Boundaries & Yay for Me!!!!

Since I was the family scapegoat, I grew up having one of two reactions to unwarranted criticism.  Some would describe it as passive-aggressive, I’d describe it more as appeasive-aggressive because  it’s not passive when one puts one’s head down on the floor for anyone who wanted to kick one  in the teeth.  It takes action to do that.  Action for which I’m ultimately responsible as a grown adult! 

Not suprisingly, this would encourage even more unwarranted criticism. I was just begging & volunteering to be everyone’s fall gal, but I was utterly clueless that this was the outcome.  It was how I was raised and what I was used to.  Occasionally, I’d get really pissed off, because letting resentment fester and pile up will do that to a person.  And I’d lash out, becoming disproportionately angry/aggressive for the situation. 

Neither really worked.  Appeasement only encouraged more scapegoating and bullying.   Aggression only made me the bully.  Both ensured that I wasn’t taken seriously and neither were any valid complaints or observations I had. 

Through therapy and self-help work,  I’ve  learned about the second A word in between Appeasement and Aggression.  It’s Assertiveness!  And am I ever loving it now that I finally understand it!  I’ve educated myself on the signs that I might possible be under an unwarranted sign of attack.  And I’ve learned to call people on it right away when it can be done politely and professionally (in work situation). 

For example, recently at work, I was dealing with a resource that wasn’t intuitive.  I could have called the person, outside of our department, who needed the material for the resource, but department protocol requires to check within first.  Completely understandable and sensible as it helps prevent us looking like idiots to outsiders. 

So, I requested any of my colleagues familiar with it to please contact me.  It was EXPLICITLY stated that I wanted to check within the department before going to the requester outside of the department  Two responded and it bascially confirmed what I thought and I had to go back to the person making the request.. 

One however, didn’t let it go at that.  He told me I was making it more complicated than it had to be and that I was making assumptions and talk to the requester.  I calmly, but firmly, told him I wasn’t making assumptions or trying to make anything complicated.   I pointed out  I WAS  planning to ask the requester, I just wanted to know if there was anyone proficient in this particular resource before going to him .  He  said he wasn’t proficient.

 I’d made it pretty clear I was looking for  proficiency  in my email requesting help and I double checked with my supervisor to make sure I was clear about that, she agreed I was. 

Normally, I would have:

  • let the wording about complicate and assumption go unchallenged and I’d simmer in resentment.  He would also have the impression that I’d complicated and assumed on an assignment.  He’s not my supervisor, but he does have input into my performance evaluation.  I’d get unfavorable feedback in my evaluation and then I’d be simmeringly resentful over that.


  •   lash out, taking a nasty tone or complain about him.  Which would make me look unprofessional, not a team player and like I don’t handle stress well.  This would have affected me negatively in my evaluation as well.   

This may be average for most people, but for me this is huge!   Instead of feeling put upon like I did when I appeased or guilty and ashamed of losing control when I aggressed, I feel normal!  I’ve defended myself from unfair attack, which means I don’t have anger to carry around and anyone who might try scapegoating with me knows it ain’t gonna work here!  I’m calmer and happier and people are more willing to take me and my observations and comments seriously.  And I did it all without being rude or obnoxious. 

To all of us struggling with this issue and to those who support us, here’s a little video dedication, let’s do a little victory dance:

9 thoughts on “Boundaries & Yay for Me!!!!

  1. I love what you say about passive-aggression, that it is more often,

    “appeasive-aggressive because it’s not passive when one puts one’s head down on the floor for anyone who wanted to kick one in the teeth. It takes action to do that. Action for which I’m ultimately responsible as a grown adult!”

    Beautiful! Responsibility is power – the power to change. If I’m responsible for something I have the ability to change it. When we deny responsibility we also disempower ourselves. Good for you.

    I also love it that you have found the balance between appeasement and aggression – assertiveness. Nicely done.

    All of the hard work you have done is really showing. Bravo.

    1. Thanks! It’s also helped my outlook on the healing process. I’ve been kind of frustrated because it’s not “instant”, but the freedom and power I’ve gained with being able to set boundaries is very rewarding. It’s made me a lot more optimistic about the process.

      1. Of all the material I have read thus far on the web, this is the absolute best! I’ve been lost and confused because of a narcisstic mother and have been reaching out for good solid advice on how to heal myself of the pain she still continues to cause me. Your post has given me the food that I so desperately need to go forth with class and dignity. Now, I too am a lot more optimistic.

