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"But we took you to stately homes"... a thread for adult children of abusive families

(1001 Posts)
Pages Sat 15-Dec-07 10:52:22

This thread is a follow up to "My mother has cut me out of her life - long sorry" because we reached the end of the thread life.

I originally posted on that thread to say that my mother had blamed me for something that was in fact her fault, called me a liar, got the rest of the family to gang up on me and then blamed me for splitting up the family.

It generated a huge amount of interest from a number of women who, like me, had grown up in an abusive, or "toxic" family environment where we had been the scapegoat or the dustbin for our parents to dump their own unresolved difficulties. My mother, like all our mothers, has refused to apologise for what she has done and many of us have cut ties with our families in order to recover our lost selves and self-esteem.

oneplusone Sat 15-Dec-07 17:55:54

Hi, Pages, have just read your post to Cargirl, it seems you might not be able to advise me as you haven't had the same experience as me, but i would still very much appreciate your thoughts anyway. smile

lovecattlearelowing Sat 15-Dec-07 17:58:20

Message withdrawn

oneplusone Sat 15-Dec-07 18:02:27

Hi cargirl, i would say that ranting and ranting does actually do some good; it may possibly put you in touch with your feelings from childhood and although it is a painful process to go through it is also liberating and you may then feel free and no longer 'need' your parents (although of course everyone needs their mother but i hope everyone on this thread knows what i mean).

Have you had any counselling or read any books such as Toxic Parents or anything by Alice Miller?

CarGirl Sat 15-Dec-07 18:06:39

I've had lots of therapy but still have big angry issues!!!! I have moved on a lot from where I was but it's hard work. I have minimal contact with them, I accept they will never change or be remorseful/admit our childhood was so devoid and that has made it easier.

I find it more difficult with my dc as they get older and get emotionally more complicated.

bossykate Sat 15-Dec-07 18:16:53

my mother actually seems proud of some of her "escapades".

ally90 Sat 15-Dec-07 18:29:32

Please find Pages last face to face confrontation with her mother over her abuse, below, in full.

Pages Tue 25-Sep-07 19:34:33
HI everyone. I met up with my mum today. She is never ever going to change and I realised it today finally. What Coolmama said on my last thread about her being so glued to her victim role and deep in denial is so true. How can she be honest with me when she can't even be honest with herself?

We both acted as though nothing had happened for an hour and she was bowled away by DS2. After a while the conversation just ran out. I have never ever been lost for words with my mother before, we have always talked and talked. It felt so phony to be sitting there trying to think of questions to ask each other that didn't touch on the rest of the family, or any of the things we had always discussed, ie thoughts and feelings, DH and my lives, etc.

I asked her if she wanted to discuss what had happened. She said "Whats left to say?" and I said well I have said quite a lot and you haven't responded to any of it. She basically said that what could she say after "that email" I sent her. She got really wobbly, I could tell she was furious, but for the first time in my life I wasn't scared. I reminded her that that wasn't the way the whole thing started, it started by me being called a liar, and it seemed very convenient to have deflected teh attention away from that and make it now about the email I sent her, so that she is now the victim and my brothers and sisters have to rescue her. She got really upset and said it wasn;t like that, denied she had called me a liar, couldn't remember saying it but wouldn't come out and say that I hadn't lied. She said so many contraidctory things, like that she still believed I had slpit up the family, but then in the next breath, that I was so blaming and it's not about blame. She said she thought I had had a good upbringing and that she had been a good mother and I asked her why she had acknowledged it to be traumtic then? She said it had been traumatic for all of us, not just me, and that she wasn't apologising for it. I asked why she could never say sorry and she said that would be to say she had made a mistake and she didn't believe she had.

I asked her if she would like to discuss "that" email that I had sent her (which is the reason why my siblings aren;'t talking to me) as although it was harsh I hadn't said anything I didn't believe to be true. She said that I'd accused her in the email of leaving us home alone and it wasn't true, a neighbour was watching us and when I asked her where the neighbour was when I ran out of the house (aged 5) in the dark to find her and got picked up by the police, she started screeching "I can't handle this, I'm going". Not before telling me that she still blames me and my brother for that incident, him for hitting me and me for leaving the house. That's whay we were punished. We were 5 and 6 years old FFS! She really doesn't seem to get that if you leave small children on their own without anyone looking after them, they will get upset/fight/something will happen and that it is not the fault of the children for fighting, it is the fault of the parent for leaving young children home without any parental control (isn't it?!!!)

