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"But we took you to Stately Homes" November 2019 onwards thread

(426 Posts)
toomuchtooold Sat 23-Nov-19 16:17:37

It's November 2019, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.

Forerunning threads:
December 2007
March 2008
August 2008
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May 2009
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April 2010
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November 2011
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May-August 2019
August-October 2019
October-November 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."

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 Sat 23-Nov-19 16:44:23

Thank you, Toomuchtooold. Signing in...

Herocomplex Sat 23-Nov-19 17:04:59

Thank you.

MilliiMoo Sat 23-Nov-19 17:30:51

Watching and following. Always insightful. Thank you

yellowlemon Sat 23-Nov-19 17:31:54

@toomuchtooold replying to your post on the other thread. Clothes were a non-stop battleground. Like you, I was always dressed totally inappropriately, either like a 3 year old or an 80 year old.

Mufti days at school were a complete nightmare. It's why I'm a huge advocate of school uniforms. This idea the kids should be able to express themselves is all well and good. But if you're poor or you have parents like ours not having a uniform is just another way for kids to have a hard time.

She still managed to do her best to humiliate with the school uniform with the ridiculous red coat, and the insistence of wearing the school hat, and an old granny school bag (everyone else had Head bags in bright colours), and the crap PE kit, and the knee high/ankle socks when everyone else had moved on to tights and the filthy shirts etc etc etc etc .....

Thank god for the kids in the bow ties and all the other saviours we met during our childhoods.

Spodge Sat 23-Nov-19 17:40:43

@yellowlemon - I watch this thread from time to time but haven't really contributed. A lot of what you have mentioned at the end of the last one and now this really resonate. The flirting - OMG. My mother was like that. Thought she was God's gift. Plus brought me and my sis up to believe that unless one has a man one is nothing.

I think you also mentioned mood swings and rages - my mother exactly the same.

And now clothing. I was never allowed to have the clothes I liked. At Brownies everyone else had a beret but I had to have the bobble hat. We also had mufti days at school and I was forever trying to borrow stuff from others. I was finally allowed my own clothes aged 16 when somebody who only knew my dad called round. I had been made to wear the most revolting old lady outfit in honour of the visit and I was sent to answer the door. The person thought I was my mother! That at least shamed her enough to review my wardrobe.

You may have said in the old thread, but how long did it take you to realise your mother is a narc?

yellowlemon Sat 23-Nov-19 17:57:15

@Spodge The more I read other people's stories the more I realise how similar they all are. My mother thinks I'm a complete failure because I don't have a husband/children. All the other great things I've done in my life despite her she's not remotely interested in.

I'm not sure when I first realised she was narc. She was very religious which I thought could explain why she was like she was but of course is actually a symptom. She could use religion to make herself feel even more superior and have a set of rules on how to behave. And anyone who didn’t follow those set of rules was automatically inferior. The bits in the bible about love and forgiveness were conveniently ignored of course!

Also I always thought narcissists were charismatic and outgoing so again didn't explain things. I didn't understand there was a difference between narcissism and NPD which I'm convinced is what she is.

It's been a good few years since I started to realise what was going on but I was so caught up in the FOG (learnt that one on here) that although I had gone LC and grey-rock without knowing that's what I was doing I couldn't completely detach.

A couple of very specific things happened recently that made me decide to go NC. LC was still too painful and she still had a hold over me. And then she gave such a text-book response when I told her that there is no doubt in my mind anymore.

I think she was very spoilt as a child and got stuck somewhere about the age of 6. The realisation that she has zero empathy and is completely incapable of love was still a huge shocker and even as I write this out I wonder if I've got it all wrong. But writing things down and reframing things that happened not just to me but other things she did is really helping make things clearer.

Sorry for the ramble. Are you still in contact with your mother?

yellowlemon Sat 23-Nov-19 18:02:54

A bit more on the religion thing.

She could also insert herself in church stuff putting herself into what she thought were positions of power when really it was just a few old ladies singing in a choir or cooking a meal to raise some money for the church roof.

I never thought about this before but she fell out with every vicar at every church she went to. Usually because he wanted to make things a bit more modern to encourage younger people into the church.. And that now makes sense because it wouldn’t have mattered how many Christmas carol services she conducted or weddings she sang at deep down she would have been furious knowing that she could never be as important or looked-up-to as the vicar.

Ulterego Sat 23-Nov-19 18:25:46

Yellow is sounds as if she saw each Church as territory to conquer, and her method was to try and lord it over the vicar?

LC was still too painful
this is the thing, if you reduce contact to a narrow window they often respond by squeezing as much 'behaviour' as they can into the window, not to mention that any contact with them at all is triggeringsad

yellowlemon Sat 23-Nov-19 18:38:07

@Ulterego Exactly. And it wasn't just the phone call or the visit. It was the days of dread before and after.

