years older. He was utterly charming at first but then the nasty digs started. I fell pregnant and I felt forced into having an abortion, by him and my parents. Relationship ended when he head butted me. Never spoke to him again. But what I found hard was the aftermath, I had no support from my parents. I became quite unwell mentally but suffered in silence.
After this abusive relationship I remained at home with my parents ( couldn't afford to move out) a year later they separated and they got divorced. So just mum and brother at home. (I get on well with my brother). They had not got on for years and this contributed to awful atmosphere at home. I cut contact with my Dad once he left and haven't spoken to him since. I hate him.
What I struggle with is my mum. She's still in my life and I find it very hard. Truth is I don't like her or trust her. I feel she has massively let me down and I feel a lot of contempt for her. To others, she is sweet and nice but she put herself first throughout my life at the expense of my physical and emotional well being. She continues to let me down as an adult, not much support with my grandchildren and this may sound trivial but copies a lot of what I do, my house interior, where I go on holiday. When I got married, she decided to get married to ( new partner ) and less then a year later she tied the knot again. I feel like she tries to outdo me and when I look at her and I just want to scream at her. It's so hard.
Sorry I just needed to let this out. There's more but I feel exhausted. Thank you for reading.
posting because I think having found this thread. it could be a good place for me to be....
so much of what others have said rings true, and it is nice to feel less alone
I saw an interview with Nicola Sturgeon the other day where she was talking about how she still speaks to her mum every day, and no matter how bad a day she has, speaking to her mum makes her feel better. I just couldn't imagine what it would be like to have that kind of relationship with my mother, the woman who was never there for me. my heart literally sinks when her name flashes on my phone.
And of course DD wants to go see her tomorrow,. Joy
Reflectingback, I'm glad you found your way to this thread. What you describe is certainly emotional abuse. There are no visible scars that you can point to as tangible evidence of what happened, but there are scars nonetheless and you are still dealing with the consequences. Your mother should have protected you when you were a defenceless child but she didn't, so it's not at all surprising that you have no trust or confidence in her now. I am wondering, though, what the relationship is like between your mother and your brother and whether that further complicates things for you.
Glad you no longer feel so alone, ClosedAuraOpenMind. It's hard not to feel a pang of envy when you see or hear of others who have a close and supportive relationship with their mothers, or their fathers for that matter.
My DSis, who won first prize in the scapegoat lottery from the moment of conception (that's no exaggeration by the way - I was 16 when M was carrying her and I know), does everything she can to try to be a good and loving mother to her little girls despite having had no role model. I'm betting you are trying to be the same with your DD. It's not easy to break the cycle but it's absolutely essential so 💐 to you.
I remember being pregnant and wanting a boy, just because I have no idea what a healthy mother/daughter relationship looks like.
at least my parents tried to be supportive of my brother, whose joyriding exploits ensured he got all their attention. I'm the eldest and when I went to uni I got no help. A few years later they bought a flat for my brother to help him go to college (golden child) despite everything though he too he doesn't have much to do with mother
Ooh, shiny new thread. Thank you! Hello to the new people, this thread is a great source of support.
I try to keep things vague as you never know who's reading... My DM wants my son and I to do something which I really don't want to. I have suggested a compromise which she is choosing to ignore. Of course, when she decides she doesn't want to do something we all have to accept it. I know this is typical narc behaviour, I'm just feeling worn down by it.
I posted elsewhere but didn't get many replies
i am really sad as I am NC with DP since August.
Today my DS (2 and a half years old) was asking about his granddad and I was sad that we are NC
We fell out during last summer holidays when i was visiting them for 2 weeks with my son (my husband had to stay behind at work so i visited without him).
My parents live in another country, by the sea. When I visited last summer DF was making it very difficult for me to leave the house.
He did not physically restrain me but they leave in the countryside and there is no public transport.
DF was very annoyed and criticizing every time i expressed a wish to go out (i am mid thirties!) and in the first 4 days of my visit i just managed to go out with them if they were going somewhere (i.e. a supermarket or the nearby beach) but never alone.
I was not allowed to use my DF car to drive anywhere.
