Narcissistic Scapegoating:You Can Never Leave

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As if injured instincts are not enough. There is a darker side to being the daughter of a narcissistic mother. And this, I believe is the most damaging.

The central tenet of narcissistic personality disorder is that everything and everyone exists to construct and maintain her flawless self image. Any criticism or inference that she is anything less than a Good Mother has to be denied. Any strong feeling that doesn’t fit with the construct – self loathing, rivalry with her daughter for Daddy’s attention, rejection, resentment, guilt, shame – has to be displaced. Projection becomes the primary weapon of self defense.That’s when the scapegoating begins.

Here I am forced to borrow authority from a woman who is farther along in the process of identifying the patterns that shape – and destroy – our instincts, self confidence and lives:

In a narcissist’s family, dysfunctional roles are the norm, and narcissistic mothers are always the producers, directors, and casting agents for the entire production. Children are assigned roles to play long before they are old enough to resist them, and grow up within the confines of these limitations, knowing nothing different exists anywhere. It is typical of parents with personality disorders to select at least one “Golden Child”, who can do no wrong, and at least one Scapegoat, who can do no right.

When deciding (unconsciously) what child will play each role, the narcissistic mother weighs her options on a deep, intuitive level. Which child is the most sensitive? Which child reminds her of a hated parent, or the ex-spouse who stood up to her, or something within herself she cannot accept? Which one asks more of her, either intentionally, or by way of circumstance? Which child expresses unhappiness more often about the unbearable situations the narcissistic mother creates? Which one is more vulnerable, or more outspoken? In short, which child bothers her the most?

By the time I graduated high school, I was in full blown codependent rebellion, acting out by drinking, smoking and having sex with my steady boyfriend. One day, Mamma allowed as how her friends believed that we were so close, “you’d tell me if you were having sex with Joey.” Hmph Why should this come as a surprise? When Daddy was gone to New Orleans for Grand Lodge, Mamma let him stay over, sleeping with me in my bed.

“I know I can trust you.” *wink *

When I confirmed her suspicion, Mamma decided it was time for me to get married.

Halla-fucking-leuia, I had an escape! So I married the 20 year old boy my mother picked for me, moved to Houston, TX and continued to act out in ways that my parents considered scandalous.

The inference that my mother somehow contributed to my wonton ways was such anathema, she declared to everybody and my brother that I was sick, bad, ugly and crazy. From that moment until the day she died, my sister became The Golden Child and I became the Scapegoat.

This Scapegoat will ultimately be made to carry the lion’s share of the family’s blame, shame, anger, and rejection so the rest can more easily retain their patterns of dysfunction. This child will always and forever be the one who is not good enough, even when she excels at something – indeed, especially when she excels. This child will endure more put-downs, sideways remarks and behind-the-back betrayals than the rest of the family put together. This child will endure the wear and tear of the family’s dysfunction in a way that will enable the others to continue looking good despite the family’s toxicity.

Let me tell you, being the scapegoat in a dysfunctional family stinks. I could do no right. My sister could do no wrong. My brother was sort of in between. My mother might complain about some shabby treatment she received from Bobby, but my sister was above reproach.

Of course, what Mother said to me was nothing remotely like what she said about me, or wickedly attributed to me in the retelling. Everything I said or did was run through the narcissistic filter in order to inflate Mamma’s public image as the long suffering Good Mother of a Bad Daughter. Triumph was minimized. Tragedy was maximized. Whatever was discussed was twisted into a personal affront to her. As she was threatened and/or perceived a hurt, she ran a number with the other members of the family.

This colored my siblings’ perceptions of me, tainted our relations and goaded them into more hateful retaliations than I could ever conceive.

Let me count the number of public humiliations visited on me by my brother. Let me number times my sister called, read me the riot act about some imagined insult to our mother, called me “Bitch” and hung up on me. You know what? I cannot. They are too numerous to mention.

Ironically, I was the lucky one. I got out.  Then I spent the next 40 years working through layers and layers of codependency with drugs, alcohol, shopping, work, food, anything that might fill the hole where self love should have been.

Since I turned 40, I have believed that there ought to be a moratorium on what you can blame on your parents. At some point, it’s your choice. Boy was I wrong about that. Being the family scapegoat is like “Hotel California.” You can check out any time you like; you can never leave.

For the Scapegoat, there will be disregard and/or punishment for doing well and a “reward” of a little less overt abuse or even occasional expressions of support if she fails to thrive and accepts her role. Many Scapegoats have reported that the only time they felt their mother supported them (if at all) was when the supportive act fostered and reinforced the scapegoats’ inferiority, dysfunction or weakness. In an effort to alleviate to some degree the distress of her narcissistic mother’s wrath, the Scapegoat eventually gives in and agrees with the family’s assessment of her as inferior and worthy of blame. She internalizes the belief that she is inherently bad, worthless, and defective, and believes that everyone she contacts can clearly see this and will reject her as completely her family does. She will bring the telltale signs of deep inferiority with her to the playground, to school, to the workplace, and into her community and relationships.

…snip

Despite some variations in the way role manifests, the Scapegoat never fits in comfortably, and is largely looked down upon or rejected, no matter the vehicle or reasons given (real or imagined) for such marginalization.

_____

The author gratefully acknowledges the source of these snippets regarding narcissistic scapegoating: Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Without this resource, I could not see it much less say it.

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33 thoughts on “Narcissistic Scapegoating:You Can Never Leave

  1. Hi, My Mother is a Narcissist as well. I too was the scapegoat while my sister has been the Golden Child. I have two brothers but they were in between…mostly favoured because they were boys. I am a 46 yr old mom of 3 and I can assure you the damage done by my family is extensive, not unlike anyone else coming from a Narcissist parent. I then married a Narcissist myself just to keep the scapegoating going. I left my marriage 2 years ago, lost my daughters to my ex's alienation. So today I am no contact with my entire family. Hurts like hell, feels like death but I'm pushing through it. Thanks for posting. I suspose I will continue to be the scapegoat with my ex who has set that up nicely with my children…he will never change. However, I refuse to be anybody's scapegoat anymore. I stand at the cusp of my life…looking ahead at a life free of narcissism, gaslighting and scapegoating…I have no idea how this might be but I'm looking forward to finding out. All the best!

