38 comments on “Please Come Back, Mr. Scapegoat! (the first redux)

  1. How many times I have fell for that. I thought “wow they understand now”. Good for you for protecting yourself. I seem to find that my FOO don’t want to make any changes. Good post! Thank you for writing it.

    • I totally hear you, Robby.

      How many times did my scapegoat brain twist what they told me into making me think that “this time it will be different”, when it really wasn’t any different. As a scapegoat, I’m well trained to take any small morsel of positive attention and cherish it deeply and think that there is still hope. What I’ve learned is if I detach emotionally from the message that is being sent and look for the motive behind the message, I soon realize that it’s the same message again and again, just offered in different ways.

      I’m glad you found my post helpful!

      Best of luck in your continued journey!

      Stephen Bach

  2. I struggle with empathizing with both of you. I hear brother wanting contact and maybe to be brothers. He said its alright to feel frustrated & it’s alright for you too, to not like his frustration. So, I have this undying hope that somehow there might be a time when your different experiences in the family can be put aside each time you are together. The sad part is, you can’t carry on only talking about current events for conversation, ultimately there would be a separation because scapegoated has outgrown his brother and cannot feel connected no matter how he tries. I think it must be the goldenchild who bridges the gap by asking to become enlightened and by doing so, connected to brother as a brother should. Here though, brother continually confuses scapegoated by his words of “let’s talk”… but not listening and contradicting his intentions by shutting him down.
    I’d be tempted to, rather than not responding to any of his attempts at emailing… just see what he will do by responding – ” When you are ready to listen & experience the family through my eyes and rather than judge or be defensive… hear me and support me… I will know you truely love me.” – The ball’s in your court. What will brother do? Ask to go to counseling together would be good. But you pick the place. I can’t imagine he would still email after this unless he was ready to do something, like you told him. If nothing transpires you could really feel more confident in moving forward. I just don’t want two siblings to part ways until every stone is overturned. Know what I mean? ~ what do you others think? ~

    • I definitely hear what you are saying, Cindy.

      The truth is, I do feel empathy for him. He lost his twin tragically about two years ago and now his only surviving sibling doesn’t want a relationship with him. I definitely believe he is hurting and struggling mightily. To be honest, I was hoping that after his twin’s passing, he and I would have a stronger relationship, being the only surviving siblings. Unfortunately, our relationship went the other way and we no longer communicate.

      I would be completely wiling to have a relationship with him if he was willing to accept my reality, but he’s not. He doesn’t have to agree with my reality, he just has to allow me to have it without telling me I’m wrong. He’s not capable. He’s had decades of programming by my mother that he has to “help” me by telling me how screwed up I am. I literally feel he can’t help himself. He has no idea how truly damaged he is, and I doubt he will ever figure it out. Honestly, that’s OK. He’s allowed to live his life the way he would like to, the problem is he doesn’t let me live my life the way I would like to.

      You mention the word “hope”. I’ve been living on “hope” for decades. Hope that this time it’s really going to be different. This time they will truly get it. This time they will truly accept me. Living on “hope” has led to decades of hurt and frustration. I’ve learned to stop living in the land of “hope” and look at the evidence and historical data. When I look at the evidence and historical data, it’s readily apparent that there is nothing there to base my “hope” on, and I’m better off doing what I need to do to protect me.

      Stephen Bach

      • I agree with you, he could do many things but doesn’t. My issues with my own sister has me at a crossroad, and “hope” is the major reason that I tolerate anything that happens. It wasn’t until this morning in fact, that I knew for sure how I would proceed with her.

        So, I want to say THANK YOU for your story, which triggered me to do what I have been afraid to do for 2 years now… open a folder of saved emails documenting a triangular dispute between my sister and I, and her adult daughter, who started emailing me one day to tell me what a terrible person I am … (all based on beliefs my sister has instilled in her over the years). As my husband and I read over them, it stunned me how much I had forgotten and the extent of their twisting and throwing things I had said back at me.

        I received a x-mas photo collage from my sister this year, which shocked me after the extreme things that were said that day which led me to think she might be reflecting. But as we poured over the words today I was jolted into reality that there is NOTHING here that doesn’t scream narcissism !! Her photo was really just about keeping me emotionally charged & engaged, nothing more.
        You know when you know, and that’s what I’m taking away from your Post. Cheers to you!


  3. Yes, yes! The motive behind the message. I used to take to heart anything that anyone said. Because, why would they lie? I’m now in my forties and realize how much I missed when talking to my mom or sisters and why they would say or ask things that didn’t make any sense to me. I’m not the best at putting all of my words about this in a way that makes sense but I’m finally just jumping in. Hope that’s ok.

    • Hi Robby!

      Absolutely it’s OK! Jump in any time! One of the reasons I created this blog was to share my story with others and help them to possibly better understand their particular situation.

      One of the aspects of being the scapegoat in my FOO is that I’ve been told my gut was wrong for years and learned not to trust it. I’ve been told “It’s not that bad” or “you took that wrong” and I eventually learned to trust what others were telling me and not trust my gut. Looking for the motive behind the message helps me to validate my gut instinct and assess the true meaning of the message that is being delivered. It’s a work in progress but I get better at it every day. It’s hard to accept that my family lies to me and treats me the way they do; to accept that the people that should always have my back only have their own selfish interests at heart.

      Please,feel free to comment away. 🙂

      Stephen Bach

  4. Hi Cindy,

    Cheers to you, too!

