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on scapegoating
April 10, 2003
12:07 pm
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I have seen (on another website) a forum where most people scapegoated a member, until she left. She was harshly judged whatever vulnerable thing she shared about her personal life. I noticed she didn't respond to the attacks. She once explained that she doesn't enjoy joining blaming games (that maybe what is called here attacking/defending). The host of the board deleted a couple severely degrading posts directed at her, but that's all he did about it. I personally never posted anything meaningful in that forum, feeling it wasn't a safe place for vulnerable sharings. But I was wondering why this phenomenon takes place on some boards (I have not seen any of this happen here on this board but if this is too touchy a subject and better not to discuss it here, please let me know). What is this need for people to scapegoat one specific person? They never said what bothered them about her, just kept responding off-topic, furious comments and demanded she answer. It reminded me of my childhood, so I really commiserated with this girl...

April 10, 2003
12:28 pm
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Scapegoating in my opinion comes out of insecurity and fear. It almost never comes from a position of strength and a calm mind.

Instead of letting things get to us, touch us and to feel compassion, we react afraid and seek protection of this emotional threat by belittling, ridiculing and trying to get rid of this disturbing "thing", even if it is a feeling, living person.

Sad, really.

April 10, 2003
12:31 pm
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Attacking others I think has to do with a feeling of insecurity about oneself, feeling threatened. It's not exactly the "they are just jealous" thing that mothers tell their kids who are getting picked on at school. Jealous isn't really the right word. Threatened is more accurate. Someone who comes along and challenges beliefs or ideas simply by being themselves will often times be attacked.

Relating this to my own junior high and high school, I got made fun of for being active in music and studying so much. I was a challenge to these other students' beliefs and practices, whereas they valued partying or expensive clothing and cars, I didn't want to particpate, which perhaps they felt was a snub or a threat, and so they responded by attacking. It was never my intent to offend or threaten others, I waS just being myself.

Mafi, some of the things you related about others attacking you for not wanting to divulge personal information about yourself might apply as well. And at that point, it's not about you at all. It's about them and how they feel when they are around you. Just like extremely wealthy tend to hang out with other wealthy people, and artsy people tend to hang out with other artsy people, people with similar belief structures tend to gravitate towards one another.

April 10, 2003
12:44 pm
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Thank you both so much !!!

I have some thinking to do on your posts. I know my ideas threaten people, but I also know because I was scapegoated as a child by my family, I tend to recreate that kind of environment for myself.

My life is a mess. Wherever I go, I recreate that scenario. I am not blaming others for scapegoating me, I am taking responsibility for recreating the scenario over and over again in my life, with everyone. I am in therapy for that. It's helping me a lot to be strong in the face of the scapegoating, but it's not helping me find a way not to be scapegoated yet. Those things take a lot of time.

Sorry for sharing this painful state of affairs, I know it's all my own responsibility and I shouldn't complain, but it hurts very much.

I'm doing fine in all other aspects...

April 10, 2003
1:20 pm
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Why shouldn't you complain? Venting can be healthy, writing it out, and getting it away from yourself so that you can look at it and figure out how you want to tackle things. You are a very strong person, you don't need to prove that to anyone here Mafi. We can see it. And it's OK to feel and to be hurt and acknowledge how you feel.

Everything that we ALL complain about here is ultimately our own responsibility to fix... but it's great to get outside viewpoints too. I'm glad that the counseling is helping you.

April 10, 2003
1:23 pm
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Mafi,

if this is a problem for you, could you describe in more detail?

It might also help you to differentiate, maybe "the same scenario over and over again" is just a learned, ingrained reaction that you have "the same feeling of helplessness and vulnerability", that could be helped, if you looked rather at the differences of the situations and specific solutions that might be possible?

What is the common denominator in all these situations for you?

What could be the differences?

How could you try different things that you maybe haven't tried before?

What have you tried - and did you see any effect?

April 10, 2003
1:28 pm
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Thanks, Ginger. I know that, because I fail at each relationship, I am always grieving the end of a friendship or a relationship, or a family relationship or a romantic attachment, and often it's a couple of them at the same time, so when allowed to share from my soul, I always have such sad things to share, and it's not fair on others.

In therapy I'm learning to not become a doormat in relationships so that I don't get badly treated or rejected or I have to reject them afterwards. I don't know if I'm explaining myself clearly...but if someone has been in this situation where all their relationships ended shortly and painfully, I'd love some sharing, feedback or whatever...

April 10, 2003
1:33 pm
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Eve,

Thank you for your help in thinking this out. I admit (with a lot of embarrassment) that I've been thinking about this since I was a teenager, obsessively, tried many therapies, self-growth, etc. This therapy seems to be helping and it's my only hope in life.