  2. This post expresses my experience of being the scapegoat in my family with accuracy and specifics that are uncanny. My narcissistic mother chose me as the scapegoat and every event in my life was then interpreted as yet more evidence of my defective nature. Achievements that would be triumphs for either of the other children in my family were treated as flukes when the achievements were mine. My sister was the ‘golden child’ and I can honestly say I don’t remember a single time when she was punished or even spoken to harshly. For me punishments and put-downs were a daily affair. My mother and grandmother would regularly discuss how intolerable men were while I was trapped in the car with them and had no choice but to listen.

    Even though I’ve cut off all contact with them what still bothers me the most is that my family used me like toilet paper. Anything they didn’t want to face, anything unpleasant, anything negative from them ended up on me. My mother’s personality flaws, and there were many, became my flaws. There was no thought to how it might affect me, quite the opposite. It was what I was for, it was my purpose, my use, and they made it clear it was the only reason they tolerated my presence. I am now in my 50′s and went through most of my life trying to justify my existence while knowing in my heart that there was no justification for my existence. It has damaged my ability to form relationships, find friends and hold down a job. I still struggle with the assumptions that were planted in me on a daily basis.

    The hatefulness and yes, evil of this act is unforgivable. It is attempted murder of the soul.

    Thank you for your blog.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story Steve. I understand your bitterness and hope that you are finding some peace since you started learning about narcissistic personality disorder. It is a mental illness. I don’t know. My mother is dead now so maybe it’s easier to let go my resentments. I try not to think about the fact that she went to her grave still making up bullshit about me. “I had another daughter but she said she didn’t love me, she never loved me.” And she was so confused at the end that she talked about me to me. It was a jaw dropping moment. But my siblings didn’t fare any better. She told my brother he was a “jackass.” And called my sister a “chicken shit.” I comfort myself with this thought: no mother in her right mind would visit this kind of hurt on her child. As bad as it was, it was the best she could do. Kind regards, Pam

  4. Thank you for your explanation of the poisonous sister ,brother and at times my own father, that I have been navigating for years. My older brother was “allowed” to beat me up from the time I was little. In college I suffered a black eye and swollen face as a result of his temper. His abuse was never “seen” until he crossed two other siblings. I now get to endure the “acting out” of an older sister who projects all her anger in my direction. Her nickname is “queen”. Her most recent antics occurred in the hospital ER and hallway scolding me for not telling her our father was I’ll when in fact it was the opposite that occurred in a phone call that morning. I walk around with a giant hole in my soul. I feel no one could possibly like me because of how I am treated by my family of origin. My father just today chose to inform me that she, my younger brother and older brother were his executors. The crazy brother that beat me was left out as was I. I am highly educated and yet feel like a failure ALL the time. I too am in my fifties and wonder where the solution for this psychic pain lies. My sister is clearly mentally Disturbed and no one dares confront her. She is a bully and choses situations where it is inappropriate for me to confront her without looking like an ass. She is 4 feet 10 inches and everyone avoids her. I too married a narcissist and am finally free of him. I am seeing a man but I am afraid he has the same tendencies . The damage of these toxic people never seems to go away. I will be free when I take my last breath.

  5. Just doing some googling and came across your site.

    This hits it right on the head:

    “Any criticism or inference that she is anything less than a Good Mother has to be denied. Any strong feeling that doesn’t fit with the construct – self loathing, rivalry with her daughter for Daddy’s attention, rejection, resentment, guilt, shame – has to be displaced. Projection becomes the primary weapon of self defense.”

    This is so, so true. I have said so many times that her image is so much more important to her than I’ll ever be. She will go to her grave denying the years of harsh physical abuse and devastating emotional abuse, because having the world think of her as a Good Mother is more important that anything… MUCH more important than telling the truth, or having a relationship with me. The physical abuse stopped when I was 17, but the emotional abuse didn’t stop until I divorced her completely at age 35.

    And so much of it was projection… her accusing me of things, punishing me for things, that any idiot could see were true of HER… but she will never see that. She HAS to place these horrible attributes on me in order to maintain this fragile facade of perfection and martyrdom that she wears.

    I was the scapegoat, and my oldest brother was the golden child… he physically abused me as well, but was always excused from it, whereas when I got a little older and started using my long sharp fingernails to protect myself from him, I was harshly punished.

    I married a wonderful man and we have a very happy life together. I am very much accepted in his family, and we all have a wonderful time together. A lot of healing has come from this, but I still have problems with relationships in general… I just expect people to see me as a worthless piece of crap, the way my entire family of origin does. The wounds may heal to some degree, but there will always be scars.

  6. That’s a very touching post. I know so well the feeling. So many people love me. I still expect people to see me as a worthless piece of crap – like my family. I’m so happy that you’ve found love and a loving family. Thank you for sharing. Pam

  7. I would like to expand on the experiences related above, with a version that I have never seen anywhere else, fortunately for everyone else and unfortunately for me. I am the scapegoat of a narcissistic family, but they are my former in-laws, and now my ex-husband and his current wife. Let me explain this and see if anyone believes me.

