I Know I Need To Turn This Over, Pray About It...but I Needed To Know What To Do

Until I read and re read the stories other people tell I forget that there is an actual term for the kind of family I have (dysfunctional), the kind of parents/mother I have (abusive/narcissistic/bpd) and what my place is in the family.
I am the first child of financially well off parents who have been married 59 years and are 77 and 80 years of age. They love to tell people how long they have been married and you can see the absolute pride in their "accomplishment" of having done so, as well as they glow my mother in particular takes on about herself in general. What I recall in her is a cold, detatched person who I have no memory of putting me to bed, soothing me, or even running a bath for me when I was very young. I am the oldest child and a girl, and I look nothing like my mother at all. When I was born my very blonde hair and blue eyes evidently "offended" her because hers were both dark brown and although she was complemented on her "beautiful" child (she entered me in several beautiful baby contests, which I either won or got close to winning, to hear her tell it) she did not feel emulated. She was 20 when she had me, and I was followed by the "golden child", my first brother, who is 3 years younger. From the day he was born I was chopped liver and was pretty much handed over to my grandmother, who lived very nearby and absolutely adored me (she was my father's mother and also the person I think of as "mother"). My mother has told me out right, which she would deny ever saying, that "I don't think I ever really bonded with you" and "Gam stole you from me" - the first comment said as if she just noticed she ran out of garbage bags and the second with clear animosity for my dead grandmother, of course, blaming someone else for the fact that she dropped the parent ball and never looked back. My mother was very much like a bridge playing affluent housewife from "The Help" and our cleaning lady was often there when I got home from school. Often I would just be locked out and I went over to my grandmother's. My mother behaved like a rotten spoiled child and I ended up being Cinderella, cooking and cleaning and babysitting the others.
When I was young my mother was driving our convertible and we got three doors down the street when she turned around to look at my brother in the backseat. He was a baby. My mother plowed the car into the telephone pole with the power for the whole street. I flew thru the windshield and was badly injured on my head and forehead. I required several surgeries until I was in about 3rd grade, which happened during the summer months, so my summer time memories are not those of a carefree child. This incident, I think, further separated my mother emotionally from me. She was to blame and knew it and by looking at me, she could see the physical damage her neglect had caused. But she brushed my bangs over the wound and told me that it was "gone", "You can't see it". Of course you could, and kids were cruel but she never comforted me when I had a hospitalization coming up (screamed at me to "get to bed" one time when I was in first grade and petrified about the operations set up for the next day).
My dad was a workaholic who hid **** all over the house and had some pretty raw movies hidden downstairs, which I caught him watching a few times. He also took a few odd liberties with me (having me shower with him and not letting me get out, was not allowed to have privacy or close a door when dressing or bathing, touched me "accidentally" in inappropriate ways several times and would grad and fondle our mother in front of us, which lasted all the years I lived at home and made me very uncomfortable. There was no respect for my discomfort and to make matters worse, we were a "church going family" and were taught that premarital sex was tantamount to murder, in fact, murder would have been preferable. All very confusing.
I had terminal low self esteem most of my life as a child, was criticized and compared to my brother, who was a terrible suck up (and at still is, believe it or not!). ANY of my four siblings turned out to be preferable to me. I married a person whom I dated from 16-21 and he became the father of our 3 kids. He was very cold and withholding of approval, affection and as it came to light later, was really never faithful to me. I know now he was familiar to me because he treated me exactly like my mother did. By the time I was in my early 30's, we had moved away from our home town and I was really coming into myself. I had what my mother always said was my "stinking independent personality" (which she said would make anyone who really knew me not want to marry me - when I got engaged she said "When he finds out what you are really like he will be sorry"). Once when I was a very virginal 15 she made a swipe at me that "I don't have any idea who you are sleeping with" (I think she was jealous that I looked so good getting ready for a date) and when I laughed one time she said "You sound so fake when you laugh". Other times she hit me over the head with a black iron skillet as I was leaving for school and another time, grabbed my shirt by the sleeve and ripped it from the wrist up to the elbow, so I had to go to school that way. I believe that was out of fury when she told me to walk to school, in the snow, and I was able instead to call a friend, whose dad also picked me up for school on the way. It infuriated her that I was able to quickly devise a plan where I didn't have to walk in snow to school! (Later, when my little sister got older, she drove her to the end of the DRIVEWAY and waited with her for the bus while the car heater ran). I did not take it and lie down easy for the abuse and that made her all the madder.
