How Narcissistic Mothers Create Sibling Rivalry

by Michelle Piper

Sibling relationships are often a casualty of the narcissistic mother. In fact, narcissistic mothers both consciously and subconsciously create sibling rivalry.

Due to the limited resources of affection, attention and favor from the narcissistic mom, siblings have to vie for their rations. Because narcissistic mothers are incredibly self-centered, they have precious little time and effort to spare for their children. Thus, any attention, whether it be positive or negative, may be pursued by the children of a narcissistic mother even at the expense of relating to their siblings.

In functional families, sibling rivalry naturally occurs and, with adequate parenting, ideally turns into respect for each other as children mature. Siblings are encouraged to be close and love each other.

This isn’t the case in a family with a narcissist as the matriarch. Children are pitted against each other and taught from very early on that if they wanted any sort of “love” or attention from their mother, they’ll have to compete for it against each other.

If you grew up in a narcissistic family system, you may now see there’s a constant comparison between siblings—who’s doing better and who’s ranking higher in the narcissistic mother’s eyes. Because of this, you may not feel connected to your siblings, and distrustful of them because you can’t be sure what you say won’t be held against you.

You may long to feel the camaraderie and closeness you see your friends have with their siblings.

Sadly, siblings with a narcissistic mother often sacrifice relationships with each other to compete for something that doesn’t exist: their mother’s unconditional love. Narcissists have difficulty feeling love or empathy for anyone, leaving you and your siblings to bid for conditional, short-term attention that can be switched on and off at any minute.

At times you may be frustrated with yourself for feeling unworthy and inadequate and project those self-deprecating feelings onto your siblings as well. You are taught from a young age to repress their feelings and that they don’t matter.

Children are often put into shifting roles by the narcissistic mother. First, the golden child, is the hero, the mother’s other-half, or her mirror. There are pros to this role, such as getting all of the best stuff, the attention, and the ability to entertain the illusion you can do no wrong. Your accomplishments, no matter how minor, are celebrated to the fullest extent. However, it is not all sunshine and rainbows for the golden child.

You may become enmeshed with your narcissistic mother and grow up without any real knowledge of boundaries or self-identity. In this spotlight, you are just the puppet of the mother, and the one of whom the other siblings are ultimately the most jealous.

Then there’s the scapegoat. When you receive attention from your mother in this role, it’s of the negative variety. But, oh, the relief in feeling you are at last beyond her control. Of course, that feeling can be short-lived as a child because the narcissistic mother will make great effort to strip you of that control and as the adult, she often has the power to do so.

When in the scapegoat role, you shoulder the blame, shame, and anger of the family. If something goes wrong, it’s your fault. You are labeled as the “bad” one, even if you don’t fit into that category. The silver lining of the scapegoat role is that you often have a better concept of self and independence than does the golden child, which can help you later on in life.

Finally, if you are the lost child, the forgotten one that receives neither the praise nor the blame, you may do your best to remain invisible and away from your mother’s wrath. You sense it might be better to go unnoticed than to have to deal with the emotionally debilitating games your narcissistic mother plays with her other children.

Some narcissistic mothers intentionally triangulate and pit their children against one another because of their belief in the “zero sum game.” This is a narcissistic game in which one participant’s gain results from the others loss.

The net change in total wealth among participants is zero. The attention the children receive from their mother is just shifted, not shared, so as to always keep someone left out. Therefore, a gain by one child is a loss for another.

When I say “triangulate,”  it means three roles are being played. Imagine a triangle where at each one of three points there’s the villain, the victim, and the rescuer.

The villain is the one who blames, disrespects, attacks, or criticizes the victim. In turn, this tempts the rescuer to defend the victim, which can move the rescuer into the villain’s place and the villain into the victim’s place.

The roles often switch and reverse. For example, the narcissistic mother can start out as the villain and the scapegoat as her victim. If you try to become your sibling’s rescuer when your brother or sister is in the villain role, you, instead, become the villain in your mother’s eyes for betraying her. And, she in turn, is now the victim of you and tempts your sibling to become the rescuer to gain mother’s positive attention.

It is an exhausting emotional game that may never end.

She can also make active attempts to insure the competition is fierce. She may spend excessive time alone with one of her children, most likely the golden child, instead of including all of her children in an activity or outing.

She may commiserate with one child about the other’s negative behavior, so that a tag-team competition is set up as well. Some narcissistic mothers intentionally block bonding and encourage competition between siblings. Other narcissistic moms creative a vacuum of neglect where the kids are left to prey upon each other for the meager emotional resources that are available in the family environment.

Families like this can feel like an emotional desert. The result of tactics like emotional abuse, lies, and neglect, however, ensures her children are always on their toes, working to earn her conditional love.

The negative feelings you had toward your siblings while growing up can carry on well into your adult life. Siblings may never be close to each other due to the deep emotional scars and animosity they were programmed to feel towards each other by the narcissistic family environment. You may find one of your siblings is unable to let go of the old system and actively keeps the rivalry going. He or she will then miss the value of having a fellow survivor, their brother or sister, who understands what they endured.

As adult children of narcissists (ACONs), competition between your siblings can decrease if there’s a realization by all parties that what you were taught growing up is not how siblings need act towards each other. Instead, it’s possible to support and ally against the narcissistic mother’s negative behavior.  There is sometimes an opportunity to create trust and bonding between adult siblings of narcissists that was not possible as children caught in the destructive narcissistic pattern of parenting.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

jenn September 24, 2016 at 12:38 am

my sister and mother and family– all narcs and sociopaths, but im their only victim. these monsters spent decades ruining my life, and now they just want to maintain it. Im in my 30’s- my sister is a successful doctor with a nice husband and kids- they all want to make sure i have nothing- no husband spouse or bf, no kids and they have it all. My sister has 1000 friends- she knows people everywhere. how crazy is it that i have no friends period and only meet more psychopaths and negative people. my wicked sister is supportive and kind to all her friends, everyone else, but calls me just to drain me and treat me like crap. when i was dating a lawyer she flew to my state to harass me and yell at me for it…

i hope this worthless b*tch rots in hell. as of now i can only write bad reviews online abt her through md websites- its the only kind of revenge I can get. saying to a narc how can you do those things to me, is reacted only with nothing- blank. She is so evil- an oppressive monster- how weird that shes been to other countries to do charity work. Even counselors won’t help you…no one cares. My mother is worse, but she and my sister together are two devils. When my mother abuses me, i ask my sister to tell her to stop and my evil sister doesn’t care.