    I’m very happy to hear that you found my thoughts helpful. You are very welcome!

    So sorry to hear about your relationship with your sister. Thankfully you have now figured it out and know how to proceed. Kudos to you! I often find that when I look back at old exchanges with family and apply my new found knowledge to those exchanges I often see them in a whole new light. Instead of internalizing everything that was said / done to me and blaming myself, I see their behavior for what it is: Completely selfish.

    This entire most recent episode with my brother just screams how his relationship with me is all about him. He’s allowed to be struggling, etc, but I don’t get the same courtesy from him. I have been struggling, too, I have no relationship with anyone in my family. I have been struggling for years with the effects of growing up in my FOO. Maybe if he had at least acknowledged my struggles I would be somewhat inclined to open a dialogue with him, but he chose to make it all about him; what he’s going through; how hard this is for him. If he ever decides to acknowledge my struggles, I’ll be listening, but until then, there’s no value in my maintaining a relationship with him.

    Stephen Bach

  5. Email from my golden child younger brother.

    This article might shed some light on my apparent inability to contain my hostility of late.
    Although it does not surprise me it does sadden me that you are shutting out other members of the family when they have only acted according to their own moral compasses whether you agree or not. If you cant respect that they have differing opinions on how to handle things then there really is no basis upon which to settle controversial issues that have arisen this year due to MY behaviour and not theirs.
    Its just MY opinion, and i am involving nobody but you and I in this correspondence. Why you would question the Loyalty of loving family members when for them it is clearly an Outside issue is not sober thinking in my opinion. It is just you and me David. Just you and me. Not Austins problem or Moms. Thats just the way I chose to see it. Am I the bearer of absolute truths?
    I sure as hell hope not. Or we are all in big trouble. I make more mistakes before breakfast than most people make all day. Ok. Whats that got to do with shutting out other? I must assume that there are issues that have nothing to do with me and that they are quite hurtful to you.
    I certainly don’t know what they are nor does your Mother.

  6. Hi David,

    I literally had to do a double take when I read the email you posted. It could have very easily been written by my golden child brother.

    I can certainly understand and completely empathize with your frustrations, and I’m sorry that you have struggled so mightily with your family. It’s certainly not fun.

    I think a good exercise to undertake with the email your brother sent is to look at what’s not there:

    – there is no acknowledgement of your right to do what you feel is best for you
    – there is no respect for your feelings and experiences, even though, ironically, he closes with the word “Respectfully”
    – there is no apology of any kind or a genuine admission of wrongdoing, only a half hearted comment about his mistakes

    I think it’s revealing that he says that the rest of your family has the right to act according to their own moral compasses, and yet it’s implied that you don’t have the same right; you’re not allowed to distance yourself from your family due to your disagreement with their morals. He is essentially saying that you are required to tolerate whatever they are capable of dishing out and continue to pretend like everything is fine, thereby remaining in your historical role. So would this mean that if your brother was a hit man for the mafia that you would be required to drive the getaway car just because he’s your brother, even if you thought his behavior was morally repulsive? Would you be required to let your brother use your bedroom to cheat on his significant other just because he’s your brother?

    It is also quite revealing that he makes many attempts to raise doubt in your mind as to your chosen course of action, going as far as to say you are not thinking in a sober fashion. In my opinion, this is an attempt to rewrite history and make you question your gut instinct. If you are like me, you have seldom trusted your gut in the past, which leaves you open to others helping you to rationalize away what your gut is telling you and you end up returning to your historical familial role. The key is trusting your gut and looking at the actions not the words.

    I’m not sure what attempts you have made to state your case with your family, but if your family is anything like mine, they will literally tell you they “don’t get it” (your brother does essentially say he “doesn’t get it” in his email). They also will shut you down anytime you try to share your truths. Yet, they will tell you that they are “here for you” and “have always supported you”, when their actions totally contradict those statements. This situation is made even more frustrating when they use statements like “I don’t know what your issue is”, when you’ve been trying to tell them for years what your issues are with your family but they refuse to listen.

    A question I have for you is: Have you been responding to these emails? I find that responding is pointless, and all responding does is get me a return email with even more spin and distortions. When dealing with a narcissist, any piece of information you provide can and will be used against you. Even replying that “I am not willing to discuss this” will get you an ensuing reply about how cold and callous you are for shutting your family out and not being willing to open a dialogue with them, thereby placing the blame for your impasse with your family back onto you, because you’re not willing to talk about it. I find that the longer I stay no contact with my family, the more I learn to see through their shenanigans to the people that they truly are, and I don’t like what I see.

    Best of luck to you on your healing journey, David, and thank you for sharing.

    Stephen Bach

    • I too went no contact with my mother and 2 sisters as of Sunday. I’m hoping by not answering texts, calls etc they will lessen.

      I also wonder, David, if you respond to them. I hope you hit delete on that email.

      • Hi Robby!

        Best wishes with going no contact. I know how big of a step it is and how hard it is to do; how hard it is to not respond to their attempts at communication. Stay strong! I think I attempted to go no contact at least a half dozen times before I finally did it. It is well worth it! The further I removed myself from the chaos the more I was able to see my family’s rampant dysfunction; the more I was able to learn who the real me truly is; the more i was able to love myself the way I always should have. It takes work, but in my opinion, it is well worth it.

        Best wishes on your healing journey, Robby!

