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'But We Took You to Stately Homes'...a thread for adult children of abusive families

(1002 Posts)
therealsmithfield Mon 11-Jan-10 14:10:27

Welcome to the Stately Homes Thread.

This is a long running thread which was originally started up by 'pages' see original thread here

So this thread originates from that thread and has become a safe haven for Adult children of abusive families.

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 parent?s 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 emotional abused and/or physically abused. Some are not sure what category (there doesnt have to be any) they fall into.

NONE of that matters. What matters is how 'YOU' felt growing 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 wether 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 you 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 defenses 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 us 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 behavior. 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 offenses 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 behavior. 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 realize 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

follow up to pages first thread

Im sure the other posters will be along shortly to add anything they feel I have left out grin. I personally dont claim to be sorted but I will say my head has become a helluva lot straighter since I started posting here. You will recieve a lot of wisdom but above all else the insights and advice given will 'always' be delivered with warmth and support.

Happy Posting (smithfield posting as therealsmithfield)

wanttostartafresh Mon 11-Jan-10 14:24:23

Perfect TRS, thank you.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 11-Jan-10 14:30:56

TRS

Great job, you should be very proud of you really cos you've come a long way. Well I am proud of you. I remember when you first posted and you then posted on another Stately Homes thread.

yours with long memory

roseability Mon 11-Jan-10 15:45:00

Great post trs!I feel quite emotional reading it.lets stick together guys

PurpleOne Mon 11-Jan-10 16:22:44

I really wish I hadn't bothered getting back in touch with my father.
He has used me all over again. sad

OrdinarySAHM Mon 11-Jan-10 16:47:15

Excellent TRSmithfield, thank you smile.

PurpleOne, what made you get back in touch with your father?

What has he done that has made you feel used?

How does this remind you of what he did in the past?

ItsGraceAgain Mon 11-Jan-10 18:28:29

Smithfield, thanks for this. I hadn't realised what the "6th visit to the Stately Home" was about! Now reading it. Your posts are incredibly powerful. By the time I've read all 989 posts in the other thread, I'm sure I'll have learned some more about me. And maybe have something new to say

BopTheAlien Mon 11-Jan-10 22:19:01

Hooray!

Way too tired to post more now after my late night posting last night but am very happy to see things moving on like this, and TRS and WTSA - grin - thanks for your posts on the old thread, guys! Means a lot to have that validation.

Well done and thanks for setting this up, TRS.

Will be back when I have some energy again!

MamaLazarou Tue 12-Jan-10 08:44:38

Couldn't believe my eyes reading the OP: you have described my family perfectly! They like to act like nothing ever happened, they did the best they could, I was a difficult child, nothing's ever good enough for me, etc. What an eye-opener!

I'd seen the 'Stately Home' threads before, but had assumed it was about someone whose PILs were frightfully rich! grin

mampam Tue 12-Jan-10 12:52:20

Hi, I've been wondering whether or not if I should post here for quite some time. You see I'm not posting about my own Toxic Parents (I do have a toxic mother and have posted on here about it a long time ago) but about my DH's VERY Toxic Parents.

I have recently had threads about my IL's, mainly to do with what DH should do next and wondering if I have given him the correct advice/support.

Here's a low down on my Toxic IL's:

IL's don't like me and MIL especially has made it perfectly clear.

I feel that MIL is an attention seeker who was used to having the full attention of FIL and DH. When I came along and some of DH's attention was focused on me, MIL hated it/me and would take steps to ensure she got DH's full attention again, for example:

Changing her voice to almost babyish so DH would pity her and say yes to what ever she was asking of him, when she got her yes from him her voice would immediately change back to normal; getting in strops for no apparent reason for days on end until DH would go to her house and spend hours with her trying to find out what was wrong; Getting in mini-strops about nothing which would end with DH saying 'sorry' and feeling bad even though he had done nothing wrong, making DH feel really guilty by phoning him when they were on holiday to make sure he was feeding the cat properly because 'she's all I've got'; our first romantic weekend away together was ruined by MIL continuously phoning. DH couldn't switch his phone off as his dad was in hospital (for a minor op) at the time. On the day we were due to come home DH had a series of phonecalls asking him when he would be home as MIL wanted him to go to the hospital with her. She wouldn't take NO for an answer. We were over a 3 hour drive away.

(These examples are to name but a few).

DH was always expected to drop what he was doing the instant he was asked by FIL to help him with something. If he dared to refuse = major guilt trips = 'all the things I've done for you etc'. We once had a holiday planned and had booked time off work and the hotel etc. IL's decided they wanted to go away the same week (they don't work so can go any time) and we were expected to cancel our plans at the last minute to stay behind and feed their cat! When DH said no because we've got it all booked and time off work booked, FIL replied "thanks a lot, what are we supposed to do?". We were hounded on that holiday too by phonecalls. DH switched his phone off but when we were seeing relatives they would just 'happen' to call and want to speak to DH.

We used to live next door to IL's. I was made to feel like an outsider, it was just the 3 of them, me and my DC's weren't part of that family.

MIL used to say sly things to me when on our own. DH confronted her and she made out I must have got the wrong end of the stick. TBH DH didn't believe me at that time, he didn't think his mother would ever 'say things like that'.

When we announced to them that we were engaged, we got a half hearted 'congratulations' and they carried on watching TV even though we'd taken around a bottle of champagne for a celebration, this was followed by a 3 day strop from MIL who was quite nasty with it.

FIL has been on the door step slagging me off to DH infront of my DC's.

Because of this DH finally realised that we could no longer continue living next door to them (there were other events too but to long to list). When he told his parents we were moving out all hell broke loose.
FIL stormed into our house started shouting at me and calling me names. To cut a long story short refused to apologise to me.

He did however apologise in a round about way to DH but DH said he needed to apologise to me. FIL refused. This was followed by everytime I left the house they would be straight around to hound DH. Basically trying to buy him off. When that didn't work they then had possible heart conditions and possible legs that needed amputating!!

At our wedding they didn't speak one word to me all day. They caused an awful atmosphere. FIL wouldn't stand near me for the photos and they look ridiculous with him stood at least 3 foot away from me. Everytime I went near MIL she turned on her heels and walked off in the opposite direction.

2 weeks after the wedding MIL's father died. After the wedding we couldn't really afford to travel over 300 miles and pay for a hotel but we did anyway. MIL wouldn't speak to DH or even look at him because I was there with him.

After this DH wrote IL's a letter saying that they'd really upset him and the reason he hadn't had anything to do with them was because of X,Y,Z and he wanted an apology and a promise never to behave like that again. Low and behold a reply was received but no apology.

Meanwhile DH was being hounded by his paternal grandparents by phone, text, email and letter. The first letter on the subject having a part addressed to me asking me to spare some of DH's love for the rest of his family. This hounding continued, Christmas 08 DH received an email from his grandparents with a photo of DH and FIL swimming in the sea, the caption was "this is the grandson I want to remember" followed by a full scale cartoon drawing of FIL comforting MIL when she's crying and FIL being kicked in the privates by DH and at the bottom it said "I cannot believe you are involving mampams children like this or was it mampams idea to take the presents back?", basically because MIL turned up at DH's work and left a Christmas present for my DC's and some money for us. Rightly or wrongly DH felt he didn't want anything from his parents so he took the presents back to their house, no-one was about so he left them on the doorstep.

DH has recently got in touch with some of his cousins, who are also in touch with IL's. They are obviously being fed bits of information by IL's that they know will get back to DH like MIL is supposed to have been in and out of hospital after having a nervous breakdown, FIL doesn't do anything but sit and stare into space and won't talk to anyone!! The cousins live 250 miles away so know no different, we on the otherhand live 5 miles away in a small rural community where everyone knows everyone elses business. It's funny how people we know had seen them and they had been on holiday and ridden FIL's motorbike down through France.

We were also told by DH's grandparents who live 300 miles away that FIL had had a serious operation on the tendons in his arm, funnily enough we saw him about a week after said operation and he was riding his motorbike!

I could go on for ever and ever. More recently though things have taken a strange/different turn. DH and I are expecting a baby in May, this was written in exactly the same way in a Christmas card to the IL's, grandparents and aunty/uncle. We received a card from IL's saying how pleased they were and are looking forward to being 'proud grandparents'.

2 weekends before Christmas DH had a breakdown and is now on AD's and is awaiting counselling.

Last week we had a letter from IL's saying that they want to get in contact (had the usual guilt trips in it).

DH does want to establish some form of contact. At the end of the day it's his decision and I have to support him the best way I can. I have suggested he write a letter back saying that contact will be gradual but only through email at first with a few conditions. If they don't like these then tough, like it or lump it kind of thing. I have suggested that he opens a new email account for which the only correspondance is with his parents and if it all gets too much he doesn't have to check the emails on this account or he can just delete it. I think the main thing is for him to feel like he is in control of the whole situation.

Thank you for reading if you made it this far. It feels so much better to pour it all out like this. Sorry I have taken up so much space on your new thread.

If you have any thoughts on this then I would be grateful. I know a couple of you have posted and given great advice on the threads I started. I also know that the main consensus was to stay away from these toxic people but it is not what DH wants to do. I'd be greatful for any thoughts/advice on writing the initial contact letter to IL's. I want to support/help DH in the best way I can.

Thank you.

gladitsover Tue 12-Jan-10 12:56:47

Hi everyone, I'm really pleased I found this thread. I am currently reading through your previous one. A lot of your experiences sound very familiar to my situation (sorry can't remember individuals, have just read through 12 pages of previous thread!). Some time I would like to post some of my experiences and ask for your opinions, if that is ok.

ItsGraceAgain Tue 12-Jan-10 13:28:24

mampam, your ILs sound beyond awful! It's so sad for your DH. He's probably going through what so many of us have/are - that feeling of filial duty, bound up with a desire to improve the relationship (=fix the crappy childhood), and the conflict with our adult reality. Logic, unfortunately, doesn't get much of a look-in here because of the conflicting emotional/psychological imperatives.

I can't offer specific advice but I truly hope he gets a great counsellor, who will help him separate the strands of this issue & free him to make adult choices in confidence.

Sending him my best wishes! And to you: you sound like a wise & supportive DW. You need good care, too

OrdinarySAHM Tue 12-Jan-10 13:33:13

It looks like the new description at the top of the thread is making it much clearer what the thread is about and more people who could benefit from it are finding it, so that is excellent grin

Mampam, the situation with your ILs sounds incredibly stressful! And it must be horrible to watch your DH go through it, with them being his parents who are supposed to be loving, supportive etc. They really seem to have it in for you and have had from the very beginning! - but this is proof that it actually is not your fault because they couldn't have known you well enough right at the beginning to have made such an extreme judgement of you based on anything true about you. They have that opinion just because they want to have it, it seems. They can't cope with anything which looks like a threat to the amount of attention they will get from their son.

They need him to do loads of things for them and give them loads of attention in order to feel important. This isn't proper love for who your DH is, this is 'love' for how he can make them feel. It is selfish. And whatever he does, I'm sure it will never be enough.

It must be hard for you to 'watch' your DH have contact, knowing it is no good for him, but that you have to respect his wish to keep 'trying' to have a reasonable relationship with them. It is probably easy for you to see that he should just cut off but it is a natural inbuilt thing to try to bond and keep the bond with your parents. They have to be REALLY bad before people cut off, or you have to try and try and get hurt and disappointed so many times that EVENTUALLY when you feel sure you have tried everything (because you feel it is worth it because this bond is so important to humans) you decide not to keep banging your head against a brick wall. This is something your DH will have to decide for himself when he feels ready.

You may feel helpless but your support in whatever he wants to do and talking with him about the outcomes and helping him work through it all will help him so much.

You are important too and I hope there are people supporting you just as much.

wanttostartafresh Tue 12-Jan-10 13:46:33

Mampam, I would highly recommend you get hold of Toxic in Laws by Susan Forward. It helped me and DH enormously in working out how to cope with his parents. If your DH is willing to read the book I am sure your situation will improve beyond recognition.

mampam Tue 12-Jan-10 14:48:52

wtsaf I have a copy of Toxic Parents on order for DH. Is Toxic Inlaws any different? Is it worth ordering a copy for myself?

OSAHM yes you have hit the nail on the head. It is hard for me to watch DH go through this and I know that no good will come of this contact with his parents. They will never change but like you have said until he gets fed up with banging his head against a brick wall......
I just don't know how much I can take. I sincerely hope I can take it until DH has his lightbulb moment.

Grace You are right there is no logic. DH wants to patch his relationship up with his parents because I think he feels it has only gone belly up in the last 4 years. He didn't think there was anything wrong with his childhood at the time, only now that he has spread his own wings away from his parents is he looking back and realising that his childhood was far from 'normal'. He still hasn't come to terms with this.

From the snippits DH has told me about his childhood it seems very odd. For example he was made to cycle miles on his bike to fetch a heavy bag of potatoes and struggled home with them barely able to manage - why couldn't his parents have fetched them in the car?

DH was left of his own accord to do things like attend Doctors appointments on his own from an early age, walk miles home from school on his own at an early age, he would roam around the countryside on his own getting up to all sorts.

DH admits that it was only when he got older that they suddenly wanted to try and control what he did after the freedom (too much for his age imo)he had as a child.

Something else I find strange about his childhood is that 2 men tried to kidnap him and he managed to get/run away. He ran straight to his dad's workshop but he wasn't believed. DH has told me in detail about this and it sounds very frightening and horrific.