Anyway, by my early 30's my husband and our three kids and I had moved away. I was totally out of the oppressive constraints of my family's dominance but did see my marriage for what it was. My husband was staying out all hours of the night, sometimes never coming home, sometimes raging, breaking doors and drywall with his fists, three times shattering his windshield with his fist out of fury. I did have that feeling that my face would be next. And when my family would come to visit, we would turn the doors around to cover the holes, try to entertain and pretend things were normal but even with them, before they ever went home there was never a time my mother didn't start something and there would be crying, screaming, drama. I hated to have them, but I wanted to be a dutiful dauther, probably thinking someplace that I could win their approval. My husband stayed out all night one night after he refused to do something in the house he had promised he would take care of while I was working over a weekend. I was getting my kids ready for Sunday school in the morning. He came home - I still remember I was in our walk in closet wearing his old football jersey and a pair of red sox - and I put my arms around his waist and asked him why we "just can't talk instead of having a big blow up". He told me, arms hanging straight down, that he didn't love me anymore and didn't care if I stayed and he left or vice versa. Like an idiot I more or less begged him to try more and said I would too (all our neighbors thought I was the perfect wife, but I would try harder). It went on another year or so but the bad behavior never stopped and I realized this was crazy. He wasn't trying and he didn't love me. When my 5 year old son said "Mommy, it seems like you love daddy a lot more than he loves you" I knew this was all wrong. Anyway, we ended up in a divorce. I met someone else (whom I am married to now but it took 17 years before we reunited and did get married) and went into therapy, got a full time job again, made a real success of my life no thanks to my ex (He did not parent his kids, pay regular child support and put our entire savings into a foreign bank account so I had nothing). During extensive therapy I found out what I had been to inundated with the party line in my family to find out. I had married my MOTHER. He withheld, punished, was cold, manipulated and only cared about himself. It was painful finding out that not only was my marriage a mess but so was my family. I had always thought we were "normal". Ha! I had to come to terms with the truth that I was treated badly, not really loved (love does not feel bad but it always seemed like it had until I met my now husband and gained the love of good friends). The man I loved and I had a lot of kids between us and it was complicated for a lot of reasons so we went our separate ways in different cities. I had three little kids and was scared as hell about how I could take care of them, raise them well, educate them, keep them from making bad choices. My family was no support at all (they would say they were) and I was constantly criticized for anything I did that they were sure would doom my kids to failure. I think my mother truly delighted in thinking that was going to fail. I would not be invited for family dinners with my siblings and their spouses because I was "single" and they didn't think I would want to come alone! Money was so tight and even though my ex wanted apparently me to leave, once I did take him up on it, he acted like he wanted to rekindle the marriage. He also became something of a stalker, and I found out about all of his lies, girlfriends, etc. and that was it for me. I met and married a nice guy who I was not destined to have a healthy marriage to - didn't know him well enough, he had no kids and no experience with parenting at all, drank too much it turned out, and worst of all, could not keep a job. I ended up taking on another responsibility rather than getting the help I so felt I needed. I also, being from this religious background, thought there was no room for another divorce for me, and stayed with this unemployed heavy drinker for ten years, further compounding the problem. He was actually a nice guy and we did remain friends even though both of us knew we had given it the best try we could and it had been all wrong from the start. We split things down the middle and never fought between lawyers. I really needed that after the first nasty one that was so expensive and painful.