    I became the scapegoat of my ex-husbands family throughout my marriage, and he did not defend me in any way because he was relieved to get out of being the scapegoat before me. Eventually he participated in the scape-goating, and in emotionally and verbally abusing me along with his mother and sister. It continues to this day, even years after our divorce, and I am afraid my son is being trained to this and I am desperate to get out of the cycle. It has been six years since our divorce and I do feel like it is the Hotel California. My husband sues me every year on some trumped up charge, with the help of his current wife, and they are constantly villifying me to our son. They can afford the legal challenges and I cannot. So as I start to run out of money, I look like a failure, and they feel vindicated. I just wrote this whole long description of this crazy life I had and have in regards to this, both in my former marriage and since, and erased it because it sounded too bananas. Has anyone ever heard of this? My ex-husband’s mother is a vindictive narcissist, he was the scapegoat, he was relieved when I became his family’s scapegoat, abandoned me, and now he has turned those traits on me. After our divorce, I moved 3000 miles to get away from it, and he has sued me every year for five years, re-inventing himself as the injured victim, and me as the broken villain, over and over, and I can’t fight anymore. I have no money for legal representation, he and his new wife are wealthy, and they continually brainwash our son with stories about how broken I am and how I am wrecking their lives. No therapist I go to has any idea what I am talking about, just thinks that he is abusive, and says maybe it will stop soon. And the legal avenues are not really there to deal with a situation like this. We used to go to therapy together when we were married, he seemed like he was working through stuff as I was, and then bam, he cycled back and basically now does to me all the things he hated having done to him by his mom, only worse. And the sanctimonious second wife aids and abets.
    The constant villification and lawsuits have wrecked my life, kept me from really being able to start over after my divorce, and have nearly wrecked my relationship with my son. He can’t see his way through the constant brainwashing and poison, and doesn’t understand why his dad makes him feel like such a failure. His dad has made it clear that, if I am considered anything but broken by my son, then his dad will abandon him. I am intelligent, gainfully employed, and stable. My son is a kid who got 800 on one of the SATs twice in a row, same test, but he feels like he is a piece of shit. I try to tell him he is great, but I am not considered reliable because I must be bad if his dad keeps suing me all the time, and because they are always telling him lies about me.

    I know this sounds crazy, but its not. Just really hard. This cycle is nearly unbearable, for both myself and my son.

  8. You are not crazy. Your feelings are valid. Just as kids who are bullied become bullies, I suspect children of narcissistic parents pass on their injuries to others all the time. Children absorb the parental program so thoroughly that it’s difficult, if not impossible, not to express it later in life. Gaining an ally, such as a new wife, only reinforces the acceptability of being selfish and self involved. Also, I have noticed that when we accept the role of scapegoat with our family, we accept it in other “families” as well including our work. It’s like we are wearing a sign on our forehead: “I’m vulnerable. Kick me. Pick on me. I can’t / won’t fight back.” And when someone uses the law as their bully pulpit and weapon, we are well and truly fucked.

    Of all the spiritual methods I’ve tried, I get great relief by processing my feelings with the techniques I learned from “The Marriage of Spirit” authored by Leslie Temple Thurston.

    No matter how bad it looks or gets, know that you are lovely, lovable and worthy. This too will pass.

  9. My family dynamics are somewhat more complicated. I started off as somewhat of a golden child although I have an older brother who I would also describe as the same. My parents divorced when I was around 8. My parents had 3 children, me my older brother and my younger brother, all 18 months apart. My mother decided she didn’t like me quite as much after my dad left. She constantly reminded me that I looked and acted like my father who she hated. She did everything she could to turn us against him. It worked with my brothers but not so much with me. As I got older I became to understand her true colours. She remarried someone who was 10 years younger than her when I was 14 and he had 2 boys under 5 years old from a previous marriage. Their mother died of cancer so they had the extreme misfortune of inheriting my mother as their mother too. She treated them like unwanted pets and her new husband seemed completely happy with it since he spent most of his time working for her while be abused drugs and alcohol. To this day she talks about him as if he is some kind of genius. She got pregnant with him when I was 13 and (within one month of knowing him) my sister was born when i was 14. Shortly after she got pregnant again and had a boy who is the youngest in our family. My position as golden child was quickly replaced by my new sister and brother. I am 40 now and to this day my half sister continues to play the role of golden child along with my youngest half brother despite the fact my sister smokes crack and drinks excessively. At 26 years old she is still living with my mother! My youngest brother is a follower and not the smartest kid around. As a teenager was I made to handle most adult responsibilities within the household mainly involving the bulk of the child care while my mother visited her friends usually for the entire day and while her new husband worked construction overtime. My mother removed me from school to use me for free childcare within the home. After a few years of this I left home to live with my father so I could finish school in a peaceful setting. This launched a war between her and my father resulting in my constant placement back and forth from my mothers to my fathers until I refused to return with my mother. As my youngest half siblings became older it became evident to me that they were treated much differently than me…. More praise, nicer clothes, toys jewelry etc… despite the fact my mother bankrupted the family with her obsene spending habits. Necessities were Xmas gifts for the rest of the children while she spent thousands on herself and her 2 golden children.
    When I met my husband at 25 my mothers attitude towards me became more unbearable. She gossiped about him with my brothers in a desperate attempt to assassinate his character. My husband is more financially and socially successful than any person she has or will ever know. She even went so far as to call him a thief. I found it quite hilarious and much to my amusement when she told family members that he had stolen a DVD movie from her home while we were visiting there,( Stuart little). This came back to me through my father who my brother mistakingly shared this info with. She was confronted by my husband with this info and of course denied ever saying it. Eventually the gossiping and backstabbing became so intolerable that I was forced to cut her out of my life. My siblings no longer contact me and both my full brothers have cut off my father since I’ve done this. speaking to me would result in severe pinishment from my mother…. Controller of their universe.
    I no longer have to deal with my mothers outbursts, snide remarks, insults, gossip, put downs and constant comparisons to my sister who is 14 years younger than me with a serious drug problem! I don’t have to listen to her talk about how horrible my dad is and how she would kill him if she could get away with it. She has said this to me several times throughout my life and of course denies every saying it. I don’t have to wonder if she’ll just show up at my house unexpectedly. I don’t have to wait for her to show up half a day late when she says she will be here at a specific time. I don’t have to stand next to her which I found physically exhausting almost as if her negativity would enter my body just from getting too close to her. Above all her toxic behavior will never influence or be a part of my 6 yr old daughters life. She can say whatever she wants about me to anyone who will listen because those people are just desperate losers who refuse to clearly see the truth about her. It’s great to be the outcast within a party of fools with no self worth.
    I find talking about it with others quite healing however most people have a very hard time understanding how someone can be devoid of any positive feelings for their mother. I wish I knew more people in the same situation I could talk to. I miss having a relationship with my siblings but I’ve come to realize that it clearly was not bringing me much happiness either. There was no trust as long they have my narcissistic mother influencing the way they conduct their lives.