DH had a babysitter. The babysitter didn't go to their house to babysit he would have to go there and sleep over. Quite often the baby sitter would go out herself leaving DH in the care of her two teenage children. They sexually abused him. He used to have to sleep in the same bed as the teenage son too. Whilst IL's did not know that this was happening to DH and still don't know to this day as DH never told them for fear of not being believed. I'm so angry that they would palm a young child off to a strangers house overnight and not find it odd that their son was sleeping in the same bed as a teenage boy.

wanttostartafresh Tue 12-Jan-10 15:15:19

I'm a bit reluctant to post what I'm thinking given the problems in the previous thread. But I have not been able to sleep for thinking about all the things that were said about me by spiky and i need to get it out of my head otherwise it will be churning around for days. Sorry if you would rather all just forget about it and move on, i can't seem to do that probably because a lot of spiky's comments were directed at me.

I have re-read through my posts and spiky's posts and i feel as if i simply cannot make sense of what she is saying, both wrt her own situation and mine. Her main problem with me seems to have been wrt my sisters. She definately seems to have been interested in this issue as she said she read the thread that i started about my relationship with them a few months ago. My other thread is here in case anybody wants to read it here

I think she must have been drawn to my thread because she seems to have similar issues with her brother who was not abused whilst she was, just like my sisters and myself. But I have re-read that thread as well and what she said about it is simply not true. Nobody on my other thread was being judgmental whether in a good or bad way. People who were in a similar situation were simply relating their own experiences and how they dealt with things. There was one poster who posted about a friend of hers and that friend's situation and mine seemed nearly identical and i related completely to what she said and how her friend dealt with his situation.

I don't know why she kept saying that she felt 'frustrated' by my posts about my sisters and she clearly thought i was wrong because i was not doing what she thought i should do. But i don't even think she really read my posts properly or in full; i think she skimmed through,saw there was a similarity with her situation, and then couldn't understand why i was not dealing with it in the same way she had dealt with her situation with her brother. If she had bothered to read my posts properly i am sure she would have understood how and why i have reached the point where i am now ie no contact with my sisters. She said i was 'game playing' and by not contacting them i am trying to force them to see things from my pov. But that is totally incorrect. If she bothered to read my posts i have said quite clearly many times that i realise i will never get my sisters to accept my pov and i have decided to cut off contact to protect myself from being continually hurt. I'm not game playing and i have no idea where spiky got that idea from, most likely it might be the sort of thing she has tried.

It seems to me like she has had lots of therapy and has perhaps read some books about all of this but doesn't have any real in depth understanding about the dyamics that are often at play without us knowing about it and the different roles within the family etc. I found it strange that she said that she and her brother had always had a good relationship despite the obvious dysfunctional nature of their family. From my experience it seems to be very rare if not impossible for sibling relationships within dysfunctional families to be 'normal' or genuinely caring and loving, particularly if only one sibling was abused. I did not realise how dysfunctional my own relationship with my sisters was until i worked through more and more issues and feelings. It had always been obvious to me that my relationship with my parents was not right but i had no idea that my relationship with my sisters had also been fundamentally damaged too and i also thought that my sisters and i had a good relationship. Until i started realising i had actually been completely blind to the many many signs and signals that my sisters had been giving over the years which all pointed to just how unhealthy and damaging my relationship was with them. I think this could where spiky is 'at'. She may not have looked closely at her relationship with her brother which is why she thinks they have a good relationship despite the fact he does not believe her when she says she was abused by their mother. Surely in a genuinely good, caring sibling relationship your sibling would believe you over such a thing and would not think you were lying or exaggerating? But i honestly believe that sibling relationships within dsyfunctional families simply cannot flourish in the way normal sibling relationships would within a functional family.

A huge sign for me that showed just how bad my relationship with my sisters really was, despite what i had thought all my life, was that they did not believe our parents had abused me. And from what spiky had said her brother does not believe that she was abused. And i think spiky's 'frustration' with me is caused by the fact that i have decided i do deserve to be believed about what my parents did to me and am not willing to have a relationship with my sisters unless they accept I am telling the truth, without exaggeration or lies or mistakes. I could not have a relationship with anyone who thought i was lying about something so fundamental to my personal history and that has caused me so much devastation and pain and loss. Spiky however seems willing to have a relationship with her brother despite the fact that he does not believe their mother abused her and i think my stance makes her feel very very uncomfortable or 'frustrated' as she puts it. She seems to be 'comforting' herself with the thought that her brother thinks she is good at various things as if that somehow makes up for the fact that he doesn't accept she was abused. Just to make it clear, i am not criticisng spiky's choice to maintain a relationship with her brother, i am just trying to work out why she seems to have such a problem with the way i am dealing with the situation with my sisters.

It has taken me a long long time to reach this point of feeling i do not need a relationship with my sisters. It has taken me a long time to gather the strength needed to emotionally detach from them but i knew i needed to do that as our relationship was causing me far more harm than good. But i have finally reached the place i wanted to be and i have such a strong gut feeling that i have done absolutely the right thing to preserve my own health and well being. And i deeply resent spiky's hurtful and insensetive and frankly ignorant comments about me. Afaic i have done the hard thing, i have detached myself from my sisters, and there is now a painful gap there which i have to live with.

Also by singling me out as the only person on this thread that she had a problem with and making out that I was the problem, (instead of realising that she is the one who has unresolved issues which were probably being triggered by my posts) she has unintentionally triggered a whole host of emotions from my past. She made me feel once again how my dad used to make me feel when he used to openly tell me that i was the problem child in the family, that i was the bad, difficult one, whilst my sisters were the 'good', 'well behaved' children. Being singled out from amongst a group and told you are the problem is horrible, i went through that as a child and i certainly don't want to go through it again, especially not on this thread and especially when it's not even the truth. I deeply resent and am extremely angry at spiky for having the arrogance to tell me that my posts are causing problems for her, when it seems obvious to me that my posts are merely triggering problems that she has already got. She is not even aware that she is scapegoating me and blaming me for her own problems. I may have put up with being scapegoated by my family for years but i am certainly not going to put up with it from somebody such as spiky who i think should spend more time reading and reflecting upon herself than posting on this thread.

I appreciate some of you may not share my views but as i was the person specifically targeted by spiky i feel i have the right to respond.

Colorado's post did not bother me as much if at all because it was obviously such rubbish.

Ok, i've said what i needed to say so will sign off now.

wanttostartafresh Tue 12-Jan-10 15:17:22

mampam, yes Toxic In Lsws is different and definately worth buying as well as Toxic Parents. I have both and Toxic Parents would not have been much use in the situation i had with my highly toxic MIL.

ItsGraceAgain Tue 12-Jan-10 15:41:01

WTSA, I've only read your post above & don't know your history with spiky. I just want to let you know that, while reading, I really felt a lot of "Ouch!"es for you - and that spiky probably did react inappropriately to your story. From what you say, she seems to have given you a role in her own drama. It's quite possible that she will learn from it as her story unfolds.

What's sad is that it has upset you so much. You both seem very closely identified with each other: can you see this? Can you set her free to 'do' her own issues? If yours & hers bump up against one another, so be it. But she has no power to alter your reactions - only you can do that.

eldestofthree Tue 12-Jan-10 15:51:44

TRS what a great post.

I saw some of the previous thread and hadn't really appreciated what it was about but now having it spelt out...well that is exactly the sort of thing I can imagine my mother saying to me!

So me. I have had a 'difficult' relationship with my mother throughout my life. As my name suggests I am the eldest of three and the only one to really have suffered as a result of my relationship.

It is very difficult to sum up. I think she just didn't like me much. I cannot pinpoint specific examples but I recall that I spent much of my childhood crying in my bedroom having been sent there for "arguing".

From the age of 7 we would argue terribly. I was always told that it was my fault: I was difficult; I wasn't affectionate - I never allowed her to cuddle me as a baby; It was obviously me that had the problem as she got on with my other sisters (this was usually said whilst she hugged my younger sisters and they were asked whether they thought it was my mums fault)

It sounds so insignificant written down. She did hit me once and following an emergency admission to hospital left me there alone awaiting surgery as she "needed to sleep as she was going on holiday the next day" although I was 18 at that point.

We didn't talk for a number of years in my late teens and she never made the effort to reconcile. I eventually did after a heartfelt plea from my maternal grandmother who had clearly been fed a number of lies about how awful I was but I didn't want to hurt her or the wider family. Obviously I had to apologise for my perceived bad behaviour.

Today I can hardly bear her. We maintain a facade of cordial coolness but underneath I am desperate to shout at her. I know it wouyld be useless she has no comnprehension that she is anyway unreasonable. Her lack of self awareness is astounding.

I get much comfort from the fact that my younger sisters now see that I wasn't the big bad nightmare child that my mum led them to believe I was but it is still very painful.

I now have a DC, including a DD and I cannot ever imagine treating her the way I was treated. How can they do it.

Sadly the older I get the angrier I get towards my dad. I had believed we were close growing up and in some ways we still are (in a very middle class reserved sort of manner IYKWIM!) but I am increasingly angered by his inability to have not once stood up for me. He stood by and watched my mum treat me terribly. How could he and how do I get over that?

Anyway I am sure this is very long - but has been useful. thanks

ItsGraceAgain Tue 12-Jan-10 16:18:30

I am an abuser. At least, I was - as I'm only just beginning to get my head around this ugly fact, I can't confidently say (yet) I wouldn't be again

Sure, I chose emotionally closed, selfish partners. Yes, I understand how I came to choose that kind of man (and friends). It's true that, in those relationships, anyone would have lost it somewhat. But not everyone would have been as nasty, as terrified, as suspicious or as angry as I was. They were horrible to me. And I was horrible to them.

You know, I thought I was making good progress. I'm being hit by a sudden storm of new insights - I realise this is real progress, but the glimpses of how far I've still to go are a bit worrying!

Well. Thanks for reading blush For everyone I've wounded with my words, my game-playing and my fear ... I'm sorry. Very sorry

wanttostartafresh Tue 12-Jan-10 17:31:03

Grace hi and thanks for reading my post. I just needed to offload after being attacked completely unexpectedly and unprovoked by spiky who seems to have almost been 'following' me around on MN. She only joined the previous thread recently and only posted a few times, but in that time has managed to cause a lot of upset and turmoil for me. And she is the only poster in the long history of this thread who has behaved in such a way. (I remember once, ages ago, a poster similar to colorado, but she was so obviously a troll it was easy to spot and shoo her away). It has never seemed necessary until now to even put a description of what the ethos of the thread is about at the beginning, each new poster has usually been reading for some time and has picked up and adhered to the unwritten rules of the thread which are not that hard to follow really.

Like you have said spiky did seem to almost be giving me a role in her drama. And i am sure my posts about my sisters were triggering her but she had absolutely no idea that this was happening and blamed me for causing her to feel 'frustrated' when in fact i am sure the real cause of her problems lie deep rooted within her family. She even said she had been wanting to post on this thread but didn't because she felt frustrated by my posts. My posts were only ever about me and my feelings and insights and my relationship with my sisters which is of course unique to me, and why they should cause her frustration is bizarre. She kept telling me I should view the situation wrt my sisters differently and i am sure she meant i should look at it in the same way that she was viewing her situation with her brother. She was essentially uncomfortable about my view and decision and because it made her uncomfortable she was trying to tell me i was wrong and should change my view so that she would feel comfortable. She totally ignored the fact I had thought long and hard about my view and my decisions and I was completely comfortable with them and felt they were the right thing for me to do. Her posts were all about her and her own feelings under the guise of trying to offer advice and help to me, when she was really trying to help herself to feel better.

And again her comments about my eczema. She completely ignored my posts about how badly it was affecting me and how distressing it is and just because she didn't think it could be that bad as compared to injuries caused by physical abuse, she felt she had the right to tell me my posts about this made her feel uncomfortable. My eczema is an injury i have sustained as a result of the horrific emotional abuse, psychological violence and emotional neglect and abandonment i suffered and to trivialise it and minimise it as spiky tried to do by saying it couldn't be as bad as a physical injury suffered as a result of physical abuse is deeply hurtful and disrespectful and it was just so unexpected to be reading that sort of thing on this thread.

Anyway, i don't want to dwell on spiky any more, she does not warrant any more time or energy that could be better spent elsewhere.

wanttostartafresh Tue 12-Jan-10 17:37:31

Grace, i was an abuser too. I think the way i have treated DH at times, not so much recently, but in the past before i was aware of my issues, could be termed abuse. I can see now i was scapegoating him and blaming him when he was unwittingly the trigger for buried emotions from my past and i did the same thing with DD which is even worse.

I feel sorry for what i did, but i have realised feeling guilty is pointless. It wasn't my fault and nor was it yours. We were behaving that way purely due to the damage done to us by our parents and rather than wasting energy on feeling guilty it is far better spent on taking steps to heal and repair the damage so we don't continue to scapegoat those around us.

Yes, it's overwhelming to think about the amount of work we need to do on ourselves, but you only need to take it one small step at a time.

wanttostartafresh Tue 12-Jan-10 17:58:39

eldestof3, hi, and i am also the eldest of 3 and i can relate to so much of what you have said. I am interested in how your "younger sisters now see that I wasn't the big bad nightmare child that my mum led them to believe I was". Can you tell me how your sisters were finally able to see the real you? My sisters seem to still be seeing me as the "big bad nightmare child".

I completely understand how you feel about your dad. In my case the positions were reversed. It was my mother who stood by and watched whilst my dad beat me up emotionally and psychologically. And i also thought for ages she was the 'lesser evil' of the two until i started realising just how badly she had let me down, what a coward she had been and i began to hate her even more than my dad. I am sure severe mental illness caused my dad to abuse me but my mother was just a pathetic coward who saw what was being done to me and chose to do nothing. Like you, as a mother myself now, i simply cannot imagine how a mother can act like she did. I find it utterly incomprehensible.