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Debbie September 27, 2016 at 2:48 pm

My family situation is pretty identical to what you’re describing. Trying to find people who understand this family dynamic has been difficult, except online. I’m always searching for a support group, local to where I live, but I can’t find one. I’ve read posts all over the internet so I know that we’re not alone in dealing with this but the thing of it is nobody can really connect. I also seem to be a magnet for narcissistic men and even have drawn narcissists as dare I ever referred to them as “friends”… which I found out was because I subconsciously accept their behaviors because I was raised with narcissists. They are crazy-makers. I’ve been the family scapegoat, all of my life, while my mother and sister and now her adult daughter are like a “triad” of evil…heartless, cold, and they don’t give a damn if I died tomorrow…all despite my attempts to negate their cruelty with my own kindness, they are no less the type of narcs to just hang up, refuse to answer…just shutting me out as they have. They refuse to see their own guilt. So I just get shut out. When anyone asks if I have a family, I have to say “no”, because they treat me worse than a stranger. It has really ruined my self-esteem and negatively affected my life. I wish the majority of people could understand how hard it is to come from this family dynamic. It is excruciatingly painful, especially because I could never have children or family of my own to love and forget these b**ches. Oh, they are terrible!

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Kelley October 13, 2016 at 9:59 am

I so can relate to you guys. I am the scapegoat of my narcissistic mother and sister. People can’t believe the horrible things they have done and said about me and my husband and kids. They want you to think that you are the crazy one. For me I have little to to contact with either of them. They love to tell lies about me and my family, so its best that they no nothing about my life. It is how I survive in this dsyfunctional family.

God is my strength and I have my husband and kids and that is all I need know.

It’s nice to know, that I am not alone in this world with these type of crazy people. They treat their own blood like crap and strangers like royalities.

Kelley

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shalisha alston November 12, 2016 at 7:20 am

Don’t worry. Eventually, these people end up turning on each other. I had to extricate myself completely from my sick family especially my mother.

I came from 9 siblings and my parents, especially my mother pitted us all against each other. I was the scapegoat, but no more. I go to alanon and ACOA (Adult children of alcoholics) as well as private therapy. This has been a major help for me. I also found a new family there.

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Laura November 21, 2016 at 8:04 am

Dear Jenn,

I’m sorry you got, and continue to get, the crappy end of the stick. There’s absolutely nothing worse than having people who ought to love and support you doing the opposite, trying to tear you down.

I am sorry that your sister still treats you badly. No excuse for THAT!

I’m also saddened that you feel that sniping at her on physician review websites is the only way to feel like you’re getting back at her.

Instead of being just like her and your mom, why not try the absolute BEST way of getting back at them?

The BEST way to get back at people who tear you down, is to build yourself up into the best person you can be! That’s exactly what they don’t want…for you to be a successful person.

Being successful doesn’t mean going to medical school or getting an MBA. It means becoming comfortable in your own skin, being strong enough to say, “I’m my own person, I’m fine the way I am.”

Then you will be beyond their manipulations. You will not have to pick up that phone to listen to your sister’s laundry list unless you really want to speak with her!

This takes a lot of time and hard work to accomplish, but if you do it, you will be free.

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Audrey Epstein September 26, 2016 at 2:24 pm

It is in my experience as the scapegoat, my golden child sister cut me off and I did her too because I saw her as abusive and personality disordered like our mom. She cut me off from her daughter. There is no hope in my family or my non family of hollow shells. Mother died just last Friday and I am with the realization the thin thread of connection broke with family of origin with her death. Only on Facebook I have a chatty relationship with my niece. That is all, there is nothing cultivated in the 18 years of her life. She is a social media addict, hollow, selfie addicted looking fashionable in pics with her good looking boyfriend, the model codependent beauties they are.

It is a sick family and I am better off without them. Nothing new, I knew that long ago. I lost hope and interest, keeping it real.

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denise vangogh October 16, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Hi: I ‘get’ it. I’m the scapegoat too. Unfortunately, I was so destroyed that here I am at 57, left with a ‘thin’ connection (perfect description – by the way Audrey) and my false hopes that they’ll someday ‘love me’ – huh! It is by my own hand i pretty much destroyed myself into someone who never married, or had kids. i got caught up in drugs and struggle to this day with it. i just wanted to make the hurting ‘stop’ ya know? that’s all i ever wanted – well, once i realize how it just isn’t available (love, that is); it’s so hard to believe that it’s not the fact that – well, maybe i’m just ‘unloveable.’ My story is too long, but the suffering is the same…. ‘torture’ and more torment, on and on, day in and out. The cruelties and toughness of what my mother put me thru….left me a sorrow-filled wreck. Don’t mean to sound so gut churning-ly ‘down’ here, but narcissism, is no joke when you’ve got one for a mother.

