Whenthescapegoatquits's Blog

A Blog about scapegoat recovery & daughters of narcissistic mothers

Bus to Blamesville: A Roundtrip

Posted by whenthescapegoatquits on November 6, 2011

As I’ve mentioned previously, even the most mundane things can trigger all sorts of feelings.  I was on a bus recently. I’ve always been afraid of either missing my stop or pushing the signal too early for my stop. When I was about 4, my mother let me push the signal. You know how kids like to push elevator buttons, ring bells, that sort of thing? But I pushed it too early for our stop. My mother insisted on getting off at that stop and pushed my brother’s stroller home, telling me she was tired and blaming me for having to walk so far. The few times as an adult when I wasn’t familiar with a route and pushed the bell too early, I got off and walked. I didn’t even occur to me to say, “sorry, I meant the next stop.”

On the recent trip, someone rang the bell too soon.  He said “sorry, I meant the next stop.”    Of course, I’d seen other people do it before this particular bus trip, but it finally hit me! It’s a normal, human mistake to occasionally ring the bus signal too early.   Normal people say, “sorry, I meant the next stop” or something along those lines.   As the bus driver said, “no problem” and drove to the next stop, I realized I’d never seen a driver get angry with a passenger for ringing the signal too early. Except in high school when some kids were doing it to be obnoxious. The most extreme reaction other than that I’d ever seen was a driver sigh or roll his eyes. And even then, only if traffic was bad and/or he was trying to make a connection at a transfer point.

Shortly after that, I noticed another too early bus signal. She actually asked, “Isn’t this [street name]?” She actually doubted the bus driver and where we were before she doubted herself! When she realized she was in error, she apologized to the driver and he basically said “no worries.”

Now, I’d remembered this before. Mostly the few times I pushed the signal too early or if I was afraid of doing so. But I’d always remembered it as me being a 4 year old F**k up who couldn’t push the bell at the right time and made the family have to schlep extra blocks. And I’m not kidding/exaggerating when I say that. I thought I did something wrong or bad by pushing that bell too early and made things harder on my mother/brother. Although he was sitting in a stroller, so I’m not sure how I made things harder for him.

The more recent recall of it was different. For the first time, I realized her reaction was out of proportion and felt anger at her. WTF is wrong with just saying, “sorry, we meant the next stop”? Or even just asking me to say so? And I felt sorry for the 4 year old who wasn’t allowed to make a mistake and wasn’t shown how mistakes are corrected. Though to be fair, my mother’s childhood was so messed up, she probably wasn’t shown it’s ok how to make mistakes and how to address them. If it were that one incident, I don’t think it would be that much of a big deal, but there’s a whole series of them. No wonder I’m so anxious about doing the wrong thing. I couldn’t even ring the bus signal at 4 without being blamed because I screwed it up.   It felt good to be angry about it instead of beating myself up for messing up something when I was 4.

All’s I know is next time I’m on an unfamiliar route, if I ring the signal too early, I’m going to apologize and see if the driver will let me off at the next stop!

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7 Responses to “Bus to Blamesville: A Roundtrip”

  1. a new direction said

    I know how you feel. I’ve been finding myself more & more comforting the little girl that I was from long ago that had been made to feel bad about so many things. I really feel sorry for her & the adult I became because of it . We’re growing & learning to ourselves a break now. Good Job!

    • whenthescapegoatquits said

      I think that’s the important part is to find a way to speak to those little girls (or boys for our male readers) and let them know it’s ok to make a mistake and it isn’t ok you were treated like that for a reasonable mistake. I even find myself thinking of the refrain from Adele’s One & Only that goes “nobody’s perfect”. For awhile, I thought she was saying, “trust me, I’ve learned it” instead of “trust me I’ve earned it” I kind of like my version better! 🙂 Seeing how the bus driver handled a grown adult who made that mistake vs. my mother with a 4 year old was a real eye opener for me.

  2. Man, that’s a harsh thing to do to a 4-year old. But I guess if you’re going to raise your kids to be anxious little perfectionists, you’ve got to start early. :-/

    • whenthescapegoatquits said

      Hey, some has to provide the mental health profession and pharmaceutical industry with patients! lol 🙂

  3. tburgh said

    What I’ve finally realized about Scapegoating, narcissism, blame and rejection (based on little to no information — which drives me crazy!) is really just immaturity and emotional laziness. You can’t force someone or a whole family to be emotionally mature. Tough exhausting lesson to learn.

    • whenthescapegoatquits said

      I wasted a lot of time and energy thinking, “if I can just stay reasonable, eventually they can see the reason too.” Now, I realize they have their own reality. I’ve often likened it to being the mental health equivalent of Marilyn in the tv show The Munsters. I’m estranged from my mom/brother/sister-in-law, but sometimes the PDed craziness seeps in from some other relatives who are PDed and/or enablers or apologists for the PDed. I find it helps to mentally hum the Munsters theme song rather than try to fight the logic. Too much cognitive dissonance with the gas lighting.

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