Part of your dad's job was to protect you. It was a fundamental duty he had towards you from the minute you were born. You were a young child, how could you possibly defend yourself against your mother? But your dad could have protected you. He was an adult. And he failed completely in his duty so no wonder you hate him, it's a normal reaction.

ItsGraceAgain Tue 12-Jan-10 19:02:34

WTSA, what fantastic posts! Thank you for your affirmation I don't think I'm feeling guilty ... but, just today, have begun to wonder whether my illness (and extremely slow recovery) is a roundabout form of self-punishment. Arrghh! Thank god I've got a therapist again - and, definitely, thank goodness for this forum grin

What you said about your ex having unwittingly triggered you: I'd guess that's what happened to spiky when she read your posts. It's a bummer and I think you understand how it happened. In the spirit of this thread, let's hope she also comes to see it before too long wink

I've been going through the same process as you described, wrt my mother. I blindly bought into the "mean old Daddy, poor old Mum" for some considerable time. We have now had several discussions & rows about it; while I honestly don't want to add to her problems, I feel better for having aired my perspective - along similar lines to Smithfield's introduction above. I'm still readjusting my feelings about her - I hate that she didn't love me enough to protect me; I don't want to live with hatred, so am muddling my way through this in trust that I'll have resolved my own feelings before she dies (she's 80).

My whole family's attitudes started to change the minute I started therapy! Perhaps something subtle had altered in the way I spoke/related/acted. My bros & sis elected me to speak at Dad's funeral, bless them. I didn't completely rubbish him, but made it clear that his memorable contribution to family life had been fear angry

Over time, the others have told me they understand what my therapy's about, that Mum "wasn't a very good mother" and have even given me back memories of some awful things our parents did to me I imagine this is what you'd like from your sisters? I can't tell you how it happened - it's the "therapy miracle" - but I do recommend telling family members about your process. Not in great detail, as that might burden them, but with a decent amount of clarity. Even my pattern-repeating sister has started sharing childhood memories that contrast with her "lovely" fantasy. I was so happy to hear that!

Good luck with yours, and thanks for helping with mine.

wanttostartafresh Tue 12-Jan-10 19:43:04

Hi Grace, sorry, i didn't mean to assume you felt guilty, but it is common i think to feel guilt when you realise you have treated people badly who really didn't deserve it.

I suppose the problem i have got is that i have cut ties with my parents. Perhaps if i was still in contact with them and they started noticing that although they were behaving in the same old patterns with me, that i was responding differently, they might start to change like your family did. I think you are very lucky that your family's attitudes did change, i somehow cannot see my family changing at all.

When you say "over time" your siblings attitudes began to change, can i ask how long that took? And were in contact during all that time? Were all the siblings abused or was it just you? Sorry lots of questions, no need to answer if you don't want to.

I suppose I am doing what feels right for me at the moment. I definately feel wrt my sisters that right now i need a complete break from them, space to recover and heal from the hurt they have caused me. Perhaps after this break i might feel ready to talk to them and our relationship may improve. Perhaps after this break they may want nothing to do with me which i have not ruled out at all. But if they do want nothing to do with me afterwards, then i feel i will have lost nothing. I had a 2 year break from a friend after we fell out having been friends for 20 years before that. We both seperately chose to get back in touch with each other and are now close again, having made amends for the mistakes we made before. So i think that if i can 'seperate' from a 'mere' friend, but get back together, because we both valued each other and valued our friendshpi enough to eventually talk and sort out our differences then surely i should be able to do that with my sisters? I know it's a different situation with siblings than friends, but ultimately if my sisters value me and i realise there is something to be valued in them, which i simply am not feeling at the moment probably because i am hurting too much over the way they have treated me, then i imagine we will get in touch with each other and make an effort to sort out our relationship. At the moment i am not inclined to make that effort and nor do they seem that way inclined. Perhaps this may change in the future. I want to wait and see how i feel, if i miss them like i started to miss my friend.

ItsGraceAgain Tue 12-Jan-10 20:04:09

Going to keep this short as have lost yet another day to mumsnet shock
Well, not lost exactly - my head's doing a lot of work on itself!!

It's 10 years since Dad died. In this time, my contact with bros & sis has reduced but not been radically broken. Started getting support almost instantly, but sis very angry with me for years; her less-than-delightful recollections only started appearing last year. We were all abused but I got it worst & sister got it least. I have told her eldest DC, in front of her, I sympathise with DC's situation (scapegoat) because it's what happened to me. Sister isn't thick; it's slowly sinking in at last. Brother told me he's always felt guilty & ashamed that he didn't protect me. My little brother! Blast those parents angry

roseability Tue 12-Jan-10 21:11:56

Thank goodness I have my computer back now!

I got an email from Mumsnet re the post I reported. They said they can't delete it on the grounds of it being judgemental only but they can see where I am coming from. They are going to discuss the idea of a judgement free zone on Mumsnet, although we have it here already I suppose. That is why we were thrown by the recent posts that seemed to break the unwritten rules of this thread.

WTSA - I think Colorado was obviously a troll (or spiky as well?) but as you said Spiky's posts were more disturbing in that they seemed genuine.

I really admired your attitude that you couldn't be close to anyone who didn't believe what you had been through, including your sisters. Like you said it is part of you and your history and anyone worth a dime to you should honour that and not challenge or deny it. I am beginning to feel this way too. I was always so worried that people would think less of me if I spoke the truth about my adoptive parents. I am beginning to have the confidence and self belief that I really do need to put emotional and physical distance between me and my adoptive parents and that my loved ones should understand that

I actually have been reading over the original thread started by Pages in 2007 that TRS posted the link to. Some things reallt stood out

A few of you have mentioned The Continuum Concept recently. Sakura mentioned it on that original thread. I am obsessed with that book but it is a double edged sword. I really believe in the ideas it represents but I also feel racked with guilt that I couldn't carry those principles through exactly with my own children. I definately took some ideas on board e.g. I carried DD in a sling a lot when she was a newborn and co-slept with her for the first few months of her life but obviously I just couldn't carry them 24 hours a day and I no longer co-sleep with them because my husband and I like our space at night. I didn't leave my babies to cry except on odd ocassions when I was feeling desperate and getting angry and I thought it best to leave them somewhere safe for 5-10 minutes. I found then that I calmed down and when I picked them up again I could soothe them better because I was calmer. BUT I still feel guilty about those moments.

I just can't help but think we have got it a bit wrong in the West, that we don't have the social network to be able to care for our babies this way. That maybe we have a hole in our lives that has missed that 'in arms' phase and that us on this thread are even more bereft because not only did we not have that physical contact with our mothers but we didn't have confidant, loving mothers that cared for us unconditionally and wanted us to flourish as women and human beings. Their own needs were not met so they couldn't give us what we needed and so the cycle continues unless we can break it

I wept when I read the part about the educated mother who 'struck' her infant because she couldn't understand why he was crying all the time and not meeting her need for love. It was a little too close to home because I went through hell when DS was born. All that emptiness and lack of warmth from my family poured forth like poison and I used to get so, so angry at my DS. Unfortunately I hadn't learnt the art of walking away and calming down and I still allowed my adoptive parents to manipulate me. I was still blind to the abuse they had inflicted over the years. My DS was supposed to be the making of me, I would be a wonderful mother and finally prove myself. I didn't realise that deep down I had expected him to give me what I had missed all my life. My own flesh and blood who loved me like I deserved to be loved. So why was he crying and crying and difficult to settle. He was proving that I was inherently worthless and failing at the one thing I thought I could be good at. He was proving that my adoptive parents view of me was right. I am ashamed to admit that I too lashed out sad. I pulled his hair and shoved him into the cot too roughly. I think I once struck him when he was in the pram screaming and wouldn't stop.

I am utterly, utterly ashamed of this but I realise I am not a monster or a child abuser but I was in the depths of PND and at my wits end. I have to forgive myself and try to understand why it happened. I have come a long way since then and my DS is a lovely caring little boy. Whilst there were bad moments, I also knew how to love. There were olots of kisses and cuddles too. I have been so much calmer and happy with DD as a baby. I realise this is how it should be. Not perfection no, as this is impossible but not tthe depths of despair I reached with my DS. The self loathing that knew no bounds. I used to think if the river behind my house swallowed me, everyone would be better without me including my DS

I am ultimately responsible for my actions but I blame my abusive childhood for at least some of my early reactions to motherhood. I am much calmer and happier now that I have realised my adoptive parents were abusive and have pretty much cut them out of my life. I have a great bond with my DS and pray he knows nothing of those dark moments. I can honestly say I never raise my hand to him now and I cherish him with all my heart. He made me face my demons and I thank him for that

ItsGraceAgain Tue 12-Jan-10 21:36:06

I love the way that all of you consciously, deliberately love your children better than you were loved. Imperfection is part of the human condition - but your imperfections as parents will be small. You will have broken the cycle. That's a wonderful achievement, with lasting benefits to generations of people

I couldn't carry full-term. I sometimes wonder whether I was unconsciously rejecting the inevitability that I would pass on the bad parenting? I don't spend much time worrying about it. Those of my siblings, who have kids, have repeated the family pattern - to greater & lesser extents, and without the extremes I was subjected to, but - it's obvious. Their eldest DCs are 'troubled' people like me. What a pity

Which is all meant to say: well done. Don't even think of underestimating your achievement!

ItsGraceAgain Tue 12-Jan-10 21:45:54

I think my family takes an interest in my 'process' because they hope it will help them heal, too. I like that thought. Even though it means I'm still the communal "problem mule" in a way ... this a way I've chosen for myself. I think it does help them, too, a little bit.

I'm spamming this thread! blush Sorry.

therealsmithfield Tue 12-Jan-10 23:33:50

Hi guys- Just so pleased to see so many posts and from new and old posters.
I wanted you all to know I am reading your posts but wanted to spend a bit of time replying.

Keep posting smile

And I think bop should change her name to bopthebrave*

*attilla
thanks for your kind words xx

roseability Wed 13-Jan-10 08:03:26

Hi to the newbies smile

quietlydrowning Wed 13-Jan-10 10:42:23

Message withdrawn

nolongerdrowning Wed 13-Jan-10 10:46:38

Message withdrawn

wanttostartafresh Wed 13-Jan-10 11:09:44

rose, i want to say thank you again for sticking your neck out and standing up for me wrt colorado. It is a brand new feeling for me to have somebody speak out on my behalf like that. Brand new. This whole process for me has largely been about 'bad' and painful feelings from my child being triggered and processed and released which is a good thing. But because of you and BoptheBrave grin i have experienced a feeling that is completely new to me and for once, a feeling that is totally positive and heart warming. Imagine if we had experienced mostly those sorts of feelings as children, how different we would be now.

I can relate so well to how you feel about the time when you had your DS. I was the same when i had DD my eldest, instead of it being a magical special time, it became my worst nightmare. And like you I am so much more how i think a mother should be with DS who was born nearly 3 years after DD. I don't think i have ever got angry or cross with him, he has had nothing but love, hugs, warmth and cuddles from me and he is such a loving, happy, contented little boy. DD is more highly strung and can be a lot harder to cope with and i know it is because i was so stressed when pregnant with her and like you had severe PND after she was born and simply could not give her the love, warmth and security she needed. I saw to her physical needs but was totally unable to meet her emotional needs. I used to feel so bad and guilty about that but now i just concentrate on making sure i do meet her emotional needs in the present. Hopefully as she gets older and the proportion of time during which her needs have been met as opposed to not met gets bigger and bigger, the first few years of her life will have less and less impact.

I completely agree with you about the way we live in western society. I believe in the phrase "It takes a village to raise a child" ie a village full of aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, friends, neighbours, all of whom give the child a little bit of what he needs so that the full burden is not on the mother. The way we live today, often miles away from family and friends means the sole responsibility for meeting all the child's needs rests on the mother's shoulders and the burden is just too big for one set of shoulders.

The only way i can see of lessening that burden on myself is to put some effort into developing my friendships so that my DC's can also benefit from my friendships and hopefully over time get a little of what they need from close friends and neighbours. It is very hard work but I am going to keep plugging away.

I have only recently started to feel i cannot have a relationship with anybody who thinks i am lying or exaggerating about my abusive parents. Until very recently i was willing and was even desperate to have a relationship with my sisters despite knowing that they didn't really believe me about our parents. I was very needy and thought i couldn't bear the pain of the gap that would be left if i cut ties with them. But i have managed to do it and it feels good, instead of feeling pain, i feel liberated. I can now completely be myself, when my sisters were still in the picture i felt a very strong pressure to still perform the role they wanted me to play ie the troublesome bad seed of the family, and they made me feel as if that was who i was. Now they are not in my life i have complete freedom to just be myself, who i want to be, and there is nobody who is trying to push me to be somebody else, everyone in my life wants the real me. It feels good.

Grace, thanks for your post. Perhaps given time my sisters might also start to open their eyes about what our family was really like. I am not holding out any hope though, because it may never happen. But i'm glad for you that you are now closer to your siblings.

You mentioned illness in one of your posts and i thought you might be interested in a book by Alice Miller called The Body Never Lies in which she talks about past buried emotions being stored in your body and eventually causing illness if left unprocessed. Her books can be quite hard to get into but i have found them really helpful.

wanttostartafresh Wed 13-Jan-10 11:37:05

NLD, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. Good for you that you had the courage strength and wisdom to process your feelings and not merely push them away. It is the only way to get past them and move forward positively.

One thing you mentioned is that your posture has improved. Me too. I stand up straighter and taller now and it is only now that i do this that i realise how i had literally been hunched over and bent down by all the baggage and burdens from my past i had been carrying around with me. I am straigtening up my shoulders and have to keep doing it as they were hunched down for so long i think they will need a bit of time to adjust and feel comfortable in their new upright position. I am also eating so much healthier and i am not having to force myself it seems to be a natural thing that I want to do for myself. Like you i seem to be taking more care of myself and looking after myself better without even having to try. I feel more passionate about things, even excitement about the future, things i want to do, to try out, places i want to visit.

