12 Steps to Breaking Free from Being the Family Scapegoat

 

Scapegoaters are insecure people driven to try and raise their own status by attempting to lower the status of their target

 

by Glynis Sherwood

Did you grow up having doubts about your self esteem or personal worth?  When things went wrong in your family, did you tend to be the fall guy?  Do you find yourself encountering recurring disrespect from friends or colleagues?  Do you feel unsure of yourself and/or have difficulty experiencing trust in relationships?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these statements, you may have been scapegoated by your family.  The term ‘scapegoat’ refers to a family member who takes the blame for difficulties in the family.Scapegoating is a form of bullying.  Family relationships profoundly impact our identity and how we view ourselves.

How to Tell if You Have Been Scapegoated:

  1. You are held responsible for family problems, conflicts or challenges, even if they have nothing to do with you. Other people blame you for their actions.  You may end up feeling a lot of shame for being ‘the bad guy’, and/or anger for being blamed for negative family dynamics.
  2. You are attacked and disbelieved if you tell the truth and ‘blow the whistle’ on negative and/or inappropriate family dynamics.
  3. There has been a history of one or more family members being verbally, emotionally or physically abusive towards you.  Other family members seem to accept or look the other way when you are bullied or aggressed against like this.  You may feel like the ‘black sheep’ of the family.

  4. You find yourself repeatedly being accused of behavior the scapegoater is engaged in. For example, a family member repeatedly yells at you, and then accuses you of being abusive, or being thoughtful and then told “all you care about is yourself”.

  5. You act out the negative ‘expectations’ of scapegoating such as not living up to your potential, or getting into relationships with abusive people because your self esteem is has been damaged.

  6. Being the mentally healthiest family member, but being accused of being sick,bad, etc.

  7. Occupying the role of family outcast, and being treated with disdain or disgust by family or yourself.

  8. Your achievements are belittled, minimized, criticized and rejected.

What’s Going On In Families That Scapegoat

Families that are shame or fear based are not healthy.  Often in these families you will find evidence of abuse, neglect, addiction, betrayal, mental illness and insecurity.  Dysfunctional families either lack insight or find it threatening, and actively repress it through scapegoating those who want to understand and change negative dynamics.  Scapegoating is a “projection defense” that allows scapegoaters to keep up appearances. In other words, by making the scapegoat look bad, it takes attention off the real problem.

Many families who resort to scapegoating are headed by narcissistic parents who lack personal awareness, and empathy for their target, as in their eyes, the target is there to serve their false image.  So the purpose of scapegoating is to allow families to carry on unhealthy behavior patterns, and maintain myth of normalcy, without having to look inward or take responsibility for a toxic environment.  To the outside observer – and possibly the Scapegoat – these families seem crazy making and delusional.

Who Gets Picked to Be Scapegoat

The Scapegoat doesn’t get picked randomly or by accident.  Usually they are either sensitive, unhappy, vulnerable, ill and/or the outspoken child or whistle blower.  In other words, the scapegoat is the child
who refuses to look content or stay silent in the unbearable atmosphere created in the family home.

How Scapegoating Impacts the Target

Scapegoats almost universally experience low self esteem or lack of self worth.  The major problem is
that they suffer from an Identity Disturbance, as the target confuses the myththat they are bad, with the truth.  This is usually a lie and the truth is that Scapegoats are being abused by being taught they are ‘bad’.  Scapegoats tend to struggle with chronic insecurity, as they never feel safe or believe they are loved.  They can also fall into a‘Victim’ role, and unconsciously repeat their scapegoating by gravitating towards unhealthy behavior or relationships at work, school and their private life.

Scapegoats often have trouble feeling safe in relationships – especially intimate relationships – due to the betrayal of trust in their family.  They can also have challenges managing emotions, and find they either feel overwhelmed by feelings and anxious, or shut down and not know how they are feeling.

How To Break Free From Scapegoating

  1. Understand that what you have come to believe about yourself as family Scapegoat – i.e. that you are bad, weird, inadequate or defective – is not the truth.  In fact it’s likely a lie that was created to prevent family members from acknowledging their own troubles, thereby avoiding taking responsibility for both their behavior and the need to change.

  2. Locate and trust your ‘Inner Owl’ – that wise part of you that knows you have been mistreated and will no longer willingly allow this abuse from others or yourself.

  3. Recognize that feelings of shame, guilt and self blame belong to the perpetrators, not you as target.  You are simply a dumping ground for their bad feelings.  To change this you need to start standing up to the notion that you are at fault.  You will likely have to begin with yourself, learning to question and reject seeing yourself as ‘bad’.

  4. Get to know your true self.  Identify exceptions to the negative stereotype you have been saddled with.  In other words, pinpoint what is good, likeable or at least adequate about you – your character, values, actions, etc.  Write down your good traits – you will need to be reminded of this alternate universe, which is the truth about you, especially if you start to fall back into the habit of feeling bad about yourself again. Understand that getting better – and feeling better – is a learning curve, and you may slip a few times before you gain solid footing

  5. Figure out what you might be doing – consciously or unconsciously – that gives scapegoaters the idea that it’s OK to abuse you.  Determine how to change any behavior that draws you into the Victim role.

  6. Stop trying to win the favor of abusive and uncaring family members, co-workers or ‘friends’.  Anyone who engages in this type of inappropriate behavior has personality problems, especially a parent who did not love their child.

  7. Don’t expect abusive family members to apologize or make amends.  They will likely blame you more if you attempt to hold them accountable.

  8. Start asserting your right to be treated respectfully with family and other people who try and abuse you.  E.G., “The way you just spoke to me now is not acceptable, and I never want to be talked to like that again”, or “If you want to have a relationship with me, you will stop the angry outbursts, name calling, accusations, etc.”  Know that you may not be heard or respected by aggressive people.  The point is that you hear and respect yourself!  Don’t do this until you are ready to follow through with your commitment to yourself.

  9. Accept that you may never have a healthy relationship with your scapegoater(s).  This may involve limited or no contact with those who are determined to continue to abuse you.  You may experience feelings of grief.  Work through the painful feelings, and get support if needed.  This pain is much less harmful than continuing to allow yourself to be abused by anyone.

  10. Get in the habit of treating yourself with kindness, caring, compassion, appreciation and acceptance.  Practice viewing yourself as a person of worth and lovability.  This will likely feel weird at first as it is unfamiliar.  But even though it is unfamiliar, treating yourself in a loving manner is never wrong.