The common denominator is that at some point the other person becomes very demanding or degrading of me (they're NOT unnice people to others, only to me and only after some time of relationship) and I think it's because of a certain dynamics I create in the relationship that has to do with my fear of being attacked / rejected and so I behave in a fearful, self-diminishing manner that promotes abuse or rejection even in the kindest of persons...

April 10, 2003
1:43 pm
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I can't believe I actually shared that darkest secret of mine ! I wonder if there is anyone else out there with my problem... When we don't share about what happens to us, we never hear about others either, so we tend to think we're the only one...

But I've seen so many people on this board sharing so bravely and taking responsibility for such painful personal truths, that I feel safe now to share...

April 10, 2003
1:44 pm
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Mafi, can you think back to any relationships you feel were successful? Not necessarily with partners, but even good friends? Doesn't matter if it lasted for a week or a year, or eventually went sour. What were the dynamics like then?

My experiences in relationships always started out great. I'm confident, putting my best foot forward, not too worried about what the other person thinks. Then as soon as we become closer, I change, I become worried about what they think of me, I don't express my opinions, I do whatever they want yet seethe inwardly about it, and honestly, it's like a "bait and switch". When we're first getting to know each other, they thought they were becoming friends with a self-assured confident fun lady, but down the road they found themselves stuck with an insecure needy person. In a sense, they perhaps felt lied to, and took out that frustration on me further. Sure, they were treating me badly, but ultimately I was the one who had allowed it to happen, even encouraged it by becoming a doormat.

Does that sound familiar to you?

April 10, 2003
2:30 pm
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EXACTLY !!!!!!!!!

That's soooooooooooo me !!!

April 10, 2003
2:38 pm
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So then the question is... how do you stop yourself from falling back into insecure doormat mode? Can you pinpoint any warning signs in hindsight that you missed in past relationships? (Now there's a difference between agreeing to see a movie you really don't want to go to versus sucking up something that is unhealthy for you.) But can you remember that first boundary you felt violated, and didn't put back in place? Is it something you can watch for in the future?

April 10, 2003
2:42 pm
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It's too general and deep in me. It requires a very deep change, I guess. Did you reach this insight alone? It's a very complex insight to reach !

April 10, 2003
3:26 pm
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It does sound like a behavior that is a strong habit in you, but it's not "who you are"... it's "something you do". Just like what we do for work doesn't make us who we are, nor the activities we engage in, neither does being a doormat make us who we are. While you're pondering this stuff, if it's too tough too dig into the "general deep" stuff, just think about some surface things you've done or witnessed that might be indicative of the deeper stuff. For instance (I'm making these up now)... what about that time when you and your friend wanted to get dinner out, and she wanted Chinese food but you are highly allergic, but you swallowed it and didn't tell her? Or maybe that time that your other friend was 2 hours late, but you just swallowed it and said to him "Oh, that's Ok, no big deal" even though inside you were raging? It's the little things that can tip you off. It doesn't have to be something huge.

You don't have to write these things here if you are uncomfortable with it, but feel free if you want to get it down here rather than on paper.

April 10, 2003
5:49 pm
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What I do is an outward reflection of how I feel inside, so the examples or symptoms can be a lot... My therapist says I will get better. Right now I have zero friends or family (even my family have treated me so badly that I took the decision to cut ties, which I had never thought of before).

April 10, 2003
6:05 pm
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You must be feeling pretty lonely Mafi. Things will get better, but you do need time to heal and to grieve. Grieving over the end of relationships is natural and healthy. Be patient with yourself.

What have you been doing to occupy yourself, things that you enjoy, things that calm you and make you feel peaceful or grounded?

Your therapist is absolutely right, you will be able to heal and get better. You've taken some amazing steps already, removing yourself from people who have been abusive to you. Things will start to get better.

April 10, 2003
6:07 pm
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I have absolutely noone to talk to, or to relate to, except my therapist. I know it's my responsibility and so I shouldn't be complaining, but I feel a lot of pain. I don't try to meet new people because I know the same nightmare will happen again, because it happens again and again every time. The unreasonable demands in exchange for friendship, the mocking, the verbal attacks, the faultfinding, the rejection, the blaming me for everything that goes wrong between us. These people are wonderful and very nice to everyone else but I suppose I teach them to be unnice to me...

April 10, 2003
6:17 pm
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I suppose I project a neediness like you mentioned. I suppose I project a "will accept anything in exchange for someone in my life" attitude.

I have been in different therapies most my life, so I'm not all that hopeful. But I do have hope.