        Stephen Bach

      • Thanks so much Stephen! I appreciate being here on your page. I’ve been low contact for almost 30 years with my mother and one sister. The other sister I used to listen to often since we would talk on the phone. I began to realize it was a triangle between them and that came to me after reading about why I attracted narcissist men. It took me a couple years to figure out this family stuff to get to this point. So many things make sense now but it almost hurts more if that makes sense. Thanks again for the support with this.

      • I have been no contact with my mother and older golden child sister and younger golden child brother since April Fools 2013. My father who I was much closer too died 15 years ago. I put all their email addresses to spam but somehow this email got through.
        This email from my brother was one of his less abusive
        I was always aware of being the scapegoat in some fuzzy way but like a well trained soildier I accepted my role along with its abuse until that became normal.
        I will post the email reply he sent me when I told him my Brain Tumor was not growing.
        I need a witness. I need people to see the aduse. Not them. They can’t, they won’t. But here on this blog I have found the insight from others.
        How long have we suffered in silence at the hands of abusers that are so skilled in the art of psychological and emotional torture ( its torture not abuse).
        Abuse doesn’t make you want to die. Torture does.
        Here is the email I sent and his response.

        2-19, at 5:08 PM, David wrote:

        good news. I don’t have Cancer. Bad news is we don’t know what was causing the symptoms.

        Well there you go. You’re the only one in the family that we can say for sure doesn’t have a tumour.
        That’s great. Take good news while you can get it. It doesn’t come so easy to some.
        If I drink an energy drink for a long drive TO to MTL I am guaranteed to have a headache the next day.
        When you climb a volcano and have mild to severe altitude sickness and then strap on compressed air and go to not 30 feet but 150 feet…….

        I don’t agree that we don’t know where the symptoms are coming from.
        I think that I have an Idea where they are coming from. I may be right, I may be wrong. Either way, If you continue to play with fire you’ll get burned.
        You’ve been warned. Your higher power is speaking loud and clear.

        You’re 52 not 28 and 2000mg of Taurine?Ginko dilating your blood vessels while the caffeine is doing the opposite. Holy shit. Self induced laberynthitis or just plain confused brain.

        Why David. Life’s got ya down. You need a pick me up. Are you addicted to the kick. You can’t put them down. You’re powerless, just like I am over caffeine. But the research has been done a million times on Caffeine. It is known , not an unknown.

        If you’re afraid I can understand that. I’m scared to death I can hardly sleep at night.
        Until I go to a meeting and get reminded that I have a very strange disease. And that’s how I got where I am today. It ain’t pretty or perfect.

        And I still don’t know what happened to me 14years ago. But it doesn’t matter as long as I listen to my body, my doctor , my friends and family and take care of myself first.

        The rest I have no control over that. If my daily battles with Migraines means that I end up with a nugget on the noggin well all’s I can say is I did the best with the cards I was delt. As your brother I want to hear the same from you.
        Put down those stupid ass toxic profit machines and have a glass of water. And when your tired lie down.

        Take a walk every morning to get some light and get the blood flowing. And think of something else for a while. Obsessing over an illness. I know all about that. Did that for Months and months on end, crying like a little baby. But nobody was listening.

        When I couldn’t take it anymore, I started listening. I had nothing to lose. That’s the beginning of change and getting well.
        When you hit bottom, you’ll know. But then you already know this story. And Apparently you have your whole life to work it out. Which may be a while given the gene pool.

        Take Care
        Lots of love to the boys
        from their Uncle Bruce
        and to you too a big hug.
        Merry Christmas

      • My thoughts are that they try every way they can think of to get a response. They will pull on heart strings if necessary to get a reply. I think they need that rush they get from having our attention at the moment. I know what you mean David about some emails being less abusive seeming. It makes it confusing when they seem almost caring sometimes. The thing is they are just anything to get a response I think. Stephen mentioned “motive behind the message” earlier in this post which really hit me like a rock. In trying to figure all of this out with my family that really made sense. There is a motive behind everything they say and do. And it seems that the motive is all about them no matter what they say.

        I hope your Friday is a peaceful everyone.

  7. Hi David!

    Congratulations on being cancer free! I’m sure waiting to find out the results had to be heart wrenching. I can only imagine how difficult that was for you. I hope that you continue to remain cancer free.

    I am glad that you find my blog helpful. I am always humbled when others are able to connect with my story. It’s definitely a positive outcome of my life’s experiences.

    I was also aware of my scapegoat status from a very early age, but as you say, I soldiered on and normalized the abuse, always knowing something wasn’t quite right, but never being able to completely connect the dots. I feel one of the reasons that it is so hard to break free from childhood abuse is that no one was there to validate my perception of the situation. On the contrary, everyone around me told me that my perceptions were wrong, and eventually I learned to doubt my perceptions and take on other’s perceptions of my value. It’s brainwashing at its finest. If someone did validate my perception of my family, my family would take great measures to ostracize that person so that the only chorus I was allowed to listen to was that I was a failure and inadequate. Once I became older, no one wanted to hear about my childhood issues and my childhood perceptions were questioned when I was told by others “no parent acts that way”. This meant I continued to drag the zeppelin of my childhood issues around with me for decades of my adult life until it exploded about a year ago, showering me with pain: I was forced to finally address my issues.

    Thank you for sharing another email. This one is quite filled with selfishness and abuse. He also doesn’t seem to be capable of fully cohesive thought. I have no idea what he’s talking about in several sections (Volcano?). I wonder if he suffers from some sort of mental illness other than a possible personality disorder.