  11. Understand that it will take time to learn how to love and appreciate yourself.  You have been trained to be overly self critical and may believe you are defective.  Be patient as this false image gradually crumbles.  Get counselling to help you overcome this painful legacy, and find your true self – the strong, valuable person you are meant to be.

  12. Practice what you preach with others… Break the cycle

 

Like this Article?  Read more articles on Scapegoating here


Need help overcoming scapegoating?   Check out my Scapegoat Counselling page

Counselling is available in person in Vancouver BC or by Skype Videoaround the world.

Glynis Sherwood – MEd, Canadian Certified Counsellor, Registered Clinical Counsellor, specializes in recovery from Scapegoating/Bullying, Low Self Esteem, Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Addictive Behaviors.  My services are available in person in Vancouver BC, or Toll-Free across Canada by Phone or Email.  I look forward to hearing from you and helping you achieve the life you want and deserve!

  • Alice27

    I don’t think you’re being unfair. Part of the manipulation is them wanting you to believe you’re the one causing the problems. Like we are damaged somehow. Your story is a lot like mine, but I also have a sibling who can do no wrong.

  • Pipkins2t

    ” IMO, your loss of the support and sanctuary of family is a completely legitimate reason to grieve”. I don’t know how to grieve, or what I am actually grieving for. I had time to think about the process of grief, and intellectually I know a part of me would like to grieve for the ‘person’ I once was, i.e. a sister, a daughter, an auntie. That ‘person’ was a very good person, kind, loving, giving, trusting. To a large extent that ‘person’ in me has died. I am still a good person, however, very few individuals ever get close enough to see that part of who I am. I miss the open heart that I used to hold. I have a legitimate reason to grieve, yet I remain unable to identify a single focus for such strength of emotion. My experience of choosing no contact has taught me that not only did I walk away from my biological mother & siblings, I also walked away from the ‘person’ I had become in order to please them. I left the person they had created me to be behind. At times I struggle to accept the responsibility of who I am now and that the who I am now is of my own making. No excuses. No naivety. No innocence. No ignorance. No, definitely no excuses. Today I stand as *(Christian name) a mother, a friend, a lover, an employee. My identity a creation of what I choose to make of this life.
    Yes, I need to grieve for the loss of individuals, hopes & broken relationships, but I also need to find a way to lovingly let go of the sister, daughter & auntie that I once was.

    • Desertcatn

      I feel for you, I had to let go of my family and it isn’t an easy road; still finding my way. I had a lifetime of pain lifted from my heart, this last Summer, but must maintain the no contact or the pain returns. Hang in there, I don’t know how it happens, but eventually you will heal! Best wishes!

      • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

        Thanks Desertcatn for bringing up the positive side of No Contact. Although there can be a lot of fear and sadness for people going this route, for those who believe it’s necessary, no contact frees up mental space to focus on creating the life and relationships you want and need, including the absence of abuse!

        • Desertcatn

          Thank you for your articles on this subject, Glynis, they really do help!

          • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

            Great to hear that my articles have been of help to you Desertcatn. All the best!

      • Pipkins2t

        Thank you Desetcant and anyone else who empathises with words shared here. This may sound irrelevant, however, I am certain it is not. I have two adult sons, each having treatment for mental health conditions; bi-polar & autistic traits combined with bi polar. I am a support worker for carers for those who support someone with mental health conditions. Since my last post I have pondered my words and those returned, or the perceived ‘ silence’.
        I am strong enough to hold my own pain.
        I am strong enough to begin the lessons I require in self compassion. Only then can I truly support those who are on a similar path to my own.
        I have yet to shed tears for the losses that I will always hold in my heart, however I am blessed to hold them there, for I can see how far away from ‘madness’ my sons and I have travelled.
        I hope to complete my Masters Degree in Education this year, and I am gladly relinquishing a long academic life/career in education to pursue an offer to pursue training as a counsellor/psychotherapist.
        When you have stood found yourself in the pit of despair, rejection, self loathing and confusion, you will not leave any soul who feels likewise alone, be that person your own child or stranger.
        No one in this life deserves to die alone.
        This site has been an invaluable tool in my own learning and I cannot thank those who contribute there honest and heart felt emotions and thoughts here, enough. You have all helped me through the darkest of times and helped me see just how far my sons and I have come.
        I hope to continue to contribute to this page as life unravels new paths for me and mine to travel.

  • Annette Ross

    I have been the family scapegoat. It took counseling to help me understand it and family dynamic I was born into. Sadly, always looking at myself and wondering what I did wrong and wanting to please, I realized I had surrounded myself with those who would pick up where my parents left off. I have spent the past four years trying to dig myself out from underneath the weight of being the scapegoat. Had I caused the issues? Do I owe them an apology? I was hurt, I was angry, I felt duped and unloved. I reflected on my own outbursts and wondered if I was truly who they claimed I was. I finally decided to face my actions that could have cause them pain and I made apologies. Yes, I made apologies, all I can do is face my own actions and I knew I had not been 100% in the right. When I did this, I was finally able to let go. I owned my part, my abusers did not and it was so plain to me then. I was able to walk away without guilt or questioning myself any further. My life is about me now and while my abusers may always see my as fault, the one thing I know is that they are not facing themselves and their own actions that caused me to walk away.

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      Thank you Annette for sharing your experience. Both positively and negatively, when you apologized you were calling the bluff of family members who were abusing you. I agree that we all need to take responsibility for our actions, and our healing. Sadly, scapegoaters usually will not. Glad to hear you are feeling at peace with yourself due to your ability to be accountable and neither continuing to stay in an untenable situation nor hanging on to what you are not responsible for. I hope other readers here will take strength from your story.

      • Elaine Stackhouse

        I agree. This is where I am now. I realize certain of my behaviors have contributed to the scapegoating. I don’t say caused because it began when I was very small child. However, as I grew older I certainly had some reactionary behaviors and was hyper sensitive so I took offense to most everything. There were other areas I contributed to the treatment. I will never say I caused it, but I also will not claim that I am completely blameless. There are certainly things I could have done differently and improved on. I have tried to admit those things as I go along, but currently sister and I only speak via text and short calls regarding Mom’s condition. We haven’t physically seen each other in over a year. I have tried many times to try to mend the fences with her over the years, but it just never works out. Our personality are oil and water and I think my mother did a lot of triangulation with my sister. Parents also had set up a dysnamic of one child being good (sister) and one child being bad (me). Doesn’t exactly encourage a sisterly loving relationship. My sister carries many of the narcissistic traits my mother does and also I suppose from having been the family favorite. It’s just not possible for me to have a relationship with her and I wonder if we ever will. It’s okay. I am making peace with that. Even if in my own mind I take ownership for the part I play. It’s more about forgiving myself and learning to love myself at this point.

