There is an impulse in a scapegoat to plead for better treatment from their family, to entreat them to reason out their behaviour. Much of the arguments I had with my mother when I was a teenager was in doing this, so they really weren’t much of arguments, really. They were my mother mistreating me and me trying to get her to see that what she was doing was hurtful, that her characterization of me was incorrect, etc. What a useless exercise that was.
I left my teens and early 20’s knowing there wasn’t ever going to be any justice or vindication for me there. The only thing I could hope for was that she would begin to see me differently on her own, to finally have some empathy and a wish to have a normal relationship with me that many mothers have with their daughters.
I waited for decades for that to happen. I already knew not to argue with her but I’ve also just realized finally that there is also no hope in being seen as a full person in my own right.
I’ve tried the exercise lately of how she must see me, how any narcissists or Cluster B mother would see the scapegoat daughter. It’s hard to do because I have to imagine only seeing someone as the role that’s already been assigned to them, and, I think, distress if they seem to be deviating out of that role.
With my mother it seems she has two tools to get me back into that role in her head – she will either explode in anger in order to, I suppose, discipline me back into the image she needs me in or through ignoring me. The ignoring I’m speaking of is hard to explain, but what it looks like is that I’ll say something or bring up a subject and she will continue what she’s doing with her head down, her eyes will sort of gloss over, and she won’t answer and act as if what I said didn’t happen or not of any consequence. It’s almost as if her brain kind of fizzes out momentarily.
I should mention that the subjects in this example are not confrontational things. They are things where my humanity shows up, like (and this is a completely random example), “There were some doves nesting in the neighbour’s yard and I was so happy to see there is a nest of doves in my yard this year, too.” That is enough to make her go quiet and ignore me as I expressed feelings and a thought, it’s like she doesn’t know what to say because she doesn’t care what I think or feel, no matter the subject. She will only respond when I say something about what we’re doing or what’s right in front of us. Pragmatic things.
I am her bucket to deposit all her bad feelings into, or I am to remain neutral and kept at bay. That’s my role. I am to show up for family events but not as a whole real person. I could best describe it as she wants the outer shell to show up for appearance’s sake but not the inner part to show up. Ever. Never.
It’s insulting every single time it happens. I accepted it as the best I was going to get out of her as it’s always better than when she explodes into a controlling rage. I don’t even want her best anymore if this is the most she’ll ever offer.
But, yeah, it’s an interesting exercise to see how to view a person with such a narrow role for them. I think this is the black-and-white thing that is spoken of in mental health circles. My mother has to see me as all black as I’m where she put all her bad feelings into when I was a child and teenager.
People may say that scapegoats (especially if they have BPD) tend to black-or-white people but my experience is that it’s usually the abuser that has done this. I don’t see myself as a scapegoat doing this as I’ve always been keen to see all the nuances of people as part of my hypervigilance. I may have had alarm bells that told me to stay away from someone, regardless of any good traits they had. If I felt them to be a danger then their good traits were of no use to me anyway. That’s not black-and-whiting as I was aware of the possibility of their having good traits, I just didn’t need to take them into account when removing myself from them. The hypervigilance, on the other hand, IS a trait of a scapegoat.
Just food for my thoughts.