    Your brother doesn’t waste any time, does he? The first sentence after “Congratulations!!!” is riddled with a guilt trip that you are “now the only one in the family that doesn’t have a tumor”. Seems his opinion is that you got off easy. The theme that you got off easy is pervasive throughout his email. It’s a way to diminish something good that happened to you (being cancer free) and bringing the focus back onto him.

    My mother would regularly pull in God, the flying monkey, too, as if she had some sort of direct connection to a higher power. “God wouldn’t want you to date a Catholic girl”. It was ludicrous.

    The part of his letter that is the most disturbing is his incessant condemnation of your choices; telling you that all your issues are because you drink energy drinks (but coffee is OK); you need to get more rest; you should take a walk in the morning; saying you need to hit bottom like he has in order to see how messed up you are, etc. It’s truly nauseating. It’s the same splitting message that my family would give me; “you’re a miserable failure / we love you”; “you can do what you want / you’re doing it wrong”.

    I distinctly remember a few years ago, I was having dinner at my golden child brother’s house and he starts in on me with “what are you going to do with your life?” insinuating that my life had been a complete waste to this point, thereby properly mirroring the family position that I am the family failure and scapegoat. At the time I had completed 8 years of service to my country and had earned an engineering degree from a Big 10 school and was working as an engineer. Evidently this was insufficient in his mind, and he felt the need to tell me so. I told him I was perfectly happy with my current status but he kept pushing, trying to convince me that I needed to obtain additional education. Later he told me how hurt he was by my refusal to agree with him that night. I remember his wife literally getting up and walking out of the room during our conversation that night because she was so upset when I told him I didn’t agree with his assessment. His unspoken message was “With my superior perception, I can see you are a failure, but I know exactly what you need to do to fix it”. He had thought long and hard about how I should improve myself and when I didn’t bask in his tremendous insight and thank him profusely for his wisdom, he was offended. It’s called grandiosity.

    Stephen Bach

  8. Hi Robby!

    I’m happy to support you! I know how hard it is to endure a complete paradigm shift in how to approach life. It’s the most difficult undertaking I have ever attempted.

    I hear you on the pain actually becoming worse once all the dots were connected. Once I realized that all hope was lost and that I would never have a healthy relationship with my family, it was hard not to become depressed. Additionally, it was hard to admit to myself that I had been a fool for so long, and had been attempting to fix my issues with family through my adult relationships with personality disordered women. It was hard to realize that I had never been truly loved, even by myself. The good news is, it gets better. It gets much better. Once I threw off the old me and buried 4 decades of pain, I was free to be the person I always wanted to be, the person that I had always envisioned. I no longer had to measure up to someone else’s standard. I was free! Enjoy your freedom, Robby. Cherish it. Love the person you are. Be proud! You have taken on demons that very few people would ever attempt to take on and crushed them.

    You are to be commended!

    Stephen Bach

  9. This is an email I received from my Golden Child Older Sister after I stood up for myself when my sister and her 18 year od (flying monkey) son spent most of a thanksgiving dinner I prepared berating and criticizing me for no reason. This happened on the thanksgiving when 2 weeks prior I was told I had a brain tumor that may be causing all my physical symptoms. The neurologist did not know if it was Brain cancer so dying shortly was a very real possibility at the time. Of course my Narcissistic Mothers face was full of pleasure with a slight half hearted smirk combined with fake sympathetic eyes.


    I just wanted to say that I felt badly about what happened at dinner at your house. I’m sorry if you thought we were criticizing you… that was not the intention at all.

    I understand that what counts is how you felt and not what was or wasn’t intended and so that is why I am offering an apology.

    As well, I just want to say that Dylan was not criticizing you either. He just finished reading Plato’s Republic and is big on the idea of asking questions as a way to knowledge…. and probably thought he was practicing the “Socratic method”….. he’s only 18, so he does not know how to do it graciously yet.

    I’m usually the object of his practice, but I think he thought you were someone new to try it out on…

    Dylan is very very fond of you, and of all his uncles (well the 2 in Canada) you are his favourite (Elena also agrees) – they both told me that on their own previously (but don’t tell Bruce please- no sense in stirring things up further).

    I hope that we can get past this and can let bygones be bygones. I think you are having a very stressful period in your life right now and I would like to think that I can be of some support for you in this time, and just wanted to say that I love you very much and you can count on me for whatever you need.


  10. Hi David!

    Thanks for sharing another email. This one is much more slick and quite similar to how my family communicates with me.

    The first paragraph of your sister’s email could have come from my family’s textbook. She states that she feels badly, but then goes on to gaslight your perception of events. “I’m sorry if you thought we were criticizing you” is a way to discount and devalue your perception of events, and even though the word “sorry” is used, there is no real apology there. There is no contrition.

    The second paragraph is essentially another attempt at a half hearted apology, and again she’s gaslighting, essentially saying that “you took it wrong”. This paragraph sounds to me like she’s saying “He’s frustrated so i better offer up some sort of apology, even though I don’t feel I did anything wrong”.

    The third paragraph is again gaslighting, literally telling you that her son was not criticizing you either and thereby implying that your perception of events is wrong. She also offers a half baked excuse as to his behavior, implying that you’re just supposed to accept his methods because that’s “just how he is”. Ironically, you don’t get the same courtesy. You don’t get to be accepted for who you are, but you’re required to accept the rest of the family for who they are.

