10 comments on “Please Come Back, Mr. Scapegoat!

  1. Okay, I figured out how to respond to you.
    First, I think you’re handling it right. You already told him why you went
    NC, so it’s not your fault if he doesn’t get it.
    Now, what happens if down the road he gets it? Do you stay rigidly closed to him, because he was once in denial, or do you open up to him carefully as he opens up to you?
    You wrote to me something to the effect that I’m waiting for an event to happen (the reconciliation of my family) that may probably never happen. But I’m not desiring reconciliation, I just don’t want to pre-empt reconciliation from happening by burning bridges unnecessarily. See the difference?
    The reason I’ve gone NC is so I could give myself some breathing space without burning my bridges. Going NC doesn’t have to be permanent, nor temporary. It can be undecided for the present. You don’t have to read his letters; you don’t even have to get them. I have my mother’s letters filtered to the trash or Yahoo.
    There’s a saying that true anger is only expressed in the moment when you are protecting yourself or another. All other instances of anger are other emotions disguised, usually pain or fear. My mother and brother shame me into not feeling my pain, and I don’t let them do that to me anymore. If it’s easier to feel it in No Contact, then so be it.
    Vic

    • Hi Vic –

      You bring up some excellent points.

      I don’t think my brother will ever get it. Why should he? His Golden Child upbringing worked out well for him. Anytime I get close to making him see his denial he gets hugely defensive and immediately shuts me down. When we had the phone conversation, he told me that I made him feel guilty and he didn’t like that and I needed to apologize. He was almost demanding I apologize. If I apologized I would essentially be taking the blame and admitting to him I was wrong even though I absolutely don’t believe I am wrong. If I apologized, it would, in his mind, make it my issue alone and he can just continue chugging along in denial… and….I just reassumed my scapegoat role because all family issues are my issue.

      Right now my plan is to stay no contact for the time being until either:

      1. I reach a point where I just don’t care what any of my family thinks anymore, at which point I may or may not want to have a relationship with him.
      2. My mother passes and then he won’t be in the middle anymore, so his denial is not going to be fed by my mother anymore, and she won’t be able to triangulate him.

      I plan to continue to read his emails if he continues to send them. If at some point I can start to see that he is truly beginning to understand, I may decide to initiate reconnection at that point. That is more dependent on where I am at at the time. His recent email definitely shows that he doesn’t get it at all. He even says as much in the email.

      You’re right no contact doesn’t have to be permanent, or have any timeline at all. I don’t see going no contact with an eye towards permanency as burning bridges. What I was saying is that as long as I hold out hope for change, I am not doing myself any favors by maintaining contact. I can have substantial contact with my family, and as long as I don’t expect them to ever accept me for who I am, everything will be fine. It’s me that’s still trying to gain acceptance. They could care less. Once I truly don’t care whether they accept me or not, engaging them will be on the same level emotionally as engaging the gas station attendant and their barbs will be meaningless.

      Stephen Bach

      • Hi, Stephen.
        I’m glad my comments were useful. This week has been rough for my cell phone and P.C., I’ve been offline until now. I ought to give this letter time to think about. So I’ll write again in a few days. Take care. I think you’re on the right track.
        Vic

      • Dear Stephen,
        I think staying No Contact is a good plan.
        My brother always has to have the last word. Does yours? And his last word is always to contradict my last word.
        Once I suggested that we both agree to disagree with each other. Meaning, we acknowledge what each other thinks. He wouldn’t even do that.
        So for the longest time I wouldn’t go No Contact with him until I was assured that he understood why, why I was going No Contact.
        It’s one of his best tricks. I let him string me along for years thinking it was my fault I didn’t articulate myself well enough for him to understand me. The last thing in the world he wants is to understand me. To understand me is to forgive me, and he refuses to say what it is that he won’t forgive me for.
        So now I let him say the last word without answering him back, so that he won’t give the next last word. If he won’t agree to disagree with me, then fuck him. It means that I’m letting him go while he’s thinking the very worst of me. But by depriving himself of his older brother, he’s hurting himself worse than he’s hurting me. LET him.
        In one of his last letters, which I didn’t respond to, he said that he feels like I have abandoned him.

      • Continued: in my grandparent’s tongue, Yiddish, that’s called ”chutzpah.” He pushes me away from him, then says I abandon him? This isn’t a dialog, it’s an anti-dialog. He suppresses conversation if I lrt him speak, so I don’t let him speak. This is what my brother does to try to shut me down.
        What does your brother do to try to shut you down?
        Vic

  2. Pingback: Hope and Change | The Narcissist's Son

  3. Hi Vic,

    It sounds like we have almost the same brother! How unfortunate, really. My brother has all kinds of advice on how I should live my life and how I’m doing it wrong, but when I point out how dysfunctional our family life is and how it has affected him he immediately shuts me down, literally telling me “don’t ever say that again” at times. It’s like he’s putting his fingers in his ears so he doesn’t have to hear it. So I’m required to listen to his version of reality but I’m not allowed to share mine because he finds it too painful? Like you said, it’s not an equal exchange when he won’t even acknowledge my position but I’m required to listen to his. If you look at the email he sent in the above post, he literally told me he had a right to tell me how he felt because we were brothers, but he doesn’t extend the same courtesy to me. Unfortunately I believe my brother’s approach is the effect of decades of programming at the hands of my narcissistic mother. There is about zero hope that things will change, so I find what works best for me is to let them live in their distorted reality by themselves and not subject myself to it anymore.