  • PJ MCGILLICUTTY

    It doesn’t sound like you’ve dealt with these types before Tommy. Rationality doesn’t work with these folks. Usually makes the sitch worse….

  • PJ MCGILLICUTTY

    Nice!! You have trained your son well!! Sounds like you have successfully stopped the cycle of abuse with your family- SO RARE!! Pat yourself on the back a bunch!

  • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

    You are so right PJ, scapegoating can extend outside of families and infiltrate friendships. Usually this means that there is an ‘inner scapegoat’ that needs to be confronted and challenged if this pattern is to change. Seems like you are starting to make some great strides with your insights and and more assertive mindset that stems from knowing you deserve better.

  • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

    More great insights PJ, and what’s even better is you are starting to take action based on treating yourself more respectfully. In the end this will separate those who are willing to treat you respectfully from those who refuse to abandon abusive behavior, and you can make decisions about who belongs in your life based on that distinction.

  • Ruthie

    Keep the faith!

  • Z Sha

    I think she ruined it all trying to be too controlling. You both are equally to blame anyway. Distance yourself.

  • Rubinis_K

    I too was the scapegoat of my family. I cut off all communication with my mother, brother, and sister. Best decision I have ever made. I humbled myself and apologized for everything they have ever accused me of, yet I never received any acknowledgment of how they have hurt me. That experience showed me that they were incapable of taking responsibility of their actions and their misery and misfortunes never had anything to do with me. They truly don’t know how to love themselves, therefore will not ever be able to love me. I just simply could not allow myself to be abused any longer.

    The blessing in disguise from this experience is, after letting my family go, I was able to truly feel the deep love my husband, in-laws, and dearest friends have for me. I was so busy trying to receive love from relatives who weren’t capable of giving it, that I couldn’t appreciate the love that was so freely and unconditionally given to me by my friends, husband and his family. The love was so overwhelming and deep when I took my focus off my abusers.

    And another blessing from cutting all ties with my family was the overflowing forgiveness I now have for them. This is the most I have ever loved them. I had to release them and cut contact in order to heal, forgive, and love them…from afar.

    I hope this might help someone else who is thinking about breaking contact with their dysfunctional family.

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and experience Rubinis_K. I think it’s tremendously helpful for people to hear that in order to be able to recognize and receive love, you have to stop focusing on those who can’t or won’t give it to you. In essence, by taking your power back – the power to not give abusers the right to define your worth, and ironically something they will never do – it is an act of self validation that sets the stage for more love to come into your life.

    • Highland26

      I am doing this now, but it’s very lonely as I don’t have any family to speak of.

      • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

        It can be a lonely path Highland26. I wish you an abundance of other people in your life who will appreciate and support you.

        • Elaine Stackhouse

          Very helpful advice Glynis.

      • Pipkins2t

        Highland, please accept the following as a statement of support and understanding. Yes, we find ourselves understanding the meaning of loneliness, however, during these times we are invited to learn to comfort ourselves in a way that we always craved from others, and failed to receive. There is no denying the sense on loneliness that you so rightly speak of Highland. Please take some strength from knowing that you are learning how to comfort self.
        When you emerge from the darkest of days, you emerge stronger. The sense of loss may never go away, but we find ourselves better equipped to manage our losses, little by little.

        Kindest regards
        xxx

        • Elaine Stackhouse

          Higland26, I do understand. I am rather no contact as much as possible. It’s hard because I stated my sister accepts my adult sons and I have to hear how they went out to dinner and treated lovingly and accepted knowing that I am not. We have a very small family. Only 1 sister, my mother, and a couple of cousins we don’t see often. My husband’s family is across the country. So I basically have my two adult sons, my granddaughter, and my husband. I am glad however the scapegoating has stopped with me and my sister is not scapegoating my sons – as much as I am hurt that i am still enduring it. My mother is in hospice and so I have to maintain some form of contact with my sister. IT’s mostly quick phone calls and more often texts or my oldest adult son relays information. My sister and I have not physically seen each other in over a year! I suspect we will at some point because my mother is moving in with my sister, but they reside out of state. I guess I am writing to just say I do understand the loneliness. My husband has some friends from his former church before he moved. We get together a couple of times a year. This is where I felt the difference in being with people who loved, respected, and accepted you for who you are… Maybe you could try to joint a church or connect with friends who love and accept you for you are. I know it’s difficult if you don’t have this support system in place. I don’t make friends easily and if I didn’t have husband to help me along I would struggle more. I hope you can connect with some people who value you for the person you are.

      • pierce singleguy

        I know how you feel. Highland26

    • Elaine Stackhouse

      i totally understand what you mean. My husband was also a scapegoat in his family. Not his immediate nuclear family but in the extended family. Basically, his mom, sister, and husband were scapegoated and barely tolerated. My husband has contact with his aging father and sister via phone as they are cross country, but he does not really speak to any extended family. He has been a tremendous support and he was the one who really made me see that I was being scapegoated. My husband had a loving church family and some people he stayed with during a rough patch in his life. When we meet up with them and go out to dinner I finally realize what it feels like to be loved and accepted. It feels so wonderful to feel you are wanted and appreciated. Not singled out and criticized constantly. I wish things were different in my nuclear family, but at nearly 50 years old I don’t hold much hope that my sister and I will be able to forge a relationship even though she and I are literally all the family each has left from our birth family, besides our spouses and kids. She does have in-laws. My in-laws are cross country. Sister and I have never gotten along – not since we were very small children and even then our friendship consisted of her very often bullying and being cruel to me. I agree cutting contact has been integral in my healing.

  • Lady LaLa

    Thanks. My only issue is I live with my father and am his caretaker so I can’t escape it all together at the moment. But I’m no longer speaking with my abusive, gaslighting, scapegoating brother. I’m done with the toxic nature of that relationship. After my father passes away, I plan on moving far away from my family. I’ve hoped for too long that the dysfunction would improve and I know there are people out there who like me for me and don’t relish in the opportunity to criticize my every move in a hypocritically self-righteous manner. Thanks for the article!