Completely cutting contact with my parents and now my sisters was also for me the only way to go. I have absolutely no regrets.

OrdinarySAHM Wed 13-Jan-10 12:20:17

Haven't read everything yet but just typing a quick one between jobs.

WTSA, re Spiky - My impression of her was that she was a genuine poster, not a troll (I think that's what you said actually(?) and it was Colorado who you thought might be a troll).

When she said she felt frustrated by your posts I took it to mean that she felt there were things you could do that would make things better for you, but she felt you weren't doing them. I thought the frustration was frustration for you that she wanted things to improve for you and thought that they could if you would just do some things that you weren't doing. (Sorry I can't remember what those things are at the moment.) I didn't think the frustration was about herself.

If Spiky has had issues triggered by recent posts then it seems sad that she has been 'scared away' from the thread when it could help her. I appreciate that some people have some angry feelings towards her and I can see that your feelings have been hurt WTSA. I can see that feeling disbelieved by someone now might have triggered the feelings of being disbelieved when you were a child, or your family minimizing your feelings because they didn't want to deal with the situation, making you feel dismissed and unimportant.

I can see that you might want to heal these hurts from the past by reversing the situation in the present, by really getting people, now, to believe you and stressing how awful it was. This might make you use extreme descriptions (words which are like a 'measure' of how bad it was) like 'horrific' for example - which it was for you, but it stimulates people's minds to start comparing their situation with yours. It makes them think, would I call my experience abuse, mild abuse, moderate abuse, bad abuse, severe abuse etc. I think comparing is dangerous and won't do any of us any good.

A big part of my feelings about the past, and probably other peoples (?), was the feeling of "It's not fair, why did I have to go through this when other people didn't, what makes them so much more important than me that they could have it easier". That made me feel angry at the 'unjustnes' of it all. People using strong words as 'measures' of their abuse might stir up other people's feelings about unfairness. They might start comparing and think things like, 'don't call it horrific, you were abused but it's still unfair that I feel I had it worse than you'. They might feel that they have more to complain about yet are getting less sympathy, partly because they are afraid to stress how bad it was in case they get a negative reaction like they might have done in the past. This might be how Spiky felt, and in that sense her feelings from the past may have been triggered (the feelings of unfairness and anger about that at the time). (Sorry if I'm talking bollocks Spiky.)

The reason comparing is dangerous is that even if you do think that someone else's experience was worse, this thought often doesn't make you feel any better about what happened to you, and you still deserve help and support. Otherwise we would be saying that only the people who had experienced the most severe abuse deserve any help. Also, we can't measure how bad an experience made someone feel. Two people might have the same experience and one might cope with it and the other might fall apart. They might have different coping abilities. I feel I coped with my (similar) childhood to my brother better than he did for example, because I never ended up in prison and he did.

This issue of comparing is something I think a lot of us have to battle with before we will even allow ourselves to be helped. I held off from going and getting proper therapy for years because I felt that I would be thought of as self indulgent and drippy and self pitying because I felt that lots of other people's experiences had been worse than mine. I think it is better to think that if you are having feelings you are finding difficult to cope with then you deserve help and support regardless of how bad others would perceive your experiences to have been. If you don't get the help because you are worried about looking drippy then you are holding yourself back from feeling happy, wasting your life, and you are likely to be treating the people around you less well than if you were happy.

Spiky, I know it is very hard to stop yourself from comparing (and I do it myself and feel resentful sometimes) but I think it would be better to hold the view that - an experience is as bad as it makes a person feel, and one person may feel worse about the same experience than another, which is fine because we are all different.

WTSA, although people should fight against their urge to compare their experiences with others, you could modify your language so that it is less likely to stimulate people to compare. Instead of saying, for example, 'I suffered horrific abuse', you could say 'I found the abuse I suffered horrific'. You might feel you shouldn't have to re-word your expression of your feelings because you just want to feel free to let them out. This might be quite right, I don't know. I'm just suggesting it as a way to calm things down for both you and Spiky.

I feel that you both have feelings that you find difficult, you both deserve support and could both benefit from being part of this thread. I don't want to see either of you have to leave, I would like it if you could both sort out your feelings towards each other and then carry on as we were before things went wrong. I am not going to say that one of you is more to blame than the other, I have said things that both of you could change.

Getting angry with people is ok. (We learnt as children that it was not.) It doesn't mean that we have to break contact with everyone who makes us angry. You can get angry, express it, then talk about it and 'make up'. We do it with our children don't we! They make us angry frequently but it doesn't mean that we hate them.

I really hope I haven't been offensive as I have tried to see both WTSA's and Spiky's feelings and not minimize any of them. I just want it all to be 'nice' again with no hostile feelings. Can anyone really blame me for being 'scared' of the hostility and wanting to try to 'fix' it?

therealsmithfield Wed 13-Jan-10 14:33:06

Ok- massive post alert grin

NolongerQD I got a lot out of your post. I think you may have realised before now that I really identify with you in relation to your mother. I always seem to re-establish or find a different understanding altogether of my realtionship with my own mother by reading your posts.
I think my mother (like yours) was inanely jealous and I think the jealousy and rage increased the older I got. It becomes so much clearer to me when I read your posts how I have spent most of my life trying to avoid her anger and displeasure. I could only do this by trying to keep a low profile and not to draw attention to myself and try as hard as I could not to incite her jealousy just as you said.
I like you am currently seemingly easily losing weight, when I have previously struggled and it surely cant be a coincidence that it comes at a time when my mother is not around to raise her eyebrow and look my up and down as she swallows her displeasure.
I have a parallel (well not so much a parallel but a similarity) to what you have been experiencing recently. After all this is about the grieving over the regret of what we could have been.
I can not get passed the grief over my own lost opportunity to excel in any kind of study or career.
Recently, I was visiting a university town and I felt very low and sombre. I realised it was because I had been feeling a rage of unjustness burning inside of me. I kept looking at all the young students bustling around the place and felt jealous (probably just as my mother had around me) of all the youth and promise showing in their faces. I feel as though it is too late now and I will never know how far I could have gone to fulfill my potential. My mother 'needed' me to fail and I 'needed' to win her approval.
I am so inspired by your words about finding what you need in the here and now. I know it will not 'look' the same as it would have if I were now in my 20's but it could still be in the here and now. Otherwise my mother 'will' have won.

WTSA- My take on Spikygate is pretty much as others have said, and probably a lot better and more succinct than I could be. I liked Graceagain's description of yours and spiky's issues bumping together.
As I'd said in previous posts it is too difficult to know intentions and tone behind a posting. She may have been genuinely trying to be helpful and then felt frustrated by her intentions being misunderstood. She may as you have said felt triggered by what you wrote because of her own issues. I guess we wont really know the answer unless Spiky came back and told us.
I do feel there was a catalogue of events that all culminated in Spiky possibly feeling rejected, scorned or unimportant and we all know how painful that can be.
I am almost certain that Colorado and Spiky were the same poster but again as you said wtsa we will never know for sure, but I do think Spiky was genuinely experiencing a lot of pain wrt to her own childhood and was hoping to seek some support for that.
I think if there is a positive in this it is that you must have seen how much many of us here feel the need to honour 'you' and your experiences and that even if in the past you felt alone, you aren't any longer.

Graceagain- You strike me as such a caring individual. You have a truly giving nature and heart. I can say this because I have read other posts from you on the NPD thread.
Which is why it seems such a crying shame that your mother couldnt/cant see that. Our parents see us how ever they want or need to. That is what it means for a parent to use a child to meet their own needs. As long as you know in your heart that it was their fault? Do you feel that yet, have you reached that point?

mamaLazarou I had a chuckle when you said you thought we all had wealthy IL's who lived in stately homes. I feel sad as well though that you are yet another person that identifies with this toxic kind of upbringing, but I am glad you came to post. Hope you feel like sharing some more soon.

eldestofthree- When I read your posts I felt my whole body lurch in empathy. I cant explain it fully but what you wrote, especially the part about walking into the room with your mother hugging your siblings...well I guess it brought back some difficult and painful memories for me too.
I am the eldest of four, and there is a large age gap between me and my siblings. I was the mistake that trapped my mother into a marriage which became increasingly difficult. The marriage was emotionally (sometimes physically) abusive. A lot of the abuse happened in front of me and the siblings, and because I was the eldest I often felt like the third cog in the marriage. When I wasnt required to fulfill that purpose my mother used me as her emotional punchbag instead So like yourself I was the scapegoat.
I have said before now what a difficult role this is because it casts you as a victim and destroys all your power as a child and adult. The other problem is you actually believe it was/still is you that is 'wrong' 'bad', 'unloveable'.
It sounds like your mother was using your siblings just as she was using you. Using them to 'prove' you were the problem.
Wrt your dad, I understand your anger because your father was also an adult but never stepped in and now you ask 'why not'? Did he not love me enough.
It is really hurtful but being angry isnt a bad thing. He didnt cause the abuse but he did enable it and so your anger is justified.
It is better to feel this anger and 'know' where it is coming from.
Have you tried talking to your father, confronting him? Would writing a letter help. You could write post on here and not send it maybe. I could never confront my dad because i cant face the pain I would feel hearing his denial of any wrongdoing. It would be like rejection all over again, but I did write a hate filled letter without sending it and it did help a little.
Its about feeling the anger and finding ways to process it.

mamppam - (((((mampam))) I read your post and just went shock shock shock It just kept coming and was horrid. If that is how it felt for 'me' a complete stranger reading about their behaviour, then god knows how it must have felt for you and DH to go through all this.
I have to say they do sound 'incredibly' toxic. I would not be willing to be drawn back into their web, but of course it is easy for me to say this because I am not you or dh and have no emotional investment.
Could you think about making a decision seperately from DH? If he was to re-connect with them (and I think all the boundaries you have talked about are 'vital' to this) would 'you' necessarily have to re-connect with them as well?
After all, if they have changed (which to be honest I doubt, but we all live in hope) then they should understand your POV , that with all that has happened they would need to win back some trust. They could win back that trust if they were willing to accept you were not ready to have a relationship with them yet but that you were willing to support dh in his decision.
YOU yourself do not have to have contact with these people mampam and I feel so strongly about this because you are pg and so need to focus on you and the baby and protect yourself from any emotional turmoil these people will potentially bring with them.
These two are 'emotional vampires' and do not know the meaning of the word boundary but your dh just may be strong enough to pull it off if he remains firm and has your support. You can still support 'his' choices whilst establishing your own seperate boundaries wrt them.
Do you think your DH would be willing to post on here or read any of the replies to your post?

gladitsover - Would really be interested to hear your story. You dont need to read the rest of the previous threads before posting (just in case because that is what I thought I needed to do). Hope you post again soon.

rose I think its important to try and not fall into the 'perfect parent' trap. I think when we grew up with a lot of criticism we can end up setting impossible standards for ourselves. We want to reach the penultimate haven of being 'good enough'. Yet growing up nothing was good enough hence the desire to be 'perfect'.
It might be more helpful to give ourselves permission to be 'good enough' not perfect parents because perfection isnt a reality its a myth by which our parents kept us hooked.
i think things like Continuum Concept are useful but as a reference and a guide and do we really need to follow it to the letter?
As long as we are loving and have the best of intentions for our children surely that is all that matters.
It is hard because I am sure most of us cant 'imagine' having anything BUT good intentions toward our children it is a huge leap in thinking to accept our parents didnt have good intentions and at time they were in fact conscious of that fact.

roseability Wed 13-Jan-10 14:34:11

NLD - Hello! A lot of your post resonated with me. I am sure both my adoptive parents are narcissists to a degree (I suppose like all mental health issues there is a spectrum?). Have you looked at the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers website? It is excellent

My adoptive parents are my grandmother and her second husband i.e. my step grandfather. It is long and complicated but I have stopped calling my grandmother 'mum' partly out of respect for my birth mother (who I believe was manipulated by her and sadly is now dead) but mainly because she doesn't deserve that title

They do suck the very life force out of you these emotional vampires don't they? I am currently no contact with my adoptive father (a narcissist and a bully) and only speak to my grandmother on the phone ocassionally. Why? I suppose the guilt and the doubt still lingers. She still raised me and adopted me and is she that bad?

It is a flawed logic that we get into I think. Firstly that we feel we owe them something because they clothed, fed and watered us. Taught us table manners and made sure we went to school. Secondly that any good things they did for us, any snippets of affection or decent humanity render all the bad things obselete. It is flawed logic they brainwashed us with, precisely so that we would remain under their control.

For example it is ludricous to me that my children should have to turn round one day and thank me for raising them. I chose to bring them into this world and it is my duty to do so. Yes I want them to love and respect me but that has to be earned, it isn't automatic because I carried them in my womb for nine months and birthed them.

I discussed this with DH and he disagreed slightly . Not that I owe my adoptive parents anything (he can't stand them and thinks I am well shot) but that he does feel he owes his parents something because they have been wonderful parents and sacraficed a lot for their children. But there is a difference I feel. His parents don't expect gratitude and will admit their faults. They have earned my DH love and respect and therefore I am sure that he will love and care for them as they grow old. It is not about expectations or gratitude but a strong bond and respect that is mutual and equal.

