Thursday, August 18, 2016

Will You Be Made Whole? (Part 10 - The Scapegoat Child)

I was reading a book over the weekend, and the word “scapegoat” stuck out at me. What was revealing was that it said at the end of this particular paragraph, “many people scapegoat, so they don’t look at the goat in the mirror.” Heavy words, but I’ll talk about that more in the end. But for now, I want to talk about the scapegoat child living in an abusive environment.

If you were to look at a narcissistic (abusive) home, the family dynamics typically look like this: one parent is a narcissist, the other parent is an enabler. If children are involved (especially if there’s more than one), one child will be the scapegoat, and the other will be the golden child. I believe the best way to talk about the scapegoat child is first sharing an excerpt from a blogpost I stumbled across as well as share pieces of my life. The name of the blogpost was entitled Why Family Scapegoats Become Lifelong Victims (the entire blogpost can be read here).

If you were scapegoated by your family, two things can happen. You can become a narcissist yourself (narcissism being an elaborate defense mechanism to avoid further hurt and abuse) or you will internalize the early message that you’re worthless, defective and have no rights. I’m going to talk about the second scenario because that’s what this video is about and it’s what happened to me.

As a scapegoat, you are trained to live in fear. You become afraid to defend yourself, express your opinions, or demand fair treatment. This attitude of worthlessness, fear and shame is carried into adult life. Other people can immediately sense you are a pushover and a magnet for abuse, rejection, and bullying, and you become a target for abuse by others well into adult life.

You can become a lifelong victim unless you find a way to break the pattern. It’s difficult to unlearn, because it was established so early in life by the narcissistic parent.

Golden children, who more closely resemble the narcissistic parent or provide them with narcissistic supply (adulation), are more likely than scapegoats to become narcissists themselves. They will often become the aging narcissistic parent’s flying monkeys against the scapegoated adult child, continuing the family pattern of abuse.
Scapegoated children are the family shock absorbers. They are the children who have been assigned to absorb and internalize the narcissistic parents’ rage and to mirror back what has been projected onto them.

This is exactly what happened to me. Although because I was an only child I sometimes served the Golden Child role, for the most part I was the scapegoat. My Aspergers and high sensitivity made me even more perfect for that role.

For many years I walked around as if ashamed to be alive. I carried shame with me like a heavy burden that affected the way I spoke, the way I related, the way I thought (all the negative self-talk and self-hate), even the way I moved and carried myself. I embarrassed myself.

As I read that, I thought about my life. Because my uncle, though 2 years older than me and bigger than me, was good at manipulating me because of my psychological condition, I was an automatic scapegoat because I was five years older than my sister. Whenever he did a wrong, I was the blame for it (so I would suffer physical abuse as a result or if he told my parents, or I confessed to something I either did or didn’t do, I faced the infamous belt). Eventually, as I entered my early teens, accepting blame for everything was quite common for me, so I eventually became numb to it all and accepted everything that came my way for the most part. One thing the blogger wrote that stuck out at me was that she said that they are pushovers and magnets for abuse, rejection and bullying. Given that I have Aspergers myself, I will admit that I was na├»ve to certain things in life, so I endured four types of abuse (physical, sexual, verbal and emotional in the home), rejected by many in school and was bullied my freshman year in high school (because upper classmen knew my uncle and what he did to me, so that definitely made me a target). At home, the thought was that I would never succeed in the world and that I needed to stay home. Eventually, I struggled with life and how I felt about life and myself. The only thing that kept me going was my desire to know Christ even at the age of 17.

I stumbled across another blogpost that inspired this one right here (the one above inspired it also) entitled 12 Steps to Breaking Free from being the Family Scapegoat written by Glynis Sherwood. Here’s an excerpt of the her blogpost:
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.

I hope that excerpt above intrigued you like it did for me. Here's the link to read the rest of her post (which I highly recommend). She gives you ways to tell if you have been scapegoated and steps to breaking free.

The more I think about it, I see my childhood throughout what she said in her blogpost. 