On the 5th day my father left the house by bike so with my mother's support i managed to borrow their car and go to the beach for a quick swim.
I left at 9.40 am and was back by 10.30am, in a hurry and scared that DF would be back before me.
I then hid my wet swimming suit as otherwise my father would notice. This is an old habit from when i was a teenager. I would have to hide any evidence of doing forbidden things (even normal things like going to the beach less than 3 miles away)
Later that day DF went into their car and noticed the driving seat had been moved so he realised i had taken their car (even if with my DM's permission) and he was livid.
He started shouting (in front of my 2 years old son) and adressing me with very vulgar names (bitch, screw yourself and much worse) and saying that he would "smash my face"
He was red in the face, foaming from his mouth, and came very close to me, threatening and pointing a finger at my face.
My DS was crying from fear and started throwing his plush toys to his grandfather to protect me.
This really left a mark on me. It s so bad that my young son has to witness this. I dont want him to be hurt emotionally as i was as a child.
My father also shouted that "i dont hit you just because you are pregnant". I was 6 months pregnant at the time. I now have another very young DS that my parents have not met yet.
Since that day, I have left the house, booked myself on the first flight back to the UK and have not been in touch.
My DM sends the occasional birthday card or Christmas wishes and called me once on Whatsapp to see the kids via video. She was in denial and understating the events. She basically says that me and DF are "incompatible" so it s better to have no contact.
She is in denial about my father being a bully and calls his violent traits "incompatibility' as it is too painful for her to accept the truth of living with an abusive man.
We were messaging recently and she said that the physical hitting never happened in our childhood, then she conceded that maybe hitting happened just once but DM stopped DF immediately so we were never hurt as kids.
I recall being hit with a spoon, or slaps and kicks very regularly. and my brother much more than me.
My brother says that "we know how DP are" and they wont change so i should just put up with it and not "try to change them".
I dont believe i m trying to change them, just asking for basics things like going out on my own as an adult or going for a swim during my holiday.
My DF was always unpredicatble and quite aggressive, especially when we were teenagers and also shouting and controlling towards DM, who is very introvert and softspoken and is afraid to stand up to him.
DF had a sadistic abusive father and being in the military professionally made him very inflexible and authoritarian.
DF has continued being very manipulative also as an adult.
I wanted to get married in my own country but he forbid me to come back home and instructed i should get married in the UK, since he didnt want to be bothered with dealing with a lot of guests and potentially having people upset for not being invited, as in our country we have quite big and expensive weddings (he knew that if i got married in the UK there would be less guests and he wanted a smaller wedding and less headaches (for him). And less cost (even if me and DH paid 100% of it, but DF is very opinionated and mingles in our affairs and criticise how we spend our money. For example if i go on holiday, i dont tell DF, as he thinks that we amuse ourselves too much or spend too much. We are far from lavish. I am actually super careful with money.
DF is himself very tight with money, inspite of being very wealthy.
On one painful occasion, DF invited me and DH for dinner but told me that i could only order the cheapest pizza on the menu and instructed me to tell DH that he should do the same (rather than choosing a meal he fancied).
My DH says it s a good thing that i am no contact, but he sees how it s affecting me as i miss having a family who i wish could support me (especially as i live here and have not much help or emotional support with 2 young kids and work really long hours in a demanding job). DH thinks that long term it would be good for me to go low contact instead of no contact i.e. only visit DP together, not on my own, and not stay at their house but rent somewhere nearby, so that we have freedom of movement. And renting our own car when (if) we fly over to visit.
This way i wouldnt have any feeling of guilt about being NC (DF has some cardiac issues) in case DF dies.
I am also seeing a psychotherapist but she is mostly listening and confirming that my father is abusive but i am not making much progress in terms of dealing with my sadness and anger. I wonder if CBT would be more effective.
Basically i still leave in fear of my DF and have nightmares about him every week.
i wish i could stand up to him as an adult and have an adult to adult relatiosnhip with him.
I also have a lot of anger and feel my mother should have tried harder to protect me. She gets away as a victim and asks for pity but since she was an adult i consider her also co-responsible for the abuse.