      2. Thank you for the kind words. And I’m glad to see someone else coming to these realizations about boundaries and enjoying the freedom and power they have.

  2. I love that there is a website for the “scapegoat”. So great.

    I am 39 years old and just realized recently the depths of the trauma I endured as a child. I was verbally abused, neglected, emotionally ignored, and physically abused at times. Any time I showed emotion, I was berated, laughed at, or shamed. I cant believe I just became aware of it. My brother was the “golden child”, which is actually a far worse fate than that of the scapegoat. It seems that he is still deeply trapped in our mother’s approval (even though she died 15 years ago). It’s creepy. It’s like he’s stuck between love and hate, whereas I, the scapegoat started looking for approval away from my parents very young. I coped with the abuse by being withdrawn and found comfort in people outside of home-friends, etc. These were invaluable tools and have helped me greatly, although I never developed healthy emotional communication. I am in therapy now for that, which is painful yet empowering. Living life for the first time without as much guilt is amazing, and being able to say no to bad people and situations is priceless.

    I always new my parents were untrustworthy, but it surprises me that it took me so long to realize how narcissistic and untrustworthy my brother was/is. It’s really bad. His lack of empathy and abuse really messed me up. I ended up in the hospital and almost died because of his abuse. I have been pretty overwhelmed by it all and hope that I come to a place where I can live my life and not think about it too much. I have distanced myself from him greatly and don’t really want anything to do with him. He lives far away so it is easy. I will probably talk to him a few times a year.

    The truth is, I really don’t want him anywhere near my son-the way he treated him a few months back is what triggered all the bad memories. The best part of therapy and these realizations is that I get to be a KIND mom. I love being there for my son emotionally. I have become so much more aware of his emotional needs and really take time to listen to him. Even though the scapegoat often tunes out emotionally so young, it seems like they can tune in again later-with safety and support. It may sound odd, but I think scapegoats are actually very wise and compassionate about other people’s emotions, but have a hard time talking about their own. Does anyone else feel this way? I’m really only half way to learning how to talk about my abuse and my feelings, but at least I’m talking and taking action. Thanks so much!

    1. I’m sorry to hear you had to go through that. I think you make a very valid point about how in some ways, the scapegoats are the lucky ones. We have the incentive to recognize that something’s “off” and the golden children don’t.

      I know with my brother, he didn’t learn a proper sense of responsibility. Instead of learning actions have consequences gradually, with the help of a parent guiding him, he learned it the hard way, from the legal system and spent a couple of years in prison. Part of being a good parent is letting kids find that out when the stakes are small. When the stakes are large, such as prison time, it’s a little too late to be learning the basics!

      I’m glad you are able to break the cylce for your son.

  3. That you for this very healing and informative Blog. I was searching the internet for “scapegoat quiting” and found it, Thank God.

    My husband calls my role “Cinderella” but Scapegoat fits as well. I use to get “the call” for a favor, and I would do it, because that’s my nature. But after finally learning what my family dynamics are, I let the Golden Children (Sister and Brother) do it. After reading “Will I Ever Be Good Enough” (McBride), and various websites, I am now saying “no” to my Cinderella role, and I feel free at last.

    After learning about Triangulation (communication of siblings through NM only), Gaslighting (revising the past, it becomes your embellishment) and so forth, I was ready to find your Blog, which is my next chapter, this Scapegoat has quit!

    Anyway, I don’t feel so alone anymore, and I wanted to thank you all.

    1. I’m sorry you had to go through that. Cinderellas Unite! 🙂 Although I have to say, my dad’s long term partner and her daughter are 2 special people in my life, so I can’t complain about step-relatives 🙂

  4. My Narcissistic Mother is my bio-“incubator”, but the way she treats me, is so radically different from her two “golden” children. So, my husband named me “Cinderella”. I get to due the grunt work without any NM gratitude. (Drive her around shopping, help her with problems, do free Acct’g/Legal for her (when she says she’ll pay the expenses, and doesn’t), buy her what she wants. They take her out to lunch, and get the unconditional love. This scapegoat is finished. I am tired of being blamed for the chaos, when it’s me who’s the peace maker.

    I’m on her no call list, since I didn’t buy her something she wanted, and I declared my end to participating in circular gossip. How dare I set boundries. Shame, shame on me!

    Life is hard enough dealing with toxic people you have to, why deal with toxic family.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s