Family Scapegoating And The Holidays: Is There Anything I Can Do To Reconcile With My Family?

Not open for further replies.


This is very very long. I think I really just need to post this private hell im in somewhere. For anyone who actually reads this, thank you so much. I could use any input or feedback. Any options other than just dump my toxic family. That is the current plan but I want to know if there is any other way.

My mother went in a trip with my father recently. She sent me emails about the trip. Ones my father had written. She took his name out and then sent them to me.

My father refuses to acknowledge I exist and my mother has done all she could to tell all family members to not be around me because it upsets him.

He was an abuser as a child and when I was 16 I became the loud mouth scapegoat that tried to tell everyone after he attempted to murder me in a rage.

No one listened until years later where they validated all the abuse and said they thought my uncle, a pediatrician, was helping us. He wasn't. It was a middle class / upper class community and data shows that the more wealthy the community the less likely child abuse gets reported. I was told to make my father happy but never what would make him happy (and of course there was nothing.)

I moved in with a friends of my family at 16 and moved away at 18. I was 20, when my relationship with my father seemed to be ok, my father told me out of the blue that he had been thinking about things and "I can't get over what you did when you were 16. I have decided, you are not my daughter anymore. You don't exist."

For 11 years I did not exist and I was banned from all family functions.

Then my brother got married and he invited me and my father there. It went fine. Awkward, but my father, mother, brother and my sister in law all said it was so great to have me around. I spent two thanksgivings and 2 christmases with them at my parents house, my mother had kept my room just like it was when I was 16. It was like I died or was kid napped and she was waiting for my return.

The second Christmas was good. It was 2012. I had a service dog in training and my father loved my dog so much. We connected over the dog and nothing else.

On Christmas Day I was playing with my leashed puppy in the living room. It was the best day I had with family for 15 years. My sister in law and brother walked in with their 9 month old. Prior to them comming over they knew my puppy would be there and they have dogs of their own. I told them well in advance that my dog would always be leashed. They expressed no concerns. My sister in law walked in and started yelling at me. About my dog and how it has to be controlled. She was standing over me yelling and my hands started to shake. The yelling.

I got up and walked out with my dog. I didn't want to have a flashback and I needed to breathe. I called my sister in law and she didn't answer. I called my mother who told me to not come back unless I could be calm. I asked, "what about (sister in law)?"

My mother just failed into me telling me don't you dare be upset.

I was calm on the phone with her when I called her. Her demands I not be upset just did me in. I said I was having a good day with my family why does she have the right to scream at me? Why is this all my fault?

My mother later confirmed that I was calm. She was just reminding me and "I don't care what you do I can't control anyone."

I went back and sat in a chair in the far corner of the room holding my jacketed service dog until my sister in law freaked again. I put the dog in her kennel.

I stufffed my tears and ate my Christmas dinner.

I went for a walk with my brother the next day to e plain why I walked out. I don't deserve to be screamed at. He apologized on behalf of his wife and assured me I was waned I was needed and it was a misunderstanding his wife handled badly and she wasn't ready yet to talk about it.

Everyone the next day said it was still the best christmas any of them had in years.

A year late to was going through some personal matters. Out of the blue my mother was texting me "you are the problem in my marriage."

No texts before or after. Just that, we didn't talk about it on the phone - I tried to bring it up and she refused to say anything other than I was a "threat" to her marriage with no specifics. I asked how, and she yelled "you know how."

In a moment of stupidly and in the middle of a sucidial attempt, I posted on FB in a status only viable to family members "in tired of being clearly blamed for my parents marriage without even an explaination."

I came to my senses and deleted it after 5 minutes.

No one ever expressed any concern about it and I hoped no one saw it.

6 months later I had a plane ticket to go to California to spend Christmas with family. I deceided I needed to stay home this year and be with friends. I had just been through a difficult trial in October and needed to decompress still.

I called my mother and she was fine and said I was welcome to come but that she supported my choice to canacke the plane ticket. It was a plane ticket she had paid for - that's how much I was wanted to come.

Then I called my brother. Our conversations were about once a month and I enjoyed skyline with his family.