Now I have been married for ten years to the best man in the world. We each have grown kids and they have issues at times but for the most part life is great. My parents loved him and still do, I guess, but now all the things that my mother tried to continue to blame me for have only stepped up. She starts rumors, like to keep a fight and dissention between the siblings with mostly me as the cause, and will call one person, talk about another, hang up from them and call and gossip about someone else. We live in Florida and have opened our home to my parents since we have lived here (almost 7 years). My parents are wealthy but they stay for free, often 4-5 weeks a year. I ask my dad not to smoke in the house but he does it and lies that he does! I can smell it. My mother is erratic and is constantly trying to stick the knife into me when no one is looking. She told my husband that she knows all my buttons and pushes them every time she can. She has stomped out of here for no apparent reason in a snit, made my dad leave early, is so moody you never know what's coming. Once he was talking about his life and said he wouldn't change a thing. She piped up that "Well, I would!" and went on about how she could have been a "CEO" but my father and his parents didnt' want her to go to college and wanted her to stay barefoot and pregnant. My husband calls her style "Complaining with her mouth full". She has told me that "if Daddy died (my dad) I don't think I would miss him" in such a way the sympathy is supposed to go to her. EVERYTHING is about her. When my grandmother died, it hit me so hard and my dad told me not to greive around my mother "because it hurts her feelings". What about mine? The latest is my sister, eight years younger than I am, who my husband and I have helped tremendously while her husband was out of work. We put them up for a while during their move nearby, paid for every meal out, I drove her kids all over hell and back getting them started/enrolled in classes, you name it. Six months after she got down here all she did ws drink and cry about missing "home", complained about her new job and constantly wanted my brother in law to take more and more time off for a vacation in his new job. He on the other hand resented his boss and went around her. After they got back from a week off, he found that his boss had stayed but her boss, whom he always went directly to, had been fired and in short order so was he. When they all moved back to my hometown they moved im with my parents. My mother would call me to complain about how lazy my nephew was, complain about my sister and her husband and their immature, lazy daughter and their dog that pees all the time. If I agreed in any way, my mother would come unhinged and yell at me for criticizing them to her! I finally had enough and tried to tell her but she hung u on me twice. NO BODY tells her to do anything she doesn't want to do and my dad has been accomodating that awful behavior for years. I wrote an email saying that I didn't want to hear anymore about my sister and her family and if she needed to vent she would really need to talk to someone else. I was uncomfortable with that, thought it wasn't right to do, and said I felt baited when she did that because she already knows what my feelings are on the subject. She flipped out, had my dad call me and he wanted me to apologize to her. Said it was "disrespectful" and that I need to fix it. I told him the things she said to me and he said "I do not believe she said that". So, either I am lying about this (WHY?) or she did say it. He told me that if he had to side with anybody it would be 'his wife'. We were two weeks away from taking my dad on a cruise for his 80th birthday and they were threatening not to go! I said I was sorry he fet that way but we were going and hoped they would too. He has no gonads when it comes to her, but I didn't do one thing wrong - just tried to put up some parameters - and she flipped. We went on the cruise but she wouldn't come to dinner the first night because of me, according to my father, and he said if I don't make it right there will be far reaching effects. Stuart took that as a threat that I would be disowned/disinherited. They have pulled this one out before by the way. Now we are back from this trip and I hear from someone off and on continually telling me how I have ruined the family. My mother says she wants to get "back to normal". As if. Today I got a message from my very immature, practically illiterate 20 year old niece that "I have internal bleeding and am going into surgery, but I just want to tell you that you are wrecking the lives of everybody I love enough is enough and on and on.. I have not talked to this "child" ever since July where, at my son's wedding, my sister bought shots - called Blow Jobs - for everyone in the bar including her own underage kid and then decided to leave and asked the bride if she could
"hang" witht them. To the extent that she was going to be with everyone else there, the answer was yes. She did not think she was signing on for a babysitting assignment. The bride went to bed fairly early and the niece got drunker than a skunk, said and did some loud, embarassing stuff and when my sister found out, immediately had to find someone to blame who was not herself.
Here we are. It's Christmas time and I am getting hatemail from family members telling me that I ruin everything for everybody and drama, drama, drama. I never know what corner it is coming out of. My husband and son are both being treated like crap by the whole family because they stidk up for me or dont wan't to hear my parents say terrible things about their wife/mother. It's a mess. I am too tired to go on, but you get the drift. My son said it best tonight, because he made a trip to see them recently for a birhtday party for my dad for turning 80. We were NOT invinted and this was before the email. He and his wife were treated rudely and they drove 8 hours to be there. No gratitude for that. He said tonight 'Mom, I have to just distance myself from them becuse what really breeds the feelings of hate and anger in me is when I go and they treat me the way they do. If I just stay calm and away, I do a lot better. I think I will take his advice and if they want, they can disinherit me - AGAIN.
pdalton4 pdalton4 56-60 3 Responses Dec 4, 2011