I grieve the end of relationships all the time, because I'm constantly making new friends and losing them. Sometimes I'm grieving two or three at the same time. Like today, I'm grieving a whole bunch of family and new friends I lost in this month, but it's quite usual in me.

People find it hard to believe when I tell them the treatment I get from other people. I understand them, because I am also amazed when the abuse starts. It's usually very nice people doing the abuse, and it's not their fault. It's that something in me, so instead of getting angry at them for what they do to me, I just stop all contact, to protect myself from further pain, and I'm alone.

April 10, 2003
6:21 pm
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I have to learn not to tell people what others do to me, because they think I'm lying, that it can't possibly be that bad and that I just like to blame people. It is that bad, but I don't blame anyone, I understand it's what I do that makes them behave that way.

April 10, 2003
6:32 pm
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Can you explain more about how people are unnice, how they start to treat you differently than other people who they are courteous to? Try to pull the self blame out of this, just analyze "what is" for right now, rather than worrying about "what's causing it". There's plenty of time for that, but for now, just open your eyes, still your heart, and try to objectively look at what is happening. Pick one specific relationship, and walk yourself through the process, what things were like when you were first getting to know each other, and how that progressed, and then when did you notice that the relationship had changed from being a fun and fulfilling one for you to one of abuse and neediness?

April 11, 2003
4:06 am
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"Can you explain more about how people are unnice, how they start to treat you differently"

These are the things they don't do to me at the beginning or to others, but they do to me more and more with time (these are not "poor me" whinings but an observation of what I bring otherwise very nice people to do to me):

The general tone is: Growing expectations and demands and conditions in exchange for remaining in touch, and making less and less efforts for the relationship yet complaining more and more that I should make more efforts. A general feeling in me that they are too relaxed with me, that they feel they can get away with anything and allow themselves a lot.

Examples: More and more subtle threats to reject me if I don't behave a certain way, but at the same time the more I try to avoid hurting them, the more behaviors they want me to change.

Ignoring the nice things I do or taking them for granted or behaving like those are not important things for them, blaming me for anything that goes wrong between us and refusing to take ANY personal responsibility at all. Insisting that they're perfectly ok and at the same time pointing at numerous defects in me. Making our relationship fit around their schedule only and their pace only, claiming more and more that they are too busy to accomodate my needs as well. This develops sometimes into calling me only from the car when they're stuck in traffic-jams and meeting me only together with some other activity they have to do, not setting time aside especially to be with me (but not willing to do the same for me). Making their time and needs appear as much more valuable and important than mine. Doing things that are very painful to me and becoming angry that I sound hurt and I'm not being fun or in a good mood. Expecting me more and more to be understanding that their other friends/family have a higher priority in their lives and I should accomodate around the needs of those other people. Investing less and less in the relationship and blaming it all the time on lack of time (busy), yet complaining that I should call more, be more accomodating, etc. Refusing to meet for months, willing to talk only on the phone, yet offended if I start distancing. Asking me to do something for them that may get me in trouble or harm me, verbally attacking me and not calling me anymore when I refuse, reappearing as if nothing had happened a couple years later. Speaking very harshly to me about their opinion of me and later getting angry because I have distanced myself, claiming their bad opinion of me is no reason to stop being friends. Looking less and less happy to be in my company, needing to see me less and less, but when I stop being in touch, calling and calling to renew the friendship. Distancing themselves quite a lot as soon as they have new friends and explaining that they're having a fuller social life now, that they were having a lonely phase when we met, asking me to be understanding of this and expecting me to remain as available as before when they call. Agreeing to meet me only if we do what they want. Taking a long time and placing a lot of conditions to agree to do something together. Not meeting with me if I don't subtly threaten to end the friendship. A lot of criticism about my personality as a way to convince me to do what they want in a given moment. They can criticize me for the opposite traits another day, if it helps them convince me of a new thing they want from me (one day it can be "you have to be more thrifty", another it can be "you spend too much".) Making my defects appear as very big while minimizing it when I point to something I don't like in them. Calling me names but refusing to explain what has given them that opinion of me, changing the subject when I ask for clarification of this, refusing to talk about it and tell me how I can avoid getting that reputation, yet calling me those same names again next time they want to and again refusing to talk about it. Becoming more and more closed and telling me less and less about their lives, insisting they have nothing new to tell, for months, and getting offended when I say it bothers me and asking me to respect the fact that they're very closed people (but they weren't at the beginning and they're not closed with others). Extensive excusing themselves for not being more there for me though I never mentioned I expected them to. Acting too relaxed in my company, caring very little about the impression I form of them, such as making comments and claims to me that they themselves find unacceptable and would never allow anyone to make to them.

