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The 1 Question All Spouses of Scapegoats Wonder About Frequently


What did my spouse ever do
to “deserve” to be the scapegoat?


That, of course, is the wrong question to ask but it’s a very natural question for the wife or husband of a scapegoated person to ponder. A non-narcissistic person’s knee-jerk assumption is that, for someone to be scapegoated that much, they must be very bad indeed. But that too is a wrong assumption! We know what a good, wonderful person our spouse is. So why the scapegoating!?!

/ˈskāpˌɡōt/

Perhaps, before we wade any further into the topic of scapegoats, we should “clarify our terms.” As I wrote in Is Talking about Abuse “Gossip”?

As with every topic, first we must “clarify our terms.” I get that phrase from Surprised By Joy, C. S. Lewis’ autobiography. He writes affectionately about Professor Kirkpatrick, his tutor who inspired the curmudgeonly yet lovable Professor Kirke in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Professor Kirkpatrick, or The Great Knock, as he was affectionately known by his pupils, challenged everyone to think logically. To divorce themself from emotion or assumption and aspire to pure, clean logic. “Clarify your terms” was his clarion call.

C.S. Lewis tells of one time when The Great Knock, well, Lewis tells it better than I do:

It will be imagined that Mrs. Kirkpatrick led a somewhat uneasy life: witness the occasion on which her husband by some strange error found himself in the drawing-room at the beginning of what his lady had intended to be a bridge party. About half an hour later she was observed to leave the room with a remarkable expression on her face; and many hours later still the Great Knock was discovered sitting on a stool in the midst of seven elderly ladies…begging them to clarify their terms.

So what exactly is a “scapegoat”? According to Oxford Languages via Google:

scape·goat
/ˈskāpˌɡōt/
noun
a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency.
Similar:
whipping boy, victim, Aunt Sally, goat, fall guy, patsy
I guess scapegoating is the adult version of a child saying, “The Devil made me do it” but with even less logic. As far as I can tell, the mere fact that the scapegoat exists or existed on Planet Earth is the cause for everyone else’s problems, disappointments and failures.
Uh-huh.

Assigned, Not Earned

From my observation, narcissists single out a child, sibling, spouse or parent to hate on, however illogically, for pretty much everything in their lives they don’t like. There’s no rhyme, no reason, no plausible explanation, no logic.

That’s where we spouses of scapegoats make our big error. We assume there must be a semi-plausible reason our spouse “deserves” to be the Professional Scapegoat.

There isn’t. But there are a lot of excuses, spoken or unspoken.

In a narcissistic family, scapegoating is not earned. It’s assigned. Often assigned even before birth to a pariah baby who perhaps came along unexpectedly, inconveniently or was born the “wrong” gender.

They may be disabled, too smart, not able to be brainwashed, witnessed their narcissist commit a crime. Or maybe they’re good with strong moral fiber. Incorruptible. They refuse to be dragged down to their narc family’s level.

There are a thousand and one excuses narcissists may use as the “reason” a particular child “deserves” to be the scapegoat, but it’s all nonsense!

As Mrs. Michael Scapegoat, I’ll go to my grave wondering why Michael’s earliest memories are of his father shoving him to the ground, stealing his penny collection and drunkenly whipping him unmercifully until Michael was red, swollen and bruised from shoulders to thighs and feared for his life. I used to wonder why his older sister kicked him so unmercifully that little Michael could only roll into a ball and wait til her rage subsided. What could he possible have done as an infant, a toddler, a little child to be so hated by his own family?

Dashed Dreams?

It’s easy for a narcissistic to claim what a perfect life they would’ve had if only the scapegoat hadn’t {fill in the blank.} It reminds me of that famous quote by Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice who chides Elizabeth for her poor piano playing and boasts, “If I had ever learnt, I would’ve been a true proficient.”

Yes, we’re all Van Cliburn in our imaginations! Get over your sweet self!

Narcissists find it so much easier to blame the scapegoat for not realizing their life dreams rather than actually putting forth the energy and work to make them come true. If it weren’t for the Scapegoat, the narcissist would have a brilliant career. Lots of money. Moved in powerful circles. Be rich and famous. Whatever.