  10. I understand. It’s doubly painful to have been the apple of mother’s eye, then be relegated to the role of nanny to the child who is displacing you. It’s painful to live within the orb of a narcissistic mother and painful to detach. Insult to injury, in protecting our vulnerability, we lose our connection with siblings who are important to us. The set-up is so dysfunctional in this kind of family dynamic, there’s just no way we can win. Damned if we do. Damned if we don’t. I finally began to feel okay – no longer frustrated – when I accepted this.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. my age 57,my wife 50 we are married 30 years,28 year boy as senior bank manager other 27 year a senior sale manager in a french 5* hotel
    but last 6 years she is doing peculiar behavior, abusive word is it narssissm and anathema – puzzled father,hv given them all best toys/holidays/no beating/best education ?

  12. Narcissism is a lifelong pattern. One doesn’t develop it after 25 years of marriage. It is a learned behavior that stems from living with one or more narcissistic parents. Maybe spend more time asking her what she needs from you that she is not getting and what she’s getting that she does not need. LISTEN.

  13. It’s so nice that I can finally see that there’s nothing really wrong with me after going through this same stuff with my father, but not being able to pinpoint EXACTLY what he did to manipulate things sucks because it still leaves you with the feeling that you “failed”. He used the “gaslighting” in ways that were unprovable and inconceivable. Sometimes he would take homework out of my school bag and hide it, then try to tell me that I was being forgetful, stupid, acting stupid, of course HE was always the one to find it and “save the day for me”. When confronted, would say something like “yea right I didn’t take it YOU just forgot it, like your always forgetting things”. I started calling them “looky loo” situations before I was informed of gaslighting, because one thing I noticed about him (and other N’s) was that every story they tell is actually the opposite of what it looks like. Try telling this to your family,teachers, social workers, the police, judges, neihboors, and they’ll never believe you.

    I spent my entire life, well 29 years so far trying to be good enough, or “right” and always failing. I went on to get involved with women who have the same qualities, I feel too as if there is a sign on my forehead that says “use me, I deserve it” but am unable to break free from this, I’m unable to talk to anyone about this without looking as if I just want sympathy or am too sensitive. The women I dated always appeared at first to be respectful, have morals, honesty, but those qualities were only for show. I had a child with one, a son Jacob. He is my best friend, but have found myself once again having to defend my character against her constant lies, temper tantrums and looky loo situations to the courts, police, friends and family to the point where I rarely get to see him “because I can’t be trusted”. How can I tell him that I love him, that he’s my best friend when my voice is being silenced? Has anyone ever successfully got there point across? To the courts, or mental health professionals? I have to be the one to break this chain of garbage and lies, he’s my son and he needs me. Which agencies are there to help, where do I start?

  14. This sounds like “blaming the victim,” but we start by working on ourselves. This is especially true when we continue to experience the same emotional drama. There’s a lesson, a message, an opportunity in that pattern that we are not “getting.” We are participating in a way that we are unwilling to own. This is not to say that we’re doing anything wrong, only that if we want a different outcome, we have to come from a different energy. I wish you well. Know that you are not alone. xo Pam

  15. I too have had to live with this. I was adopted at 13, my dad thought i was great but i think my mom only agreed as she saw an opportunity to use a non biological kid as the scapegoat, as her own older daughter (the previous scapegoat) had run away and she kept getting into fights with my dad for scapegoating the oldest daughter he had living at home.

    I just thought she harboured resentments, amd figured around age 25 that id give a relationship with them another shot when i had a good job and i lived in another city.

    My sister was the golden child. Everyone found the blatant double standard between us and her quite amazing. We had chore lists we had to do every day, and my sister would do one or two things and when we protested, we would get berated because our sister was working hard on her school. (huh, werent we all supposed to be doing that?). My sister got a job, got rides to work, her license and help buying a car. I wanted to get a job, but was told id have to find my own way to get to work because she wasnt driving me, and there would be no way that they would help me get a license either.

    As life went on, i got kicked out at 16, stayed at a friends house until his mom (who was a social worker) convinced her to let me back for christmas. I lasted another 6 months, and got kicked out again. 17, i figured in would try to get government assistance so i could live independently, finish my school and get on with adult life. Social services called, she said i was welcome to come back home, i went over there, she told me it was better that i no longer lived with them, and this was repeated until i gave up.

    Into adulthood, and to this day, i encounter lies told about me behind my back. It took a while to figure out where they were coming from because it made no sense. I had to move home for 2 months to get out of a bad roomate situation and get another job. I tried to never be there, i offered to pay my way, i even cooked for them and their friends at times, mostly i was aggressively looking for work because i knew i couldnt trust them to let me stay there for long. They kicked me back out after only 3 weeks – i was never there, cleaned my room i was staying in before i left every time i walked out. I later found put that i had several people call looking to hire me but she did not pass on the message. Luckily i had found an apartment and bought a full house of furniture and supplies – and when i was getting the boot i had just gotten back and was on the phone trying to find a truck.

    As life went on, i kept hearing strange things. My sister asked if i was still spending all my money on drugs. An employer that i was looking to work for told me in a follow up call after a job interview that he didnt think i was realy serious about moving back to my hometown. My uncle, upon calling to get together for a visit, said he was worried as he had heard i had become a raging alcoholic and had crawled into a bottle, while in fact i had saved up $30k for a downpayment on a house. My ex-fiancee’s mother got told that i ws an angry child and prone to violence, and that her daughter should be very careful about deciding to spend the rest of her life with me, which of course led to a year long barrage of her family working to “help her break free of being trapped in an abusive relationship” until she couldnt take it anymore and left me. My current girlfriends first conversation with her alone was along the same lines, luckily i was wise.

