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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)

therealsmithfield Wed 28-Apr-10 21:07:33

refreshers no it doesn't sound trite at all tis helpful advice actually, because I think I am just needing practical advice in being assertive, without being aggressive. Or acting out certain projections.
I think HO person is being difficult actually, digging her heels in whilst Boss is being useless and jelly like. I feel like they're making me a flipping moving target.
She wants to meet clients but has made it all on her terms i.e I must come on this date etc.
It is a bank holiday Friday FFS, most clients will be away. I could probably call in some favours and give in, but part of me thinks why the hell should I?
Yes I am still working for the company but I agree I dont think its appropriate especially when I have 'said' I am going to a competitor.
I'm torn between a)lying and saying Ive got personal commitments that day, b)just doing it and grin and bare it but get it out of the way, or doing just as you just said.
Yet it is that final option that feels me with dread though. It also feels very grown up. I guess I still dont feel grown up inside. It feels like they're the adults and so have all the power and Im back to being the small child who has no choice or say.
As I said confrontation (I suck at it).

ItsGraceAgain Wed 28-Apr-10 21:11:21

Yup, Smithfield, you don't need to protect Mr Jellyfish! Copy the person who requested the meeting into your memo, with a proactive suggestion about a replacement. Heh, maybe Jelly can learn something from you wink

Re: Assertiveness - courses are the way to go, imo. Both assertiveness courses and NLP training are very helpful. Also ... Have you read the very first 'self-help' book, "How To Win Friends & Influence People"? It was written in the Fifties, I think, so you'll have to ignore a bit of guff about dinner-jackets and how to treat a lady (!) but it's an easy read and still very relevant. It helps de-mystify the whole communication thing.

I didn't know what I wanted until my mid-40s! I was always told "I want doesn't get" ... I think this was supposed to mean "ask politely" but, in my parents' house, it meant "We don't care; you'll want what you're given." My first homework, when I started therapy, was to write 15 good things about myself. It took me 3 weeks. Next, I had to write a page describing what I want. That took a month. In truth, I still have to remind myself to think about what I want - but I can tell you it's really great to know!

Mum came round this evening. The bio isn't going to happen. She's gone straight back into denial mode and, with it, the full parental secrecy/cover-up routine. I feel sad for her but, if I decide to explore the relationship dynamic through writing, I shall have to fictionalise it.

Still, that issue's out of the way now. And I have learned something new about what I want!

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