There’s another word for this: laziness. Copping out.

Pangs of Conscience!

But there’s another reason a scapegoat is assigned. A far grimmer reason and the true reason I believe Michael was scapegoated, almost from babyhood.

His birth closely coincided with, well, let’s just call it a “crime against humanity” that was perpetrated in his home. Even before the crime made the headlines of the local small town newspaper, I believe the narcissist who did it was taking out his own guilt and self-hatred by beating little Michael viciously. When Michael grew too old and too big to be whipped anymore, the narcissist substituted whippings with theft. As late as 2012, hundreds of dollars of Michael’s possessions came up missing while being magnanimously “stored” by the narcissist. Heck! He even soaked me!

Apparently, it’s okay to steal anything and everything from a scapegoat. They owe it to the narc.

Multi-Generational

The role of scapegoat may be assigned by your parents but your role as such is often, bizarrely, passed down from generation to generation.

But you probably know that already. If you were a scapegoat for one of your parents, undoubtedly your siblings picked up the habit too.Whatever they did, you were punished for. If they beat you up, well! You’re obviously the perpetual troublemaker who must have provoked those innocent little angels. Uh-huh. That makes about as much sense as Michael being sent to the Principal’s office when another little boy kicked him in the crotch. Punish the victim! Punish the victim!

But it doesn’t stop there.

Have you ever heard of the “Mark of Cain”? Sometimes I think scapegoats are marked as well. They seem to attract users/abusers. I believe the proper psychological term is “Shit Magnet.”

Mr. or Miss Scapegoat may think they’ve found the man or woman of their dreams, but in actuality, they’re wedding someone who wants not a spouse but an eternal scapegoat bound to them by wedlock.

And yes, that’s exactly what Michael was charmed into foolishly doing in the 1990s. He thought he’d become a husband. Actually, he was simply reprising his role as Professional Scapegoat. Five years and three children later, she kicked Michael to the curb to be with the man she’d been having an affair with. That had, I now realize, always been her Master Plan. She never intended to keep Michael around as a husband or as a father. But while divorced dissolved the marriage almost two decades ago, we’re told Michael remains her constant scapegoat. The eternal cause of all problems.

Oh, it gets worse.

The next generation is then taught that Dad or Mom is the cause of everything that goes wrong in their lives too. It’s fine to lie, to scam, to steal, to manipulate Dad or Mom the Scapegoat. If it weren’t for them, the children’s lives would be plummy. It’s called Parental Alienation and I hope that someday legislation will be passed to formally make Parental Alienation the crime that it is.

And so the beat goes on. And on and on and on. “I’m sure my great-great-great-grandchildren will curse me someday,” Michael says with knowing resignation.

Why?

No one seems to know.

No one has ever known.

That’s because there isn’t anything to know.

A Very Good Person, Indeed

If you are a “Professional Scapegoat,” odds are you’re a very good person indeed. A very moral, very hard-working, very caring, very successful, very well-meaning and very puzzled person indeed. So take heart! It sucks but it’s a kind-of a back-handed compliment to be singled out for scapegoating. You’re a sort-of modern day Job.

Maybe that’s why they hate you so much. You put them to shame just by being you.

Keep on doing what’s right. Never stoop to become the “bad person” they tell everyone you are. Never, ever let them drag you down to their level.

The 1 Question All Spouses of Scapegoats Wonder About Frequently


Lenora Thompson

For five years, "Narcissism Meets Normalcy" has followed the real-life, ongoing story of freelance writer, Lenora Thompson, and her readers’ healing journey from narcissistic abuse to healing, peace and happiness. In August 2020, Lenora launched a new blog, "Beyond Narcissism…And Getting Happier All the Time" as she and her readers explore the new world of peace and happiness. "Beyond Narcs…Get Happy" is 100% reader supported! To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael’s heroic fight against Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to subscribe to her other writings, please visit www.lenorathompsonwriter.com. Thank you!


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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2020). The 1 Question All Spouses of Scapegoats Wonder About Frequently. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/narcissism/2020/06/1-question-all-spouses-of-scapegoats-wonder-about-frequently/

 

Last updated: 5 Jul 2020
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