Finally Believing It's Happening

I have long felt I am being unjustly blamed for things by my parents and 2 of my 3 sisters.  At the same time, I know my mother would say that's a cop-out and I'm denying responsibility for my poor behavior.  What especially had me wondering what kind of monster I am is when it started happening with my husband and certain members of his family, including his aunt shunning me.

As an adult, my mother told me I must listen my teenage sister tell me her complaints about me-- although she'd been doing that all week.  I walked away, which led eventually to my father chewing me out for refusing to listen to her continued complaints, and finally to him trying to choke me.

In younger years, no matter how that same sister pushed and provoked, I was told I shouldn't be bothered by it because she was just a little girl-- and punished if I finally reacted.

After slapping my mother, ripping the phone from the wall, and chasing me through a snowbank to the neighbors for help, my father spent a night in jail.  He blamed me for ruining his reputation to the neighbors. 

He later blamed me for his and my mother's marriage problems.  He told me repeatedly that if I weren't such a problem child, I'd be allowed to visit France with them.  (I was an honor student, in the highest band, never had any discipline problems in school, etc.)

My husband's aunt refused to have me in her home for 10 years-- according to her because I got up from lunch one day and said, "Bye, I have to go now."  (I was going to work.)  My mother said I deserved it, and that I was rather cold to her.  Considering this happened 2000 miles from my mother, and I had not been cold to her, I was shocked and said, "How would you know?  You weren't even there."  My mother looked confused and admitted she had no clue why she said that.  But she didn't take it back.

Later, while my mother was chewing out my sister's horrible new mil and how mean she is to my sister, I finally said, "Like [the aunt.]"  She stared blankly, then said, "Oh, that," and went right back to demonizing the new mil.  I got the message loud and clear.  My sister should be treated well, I deserve what I get.

My husband and I moved far away for over a decade.  We ended up moving back finally in part because of my husband's aunt shunning me.  Things have been quite good with my family for 5 years.  But 2 years ago, my sister went into a screaming rage at my 11 year old daughter over Christmas dinner.  Nothing was said by anyone in the family.  I took my family back with a little trepidation for Christmas the following year, and the day involved my sister snapping at and lecturing various of my children-- at times for as simple a thing as asking, once, Can we pass out presents now?  She crowned it off with going into a lengthy screaming tirade at me, including shouting character slurs in front of 20 people.

Everyone sat there, saying nothing.  My father told me to sit down, and said nothing while she went on and on, telling everyone what she thought of me.

Needless to say, two years in a row convinced me, and I did not take my family up this past year.  Things have been fine with the rest of my family, except for this disturbing silence around the event, and my realization that my new brother in law has not set foot in my house or spoken to me since this event.  

Finally, two days ago, my dad brought it up.  Sure enough, it appears they all think this is my fault, I deserve to be screamed at, and to top it off, I am now 'ruining' my family by not going back up for more. 

I am also concerned that the scapegoating is now moving on to two of my children.  While telling me it's all my fault, my dad also told me my oldest son brought it all on, and one of the younger ones.  Apparently, they are supposed to have complete control over themselves while the screaming raging 40 year old behaving 100 times worse gets to blame her behavior on them?

It dawned on me, as my dad yelled at me two days ago, that he probably still blames me for his previous domestic violence, too.

How does this happen?  I can understand it happening in one family, but as I said, I also became a scapegoat for my husband and certain members of his family, accusing me of things I absolutely did not do, one of them simply never speaking to me again, and the rest of them then accusing ME of 'holding a grudge.' 

I am a decent person who tries to live my faith, to be decent and thoughtful of other people.  I try to forgive, and at the very least, raise good kids and live a life of integrity I can be proud of in the end.  I try to honestly recognize and fix my flaws.  I was at worst a normal kid, not a difficult one.  So why is this happening?

Do some of us just have MAKE ME YOUR SCAPEGOAT emblazoned on our foreheads or what??

