photo of boy holding heart shape paper on stick

To Meet Publishing Requirements, This Free Preview Chapter From My Book ‘Rejected, Shamed, and Blamed’ Is No Longer Available

Visit my blog to read more articles on family scapegoating.

-Rebecca C. Mandeville

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Superb and incisive insight as ever Rebecca. Thank you so much for contributing this incredibly valuable wisdom document to the world of people surviving dysfunctional families and relationships.

    This article is important not only for those recovering from the scapegoat role but also those who have suffered any role within a dysfunctional family system.

    I myself only got the role of scapegoat much later in life, indeed as you say, when I saw the dysfunction in the family, took therapy and then called it out, only to find myself promptly scapegoated with apparently a range of the following; having a midlife crisis, suffering early onset diabetes, having a nervous breakdown, being a narcissist myself (both my sisters are and mother was).

    Fortunately, I was married to a trauma informed psychotherapist (and still happily am) when all this kicked off and was in therapy with a family systems therapist too, so I was lucky to be well supported.

    However, I had not understood or realized that I was an ‘ideal self’ meaning that my mind had created a personality and belief system of who it thought I ‘should’ be, rather than who I ‘was’.

    I can only say that it came as a massive shock to read in a psychology book passed to me by my therapist the description of a ‘codependent’ personality. The accommodating type which derives from an anxious ambivalent attachment style as a child.

    I nearly passed out from shock as I read it because I realized that this was me down to the last detail. That I was not who I thought I was, and my beliefs, thought patterns and behaviors were all directed by the ‘ideal self’ or the ‘false self’ as you describe it.

    I remember returning to my therapist and asking, “well who am I then?”. She replied, “That is what we are here to find out”.

    I remember her saying something that made me cry. She said; “The Buddha said, ‘there is nowhere to go, you are already there!”

    I immediately understood that this was not a journey to somewhere else, to a different person, but a journey back to myself, my true self, who was within me but suppressed.

    She said, “It isn’t even a journey, it’s an acceptance.” I cried again at the understanding, this is about us accepting the authentic person we are, who our parents couldn’t accept because they themselves were not accepted.

    And because they couldn’t accept our authentic self, we in turn couldn’t also, for the reasons you describe, accept ourselves either, hence the mind creates the ‘ideal self’ in order to survive.

    I got huge ‘cognitive dissonance’ as I saw the life that I had thought was ‘normal’ for the dysfunction that it was. It was very painful to realize that I had been abused within my family in very subtle ways which had limited who I could be for decades.

    Worse still was the realization that I myself would affect my children and loved ones in the way I had been affected unless I rewrote those maladaptive thought patterns, beliefs and behaviors. I myself was toxic because of all this.

    The pain of being shamed and blamed as well as ostracized and scapegoated was immense. My worst subconscious fear was realized as I was rejected and abandoned. It was too late to turn back the clock and there was no way I was going to further trade my mental health for being accepted by a dysfunctional family.

    It was 4 years later of therapy and much personal study that finally a big change happened to me.

    I changed from being ‘externally validating’ to ‘internally validating’. The change happened in a couple of months and was palpable.

    Then the world changed, I started meeting different people, having meaningful relationships with new friends. Work picked up, the sun seemed to shine brighter, I started trying new foods, visiting new places, fell in love again with my wife, the universe felt like it was working with me on a glorious summer’s day.

    This is just a taste of what it feels like to get the ‘true self’ back, and that is how things have stayed,

    Yes, there are ups and downs, but the recovery time is much quicker. The feeling of impending doom has been replaced with confident optimism, many family members and old toxic friends have tried to puncture my recovery and indeed sometimes it has really hurt.

    But now I know what I am feeling and why I am feeling it and if it relates to childhood events, I can link them.

    I am still in recovery from childhood because it takes time and practice to recognize maladaptive responses caused by childhood trauma and then more time to formulate healthy responses and override the temptation to follow the old neural pathways.

    Nevertheless, each time I catch the old unhealthy response and replace it with a healthy one, the old response dwindles in intensity and many many have completely disappeared.

    Now I am aware of the work I need to do and there are still no doubt a few trauma responses lurking in denial in my subconscious but I have myself back and am aware of what has happened and its effects and what I need to do to rectify it all. I am now acting from a center of understanding within myself and from a position of strength and knowledge.

    I rarely attract codependents or narcissists anymore and my old social crowd have melted away as the changes occurred in me. However, when I do meet a narcissist or indeed codependent, I can discern them pretty quickly and avert any psychological or emotional techniques they may be trying to apply.

    I don’t hold it against either of them because both are compulsively and unknowingly coming from the position of the false self and it is not their fault, they are just acting according to their nature.

    I myself used to be codependent and use all of the people-pleasing techniques to manipulate people into liking me, I cannot judge anyone and in fact I feel sorry that this condition is so rampant among people who are unaware of it, whose intention is to be good people, but it is coming through a maladaptive filter caused by an adverse childhood.

    So, I say to anyone reading this to look deeper into the features of codependency and the ideal self and try to bring these subconscious beliefs, thought patterns and behaviors into the conscious mind by studying the subject and taking therapy. It is a difficult and painful task because we are working against the programming of our families and no doubt our friends.

    My new relationships with people are so different and fulfilling because we express and recognize each other’s emotions, it feels so rich and rewarding. My old relationships were like eating dry bread, I didn’t realize how superficial and emotionally void they were.

    Likewise, I could not conceive of what it would be like to get my true self back, or rather come back to my true self. It is an inconceivably good feeling, truly the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    I no longer worry if people will like me or not…I like me!…that is the most important and we cannot please everyone.

    I grieved for my family, the one that I didn’t have, and I grieved for the decades of my lost self.

    Now that is done, and life has a magical feel about it. I can’t wait to see what each new day will bring, and I love being me.

    In this way, all the trauma and abuse has paid off because of recovery. If that trauma and abuse had never happened to me, I couldn’t possibly be as happy as I am now.

    So, push on lovely people, work hard to remove the obstacles to who you really are, your true self just waiting to get out there and drink in this wonderful experience of life to the full, in all its happiness and sorrows, to keenly feel the rainbow of all the emotions, and truly be.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      I greatly appreciate your full and rich comment on the false and true self as related to child psycho-emotional abuse. I have already heard from a few people that they were extraordinarily moved by your comment and that it touched them deeply, as it did me. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences that ultimately led to your recovering from FSA – I am sure it will inspire many others.

  2. i live in New Jersey outside of Philadelphia; any chance I could get involved as part of a group virtually

Your comments are welcome - What you share may help others. Consider subscribing to this blog via the menu located on the top bar of this site!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Translate »
error

Enjoy this blog on FSA? Please spread the word :)

error: This content is protected by copyright. Contact author for permission.
%d bloggers like this: