Narcissistic Mothers and Scapegoat

by Michelle Piper

When you’re in the role of the scapegoat in a narcissistic family system, growing up to feel “normal” can be a stretch. After years of torment, the scapegoat is accustomed to being blamed for every little thing which went wrong in the family. It’s hard to feel a real sense of self and belonging after your trust for yourself and others is abused.

You were given the exact opposite treatment than was the golden child, which may cause you to resent that sibling. The golden child had it all. He or she was perfect in your narcissistic mother’s eyes, as this child was an extension of the narcissistic mother who could do no wrong.

Worse, if you were an only child, you likely were put in not only the scapegoat role, but sometimes enjoyed the hero/golden child role only to be put back to scapegoat or ignored in the lost child role. The punishment you endured was intolerable and something no child should have to endure.

As the scapegoat in your family, you probably took on the family’s issues and problems as your own because your narcissistic mother made you believe everything was your fault, no matter what the situation. This baggage can be felt by you as carried feelings that you bring to present situations. Even though the feelings didn’t originate with you, they are now your burden until you realize they weren’t yours but were from your mother who did not boundary or process hers. Being the adult child of a narcissist (ACON) is one of the hardest jobs because you come to realize that they pain and suffering you have always felt was due to your narcissistic mother.

When it came to you and your siblings, you probably were given more chores and responsibilities, as well as treated unequally when it came to discipline of you and your golden child sibling.

Now that you’re an adult child of a narcissist, you may notice things about yourself and your siblings which reflect how you were treated when you were young.

The golden child sibling may now be a narcissist themselves, never having to deal with the fact they were not perfect because your narcissistic mother never challenged them to believe otherwise.

Or, the golden child may now struggle with a sense of not knowing who they are or what their worth is outside the enmeshed relationship they had with your narcissistic parent.

For you now, it may be hard for you to trust yourself and feel confident in the decisions you make. Growing up, your narcissistic mother may have gaslighted you and you then questioned yourself and your sense of reality. This can lead to low self-esteem, because it was so hard to be certain whether your beliefs and values were right or wrong.

It’s common for scapegoated children to place blame on themselves, even into adulthood, for things going wrong which may be outside their control. They may blame themselves for the mistreatment they endured when they were younger, thinking it was their own fault their narcissistic mother was so cruel. In reality, a narcissistic mother is incapable of consistent love or empathy, picking you as her targeted scapegoat simply because she could.

Many scapegoats succumb to their role, knowing they’ll only receive attention from their narcissistic mother when they act according to how she wants them to. Repressed anger may come out when they grow up, leading to explosive aggression and resentment for their mother and other people in their lives. Then, scapegoats get frustrated with themselves for immature behavior and feel “less than”.

Other scapegoats fight and then bear the brunt of the angry narcissistic family system. Siblings, spouses, friends, and anyone else within the power of the narcissistic mother’s influence are used against the scapegoat. Some scapegoats go from submission to aggression in order to survive.

Now you are older and able to define how toxic your upbringing was. You didn’t deserve the treatment you were given by narcissistic parents and you don’t have to blame yourself for what happened.

Being chosen as the scapegoat in your family is not normal, nor is it healthy.

Don’t spend the precious time you have left trying to change your narcissistic mother’s opinion of you.

When I coach ACONs who’ve been scapegoated, I know they’re going to expand into their own happiness when they detach themselves from a narcissist’s opinion.

Base opinions of yourself according to your strengths and values. As you take actions that honor and protect your values your will feel your self worth increase.

It is no longer about what your narcissistic mother made you think you were or what she and those she manipulates currently thinks of you. You can put carried feelings and behaviors from the past behind you. You can end the cycle of dysfunction, shed your scapegoat role and be your own person outside of your narcissistic mother’s family.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Angel Marie July 23, 2016 at 3:51 pm

My name is Angel, I’m 22 and the middle child of my family. I have 2 older siblings and 2 younger. This post explains my whole life. I do believe that my mother is a narcissist. Though deep down, I think I always knew something wasn’t right. I was adopted by my aunt and uncle at the age of 2. Obviously I’ve always felt a little out of place to begin with. We grew up religious, one of my earlier memories is learning about God at Sunday school. I felt so inspired I decided to give my heart to the lord that night. I remember this because I was so excited that I went and told my mom right away. Her response was “honey, no you didn’t. You don’t understand.” This always confused me. I truly thought that I did understand. I had a lot of responsibility at a young age. I was called cinder-angel, it’s kinda a lame joke my family likes to say. My mom didn’t really hug me much growing up, she was always interested in her other children. She would always say “you have your dads eyes or my nose, ect.” to her own children. Even after I told her it bothered me because I knew she would never compare my features to herself or my dad. I felt left out in a way. And she got upset I would say anything about it and I always ended up apologizing. High school was hell. Not because of school but because of my family situation. I was under a microscope. I did average in school, got grounded for it often. Ironically my oldest sibling had mostly a failing record in school but still seemed to be celebrated. The ruleds always changed for me. For example, if I was told I could not participate in the next school play until I got my grades up, I would get my grades up and the play was still taken away. I remember one morning I was just waking up and my mom was on her way out to do errands, she kissed all her sleeping kids goodbye except me. She must have thought I was asleep still, I felt my heart drop. I thought to myself, did that really just happen? We got into a lot of arguments in my teens. She would say “we didn’t have to adopt you, but we did out of the kindness or our hearts.” That scars me still. Already feeling unwanted I endured more pain. She left me at the store, school and theater practice on “accident” often. I had a lot of confidence issues even tried to kill myself once. As if that wasn’t enough of a cry for help, my parents made me believe that I had some kind of personality disorder. We went to a therapist in an attempt to help “fix” me. Those sessions ended fast when my mom was asked to have a conversation with my therapist. I dont really know what was said, but my mom was pissed. It became my falt. I grew up thinking I was crazy. My mother was so wrapped up in what her friends might think of me too. That seemed to be more of a priority to her than me. I was punished for my first kiss at 14, because I didn’t talk to my mom about it and the boy I kissed talked to his parents and got me in a shitload of trouble. I was told I could date after I turned 18. Even after I turned 18 the rules magically changed once again. I had a passion for theater at a young age, that was discredited due to the fact my mom thought my older siblings did theater better, and she always thought I was sucking up to them by liking it. I was labeled a follower, never seen as my own person. If I got close to anyone in the family she would destroy it fast. There was and still is no trusting any of my family members, they report back to mom everytime I share anything. Financially we grew up without. I would use my babysitting money to buy groceries, it was my job to go to the store, laundry, dishes and mowing the lawn. My siblings barely ever lifted a finger. I was “no allowed” to go to collage, the reason being mom thought I was not mature enough. I moved out after a year of living with my family. All of my siblings still live at home. I get treated like crap because of it. My parents are much more stable financially now. I was going through a rough time a few years ago, was homeless living in my car and lost my job. For Christmas/my birthday I swallowed my pride and asked for a small loan ($300 instead of gifts) to help me keep up with my car payment, they sighlently refused. Even though they have given my other siblings up to 3 grand each easily to help them get on with whatever traveling adventures, school or missionary work. Now I try to keep up with holidays and birthdays but no one gets back to me unless I call several people several times. I even helped them move out of the house we lived in for 15 years, just me and my parents. No one else helped. It feels like I’m not welcome in their home. I feel like a stranger to them. I just wanna be loved for who I am. I want them to know me but I fear they never will.

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