cushla cushla
9 Responses Mar 1, 2009

Cushia: I know it hurts, but you need to continue to do what works for you and makes YOU happy. If your kids insist on lying to go see their grandparents the way to handle might actually be pretty simple. <br />
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My oldest child has received emails from my family members advising that they want to see him, and telling him that he "does not have to tell his parents so they won't get upset." Fortunately, he showed us the emails. (On your end, you have your children's admission that they have been asked to see the grandparents.) I sat him down and calmly asked him "Have we ever asked you to be a liar? No. Have we ever asked you to deceive people who love you? No. Have we ever asked you to be a sneak? No. Pay attention here son - you are being asked to lie, deceive and become a sneak by these people. Do you really think they have good intentions?" He said what I expect all kids say "But they want to see me and they say you are keeping me from them." My response is: "Of course I am - I am keeping you from people who want to turn you into a liar, a deceiver and a sneak. If they were looking out for YOUR benefit, they would want you to act with honesty and integrity - not want to turn you into a bad person." Perhaps you need to ask these questions of your children. <br />
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If your family members are putting your children in a position where they must lie, sneak and deceive - there is the proof of how evil the family members are. YOU are not putting them in that position. You have made it clear that you are trying to protect your children from people who would turn them into deceitful kids in order to get what THEY WANT. And that is what it is all about - what THEY WANT - and if they turn your kids into little monsters in the process, who care, as long as they get their way. <br />
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People with good hearts, decency, integrity and good intentions NEVER ASK CHILDREN TO LIE TO THEIR PARENTS, TO DECEIVE THEIR PARENTS, OR TO SNEAK AROUND BEHIND THEIR PARENTS BACKS. Period. <br />
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You keep the faith. You are doing the right things. Maybe your kids need to mature and grow up a bit before they finally "get it." After all, they are just kids and can be easily brainwashed.

The sad irony...the sick, twisted irony? that my mother spent her entire marriage in battle with her mother in law, my grandmother, until my grandmother died in her 70's. Until 13 years after my grandmother died, my mother was still telling stories about how awful she was, trying to make sure we hated her. One thing that stands out in my mind is how my mother once told me that my grandmother threatened to turn my mother's children against her. And now, whether it's deliberate or not, my mother is now doing exactly what she hated her mother-in-law for threatening to do to her.

Thank you, all. Thank you especially, Claraindigo, for your story.<br />
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I have stayed away from my family almost entirely since I posted almost three years ago. Ironically for people who keep telling me how I'm causing stress and trouble, they do exactly as you say, Clara--they won't exactly let go, either. The invitations kept coming. The few times I responded, I just got sucked back into their accusations and tales of how I deserve this, telling me I needed to do X, Y, and Z and then all would be fine. When I pointed out I'm already doing these things, they tell me I'm not, and so if I would just do them.... Well, obviously, that's getting us nowhere.<br />
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When one of the main perpetrators asked a couple years ago just what I was upset about, I gave a clear list of the many ugly things said and done, and was told none of it ever happened, none of it was ever said. So why am I upset with everyone? That obviously got us nowhere, too.<br />
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My parents are now telling people, including my children, that I imagine things and make things up.<br />
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I am now divorced, and it's nothing but a relief, as there was no real support there, anyway, in addition to more stress and turmoil, thanks to his lies on many issues, secret friendships with young, single women, and buying us deeper and deeper into debt with absolutely nothing to show for it.<br />
<br />
It's a huge step forward. He is agreeable to leaving the state, and that is my next step. <br />
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Tonight has been stressful. My children are not treated by my family as I am and want to visit. I won't take them over. My parents actually rarely invite the kids except for holidays (a huge contrast to how they treat some of the other grandchildren) and my kids don't really seem to see that, either. <br />
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When my parents invite them for holidays, it's done behind my back. I have politely let them know they need to ask the PARENT, not make arrangements with minors behind a parent's back, and family members are now calling me controlling for this.<br />
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One of my older children is now telling me that we all 'do our things,' that I've done things, too, and that he's sure I believe I'm right and he's sure they believe they're right. (No, I have not gone into screaming rages, questioned my siblings' parenting, given them lists of things I want them to 'fix' about themselves, and I have absolutely not hit their children or physically assaulted any of them.) But my son chooses to believe what he's heard from them. They treat him well, so he believes them.<br />
<br />
And tonight, my older kids have gone to visit their grandparents and lied to me about where they are. I heard them discussing going there while I was upstairs, and when I came down, they told me they were going with a friend to her friend's house. I am angry with them not for going there on their own, but because they lied to me and even more so because they didn't need to lie to me. In these three years, I have not once made any ob<x>jection at all, or said anything negative the times they've gone to visit. I have given them no reason at all to feel they needed to lie to me.<br />
<br />
And I wonder where it goes from here. Do I let them know lying is unacceptable at the risk of alienating my children? Do I slowly disengage from my own children over this and them effectively letting me know this is just a mutual disagreement when it's more like a mugging (when they really don't know the whole story)? Do I pretend I don't know they lied to me? <br />
<br />
Yes, Clara, this is evil. Enough people have told me the untrue things my mother is saying about me, my own children and my best friend have told me the untrue, negative things my mother says to THEM about me (what kind of sick person tells her daughter's best friend negative things about her daughter???), and enough people have specifically told me she is saying I imagine things, that it's a safe bet they're telling my own children I imagine things. They have poisoned my own children against me, and had I expressly forbidden the older kids to visit, that would have caused its own trouble with them.<br />
<br />
All I can do is pray, and tonight, I'm struggling with that. It's not as if I haven't prayed about this. And the poison continues, nonetheless.<br />
<br />
Thank you all for your helpful words. And I hope those reading will pray for us and for all who are experiencing these things. I know I'm hardly alone.