    Despite working in investment banking, i dont have a real job because i dont get health benefits. My golden child sister works as a graphic artist for the city, but that is apparently the best job ever. I am a hero in my community in crime prevention, and i sit on a variety of community boards in areas from politics to community policing, yet if i ever mention it i am being a braggart. Despite all this, i periodically get the talk about how irresponsible i am and how i need to get my shit together. A common ruse is that my sister owns a townhouse; but since she bought the average home in this city is worth a million dollars, affordability is in the news weekly as a problem that needs to be solved.

    What has me looking for coping strategies right now is that her brother molested my friend when we were 12, possibly me too, he drugged us both. When i found put from my friend a month or so later, i immediately told her. Well, now she doesnt remember that happening. They had asked me if i was molested by the guy because he had molested her nephew, they described what happened to him, now she says she remembers something happening but not what. The guy had crawled into my bed and i got them to get him out, now sje only remembers him waking me up.

    I have gone to the police on those matters, but that action has caused her narcissistic behaviors to reach proportions similar in level to when we were kids. She accuses me of lying about telling her, then says it is all about me and i am just doing it to bolster my ego, and when i stand firm she throws stuff from 20 years ago in my face.

    I am at the point where i am ready to cut her out of my life. I have only just realized that she is npd, prior i just thought she was a bit batty and gossipy. I now realize that she will never change, and to her, i will never change.

    For to her i am still the scapegoat. I have family over and despite watching me do all the cooking, compliments my girlfriemd for the fine meal, when she protests, says she must have enabled me to get it done. She tries to get my girlfriend to ally with her, when she refuses, then calls me and infers that maybe my girlfriend is lying to her or me.

    The realization that the more information i give her, the more she will sabotage, the closer i get to her, the more i will not be taken seriously, the more i let her into my family, the more she will try to destroy it, leads me down this road.

    Her oldest daughter, the first scapegoat is now dead. Hung herself from a life of torture to break free, my mom got all of her kids taken away.

    The nex t scapegoat, my sister, refuses to talk to anyone in the family but a select few siblings.

    The golden child sister attempted suicide, and failed.

    I may walk forever.

    4/7 aint good.

  16. Thank you, Thank you!!!!!!!!!! It is so true, no one understands how hard it is to get away from this. As I was investigating I came across narcissistic older sisters. When reading one of the enteries I wondered if the woman speaking of her narcissistic younger sister might be narcissistic. Then followed a comment from a woman thanking her for recognisizing that this is the problem. The writer, my narcissistic older sister. Lol! I have to laugh or cry.

    I stopped talking to my sister 3 years ago. I once saw here as the most talented, smartest person I knew but she didn’t see me the same way. I did everything I could to try to boost her ego, but it always mean’t that I had to be less than her. I could never gain her love. I recently tried to contact her and immediately that old feeling came back. This was never going to work!!! I am 50 years old and my emotional age is much, much less. Our mother is very narcassistic and our father, who was very abussive is esteemed as the better parent for being an “HONEST” abuser.

    This is the first time, and God bless you guys for your candidness, that I have read anything about people my age still struggling. I feel stuck, lost, and most of the time a deep feeling of dread. I make to much money to get assisstance and too little money to get assisstance. I am lost and need help but don’t know where to turn.

    Does anyone know any good websites I might benefit from because I do quite well working on things solo.

    Thanks to all for sharing!!!!

  17. I don’t know of any specific websites that help you overcome your feelings about narcissists in your life, but I found a lot of solace just surfing the internet, reading everything I found, buying books on it. At some point, I decided that my intense rejection of my mother’s mental illness was a rejection of the narcissistic impulses in me. After I gave myself permission to indulge that aspect of me, without using or abusing other people, I’ve felt a lot better about everything. Who doesn’t love being a little self absorbed? I can never restore the lost innocence of my childhood or the self confidence that never was, but I can make peace with the past. As charming as it can be, narcissism is a mental illness. It is my past. I won’t let it rob me of the joy available to me in the present.

  18. Where exactly did u actually end up getting the ideas to create ““Narcissistic Scapegoating:You Can Never Leave
    | Reinventing Life at 64”? Many thanks ,Josephine

  19. I got drunk and made a drunk phone call to mother dearest a couple of days ago. Drunk it seems that all my bottle up jaded is able to come though so easy. But watch out—bad move on my part.My lil golden child sister just email me and told me how could i have such hate in my heart? let me count the ways. No i felt I have really come far and then I slowly allow my NP back in my life and hold behold HALT..slingers-judging and all the other bs i been dealing with came up again.. I just got email from my lil sister and she inform me she had a good childhood? She told me that I was sent away pre-teen because i was a bad example for my sisters. she blamed and there was no mention of our mothers bullshit. so i have come to conculsion that my sister may very well be N as well. When i was preteen I was left with babysitters all time. mom drank to falling down drunk-found out i was adopted at 12 and then her 2-3 husband then got divorced and then the bitch sent me away to live with my dad, becasue she claims i was ruiniing her life and i was a”bad” child. oh ps i was molested by the upair at 7 and then she sent us all to her boyfriend in belguim and when i didnt get along with him she sent me to a boarding school and sep. me from my sisters. I will never believe it was for me.. No I hinder her freedom and all us sisters eventually were sent away. She can protraye me the “evil” one howver my choice today is to keep her as far a way as possible. She hurts my heart to the core and i will never be good enough for this sick fucked up thing called family nor do i want anypart of anymore. Yes i am grieving…Yes i have my own issues as direct result of my childhood and everyday I pray for healing..

  20. My heart breaks as I read your story. I don’t think we over truly get over this twisted relationship with a narcissistic mother. When we don’t want what they want for us or do what they wish in their way, they tell us we are “bad.” And we buy in. “You want bad. Lemme show you bad!” It’s so self defeating. Alternatively, they lay a trip on us – projecting their worst traits while maintaining a self image of innocent martyrdom. “Look what you made me do [to you.]” So destructive. I wonder that any of us survive.

    We do.

    For me, the break through begins when I decide not to let other people define who I am and decide what I need to do. And believe me, this is not an easy decision. But it’s the only choice we have if we want to move beyond mere survival and really thrive in our lives.

