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Family scape goat. Blaming my parents.

(23 Posts)
torontonian Sun 21-Feb-16 07:05:55

My sister and me have always been treated "differently" from our cousins by our family (uncles, aunts and our parents themselves). My cousins are 33, 37 and 40, my sister 26 and me 33.
A simple example of conversation when I was around 15:
Father: torontonian came back at 10.05 last night, that is 5 minutes late so she is grounded for 5 weekends, withouth going out.
General look of disaproval from all my family, how do I dare!?
15 minutes later my aunt talking happily (and proudly) about my cousin coming home at 2am the same night (cousin who is my age).
Smiles from everybody, happy that she had a good time.

A big one happened when I spent a year abroad and all my aunts and the cousin who is my age came to visit with my mum. Trip planned for them, not to really see me, dont be fooled. We visited four different cities in 10 days. In one of this, somehow my cousin couldnt get into the subway because the doors closed too fast. Everybody panicked. I calmed them down saying we would get out in the next stop and I was sure she would arrive in the next train. They were almost crying, but my cousin was "lost" for 5 minutes. We were 26 years at the time.
Now, traveling overnight, we needed to switch trains around 4am.When we left our train, the station was desert. No people, no signs... so as I was the one "speaking" the local language (not really) I offered to go inside the station to ask (there was lots of tracks, station was far away. I left my suitcase, bag, etc with them and run to the station. When I came back, they were gone. I called them and they were in the train, that came while I was away. I asked my mother how could it be that they left without me and the answer was that "the train came". I couldnt believe it. I asked them to stop in the next station and I would rush there and try to board the train. But they said that they didnt want to the leave the train if I was not on time since next was not coming in another 8 hours. There I was, 4am in the middle of nowhere, snowing, without my wallet or the train ticket and they asked me to take a taxi to my final destination (400km away). So what were my options? Tried to talk with a taxi driver, convince him to drive me 400 km in a lamguage I didnt speak... and started calling my friends at the residence to borrow money to pay for the taxi when I arrived. But they were all obviously sleeping. Luckily enough their train arrived at around the same time as I did so I went directly there and paid for the ride (^phew^). But that was not all. We were suppssed to leave that morning for the capital city, stay overnight and then their flight was leaving in the am. After the awful night I said that I would sleep in and meet them in the other city in the afternoon. My mother left crying and next thing i know is my aunt comes yelling at me that I am selfish and treat my mom badly for not going with them. There is a bit more, after I went to meet them kn the afternoon and my mother didnt let me enter the hotel room in case I woke my aunt up )I had booked a room for me and my mum but they decided that she was sleeping with my mom). I ended up sitting in the hall until they left for the airport. And just then i could enter to sleep some.

We have a family whatsapp group. My mother posted photos of my children and then read the comments to me. So I asked to be added. All aunts, uncles, cousins were there. Except my sister and me. Now, every birthday, everybody will say happy birthday. Today, it was mine. One of my uncles said happy birthday. Then my cousing changed the subject and nobody else said happy birthday to me (so it is not aatter that they forgot, they decided to ignore).
I am not hurt because I dont give a shit about them after all these years but yet I feel humiliated. I feel that I shouldnt let them do that to my fave amd leave the group. Now i wonder how much waves that would cause.
Do you think I am over sensitive? Reading too much? Given the train episode, is this something that happens in the best families? Were they just practical and I was a jerk for not going early with them?

FuckFaulknerILikeTheGruffalo Sun 21-Feb-16 08:04:51

Unfortunately your family sound like really baffling, shitty and highly strung people. I'm sorry you've went through all that. I don't think you're reading too much into anything - they are not nice at all. The normal thing is to never, ever leave a family member behind like that, and to be disgusted at the notion of it.

You ask if you were a jerk for not going with them early - I don't think you were, I'd have done the same thing, but maybe taking that situation out of context some people would disagree. The bit that matters though is that only total dicks would hold a grudge against you for such a tiny thing to do wrong.

It's really unfair you've been given the short straw, having been lumped with this lot for relatives. In your shoes, I wouldn't be speaking to any of them, would go totally no contact (though you may not want to do that, but you're not unreasonable if you do decide to) to avoid anymore of this treatment.

Please don't feel humiliated - they should be ashamed of themselves.

On another note, happy birthday!

crazyhead Sun 21-Feb-16 08:10:53

The anecdote about the holiday certainly sounds shitty behaviour.

Remember that in your family's mind, there will be no comparison between your cousins and you. It won't work like that.