NLD - my grandmother rarely expressed genuine joy at my achievements. When I told her I was going to study to be a nurse she tried to 'out do' me by stating that she is too sympathetic to be a nurse. There are many, many examples like this

I too am a different person. The sadness and anger at what I have missed and at their nastiness is still there. But I no longer seek their love and approval, I know I won't get it in any genuine way. I feel free from the chains of dashed hope and expectations. I can be me finally. I am a much, much better mother for starter. My adoptive father placed huge expectations on me, I realise now it was all about narcissistic supply. When I had my DS I felt a sense of failure and I couldn't understand why, I had always wanted to be a mother. I think I knew it was the end of my chance to meet my adoptive father's expectations (sporting success, career and money), a typical narcissist it was all about status and appearances to him. Sure he liked the whole grandfather thing but again it was narcissistic supply. He dumped me emotionally as I was no longer any use or only in that I was a mother to his next source of supply my DS. Like me, my DS was a cardboard cut out of what my adoptive father wanted to see. He couldn't see beyond that and get to know my DS as a real human being. He would turn up and say how my DS was 'looking great' and that he was 'going to go far' and then ignore him while he watched sport on the television. He would try and make token gestures of playing or making stupid noises at him like he was a baby, even though he is a bright little boy (he is nearly four) and needs proper interaction. Then he would get bored easily. This was despite having not seen him very often.

My therapist said depression is in part, a result of someone having an internalised view of what they should be and then not being able to be that person. The further they feel they are from what they should be the greater the depression. I really feel my PND sprung from this. I felt I should be a great sports person or live in a big house with a high status career because that is what he wanted. Actually I just want to be a good mum and to enjoy being a mum. This is why I enjoyed having my DD so much more because I had shook of this internalised and distorted view of myself and what I should be. Now I do enjoy being a mum because although women do it every day, I still feel it is a great and beautiful achievement, to birth and raise a child.

There was a section in the Guardian on Saturday about poetry on the subject of parenthood. It talked about how male poets have written about fatherhood using linear imagery, it is a continuation of their genes and about blood line and inheritance. Women have tended to write about motherhood as a form of replacemnt, disappearing and self-sacrifice. Women I feel sacrifice so much more in motherhood than men do in fatherhood. Our bodies, our physical and mental health and our identities. Whilst I feel a sadness about this sometimes, I also think it is what makes women great

Our mothers were too narcissistic (I think we all have narcissistic tendencies but some are distorted by an excessive amount of narcissism) to see it this way. Not only did we replace them but we injured their delicate ego just by our mere existence. When the narcissistic supply naturally afforded to a new mother dwindled to be replaced by a flourishing, new woman on the path to things unattaind by themselves (not least of all happiness) their injured and sickened ego knew only one way. Attack, attack, attack.

Like NLD I can understand this to some extent but I also feel it is not my place to forgive. My grandmother attacked my birth mother as a vulnerable young mother by undermining her ability to be a mother. She was well and truly kept out of the picture. Sick bastards the pair of them

OrdinarySAHM - What you said about comparison is interesting. I always compared myself to everyone, but I do it less now that I am on the road to recovery. I think some of us do still feel our abuse 'wasn't that bad' so we feel we have to justify it. Even my DH made an insensitive comment recently about 'real abuse' i.e. sexual and physical abuse. I had to point out that emotional abuse is real abuse also.

wanttostartafresh Wed 13-Jan-10 14:39:32

Hi OSAHM. Thanks for your post. I did say i thought spiky was a troll but i think i was wrong. I think she has genuinely experienced a difficult childhood. But my take on her saying she was frustrated by my posts was that she thought i was handling things wrongly/badly wrt my sisters because i was handling things in a different way to the way in which she had handled things with her brother. Her way had worked for her and i think she was frustrated because i was not agreeing with her way of doing things and changing my views and adopting hers. She said she thought i should adopt a different approach to my sisters and i am sure she meant i should adopt her approach. ie the approach she had taken with her brother. But she doesn't seem to appreciate that whilst our circumstances have certain similarities, they also have huge differences and therefore her approach may not be suitable for me.

As it says in the OP "'Nobody can judge how sad your childhood made you, even if you wrote a novel on it, only you know that." And that is why nobody else can really tell another poster what they should do. I'm not sure why she should have felt frustrated for me as opposed to at me or why she felt her approach would improve things for me as I feel quite happy with the way things are for me as I feel I have done the right thing for me.

I am happy for spiky to keep posting on here as long as she understands and adheres to the ethos of the thread which is a bit different to a lot of other threads on MN.

nolongerdrowning Wed 13-Jan-10 16:21:02

Message withdrawn

ItsGraceAgain Wed 13-Jan-10 16:50:47

nolongerdrowning

What you wrote:
'I want to be seen and admired (yes, I admit it, and I shut up the parent voice in my head that says "you're so vain" Look at our DC, we all want to be admired, to say "look at me!" '
Gave me yet another OMG moment. They're coming thick and fast since I discovered Stately Homes! hmm

I've only recently discovered the joys of not 'looking my best', of truly not giving a stuff what anybody thinks when I go out with dirty hair & no makeup. Or can't be bothered with small talk. But you've reminded me about that Marianne Williamson quote, "we are all meant to shine, as children do" - and added yet another goal to my self-improvement programme!

Thanks for the spiral comment, too. It's good to be reminded that 1 step back isn't failure!

ABetterLife Wed 13-Jan-10 19:24:17

Does needy = toxic? I'm really not sure if my mum is toxic or I'm feeling the strain of looking after an elderly mum. My dad definitely was toxic (deceased now) but I have felt lately that my relationship with my mother really stresses me. I see her once a week and would rather see her about once a month - I have felt guilty about this, I have told myself that I am bad because the reason I don't want to see her is because she's 80 and I would rather be doing something more exciting, rather than the fact that she makes me stressed.

To cut a long story short I am from a family dominated by an alcholic father who was jealous of the attention my mother gave us. This manifested itself as domineering, criticising, insulting behaviour to us 4 kids and my mother. We kids grew up protecting my mum - not ourselves or each other. I can remember frequently telling her not to let my dad talk to her like that, I cannot remember hearing her telling my dad not to talk to us in the way he did.

By some chance of fate, luck, personality or whatever I manage eventually to stand up to him in my teens - he was a bully and this was the saving of me, I believe. Unfortunately one of my siblings committed suicide and the other died of alcoholism; the other left home at a fairly young age and went to live abroad.

My dad died 5 years ago and, where at first I was delighted to have my mum's company without my dad being there to blight it I have lately been finding it stressful.

While he was alive he was her life and it feels like now I am her life. She is nervous and paranoid, has never had friends and totally relies on me and, by extension, DH. This is excacerbated by her age but she has always been like this. If I don't see her she virtually sees nobody and she gets more and more depressed and paranoid. Every now and again she has always erupted into paranoid madness and accused me of something e.g. I am nasty or insensitive - she won't say exactly what I have been nasty or insensitive about but will be cold to me or sulk. The only way to get her out of these moods is to say sorry and be extra attentive. I have done this because it really really hurts when she does this and I am left with the vague feeling that I have been bad without really knowing why or intending any malice.

She isn't always like this (I see her once a week) In between these bouts she is reasonable but takes offence easily and is often 'suffering' from something. I am constantly feeling guilty about her being on her own -she has never had a relationship with anyone but her immediate family, which is me now and, by extension, my DH. (My brother only comes to visit once a year. ), she hardly ever kept in touch with her own family, even after my jealous dad died and she has never had friends, despite invitations she has never reciprocated

Lately I have been rebelling against the way she makes me feel. I hate the feeling of guilt, of always looking out for her mental state, I have been doing it for years. Being around her is like walking on eggshells.

Do we have a toxic relationship or is she just too needy? Or am i just being lazy/selfish in not wanting to look after her? Confused

wanttostartafresh Wed 13-Jan-10 19:59:01

NLD, your post at 16.21 almost reads like a poem. Thank you. It's inspirational. You have put into words so much of what I have been thinking and telling myself, it's amazing to see it written down and to know other people think the feel the same way.

And i also am so glad you have mentioned the 'upward spiral', i have read this description in a couple of books and it comes to mind frequently when i find myself revisiting and revisiting the same issues again and again, but each time with new insight, and a new perspective.

ABetterLife, hello and welcome. Sometimes labels don't quite fit as it seems in your case. Your mother does not sound toxic in the sense it has usually been used on this thread. But she sounds damaged and like you have said, needy. And if she is needy, it is unlikely she would have been able to meet your childhood emotional needs of love, warmth, reassurance and protection to name but a few.

I can relate to what you said here "We kids grew up protecting my mum - not ourselves or each other. I can remember frequently telling her not to let my dad talk to her like that, I cannot remember hearing her telling my dad not to talk to us in the way he did." That's how i grew up, i stood up for my mum and sisters, but my mother never stood up for me.

Given you have said I am sure this thread is the right place for you. Your dad was certainly toxic and it seems your mother failed to protect you from him. Again, exactly my situation growing up except my dad had a mental illness as opposed to being an alcoholic.

Have you read Toxic Parents by Susan Forward? It's a good starting point.

elvislives Wed 13-Jan-10 20:10:30

I've wanted to join these threads from the first one but always held back with the little voice saying "it wasn't that bad". But it was. My brother tells me we had an "idyllic childhood" but won't visit our mother and makes excuses to get away when he does.

So much of what others have said mirrors my childhood. My mother is/was definitely jealous and does nothing but criticise. I ticked off all the answers in the OP.

I still hesitate to go into any detail because it feels like nothing compared to others. Suffice to say that as a baby I was left to cry, and as an adult told what to do/ think by my parents. My dad died 13 years ago with everything left unsaid.

I cried, reading rose's comments about her firstborn because I recognised so much of it. I hadn't actually articulated -even internally- that I wanted my baby DD to make up for everything that had gone before, and found my feelings towards her so hard. It took us 18 months TTC and I wanted her so much but she just cried and cried and she made me so angry

My eldest 4 are grown up themselves and I'm not sure even now that I did a good enough job with them. Certainly I'm not close to my DD DD2 is 2.9 and I'm trying really really hard with this one.

nolongerdrowning Wed 13-Jan-10 20:19:56

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gladitsover Wed 13-Jan-10 21:36:59

Hi All, first of all well done those of you who are doing well on your path to recovery/understanding. I realised quite recently that my mother may be toxic. I have refrained from to talking about it to anyone over the years because I thought "it wasn't that bad" and that by doing so I would belittle the experiences of anyone who has truly suffered.

There is so much I could tell you but I would be here all night so I will keep it brief.
The main reason I an angry with my mother is that she let her husband abuse my sister and I (sexually, emotionally). She knew most of what he was doing. When we finally stood up for ourselves she told the rest of the family that I was lying (but told me I must have enjoyed what he was doing).

I have always been the "butt of the joke" (I don't feel as if I'm being over-sensitive, when she has made fun of me in front of guests they have looked really awkward.) My mum has rarely ever complimented me but quite often laughs in my face about something I have done in the past or the way I look.

She is very unfair to my children. She used to let DS1 stay over and not DS2 even thoough he really wanted to. She has never liked DS2. I asked her once why she didn't like him and she said "why should I like him when he doesn't like me?". He was only 2.

I feel that she may be jealous of me/feel competitive but I don't understand why. I feel she only likes me when I'm unhappy. She hates my DP for no reason. He is so good to me and has always made an effort to get on with her.

I have a lot more to say but don't want to make this post too long. Thanks for listening (or reading!) x

roseability Wed 13-Jan-10 22:24:20

NLD your post is very inspirational. Along those lines I now feel I can enjoy the smaller things in life and find genuine joy in them. A good book, my DH poached eggs on a Saturday morning. Rubbing my nose on the fuzzy, warm bit on the back off my DD head and the way my DS widens his eyes and wrinkles his nose when he is desperate to tell me something.

I always lived in the future because the present wasn't good enough. It didn't meet my adoptive parent's requirements for love. But that is life isn't it and that is living? The here and now with all its imperfections.

roseability Wed 13-Jan-10 22:35:56

elvislives - just remember it is never too late to improve family relationships if you can reach out and work on your issues

I did reach rock bottom in many ways when DS was born but I believe ultimately it was the making of me. It forced me to stand up to my abusers and to drag myself up from the rocks and piece myself back together

I had a funny day today. My DS got praised for his musical ability by his playgroup leader. I felt such a rush of pride and then I got thinking about what someone said on the original thread in 2007 (Sakura?). That to teach our children can be narcissistic as it reflects well on us as parents. I worried if my pride was narcissistic and ingenuine because I thought how playing music to my DS was paying off.

Then I checked myself. I have no musical talent, so my DS has achieved this by himself and this is why I am proud. Sure I love music and that is why I play it a lot but ultimately it is the first signs of my DS independence and finding his own talents and interests. I find that soooo exciting and not threatening in the slightest.

dawntigga Wed 13-Jan-10 23:01:39

Waves to all.

I'm over their toxicity and as a consequence of their toxicity mine. I work every day to be a person who rises above the toxic tape that plays in my head and I do about 99.9% of the time, the rest I no longer beat myself up about. 5 years of therapy helped me to clear my head - that and waking up one morning tired of being somebody I didn't like. I cut my parents out of my life completely. Made the mistake of letting my father back in after my mother died and cut him out again. I have no feelings towards my father one way or another and bear him no ill will.

My son has the right to have a relationship with his grandfather so I've opened channels up to allow this to happen. My father is fully aware that there are no more second chances and if he pulls his usual crap he is making the choice to have no contact with his grandson. I will not allow my father to hurt or be toxic around my son in anyway. Of course it helps he now lives on another continent so contact is limited and reduces the possibility of him doing what I fully expect him to do. Having low expectations will help me to manage my partners hurt when/if it all goes wrong.

