**A longish post with some triggery stuff, be warned.
I was always the family Scapegoat; my fulfillment of that role was one of the few constants of my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. I've read and believe that two of the core requirements for my being elected to this role (without my say,) are these: I was the strongest in my family and I was the most compassionate in my family. I'm not sure if I was the SG because I have these traits or if I have these characteristics because I was the SG, though I've an idea it's a mutually inclusive cycle and one feeds the other.
Still, I can't help thinking that if those two character traits of strength and feeling were what made me the logical choice to bear the sins of the NFOO, there's one trait that made me a 'bad' Scapegoat. I have a nasty tendency to tell the truth, you see, even when it's inconvenient, even when that truth doesn't fit into the carefully constructed web of lies that the NFOO needs to continue to function in their dysfunction. As the truth-teller, I was compelled to disallow the lies, to keep a true record of what was really happening in the NFOO, sort of like an archivist or diarist, even if I was only allowed to do so in my head. (I'm sooo envious of people who have their old journals and diaries to refer to for clarity. I NEVER kept a journal, that would have been incredibly dangerous; they would have found it and it would have been used against me severely.
So I wrote, I wrote volumes and then each night I destroyed those pages or I took them to school the next day and flushed the torn up little pieces of my pages.)
The NFOO didn't care one bit that I was put into the highly conflicted situation as a young child of knowing the truth while being forced to deny it and perpetuate the lies. I was put on stages and in pulpits and told to sing about the unconditional love and forgiveness that NM and ENF's false perception of a certain unnamed savior could bring on Sunday mornings... then screamed and raged at for some menial imagined offense I'd committed on Sunday afternoons. I was sexually molested by my father while he came home to 'check on' me between his Seminary classes in preparation for his ordainment as a minister... then told that I was to blame because I was 'too loving.' He once reached around me from behind and cupped my breasts in front of my mother to 'show' her that I needed a new cup size in my bra. She responded by sending me to the store with him to get a new bra. I was almost 10 years old.
I've written before about the blame game that started with my siblings (particularly NSis) at an almost pre-verbal age for me and how the NParents allowed and encouraged it. I've written about all sorts of abuses, some of which I write about and then read through and think, "The fuck did I live through that?" Some that I haven't written about here are so horrifying, so disgusting and so painful that I don't know that I'll ever be able to share them, or that I should.
I'm sorry to share so much and particularly sorry if that's triggering for any of you. I do have a purpose in laying it out on the line in black and white, though, and it's this:
These things happened, they are real.
How does a child live with this type of abuse? At 10 years old, I had no concrete understanding of detachment or compartmentalization. I couldn't talk through my feelings with anyone - there was no one. Even if I had been allowed relationships with anyone outside of the Clan who might have been willing and able to help me, I wouldn't have known how to even verbalize what was happening to me. What child can? We are taught that X=Love by our parents, who are the only available providers of Love. Even if Love hurts and feels icky, we infer that They=Love and we are just feeling it wrong or something along those lines.
So, I did what we all do as children, I used my only ace up the sleeve. I learned to forget, and when I couldn't exactly forget - when the memories turned into nightmares to break through my conscience in the REM state and send me back to reality screaming and sweating - well, then I had to just Pretend to Forget.
At one point I remember that I was convinced that if I did anything 'bad,' you know, like if I sinned by thinking bad thoughts about a classmate or disobeying my parents, I'd be punished by memories of my father hurting me (and my mother knowing and doing nothing.) Pretty fucking sick. But, hey, I was eleven, I did the best I could with what I had.
So I pretended for a long time to forget. I survived until I was almost 14 by this strategy.
And then... and then... and then... I just couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't pretend anymore. So I told. That didn't work out so well for me as I was simply then made to lie to even more people. Being forced AGAIN to Pretend to Forget pushed me off the deep end and changed the course of my life - I headed steadfastly and willingly into all kinds of darkness from that point forward. Pretending to Forget makes us sick, see? But I didn't have any other choices. Fortunately, I survived this too.
Having my daughters saved my life, and I have to be careful here because this is tricky. I don't mean that they are responsible for me or that they should take care of me; that's just not their burden. I do mean that I had a moment when I learned I was pregnant with my oldest in which I was aware that I had to make a conscious decision; grow up and be a good parent or don't take on the responsibility of having and raising this child. I chose, fortunately, to learn how to be a good parent. I wasn't perfect and I'm still not, nor do I think I or anyone else ever will be. But I tried and trying meant choosing to stop hurting myself, for her sake if nothing else. E for Effort, as we say.
And at some point on that miraculous journey of loving my girls, it became clear that I wouldn't Pretend to Forget anymore, that I would tell the truth again. I began to Forget to Pretend. I began to voice the truth. I began to stand up for myself, for others who needed it and for, most importantly, the reality of what really happened.
When NM's addictions became so glaring that I had to act, for mine and my FOC's safety if nothing else, I spoke the truth. I Forgot to Pretend that NM is the victim of circumstances, life, pain, me. I Forgot to Pretend that she was incapable of making a good decision to seek help and follow it through. I Forgot to Pretend that it was okay for her to overdose on pills and then drive the grandchildren around. I even Forgot to Pretend that it was normal that my grown siblings and their families all lived with the NParents rent free and didn't have jobs other than sucking off DH and I financially. I Forgot to Pretend that the Crazymaker Clan was normal, to be looked up to and respected even.
And then all hell broke loose. They can't face it, you know, the truth. They can't and won't. Their houses of cards are built on the foundational web of lies they've crafted, and it only takes one voice like mine to expose those for the sham they are.
So, what does a Narc do when you Forget to Pretend? Simple. They make it your fault for telling the truth, and then they attack in any way they can. If their house is coming down, well, they're aiming the bricks at you.
What happens to a Scapegoat when we stop Pretending to Forget? We can get out. Whether we get kicked out or we catapult ourselves out or we tip-toe out in the dead of night, telling the truth is the way that we begin to head for the exit.
I turned 35 years old today, and I am more convinced now than I ever have been that life's too short be around anyone who wants me to forget who I am or what I stand for. I'm officially too old to mess with anything but reality. And in my case, this stubborn insistence of mine to only deal with truth when it comes to the NFOO means that I will never have a relationship with anyone in the NFOO.
So, I'm not pretending anymore and I'm not forgetting anymore and that means that I don't have to deal with them in my life?
Happy effing birthday to me!