    The fifth paragraph is ridiculous. So you’re her kid’s favorite uncle out of the two in Canada? So what? The entire statement is immaterial to the issue. It’s a way for her to try and convey that even though her son was being a jerk, he still likes you, thereby implying that you should like him because he likes you. That’s not how it works. Just because someone likes me doesn’t mean I have to like them. She’s pulling on that obligation string that says you are required to have a relationship with family. The truth is, you’re not required to have a relationship with family.

    The part about not telling Bruce is triangulation at its finest. So she gets to control what gets said to whom in the family? If she doesn’t want Bruce to know that he is her children’s least favorite uncle, she shouldn’t be telling you such things.

    The last paragraph is a typical narcissistic approach of “let’s just ignore my bad behavior and pretend everything is OK”.

    The last part of the email is definitely an area where my family tripped me up for a long time. They would always tell me they “loved” me and they were “here for me” when their actions were completely contrary to their words. Anytime I needed their support they did their level best to kick dirt in my face, often blaming me for the situation I was in and even taking pleasure in my misery. Another aspect of her offering her support is that if she has all the dirty details on what you are going through, she is better able to triangulate other family members with that information and act like she’s superior because she has this information.

    I always find it ironic how much my family uses the word “love” with me. They have no idea who I really am, so how do they know if they “love” me? Furthermore, they have no idea what healthy love really is, so their use of the word “love” is meaningless.

    Stepping back and looking at this from the 10,000 foot level, the entire episode is truly sad. Here you were, recently diagnosed with a brain tumor and not knowing if you may have cancer. I’m sure you were very scared. I know I would be. You were making your family Thanksgiving dinner with this knowledge, knowing that this may potentially be your last Thanksgiving. I could certainly understand if you had tears in your eyes as you went about to prepare dinner. Then your family shows up, and instead of enjoying each other’s company and sharing some good memories, the entire event degrades to a point where your golden child sister feels you might need some sort of apology and sends you a half hearted email attempt at an apology. Instead of family offering you an ear to listen during your difficult time, they spend the entire day berating you and later tell you your perception of events was wrong. What’s the theme here? A complete lack of empathy.

    Best wishes on your continued healing journey, David.

    Stephen Bach

  11. Thank you for your reply. You have a very keen eye. The reason I posted this email is I reread it and thought you would offer some valuable insight. I could not agree more with your comments.

    • How long did it take you guys to recognize the true meaning of the words such as in that email? I used to think my sisters or mom meant well when they said such things. So 48 years for me to get to this point now. I feel like I should have known many years ago.

    • You’re welcome, David! And thank you for your kind words! I’m glad that you found my thoughts helpful 🙂

      One thing I really didn’t do with your email is look at what’s not there:

      – There’s no real acknowledgement of the difficult time you were going through, other than it’s “very stressful” for you.
      – There’s no real acceptance of your right to your own perceptions. The entire email is full of gaslighting
      – There’s no “Thank You” for hosting Thanksgiving

      Stephen Bach

    • Hi David,

      The email from Christine is written precisely the way my N sister-in-law has spoken to me. It leaves you feeling like she thinks of you as a wounded & sensitive type person. She tells you that your off-perception is stemming from your stressful period in life right now. Basically, don’t feel hurt by us because you’re not in the right frame of mind to interpret things correctly. She understands this and wishes you wellness & loves you.

      What really strikes me most about her interaction, that I find manipulating and also prevailing during interactions with my N sister-in-law, is the practice of telling you something secretive and befriending… trust me. I would say in my own experiences, that this would happen in practically every interaction and always felt weird to me. I wanted to trust her but nothing felt believable.

      Your instincts are to be wary and I hope you see yourself also as keen, for recognizing that feeling. I always felt there was something wrong with me for making something such a problem, the reality was all along, that I was noticing people’s lack of empathy in situations and it bothered me because I would not have acted the way they do. I reacted to that and the response I would get from them was not genuine in my mind, ever.

      Really good posts!


      • Hi Cindy,

        You bring up some very good points. The first trait of a narcissist is grandiosity. If you look at what you said about your N-SIL, she is exhibiting exactly that trait. “Let me, with my superior intellect and perception, rewrite history for you so you have the correct (MY) story. It must be horrible to be you and have such distorted perceptions”. The “love” she voices to you is more like love for a lost puppy.

        Your second paragraph also brings up an interesting point. The telling you things “in confidence” is part of the 1 up / 1 down strategy of a narcissist. Either you are for them or you are against them. There is no gray area. Her telling you things “in confidence” is a test to see how you respond and for her to determine if you are for her or against her. If you take the bait and join her in belittling others, then you are part of her “team”. If you don’t then you are against her. Of course joining her “team” only lasts as long as you continue to worship her. If you dare to say something that could be perceived by her in a derogatory fashion, you will soon be off her “team”.

        Nothing is ever genuine from a narcissist. Nothing. Everything is part of a game that must be won at all costs.

        Stephen Bach

  12. I was 51 when I got the email and just recently started to understand the veiled abuse. So your ahead of me. I figure you know when you know. I’m just thankful I know though there was always a sense of knowing. It was just muddled by the manipulation, gas lighting and proxy abuse of my Mother.