Cushla:<br />
<br />
One of the hallmarks of a "scapegoating family" is that they cannot, MUST NOT, WILL NOT let their victim get away peacefully. The dysfunctional family NEEDS their scapegoat as they need the very air they breathe. They MUST have someone to destroy in order to feel better about themselves. They must have a scapegoat on whom to vent their murderous rage. <br />
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When you are blamed for everything that goes wrong, and your successes are ignored or denigrated... when you are discredited, gossiped about, demeaned... you are on the receiving end of evil. When your life turns out well and they only hate you more for it... when they must tear you down at all costs, you are on the receiving end of evil. When they must obliterate your happiness, your enthusiasm, your joy, you are on the receiving end of evil. When they take joy in injuring you, you are on the receiving end of evil. <br />
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Evil spelled backwards is “live” -- evil is the opposite of life. Evil seeks to destroy, to crush, to maim, to poison, to annihilate, to eradicate, to obliterate anything that is good, clean, healthy, positive, joyful, hopeful, successful. EVIL SEEKS TO KILL LIFE. Scapegoaters seek to “kill” the joy, happiness, hope, health and well being of their victims. Scapegoaters are pure evil. <br />
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Poison kills. Hate kills. Rage kills. Character assassination kills. Invalidation kills. False allegations kill. <br />
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Scapegoaters’ spew poison with their tongues … and if we keep breathing it in it will kill us. Period. As sad as it may be, there is only once choice – will we allow others to kill us or will we save ourselves? <br />
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Scapegoats need to reach a point where they become very clear on what is really happening. This is not about people being mean and hurtful. This is not about family “not approving of us” or “not caring about us.” This is about evil people trying to destroy us. Once we finally stop making excuses for what is really going on, once we admit the truth - we need to ask ourselves selves … why do I tolerate pure evil in my life? Why am I giving people a chance to destroy me? As Melong states above - could it be because we have been trained to be the recipient of the family’s murderous rage? That training will be the death of us. We need to reject it and reject those who would harm us. <br />
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One of the things I have learned along life’s journey is you can never stop the scapegoaters. You can never get them to admit they are doing anything wrong. You can never get them to change. You don’t have the power. If you did, you would have changed things long ago. The only thing you can change is YOU. Only YOU can save YOU and YOU need to decide that YOU are worth saving. If you choose to continue participating in the dysfunction, you are guilty of aiding and abetting, you are guilty of allowing yourself to be a victim, you are guilty of allowing your other family members (spouse, children) to be hurt by witnessing the scapegoating. YOU need to be the hero who saves the day. Change is in YOUR power, and YOUR POWER ALONE. <br />
<br />
Many years ago, after a lifetime of being my family's scapegoat, I reached my breaking point. I had tried everything to change the dynamics, to stop the scapegoating, to help the perpetrators see what they were doing, all to no avail. I distanced myself for bits of time over the years, believing that if I did the right things, or provided some “space” all would turn out well, believing that if I stayed away for awhile the perpetrators would "see the light." Further contact only reinforced the cycle of dysfunction and engendered further scapegoating. After the death of a family member who was one of the "lead perpetrators" I had my “AHA” moment and I finally “got it.” She was gone and the scapegoating was continuing, in fact it was escalating. My epiphany was simple: the only way to make the scapegoating stop was for ME to remove myself from the situation. Completely. Permanently. <br />
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And so I did the hardest thing I ever had to do. First, I had to face the truth about what was really happening. I had to stop making excuses. I had to decide to save myself. I did not make any huge announcement, I did not make any proclamation about my intentions, I did not accuse or blame. I simply turned my back and walked away. And I have stayed away for over 6 years, and I will continue to stay away for the rest of my days. I do not answer phone calls (caller ID lets me know who is calling - and the calls continue to come), I do not answer letters (and the letters continue to come), I do not accept invitations to any event under any circumstances (and the invitations continue to come), I do not attend any family functions – NONE. I do not respond to any contact from any of them. <br />
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I decided to save myself ... to finally, finally love myself enough to say "no more." And “no more” means NO MORE! I am the person who is in charge of my happiness, and I choose life and happiness over their need to harm and injure. <br />
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Did it hurt to walk away? Oh yes. Did I cry repeatedly because I had to let go of the dream that one day my family of origin would be kind and loving? Oh yes. Was my heart broken because I had to finally accept that my family of origin wanted to injure me and enjoyed causing me pain? Oh yes. It all hurt… for a very long time.<br />
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As my husband said, "They want you crushed. They want you crawling on your belly begging for crumbs of kindness. Every time you do something good, every time you are successful, they hate you all the more. They will never approve of you until you are groveling in the dirt. And they don't care if they hurt me or our children along the way, as long as they can hurt you." Ouch! BIG OUCH!!! But he was right. It just took me 50 years to wake up and realize that it was not them, but ME who needed to "see the light" and face reality. Even when that reality broke my heart. <br />
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The good news is time does heal… if I had stayed in the situation I would still be bleeding, crying, defending, pleading, being battered, being harmed. Being totally disconnected has allowed me to heal. And the healing journey, though initially filled with tears, sorrow and heartbreak, has led me down a path to happiness and peace.<br />
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6 years on, my marriage is strong and wonderful, my children are happy and joyful, my heart is full and carefree, and my life is lived “in the light.” <br />
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I walked away from the murderous rage, black hearts and poison tongues of scapegoaters. I chose life over evil, and it was the best decision I have ever made. I will never go back. I like the light…. <br />
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I choose life. I hope all my fellow scapegoats choose life too.