Glynis mentioned that one step in breaking free getting in the habit of treating yourself with kindness, caring, compassion, appreciation and acceptance. Now I can’t speak for anyone reading this but during my teen years and having lived life as a scapegoat, there was a rage inside of me and I held a lot of anger, hate and unforgiveness. Those three things came as a result of being the scapegoat child. A lot of hard core rap music at that time intensified the rage especially when I reached the age of 15. And even though I became more spiritual, there was still a root of anger, unforgiveness and pride (that I’m addressing today).  Within the roots of anger, unforgiveness and pride, what would grow as a result was a critical spirit (to the point of judging them harshly), and a fight to be right at all cost. So I couldn’t agree with Glynis more if I tried. These are things I need to practice as I type this. Oh, there’s one more thing that I have to do, and that’s to walk in forgiveness (forgiving others as well as myself).

Can I talk to the faith community (especially in the AA community) for a moment? From generations past, we grew up under the philosophy of “what goes on in the house stays in the house.” This creates an environment to abuse, but also generational curses (full of criticism, negativity towards self and others, denial, and many others). Denial is the drug of choice for many.  In most cases, when someone was abused in past generations, no one will talk about it (shame, fear of retaliation from the molester, protecting the image of the family, accused of lying about it). Because it was never addressed, it was passed down many generations. You might be dealing with it now. You were denied when you wanted to voice your abuse or you were known as a liar because you revealed family secrets, and as a result, you are living with the guilt and shame of others. As mentioned earlier, you end up scapegoating others because it was never addressed in childhood. Earlier, I was talking about the “goat in the mirror.” Let’s talk about that now.  In Biblical times when a trespass (or wrongdoing was done), a scapegoat was needed to take the blame for what the wrongdoer did. An animal was used and was slaughtered (and discarded). That’s what happens to the child who was a scapegoat. If it was never addressed, it carries into adulthood. Now when it comes to getting help in matters like this, we tend to put a spiritual band-aid over it and say, “I’m healed.” Yes, you are in faith, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the doctor.  Think about it: your car needs an oil change, you can say, my car has oil all day long, but if you don’t take it to get it changed, you will damage your car! The same holds true for your life. The reason why many don’t want to look at the goat in the mirror is because what you dealt with in your past is ugly. 

Another way of saying it is like this. The goat that is staring at you when you look in the mirror is the pain you endured in childhood (and/or possible adulthood) that was never addressed (via denial) and now the heart is callous to where forgiving others and self is unheard of. So there's a strong chance that scapegoating will happen to shift the blame elsewhere and then kill the scapegoat to rid of the pain to avoid addressing it. Dealing with painful pasts is not easy because like an onion, there are layers. The deeper you go, the more painful it is to the eyes. In this case, it's more painful to the heart. 

Many will never be set free because they will find things in their heart or life that they really don't want to see and/or change. So they will make somebody else the blame for their own issues. The sad part is God may take them to a place to be free in their heart and soul, but because the process is painful, they will refuse to go there. Here's what's important, He is with you and in my best Michael Jackson voice, you are not alone! May I encourage you to go through the process? I promise you that there's a promise that follows after the process. 

Now, don’t make the mistake in assuming blame for what you didn’t do (like I did and struggle with at times today), that wrong done by others is on them. Take the pain that you did and cast it over to Him and get the help needed (if you believe you need it). It will require the work, but remember that’s a process. Within each process you go through in life (that has a positive outcome), there’s a promise! It’s been said, focus on the promise and not the process.

I mentioned walking in forgiveness a moment ago, but I need to say this especially to the faith community. It’s so important to walk in forgiveness, because good friendships and relationships can be destroyed because of the pain that was never been addressed since childhood (via the drug denial). And I’ll be honest I have destroyed good friendships and relationships during my walk of life due to the pain that was done to my heart and spirit. So, I have had to go back and ask for forgiveness (regardless of how I feel, it’s what the Word says). I’ve heard it said that we use faith for everything in life except for the area forgiving others and self. I am learning that I have to forgive people and myself in faith (because there will be days where seeds of doubt will creep up and say “you haven’t forgiven them, and look at you, you’re still beating yourself up”).  I have to trust God enough with my heart to forgive others and myself. It doesn’t have anything to do with what they did or said (and it’s not giving them a pass); it has everything to do with my relationship with God, spending time in prayer and meditating on His Word. Protecting myself isn’t an issue with others, if I’m vulnerable to His Word; considering if I trust God, my heart is protected and I will be able to forgive people when people will say and do mean things. My friendships and relationships get the overflow based on my relationship with God.

As always, healing is the children’s bread and you can be made whole!


The Mayne Man