    • For comment and opinion
      Here is my email reply to my Golden Brothers abusive email I posted earlier. As well as his next reply by email.Both My Golden Brother 1.5 years younger brother and My 1.5 year older Golden Child Older sister have been on antidepressants for over 15 years. My Golden Child Older sister Has been taking high doses of Effexor for 15 years. That is why I mention anti-depressants in this email.
      On 2012-12-26,: at 9:53 AM, David wrote:

      Summary of Research on energy drinks as well as some on antidepressants. Way too much to put it all here so I have summarized

      I still have a tumour but its benign. So I am the only one in the family that we know for sure has a tumour. It is not cancerous but I still have a tumour. It may become cancerous but it is very unlikely. What the tumour is made of they can’t really tell from an MRI. They make a diagnosis based on how it behaves over time by using scheduled MRI’s roughly 6 months to a year apart depending on how its behaving.

      The most harmful ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine as you stated. All other ingredients are not in sufficient quantity to cause side effects in average people. The caffeine in energy drinks is the same as coffee but may be in smaller amounts when compared to Starbucks and other brewed coffees.
      Taurine is a natural occurring amino acid in humans as well as other animals. People synthesize some and get the remainder of what the body requires from eating foods that contain differing levels of Taurine. So unless you eat the same thing you could unwittingly be ingesting as much or more of the amount of Taurine in energy drinks. Not to worry because what your body doesn’t use it eliminates like any other substance. Say vitamin C or Vitamin D.
      Supplemented Vitamin D at high levels is toxic to animals and excess is difficult for People with Kidney and or liver disease.
      Taurine is given as a medical supplement to children and adults to alleviate a number of conditions.
      All anecdotal evidence I read about the risks of energy drinks involved drinking 15-20 cans in a day. For people with kidney and or liver disease it may be more difficult to eliminate the Taurine that is not used by the body. but that holds true for vitamins or ibuprofen etc. etc.

      I can provide further reading if you like and I can direct you to relevant clinical studies and results.
      I researched risks and side effects associated with Effexor and other antidepressants as a whole.
      There is much clinical evidence of life threatening side effects, as well as changes in mood, decision making etc. from antidepressants. I state this not as something against Anti-depressants but to give you some context and insight.
      Basically antidepressants are only to be taken for a short period of a few years given the known and unknown risks associated with Effexor. It is one of the most difficult antidepressants to stop taking.
      Anti-depressants like Effexor can increase blood pressure significantly in some people who are more susceptible to hypertension and Taurine may lower blood pressure.

      Here is an excerpt from my Berkeley Wellness Guide to supplements bookt, that I purchased a couple of years ago. It is the best unbiased information I can find.
      A Checklist for Supplement Users
      Keep the following tips in mind if you’re thinking of purchasing and taking
      • Be wary of anecdotal evidence, often found on the Internet. A testimonial
      is never enough. Anybody can say that such-and-such a product
      “cured” their cold. You can never be sure whether a testimonial
      was paid for or simply made up by a copywriter. And for every person
      who was helped, 10 may have seen no benefit or even gotten worse.
      Such statements never turn up on a website or in ads.
      • Be wary of anti-aging claims. So far there is no supplement or any
      known substance that will keep you young.
      • If an ad or a website tells you doctors are lying to you because
      they don’t want you to know about this miracle cure, you can safely
      assume this is a scam.
      • Remember that the word “natural,” on a supplement or even a food,
      is meaningless. Companies can label almost anything “natural”—and
      they often do. Also, don’t assume that “natural” vitamins are better
      than synthetic ones—they are usually chemically identical. One
      exception: natural vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) is better absorbed by
      the body than the synthetic form (dl-alpha tocopherol).
      • Talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor and/or pharmacist about any
      supplements you are taking. Many supplements, especially herbal
      products, can have adverse effects when taken with prescription
      drugs. For example, some supplements (including garlic, ginkgo, and
      vitamin E) can boost the blood-thinning effect of a drug such as warfarin
      (brand name Coumadin); other supplements (such as ginseng and
      vitamin K) reduce
      warfarin’s effect. And don’t rely on supplements
      to self-treat a serious health problem—see your doctor for a proper
      diagnosis and recommendations on treatment.

      In conclusion. Given the evidence and available clinical studies Energy drinks are no more unhealthy than a cup of coffee and depending on how quickly it’s consumed coffee could be worse. Coffee is hot and loses the heat quickly. A lot of people drink coffee more rapidly so that it doesn’t get cold. An equal amount of caffeine in an energy drink may be consumed over longer periods of time since it is pleasant to drink over an hour or two unlike coffee which loses its heat fast.
      The risks and side effects associated with medications you are taking or may be taking can be severe and life threatening. Much better to be stuck somewhere with no energy drinks while traveling than out of perscription medications. Especially those medication that come with a severe warning in regards to
      stopping and withdrawl.
      I had support and research done by people in order to minimize bias.
      If you would like some more information I would be happy to share my research. I am not making any recommendations or advice because I am not a doctor, but I did stay at a holiday Inn express last night.
      Oh yea I did study biochemistry, cell biology, immunology and parasitology, Genetics, Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry and I graduated. Just in case you forgot.
      Merry Christmas. Thanks for offering me your kind and understanding words regarding my diagnosis. I pray and wish that if you get sick again you receive the same. I am sure emails like yours would go a long way to alleviating feelings like joy, happiness, love, compassion, family, understanding, support etc. etc. etc. etc…………

      From: bruce
      Sent: December-26-12 12:10 PM
      To: David

      I see you have lumped us all in the same boat here. sweet.

      Just for your own personal reference. I am not interested in an argument.
      I am glad that you were diagnosed benign. I told you a couple of days before that life is not tidy, in my experience. If it were cancerous then you’d have a tough battle ahead and all of my support.
      As is is, you have a lump on your brain. This means nothing to the doctors that you hold in such High esteem. If your are not affected by it then you join a huge percent of the population out there who have benign growths that don’t affect their lives.