You're trained for the role. You must recondition your mind. Set goals and achieve them. I've decided to stop saying "I'm sorry" all the time. I shouldn't apologize for being me. I will apologize for hurting another human being, but not for my feelings.

I hope that you have put some distance between you and family. They are so used to making you as scapegoat. It's so ingrained that they can't break away from it even though they must know there's no basis for it. <br />
Get away from them. Start a new life and make<br />
friends with people sho no nothing about you and family or past life. If your husband's starting to scapegoat you,too, get counseling or leave. You deserve better. Don't let your kids be dragged into it.<br />
Otherwise your relationship with them will suffer. My<br />
mother did this with my father and brothers. She convinced them I was crazy and responsible for everything bad. One of my brothers treats me decent but doesn't want to admit how our mother manipulated him. Other one gets outright hostile if you<br />
even mention it. Doesn't want to admit to anything. He<br />
was physically as well as verbally abusive. My mother would always make excuses for his behavior. My father <br />
would pretend not to see or hear it.<br />
Both parents have since died but there's still<br />
much anger and bitterness. If either of my brothers brings them up, I refuse to discuss them.<br />
At least I live far away from family and people<br />
here act like I'm a decent person and I don't seem to have many problems with them. <br />
Make a new life for yourself without your family. Maybe after awhile without being around them, they will realize that everything they thought was totally wrong. Problem is that when they lose their main target, they'll find another one to torment and pick on. Hope someone will stand up to them and put them in their place.

to Cushla<br />
yes, your family is weird! So is mine. Try to stay away from any poisonous dynamics. Remember that you are the one who decides when, where and how often you have contact with your family. Don't visit at Christmas, it you know it will become dysfunctional - instead create the best time you can with your own family at home. You may consider contact by phone, and then you can decide to end the conversations when they start to get weird. You need to have a supportive husband, he needs to understand this dynamic. I know it is probably a last resort but if your marriage supports the poisonous dynamic of your past you may need to take the drastic step of leaving it - that's a choice only you can make. Hopefully there are members of your husband's family with whom you can develop trusting functional relationships - focus on these! Your children need to be protected from the dysfunction. I don't have children, but if I did they would not be in contact with my sister at all! As in the comment by "seafarer" I too had to move far away from my family to start my healing journey...

They may be family.Does not excuse their attitudes. They need a scapegoat to deflect attention away from themselves.It's easy to continue keeping same person scapegoat. Get away from them! Have nothing to do with them until attitudes change. Then they just might miss you and try to see positive about you. Don't give in no matter what they say or do. When I moved myself and kids across country and had infrequent contact, that's<br />
when they started changing. One year I had no contact.<br />
Then they were really hurt. Sometimes that's what it takes. Try it! What's there to lose!

I think i have that writen on me somewhere or something cause i get blamed for everything(even by ppl i dont know) and half the time i dont even know why.<br />
Life sucks :(