I'd also say that some of this may come from seeing you as competent and independent, and your cousins as vulnerable. The whole holiday story smacks of your parents seeing themselves as being in need of support and you as being the tough one.

So in short, I think you'll get further challenging your family on specific incidents when they happen and explaining how they make you feel, rather than bundling everything up together if you see what I mean

Marchate Sun 21-Feb-16 09:14:21

Short answer: yes, you have been scapegoated all your life

The usual advice is no contact, or at least minimal contact

Go to the Stately Homes thread. You will find a warm welcome there

Happy birthday too!

FrancesNiadova Sun 21-Feb-16 11:25:11

Have a great day. You've spent too much of your day thinking about them.
The best tonic is to be happy & do well.
Go out and do something great!

tealoveryum Sun 21-Feb-16 15:07:19

I don't think you are being over-sensitive, I think you are coming to the realisation that you and your sister have been treated differently and that hurts.

Have you spoken to your sister about this?

No the train episode would not happen in any of the families I know. In fact, I think that your mother is the most in the wrong because even if the others left she should have stayed and waited for you. She treated you like a disposable part and then played the weepy guilt card to keep you from recognising and challenging her on it.

OurBlanche Sun 21-Feb-16 16:34:00

Happy Birthday cake wine flowers

Now, unfriend the lot of them and live your own life. I can personally recommend just walking away from those who persist in making you the family whipping post.

I did speak to my sister, 2 years ago. She had a completely different story, equally horrid. We decided we would hide our newly united front, as it would help her when the inevitable shit hits the fan. So far we have been right in our predictions of just how shittily our dad would try to treat her and lie to me!

But we know better, neither of us feels as badly as we used to. So it could be worth chatting to your sister... then you will know which 'list' she belongs on.

Good luck xx

torontonian Wed 24-Feb-16 05:08:27

Thank you everybody for your responses. I have been soul searching deeply in the last few months, asking myself lots of questions, trying to understand the way I am/behave and why my personal life is as it is.

I am living a very difficult time and I really think that I need therapy to look into and be helped with different aspects of my life. These thoughts about how I have always been treated by my family keep coming up to my mind. I have discussed this with my sister a few times, specially in the last months and we feel the same way and totally blame my parents. They put us in the spotlight and encourage others to abuse us.

I believe that parents are there to make us feel safe, to protect, not to throw us to the sharks. But we have never have any emotional support coming from them.

The whole holiday story smacks of your parents seeing themselves as being in need of support
I can't conceive how they would feel good by "sending their dogs to attack" us just for the sake of it (not saying you are wrong). My father was emotionally abusive to all of us, and physically abusive to my sister and me. Does it make sense then that my mother felt powerful/safe by attacking us? As a way of keeping balance?

and you as being the tough one.
Therapist told me that I present myself as a strong person. I think that I am not as strong as I look like. I consider myself very sensitive and emotional, I have suffered a lot. So what is a strong person? Somebody who is not affected, who survives and doesn't jump off a bridge?

I now live abroad, in a different continent and the only contact I have with extended family is via facebook/whatsapp. No conversations really, just the polite happy birthday (or not wink), and their general chat in the family group (i.e. they post some joke or chain messages). But I was wondering if I should also leave this group or it would cause upheaval (another instance to be attacked).

Thank you marchate, I will check the Stately Homes thread.

MoominPie22 Wed 24-Feb-16 05:33:34

If I were you I would definately leave that group and actually go no contact 100%. They give you nothing and will they really be a great miss? If they don´t care about you and don´t support you then you should wash your hands of them imo. Stuff the consequences! What are they gonna do? If you cut contact, block their numbers/email etc, they can be as pissed off as they damn well please but they will have to accept your decision at some stage. They will get the message, don´t worry.

If it were me though, I´d be sending them a concise message as to why you are cutting contact. Give your reasons, your feelings beforehand. Then you have the satisfaction of letting them know why, you have a clear conscience, the removal of the stress will be like a great weight has been shifted and they have the facts in front of them, they can take it or leave it. They will most likely deny everything and take no responsibility whatsoever ( cos that´s what manipulative bullies do ) and turn it round on you making out you are the unreasonable one etc etc...But that´s their look out and not your problem.

But if it were me I´d send a brief and to the point message telling them you´re cutting contact and why, they can react however the hell they want cos I wouldn´t give a fuck. By severing all contact you are in fact severing the last ties to them and cutting any remaining power they have to hurt/disappoint/abuse/manipulate you any more.