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scapegoat November 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm

I have words of hope for you. I was “the lucky one” because I got thrown out of the family for good. At first I was devastated, the Holidays were the hardest until I realized there was no fighting, no yelling and no sabotage. I began to plan my own fun: I took my husband and I and our children to Disney World for Christmas the first one. We had the time of our life! Then the 2nd Christmas we invited a family more poverty stricken than ourselves and we gave each a gift after Christmas dinner and we prayed together for one another’s problems. We ended up having so much fun, that we actually looked forward to the Holidays. We did this for years. I went to work during the day and computer school at night and landed a good job. Then I had trouble because my siblings who I was estranged from got extremely jealous and started trying to sabotage my job until a boss got wise to her and him – we weren’t allowed to associate with one another or they would be cut out of the family Will and thrown out too. God sent so many nice people to fill in for what we had missing. We still enjoy the holidays. I bonded instead to the siblings on the other side of the family and I could never bond to my siblings because of the way my parents pitted us against one another and forced competition and destroyed any bonding that tried to occur. Sometimes you have to adopt people into your “family of choice” and let go of the family of origin. I am old lady now but a happier one. There is hope. (I was the scapegoat in my family.)

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Jennagoodacre September 26, 2016 at 3:06 pm

We are 6 sisters and my mother has been a narcissistic bitch for as long as we can remember. Only problem is that we are now adults who still live under the same roof. The ‘golden child’ has acknowledged my mother’s disorder and uses it to her advantage. Hell awaits these people.

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jo September 27, 2016 at 9:06 pm

I was only saying to a friend of mine yesterday how difficult it is to explain to someone who has not experienced a Narcissist environment what happens in them. People look at you with two heads when you tell them the battles and mind games that happen. I used to feel like I was the bady and making it up. I have lost my family I walked away 4 years ago next month. The sadness of not being able to have a family never leaves you. I know I have done the right thing walking away, and slowly I am rebuilding the self esteem that I never had and Boundaries (4 Years ago I didn’t know what they were). It is a real lesson in unconditional love learning for your self. I wish there was a quick fix to this sad predicament. It took many years to instill all this damage and I suspect it will take quite a few to come out the other side but come out of this and shine from this I will because I deserve love of self and happiness. I wish all of you on this journey courage and the belief that you can surmount this tragic ordeal. Go gentle but don;t ever ever give up on you.

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Ariel Pearson September 29, 2016 at 4:29 pm

To all of you who were the scapegoat or forgetten child, know this– you are so much stronger for what you went through. It hurts still, but you at least know who you are, or are heading in that direction. Just the fact that you found this article is a clear sign of that. Your abusive siblings and your narcissistic mother are lost… they live in constant misery most likely — even if their adept at hiding it. The truth may be painful, but you gain so much from coming to a deep understanding about yourself, the role they played, and that it wasnt your fault. These people are ill-spirited and you are NOT. Even on your worst day youll never be as miserable as them. Maybe pray for them, but that does not mean you have to forgive and forget… i will never forgive my abusive mother, but at the same time, its different now. She can’t touch me emotionally anymore. I decided she has no power over me…

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denise vangogh October 16, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Hi: I ‘get’ it. I’m the scapegoat too. Unfortunately, I was so destroyed that here I am at 57, left with a ‘thin’ connection (perfect description – by the way Audrey) and my false hopes that they’ll someday ‘love me’ – huh! It is by my own hand i pretty much destroyed myself into someone who never married, or had kids. i got caught up in drugs and struggle to this day with it. i just wanted to make the hurting ‘stop’ ya know? that’s all i ever wanted – well, once i realize how it just isn’t available (love, that is); it’s so hard to believe that it’s not the fact that – well, maybe i’m just ‘unloveable.’ My story is too long, but the suffering is the same…. ‘torture’ and more torment, on and on, day in and out. The cruelties and toughness of what my mother put me thru….left me a sorrow-filled wreck. Don’t mean to sound so gut churning-ly ‘down’ here, but narcissism, is no joke when you’ve got one for a mother.

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Amanda September 29, 2016 at 6:13 pm

I appreciate reading your posts as I recognise the same feeling of exasperation in dealing with my elderly I believe Narcisstic mother…and most probably sister also.
I left home at the age 16 to escape Victorian morals I was being raised with in the 70,s, like the full Sunday School up bringing and then shaming expected from a Christian moralist, following sexual molestation by an adult man at age 13.
That event shaped my life from the day it happened, and I did not , have never received a compassionate response from my mother…I would have ended in a brothel if I had listened to her.
She has never been one to turn to for nuture in my conscious memory, and I am now midlife and becoming involved with the stage of her life that requires support… for her to comfortably remain in her home.
My life as her eldest daughter has been a solo journey from the point of view of having a Mothers influence, as she has always competed with me…and enjoyed the power plays and smokes and mirrors of manipulative and divisional games within the family.
I see her as a spider. with the many threads shes pulled and shaped into the web of her creation … and I see her power to disguise her games slippin away…and also the results of some of her choices becoming settled and permanent…not able to be portrayed in any other way than as they are.
It takes a long time to grow up, become aware and truely separate from the characters we call family… not under any illusions anymore.
I give thanks to the great spirit, residing beyond the apparent waking state of family drama, awakening in me the truth of my equal worth in the eyes of God… something I never heard from the lips of any family member…
Thank you for my awakening realization.Arohanui.

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Shells September 30, 2016 at 11:06 am

I am the scapegoat of a narcissistic mother who has created such a horrible family environment, I just can’t bring myself to go back to even visit anymore. Thankfully I live several states away and am very independent and happy with my life here. But it’s still painful. My sister and I have never had a close relationship, and I believe that my mother’s narcissism contributed to that. I am the classic scapegoat and my sister is the classic golden child. My mother has turned 2 of my siblings so against me that they harassed and even physically threatened me. Now she expects me to fix it or she’s cutting me out of the will. I have zero desire to fix any of it. I have finally realized that this is not love, nor will it ever be. She attacks me, and when I fight back, she tells everyone how horrible I am. She tells everyone that I need help all the time because of an abortion that I had over 30 years ago. But being the classic narcissist, she has NEVER stepped foot into a psychologist’s office because nothing is her fault. I’m the problem.
I’m sad that this is how things have turned out with my family, but I’m moving on.