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      Sure thing. All the best. 😉

  • Wounded Eagle

    First, I would like to say that I have read through quite a few post and it has brought me a sense of security; that I am not the only one, and this sort of thing does happen to people. My life with my immediate and even some extended family and how I was ostracized and scapegoated has been happening for over 8 years… It started in the end of March 2007 when I was misdiagnosed as bipolar following a hospitalization for a marijuana induced psychosis. My extended family wanted me to accept that I was bipolar and needed to take pills the rest of my life. I tried to explain the situation and many of my extended family members do not talk to me because of this… My immediate family consisting of my mom, dad, and brother have been a trauma laden family since really I was a toddler. I remember Christmas Eve of 1988 as a 4 year old boy; mom and dad were fighting to the point of pushing, shoving, strangling and even a knife getting pulled out of the butcher’s block, until my grandpa said “you get your god damned hands off her!”… I was crying and even pushed my mom and dad back together so that they could make up and give each other hugs.
    Years went by, and there were always outburst with my mom and dad fighting. I would occasionally engage with my dad and verbally fight with him… It became a routine thing for us all to fight…. My dad has continued to tell me that “I am a fuck up, that has smoked dope and been to the god damned insane asylum!” what has made it worse is that my dad, brother and now mom are all saying that I am a problem to the family… When I counselled with a “money hungry” family therapist, she tried to tell me that a complete disconnection with my family would not be good, and ultimately that is a big “no no” in psychology… So I am at the cross roads a bit, but I feel comfortable with going ahead with a complete disassociation, because of the very stories that I have found on this blog – Thank You!

  • Elaine Stackhouse

    I am 48 and I always knew my sister was favored and that I could never seem to do nothing right. My parents would light up like Christmas trees when my sister came to town and they ran their entire schedule around her visits. They expected me and my family to do the same thing. We were supposed to live to accommodate my sister’s visits and our own schedule was never taken into account. If we could not make an event my mother would become enraged and badger us that we “must” come. I used to put it down to my sister living out of state and I lived close by. However, there were other many more insidious issues going in my family and I was in very deep denial myself, my brainwashing was such that I didn’t really recognize my family was scapegoating me. I felt something was off and I was treated differently, but my eyes were not opened to how much so I was being scapegoated.

    When my grandma passed away, she had 4 antique chairs. My parents selected two. There were two left – one for each daughter – except they gave them both to my sister. When I asked my father about this and said I would have liked one of my grandmother’s chairs he insisted he promised them to my sister. I was stunned. I said “you have two adult daughters and two beautiful chairs why would you promise both to one daughter and none to the other?” That just didn’t make sense to me. I have two sons. I would never give two of something to one son and nothing to other. I do try to be fair in my treatment of my sons. My father just pursed his lips and would not answer me. Anytime I would question on that event I never received an answer. My sister later stated she didn’t know I wanted one, but when she found out she didn’t offer to give one to me either, lol.

    I think however small this event might have been a light bulb went on and I sort of started looking back at all the messages I had received as a child and as a young adult about my place in the family. I remember when I was very young, about 5 or 6, the same grandmother who had passed away was going through all her lovely bone china and crystal with my sister and I. As little girls we were not allowed to touch these things, but I was enamored by all the delicate china, pretty patterns, and cut crystal. My grandmother kept saying this goes to my sister and that goes to my sister and so on. Finally, even as a small child I finally asked “Well why does my sister get all of these and I don’t?” The answer was “She’s the oldest” End of story. The message was so final. She’s the oldest so therefore she gets everything nice and I get what is left over. This is a message that been repeated over and over in my family through the years. Just by virtue of her being older she automatically got preferential treatment and I got what was left. It was no fault of my own. I didn’t get to chose my birth order. I can remember even as a child feeling angry, jealous, bitter, and helpless. Most of helpless. I remember there being no fight in me really. I knew even as a child this was very, very wrong and very unfair, but all the adults in my world gave me the same message “Sister gets the best – you get the rest” – if I was lucky I got the leftovers. Sometimes it was nothing at all. However, the family would never admit this outright as with the chairs. There was no valid answer for why I didn’t get one so I was met with silence and ignored .

    When I was 30, I had a failed marriage and was a single mom of two sons. One of whom had high functioning Autism. This was a low point in my life. While my parents helped to support me and even helped me financially they never missed an opportunity to tell me about it and brow beat me about it. They made sure I knew what a burden I was. When I would ask them to babysit so I could go out and do something for myself such as a yoga class, my father would criticize me and say “Why don’t you go out and do something where you can meet someone” Really, all he cared about is that I found another husband to take my burden off of him. He didn’t care for my emotional or mental health. Yoga helped my anxiety and it made me feel better… but that was not worthy of my time.

    My father would also angrily give me a tally of how much money he had given me over the years and tell me that money should be substracted from my inheritance because my sister (who was happily married and living an upper middle class lifestyle) didn’t get that kind of help from them.. However, she didn’t need it, and if she had I would not have begrudged her of it. I just used to imagine my father sitting there with his calculator and keeping a binder with totals of all the funds he had given me and how much he resented it, as if life was not hard enough for me I was made to feel like a low-life. My children were small. MY youngest had autism. I was exhaused. I was dealing with real emotional trauma, poverty and fighting battles trying to get my son the services and help he needed medically and in school. Despite reminding me about how much of a burden we were my parents insisted on continuing to do so even when I told them to stop. At one point, I was going to let my house go and possibly file a bankruptcy. I honestly at that point would have rather filed a Chapter 7 then to continue to be reminded what a loser and a burden I was. I had endured it for years.

    The fact was I was not a loser or a slacker. I worked a full-time job and went to school part-time making straight As on top of parenting two kids alone – one with special needs. I took care of a house, mowed lawns, did the repairs, shopping, laundry, and played both mother and father to my sons. I look back now and marvel at how I even was able to do it all. My parents only helped me financially just enough to get by. So we were constantly just at the poverty level with no hope of getting out I hoped schooling would be the way – but I could never take more than 2 classes at a time due to all I had going on. I felt trapped and while I needed their help I hated their help. I hate that they made me feel the low-life and burden. I hated that I was treated different when honestly some of things I was doing the average person would not be able to do. It was rarely recognized.

    As time went on, I was severely depressed and my anxiety had morphed in full fledged panic attacks by this point. I was desperate to get out from their thumb and constant criticism. I was tired of being reminded what a burden my sons and I were to my parents. I was tired of hearing all the stories of how wonderful my sister was and her life was and how she was perfect.