Ultimately, the more I care for the person, it becomes so relaxed, like "anything goes with Mafi"...

All the above end if I abandon the person and never come back. Then, when a long time passes and they see I'm not coming back for sure, they revert to how they were at the beginning, and they respect me very much again. As soon as I go back to caring, they become as mentioned above again.

I have been harshly blamed for describing what I describe above, because it gives the impression I'm blaming humanity, but I'm not blaming anyone for being like that. I know it's something in ME that creates those dynamics in the relationship. And I know it's not lack of warmth, caring, compassionate giving. It's something else, which could be dependence, neediness, or my own acting too relaxed and sharing too much about my personal issues and self-blame and insecurities.

April 11, 2003
4:19 am
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I wanted to add one more typical one: YELLING harsh criticism of my personality at me for something I've just done (which they often do themselves and don't blame themselves for), assuming I had a selfish and hurtful intent in what I did (without asking me any questions to clarify my intent) and when I ask them to tell me why what I did is bothering them, they yell that they are not angry or bothered or hurt at all, but that they're just pointing out to me how I should behave in life, because they know and I don't.

April 11, 2003
1:17 pm
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OK, it's good to get that out there. I think some of it might have to do with perspective. I'm sure that your counselor will work with you to show you what you can do to defuse these situations. But to me it sounds like you are internalizing a lot of the "rejections". Everyone is different, and most people are not consistent in their behavior. In my experience, most people do not do what they say they will do when they say they will do it. We are human, we make mistakes, we don't always reach our goals, or behave the way that we think we should.

Suppose you knew a man at work who was nasty to everyone. Whenever someone said hello to him, he would snarl. If you knew this about him, and you said good morning to him, and he snarled at you, would you feel offended? I doubt it. His snarling has nothing to do with you, that's just the way he is. Now, suppose this same man were super nice to everyone, yet always snarled only at you. Well, I bet you would start to feel pretty bad about that, because it seems like something that is isolated to you, something wrong with you... but you know what? His snarling behavior is still all about him. Yeah, something about you inspires him to snarl, but it's ultimately his decision to engage in snarly behavior. The only power you have is in how you react to it. Maybe read back through your post, do you see any opportunities in your past experiences where you could have reacted differently, or not engaged, or defused the situation? Something to ponder...

The yelling thing bugs me. I hate being yelled at. There is something in you that on some level is attracted to people who will engage in yelling behavior. Could it be some battle from long ago that you are trying to fight out in your adult life and finally win? Any ideas what that could possibly be?

April 11, 2003
1:36 pm
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One clarification: these people I was talking about do not behave like that either to me at the beginning or to others. That's how I know it's personal and a product of something in me.

You're right. After I wrote all that I was amazed that it's the perfect recreation of my family abuse since I was a child. I do re-create in all relationships the abuse I went through in childhood. How? I don't know... I guess I take the scapegoat role I had then (the only role I know how to play in loving relationships, the only way I know how to love) and I teach/force the other person to take the role of the abuser or I only relate to them if they agree to take that role...

April 12, 2003
6:44 am
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Do you (did you?) ever have "good fights" in your relationships? I think that every relationship needs to find a (reasonably) healthy way to solve conflicts. Ususally the breaking point for a lot of my relationships is, when I find out that I can't find a productive way to quarrel whith the other, to solve conflict.

And "reasonably healthy" for the good examples that I know usually means quite some agitiation, sometimes even some shouting going on. But all the way through the partners never stop to listen to each other and to try and find out what the other wants, and how the conflict could be solved (sometimes/often we need to find out what the conflict is, first).

It usually means that I have a position that I know, and then I struggle to put my opinion into words that the other can understand - and that I try to find out the other person's position as well, and try to sort out what the difference means (do we really have to agree?).

Or it can mean that I'll just say "hold on, something here makes me uneasy, I'll come back to it if I find out what it is, for now I'd prefer to...". Then the other person can accept that, or try to help me find out, by asking questions.

This is a very precarious situation, because I'm no good at being uncertain (it makes me uneasy, I stronlgy prefer knowing what I want), and often the other person is also not comfortable whith uncertainty (a lot of men seem to to have a problem there - or is it just the men I choose?). Anyway, this can be quite explosive. But mastering such situations can make a relationship a very precious thing indeed, because I tend to learn a lot about myself and the other person.

If I can't get a conflict on the table - in a way that it can be solved or tamed - I usually suffer uncertainness, tend to get impatient and bitchy, or go away. Sometimes I still don't realize a conflict early enough, I notice first that I'm bitchy, and then sit back and start thinking about what's bugging me.

How do you go about solving conflicts?

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