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annie October 3, 2016 at 8:42 am

SHELLS I also am the scapegoat, second child of four, 61 yrs old. My father was the abuser, physical and emotional. He died in 2008, my mother should have went to therapy then but I did. She was angry and frustrated and just drove me up the wall! My panic attacks had started up again so after a year I went NC. We reunited in 2013 but now since May it’s NC, for the last time! She was a co dependent and always lived in my father’s shadow. So now, she acts like him. Demands, expects without any consideration about my feelings. She didn’t always say what was on her mind but when she did, in the doctor’s office telling me that if my brother wouldn’t be at my Easter supper, she would not attend. And continued with my other siblings. Triangulation. My alcoholic brother came back in our lives after 35 years because his wife died. We had forgiven him but he screwed up again, disrespected my mother, my husband and myself so I cut ties with him after realizing that he wouldn’t change. For her, it’s all forgotten. Of course, she hadn’t and my sister, the baby was talking about forgiving again. How many times, no way!

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TheScapegoat October 1, 2016 at 1:43 pm

I know what it is to be “that” child — the Scapegoat. In a family of 4, boy-girl-girl-boy, I was the the 3rd kid and the youngest for nearly 8 years. We hadn’t been happy really before my younger brother was born but when he came along, it was as if christ had risen again. He really was the golden child. But don’t misunderstand me, I loved him dearly and always realized that it was in my mother’s head that he was that special and I never resented him, I only resented HER for being that way with him and not us older 3. This wasn’t the “youngest child” being spoiled, this was TOXIC. He got absolutely everything and we got nothing of the extras that all kids usually get — swim lessons, scouts, summer camp, music lessons of all kinds not just piano, special teachers, and he was never spanked, punished, hit, grounded or screamed at like the rest of us. He was immune. As for me, I was a rebel in a disturbing, volatile and toxic family. Passive, inept father who never intervened. Older brother was schizophrenic and molested and battered me. Older sister sided with him like a coward to avoid being harmed herself. So she began to help him. I had no one protecting me, ever in my entire life. My mother called me all kinds of names and it started when I was little with “scatterbrain”, “dawdler”, “slowpoke”, “daydreamer”, to insulting my hair, my legs, my laugh. I couldn’t do or BE anything right. As a teen, I became a “trollop”, a “tramp”, a “lush”, an “alcoholic” (I never was), “useless”, “aimless”, “goddamned bitch”, “liar”, “sick”. She smashed a wet cigarette all over my face once. She blackened my left eye. She hit me on the head with my own shoe. When I had a rash once, my sister came to me to say that my mother had said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a syphilitic rash”. Sister used to take pleasure in repeating what my mother said about me…that she thought I was an alcoholic, a tramp, etc. When I was running the bath water once my mother hollered, “Go ahead and wash yourself you goddamned tramp, you’re going to be a prostitute by the time you’re 21”. Those words are burned into my brain, and all of them are. I can’t forget. She told me I was incapable of love, had no compassion, that no man would ever have me, that I was unemployable … and the list goes on. To this day, I’m the “crazy” one in the family and it’s all a pack of lies that I’m telling. None of this ever happened. My sister is the same insulting, spiteful, scornful person as my mother. Example: Once I jokingly said that if we lived under the same roof, “sparks would fly”. Sister lied and told others how disturbed I was because I said “KNIVES” would fly. Gaslighting! I know what it’s all about. My family doctor told me that I’m probably the most reasonable and intelligent, self-aware one in the whole family and says it’s best to keep my distance from them. It;s difficult for me to have no family, but then I never really did anyway, did I? Thanks for listening. Oh, PS — I’m 65 years old now and the pain is still there. I think I had a milder form of PTSD when I was younger. I had panic attacks, depression, anxiety, hyper-vigilence, and a bit of detachment when I was young. Now, I have all the bitter and grievous memories of a torn life, and a depression that never went away. But I do have peace and I wish the same for all of you.

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Debbie October 4, 2016 at 7:10 pm

I’m 46, never found a decent man so I never married (I’ve come to the realization that I always attracted narcissistic men who treated me much the same as my family), and I’m childless, not by choice…but what you wrote about your mother and sister really resonates with me. Both of mine were equally as “evil” and abusive. The ties are permanently severed between them and me… and as people have told me, I will probably will never get over the grief, but they say I never had a family anyway… and they’re right about that. Most of what your mother said to you was also said to me, in so many words. My sister was always her little minion. I was insulted and bullied by them both, and even into my adulthood, they don’t care about me at all. In fact, they scapegoated me, all of my life, and then when I finally reached the breaking point where I could take no more, I called them out on everything and their response? They cut me out of their lives, before I had a chance to severed ties with them first! *hard sigh* It has been one year, now, and I miss my sister’s children. But I don’t miss the rest of the family. Rather, I miss never having a family to begin with. *Hugs* to everyone on this message board who has also been a casualty of their own family. I pray that God will give us the strength to keep going…and that if we lack true friends to understand and support us emotionally, that we find good people to be our patchwork families.

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jen October 6, 2016 at 5:39 am

“Rather, I miss never having a family to begin with.”. You hit it exactly. Love to you and screw them all :-).

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D October 24, 2016 at 11:47 am

Debbie,
I’m 42, the oldest-child of three, and the scapegoat. My sisters and I were constantly being compared to one another, and they were programmed to feel animosity towards me, that throughout the years, just grew into rage and hatred. As adults, our relationship as siblings has been strained at best, and non-existent for the most-part.

Like you, I haven’t found a man to share my life with, and I haven’t had kids. Before I was 10, I had already suffered physical and sexual abuse. But the worst, has been the emotional and mental torture I’ve had to survive at the hands of my NM. I got kicked out of my house for the first time, when I was 16, b/c I had been taking laxatives to loose weight, you see, my NM thought I was too fat. I eventually came back, as I was an honor student and was very much looking forward to graduating HS and going on to college. She made that nearly impossible for me, and at 19, I got kicked out again. I was told “I made her miserable, made my sisters miserable, and that there would be no one in this world who would ever want me”. I was homeless for a while. I eventually graduated college, and moved away. That was when we had a semi-peaceful relationship. We were in the low-contact phase. Then, I realized that most of my relationship with men, where a mere reflection of my relationship with my mom. I figured that if I wanted to have healthy relationships, I needed to fix my relationship with my mother.