When I picked up the phone, something in me said to record the call. (Legal in my state.) so I have a tape of the call. I told him I was going to cancel comming out and wanted to do Christmas in February or July. We talked about how his wife always gets super stressed around holidays and so does veryoje else and it would be better for me if we could have a family gathering in a month or so. He was cordial and agreeable. He said I was welcome to come.

He then told me he needed to talk to me about something. The facebooked post. He said it lead to a lot of concern about my behavior and if I'm ok to be around children. (I was a school teacher for 7 years. No one has ever said I'm unsafe around kids before. Not even any of my scapegoating family members.)

I told him that anyone who has concerned about that post is welcome to contact me. I don't engage in triangulation whenever possible.

He went on about it and about how he had to think about his daughters and that facebook post made him realize he doesn't want drama around them.

He said Mom has done such a good job holding us all together and care taking us. He admitted my father was abusive but proud that I had been rebuilding a relationship with my father. He said we could hang out in February or July for our extended family Christmas. But for now, he was going to take a break from our phone calls. He said that if I changed my mind and came for Chantal's anyhow he would be gald to hang out then too.

I didn't go to their state for chaitams. I tried to schedule the agreed upon plans for feb or July but my brother didn't respond. That was 2013. My father refused all calls too saying I needed to make my brother happy.

My mother has since then actively deleted anything about me to my father and brother. She deletes anything about them to me. If my father writes an email to all family members about a trip or something, she will forward the email to me but takeout my fathers name and photos. (I asked if she was doing this and first she said no and then she said yes and doesn't see why it would be any problem with me despite my trying to ask she not do that in the future.) She also deletes anything about them to me. She has told me if I ever go to my hometown where I grew up the cops will be called and she won't spend any time with me.

I have asked what I have done to deserve this and I never get a specific answer.

2013 I spent Christmas alone. 2014 and 2015 my mother flew out and spent the last two Christmases with me. Left her husband and my brother behind.

I told her last year I was going to go to my hometown and stay with friends and go sit in the beech and she threatened me again.

A week ago, I offered to think about meet her in a city 400 mikes away a week prior to thanksgiving.

She jumped at the chance to do that.

Somehow, that sent me over the edge. I didn't expect my response.

I keep thinking of the amazingly good time I had with my father in 2012.

I keep thinking of what my mother does to enable family members to be hurtful to me. She stands up for them day and night but I'm worthy of nothing but pain to her. I've been told by family friends that they think she insists on being around me to try to keep me from restabkishing any relationship. I have been told she does actually seem to actively encourage her adult children to have no relationship with each other. If anyone in the family is hurtful and screams at me, it is always my fault and I need to please them.

They have all been invited to percolate in family therapy when I was in treatment and they all promised and then said my mother didn't want to do it. And then my mother said she did but never got it set up so that it could happen and when I set up appointments with people near me she never came.

When my mother and I don't talk about it deal with family or holidays things are fine. Mostly.

Somehow, after her most recent act to delete my father's name, to tell me I can only text her when he's around, and to see her so happy to get everything she wants for Christmas and nothing healthy...

It pushed me over the edge. I can't even talk to her about the weather. She tells me I need to get over the past and I told her I'm not the one dragging the past up all the time. I'm upset that I'm being penalized for what I did when I was 16, more than a decade ago. You are bringing up the past. I'm talking about things you do right now today all of you, to punish me for past offenses on and on and on..,

And you give no path to reconciliation. None. I know people kicked out for being drug addicts and told they can come back when they are clean. I'm not a drug addict I'm not a criminal. The only stated offenses were walking out of a room when I was suddenly screamed at and a facebook post that frankly was striped and I have reprinted and taken full responsibility for --- and no one else has ever admitted you all screwed up too. You shouldn't be blaming me for your marriage and she shouldn't be screaming and nick has got to stop being the spokesperson for vague random we didn't like the facebook post 6 months after the fact.

I'm working on my stuff and you all are not perfect and you are acting in a manner that I feel very hurt by.

I basically have no family other than you and it's not working mom with even you. What would you do if you had no contact with any family and no one end told you any legit reason why you are permanently and actively shunned!
She told me she would get over it, and that I should go find my own family.