    My sister and I had little to no relationship which isn’t surprising. We never have. She always was the older sister that was far to busy with her own life and friends. I tried many times to reach out and seek a relationship with her, but it just never worked. She very clearly basked in the light of her superior position in the family. She loved when I was underfoot. I don’t say that as resent, but even my husband noticed it. She was truly unhappy if something good happened in my life. If something good did happen to me (such as when I met someone and got engaged after 15 year as a single mom) she hated it. She was disinterested in the wedding plans even though she agreed to stand up as my maid of honor. She found fault in the dress I had selected so I let her select her own style. I didn’t mind what she had chosen so I went with it, but the day of wedding she complained that dress was not right. She almost bailed on our rehearsal dinner and rehearsal. when I stated my niece had never been in a wedding and needed the rehearsal she stated “She’s a smart girl she’ll figure it out”. You could honestly seen the resentment on her face when she found out I was engaged. I could never figure it out. she had a nice life. She was married. She lived an upper middle-class lifestyle. The point was she was not happy unless she was up and I was down. She liked it when I was down and out, as it had always been. She didn’t like that fact my life was changing for the better.

    When my husband was offered a great new job in a new city, she also resented that and was not happy for us at all. she became angry when I talked about my husband’s new job or the new city. I lived for years at poverty level. Now my husband was making as much as her husband and we were relocating to a nice new city that was a place people traveled to and vacationed to. I was overjoyed. She never congratulated us.

    It just became so obvious to me that the place my family enjoyed me being was down and out and underfoot.

    When my father passed the scapegoating and differential treatment became worse because my mother was even a worse offender on her own. My dad actually was somewhat of a buffer and would usually have tinge of conscience at some point and try to smooth things over and even apologize on occasion. Not so with my mother. After my father passed, I had had a disagreement with my sister where she very intentional and did not include my family in a family holiday/event. in fact, she went out of her way to make sure we didn’t know it was happening and were not invited. I was upset with her and she went and told my mother all the details. I went over to my Mother’s house with my husband for a visit. My mother was so enraged that I had the gall to argue with and upset my sister that she screamed at me and at one point flew across the kitchen table to point her finger in my face. My husband and I were stunned. I totally thought she was going to hit me. I was 45 years old at the time. This was the real turning point for me. I could no longer excuse away their behavior and continue to blame myself. It took almost physical violence for me to get it at 45 years old that I was indeed the family scapegoat and I was being abused My husband had been trying to tell me that since he met my family but I continued to downplay it.

    Since I live closest to my mother my sister says I have to be the one to care for my mother now that she is ill and elderly and basically housebound. Dear Sister who resides out of state says “That’s just the way it is..” GRRRRR. No compassion. I guess I shouldn’t expect any as it’s never been given before.

    My mother is critical of me and verbally abusive to me at times as I try to meet her needs and It’s sheer hell having to be the one to do everything for her. At this point, my eldest son has stepped in because while he loves his grandma dearly, but he too clearly sees that my mother is abusive to me and insights panic attacks in me and that it’s not healthy for me to be the one to car for her.

    I wouldn’t wish scapegoating on my worse enemy. IT’s a horrible, horrible thing to do as a chlld or an adult. I was not allowed to be who I was. My self esteem and very essence of self was stripped away at such a young age. I grew up with little to no self esteem and feeling everything was my fault. I tried most of adult life to win my family’s favor but I always fell short and was never good enough in their eyes. It led to picking an abusive spouse (first husband) who also verbally abused me and constantly cut me down. It led to me never believing in myself and constantly beating myself up. Telling myself I was the “ugly” sister and I was stupid and a burden to everyone. It led to debilitating panic attacks and depression. I am finally starting to heal. At some point I would love to get counseling and most likely need it but we do not have mental health benefits on our insurance. Someday I will have to pursue this because I do truly feel it will help me cope with all this.

    At 48, I finally have found the strength to stand up for myself with the help of my loving husband. He is the first person who called my family on their behavior and right from the start said I was being scapegoated. He has even stood up to my family on my behalf. Unfortunately, because of that my relationship with mother and sister is very strained. I am learning to take my power back and distancing myself as much as I can from my mother and sister. I wish I had a loving birth family, but this one will never be it. They are toxic at least to me. It hurts they are loving to each other and I find it hard still to not blame myself.

    They twist things to suit themselves and again blame everything on me and that I misperceive things or am too sensitie. My mother and sister gang up together and support one another. My sister insisted my mother has never mistreated her.. .I believe her. I am sure she has not. My sister is the golden child and favored so why would she mistreat her?

    For so long I allowed them to brainwash me into thinking it was ME. That it was me making it all up in my head. It took having my husband plainly lay out what he was seeing and the fact that my older son (adult) also sees it as well. He says he hated family get togethers as a child because of the way my family treated me -his mom. He began to be scapegoated to a certain extent as well but to a lesser degree.

    I no longer do any holidays with my mother and sister if I can avoid it when sister comes to town. I have as little contact with boht as possible. I feel it’s the only way to heal myself. My sister says I will regret and live with guilt for forsaking my mother. I can’t even begin to respond to that.

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      Hi Elaine – It seems that getting distance from your scapegoating family and having the support of a loving partner have made a big difference for your psychological well being. I wish you all the best on your healing journey.

      • Elaine Stackhouse

        My mother is in hospice. She is no longer being abusive to me but my sister is another story. She and I hardly speak except through my mother and my adult sons. Strangely, my sons are not scapegoated. My youngest is close in age to my sisters son and the cousins are friends. I think this is why he escaped. The oldest WAS scapegoated for being tattooed and looking “Thuggish” and made fun of and greeted with “Yo-yo, what’s up” as a mocking of his style. He had a baby with his GF 7 months ago and suddenly to my sister he is the “best Dad ever” And she fights tooth and nail to get contact with my granddaughter (who ironically lives with me as my son and GF and baby are living with us temporarily). She will talk to both my sons. Go out to dinner with the, be their friends on Facebook. I unfriended her and my mother on Facebook after one too many snide comment. My sister had my nephew but me on a restricted list. I used to be able to see my nephew’s content. Suddenly I could not. So it’s strange my sons are totally accepted and greeted warmly at family events, but I am the person non grata. Now mother is moving to live with my sister. On one hand I am very relieved. It will take some pressure off me as a caregiver and it’s obvious my mother prefers my sister. However, it will make it very difficult to for myself and sons to visit with her out of state. I would not feel comfortable staying with my sister for a visit as we once did years ago. Eventually, sis and I will have to settled an estate together – that should be FUN! (sarcasm intended). Yes, having a supportive partner has helped, but my healing is very much in an open wound process. I still feel very hurt and wonder what it is about me that caused them to treat me this way and no one else. I mean literally NO ONE in the family is treated this way. I realize it’s their issues not mine. I do think I was too much of a doormat for many years. As a single Mom very much dependent on families help for most my adult life I tried not to rock the boat too hard. I bit my tongue and went along to get along. If I did push back it was WWIII and there would be immense ganging up and pressure on me to stop and conform. Now that my father has passed and my mother is basically in hospice that strength has lessened. However, sister does whatever she can to carry the torch of scapegoating on. To the point of trying to embrace my adult sons and their families but still leave me out and ostracize me as much as possible. Not a fun way to live, but again, I do believe once my mom has passed the contact with my sister will be very limited if not null. We live two states away and the tie that was mutual was our aging parents.