      The fact is you and I talked a couple of times and YOU told me what your thoughts were about your lifestyle.
      You felt that playing hockey with young men, white water rafting, volcano climbing combined with diving were probably not wise.
      So when you said “We don’t know what’s causing the symptoms.” I almost fell off my chair.

      Yes I was anxious to hear the news about your MRI and glad about the good news but then you take the wind out of the sails by totally denying everything that YOU had said to me.

      Now if you want to take a totally holistic approach to illness. Then what you eat is important to how you feel, right.
      So, for a guy who has all of that education to be consuming an anxiety associated substance such as caffeine and then complain about anxiety doesn’t seem to have gone through the negotiation stage of illness yet. Like the lung cancer guy who still smokes. Add to that Clonazapam. Did you do your due diligence on that one? I didn’t think so. What’s the research on Clonazapam when mixed with caffeine, taurine etc…..????

      As far as support and all of that is concerned.
      Mom came and helped me. Mom came and she came a lot. That was it. You helped me financially and I appreciate that.
      But when you consider that I lay in bed for almost two years, day and night, I sure could have used some company. But-

      Nobody came.


      Put that in your Monster and drink it.

      Oh you came once to talk about your issues. I don’t remember you putting a load of laundry in for me.
      Oh and I didn’t drink coffee for about 3 years during that time either. You know Holistic.

      As far as medication is concerned I won’t go there because you never came here. You know nothing about me, my battles, struggles with CFS, daily migraines. By the time any Med kills me I’ll be long gone dude. I suppose that Effexor stuff was meant for Christine or Jesus Christ or Hari Krishna because you have no Idea of what illness I have and what the appropriate treatments would be.
      Again, the all Holy Doctors make the prescriptions but it’s up to us to
      Do you know any other people with CFS who have done a Triathlon. Do you have any Idea HOW I got from flat on my back to doing a triathlon? Well it wasn’t Effexor or caffeine.

      And it was No FUCKING miracle. That’s ok. Live and let live.
      Congrats on your MRI results.
      Next concussion on a rock in Costa Rica, remember this, I remember.

      On an Island in Belize when you wanted Crack money from me. You yelled at me and berated me exactly just like on the phone two days ago. 20 years later and we are still there you and I.
      There’s little difference in your behaviour and a crack heads?? ouch now that’s gotta hurt.
      I can Imagine the rage building inside of you now reading this. Let it go. It’s just words.
      Sticks and stones.

      Only now I won’t listen when the tone goes there.
      Take care of your head and your health Bro.

      • Hi David,

        This may seem a bit harsh, but you took the bait. Your brother initially responded to your news of your benign tumour in one of the previous emails you posted with a large amount of condemnation of your life, insinuating that your current situation was all your fault. With this return email, you try to present a logical argument to state your case to a person who has no interest in logic. In the world of a narcissist, feelings dictate facts, and facts are rearranged, distorted or disregarded in order to align with feelings. Logic is irrelevant.

        Your email is also laced with sarcasm. Sarcasm immediately puts someone on the defensive. When dealing with a narcissist, this situation is made even worse. A narcissist is looking for any reason to go on the defensive and begin projecting their anger back onto you. Sarcasm is just a guise for hidden anger. When you responded with a few sarcastic comments, your brother felt justified in his angry response, because he had successfully managed to project his frustrations onto you and you became angry. Now you were showing anger and he could justifiably (in his mind) be defensive and angry back because “you started it”. See how that works? Think child. It’s how a narcissist thinks. Pointing out a narcissist’s flaws and failings to a narcissist only makes them angry. They are incapable of accepting anything that resembles criticism and will immediately go on the defensive and begin projecting their frustrations back onto you, and then punish you for their issues that they projected onto you. It’s an untenable and unwinnable situation, and the best thing to do is walk away.

        Notice how the very first thing your brother picked up on was your mention of Effexor when he made his comment that you “lumped us all in the same boat” as the first line of his email. He was looking for anything you had to say that he could perceive as derogatory so he would be licensed to go on the defensive. The fact that he perceived your mention of Effexor as an attack on your entire family shows how closely he is following the family programming that “all family issues are David’s issue” and that “David is out to get us”.

        I think it’s hilarious that he said “I’m not interested in an argument” and then continues to do his best to incite an argument. It’s the narcissist’s way of vindicating themselves and projecting their anger onto you. He doesn’t “want” an argument, so when you show anger or frustration (rightfully so), it’s your issue and you’re the one that’s causing problems, because it’s not what he wanted.

        The rest of his email is literally drivel that is meant to incite you to anger. He even says that he can “imagine the rage building inside you”, and then tells you to let it go, reinforcing the long standing family position that you’re feelings are irrelevant and you’re required to swallow them.

        One comment, David. Please tell me you did not further respond to your brother’s emails.

        It’s sad to see things like this. It’s sad to see such a high level of family dysfunction. I’ve found that for me, the best thing to do is drop the rope. My family has a right to their dysfunction. They don’t have a right to force me to be included in their dysfunction. The best way I can show them respect for their approach to life is to let them live in their dysfunction all by themselves. It’s not my job to change them. It’s not my job to try and change their perceptions of me. I don’t have to prove myself to them, or anyone else, for that matter.

        Best wishes with your continued healing journey, David. I know it’s a struggle and takes time, but it is all well worth it.