I moved back to live closer to her. She went to therapy with me a few times, she stopped going, and I became the diagnosed patient. After trying for a few years (praying, therapy, you name it!), I realized that nothing I did was going to change our relationship. I decided to go no contact, and I moved away again, to re-start my life. Then, my grandfather died, and I got pulled back in to the family dynamics. Last year, we were all on vacation together, my sister (the golden child) was a bully, my mother was putting me down every chance she got, and I had a friend with me who saw it all. She validated so much of what I had been feeling, and made me realize I wasn’t crazy. She gave me the strength to walk away then and there.

My little sister got engaged during that trip, and month’s later, she invited me to the wedding (even though no-one in my family had been talking to me, except for my grandmother). I declined the invitation, and sent her an e-mail reinforcing my decision from years ago, to go no contact. The wedding was this past weekend. Family friends, estranged family members (even our Dad showed up!), and my sister’s friends were there (destination wedding). Seems like the only one missing was me.
Your words: “I miss never having a family to begin with”, ring so true. But I can’t help but feel awful about not being there for her.

I know going-no contact is the right decision, as I hope to finally free myself from the needless suffering, so I may have a real chance at having a soul family (even if it’s patched together) with new friends (and dare I even hope for a man) who I can be in healthy connection and relationship with. I just want my life to count for something more than what it has been. I just noticed that so many women here who are scapegoats have never married and had kids. Wondering why that may be (besides the obvious) and how other scapegoats have been able to overcome their pasts to create the type of family they never had?

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H October 30, 2016 at 5:25 am

Yes, I’d noticed that too, D. I’m another one. Unmarried, no kids and middle aged. Because for me, family was a place of pain, not of refuge.

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Debbie November 21, 2016 at 11:26 am

Your quote about family being a place of pain and not of refuge is absolutely spot on.

jen October 6, 2016 at 10:48 am

Scapegoat – I really hope you are getting counseling. What you describe above is beyond horrible. I am so sorry you went through this and I hope you break off all contact with them. God bless you.

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jen October 5, 2016 at 3:31 pm

My narcissistic Mom died last year. I was the scapegoat for years because I refused to play into her game and about 6 months before she died she made the “golden child” the scapegoat. Basically tried to disinherit my sister and turned on her for absolutely no reason. I wasn’t close to my sister (me being the scapegoat and her being the golden child), but I clearly see she did absolutely nothing wrong to have turned into the scapegoat. My other 2 siblings ganged up on her and treat her horrible. I feel guilty that she became the scapegoat and it was no longer me. How crazy is that? I feel horrible and guilty for not being emotionally abused. I reached out to all of my siblings hoping that with her death we could initiate a relationship but they want nothing to do with me. I am fairly sure my Mom told them to have nothing to do with me after her death. I know she insisted I not invite my newly scapegoat sister to my son’s wedding (Um.. he is 12). And since I am venting…. when I was 19 I was raped at college. Not only did she not help at all when I told her, but she yelled at me saying this was harder on her than it was on me and then she told my siblings that I lied about it. So i am now in my 50s and I have never gone to anyone for help, ever. I am fine now – good marriage, great kids, good job but the truth is I am happy my Mom is dead and I would like to never see my siblings ever again.
Can anyone relate? I don’t normally tell anyone this but I think I really needed to vent I guess. Thank you!

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Judy October 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm

I can relate. I have recently pulled away from my family after the final straw involving my mother pitting my brother against me. I’m 58 years old and still entangled in this sickness. I miss not having a family but need to save myself.

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Marie Myers October 9, 2016 at 7:50 am