  • Elaine Stackhouse

    Also in my 40s. I always knew something was off. I always knew inherently I was being treated differently than my one sibling, my sister. I knew there was favoritism and I was not the favorite. I knew my parents were critical and controlling of me. I knew I blamed myself for everything. I had no to low self-esteem. I chose a marriage partner at 19 as a way to get out from my parents thumbs, but I chose someone who was emotionally abusive and cut me down the same way my parents did. I spent years as a single parent – in a way back under my parents thumb as they helped keep me afloat with 2 young son – one who had special needs. I self loathed. I was told what a finanicial burden I was. I worked full-time and went to school part-time getting straight As, but never completed my bachelors degree as I was so exhausted in trying to keep it all going. I gained a bunch of weight – I comfort ate. I always had anxiety but didn’t realize what it was. It morphed into panic attacks. I began to have PTSD reactions before get togethers with my family or holidays .A nasty comment on my weight or some aspect of my personality was always made. I always came home hurt, holding back tears. It hurt the most when my oldest a 15 years old asked me what I allowed my family to treat me this way. He also was angry and told me years later he hated holidays for having to watch helpless how I was treated and by extension how he felt about himself because in picking on his mother it was picking on him and his family that he loved. I thought I was doing the sons a favor by making the peace and bowing down to bullying in mistreatment so that they could have a relationship with their aunt and grandparents, but instead I hurt my sons more by letting them see me abused. So much of this I have not fully seen until my 40s. I was for lack of a better term so brainwashed to feel I was the one at fault and I was inherently bad and damage person I just kept trying to seek my family of origin’s approval. My father valued education and the only morsel of praise I received was when I was getting straight As in college. I tried to thin down not only for myself, but mostly for them so I would be as thin and accepted as my sister. I kept thinking if only… if only I got my degree then they will love and accept me. If I only slim down .. then they will love and accept me. If only I can find another husband and not be a single divorced Mom … then they will accept me. If I can become financially set … then they will love and accept me. First, I failed at many of these goals because they were not truly for me but for them. I did get straight As ,but couldn’t keep up the pace. i did lose weight, only to gain it back. I did get married… but thank God I married a man who supported and loved me, but he was not financially. But, even when I did find some measure of achieving these goals it was never enough. For awhile I might get a little praise, but I was still scapegoated. I still didn’t love myself… My entire sense of self worth was wrapped up in my family of origins opinion of me. I still, to them, was never good enough. Now I make goals for myself. I am trying to heal from many years of scapegoating that I used to excuse as my own fault. It’s a process. I wish I had realized earlier.

  • mom2mkld

    I am 50 years old and just now finding out that this has been happening in my family since I can remember. I always wondered why I felt so terrible about myself and why I am so critical of myself, yet I make excuses for everyone else’s bad behavior. I even apologize for things that are not my fault. I have suffered panic attacks and severe clinical depression for the past 19 years. As a kid, I wasn’t really happy and could never look anyone in the eye. I have wondered for years what is wrong with me. This scapegoating behavior in my family towards me is what is wrong with me. I do not know how to have a relationship with my mother or my oldest sister, because they were, and still are, the scapegoaters in my family. My dad was the alcoholic, although my mom was so good at denying it and covering it up, I never knew until my sister told me. I knew he had problems when I was an adult and out of the house, but never knew he had problems when I was a child. He was always just aloof and uninvolved. There were lots of secrets and lies and I was always the bad person. I still am. Even at his death this past March, I was blamed and yelled at. That is what really shocked me about my mother. She basically had him euthanized because she didn’t want to take care of him. He was not a dying man. He was murdered and we all had to sit there and watch them do it. While he was in the hospital, my mother told me twice that she resented him — then she had him euthanized. The next day I called her and she screamed at me because my husband and I prayed with my dad before the hospital staff killed him. The next day, she put on an act in front of my oldest sister and my two daughters as if I were not being compassionate towards her. My mom and I were on the phone and I was trying to explain how it hurt that she had yelled at me and hung up on me the day before when I only called to help. She put on a big act and cried and said, “please stop doing this to me” and got everyone mad at me, except my one daughter who sees through it all, but won’t stand up for me. I am so tired of being in this role. I want to have good, healthy relationships with my mom and sister, but I do not know how to do it. I need to get healthy myself and they just play head games with me and pull me down. This is tough.

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      You’ve been through a lot of heartbreak mom2mkld. I completely understand that you want to have healthy relationships with your mom and sister but it sounds like this is not possible as they won’t let you. This is the sad reality of scapegoating, and it seldom gets better. Most people find that for their own peace of mind they need to create more distance from family who are mistreating them. I’d encourage you to read my article on no contact for some other perspectives that may help you.

  • pierce singleguy

    Greetings,
    All I can share to my fellow goat’s is this. be strong fight for your rights and live in peace and never give up, because we are the true light that guides “those that are truly dark”. WHERE NO BETTER OR WORSE. “but we are who we are…… where scapegoats we are stronger because we were predestined and chosen to be. firm believer here. some give up and throw their lives away others fall and bring others down with them but if your willing to love yourselves and forgive yourself and your enemy’s in heart you are no longer their puppet. I wanted and would of given my life personally to feel loved by those that turned their back on me from infancy up till now to others that I do not know that judge me. u see guys your not alone when it comes to being considered the common denominator in a dysfunctional group. take it with you to your last breath and don’t look back ever. I use to fear death and cry but now I know I will be at peace knowing I will die alone waste away without any real surviving family. I give them the so called WE’ s in my life” credit there for toughing me up. the pain and isolation labels loneness anger silent tears rage shame despair will only destroy you if you give up. Don’t give in and ever give up to your enemies. love them forgive them and peacefully grief accept it and walk away its all we can do. “no life lasts forever” somebody calls me crazy a jackal or an Butt today I ay its not easy being a cast ironed bull it took years of careful training on your parts. don’t hate me because you always have from birth. I shook them all off there more to my life than people that judge you and abuse you negatively for their own gain or game. I love each on here and my prayers are with all of you. please pray for me. as well. my special appreciation to the site Mgr. Sherwood. your works are industries and may god bless you. you are helping and healing guiding people to come out and talk real life~. G Washington State.

