To begin, I just want my readers to know that the following recounting of an event in my life is very personal to me and, if one is of the same sort of scapegoated/abusive background, it may be an emotional read. Please do consider that before reading on as my intentions are not to upset anyone with their own memories.
There actually was a day, actually, a moment, that it finally became apparent to me that I was on my own in my family. It was when I was fourteen. I knew in that moment that I was incredibly alone. It was a sickening, deeply dark moment because it finally hit home to me as to how alone my soul was, and would remain. It was so heavy a realization I could feel the weight of it in my bones as I stood there.
The circumstances of that moment was tiresomely petty, embarrassingly stupid, but such was life in our home. Many such undignifying situations where mountains were made of molehills were just part of how a child grows to be emotionally and socially hamstrung.
On this day my mother had left some treats on the kitchen table, one for each of us five kids still living at home. In our large family, such things were a nice rarity.
At this point, at fourteen-years-old, I was spending most of my time at home sequestered in my room, always desperate to remain off the radar. Mom let everyone know from the kitchen and I came out to get mine and went back to my room. It was nice for me because I was always a little hungry back then and, consequently, very thin. I would only eat once a day when I had to, at dinner, but otherwise I was quite happy to NOT eat. It wasn’t something I made a decision about, it just happened naturally. My stomach was always in knots anyway and it was nice for me to see me distance myself from something others didn’t seem to be able to do. It was something I could control in a life where everything else I did was controlled and scowled at.
Back in my room and around half an hour to an hour later I heard my name called out from the kitchen. I saw my brothers and sisters watching TV in the living room as I approached, thinking there was a chore that was going to be barked at me. Instead, I was greeted by my mother’s distorted angry face hollering at me as to why I stole an additional chocolate bar. To this day I don’t remember the exact words, but the tone and words chosen had me then, and in my memory now, know that I was being called a pig.
Me. The one she knew never ate. The one she also knew, at fourteen, was needing to be seen as a young lady and would find such a character description to be devastating. I had two older teenage brothers, wouldn’t they be more suspect? I had two younger sisters still in their late childhood, why not suspect them? I was always the one blamed, even if there were reasonable alternative possibilities.
Of course I said I didn’t do it. I guessed at the scenario that took place while I was still in my room: one of them went to get their treat and found there weren’t any left. That person informed our mother who then asked the others in the living room who had taken it. They all said they hadn’t so she called me out and, even though I also said I hadn’t taken it, the blame was predictably going to land on me. Even then I noticed how thorough she was to employ my scapegoat role in that family.
She ignored my honest denial and continued her tirade with the tone of contempt that was familiar to me. I looked through the kitchen archway into the living room at my siblings continuing to stiffly stare at the TV as they listened to the more pressing episode going on in the kitchen, and I knew, as they did, that it was one of them that did it. And I also knew that they would never help me, that this betrayal involved not just my mom but each one of my siblings as well. All the moments in that household involving the behaviour of my adoptive and half-siblings and of my mother accumulated to a breaking point. I was aware in that moment that I was completely frozen out and that I’d never find that one person in the family that would look at me and say, “I see what’s being done to you”. I didn’t belong, and no one wanted me to anyway.
My heart was, as it often had been before, consumed with a literal physical pain and aching that spread throughout my whole body, and I wished it to be the last time. I attempted suicide that night.
I may never in my lifetime be able to properly find the words to convey to someone else how such a ridiculous scenario crumpled my soul, how it wasn’t just that event but all the ones leading up to it combined that added a weight to my soul that it didn’t have the strength to hold up anymore. It just simply gave out that afternoon.
I survived the attempt but I was never asked why it was made, by doctors at the hospital or any family member. I went on to find coping skills that somewhat served me for the next few years but that went on to add more pain to my life as I got older. Perhaps I will speak of them at another time as they seem to be common coping skills for those who were scapegoated.
I write this very personal event in my life as I have never spoken of the details as I have here before. I was so alone in that moment and I don’t want to be anymore. I do hope it may be of some benefit to someone who also went through something similar. Perhaps through our experiences we are able to say to each other, “I see what was done to you.”