WillChipInWhenAbleTiggaxx

nolongerdrowning Wed 13-Jan-10 23:13:30

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ItsGraceAgain Thu 14-Jan-10 03:05:56

What do you think I could do to help my nieces & nephews, if anything? They're all young adults now. In each family, the eldest has behavioural problems - I'm the eldest of us. They have been picked on, without doubt. My own mother habitually refers to one of them as a "useless shit" - and has done since the child was a toddler!

I have told the kids I sympathise with their position (and why), and that their parents' unfair criticisms are a kind of acting-out. I don't expect I've made much difference, but remember how much it means to me that some adults told me my parents' treatment of me was not OK.

I'd like to know if there's anything I can do - without seeming interfering or negative - to let them know they can talk to me, if & when they reach the stage of questioning their family background. You know, if they reach a point where they might join a thread like this one ... I'd like to let them know I'll be an "enlightened witness" for them. How can I do that without raising demons prematurely?

mampam Thu 14-Jan-10 12:16:52

Smithfield Can I make a decision seperately from DH?......YES! I already have. DH and I have discussed it and I have explained to him that for the forseable future I do not want anything to do with his parents. They have taken me to my darkest hour and I don't want to put myself up for that again. Plus it would be so uncomfortable for me to be around 2 people who have told me to my face that they don't like me. This of course will make it very difficult when I have the baby as I will be breast feeding and will make it hard for them to see the baby. No doubt this will be viewed as me being awkward and vindictive.

I don't think DH is strong enough to re-connect with his parents right now. He has himself realised this and says that he would like to wait until he has had counselling before making contact. He is looking forward to reading 'Toxic Parents' which is very unlike DH as he has always poo-pooed it before. Things are so jumbled in DH's head I don't think he can make sense of any of it.

therealsmithfield Thu 14-Jan-10 12:20:05

NLQD- Thankyou for your post. Your writing is always very inspirational and poetic. I think so anyway grin (just in case that inner voice is recoiling).
I loved the bit where you wrote about going down to the basement and '.... unpacking all the old cardboard boxes'. I guess the problem I am encountering is I'm still not sure who the contents belong to. If that makes sense? So Im never sure what I should keep and what I should throw out.
I 'think' my alter ego cares a lot about approval, and wants people to think I am important and tough. But there are so many facets and I often feel as though I am wading through a quagmire of self doubt.
My own internal voices shout 'selfish', 'too late' or 'who do you think you are anyway'....'Just grow up and get on with it'.
And actually the selfish thing is HUGE for me because meeting my own needs or putting me first is SO very hard. It feels completely and utterly wrong. And yes I am getting better at it. I 'ensure' dh is back in time for me to have my two weekly slots of excercise. I push any guilt about that away.
But I think that whenever I wanted to 'DO' something my mother would put the fear of god into me. She would put a negative 'spin' on my needs. So if I wanted to travel '...I was running away'. If I wanted to change career 'I was being daft'. I have at times managed to do things regardless but then I carry the anxiety of 'what if she is right' which tends to break me down in the end . Maybe there is a fear of making my own choices, going against my mothers will so to speak.
There is another underlying fear that what if I am making excuses by wanting do do something more enjoyable or fulfilling, perhaps my not 'applying' myself to my current work in the here and now is an excuse. An excuse not to shine. I really dont know

nolongerdrowning Thu 14-Jan-10 13:18:33

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wanttostartafresh Thu 14-Jan-10 14:01:56

PinkyMinxy hasn't posted in a while. I hope she's ok. Iirc, she was quite down last time she posted. Hope she finds the new thread.

SkipToMyLou Thu 14-Jan-10 14:09:14

Oh goodness. I've seen the previous thread titles, just didn't know it would be relevant to me. I've been reading the OP with tears in my eyes. For so many years I've been telling myself it wasn't that bad, but deep inside is a knot of fear and pain. I just keep squashing it down though, why should I rake up the past, I should just let it lie, all sorts of excuses.

Oh heck.

wanttostartafresh Thu 14-Jan-10 14:22:40

Skiptomylou, glad you found us. I cried too when i first found this thread years ago. Hope you will post more when you're ready.

SkipToMyLou Thu 14-Jan-10 14:51:43

Thank you. I will. Just knowing this thread exists is good for now.

therealsmithfield Thu 14-Jan-10 19:41:33

NLQD- I can not thank you enough for your post. Really. It is as though the penny finally dropped whilst reading it, which may sound a bit dumb. But it's as if all the internal chatter was so mixed up I no longer knew what to look out for anymore. Id lost the ability to distinguish. The more I tried to distinguish the harder it got.
It's all the more daft in a way because I believe recently my instincts have been literally screaming at me.
In fact I now see that the 'child me' has for some time now, had her arms folded in complete dissent.
And.... yes I did catch your drift. I have total trust in you NLQD, so I know you are in good hands smile. You will make the right and best decision for yourself in the end if not already.
There was a point in time when I felt exactly as you do and did exactly what you are doing now in response and it turns out I am truly happy on that level after all.
But ultimately and as I have said before we have a right to happiness we've done enough 'obligation' to last a lifetime.
Thank you again your post has really helped

Nemofish Thu 14-Jan-10 20:49:30

Have been reading lots of posts on this thread, and I can identify with just about all of it!

I knew that my mother and stepfather had treated me badly, but until the past year I was justfying it as still being my fault in some undefineable way.

I saw NPD mentioned on another thread on mumsnet and looked it up - so many things make sense now and I know now that my mother did the things she did because something is wrong with her - not because something is wrong with me!

I looked at Dh today and I said 'I was an anorexic by 14, clinically depressed by 16 and addicted to heroin by the age of 19 not because something was wrong with me, but because soemthing was wrong with her!

I was brought up to feel worthless in everyway, some basic care neglected, (ignoring NPD type) and sexually abused - which my mother knows all about but still sleeps with him at night, I was also abused by a neighbours son and my mother decided not to say anything! angry hmm

Sorry I have started rambling, but it felt so good to get it out and say it plain and simple!

ItsGraceAgain Thu 14-Jan-10 20:52:30

Smithfield, I took a day to think over something you said - so you've done me a big favour!

You said I was caring. Thank you for that. I had a weird reaction to it - "caring" is the one thing I was encouraged to be - I cared for my younger sibs, I cared for Mum's ineptitude, and I cared for my dad's temper amongst other things. I've sort of felt defined as "caring" - and have felt it as the definition of why I have problems.

There's a list on my wall, where I write my good qualities - I've had these lists up, on and off, for ten years. I never put "caring" on them. I think I need to rethink, because caring is obviously a good quality. It doesn't need to be a weakness; I don't have to let bad people take the piss because of it. I need to appreciate it ... and manage it.

Cheers for that!

ItsGraceAgain Thu 14-Jan-10 21:15:26

About no contact: I've seen, in this thread and its ancestors, how treacherous NC is. When your filial attachment fights against what's good for you, every choice looks like an impossible one.

For whatever my experience is worth: I believe you sometimes have to do it. Our heads need clear space to work on themselves. With constant interference from 'trigger' people, our heads can't work properly.

I severed contact with my father for two years, when I was around 20. I summoned him into the dining room (! he came as ordered!) and delivered a short speech about it. Afterwards, when I phoned home I asked to speak to Mum or my sister, and Dad meekly put them on. It didn't make him like me any better, but it broke the pattern we were locked into.

With my mother, I feel differently because she's 80 and will die sometime soon. I don't want to end my relationship with her in difficulty. She has tried to make amends - on her own terms (it's in my mum thread) - if she were younger, I'd have rejected that and pushed for something that felt more like 'repentance' to me. But she's old so I'm giving her the gift of feeling like she has made amends. I manage my communications with her (Transactional Analysis, thank you!!!) to protect myself I know she finds our current relations unsatisfying, but that's hard luck. It works well enough, and that's good enough.

Good enough. Isn't that a liberating concept??! wink

therealsmithfield Thu 14-Jan-10 21:36:16

graceagain- I personally think it is a great quality but it doesnt mean you have to think so too smile.
But I really do get where you are coming from with this because my mother labelled me too. I was always the 'selfish' one.
So knowing this was 'her' opinion of me I would do anything to avoid the possibility that someone may 'think' of me as selfish. If they did that would mean her label wasn't a label but a fact.
But acually the flip side of selfish is an ability to look after one's needs. And not only is the ability to do that healthy....it's vital!
I also see how the flip side of caring can mean caring for others and neglecting yourself in the process.
Perhaps as the 'caring' one you weren't supposedf/allowed to care for yourself because your assigned 'role' was to care for others?
I can see exactly why you would baulk at my having labelled you yet again. Sorry probably the last thing you wanted to read. sad

ItsGraceAgain Thu 14-Jan-10 21:48:27

No, no, I meant you prompted me to appreciate a side of myself that I'd preferred not to look at. Just like your 'selfish', it may have been twisted by others but has great value ...

therealsmithfield Thu 14-Jan-10 21:54:35

graceagain Phew smile

therealsmithfield Thu 14-Jan-10 22:05:51

grace re your post 03:05:56.
How old are your nieces and nephews?
It sounds to me like you are already doing all you can. If you can maintain a good relationship built on love and trust I think they will come to you when the timing is right.
There were times in my life when I was a teen that I 'knew' things weren't right but I still would have defended my mum to the hilt if someone had raised it with me first. However if someone had genuinely shown an interest in me and what I was doing that would have been worth so much.
That is the person I would have turned to when I was ready.
It would have been wonderful to have had someone I could have gone to. Would have made a huge difference to my life.

ItsGraceAgain Thu 14-Jan-10 22:40:28

I hope you're right, smithfield
The eldest are 18, 20 and 21. I just hope they've taken on board enough, that they know I'll back them if they decide to 'look'. I had my Gran, but she was long dead by the time I got here. I understand, now, what a huge favour she did me just by knowing.

poolet Thu 14-Jan-10 23:03:19

I've just found this thread and had often wondered what the 'stately homes' threads were about - thank you for explaining it in the title! I don't know if you would consider my childhood as 'abusive' but I am feeling very confused as I know I had an 'abnormal' upbringing but can't quite put my finger on what was wrong - is this usual?

I have suffered from eating disorders since my teens (I now have quite a healthy relationship with food), I was prescribed Valium and ADs for anxiety and depression from the age of 15, have subconsciously chosen partners who were emotionally unavailable (one violent, one with - for most of our relationship - undiagnosed AS). I've had counselling which has helped me in certain ways as I'm more assertive and have more self-respect, but there's still this feeling that chunks of the jigsaw are missing if you see what I mean. I now recognise that my father probably has AS - he was very good at the practical aspects of parenting but our conversations have never gone deeper than that. My mother is now dead and it's her treatment of me that I don't really understand.

Have any of you felt like this? I think I'd struggle to think about specifics and my counsellor came to the conclusion that she 'didn't love me' but I'm sure it's a lot more complex than that! I never suffered physical abuse and don't remember my mother even smacking me as a child but I did feel disregarded, dismissed, unimportant, irrelevant most of the time. I always wished I could be invisible and I don't even know why. I'd love to be able to untangle my feelings and get this sorted out once and for all.

I suppose these feelings have all resurfaced with the breakdown of my marriage. My husband and I separated quite amicably but his family are unfairly putting all the blame on me and after 30 years have cut off all contact - again the feeling of being dismissed without being able to defend myself and revisiting my childhood feelings of powerlessness and not being in control.

Sorry for the ramblings, I think this thread will be very therapeutic!

roseability Thu 14-Jan-10 23:12:36

Could someone explain what Transactional Analysis is please?

poolet Thu 14-Jan-10 23:49:15

roseability - I'm not very good at explaining, but this might help.

Nemofish Fri 15-Jan-10 12:10:36

poolet yes I think it is very normal to not quite be able to put your finger on what was wrong. I know now that my mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder but previous to that it was always confusing as it was emotional abuse for the most part. And in the light of the horrific abuse (sexual and physical and neglect) that goes on it seemed insignificant. Although it all links in on a continuum in my case!

Hope you find this thread useful for you.

CJCregg Fri 15-Jan-10 12:30:40

Hello all, please can I join this thread? Like so many others, my first instinct was 'it wasn't that bad' but I have recently re-read Toxic Parents and so much of it rings true.

Have just had (another) huge falling out with my mother. She has stormed off, won't talk to me, and my first instinct was 'shit, it's my fault, I must apologise. What if she dies and we haven't made it up?' And that pretty much sums up our relationship.

I won't go into tedious detail, but just wanted to say that I stumbled across this thread today and it already feels good just to have joined in.

Thanks.

OrdinarySAHM Fri 15-Jan-10 12:31:37

ItsGrace, I really like how you look at each difficult feeling/set of thoughts that you have in the present and find a lesson to learn from it about yourself and about how to be happier. It's really positive and a strong thing to do.

There have been lots of positive thoughts on here lately - realisations/enlightenments/new positive ways of thinking and it feels really good to read it. It's really good if this thread can help with that.

I just want to stress, again, as I don't feel it can be repeated enough (as mentioned by Nemofish) - people who hurt you when you were a child did it NOT because there was something wrong with YOU but because there were things wrong with THEM. The blame and shame should be with them and not with you. You shouldn't have to be left with a feeling that there is something wrong with you and that you are flawed.

skihorse Fri 15-Jan-10 12:35:36

poolet Yes, you're definitely a card-carrying Stately Home visitor. Abuse does not need to result in physical scars and whelps to have been abuse. If you felt it was wrong then that's what you felt and nobody, but nobody has the right to try and dismiss your feelings. I'm glad that your eating disorders are now resolved... I was in my 30s before I was able to get that fixed! Unfortunately you will never get the answers you're searching for from your mother - but I think you can work on validating that what happened (or didn't happen in terms of love/affection) was real and that it has had far reaching consequences in your life. Would it be possible for you to have more therapy in light of the latest stresses in your life? Children of "neglectful" parents often seem to have problems which manifest themselves in personality disorders - again, absolutely not your fault if this has been the case - but it goes some way to explain why you're unable to unwravel the knots and draw a line under it all.

wanttostartafresh Fri 15-Jan-10 13:02:19

poolet, hi. I can relate to what you have said. I was not physically or sexually abused either and it is hard to properly describe why what i went through as a child felt so bad to me at the time. In my case there were a few specific incidents that I can describe as obviously abusive (eg my dad threatening me with a knife when i was about 14) but the rest of it is very hard for me to describe.