She comes from a generation and a cultural background where women were doing what they were told (even if she is far better educated than him, she always had a good salary and a university degree).
I am very keen not to repeat the old patterns of being abused as now i have my own kids.
I wonder if there is any good way of staying in touch with DP but stopping them from being coercive and controlling my physical freedom and my mind.
Or is NC the only way?
Sorry for the long post :-) thanks for reading till now
What happened to you re your parents is not your fault in any way, this is all on them.
You will ultimately need to grieve for the relationship you should have had with your parents rather than the one you actually got.
Would urge you to stay no contact and do not respond in any way to your mother going forward.
What does your father's now ailing health have to do with this as well?. Its a trail that you do not want to go down because it leads nowhere. They were not good parents to you when you were growing up and neither of them have changed in those intervening years. If they are too toxic/abusive/batshit for you to deal with, its the same deal for your children as well. Your son ended up throwing his toys at his abusive grandfather, he should never have to repeat that let alone have gone through that. It is down to you and his dad to protect him from such malign influences like your parents. Your children need emotionally healthy role models and their maternal grandparents here are anything but.
Your DH is wrong here re suggesting going to low contact; how would that work anyway?. Its not going to work. I doubt very much your son at all wants to see his shouty abusive grandfather again and why should such behaviour from them be rewarded with a visit to their home?.
I would tell your DH that you have the right to be treated with love and respect. If parents are getting old or if either of them is sick, that doesn’t change the fact that I have rights and it doesn’t change the facts about the way that I was treated by them in the past. They are not sorry. They don’t acknowledge the abuse. They never wanted to change or tried to change. So why is it up to me to be there for them when they were never there for me? (and although I am well aware that they fed and clothed me, they housed me, they took care of my physical needs, SO WHAT?? They decided to have a baby, legally that is the least that they HAVE to do.) This whole subject is just another great example of the power differential between parents and children and however ‘socially acceptable’ it is, it is still wrong.
Low contact will not work out here because your mother also denies you the truth of what happened to you. You need radiators, not drains around you all and both your parents are absolute drains on you. She chose her husband here and threw you under the bus in doing so. I would not personally want to see either parent again; your dad is abusive and your mother is his willing enabler and secondary abuser here. They both get what they want out of the relationship they have with each other. She is with him for her own reasons (those are not culturally based) and those have nothing to do with you or your brother.
I would think talking also to NAPAC will be of some benefit to you. I am no expert at all here but I am wondering if you are suffering from PTSD. Continue to deal with your fear, obligation and guilt here through therapy sessions.
Its really not possible to have any sort of relationship with a narcissist and the only people who usually bother with them have received special training i.e. the now adult children of such parents.
Do not suggest any further compromise here. If you do not want to do as she demands your son and you do not have to accede to her bidding. Do not give her any more power and control, this is what her demand is all about too. Drop the rope she keeps holding out to you.
Thanks Attila This is the second time we have been through this. There was no middle ground last time and I stuck to my guns but had the emotional manipulation instead (have we done something wrong, we were so looking forward to it blah blah blah). It's just so bloody exhausting.
Anyhoo, I now have the double whammy of DM and her enabler, but only for an afternoon.
SingingLily - I'm wondering if divide and rule is what my father is doing by passing the cards on via dsis.
On reflection, I've decided to do nothing. If I ask dsis to stop giving me the cards, she'll get upset and I'll feel guilty and if I ask my father to stop sending them, I'll have to one of my dsis for his number/unblock him from social media before I can make contact.
I just need to remember to mentally prepare myself for the next card from him (assuming there'll be one).
New person here, used to be a member years ago when dc were young but realised how much time I was spending so went cold turkey!
I’ve been reading this thread since the early hours looking for some understanding of how to go forward and so many helpful things here. So thank you.
I dread contact with my parents, have done for years but have tried to maintain a relationship. My mother has now broken off contact with my sibling (the sibling was LC) in a truly vile way and I’m wondering if it’s time for me to act to protect myself. The FOG idea is brilliant, sums up exactly what is going on. It’s all so heartbreaking.