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      Thank you PSG for your perspectives and acknowledgement.

  • pierce singleguy

    I wanted to make a difference, even now it seems pointless or hopeless and that’s where I found my redemption and true salvation, I am comforted knowing I will leave this earth having fulfilled my true legacy. I was rejected labeled outcasted, shunned, hated because I am strong like all of you. We are the lights that never go out when all around us seems Dark. we can spread our light unto the darkness.
    G. WA state

  • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

    I hear your wisdom and your pain cpt n3m0. It’s good you have chosen to pull away from this abusive family situation. I understand that you feel very alone. This is a very difficult transition. But you have started to take the right steps if you want to regain your sense of self worth. It is so important to stop participating in traumatic relationships if you are to begin to heal. If possible I’d recommend you start seeing a counsellor who can support you through this challenging time. Hang in there.

  • April First

    I Lived this all My Life … Took On Scape Goat Black Sheep and more … I am A Street Minister and Psy /Theoleogy Major … I have Video’s on UTUBE … HOLY GROUND STREET MINISTRY … That Speak’s on this … And … Delivered FROM Alcohol and drugs’ 26 yrs … NO DESIRE … I AM Also … A Survivor of ABUSE … From … Alcohlic Family for Generation’s … My Video’s are Spirtial … NOT RELIGIOUS … Jesus Said … Be Not like The RELATION PHARISEE’S … There is DYSFUNCTION Churche’s too … Been There … ON TV AND OFF … Mentally and Emotionally stealing people’s money … Love to you all … xo … WRITE ME … ON GOOGLE … Or … My Facebook … VIDEO’S Are A Must Watch …

  • Karen

    I am 70 years old. My parents are 96 and 94. I am the oldest. My sister and brother are the golden child. I have been the scapegoat my whole life. I cannot begin to tell you how badly I have been treated. My sister and brother love being the favorite and can do no wrong. Try as I might I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Now my children are being treated as outsiders. Sad to say but I wonder if life will be better when my parents are gone.

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      Sadly Karen, many scapegoated people feel this way when abusive parents die. It can feel like relief to know the hurt is finally over.

  • Justfinenow

    I am the youngest of 7. I took care of my parents for 10 years before my divorce. My father was in a nursing home and my mother lived at home. I would take her to doctors appts, shopping, to see my dad and be there anytime of the day or night if she needed me. I would go to my dad’s doctors appointments, go to all the events at the nursing home, he call and I would bring him what ever he needed, I would take him out to eat and sometime just go see him and just talk about life. My parents made me in charge of their will. They told me I would see a whole other side of my siblings and to be aware after they were gone. All of my siblings and where close. I seemed to be the one they leaned on to talk to…. I kept their secrets because most of the time they just needed to let off steam. I was the first one they would called first when tragedy hit our family. They wanted me to tell our parents and the other siblings. After my But after my last parent died, my mother… all changed. I still can’t believe how they act. They went through the family home taking things and feeling justified. Ifor I mentioned something I would like… it was a family meeting but yet when someone else wanted something they just took it. I decided that nothing in the house was worth what I was being put through. The few things my parents gave me mean the most to me. I now stay away from them. I go to family get togethers still but don’t put myself out there. I love them all but just don’t like them anymore.. I feel sorry for them. They back stab each other and still make up stuff about me. It’s sad ,

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      A painful situation. Sounds like you did what you needed to do JFN.

      • Justfinenow

        What you wrote that it will feel like grief… it does. Thank you…. you confirmed what I thought in my heart.

  • Pipkins2t

    I’m not quite sure if I can put into words the image I have in my mind at this time…………………Something, somehow, at sometime, eventually ‘clicks’. So subtle you would be the exception to the rule if you could perceive ‘it’.
    Imagine your ‘family of origin’ as a static object that you stand directly in front of; they loom so large you see no way round them, through them, across them, nor can you dig below and beyond them, Retreat is not an option.

    I invite you to know imagine the same image only this time you stand on a conveyor belt that is slowly moving backwards:allowing you distance at a speed you control.

    I am not sure how that ‘conveyor belt’ happens, nor do I need to know the reason why.
    That conveyor belt has brought me to a point where I can see the ‘drama’ for what it was. None of us are blameless. We all played our part.

    I no longer have a role to play. Nor do I desire one.

    Love for a better word gifts us space, time, compassion and understanding from which we can heal.

    Better to have one who rode the conveyor belt than a whole family who remained stuck, with no where else to go.

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      Very creative approach to distancing from the pain of toxic relationships!