In trying to deal with my issues i realise i have focussed on how my parents made me feel as i cannot really describe the abuse as a series of seperate incidents. It was more about an ongoing atmosphere in our house caused by my dad and his moods and unpredictable rages and outbursts and his arguments and fights with my mum. Like you have described i felt disregarded, unimportant, an irritation, a nuisance, unwanted, unloved, disliked and even hated by my dad most if not all of the time.

I have always thought of what i went through as psychological and emotional abuse (mainly by my dad) and emotional neglect and abandonment (by my mother who knew what my dad was doing but never tried to stop him). I would say my dad was psychologically violent towards me, he said things to me when i was a child that an adult would find hurtful and very upsetting. He never once i believe thought about the impact of his words on me. He must completely lack the ability to empathise as otherwise he wouldn't have been able to say the things he did or would have at least felt sorry afterwards and told me he was sorry. But he never did and now he claims he doesn't know what i'm talking about when i bring up the past.

I'm glad you have raised this point poolet. I hadn't really thought about it before in the way you have described ie not being able to put a finger on what it was that you went through or describe specific incidents. Like i said apart from a couple of specific incidents i would find it very hard also to describe what i went through and yet i know i went through something that damaged and hurt me enormously.

I think perhaps this is why i struggle to talk about it with my sisters because i can't put a finger on it. It was more about how i was made to feel as a child but i can't really point to a particular incident and say because of that i felt x,y and z. It was more a case of 'death by a thousand small cuts' i suppose. Lots and lots and lots of small things that were said and done over years and years and years that hurt a lot and also the intangible things that are so hard to describe. Just a feeling, an atmosphere, a tension that was always present in our house. Things would always swing between being ok and even good for a while and then suddenly it would all explode and everyone would be at each other's throats. But a lot of the time it would be me and my dad arguing and he could be very vicious nasty and cruel, me as a 12/13 year old was no match for him at all. He could and would crush me easily although i never showed it, i always acted like i wasn't hurt, i wasn't scared and didn't care. My mum would stay silent throughout the whole time my dad was sticking the knives into me, too scared to tell him to stop in case he turned on her. My sisters were a lot younger so were probably just bewildered confused and terrified of it all. As they got older my dad deliberately made it look to them as if I was the cause of all our rows and arguments. They had no idea I was angry and hurt because of the emotional abuse i had suffered when they were much younger or simply not around.

roseability Fri 15-Jan-10 13:24:47

WTSA - Your father and my adoptive father sound similar in their abuse I think.

You hit the nail brilliantly on the head when you described the abuse about how you felt rather than certain incidences

What I have felt hard is that actual abusive incidences I endured are few and far between. He threatened me physically a couple of times and said awful things about my appearance and character, but when I try to articulate this to him/them or even other people it can sound like I am moaning about a few incdences and focusing on the bad. However your statement about feelings has meant so much to me. I too felt disregarded and inadequate. I too was at the mercy of unpredictable rages and outbursts when he would project and dump all his vile feelings onto me. It was, like you said, an ongoing atmosphere of conflict and hurt. I now know this is not right and in its own way abusive

I thank you because I find it hard to articulate my abuse into words so that I can often feel that is in my head. This has helped validate me hugely

I will finish by saying that I think it is utterly abhorrent that a man would hold a knife to his daughter's throat. It sickens me. Do your sisters know about that incident? Poor you

ItsGraceAgain Fri 15-Jan-10 16:18:55

Can I just make a suggestion to those of us struggling against brothers & sisters who were more favoured than we were? When you read about child abuse, you will have noticed that witnessing family abuse is, also, abusive. A classic control strategy - and torture technique! - is to make sure others see punishment being inflicted on a peer. This, obviously, has the effect of making the witnesses fear the same thing happening to them.

When my brother told me, last year (we're in our 50s now), that he's always felt guilty & ashamed of not protecting me ... that's the voice of abuse. For a little boy to feel he ought to save his big sister is bad enough; for him then to be afraid of trying to save her is a deep wound to that boy's sense of worth. Which, evidently, remains unhealed in the man. It breaks my heart.

So, remember, please: every time they saw, or felt, your suffering - they were abused as effectively as you were. Like my brother's, their scars are just as deep & ugly. If you can't manage compassion, this understanding might help you to process their behaviours.

Bad, bad parents angry angry angry

ItsGraceAgain Fri 15-Jan-10 16:23:59

* witnessing family abuse is, also, abusive
should have read:
* making children witness abuse

SkipToMyLou Fri 15-Jan-10 16:29:36

That makes sense Grace. I always thought my brother was the Golden Child. Yet he's the one who has suffered from severe anxiety attacks most of his life, who has been an alcoholic/addict, and who can't hold down a job. It may not be completely connected, yet sometimes I feel HE was the one hard done by. Which I guess is the one thing that kept me going through the years, because I originally thought he was spoiled rotten, and 'look where it got him, I'm better off than that despite the abuse'. Twisted but true.

therealsmithfield Fri 15-Jan-10 16:55:46

My goodness wtsa your father threatened you with a knife! That's just horrible sad
Was your mother there at the time? Was that 'the' incident you struggle with?
I really related to your post. I know what you mean as I feel I have these physical incidents which even so I still question wether they were that bad? Like my dad putting his hands around my throat and screaming '...I'll f...ing kill you!' hmm. How can I think that wasnt that bad, but it feels at times like it didnt happen to me if that makes sense.
Strangely it was all the stuff in between that was far more painful. The emotional neglect, abandonment. My mother refusing to speak to me for days on end or looking at me like she couldn't bare the site of me that felt more damaging.

grace Im ashamed to say that I witnessed my mother hitting my younger sister accross the face and arm. Full force, she just kept going and I knew I should have stopped her but I was scared, frozen to the spot and there was part of me that was glad that 'for once' her venom wasnt directed at me blush

ItsGraceAgain Fri 15-Jan-10 17:24:23

It's awful, isn't it And I know what you mean about feeling it didn't happen to you. Then, when it did happen to somebody else, it's almost the same feeling iykwim? I recall Dad throwing my little bro - aged about 2 - against a wall. Just picked him up and chucked him angry

wanttostartafresh Fri 15-Jan-10 17:49:26

rose, am glad to have been able to help you. Like you say if i try and talk to other people about what i went through there are only a handful of actual incidents and i also feel i come across as making a fuss about nothing much and focussing on the bad. And yet it was so much more than the few incidents i can recall and describe, but it is soooo hard to put it into words. I realise now i was under constant pressure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, never even for a split second feeling totally safe and secure at home. I must have always felt worried and anxious even when my dad was being 'nice',

A recent news story reminded me about the 'knife incident' with my dad. It was the one about Myleene Klass when she had intruders at her house. Apparently she waved a kitchen knife at them and got warned by the police about I presume threatening the intruders with a knife. That may not be the full story, it's what i heard on the news, but i just thought to myself, she got warned about threatening adult intruders with a knife and my dad threatened me with the a knife one morning at breakfast when i was about 14. I think we were having one of our usual arguments and he thought it was perfectly ok to hold a knife up to me. It wasn't directly up against my throat, but he was waving it in my face. I remember i was looking at him one minute, i looked away for a second and when i turned around he had picked up the bread knife that must have been on the table and was holding it up to me with a nasty smile on his face. I have no idea what sort of father thinks it's funny to hold a knife up to his daughter's face. That's all i can remember unless you count what i was wearing at the time which i could describe in perfect detail. I think my mother was in the kitchen at the time and my sisters may have been in the room but not at the table. The incident didn't last for very long, probably a matter of seconds.

smithfield, that's not the incident i have talked about before though. I feel i can talk about the knife incident because it is obvious that would be an awful thing for a child to experience. I feel though that i won't be able to describe the other incident well enough to get across just how terrifying and horrific it was for me. I'm scared that people will not think it was that bad, but for me, it was definately the worst actual incident with my dad. But it was all bad i realise now, even during the periods of relative calm. A child needs to feel home is the one place he or she is safe and secure and i didn't have that. I have no idea how i actually survived, not physically but spiritually iykwim, because I was not destroyed, my soul survived, the core person that I am; something i have realised now that most of my protective layers have fallen away.

wanttostartafresh Fri 15-Jan-10 17:58:56

smithfield your dad with his hands around your throat.........how can somebody do this to their own innocent beautiful little child?

I know what you mean about not being able to believe all these things actually happened to you. I feel the same. I can't believe it was me, the same person that is sitting here now.

Recently i've been feeling a general sense of unhappiness, dissatisfaction with my life, depressed. I don't think it's actually due to my childhood issues, but could be more down to perhaps a mid-life crisis (am going to be 40 this year) and/or having been a SAHM for over 6 years now and feeling bored and trapped but not being able to see a way out. Just wondering if anybody else feels/has felt like this and is it down to childhood or something else? I sometimes wonder if I will ever feel happy, even if i work and work on sorting out my issues, at a core level, can i really be truly happy and contented knowing how my parents treated me? I can try and fill the various gaps etc and parent myself but it's always a conscious effort. If I had had loving caring parents, perhaps i would not always feel as i was walking against the wind all the time.

therealsmithfield Fri 15-Jan-10 18:19:22

wtsa You are afraid that you will feel diminished by recounting an incident that is too difficult to put into words, I understand now completely why it would be so difficult for you to discuss.
I think perhaps you may have felt that a little when spiky was posting perhaps too?
WRT to what you were saying about the depression and how you are currently feeling, yes I know exactly what you mean in the sense that I have been feeling like this recently.
It is in fact the very essence of what I was discussing with NLQD.
Do you think you have suppressed the 'real' you for so long that you have missed out on things that would have happened naturally for you had you not suffered the trauma of your childhood? Hve you been drowning out your gut instincts which has made you ultimately feeling sad and low?

ItsGraceAgain Fri 15-Jan-10 18:23:07

smithfield, John Bradshaw says at the beginning of Homecoming:

"Three things are striking about inner-child work: The speed with which people change when they do this work; the depth of that change; and the power and creativity that result when the wounds from the past are healed"

So, yes: It's usual, when we get to around 40, for a sort of life evaluation to take place. Call it a mid-life crisis if you like, but it makes perfect sense to do this evaluation. Roughly half-way through our lives; no longer "promising" or "on the way" - we start asking ourselves whether we've delivered on our promises, and where are we going next?

When we feel our power & creativity haven't yet come into full play, there's a whole new sense of urgency. The most common age for people to start therapy is 45. It's up to you to decide whether deconstructing your childhood will release your creative power; your instincts will tell you that!

I'm watching the news from Haiti. I'm wondering how foolish am I to be worrying about my self-esteem, when so much worse things happen in the world? But trauma is trauma. It is terrible to imagine what the Haitian survivors will go through as a result of this trauma - we, meanwhile, have our own traumas to deal with. Sad. But simple.

ItsGraceAgain Fri 15-Jan-10 18:27:07

You asked WTSA: "Do you think you have suppressed the 'real' you for so long that you have missed out on things that would have happened naturally"

I do! I'd really like to know who the "real me" is!!!

ItsGraceAgain Fri 15-Jan-10 18:37:57

Oh my goodness. As a result of your question above, I asked myself - for the first time - what would have happened if I'd had the same childhood, but with loving & supportive parents.

I would have known I was beautiful
I would have gone to Cambridge (Dad blocked me)
I would have joined Footlights (I always took the comic role in school plays)
I might have become a minor celebrity
I may well have become a comic scriptwriter
Things would have come easily (they did anyway, I just never looked for the right things)
I would have married a nice man
I would have had children (because of stable marriage)

Fuck me! My life would have been totally, utterly, completely different shock

I have NEVER thought about this before!
So ... the real me is the woman THAT woman would be in 2010. Jeez.

Well, I'm stuffed on the career & kids front, but I'd better figure out what she/I would be aiming for next. And start heading there.

Have you guys got any idea how GOOD you are???! grin

GetOrfMoiLand Fri 15-Jan-10 18:41:45

Hello everyone. Please can I come on here?

I remember reading the original stately homes thread years ago and wanting to post but feeling that I couldn't (why? I don't know).

Some things have happened recently and I started a thread today 'I haven't spoken to my mum since October and I feel like a piece of rubbish' and Atilla recommended that I come on here.

I posted:

I have tried to have a decent relationship with my mother but after 14 yor so years of trying I have had enough.

She didn't raise me - she had me when she was 17 and nobody knew she was pregnant until the night I was born. My gran raised me and I was raised to believe that my mum was my sister until I was told at the age of 6 that she was actually my mum. I didn't see very much of my mum during childhood in any case as there was a lot of bad blood between my gran, mum and my uncles and aunts. Lots of rows between everyone. I can only remember seeing my mum about half a dozen times.

My gran was very abusive (she was abusive to my mum, aunts and uncles when they were growing up as well, I think now she was prob mentally ill, either that or evil/mad) and my mum knew that she was leaving me with an abusive woman. She said that she didn;t have a choice but to leave me to be raised by my gran but god knows what went on. My upbringing was very unhappy - periods of normailty interspersed with periods of quite severe physical, emitional and sexual abuse (oh god I am sat here with my heart racing at typing that I have never admitted such to anybody before).