How they choose to react is out of your control and none of your concern. Let them get on with their shitty, dysfunctional lives without you being caught up in their malice, spite and fucked up dynamics. Life´s too short for suffering arseholes and being related does not give someone a free pass to abuse us and piss all over our psychological welfare. Stop allowing them to influence your moods. Go NC. You will be much happier, less stressed and your mental health ( and future self ) will thank you. smile

torontonian Wed 24-Feb-16 06:24:46

Well, the situation has changed now that I am an adult, my parents are separated and I live abroad, so contact is really reduced and I have been to these family meals less and less (I am 6500km away).

Honestly, I very much doubt that they will be bothered at all or that I will hear anything from them if I go silently. I think that confronting them might give them the pleasure of knowing I resent them? I never opened my mouth when this happened. I just looked down and waited for them to change topics. Most of it happenned when I was a minor, and I have avoided as much as possible as an adult.

My mother is still the link with this dynamics. After separating she has adopted the martyr role. I think that after twenty something years of abuse, she felt that missing. She came to help visit when both my DC were born and both times it was hell. She told my sister that she couldn't have dinner with the "lord & lady" because she was the maid. The reason? We didn't did put a fork for her. (I could even prove it because we took photos that day and you can see her fork in them!! -- not that that really matters IMO). But she did lots of things like this, lost a stone and when she went back home and my sister went to the station to receive her, my DM didn't acknowledge DS and threw herself to my aunt's arms crying "I am going to die".

I have also thought about going NC with my mother as she just makes me feel anxious, angry and depressed. No emotional support from her at all, ever. The "practical" support either. Although she came to "help" when DC were born, sometimes she disappeared the whole day or didn't leave her room. When I asked her to take DS to the park she would see it as an obligation (she has seen him 3 times in her life as we are so far!). Another time, she got upset in the grocery store and left. I needed to come back home pushing a stroller and a trike.

So, going NC with my parents is also in my mind, but that is trickier and harder. They are also DC's grandparents and sometimes they seem interested in them.

PuellaEstCornelia Wed 24-Feb-16 06:59:14

she threw herself to my aunt's arm crying I'm going to die
She sounds as mad as a bag of frogs! Well done for turning out sane!! flowers
Go no contact. They might moan about it, but you don't need to know so anything about it. And if you're NC, your kids should be too - they do not need nutters in their life either

Hissy Wed 24-Feb-16 07:03:45

Please keep these awful people away from your children?

They will undermine you as a parent and try to steal them from you if you allow them space in your life.

They can't be good GP if they are abusive to you.

Give yourself the gift of freedom, Unfriend the lot of them, remove yourself from the group.

Eventually block them.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 24-Feb-16 07:24:02

Your sister and you are the family scapegoats for all of their inherent ills.
Cutting them all off can only bring benefit to you.

Some parents really should not have access to their grandchildren and your mother is a case in point. Your mother seems "interested" in your children because she could also use them to get back at you and undermine you in other ways. She could also scapegoat them or play one sibling off against the other.

A good rule of thumb here is that if they are too toxic/difficult for YOU to deal with, its the same deal for your both vulnerable and defenceless children. Your job amongst many here is to protect them from such malign influences.

PennyDropt Wed 24-Feb-16 08:09:51

In my nonexpert experience you will find that things repeat down the generations. Prob a parent was brought up in a household with a scapegoat, they are repeating their experience - maybe because that is the 'norm' for them who knows, it is irrelevant they are what they are.

Ime it is great to find out that the reason you are treated in a certain way is because your DPs/ rellies/ Grandparents/ family were brought up in a abnormal/ cruel household - it means that their behaviour is nothing to do with you or who you are, it is their screwedupedness.

Imbroglio Wed 24-Feb-16 09:16:21

Yes I agree Penny.

My mum told me several times she was the 'favourite' in her family and saw that it caused a lot of trouble, bit didn't really learn from it. Perhaps inevitably the jealous rage descended when she had her own children and I think she managed it by setting up my brother as the golden boy (her sister had daughters) and having me as the 'disappointment'. Aunt could play the part of loving auntie, while feeling superior that her daughters were better than her niece). It was a sort of appeasement deal. When 'golden boy' screwed up there was a lot invested in making excuses (usually blaming his wife), wheras if something went wrong for me it would be my own doing and if something went well I would be put down a peg.