And one of the things that struck me was something toomuchtoold said about people making coming in threads minimising what’s happened to people. I went to Gransnet first to see if I could find any threads there that might be helpful, the estrangement ones are a real eye opener, so much denial going on about what might be the problem between them and their adult children.
Having understood a bit more about my parents behaviour I’m thinking NC is the only option but am dreading doing it as it’s going to be so painful.
Hey everyone, I'm back again lol...
@Herocomplex I came across Gransnet when I googled 'no contact' (haha), what I read on there was eye-opening, yet disturbing. What the majority of people were saying didn't shock me ar all, but still made me feel uncomfortable reading it. I 'heard it' in my mother's voice.
I had my first counselling session today; basically to find out what I need in terms of help. We were talking and I was asked about various uncomfortable topics, and I mentioned some stuff that happened when I was younger that had not crossed my mind until today. I've now been referred to sexual abuse counselling. I never believed what I experience d was that, just thought it was weird, and lije I said, not thought about it again since today. some of the events are hazy; I was no older than four on one of the occasions, and I 'm not sure if I'm interpreting it differently now or what...
I feel awful. I wish I'd never said it. I was not expecting this at all.
Has anyone felt worse after counselling?
I know a little bit about counselling and it can be incredibly painful to have insights into what happened to you. Don’t forget you can talk about how you are feeling about what you are saying with your counsellor - they will have noticed your response.
Having painful feelings is hard, but hopefully your counsellor can help you through this. Therapy is work, and sometimes it’s very tough work. I hope you can find the strength to keep going. Best wishes to you.
Also it’s very shocking when someone ‘names’ something to you, being referred for sexual abuse counselling makes is a ‘real’ thing when before it’s been an unspoken thing. It feels like you want to put it back so you don’t have to think about it any more?
Thanks, have you received counselling previously? The session was over the phone; it was a 45 minute talk to try and figure out the gist of what's going on. The lady I spoke with dealt with CBT, and she said that treatment would invalidate my feelings and not really deal with the root of all this mess.
I feel so guilty and ashamed. I m questioning myself like 'did that really happen/did it happen THAT way'... I feel like I'm co mplicit in it. Dunno what to do now. Got to wait for a phone call from the new counsellor.
@Herocomplex - the way I'm thinking is I've just opened up another can of worms lol. I was originally referred to therapy for anxiety due to emotional abuse/neglect throughout childhood. I came to terms earlier this year that my 'childhood' was abusive and not just 'odd', now there's this whole new other element to iy that I never previously thought about. I feel like I'm driving myself nuts analysing things. Feel sick, feel like an unfit parent. How can I be a good mum when I'm a wreck
I have had some quite a while ago for depression. I have also done a small amount of training, but I am not qualified, I don’t want to make any claims of expertise but I can see you’re really struggling. The person you spoke to about CBT was right, it gives you the tools to manage how to feel/deal with the world in a daily basis. However you are struggling with something which needs specific support from someone specially trained to work with people who have suffered abuse. I think it sounds very positive, but right now you’re possibly feeling very worried as it’s taken on a life of its own. You could discuss this when you speak to your new counsellor, it might be a good place to start?
You owe her nothing, absolutely nothing. Neither an explanation nor any concern about her feelings. By passing on the cards, she must know (any reasonable person would know) that it's upsetting for you yet she persists in doing it. Why would she do this? She does not have any regard whatsoever for your feelings in this and this is why I say that you owe her nothing.
You are perfectly within your rights to simply refuse the card. If she persists in leaving it, I would bin it or shred it without opening it. In your shoes, I would absolutely not contact my father to ask him to stop sending the cards; after all, this is what he wants from you - a reaction, any reaction. By the same token, he might well be questioning your sister closely to see what reaction she observes in you when she tries to hand over the card. A blank face, a neutral voice, a simple "No, thank you" and then either change the subject or - if this helps - leave the room "to use the loo" or "put the kettle on" so that the moment passes.
If she doesn't get the message, then you might want to examine your relationship with her too. She has no right to bring you stress and upset in this way.
I'm sorry, Clutterfreeintrainin
Join the discussion
Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Get started »
Please login first.