My sister murdered my mom…they both loved or thought they did love of money…
I had no legal recourse to help my narcissistic mother get out of ny sister take diwn of my mother’s demise…
Pamela Michele Brewer is my younger sister…
My mom was never physically abusice to her…my sister Debbie who died at 17 years old and myself she was abused physically and mentally…
My sister wanted me involved in murdering my momma starting back in December 2015…I had only spoken to her 2 times in 2 years then in December 2015 2 hours…
I never knew my momma was missing for 3 1/2 weeks til my cusion Janet Ward texted me to tell me my sister Pamela has removed her from her home…she went anandot temp legal guardianship of my mon…back 2006 my mom gave power of attorney of paper work 2010 gave Pamela medical power of attorney….her and husband both knew what they wanted to do to my momma…my sister never changed her evil ways fron being 19 years old a naked dancer and prostitute and a kept woman by a Columbia drug cartel…1986 I asked Jesus Christ into my heart..it has NOT BEEN EASY FOR ME …yes i have apart of a past I want to forget…MY SISTER since then has always been about money…my momna chooses her …my momma was a master of manipulation and she taught Pamela to be master of master of manipulation…My momma was moved severak times…my mom was driving and was going to get married.. My mom bought tge home where my sistet and her family live at…they put $35,000.00 in a pool and landscape…my mom $250,000.00…
It’s a very sad time for me…I was never after cash….a helping hand would of been nice but iver all I wanted my momma to LOVE…To know what LOVE IS…and my sister…
My mom ended up on about 40 pills…
A hospital found blood on my moms brain…NO WONDER GIVING MY MOM PILLS SHE DID NOT WANT TO TAKE…I TOLD THAT HOSPITAL THAT THERE ARE LAWS …HEPA LAWS…I went to ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE…SENATOR STEVE YARBOUGHS OFFUCE…MATT SALMON OFFICE GE IS A COBGRESSNAN…ELDER ABUSE TASK FORCE…ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES….OMBUDSMEN…DETECTIVES..POLICE….NO ONE WOULD HELP…BECAUSE ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES WAS INVOLVED…MY SISTER IS NOT WHAT SHE APPEARS….CORA MAE FUNDERBURK IS MY MOMMAS NAME..I WAS HELPLESS IN HELPINGS MY MOMMA…MY MOMMA CRUED TO ME IN DECEMBER 2015 THEY STEELING MY MONEY…AND SHE A COUPLE MONTHS BEFORE THEY ARE GOING TO KILL ME…MY MOM SAID THEY PUT DRUGS IN HER PRODUCTS…HER HAIR STARTED FALLING OUT…MY MOM NEVER HAD TO DIE THE….WEEKEND BEFORE SEEING THE JUDGE…MY MOM TOLD ME ALOT IN 2015…
MY CUSION SANDY S…WAS INVOLVED TO HELP MY MOM SELL THAT HOUSE BECAUSE OF MY SISTER’S. BEHAVIOUR….NOT GETTING INVITED TO OBE OF 2 GRANDSONS BIRTHDAY PARTY…SHE SAW THE PICTURES ON FACEBOOK…She always went she was up to it….You know all these years I still wanted to believe my sister was helping my momma…she helped her all right .. Costa RIca off shore banking….my mom saud Ronald Kirk Brewer is a money hidder.. I told my mom to move to Oregon…I said get your self a nice 5 th wheel and a car.. Live at both locations this has ALWAYS BEEN OPEN TO MY MEAN NARCISSIST MOM…WHO I MISS AND LOVE…I HAD TO SEE MY MOM DYING RIGHT BEFORE MY EYES I COULD DO ZERO..NO ONE HELPED ME…MY MOM MADE IT THAT WAY…AND UPON MY MOMMAS DEATH THEY GET THE HOUSE…IT IS NOT ACCIDENT MY MOMMA DIED WEEKEND BEFORE SEEING THE JUDGE…
MY SISTER PLANNED THIS…AND SHE WABTED ME ON HER SIDE…I PRAY THAT NY NARCISSISTIC SISTER AND ALL INVOLVED GO TO PRISON. ..RONALD’S MOTHER JOY GONZALEZ who was a nurse in mental institution put her own daughter away vecause she was a problem in the way if Pamela and Ronald and Joy’s way…my cusion Janet said my sister wanted my mom to put me away….you see ALL ABOUT MONEY…I NEVER REALLY KNEW THE TRUE MEANING OF NOT SERVICING 2 MASTERS…
GOD AND MONEY….IN THE BIBLE IT WRITES YOU WILL HATE ONE….TODAY I LOVE JESUS CHRIST…Respect of money for help to live on planet earth but….I WOULD NEVER KILL FOR IT…thank you…and bless you…Marie Myers

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Bud October 18, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Grew up in a narssist family. I was the only one who refused to play the games, but I didn’t know it wasn’t normal because I swear my parent was at least second generation of this mess. Hacking Facebook to make sure nothing was said that could be misconstrued and turned into drama, talking bad about the other parent(s), outright lying about things but insisting everyone else (me) were crazy liars and how that parents life was ruined. My mother would leave me with sick children and go out with her friends, knowing that I’d have yo call her at some point and hear her in the background crying about how “she can never get away, her horrible children won’t leave her alone!” And whomever would answer calling me an “ungrateful little bitch” (15 years old) but wouldn’t tell them she’s been out every day that week. She’d throw herself in front of my stepfather car, “fall” off the porch, try to pull the oven out to clean (which she only did around company) and manage to break her arm because US ungrateful kids wouldn’t help her(we knew better than to get involved because it would have been one of us that dropped the oven), break a mug and cut herself(again, company) tell the other kids I said I hated them or that the can of tuna that had been in the cupboard a year was their dinner and I ate it(she didn’t cook), lie to my grandpa about needing money, allowed men in the house with daughters living there(don’t need to explain what started happening) told kids i wasn’t at work when I was(or vice versa), you name it. I grew up knowing no one cared about me. US sisters aren’t close, she still has them tell her anything that is said by anybody(I don’t play that) and my brother is absolutely convinced I abused him as a child and one of my sisters still does her attacking for her, another does exactly as she did. None of us are whole because of her. Plus, she kept trying to have me committed and every time, they would tell her she was the problem. My dad is one of her favorite targets, he’s toxic too, probably because of her. This is the only place I can say anything at all without her finding out and victimizing herself. Thank you.

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Marion October 26, 2016 at 11:32 am

I’ve always been the punch bag for my entire family ever since I can remember. When I was a kid I used to go and stay with a kindly aunt just to escape the abuse. Everything was my fault I have an older sister who can do no wrong and a much wanted younger brother. As the middle child I was constantly starved of attention – even though I was the most sickly one due to an undiagnosed heart condition. My mum died several years ago and it wasn’t until after she died I realised how hard it had been. I must have been in denial because as a naughty child I was always being asked at school if there was any trouble at home, which of course there was. When my mum was dying my sister and brother completely ostracised me and tried to stop me visiting her saying that she wanted that. You can imagine how heart broken that made me. Fortunately my dad was still alive and gave me support. I then looked after him for 3 years until his death. Again my brother and sister turned against me and didn’t speak to me for a year and a half. It was all very painful – fast forward a couple of years and my sisters husband died. Again ithings have turned hostile, I have tried to be helpful but all my offers of help are always refused apart from minding her dog – says it all really. My brother is there every day and she says he’s the only one watching her back even though ive tried so hard. She calls me crying but when I offer help she refuse it making me feel so guilty. I have tried talking to her about it but she denies it saying how could I when she’s just lost her husband. It’s like torture. The trouble is I love my brother and sister and always want to help them. I wish I could walk away and go no contact but it scares me. It seems my sister has got everyone where she wants them – I need to get away but finding it hard atm because of the situation. Thank you!