However.... in the end I think Golden Children do sometimes suffer more because they don't understand that they are being hurt - as an analogy, imagine someone being fed nothing but sweets instead of being given a balanced diet, or being pressed to have another drink when they are already drunk. It all feels lovely at the time but it isn't healthy.

My 'golden' brother has lots of problems in his relationships (I have nothing to do with him) because his behaviour is so awful and because he simply can't see that its him - he is doing exactly what he's been brought up to do and what his toxic relatives want him to do.

MoominPie22 Wed 24-Feb-16 10:35:25

Just go NC with the lot of them. That´s what I said in my above post! At least there´s huge physical distance between you which is helpful too. Just do it! smile

Imbroglio Wed 24-Feb-16 18:34:16

Total NC is a hard road, unless you have a lot of other support.

Pseudo341 Wed 24-Feb-16 18:56:27

If they did it to you they'll do it to your children, or attempt to turn them against you. Seriously consider going nc now, you're not exactly getting anything from this relationship so what's to lose?

0dfod Wed 24-Feb-16 19:19:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

0dfod Wed 24-Feb-16 19:21:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

torontonian Wed 24-Feb-16 19:42:26


you're not exactly getting anything from this relationship so what's to lose?

But also this:

Total NC is a hard road, unless you have a lot of other support.

They are my parents after all and it is a hard decission to make. In some ways I call my mom just to speak in my language. I guess that I get some company sometimes. I am going through a separation, I am on maternity leave (can be isolating) and didn't have any friends here. It is really hard for me to form deep connections in my second language. My mom is always home; she takes care of my grandma, who has dementia and is dependent. So I think that my mother is bored and the calls also work for her to have some company.

I also feel some obligation (I know in some cultures this is big, not my case, but still). My sister and BIL are living at my mom's at the moment since they dont have a job but they want to leave asap because they cant stand living there. I see how my mother is going to be bery lonely in her older days and I find it sad. Her brothers visit but they have their own life and probably will move to their beach houses when they retire...

As some of you pointed out I need to put my children first. We live very far right now so there wont be (if any) visits from them. But I wonder how negative could be to have a skype call for them to see grandparents every fortnight. If I should "build" an adoptive family of friends for my kids. And I have decided to go to therapy to work on my childhood issues (I dont know when it will be practically possible yet), but will me keeping contact with my parents have a negative impact in that process?

Imbroglio Thu 25-Feb-16 07:19:35

I think you need to decide what you can manage and what you are comfortable with and establish new routines around that. A counsellor could help you to do this.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 25-Feb-16 07:53:39


re your comment:-
"But I wonder how negative could be to have a skype call for them to see grandparents every fortnight. If I should "build" an adoptive family of friends for my kids. And I have decided to go to therapy to work on my childhood issues (I dont know when it will be practically possible yet), but will me keeping contact with my parents have a negative impact in that

Your mother provides no practical or emotional support. She has in the past seen your children as an obligation. For those reasons its no point whatsoever in setting up any such calls. You cannot control the content of what she says so any insults to you via them or other jibes will come straight at you. It will happen right in front of your very eyes. She could well go onto scapegoat them in not too dissimilar ways as to how both you and your sister have been and still are.

Surely there are other people you can converse with in your own language or at least an active online community of same?. You therefore do not need her to converse with in your own language but your sense of obligation here is kicking in. You are lonely and going through a separation yourself but your mother cannot and will not supply you with any support. She is not and will never be the loving mother you have so wanted her to be. Its not your fault she is like this, you did not make her this way.

Children need decent and positive role models; clearly none of your family of origin bar your sister fit the bill.

You are a decent and kind person but your mother has never given you or your siblings any real consideration whatsoever. She was toxic and young once, now she is toxic and old. She has not fundamentally altered. You cannot apply "normal" rules of behaviour when dealing with familial relations to people like your mother. The rulebook gets thrown out the window when it comes to dysfunctional families. Ultimately you will need to grieve for the relationship you should have had rather than the toxic one you actually got.

Your parents had their whole lives to make a positive difference when it came to you and they did not do that.

Many now adult children of such toxic parents have FOG - fear obligation and guilt - in spades. You certainly have FOG in spades which is not surprising at all given your family of origin's behaviours. At the very least you need to further lower all means of contact with your mother.

I was not at all surprised either to see that your parents have now separated. Women like your mother cannot do relationships so the man in their lives is often kicked out or is as narcissistic as she is.

Counsellors are like shoes; you need to find someone that fits. Therefore the first person you see may not be the right one for you. I would certainly suggest you see a registered therapist and as soon as you are able to.

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