    Stephen Bach

  4. Pingback: Please Come Back, Mr. Scapegoat! (the first redux) | The Narcissist's Son

  5. Stephen, I just read this post and a few others including, “so you want to go to college.” My heart breaks for you but I am so inspired by your clarity today and your strength. These people, your parents, are toxic. I couldn’t help but feel the rage well up inside of me as I read the posting about your experience with getting into college. I always wonder if I am the only one that experiences that kind of deep, hot, red anger at such crazy invalidation. I have written you before and you took the time to send me a well thought email. I continue to follow you, hope for you, and be somewhat awed by your perceptiveness and wonderful writing skills. I am the child of a narcissist mother and I wasn’t any good at it from an early age. I had a recurring nightmare, as an adolescent, where I bludgeoned her to death with my father’s shovel and buried her in the back yard. I have received industrial strength therapy since then. And I went no contact years ago. I re-established contact over the past two years because there was one molecule of hope for something; some love, some healthy exchange, something good. I feel like I ferreted out all the crevices of that family only to find the same things that I needed to estrange myself from years ago are all still there. I used to feel phobic of the family, particularly my mother, like I needed to guard myself against her harm. Now I just feel like I don’t need them now and I’m fine. My mother died a year and a half ago and it was the cleanest, kindest, healthiest, most liberating thing she ever did for me. I literally feel lighter without her in the world. I have also wondered how other children of narcissists experienced the narcissist parent’s death. Last of all, what I wanted to say to you was something I realized years ago: My mother thought love was something that could be owed to her. And it can’t. In fact, that’s all she really knew about love, which means she knew nothing at all about love. And that’s sad. People thought I owed a relationship to her, and to the rest of my family, but mostly her. And that’s never something that can be owed to another being. Strikes me as so crazy the way people think. The only thing I owe this world, the people in it, and God is to be the truth of myself. Period. Whatever that may be. And for me, the truth of myself started with getting well, because I know for sure, my truth isn’t sick. It just doesn’t react well to a mother that was sick. And I left. I have spent a lot of time thinking about and writing about the definition of love, what it is, what it is not. And I feel like I have some clarity on that subject for myself now. But this response is getting too long. I’m sending you warm, encouraging vibes through this machine, right to your heart.

  6. Hi Sherri!

    Welcome!

    Thank you for you well wishes and your kind words. I so greatly appreciate them! One thing my blog has taught me is that there others out there that truly understand what it’s like, and it’s wonderful to connect with people such as yourself that have “walked the walk”. Thank you.

    My whole experience with getting into college was frustrating beyond imagination. The mixed messages that I was receiving were totally confounding. I was told that I ‘had’ to go to college to be ‘successful’, yet my parents refused to help me go to college. What’s even more frustrating about the situation is that my parents paid a ridiculous amount of money for my golden child brother to go to Yale. For pre-med. Pre-med. You can go anywhere for pre-med. It was a complete waste of money. The only reason they sent him there was for the family prestige. Here’s some irony: My brother’s Yale education wasn’t even sufficient to get him into medical school. He graduated with a sub-par GPA and did poorly on his M-CATS (medical placement tests). He had to take additional courses after college before he was accepted to medical school. What a complete and total waste of money!

    I have thought about what it would mean for me when my mother passes. Honestly, I feel as though she is dead to me already. I don’t plan to attend her funeral. There is no one that would attend her funeral that I would even care to see, so what’s the point? The only reason I might consider attending would be to gain some closure from seeing her in a casket, but that’s certainly not enough reason to go.

    I’m glad that you found my return email helpful. I often get concerned about how my emails might be perceived, especially when I don’t get a response. Thanks for the update!

    The dreams you had as an adolescent regarding killing your mother are quite interesting. I’ve never had such dreams. I wonder if it was because my denial was so strong and my shame so complete that I never saw her as the source of my issues. Even now, I don’t ever dream about her. There is one dream that I had that is listed under the dreams category that does relate to family, but it doesn’t involve my mother directly.

    I understand maintaining the glimmer of hope. I have the same issue. I still hold out some morsel of hope that things might be different, where the rest of my entire being knows that things will never change. It’s hard to give up that last fragment of hope. Very hard. I have learned to focus on the historical evidence. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If I have 4+ decades of evidence that things will never change, why would I think that they still might? Every time I think that I might try to re engage family, I soon realize that it’s pointless. There really isn’t really any reason to have hope. It’s sad. It is what it is.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Sherri, and best wishes on your healing journey.

    Stephen

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