She stomped off, and came back 10 minutes later and told me she thought she was having a heart attack. I told her to sit down and told her she was having a panic attack and that I'd had lots of them since this whole thing started. I swear that this is the only one of the toxic parent reactions I haven't seen before. She has now officially used them all. She actually said to me "I'm too old and frail for all of this" and I said "you are not old, you're only in your 60s and your health is fine - you just told me." It ended with her actually pulling herself together and trying to go back to the small talk. She asked if I wanted to take DS2 outside and I said no, I thought we'd head off. She has just texted me about a plant she gave me.

I am so completely and utterly proud of the way I handled it. I stayed in my adult through the whole thing, respnded logically, did not raise my voice or cry or do anything - it was her who went through the entire emotional range and finally when the heart attack didn't work and i didn't fling my arms round her and say "Oh my God what have I done to you!" she gave up and went back to the beginning again and began talking about DS2.

I suppose I am a bit gutted that it didn't go a different way - and astonished that she is still blaming me for everything (she told me that I had caused all this and had to live with the consequences of my email) but I am so so pleased that I didn't fall into the old way of relating to her.

Sorry for all the typos, writing too quickly.

mitfordsisters Sat 15-Dec-07 18:34:44

CArgirl YOu have huge sympathy from me - I'm so sad and guilty about my upbringing too. It's hard to trust people. I try to maintain a relationship with my parents but I walk into traps with them all the time and come away hurt - sometimes i wish they were deadxx

ally90 Sat 15-Dec-07 18:34:45

Hmm, it was a long post wasn't it...

I personally just think what you did was amazing. And I think other people have a right to see what can be done too. Even tho I and many others could not imagine doing this its still brilliant to read someone who has done it and so well.

Really pleased we've got a new thread now smile and so busy too...hi everyone!

ally90 Sat 15-Dec-07 18:36:13

Before I broke contact I wished my family dead too so I didn't have to deal with being in contact with them/breaking contact with them...

mitfordsisters Sat 15-Dec-07 18:42:31

thanks for copying the post here ally90 - I think Pages saying 'staying adult' is a good way of putting it, as when I get upset with my mum she uses it against me. It's difficult to keep my cool though because there's that constant sense of loss - why didn't my parents love me properly - it makes me so sad.

Is it better now you don't have contact?

JerryErnie Sat 15-Dec-07 18:44:01

Hi, could I join this thread? I also don't see my mother. She's been married 3 times. I do not see my real father or step father's either. I sometimes feel like an orphan! My mother has soo many problems (don't know where to begin), my sister and I think she must have a personality disorder. I take some comfort knowing that other's have been through it too and it's not just me!

mitfordsisters Sat 15-Dec-07 18:54:06

Hi Jerry, that's a good point about feeling like an orphan - they always have to take some knocks in life

smithfield Sat 15-Dec-07 19:18:09

Hi Just wanted to say hello to everyone-

Yes I think the new thread title is fab and its great that it's enticing more of us to take a look and get on line for some cyber therapy.

Im currently suffering with a chest infection and not had the energy for posting (should add im heavily pg and Chest inf has brough on my asthma...or you'd all think what a light weight wink

I have been reading the thread and keeping up with it as it is moving soo fast. Once Im feeling better will get on and write a longer post.

Think Ally and Sakura maybe both of you should also update on your situation having been on the previous thread from the start?

Oneplusone- I wanted to post to you as Ive been so touched by your posts re-your little girl. i am currently pg (no 2) I already have a ds whose nearly 3. I have to say prior to all my issues with my mum re-surfacing,very recently, I was very anxious about having a daughter and wasnt sure why.

I think that when our mothers couldnt, for whatever reason, love us, as little girls we had to find a way of dealing with that. Pages already mentioned she threw herself into being an achiever.
We are all linked on this thread by the abuse itself but where we may seperate and differ is in our primal response to that abuse which we have carried through to our adulthood. Our internal coping mechanism for that abuse if you like.
Oneplusone, I think you mentioned you shut down your feelings and showed a very tough exterior? This is obviously the way you learnt to cope with the pain. Could you be using this coping mechanism now.
I believe you love your daughter very much, but maybe she is like a portal to you. A portal to all the pain and hurting from your past. So somewhere deep inside you know if you 'really' did allow yourself to connect to her it would be like you becoming in touch with all that pain you buried all those years ago? Its just a thought.
For myself, there is an add on t.v for nspcc, and it shows a little girl crying in a highchair. Everytime I see that add I bawl?? I thought thats because Im a very caring person. But now I think I cry beacause the vision of that little girls neglect allows me 'or forces me' to connect to my pain. Pain that I had to bury and disconnect from all those years ago in order to survive.
All in all a long winded way of saying maybe right now its just too damn painful for you to go there. But you can and you will.