        Stephen Bach

      • I just found a letter written to me by my mother when I was 11 and away for the first time. It is very revealing.
        It looks like it was written to some inanimate object or at the very least someone you did not care for much.
        What is not in the letter. Everything that an 11 year old boy would want to hear from his family.

  13. Hi Robby,

    It’s all very complex. As scapegoats, we are trained to take any scraps of positive attention that we receive and cherish them. We are taught to ignore the context of the message and look for words like “sorry” and take anything that could resemble an apology and accept it as a full apology. Furthermore, we spent most of our lives being told our gut instincts were wrong and we learned not to trust them. When our families told us our perceptions were wrong, we believed them! The key for me to undo the damage was to start to look at the motive behind the message and to also trust what my gut was telling me.

    A brief synopses of the email David posted from his sister is this : Oh no, David’s upset. I need to send him a half hearted apology and discount his perception of events so he can fall back in line as the family scapegoat. So if David accepts the word “Sorry” as an apology and allows his sister to help him rationalize away his perception of events, he will fall back in line as the scapegoat, which is exactly where his family wants him.

    Any apology from a narcissist is only an attempt to control the situation. If saying “sorry” gets them what they want, then they have successfully controlled the outcome of the situation. A narcissist has no empathy and is incapable of a heartfelt apology. If you read David’s email, the apologies that are offered are very hollow and half hearted. They aren’t real apologies. It’s like when you punish the 5 year old for stealing the toy from another 5 year old. The offending 5 year old, after being confronted about their crime by an adult, blurts out “SORRY!” in anger at the victim. That’s the apology of a narcissist.

    I understand your frustration with feeling like you should have known much earlier in life. Robby, it took exactly as long as it needed to take. I find the best approach for me was to forgive myself for not figuring it all out sooner and to be thankful that I finally did figure it out. Many people never do! Figuring it out allows me to make the changes I need to make in order to pick up the reigns on my bright future!

    Best wishes on your healing journey,

    Stephen Bach

    • Hi Stephen,

      What you just said was the clearest explanation I’ve every read about N’s apologies. It feels exactly that way coming from them, as you articulately described, just a half hearted apology in attempt to control the situation. Oh no, David’s upset….. sorry.


  14. The email to my brother was my last. This was 4 months prior to going no contact so I did take the bait knowingly and willingly since it was the last word for me.

    • Hi David,

      I’m glad that you didn’t continue your dialog with your brother after his last email. It’s great that you understood at the time he was baiting you, too!

      Letters like the one you found that your mother wrote to you when you were 11 are truly sad, aren’t they? Letters like that show that we were nothing but pawns in our family to be used for their benefit. It’s certainly one of the struggles I went through when I finally let go of my denial. Every event in my life now was reframed into an entirely different perspective. I had to take the time and invest the energy to digest what it all meant.

      Best wishes on your healing journey, David.

      Stephen Bach

      • A few days after discovering the letter from my mother and things has shifted exponentially in a positive way. That letter is total and complete vindication of my memory and it proves that at 11 I was already well trained to accept the abuse with out question.
        Knowing has stopped my mental gymnastics of trying to figure out for sure if my memory is correct.
        This would be one of the most if not the most important internal shift in my life.
        I know now it was not me. It was her. My brother and sister were weapons of cruelty as was I. I being the eldest boy made me the most able to shoulder the abuse. This was the role I was given and the seeds were planted before I could think. The seeds grew into weeds which chocked the life and joy out of me but that is over. The weeds are burned and new seeds of joy, unconditional love, appreciation, and wholeness are planted and growing. There are lots of tears right now and they are welcome. Under the pain is rage and under the rage is deep sadness and under that is joy and a new life.

  15. (((David)))

    Peace to you. I know how hard it is to finally be able to let go of that last bit of denial. Sometimes it really helps to have something truly tangible from our childhood (like your letter from your mom) to let us fully accept what our gut has always told us. For me, it was when I connected my mother’s diaper humiliation that she did to me when I was 7 with the thought of doing something like that to my daughter. It literally made me nauseous to think about doing something like that to an innocent young girl whom I love so dearly.

    We share the eldest boy taking the brunt of the abuse. At one time, I looked at the fact that I was treated very differently from my brothers from the perspective that I was the firstborn, and my parents were still working out the kinks of parenting. While some of that may be true, it certainly doesn’t explain their complete disregard for me as a person and their incessant humiliations.

    One bit of advice if I may: Let yourself experience those emotions that have been bottled up for so long. As scapegoats, we are well trained to not let ourselves feel emotions. For me, it took a lot of effort to be able to let myself feel again; to be able to be sad and cry, be angry, and be happy. Enjoy having emotions. It’s great to be able to feel again and become the whole person that you always should have been.

    You have a wonderfully positive outlook. Yes, there is joy and a new life waiting for you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s an arduous journey, but one well worth taking.

    Best wishes on your healing journey, David. If I can be of any help, please let me know.

    Stephen Bach

  16. Not sure if this blog is still active but in case you are monitoring, let it be known that you are a Narc Awareness Buddha. Truly fucking amazing.

    I’m finding here in your posts and comments much of the validation and mirroring I’ve been looking for on my steep learning curve surviving a family nest of stinging covert narcissists. I’m definitely applying the Looking For What is Not There Tool to all social interactions from here on out. Genius.

    Thanks for justifying my hope, man. I’m gonna keep my eyes open for more like you out there. Stay awesome.

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