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Know that you are not alone. We scapegoats are legion. But here is a story that may help you see what options you really have.

Remember the analogy of the poison well:

Once upon a time there was a lovely young girl who lived in a small town in a far away country. Seh got her water from her family's well. For the early years of her life, the water provided sustenance. Life seemed good.

But over the years, as she got older, something unforeseen happened - the water in the well appeared to be going bad. It looked the same, it smelled the same, it came from the same source, but drinking the water made the girl sick. Very sick. She was in a panic. Water from the well was all she knew, it was what had sustained her for years. She traced the water to its source upstream, did tests, analyzed the water, and asked herself hundreds of questions about why the water was turning bad and poisoning her. What had caused the change? What could she do to fix things?

She wanted her well back the way it appeared to be when she was younger – before it began making her sick..

And so she continued her quest. She wore herself out weeping, crying, pleading, analyzing, believing that somehow someway, if she just did something different, the well would give her the sustenance she needed. She came up with an idea – a new cup! A shiny, new, pristine cup! That would do the trick. The next day she walked miles into a nearby town and purchased her new cup. She ran home and went to the well where she drew water and drank greedily. “Ahhh” she thought, “surely this new cup will bring me pure water and sustenance.” She went to bed happy.

But as the hours passed something began to happen … she found herself getting sicker and sicker.

“I don’t understand” she thought. “Surely a pristine new cup should have worked. I know … I know why I got sick … the cup is too plain. I need a new cup but more decorated, something fancier.” And so, the next day, while still not feeling well, she set out again to another nearby town where she purchased a new cup with pretty blue and pink flowers growing amongst a twisting vine decorated the outside. The cup was beautiful to look at, lovely to behold.

She hurried home as quickly as her illness would allow, and went directly to her well. She drew up a large bucket of water and filled her cup. She drank thirstily …. and she felt pleased. This time it would be different. This time the water would be pure and healthful.

But again, as the night wore on, she began to feel more ill. “Why did my new, beautifully decorated cup not work?” she wondered. Surely the prettiness of the flowers, the fine lines of the vines, the graceful curve of the handle, the depth of its’ bowl should have changed things.

She spent her night tossing and turning, feeling ill and sad, thinking and ruminating on why, why, why was the well water still making her sick? By dawn’s light, she bolted upright in her bed. “Aha!” she thought … “the bucket! The bucket is old and creaky. That’s it! I need a shiny, new, modern bucket! And so again, while still feeling ill, she set out in the morning and walked slowly to another nearby town where she asked a wood carver to make her a new bucket out of the finest teak, modern in style, with big brass bands wrapped around it.