Hope my ramble makes sense.

oneplusone Sat 15-Dec-07 20:09:32

Hi, smithfield, it's a bit weird as i have been reading my way through the previous thread as i only came across it recently and around half and hour ago i got to the bit where you posted. Your situation sounds very similar to mine in that i too am the eldest with a big age gap between me and my 2 younger sisters ( 5 years and 8 years) and i too feel or know that i bore the brunt of the abuse from my dad and they were not around or simply too young to remember what he did.

This has caused a rift between me and them since i cut off my parents as although they do acknowledge our parents, especially my dad were abusive they seem to think i should be grateful for the positive things they did and ignore the abuse. I think my sisters perhaps can genuinely do this as his abuse of them was far less severe than his abuse of me and they also were close to my mum whereas i wasn't.

I need to think what you suggested about my dd being a portal to my painful childhood feelings, you could well be right. I thought my dad was the worse one of the two but now i'm beginning to think my mum hurt me much more and hurt is so deeply buried that i couldn't feel it and therefore thought it wasn't there IYKWIM. I think i am scared to access the hurt she caused me as i honestly think i will break down completely and i don't feel strong enough to deal with the pain at the moment. I feel i have just come through dealing with the pain my dad caused me and i need time to get myself together before i can really focus on my mum and how she treated me. So your assessment is correct, it is just too painful to go there at the moment. Thank you so much for your thoughts, it means a lot. x

CarGirl Sat 15-Dec-07 20:14:20

Both my parents were/are just emotionally unavailable to my brother & I. They both did have upbringings that no doubt caused that.

Yes I am much happier not having contact with them. I invited them to my wedding this year because I didn't want to offend them by not inviting them, my Dad calls infrequently usually to inform me of a relatives death. I hadn't seen them for 4 years previous to this and spoken rarely. I haven't seen any of my extended family for far far longer which I find hard & sad & won't go to funerals as it would mean facing my parents at a time when I was too funeral.

I am far calmer without the uncertainity that seeing them brings.

I have to believe/hope that one day I will truly forgive them and when I do I will be able to have some sort of relationship with them (on my terms of course!)

I just have to believe that I am in tune enough with my dc that if one of them is being abused and is suicidal for nearly all of their teenage years and becomes a hermit and stops working at school that I'll take notice.

oneplusone Sat 15-Dec-07 20:14:34

PS, all through my pregnancy with DD and even before i fell pregnant i had always known that i didn't want to have any girls and i thought it strange as i thought i hated my dad much more than my mum. But i am now beginning to understand where my feelings of not wanting a girl were coming from. I had terrible PND after DD was born as well, perhaps it's connected.

Ok, going to go now, but will be back later. Take care of yourself smithfield, chest infections are awful. x

oneplusone Sat 15-Dec-07 20:29:55

Cargirl, just a quick point about therapy. If you read Alice Miller and Toxic Parents, both books emphasise the importance of seeing the right counsellor, one who fully understands the issues raised by child abuse and who has dealt with their own issues in this respect. Otherwise you run the risk of the counsellor using you to resolve their own childhood issues (unconsciously).

So, if you find your therapy is not helping you, i would strongly suggest finding another counsellor. It took me ages to find one i thought would be able to help me but he's been fantastic and has helped me immensely.

CarGirl Sat 15-Dec-07 20:39:43

Therapy has helped a lot, I've had group and individual psycotherapy (ie not just counselling) - so 3 years in total and I worked hard!!!!!!!!! I think the issue is that outside of therapy I struggle to open up and talk to anyone about any real feelings I am just very cut off emotionally.

I back for a 2nd assessment session at the local nut house in January so yet more therapy is on the cards. I know it is often likened to peeling an onion - there are layers over layers over layers so it's not surprising it can take many years to get to the bottom of the unresolved stuff.

bearsmom Sat 15-Dec-07 20:40:32

Hi oneplusone, thanks for pointing me in the direction of Amazon.com, I'll see if I can get a copy from there. I like Beverley Engel's point of view, currently reading a bit of my book that's talking a lot about moving from "victim" to "survivor", and I'm feeling less and less like my parents' victim by the day.