I got to know my mum when I left gran's house when I was 16, I moved into a hotel where I got a job as a waitress, my mum found out and came down to see me. Since then we have tried to build a relationship.

It has been hard. She never likes to talk about how she left me with my gran - she is very much of the opinion that I should 'get over' things and not let the past drag me down. She didn;t tell me whi my father was until I was 25 because before she didn't like to discuss it. She doesn't want to recognise that I suffered - in her eyes she is the most important victim because she lost her daughter. She went on to have my brother who she idolises (another bone of contention I suppose).

She has said the worst day of her life was when I was born and she has never been able to recover from it. She has been in therapy for donkey's years.

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, my gran died last March (I had not seen her from the day I moved out 15 years previously). My mum was grief stricken (she had not spoken to my gran for about 25 years either, none of her 5 children had spoken to her). It was like Ma Walton had died, all the family (bearing in mind that my mum and her siblings hadn't spoken to each other either) all gathered together like a little clan, reminiscing about being raised by my gran. It was very odd.

Anyway since then my mum has announce that she has forgiven my gran for what she did, and that she is reconciled. My mum insists that I forgive my gran as well and visit the grave etc, but I can't.

My gran died intestate therefore my mum and her 4 siblings are due to share my gran's estate of approx 300K. Althoigh none of them spoke to gran for years they have no compunction in spending her money and going through the house and dividing up the contents.

Me and mum had a row in october because I asked for photos of me as a child which my gran had. My mother refused saying that I was not entitled and that the photos belonged to her and her siblings. I do not posess one photo of myself before the age of 16. I know it is nothing but I really want old school photos of myself etc.

Since october we have not spoken, not at Christmas or new year or anything. She has spoken to my dd intermittently, and sent her a £20 postal order for her birthday and Christmas. This is not normal - normally my mum buys dd nice presents for her birthday and Christmas.

I spoke to my brotehr lasy night, he said that my mother refuses to speak to me until I apologise for being demanding. Apparently she is worried that I will ask for a share of teh money to which I am not entitled and I will not get a penny, apparently. Until I apologise 'she is dead to me' according to my brotehr.

I don't think I should apologise. I just feel like I am a bloody piece of rubbish thrown away, that i am utterly worthless and always have been to her, her list of importanec in her life is herself, my brother, her job, her best mate, and 27 various other people until you get to me and dd. I am sick of trying to despereatley try and have a normal mother daughter relationship.

I didn't sleep at all last night and feel awful, I need to speak to someone but feel i would blow up. DP knows what has been going on and he thinks my mother is selfish. My dd is in the middle wondering what the hell is going on.

Sorry very long post and prob should have namechanged but i just feel utterly like the lowest of the low and don;t know what to do for the best.

I am normally a very laid back person and don't get riled, however I feel like i am full of bitterness - there is a Larkin quote which I read some months back which seems to describe me to a t - 'full of black, twitching, boiiling HATE'. I don't want to be this person, I don't want to be someone who hates. Why have I managed to bumble through my tewnties and somehow fall of a cliff emotionally in the last 6 months? I don't know who I am anymore.

My daughter is precious and I also feel that I am going to lose her - she is 14 and is on aboout going to boarding 6th form. My beautiful daughter is pretty much my entire family. I know she has got to grow up but i am so scared at the thought of being without her. What will I do for the next 40 years? What will I be for?. I don't want another baby but I want her as a baby again, almost.

I just feel I have to speak to someone otherwise I will blow up.

I am just off to read all the posts and the other threads.

weegiemum Fri 15-Jan-10 18:50:47

I'm going to stick my neck out and join in!

My Mum has some kind of undiagnosed mental disorder - I think we are looking at a mix of NPD and OCD to be honest.

I haven't spoken to her for 4 years. She left me, my Dad, Dsis and Dbro when I was 12 (they were 10 and 4) - with my Dad's best friend. She was incontact for a while but then moved 500 miles away and used to come to the town I lived in to see my Gran and never tell me she was there. Ten sh moved to a different country and didn't tell me till she was there!!! Then moved back (still hundreds of miles away) and once again I only found out once it was a done deal.

I got into trouble (mentally) 4 years ago and she started to lecture me about what a crappy mum I was - that was when I stopped talking to her. At my (very much loved) Gran's funeral 3 years ago she totally blanked me!

She thinks she was a fab mum. Sorry - my Dad was a great mum and then also my stepmum!

I am currently seriously depressed (again!!!) and my psychologist wants to investigate all this again. I'm terrified, but also know if I have to face it again, then I do, and in the end it might do me good. But it is VERY scarey to go there again!

wanttostartafresh Fri 15-Jan-10 18:52:15

smithfield, yes, i think so. I have this idea people will be polite and kind and say yes, I can see how bad that must have been for you, but inside they will be thinking, what's all the fuss about, what you have said wasn't that bad. I feel I simply cannot put into words how it felt for me. Perhaps I will give it a go on here one day. But i feel scared even thinking about posting about it on here.

I think my depression is about the things i have missed out on. I feel now that i have DC's it's just too late. The sort of things i want to do are just impossible with DC's. I feel I just do not 'fit' into the conventional lifestyle DH and I are leading now. I remember many years ago thinking i never want to be tied down, with neverending domestic duties, living a monotonous, groundhog day life that i could see all around me. But somehow, i have ended up doing exactly that. If i had somehow managed to sort myself before i met DH i think it is possible i may never have got married; i am a person who needs to be free, to do what she wants on a whim, who is free to change her mind as often as she likes, to move around and not live in one place all the time. All of those things i feel are incompatible with being married with DC's. But because i was so lacking in confidence, needy etc, i did not have the guts to follow my heart and instead married DH because i was craving safety and security and to be parented and he has done all of that. So I feel stronger and have recovered so much self confidence and self esteem and i feel i want to pursue my dream and follow my heart and live the sort of life i know would make me happy. But I can't as I have DH and the DC's and my duty is to them, it's not their fault i got married when i really shouldn't have, because i was too scared to follow my heart. So now i'm stuck and feel trapped and unhappy even though outwardly i have a great life.

I don't think i'm explaining myself very well, i hope you get the gist of what i'm trying to say.

Re spiky i can see now the whole spikygate triggered a lot of things for me. She seemed to personally single me out in her posts and i felt picked on just like at home. But initially i was too scared to say anything to her about how her posts were making me feel. Again just like at home. But then, Bop noticed that spiky's comments and attitude towards me within her posts was very judgmental and critical and aggressive, perhaps passive aggressive. And Bop and then Rose both spoke out on my behalf to spiky and colorado and that was a very new experience for me. Nobody had ever even noticed i was being picked on or stood up for me before. That gave me the confidence to say something to spiky myself which I did. But then after i had posted about spiky i felt scared about what everyone on the thread would think and i was worried everyone would turn against me and take spiky's side and blame me for causing the whole problem in the first place. Again i realise that feeling of being scared of everyone turning against me and blaming me as the troublemaker from my childhood where that is exactly what happened time and time again. But then the story had a different ending to the one it had had all my life. Nobody took sides, nobody blamed me, nobody turned against me. It has made me realise just how much i went through with always being blamed for arguments at home, always being thought of as the troublemaker. Nobody in my family ever reacted to me as everyone did on here. I feel on this thread i have been treated with respect for my feelings and not blanketly blamed for everything or even anything. People seem to be able to see that i felt hurt and criticised and attacked by spiky's posts and were able to empathise with me. Nobody has ever done that for me before. Nobody least of all my family has ever realised that the times when i reacted in anger at home it was just because i was hurting inside. Nobody ever seemed to see that all the things my dad said to me hurt me so badly. I was hurt but i couldn't show it and instead i acted tough and angry. So it has been like a re-enactment of my old family drama but this time with a different and happy ending.

ItsGraceAgain Fri 15-Jan-10 18:55:24

Thank you for your story, GOML. It's very sad; I feel for you.

Even without further abuse, for your mother to say "the worst day of her life was when you were born" is extremely hurtful. (Mine did too, the silly cow.) Also, the business with being told at the age of 6 that your sister is your mum and your mum's your gran ... no wonder you're not sure who you are: they told you you weren't who you thought you were, just at the age when your identity had formed!

Being abused, confused and rejected all your life must have made every little thing you do seem so much harder Never blame yourself for this.

Others here will help you. Please keep posting. You are worth the effort, you know

wanttostartafresh Fri 15-Jan-10 18:59:58

Grace, what you said here "When we feel our power & creativity haven't yet come into full play, there's a whole new sense of urgency." That's how I feel. I am desperate to spread my wings and go off into the world and see what exactly i can do and be and achieve. But I can't. I am totally constrained and constricted by my duties and responsibilities to my DC's who are only 6 and 3, babies still really and my DH who got married in good faith that he was marrying somebody who like him wanted to settle down and have a family. And i did think i wanted that when i married DH, but i did not realise there was a much deeper subconscious reason why i was getting married to him which is that my inner child could sense that DH would be like a parent figure to me and he has been. He has provided the stability, safety and security i needed in order to heal and recover from my past but now i feel sufficiently healed and strong enough to start moving forward but i can't take any steps forward because i am tied down by my responsibilities. It is a problem with no solution.

weegiemum Fri 15-Jan-10 19:02:47

Those coments mothers make are so "effective"

When I asked my Mum why she left she said "Oh S, you are so much bother, you ask too many questions"

I have never got over this!

GetOrfMoiLand Fri 15-Jan-10 19:13:43

Thank you so much Grace.

Why I feel like a whole load of floodgates are opening now God only knows.

I am bawling at 'you are worth the effort you know'.

Grace I am just horrified at your dad throwing your brother against the wall. You must have felt so bloody helpless seeing that. Christ almighty. It reminds me when I was about 7 or so my gran flying off the handle and battering me, my uncle (who would have been about 15 at the time) standing helplessly by, he sounded so frantic he said 'don't do it, you'll kill her, you'll kill her' and then running off in fear as she set off after him.

Why was she like it? I think I am upset because now she is dead I will never be able to ask why.

I am so sorry for everyone else as well, WTSA how you must have felt re the spiky incident on t'other thread god knows.

Thanks for everyine for listening.

wanttostartafresh Fri 15-Jan-10 19:18:04

GOML. Welcome to the thread. Am so glad you posted. I am so sorry for what you have been through. You should be proud of yourself for having survived through all that (and no doubt more) and reached the place where you are now.

I hope reading this and the previous threads will give you some comfort in realising you are not alone and that you can post on here without being told to forget it all because it's in the past or that it was your fault or any of those things which you know are rubbish.

Have you considered seeing a counsellor/psychotherapist? I hope you will, but bear in mind it is very important to find the right one for you so you might need to go through a few before you find the best match for you.

Also there are some very good books out there, Toxic Parents by Susan Forward is a good starting point.

wanttostartafresh Fri 15-Jan-10 19:24:27

weegiemum, hello and welcome to the thread. Your mum abandoned you and yet she thinks she was a good mum, mine's the same although the abandonment was emotional rather than physical. I certainly felt abandoned by her when passively she stood and watched my dad verbally lay into me.

I am glad you are seeing a psychologist. It is definately very painful and scary to start delving into the past, but like you said it will do you good in the end. Keep posting, I hope reading about everyone's experiences might help you feel less scared, as you are not alone.

ItsGraceAgain Fri 15-Jan-10 19:31:17

Parents do shit stuff. Like Betjeman said, they fuck us up! My daddy was keen on throwing children - amongst other things. He was a nasty piece of work (but he gave me my sense of humour, so should I be grateful?!??) Mum stood and cried a lot, whimpering "Don't do that DH, you'll give them a sense of insecurity". (A <rolleyes emoticon> would help here, but it wouldn't be near enough.) Of course, she was terrified of him: it would be helpful if she'd admit that, but she doesn't even know it any more - she 'coped' by living in fantasy, and that hasn't really helped anyone.

I don't know what age you are, GOML, but your mum's story sounds like one of those SHAME tales of virginal brides and hidden births. Disgusting, harmful and sad for all concerned. No, not sad - tragic. It must have been hideous for your mother: like mine, she's failed to deal with her reality and has overlaid it with beliefs that help her cope (not all that well, by the sound of it). It is this failing to deal that makes dealing so very hard for us!

Your nan sounds like a right old monster. I wish she could have been locked up in a small room with my dad!! That would have shown 'em both angry

They were incredibly, shockingly unfair to you, GOFML. If you feel angry at them, do!! You're right! I feel furious at them, and I've never even seen them!

You are worthwhile. Learn it

ItsGraceAgain Fri 15-Jan-10 19:35:08

One more post, GOML

There's a therapy exercise I do regularly. I write a list of 15 wonderful things about me. The first time I did it, it took me FOUR DAYS, full-time shock

How about starting yours? Do it in here, if it helps. xxx -hugs- {mn}

GetOrfMoiLand Fri 15-Jan-10 19:45:07

Grace - was born in 1978. yes I know what you mean, it sounds like somehing out of a Catherine Cookson novel set in the 1830s!

I know that my mum herself had a hideous time and suffered, someone on teh other thread made the brilliant point that she may well be stuck emotionally at the age of 17 when she had me. It would explain a lot.

I justt hank god for my dd who has been a shining light in my life.

Grace - 15 wonderful things! Ummm, I have a nice arse (actually it couldn't be classed as wonderful so...!)

How have you managed to reconcile what has happened to you in the past?

WTSA yes will def find a counseller, Atilla said that NHS referals are patchy and to try private, I will have a look and see.

ItsGraceAgain Fri 15-Jan-10 19:49:21

"How have you managed to reconcile what has happened to you in the past?"

Hard bloody work. There's still more to do, however I can't quite believe how fast I've been working in the past few weeks!!

I reckon a nice arse is wonderful grin

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