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erin November 22, 2016 at 9:07 am

Marion, there is something in the tone of your message that is just like I am feeling that I am thinking it has something to do with being raised in a narcissistic family. The always feeling guilty part. You should see a counselor just to talk through that guilt. You have absolutely nothing to feel bad about. I see it clearly but you can’t see it within your own life. I have a sister who lives out of state and we would make plans when she was coming into town. Every time I would cancel my plans to spend time with her and every time she would cancel at the last minute (about 30 minutes before she would arrive) because of bad weather, getting a late start, whatever. I was always nice and understanding when she cancelled. She would then call me while she was driving back home as she was on the expressway about 5 minutes from my house and leave a message seeing if she could stop by. Well, I am a working mother and would be at work and wouldn’t get the message until the evening when I got home. Then of course she would tell everyone (not me of course, just everyone else) how much I hurt her for not getting together with her while she was driving home and everyone had to tell me how much I hurt her. I would feel horrible and so guilty. Even though I rationally knew how stupid it was to feel guilty when she was the one who cancelled every time. So, I am really trying to work on these frustrating feelings of guilt.

The best thing (although I know this is tough) is to just break contact and know that it is not your responsibility to make these people happy and most importantly that you are doing nothing wrong. Good luck. I know, easier said then done but you deserve happiness!

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broken November 10, 2016 at 10:19 pm

I was the golden child. I couldn’t understand why she would yell at my 3 sisters and just knew it made me feel terribly guilty and confused. That being said, my mother couldn’t control herself around me either. My earliest memories are of my mother shaming me and wondering what was the point of life at about 5 years old.

I became her caregiver at age 12. I then became a professional caregiver, married a man with BPD so I could unconsciously live out this reality forever – that of someone who was merely put on this earth to serve. This is an unfullfiling, painful role only someone with absolutely no self esteem would perform. Additionally, I now truly believe she was nice to me so that she wouldn’t end up old, alone, in a nursing home.

My mother constantly lies to turn us against each other. So sick. None of my siblings have any relationship with each other – except two of the sisters actively hate me and tell lies about me. I had to delete FB because I have stolen from them (no), stolen their identities (no), etc.

I continued to care for my mother until I was 40 years old. I became gravely ill and could no longer give her money, massage her ego, drive her, etc. She started sending me hate messages and told my extended family a bunch of lies. She has always controlled me until I got ill…..me being bedbound meant I was abandoning her.

Now I am the scapegoat and my sisters are the golden children. But I think they will find that role soul destroying, too, because we all know the favoratism has nothing to do with the child…… it’s all about the mother. I wasn’t the favorate because I was a better child, and now Im not the worst because I am a terrible person. Our “role” is decided by her, and she’s still the director of the movie today. It’s hard to remember that when it feels so personal.

I just wish they would stop their smear campaign on social media and with our aunts, uncles, etc.I have lost my entire extended family except my brother.

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Debbie November 16, 2016 at 12:17 pm

You wrote, “My mother constantly lies to turn us against each other. So sick. None of my siblings have any relationship with each other – except two of the sisters actively hate me and tell lies about me. I had to delete FB because I have stolen from them (no)…etc.” I can relate EXACTLY to what you’ve stated there, nevermind that it’s my only sister and her adult daughter who “actively hate me” because of my mother’s lies. I have tried to explain this to my current boyfriend who cannot believe that any family could be capable of such hatred and malice, nor can he imagine it because his family is relatively normal. I am about to break up with him because he said, “Nobody’s mother would ever do that to their daughter (meaning “me”, of course), unless they did something to deserve it.” AH!!! I am so disgusted with him for saying that!! My closest friends know the truth…but trying to explain this to people, once they get to know me, they still question whether it’s believable. Now he looks at me like I must be the crazy one… just like my relatives do because of my mother’s lies. Especially around the holidays, everyone is particularly family oriented. I am the most depressed during this time of year, despite the whole thing depresses me year round. But I so definitely relate to many of you on this message board. I wish people (esp. my relatives) would believe that this is the truth but they just can’t believe it. I have always been the scapegoat….

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Abegail November 17, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Looking back now, I think growing up, my sister and I were BOTH golden and scapegoat children. Our roles would chop and change, depending on what the situation called for in order to tow us in line. But because we both saw the other as the golden child, and we both saw ourselves as the scapegoat, that drove an even bigger rivalry.

My sister was the golden child by way of “she is so smart. Look at all her awards. She’s a natural leader.”

I was the golden child by way of “she is so pretty. She is such a good girl. She is always nice and quiet, and very agreeable.”

So in my eyes, I was never smart enough. If I didn’t get awards, I was a failure. And OMG, in primary school my sister was the School Captain in the year above me, and she received a leadership trophy from the school; so if I didn’t become School Captain the following year, I would be a failure. Nothing I did was ever good enough, so I ended up making everything a competition, and show my bitterness at anyone I perceived to be achieving more than me. I also found myself in deep depression, especially around my birthday; every year I got older, and no matter how much I had accomplished in that year, I still felt inadequate.

In my sister’s eyes, she was never pretty enough, so she always put me down and made me insecure about my looks to the point that now as an adult, I have so many body insecurities that people think I’m just fishing for compliments. She also went around to all our relatives (cousins, aunties, uncles, anyone who would listen to her), telling them that I was the favourite, and that I was a fake, and I was a bitch that hated everyone. To my face, she would pretend to be my protector. She said everyone hated me, and that she was the only one that liked me. She was the only one I could trust. If one of our cousins invited her out somewhere and they extended the invitation to me, she would tell them that she’ll pass on the message to me, but never did. So when she rocked up to the party and I wasn’t there, she would tell them that I didn’t want to come. “I told you she was a bitch that hated everyone.” This bit of information only came to light years later when she had a falling out with one of my cousins, who told me that that’s what she had been telling them about me.