Smithfield, sorry to hear about your chest infection. Get well soon <<<hugs>>>.

Have just had an email from my father (sending pics of my new niece, and pretending everything is absolutely normal despite the fact I haven't spoken to him in over 18 months), and had one from my mother yesterday. I used to feel sick and shaky every time I had any sort of communication from them, now I just feel annoyed, mentally compose a suitably feisty reply, and then transfer them to a "pending" folder I've set up. Don't quite seem to have the courage to just delete them yet, but no longer feel obliged to respond or guilty when I don't. Progress! grin

CarGirl, what you said about forgiveness interested me. IME a big deal is often made about forgiveness being an essential part of moving on from a bad experience, but I think it's Susan Foreward in Toxic Parents who says that you don't need to forgive in order to move on and heal. Hope I'm not speaking out of turn here, but I know before I read TP I agonised about forgiving my parents when I knew that in reality I'd never be able to forgive them for perpetuating with me and my siblings the bad parenting and abusive behaviour they'd experienced from their parents and as a result I was completely stuck. Now I've realised that too much is often made of forgiveness it's really helped me. Sorry if this doesn't make a lot of sense. DS, DH and me all have chest infections (a lot of them about!) and as a result are not getting nearly enough sleep. Zzzzz.

MrsWeasleysmagicmincepies Sat 15-Dec-07 20:43:59

I can relate to what elfsmum says in her post except that my mum alwasy tells me that she favours my siblings!

She worshipped my DC until my neice and nephew were born now she doesnt even come to see them on their birthdays. When she does visit my DC's are told how wonderful my n&n are! hmm She constantly moans to me about my n&n. They sleep over at hers every weekend and she looks after them a lot of the time! She has said she would like my eldest DD over to sleep but when my DS and other DD asked it they could come (seperately and when its convenient) she coldly said "no I dont want you" Obviously I dont let any of my DC stay with her!

I try my best to limit contact!

CarGirl Sat 15-Dec-07 20:44:29

Forgiveness is a strange thing, this year I was truly able to forgive my "abuser" (not my parents) he accepted responsibility and in the depths of my being I completely forgive him, I would love to be able to forgive my parents in this way it is so utterly liberating - beyond anything I can describe.

I don't think you need to forgive to move on, I have certainly moved on but I would like to be able to forgive them one day for me & my sake

Danae Sat 15-Dec-07 21:50:18

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Danae Sat 15-Dec-07 22:03:46

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Sakura Sun 16-Dec-07 01:32:13

Oneplueone, its interesting what you say that your mother wasn't interested in you if you showed any signs of neediness, because its shows how abuse can have different forms. I always thought that at the end of the day, my mother was a caring person because she did show interest when I was down and in trouble, always bailing me out with money, giving me a hug if I'd split up with a boyfriend. Its only at the time of my wedding that I realised something was up- she became unhinged at the thought that I could be happy and was going through every trick in the book to destroy my wedding plans and marriage. For her, my neediness had been a sign that I needed her, not just a bad phase that every human goes through, so any sign of happiness in my childhood and beyond was a rejection of her (in her eyes). So she'd always cut off chances of happiness, ex told friends who were ringing that I was out when I wasn't, or threaten me for weeks on end that I couldn't go on the school trip that I was looking forward to, or my best friend's party I had been talking about for months. Even now I can't look forward to things without a dreadful feeling of dread that something is going to go tits up. I often don't tell anyone, not even DH, if I have something fun about to come up, or a job interview, because I feel that if anyone knows, something will inevitable spoil it- I wonder why hmm
THats why when I was planning my wedding, her abuse and emotional blackmail towards me increased, she wrote a long letter teary to my grandmother saying she "didn't know why I was doing this to her" i.e getting married, being happy. God it was such an awful time, but it made me realise that something was up. I mean, shouldn't a mother be happy that her daughter has been given a shot at happiness? I mean God knows, theres enough grief and strife in this world, and a lot of marriages don't last, and mine has its faults, but a wedding represents a chance at happiness and thats why they are still celebrated in the way they are. A normal mother would be thrilled that her daughter was being given this chance. Not mine. The wedding nearly didn't happen because of her!

Sakura Sun 16-Dec-07 01:33:48

Thanks pages for starting this thread! Thanks ally, for providing the title! I'm sure it will be as successful and helpful as the last one smile

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