I could never enjoy my weekend knowing that I had to phone her on Sunday evenings.

She tried to lord it over everyone! She bowed her head more when she prayed, she kneeled lower at the altar, she sang louder. She used to do this big exaggerated crossing herself thing. It was so comical.

I guess most of the other people could get manipulated more easily. But the vicar who had a specific job to do backed up the diocese - not so easy for her. Better for her to have a massive falling out and then blame him for being wrong about everything.

yellowlemon Sat 23-Nov-19 18:40:03

BTW - her first tactic on meeting a new vicar was to go all out flirting. Hilarious!!

Jinglebells10 Sat 23-Nov-19 18:58:26

About the clothing thing I was forced to wear what my mum wanted. I remember going on shopping trips and she would pick my clothes and if I picked something up and she didn't like it she would sneer and say no. If we came down in an outfit she didn't like we would have to back up and change. Our imagine to the outside world was so Important to her. One of her fav lines was "you don't want people thinking you're a scruff"

I weren't allowed any individuality, no posters in my room like other kids my age. Decor and everything in my room picked by her. Shouted at if so much of a cup was left out. I was petrified if I ever accidently brushed past a wall and scratched it. I would be screamed at/pinned against a wall or smacked.

Funny thing is I actually think my mum thinks she was a great mum

JustOneSquareofDarkChocolate Sat 23-Nov-19 19:07:42

Hi all, I’ve been reading these threads for a long time now and received a lot of comfort. My mother is a narcissist (possibly also BPD). Looking at the last few posts - I was dressed in second hand clothes and shoes and now get so much pleasure buying my kids nice things. I started working at 14 and for the first time had new clothes that I could choose. I had one school skirt for 4 years - age 13 - 16; wasn’t allowed to put on weight. I could go on but I am sure this is all familiar to everyone.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had any experience or could signpost some reading on how to deal with a terminally ill narcissistic parent? Any coping tips much appreciated. I can’t really talk about the mixed feelings I’m having to anyone in RL.

Thank you.

yellowlemon Sat 23-Nov-19 19:08:18

@Jinglebells10 - that's the thing. They all think they are amazing parents.

I don't even remember going on shopping trips (apart from for school shoes to get them fitted). Everything just appeared.

We had no TV, I wasn't allowed to listen to music, never taken to the cinema, no books like Roald Dahl or Mr Men or The Munch Bunch, no Barbie, My Little Pony, Care Bears or anything like that.

yellowlemon Sat 23-Nov-19 19:15:49

@JustOneSquareofDarkChocolate Welcome and sorry you had to go through this childhood too. You're not alone here and it's somewhere people understand without judging which is hard in real life.

Not quite the same but I had to deal with my father when he got terminally ll. He wasn't a narc (completely) but a massive enabler. I put a few posts about it on the previous thread but don't want to 'spam' this one. PM if you want to talk privately.

SingingLily Sat 23-Nov-19 19:22:54

JustOneSquareofDarkChocolate, my enabling father died just over two months ago and I had to cope with narc mother and sister. If I can help in any way, I'd be glad to.

Is it just you having to deal with it all or do you have siblings? I know that they can complicate the situation even more but it would help to build up a picture. I can't recommend any reading material, unfortunately (someone else might know) but I understand the mixed feelings and having to navigate your way through an already fraught situation.

JustOneSquareofDarkChocolate Sat 23-Nov-19 19:37:59

Thanks so much for the messages of support @yellowlemon and @SingingLily.

Have got siblings but one is the (fully grown adult) “baby” and the other the golden child. We’re all equally involved and up to date with her health developments but I’m the only one dealing with the narc abuse.

She is in denial that she has a terminal diagnosis and gets very angry and aggressive if anyone dares mention anything other than a complete recovery. This is proving much harder than I thought it would be, especially as meds making her more volatile than usual.

yellowlemon Sat 23-Nov-19 19:54:46

@JustOneSquareofDarkChocolate Oh poor you having to deal with that and all the feelings you'll be having about a parent dying.

Have you always been in contact with her? Or have you come back because she's ill?

dontknowdontknow Sat 23-Nov-19 20:12:47

Just wanted to come on and say I am reading with so much sadness and identification. Am nearly finished Toxic Parents as suggested in intro list and my god it is a brilliant book and the practical chapter is so good. It's not just a god shit your life was but how to pull yourself out of it... find it quite difficult to read and I do keep minimising it in my head thinking it wasn't that bad. I'm definitely going to do some of the writing work. To actually get it onto paper. How I felt about what happened. Thanks to this group. Very grateful even if I haven't been posting.