    Sometimes I see myself as a hothouse flower. So sensitive to the climate I’m in. Soaking up the energy, wilting, withering, drying up when it’s inclement. And somehow I have a talent for finding inclement climates – jobs, relationships, you know?

    I refuse to be defined a rejecting mother. I refuse to try to please her – mother, the other – so she will love me. I choose to be with people and in places that nourish my soul and feed my spirit.

    I am a good person. I am worthy of love. I deserve good things. I bless and release the past and all the people in it who hurt me out of their unowned psychological disorder. They could not help themselves. I can.

    So I created it; I can recreate it.

    If I am a plant, what kind of climate do I need to thrive?

    I wish you comfort and peace, my dear friend.

  21. I don’t know where to turn or what to do. I’m 37 and while I too was the scapegoat my acting out was kept to a minimum by my mother’s weird ideas about shame. I was also bullied in school so you can imagine being bullied at home by my mother then at school by my peers. I was lucky to survive. When I was in my early 20′s I had come to the determination that I needed to move out, which is normal, or it should be. But my dad, who unlike a lot of enablers did take up for us on occasion and didn’t always back her up, didn’t want me to leave. I think it was more about him not wanting to be alone. My brother, the golden child who has turned scapegoat, is also a narcissist. So I didn’t leave. I can remember being a child and wanting to leave, I’ve been trying to leave my whole life. Anyway, dad passed in 2000. Mother went to bed and I stayed to help raise my then 16 year old brother. I took on the running of the house, like my dad did for 30 years. But now I want to leave. Things have changed with her. I am now the golden child, because I do all the shopping and house stuff and my brother is the scape goat who she fears will kill her, that wouldn’t happen, it’s a ploy to get me to stay. She’s still in bed. She does nothing for herself. She only bathes about once a week and her favorite phrase is “I ain’t able…” I have worked since I was 17. I have one college degree and will finish a second in December. My problem is that the house is in disrepair, as my mother is also a hoarder the house is a mess. I tried to clean it several times but I’ve tried to set a boundary there as I am busy and will get no help I refuse to do it. But I don’t know if that is right. Should I just do it? I don’t honestly know anymore. She won’t even let me walk outside without asking me where I’m going and what I’m doing. I want to go to Grad school in a year but what’s going to happen to her when I do? My brother wrecked her vehicle and is currently driving her other one, so when I go she won’t have a way to get food. Is it okay for me to leave her like this? My dad would say it’s my responsibility to handle it because she can’t take care of herself. She even put me on her checking account so I could pay all her bills for her. I KNOW she’s a narcissist, but I think there are other things going on as well. Right now I have no job, I was laid off during the economic downturn, that’s why I went back to college. You should thank your lucky stars that you were able to get married and leave, even if it wasn’t ideal, at least you got out…I’ve never been out!!! If you can’t help me do you know who can?

  22. Hi Jane, thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like your sense of responsibility for your mother’s well-being is greater than your sense of responsibility to yourself. That’s pretty common for children of narcissists. We buy into the idea that we are only good as we take care of everybody else. We believe we’re “the strong one” and they are “more vulnerable,” so we accept every responsibility, even when it means letting energy vampires feed on our good hearts. My guess is that without you, your mother will find another source of narcissistic supply. You’ll be the bad child again. Is being free more important than being favorite? Can you live with being the scapegoat again? I had the same kind of attachment to my life partner when he suffered a brain aneurysm. I played martyr for a long time. How do you dump someone who is disabled? Funny thing. When I finally moved out, he stepped up to take care of himself. We remain best friends with a much greater appreciation for each other. My wish for you is that you gain clarity on what you can accomplish when you are free. What do you want to do with your life? How is this good for everyone? Keep focusing on “why” and what you may be able to contribute from accomplishment vs. obligation. By the time you graduate, you’ll make the right decision for you. Try not to frame this as “doing the right thing.” By whose standards? Society? Dad? Mom? The right thing is between you and your soul, and it’s the thing that will spur growth. My best wishes to you. Please keep in touch.

  23. In my wierd dysfunctional family, I was the scapegoat/hero….to half of the family, I was a hero, to the other half, I was the black sheep or problem child. I decided to not accept either role, and have cut off my entire dad’s side of the family to preserve my mental health. I have a cousin who is the “hero” of the family, and man she looks weatherbeat. Still pretty, but looks like she has been to hell and back. She is 37 and looks like she is 50. Smh…since I haven’t been around for almost 10 years….my fam is desperately trying to reel me back in….making it seem like they care all while spreading to the rest of the family…”something is going on with (insert name). We don’t think she is happy.”…despite the fact that I am 100% happy with a huge family on my mom’s side and tons of friends with a lucrative career. btw, the attempts to get me to “come back” increased when they saw I was engaged and making good money. Yeah…..no thanks.

    Since I have been gone, they have reassigned the ‘black sheep’ role many times to various cousins. Now that no one will come around them, they are out of ‘scapegoat supply’ and calling me to visit. They were even trying to use FB as a way to keep me as the “scapegoat”. I deleted all of them from my page in a heartbeat, changed my phone number, and have been happy ever since. Cut these toxic people out of your life. Just simply forget about them and start your own immediate family.

  24. WOW. Thanks for sharing your stories. We have so much in common!

    I am 47 and the scapegoat daughter of a narcissistic mother. The golden child is my brother, who is 8 years my junior.

    My father was dull and mean, and my mother would rile up him to beat me, after which she’d call me over to console me. That worked only once – I skipped the consolation after that. He was a terrible person, I was terrified of him and he often swore that were I to die before him, he’d spit in my corpse’s face and would sh-t on my grave. He was some sort of enabler though he hated her and constantly complained about her. He’s dead for 10 years now, I’m so glad, no more nightmares.

    By the time I was 11-12, I was obsessed with plotting my escape and was making myself scarce in the meantime. During bouts of verbal abuse I would tune her out of my mind in a deliberate attempt to protect my sanity. I immersed myself in books and a love of science. School saved me, my teachers helped me a great deal feeling good about myself. I had nothing but condescension for my idiot parents and prayed they died in a car accident if they left some place, and were a minute late coming back. I begged my extended family to take me in, friend’s parents, youth protection, social workers, etc. At 15 I succeeded by moving in with an older man, and soon ditched him for a more reasonably older man. I received a generous loan and bursary to pursue higher education. My father refused to speak to me or be in the same room as me for 8 years after I escaped. I did not disclose my whereabouts to them for a long time.