  • SSmyheart

    I grew up in a unstable home of addiction. We never knew where we were moving to next and I had extreme anxiety/worries as a very young child about money, I’m talking before kindergarten. I’ve witnessed so much abuse and was the victim of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as a young child. My mother would always blame me for my siblings behavior. Example my sister ran away and when she came home the two of them fought and my mom brought me into it saying I wasn’t a good enough older sister, she had such a way of deflecting. I remember being molested and running home at 2am after hiding under a baby’s crib at my parents friends house and the next morning telling my mom what happened. Of course my mom sent me to school and that very day the neighbor/patents friend’s wife showed up to pick me up from school and question me if I was telling the truth. That same week my mother invited them over for dinner while I refused to come out of my room to join them. My mother even had the nerve to state if I was lying I could ruin their marriage. She never protected me and always told me she wished she had had the abortion she almost went through with me when she was pregnant with me. I could not do right and took the blame for everything. Then I met my husband when I was 15. We are still married to this day and I will be 40 this year. The thing was he seemed to have an amazing family and I desperately wanted to be a part of it. As with most in my life I was let down in this part of my life as well. His mother and sister dispised me and only used me to watch his sisters son and to help cook and clean. They did not want their son to be with me and even tried to get him to date his sisters best friend. I came to find out his mother was using, yet again addiction had followed me in life. My mom soon left town without my sister and I and we became homeless for a bit. I slept several nights in my boyfriends closet and finally sought out my birth fathers mother my grandma whom I adore. She took my pregnant sister and I in and asked for nothing in return. I let my husband know his mother was using and we found proof when one day she had left the house and dropped a triangle folded small paper like package filled with crystals. My husband flushed it down the toilet and she came home moments later frantically searching the entire house for her drugs. We then told his sister and his dad. They were in denial at first until her pipe was found hidden in her bathroom drawer. I knew she blamed me for this. She hated me and knew I saw who she was from the beginning and saw me as a threat so instead of being welcoming she shunned me. She has been in drug treatments several times and is now sober for 12 years now, which is wonderful. She made a statement to me early in her treatment that she needed to apologize to me for what she has done following her 12 steps but she said she was not ready to address this and she just wants me to know she is sorry without the specifics. I’m sure there are tons of specifics. She has never invited me to go to lunch, a movie, shopping, anything or anywhere and her daughter and her would make it a point to make plans right in front of me. You know when girls are being caddy and just plain mean. They were the mean girls for me. This was not something I wasn’t used to so I brushed it off and took the abuse because I love my husband. He also is to blame because he never stuck up for me back then and has only recently done so. We have two children and our children are treated very differently than their other grandchildren. Lately since my husband has taken a united front towards them they have stepped up efforts to be a part of our children’s lives. I have made it a point to always be there for my kids and put them before anything. I am a PTA mom, the president of our auxiliary board for little league, volunteer in my children’s classrooms, have an amazing relationship with my children. I know I do more than most because I want to be the parent I always dreamed about. I always go above and beyond for my family. I feel my mother in law holds resentment towards me because of this. Her grandson, whom I watched practically everyday of his life from the age of 1 when I first started dating my husband till he was 13 when they moved away, he is an addict and criminal who just recently got out of jail. Anyway I am ill with a disease I get treatments for and I gave pain medication that her grandson wanted and I refused to give. He in turn told me I was a hold out and began disrespecting me every time we were in the same room. One night we were at my in laws and he started to threaten my son who was 9 years old at the time, he was 23. He was stating he would kick his ass. He was also talking really bad to his sister. I defending them and told him he needed to grow up where he then began singing the toys r us song I’m a big kid now. After that day I wrote him out of my life and wanted nothing to do with him. This made his mother my husbands sister totally upset with me but she did it in a way that turned her into this victim because we were not having her child in our lives and this of course upset her other two children and now things are weird with them. Instead of her accepting her son was wrong she flipped the script. I don’t want my kids around him and because him and his girlfriend/babies momma live with my in laws I don’t want my kids and our family over there. They can come to us but they don’t. I’ve written off my mother a long time ago and I’m ready to do it to his but worry what this will do to my children who will then have no family except my sister and brother and a few cousins. I can’t stand being around addicts and the drama that comes with it but I don’t want my children punished. I’m sick of being the bad guy for everything and everyone’s problems. There is so much more I haven’t stated. Honestly since we haven’t been around any of them since the holidays which his nephew almost got in a fight in front of our kids with their uncle :/ our lives have been so much happier. The kids do miss their grandparents though and crave the attention from that family. I just don’t want them exposed to that. Why am I always the one to blame? I don’t do drugs, I rarely have a drink, I’m a devoted wife and mother, I have many friends. Why is my family life like this no matter what?

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      I understand your need to distance from this dysfunctional family situation. Active addiction, blaming others and not taking responsibility for one’s actions tend to go together. Sounds like you were hoping that the children could maintain contact with some family members, but it doesn’t seem safe. The operative word is “safety” – emotionally and physically. No contact is much better than contact that is harmful to anyone, especially children.

      • SSmyheart

        Thank you for your response and in my gut I already knew the answer. Just wish things were different

        • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

          Yes, I wish things were easier and better for you too with your family.

  • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

    Yes Amelia, self protection and setting boundaries, even if family pushes back, is the only healthy option.

  • Joni

    You used the words “bad attitude”. I was told that my attitude was my problem my entire life. I remember my father yelling at my mother when I was young, he didn’t know I could hear or didn’t care, that I had that same attitude as her grandmother (which he hated). He left to find himself and I was left with my great grandmother which were the happiest of my childhood. But even in my 50’s he continued to say the problem was my attitude. I had no problems with anyone else but if ask him to explain he would just get over the top angry. I was always to blame for things I obviously had nothing to do with. I was literally their best child, but may have well been a homeless drug addict. You are right no person should suffer this emotional abandonment. I also keep waiting for them to check on me but it has been 5 years. It came to a head due to physical abuse for no reason by my father and I was forced to separate. In the course it seems I lost them and my friends and my life. Now I am 58 and been very sick much of what stems from years of anxiety and having to move into assisted living. I wonder everyday if I did the right thing even though my mother knows I am sick but never calls. After Glyniss Sherwood’s intro they will never take accountability or apologize or even care. I don’t underdtand. I care more about a homeless person I don’t know than my own parents do. Odd thing I have siblings and nephews who have really had attitude issues but overlooked. If you discover what the attitude is let me know. I do know from years of experience each time you return wanting love and acceptance it seems they suck out a little more blood and not happy until you can’t take it anymore. Please don’t let them cause you future health issues but I understand your sense of loss and why you return. Sad thing is most of this is invisible to others and if your parents are financially comfortable and have paid gore college and trips people think how could I not overlook s little verbal stuff because all they did for me. I can’t say this side is easy except no drama or sitting on edge for next shoe to drop. I was older when I finally left and got so sick and couldn’t work or drive and put on disability. Impossible to start over. So I will die alone or at least with new friends in independent living place. If I had left 15 years ago I could have moved and easily started over and visited my base of long time friends. Take care of yourself and move on while healthy. Unless they change sadly you will never “fit in” unless you accept and approve if their behaviors. Maybe when you get settled and strong in a new life you can contact them on your terms but I don’t know. According to her intro this is highly unlikely. I will tell you it is hardest thing I have been through but life with them was more unbearable because it didn’t and doesn’t make sense. Hope this helps

  • Joni

    I replied to someone but don’t see it. Did I respond incorrectly? I found You miss Sherwood many years ago but only read posts thinking I could beat it alone. I would like to know if there are rules and if I did something wrong. Thanks, joni

    • http://www.GlynisSherwood.com/ Glynis Sherwood

      Your comments are below Joni. I do moderate comments for appropriateness. Due to the busyness of my counselling practice, it can take me a day or two to approve comments.

  • Pipkins2t

    Perhaps it is ‘easier ‘ to remain at the heart of a battle than to choose to sit on the side lines, becoming increasingly aware that once the ‘game is over’ you are no longer playing your part in a team. No matter how dysfunctional that team or part was, it played a part.

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