When she received her new bucket, she thought “Now I’ve got it right. Now I will get what I need and the water will be pure and good.” She stumbled home, still very ill, and went straight to the well, for she was aching and parched. She tied the new bucket to the rope and christened it with a large amount of liquid drawn from the well. She poured the water from her shiny new bucket into her beautifully adorned cup and drank thirstily. “It has worked!” she shouted. “There is now wonderful well water … it has worked! I only needed to change how I drew the water from the well for things to be wonderful…” She danced in jubilation. She shouted for joy. Life was good again. She had what she so desired.

And yet…. that very evening, slowly but surely, she started to feel worse. As the night wore on she got sicker and sicker… sicker than she had ever felt before.

As she drifted into a fitful sleep, she cried, “Why, why? I have done everything right. I have twisted and turned, I have analyzed, I have walked miles and miles, I have spent days, weeks, months thinking this through, I have tried over and over again to fix the well, I have been sick and distraught and I have changed everything in how I get water from the well, but still it poisons me. Why? Why?”

In the morning she believed she had her answer. The rope! The rope that held the bucket was old, gray and worn out. Surely if she had a nice, neat, clean, strong rope, things would be different. So, despite feeling worse than ever, she slowly hobbled miles to a town further away than all the other towns, and there she purchased a new, clean rope, one that was as strong as 10 men and as white as the moon when it is full. She hobbled back home as fast as her sick body was able to take her and she went directly to the well. For she was desperate for a cool drink of good and pure water.

She tied the new bucket to the new rope and attached it to the turning handle. She now had a strong new rope, a new modern bucket, a new beautiful cup. Everything was set! She drew a bucketful of water, pulled up by the new pristine rope, and poured the liquid into the pretty new cup. She drank….. She stood there breathing deeply, thinking “At last, I found the magic formula. I knew if I just tried hard enough, long enough, the well would be cleansed and my life as I wish it to be would happen.”

This time, it did not even take until evening for her to become deathly ill. While still standing by the well, she buckled over in pain, fell to her knees in agony and cried out … “Why? Why? What more can I do?”

At that very moment, one of her fellow townspeople came along the road and seeing her down on her knees in agony, ran to her side. The girl, now writhing in pain, asked her good neighbor, “I am dying! Why? I got a new, pristine, pretty cup! I had a new bucket made of the finest wood and brass. I purchased a strong, clean white rope! Why am I sicker than ever? Why am I sicker than ever?”

The good Samaritan held her in his arms, and with great sadness looked the girl in the eyes and gently said …

“My friend, you are dying because you will not change the one thing you must change, and that is your acceptance of the truth. THE WELL IS POISONED. IF YOU WISH TO LIVE, YOU NEED TO STOP GOING BACK TO THE POISONED WELL. You need to stop going back to the poisoned well or you will surely die.”

And so I say to you … with great sadness but with great honesty… IF YOU WISH TO LIVE -- YOU NEED TO STOP GOING BACK TO THE POISONED WELL.

You are your family’s scapegoat and they are your poisoned well.

You need to stay away from them and stop drinking their poison, for if you don't you will surely die.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things and expecting different results.

Keep your chin up. You deserve love, kindness, generousity, joy. Stay away from the poison. Stay away from the poison.

oh. my . how many sociopaths does it take to change a lightbulb... i'll get back to you on that.

this is appalling stuff, my heart goes out to you & at the same time it's a soothing kind of help to me that is new for me - newbie here. i will come back to your story again, read the whole thing properly; there was just too much to take in, in one go.

i don't understand why you have to do with your family..? i know that feeling of risking being disinherited. my plan D is to find an olive plantation anywhere in the world where i can work & cook in return for lodging & keep, & hopefully cark it suddenly one day in the herb garden...

sympathies& thanks,


I know this subject is one of the most difficult to write about, its so complex and sometimes it all just pours out ...I think your son has the right idea about staying away. Why go near a disease when it can be avoided.

I think being the victim of scapegoating is sheer hell .If you let it,it can destroy your life & be passed down generations. its a very painful and difficult experence to put into words. looking at your age group saddens me to know that has been your life. Get them out your life and keep the people who love you close.