    I do see her 2-3 times a month now, we make jokes, we chat, we have a good time, but I do keep a wall up. She’s getting scant narcissistic supply from me. I even traveled abroad with her a few times. The first trip we made she was on good behavior, but she has deteriorated – the recent 4th trip she was unbearable, bossing me around, grabbing the window seat on all the flights, insulting me, telling me how to sit, telling me my glasses are ugly… blah blah blah – she can’t hurt me, she’s just very dumb and a good old narcissist.

    Until I looked up NPD mothers on the internet I was unable to figure out why I was chosen as the scapegoat. That’s something I wondered about. I think I know now.

    Being younger my brother was a better tool to draw attention to herself than I was. He was a boy. I disappointed her by being somewhat of a tom boy, rather than some girly-girl who is “feminine” and “distinguished” as she always says. By making myself scarce I denied her narcissistic supply. But worse than that, I had nothing but disdain for her.

    I did not self-destruct. I had no interest in drugs or alcohol. I wanted to study and succeed in spite of my parents. I married a great guy, and had a son.

    Presently I am having difficulties with my brother whom I love and was an innocent in all this. He stayed home into adulthood and didn’t have a girlfriend until 35. He’s now 40 and just got married. I wish I could have a relationship with him but we’re triangulated (of course!) and recently the dynamics have changed since he’s made it abundantly clear that he hates her passionately. My brother wouldn’t ‘pay up’ when she came to collect her dues for her perfect mothering of him. She’s shocked and outraged, of course.

    I’m still a scapegoat, it’s just that I’m the best narcissistic supply she’s got now, and the well is pretty dry. She has actually increased the insults and the general unpleasantness to me. In fact she’s threatening to disinherit the both of us because my brother hates her! She’s really bitter with being stuck with me, the family leftovers. Not that I care, she’s just so childish and pathetic.

    Yet, my brother accuses me of being jealous of him, of owning undeserved wealth (he makes a huge salary but wastes like mad, my husband and I are cheapskates and our house is paid up while he’s still in an apartment). He now says I am emotionally manipulating him, and claiming poverty. In the past 35 years he telephoned me maybe 3-4 times, two of which were to borrow big sums of money from me – which I denied. He’s very angry and jealous that I can tolerate our mother and he thinks we’re two peas in a pod when nothing could be further from the truth; at best we have reached some awkward equilibrium. The past couple of years he’s been pushing me away and psychologically slamming the door in my face. One of his unsuccessful requests for money came during that time.

    Today I sent him a email telling him I loved him but cannot have anything further to do with him. I actually find my mother easier to deal with because she’s incredibly transparent and predictable (if rather bonkers) while my brother’s thoughts and motives are very opaque. I hate not knowing where I stand, and waste time pursuing a relationship with someone that doesn’t like me. We went back-and-forth in email, and once I was reasonably sure that I had not misread the situation and that I had in fact made it on his sh-t lst, I initiated a No Contact Directive.

    I was stressed out about taking that step, but now I feel it was the right thing to do and I feel good. Narcissistic mom is going to have kittens if she ever find out that not all her children will show up to adore Her Perfection on special occasions. I won’t tell her a word of it, and have vowed to never speak ill of my brother in front of her, in the name of keeping my dignity. I’ll always love my brother but hey, sometimes there is too much poison and you have to know when to stop torturing yourself.

  25. The portion of your post where it explains how the scapegoat will receive less punishment and even be rewarded for falling into your role is so correct.

    When I was young I was working at McDonalds’ after losing my job as a sous chef at a local resort hotel. It was a small town and finding good work was hard. I was in the midst of doing a job search to work less hard for more money, applying in other kitchens and looking to branch out into another form of work.

    I got a lovely encouragement from my narcissistic mother, “Stick with McDonalds’, it’s your ace in the hole!”. Chee thanks. Like a lifetime career with McDonalds’ was my highest aspiration, especially after being a sous chef.

    In the end I made a lateral move to investment banking, straight from that job at McDonalds’. I will never forget the look on her face when telling me to stick with McDonalds’, it was a look of joy, spite, and sneer all in one. I knew nothing about NPD at the time and was merely confused, because it was hard to tell if it was actual encouragement to stick with the stable job I had or if it was a brutal slight.

    Now in hindsight, I know exactly what it was. As the scapegoat, in a small town, everyone would see me working at McDonalds at one point or another as it was the only one in town. It played right into her “I tried so hard to be a good mother to him, but…” narrative. She probably mixed into those stories how I had “dropped out” of high school after Grade 11.

    Well her role in that was writ large. When my golden child sister left home to go to college in another city, I got kicked out two weeks before Grade 12 even started. I lived two doors away in a friend’s dad’s tent trailer through two Canadian winters. I didnt get even so much as a gift certificate to buy some food or even food itself. The only time she came to visit me was after I left a goodbye note months after being kicked out wishing them goodbye as I felt totally let down – she was afraid I might commit suicide. I tried to go to school and self enrolled in Grade 12 and did it for a few months while trying to get youth supports from welfare.

    I gave up because welfare had to call them and see if I could come back home. She told them I was welcome to come back home as long as I followed their “rules”. I went over for dinner and was greeted with a hug and “oh, things are so much better now that you don’t live here” three times until I gave up. I was going to eat, or go to school, but not both.

    In adulthood the sabotage and scapegoating increased in fervour as I became more and more successful. Working in investment banking, owning a nice sailboat, having a cute family, living in a detached home in a very expensive city, or getting married did not at all fit in with her narrative of the trouble drug addict dropout loser who she tried everything to do so much for me but I was just unworkable.

