When Mary’s brother first left home,
he began to see things differently than their parents
and began to choose new religious and holiday traditions.
Her parents often shook their heads
and talked about him behind his back to the rest of the family.
Mary’s other siblings began to agree with her parents because they knew they would be shunned too–unless they are agreed with the narcissist. The other siblings began to say things to prove our loyalty to the parents. As Mary looks back on it, she feels two things, surprise that she couldn’t see what was happening at the time and shame for participating in this evil game. Mary had no word for it at the time, but her brother was being scapegoated.
Some families are so dysfunctional that they can only be united when they have a common enemy. Scapegoating helps a sick family unite by choosing one person to blame for all the family problems. Here are some things parents might say to color an opinion of someone else.
“If only he wasn’t so bitter.”
“If only she had kept her mouth shut.”
“Too bad he can’t stop living in the past.”
“I sure wish she could forgive and forget.”
When narcissists talk, they like to talk about people. Scapegoating takes this to a new level because as long as everyone blames the scapegoat, no one notices what the narc is doing and no one else has to take responsibility for their own mistakes. Instead of blaming the boss, the bank and the doctor, scapegoating blame just one family member. Over and over. And it sucks. Scapegoating is a group delusion where everyone else feels pretty good about themselves because they never look in the mirror.
Of course scapegoating doesn’t solve any problems. Blaming one person can’t fix anything because it takes more than one person to create a conflict.
Regardless of whether we have been scapegoated or not, we are the grownups now. Part of growing up is to find our voices, stand up for ourselves and get the healing we need. No one else can do this for us.
Scapegoating is really a waste of time because it resolves any issues and it never allows a family to heal from the wounds inflicted by each other. I guess some people would prefer to keep their heads in the sand and scapegoating is their way to do that.
Try to not take it personally when people use you as their scapegoat. Remember however people treat other people, it is always about them. Being designated as the scapegoat just means someone couldn’t face their own mistakes so they want to blame you. Don’t let bother you. They just want to feel better about themselves. The best way for you to feel better when you’ve been scapegoated is to walk as far away as you can go. Go where you are celebrated in love, not hate.