My dad isn't talking to us or seeing us it seems. My mother came up and we had a very triggering visit where she made a comment about my siblings helping them (vs me refusing to) and after that I could feel myself shut down. I feel totally numb to them both. Their recent behaviour has made the scales fall from my eyes. I'm 43 it's taken me a lifetime to realise how bad this has been and the pattern of it. Interestingly the book says that the enmeshment is as bad if you go NC as seeing them... it means they have the power to cause a strong emotional reaction. So it's getting to the point where they can't do it to you. Not easy though.

Jinglebells10 Sat 23-Nov-19 21:09:54

@dontknowdontknow im beginning toxic parents tonight! i'm hoping it helps

dontknowdontknow Sat 23-Nov-19 21:25:56

@Jinglebells10 I wish there was a section on how to get through Christmas

SingingLily Sat 23-Nov-19 23:22:35

So she can't be reasoned with at all, OneDarkSquare? M refused to accept that Dad's illness was terminal and it made it so much harder because she was resistant to all the doctors' advice and insisted she knew best, even though Dad was visibly suffering. She was a right royal PITA.

If it's too hard to talk about it, I understand. I'm just wondering if your mother is also fighting the medical advice (they're only doctors, what do they know, etc etc?), whether she is just not listening to you when you are trying to do your best for her and whether she thinks you are just making it all up.

What about your sisters? I'm guessing the relationship between you is as fractured as mine is with GC sister and GC brother. However, do they accept the diagnosis or do they pander to her and use the opportunity to score points?

You must be worn down and at your wits end about it. I'm so sorry. You will get through this, I promise. You will find a sense of peace. It's just that you have to get through the here and now, and sadly there are no shortcuts.

Sending you all my kindest thoughts and wishes. thanks

Ulterego Sat 23-Nov-19 23:23:56

I could feel myself shut down
I've had similar sorts of experiences Dontknow, lines were crossed and some instinct told me that I should back away for my own safety, I think a lot of it was a sense that from now on it was downhill all the way, they were only ever going to get worse, more problematic, I had to get out while I still could.

angstinabaggyjumper Sun 24-Nov-19 10:15:12

yellowlemon so much of what you have detailed rings a bell with me, the clothes, the hair, the religion, the flirtatiousness, rages, filth, not being the sharpest knife in the box. I could probably go on.
There are two things that still confuse me and I'd be interested if anyone thinks they fit in to any sort of syndrome/scenario.
First of all paranoia, she would come up with wonderful scenarios of people plotting things against her usually me and my dad but often other random strangers e.g. every time she had a workman in the house unless she was in awe of him (that's another thing) she would tell everyone that he had taken something from her house this ranged from jewellery to one of her dresses (which no one would have wanted). In this case case the irony was that she was sitting on said dress as she was bad mouthing the builder because she had 'stored' it out of sight out of mind underneath a chair cushion.
Also, idolising people. Some people could do no wrong in her eyes, even when they did she would make excuse after excuse for them. She also saw them as incredibly attractive and in her version of events they would also be hard done by in some way so she was the only person who truly cared for them. For instance she adored/fancied my first husband and when he had children with his second wife she called his children 'poor little rich girls' because his second wife didn't look after them properly (in her scenario) and would send them large parcels of clothes and toys every Christmas.
Does this make any sense to anyone please?

SingingLily Sun 24-Nov-19 11:10:52

Both make sense to me, Angst.

M is highly suspicious of anyone who is "not family" and accuses them of prying and manipulation or of having a drink or anger problem when none of these things are true. They exist only in her imagination. When I say "not family", this includes anyone who has married into the family. I was always "forbidden" from discussing "family business" with my DH of over 25 years. It always sent her into the stratosphere whenever I told her I was taking no notice of her.

Idolising certain people despite all the evidence, while also reviling others, again despite all the evidence, is black-and-white thinking. M is prone to this as well. The difficulty in my family is that you can suddenly move from one category to the other at the blink of an eye and never know why things have suddenly changed. When you move from the bad category to the good one, history is rewritten and any past behaviour magically erased. Other family members are required to buy in to this brave new world and squashed if they have the temerity to question it. Truth is just so inconvenient in M-world. It gets in the way of whatever opinion is currently occupying her headspace.

I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, Angst, and my DSis's view about which condition best describes our mother is different from mine. What we agree on, however, is that she has a real problem and the way she deals with it is by trying to make it our problem. We have suffered from her behaviour and mindset for years - my DSis far more than me. Having read your posts though, I think our experiences pale into insignificance against yours and I can't tell you how much I hope that you will find some peace and hope in life.

If you Google "Cluster B Personality Disorders" and stick to reputable websites like the Mayo Clinic, you will find a wealth of information there. Your mother's condition will be in there somewhere. Also have a look at the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers website, which describes behaviours in very relatable terms.

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