    She called my fiancee’s mother and “warned” her of my abusive nature (false, I was with that girl for 9 years and never laid a hand on her, even when I caught her cheating on me and I forgave her). She told my current girlfriend she should “seriously reconsider moving in with him… think of the safety of your daughter”. A raft of other girlfriends heard a long list of tall tales given “in confidence” and I watched as relationship after relationship slowly fell apart. Job opportunities missed, either because she did not pass along messages or because she took it upon herself to call the employer to say that I was not at all serious about wanting the job. Realtors who would not call me back when I was looking at buying a house. She even called the tax authorities to report me for tax evasion – the only problem was I was running a home based business for many years barely getting by when I took a break from the investment industry.

    I’m no contact with my family now. No sense in it. Toxic to my life. Things are hard enough at times, I dont need some evil cow doing all she can to make it harder.

  26. This is my story also. I read a book called People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck and had to face the truth. I attend Alanon meetings regularly and I am learning to take care of myself and avoid abusers instead of trying to get them to treat me nicely lol. I am amazed to see the same story here. I have always been very confused by the way I was treated and felt like I must have a sign on my forehead that said Victim. Very confusing for many years, and I think about it obsessively. A lot of pain. I think it is my health and goodness and kindness and awareness that threatens some people. I have really been through the wringer and it’s great to grow in awareness and understand and start to work on restoring my identity and self esteem.

  27. Thanks for sharing your experience, strength and hope. ;) I also read “People of the Lie.” Now that you mentioned it, may be time to read again. xo Pam

  28. Toxic may be putting it mildly. A therapist once told me that of my mother’s three children, I was the only successful one. This after many tearful sessions confessing to what a fuck up I perceived myself to be. How could he say this? “You are the only one that left.” Getting pushed out of the nest, ready or not, is sometimes exactly what we need to find ourselves, bring ourselves up and finally learn to give ourselves the love and appreciation our mothers were unable to provide. Thank you for your vulnerability. Your was a harrowing experience and I’m thrilled it has a happy ending. xo Pam

  29. My mother trained me well.

    She battered all of my free will out of me. It was so bad that even after I was married I would be standing in a shop in tears desperately begging her to tell me which tea set I should buy because I was terrified of making a decision on my own. Her response, one that she knew would make me ever more frantic, acting like she didnt care, didn’t have time for me and she needed to go.

    My response, buy the same tea set as her.

    She hated my guts. Since I was little she made it so I could not make any friends at school. She was rotten to the kids in class. Then she was rotten to the teachers. Guess who took the brunt of the hate?

    Me.

    Mum made it so everyone hated me at school and kids would keep the hell away from me. Teachers would be bullying me. They knew my mum didnt give a crap and instead would claim I was the one with issues.

    Life was sh&9.

    I believe my father also was a high strung narcassist. While my mother would be having one of her psychotic rages (queue throwing things, threatening violence, acting on the violence, shouting, *stamping* her feet on the ground, wailing etc) dear daddy would be looking at her then at me “Look what you’ve done!”

    And he was forever going on and on about all the glory he got from his profession, all the people that admired him, aspired to be him, loved him.

    “Everyone loves us, everyone loves your mother, you should be just like her, you should listen to everything we say because we know best and you dont!”

    My mother turned me into such a blank slate that predators could see ‘victim’ written all over me. One tried very hard to become my friend. Pretended she was my age, that we had plenty of common interests. Turned out to be a refugee sociopathic psycopath bent on trying to destroy me. She even laughed and told me when she first saw me my body language told her I was a ‘victim’.

    I’ve got a somewhat mother figure in my life now, a nice lady who I’m using as a kind of mentor. It helps.

    I’m trying to get my life back together. I’m married to a very handsome man who is successful and balanced and he loves me so very much, so much that he would if I felt like something in the middle of the night get out of bed and get it for me even if he had to drive halfway across the city, :) bliss. He told me I am beautiful and not to listen to what my family say about how I look. He said they are jealous and just want to hurt me.

    I have 2 children who I love dearly and sing lullabies to at night. I hold them close, rub their hair and tell them how much their mum and dad love them, how much we think they are brave, handsome/beautiful, clever hardworking etc. I try to be the best mother I can be.

    One thing that has me worried. My little girl is very beautiful and since she was born my family are desperately trying to get her to spend time with them. They always treated my son badly and are now sucking up to him, I fear so they can spend time with my baby girl. My mother staunchly believes my daughter is in her image. My narcassist brother and his wife are always making comments like they cant understand who she looks like.

    Ironic because aside from a difference in skin tone it is clear as day my daughter has the same features as me, the same features that were the reason they hated me because I looked different!

    I am keeping both of my children safe from my crazy, mental, EVIL family. My mother is till this acting in her retarded ways, trying to desperately make me come back to her so she can start triangulating again.

    We are planning on leaving the country eventually so our children can settle far away from these lunatics.

    To those who are still under the control of narcassists, please hang in there! One day you will be free of them. It wont be over then because you need to heal, then get your life back together building your self esteem and ideas about the world all over again.

    Find the love you so deserve, build your own immediate family.
    Think of your family like a dark cloud in the sky you want to keep away from, keep them at a distance and dont ever let them in again!

    Good luck to you!

  30. Wow- so many of these stories resonated with me as scapegoat in my FOO and subsequent marriage to man with borderline personality disorder.
    I have been single for 10 years and working in the healthiest environment of my life. I am finally dealing with damage from my FOO that set me up to be in such a bad marriage. Six months ago, I went No Contact with my GC sister and GC baby brother (who became scapegoat during his teens when I left home at age 17). Now he is caretaker for my elderly mother- he inherited all of my father’s money and Nmom drops hints for me to send her money even though she stole money from me (never my siblings) twice during my teens.
    My Nmom is the martyr type- first of the 10 commandments: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. My Nmom is a professing Christian. Her idol is named false peace. Trying to work out issues with her confirms that she loves her sin more than she loves me. Yesterday I sent her a card- stating my boundary: no more phone calls between us until she realizes value of honest communication and notifies me in writing.
    More than likely, my card will be last contact between us.

    Time for me to embrace the wilderness :-)

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