Favouritism in both our eyes were always that the other was the favourite:

My parents would buy my sister all these things, and I would just get discards of what she didn’t want. She got a laptop, where as I got an iPad Nano. She got 2 cars from my parents – one a used one, and later got upgraded to a brand new car because the cost of maintaining the used car got too expensive. They paid for her driving lessons. And when she moved out, she made off with almost all of the furniture, appliances, and entertainment system. Meanwhile, I paid for my own driving lessons, and I bought my own car. Any furniture given to me was completely mismatched from my house. Go inside my house, and you can spot straight away which ones I got stuck with.

However, my sister saw me as the favourite because I apparently “never got yelled at.” She was always getting into trouble and butting heads with my parents. As soon as she got her driver’s licence, she was never home, and my parents would do nothing but talk badly about her in front of me – what an arrogant, ungrateful daughter she was. I was always stuck at home – in my room either reading or watching TV. If I wanted to go out somewhere, my parents were always with me. How could I possibly get into trouble when I was the good little lapdog doing everything she was told?

When we had children of our own, my mother became the narcissistic grandmother to my sister’s daughters. I didn’t see it at first. I thought she was being the loving, attentive, helpful mother to her daughter. My Dad even commented how arrogant my sister was that she was competing with my Mum, like motherhood was a competition. I thought something was wrong with my sister. How could she treat our mother so badly after all the stuff she’s been doing to help her with her daughters?

It wasn’t until I had a daughter of my own that I started to recognise and understand. My mother was high-jacking my daughter. She would undermine everything I said, especially to do with my daughter’s skin and allergy conditions. Even though I had paediatricians, specialists and immunologists consulting with me, my mother would do the exact opposite of my instructions when she was looking after my daughter while I was at work. She made me feel bad because she “isn’t the hired help.” She constantly reminded me that she was looking after my daughter as a favour, and that I was so ungrateful and arrogant for not letting her do things her way. So I looked at my finances and decided to put my daughter in childcare/preschool. I’m paying them, so they have to follow my instructions as to my daughter’s care for her skin and allergies.

My mother was not happy! I was treating her like an imbecile. How arrogant of me! After all, she was a mother before me, so how dare I question her. How dare I deprive my child from a loving grandmother. After everything she has done, all the sacrifices she’s made – how could I be so ungrateful?

When my mother and my sister were at war with each other, I played my mother’s defender. My mother would come to my house almost every weekend, want to do things with me, and all that time have a bitch session about my sister. Now that I’m the ungrateful and arrogant one for standing up to her and choosing my child’s well-being over her ego, my sister is now her defender. My Dad died 2 and a half years ago. I believe he was the only one that was keeping my mother from becoming full-blown psycho, which she is now.

She even threatened that if I continue to restrict her hands-on role with the care of my daughter, she would do everything to destroy my relationship with my daughter, and make sure that when my daughter is older, she would resent me for keeping her away from her loving grandmother.

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Marco November 20, 2016 at 6:49 am

Fortunately, my mother does not fit into this box. My father doesn’t either. But on occasion their selfishness does rear its ugly. It’s not a natural selfishness but one born of avoidance. I have a sister with what seems like a personality disorder. She fits the narcissistic definition as outlined in this article. She has since before puberty embarrassed, goaded, attacked, and played both of her children against each other and her extended family (my sister, parents, etc). In order to try to keep things from going nuclear (my absence that causes their social network to “talk”), I’ve sometimes been scapegoated by everybody (sometimes harshly and sometimes pleadingly) to back off from my absence during the holidays and family events where my dysfunctional sister will attend. Why I chose to stand firm in my convictions and follow through with my self-protection I can’t answer. My ex-wife has such a mother and she sent me this link. The damage is permanent in spite of the awareness.

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kate November 28, 2016 at 4:11 am

I feel so hurt right now! I just overheard my mum talking badly about me to my brother then when I confronted her…..she denies it!! I have 3 older brothers and I am her only daughter yet she only cares for her son’s! They constantly disrespect her and I’m the one who is there making sure she has everything she needs yet I’m the bad one! Within my heart I feel a deep pain wondering how can your own mother ever do this to a child….her own daughter!!! I am afraid to speak to my husband about my feelings as I don’t want him to worry! He’s the most wonderful person ever and is my blessing. The sad part is that my mother always expects me to do my duty as a daughter and always expects my husband and I to do everything for her yet we are the ones she treats badly and speaks badly about!

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Anonymous December 3, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Wow! Is all I can say. I’m totally the scapegoat. It’s nice to hear other pple wi go through this also. Such a great article.

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ramblingal December 5, 2016 at 10:58 am

I am the scapegoat – the bad kid in my family. I believe one reason my ‘hero’ siblings are comfortable with our roles is that I make them ‘look good’ to our parents and friends. Who would want to lose their status! I think that’s why they don’t want to know me, be around me, as an adult. They don’t want to talk with me. Both won’t invite me to their homes. I think they are afraid their spouses, children, and friends will discover I’m actually a nice person, thereby spoiling the illusion of their perfection (superiority) and spoiling the lies they have told them about me. If i do one little thing wrong, they use it as an excuse to not invite me over, or not to contact me. My smoking was their excuse for decades. Yet, one of their close friends who visits their house almost daily has been a smoker for a few decades! I quit smoking years ago, yet that changed nothing. They still don’t initiate contact with me. I earned a BA degree, yet that didn’t’ change their, nor my parents’ perception of me either. I bought them christmas and birthday gifts and they almost never acknowledged receiving them. I just wanted to know if the gifts arrived. They don’t have to thank me, just let me know the gifts arrived safe and sound. I feel socially and emotionally starved by them. Like I’m withering on the vine, dying from lack of attention. And i believe she knows this- that she is subtly yet knowingly, neglecting me to death. But if my sister says something-anything nice to me-acknowledges me, I suddenly feel secure and grounded and happy- for a few weeks. This occurs only once a year or less. She treated my mom the same way. Although, my mom and dad were true villains.

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