I can't stop thinking about how wonderful the time was with my father in 2012.

I can't even talk to my mother anymore. She doesn't care about me. She cares about herself being comfortable. and enabled and engaged in endless scapegoating. My therapists have all been telling me that for years but I didn't believe it. Now I do.

I still can't stop thinking about that one really great Christmas -well great until the screams at the girl with the leashed puppy - moment. I want that good time with my father back. I can't just go find a new father. According to everyone he no longer violently rages.

I told my mother about someone I know who is 65 and loves to spend time with her mother and brother gene then. "I'll never have that mom and I wanted that."

She replied, "why won't you have that?"

Mom... you don't want me in the same city as you, and you don't want me near my probther and...

She then said well "I'll probably die around 68 anyhow, my own mother died at 67." (She told me a few weeks ago of the 25 year plans and retirement plans. She'/ just saying crap.

That makes it all the worse anyhow if she will die in her 60s. All the worse. Not better.
Last edited:


I would really like to answer you. I've just gotten off work after 5 days of brutal shifts. Let me get some sleep and get back to you. I have some goods thoughts to share and hopefully some encouragement. I'm so exhausted I can't stay awake and I have therapy this afternoon. I read your whole post thoroughly. Hopefully I can offer some insights. Ttyl8r.


:(. :hug:
That's really weird and bad and... No. None of that's about you.

It seems like they just do horrible stuff to you at random, they aren't trustable.
If they will always do it, why would you WANT them?
It's likely to be more nastily painful to get randomly emotionally abused?
I happen to really like and respect you, and it saddens me that they treat you like this, JMH. You are worth so much better.
I read somewhere the truth-tellers are often the ones who get scapegoated.


Well, unless they change their behaviors (dont bet on that) or you can ignore their behaviors (and that'll be hard) then i dont see any way to reconcile.

I get it, you want a family, i do get that as i want mine. But while they are this disfunctuonal and actively trying to hurt you, is it worth it? I guess thats the question....given all of this never changes, is it worth being around them?

I hope you find the answer. Im sorry i didnt have it. I had to chuck my own family and so i get that hurt. Im sorry my friend! :hug:

She Cat

Policy Enforcement
I liked your post, but at the same time I HATED doing it. I hated liking something that was so sad, so upsetting, so horrible. But, I also understand how your mother can be so cruel and miserable to you. My own mother was mean. She had 5 kid and always played 1 against the other 4. She would make the 4 tease, mentally torture and sometimes it would get physical against the 1. Then she get sick of the 1 and choose the next. Around and around it went. Not anymore, none of us speak to each other. From the grave she still works her damage.

Honestly, I think you need to leave the past in the past, and walk away. Hold on to the memory of 2012 and bury everything else. I really believe that in order for you to heal, you NEED to put your family in the past and just walk away. Change your number, block them on social media, shred their letters without reading. Protect yourself from the ones that should be protecting you, and have failed miserably.

I'm so sorry @Justmehere No one should go through this, and yet here we are.....


I am not a trained therapist. The thoughts expressed are only those of someone with experiences with dysfunctional people of my own and a determination to survive and be happy. I am accepting the realization today that my happiness must come from within, it probably needs to have detachment from my longings which will never be realized, and that I can be healthy happy and clean despite the attacks and negative destructive advances by others. The degree to which I accept life, on life's terms, is the degree to which I can be happy today.
I can't always understand the "why" of other people's actions, but I can accept that they have done what they have done, I can accept that they will probably continue to do what they will do, even if it is continued torment and abuse(or attempts thereof). I accept that I cannot change "them". I am powerless over people places and things.
That does not mean that I am a doormat. Nor does it mean that I will continue to allow myself to be abused or hurt. Quite the contrary. On a good day I can firmly state the facts and move on with minimal emotional triggering. More often than not, I state the facts and then deal with the emotional fallout of being triggered - but less and less as time goes by. I also can enlist the aid of others - police, government agencies, legislators, media, supportive persons that care, support groups, therapy, etc. And of course those of you here whom I rely upon deeply for wisdom and mostly direction and support. I am not afraid to stand up anymore and state: "You are abusing me. Stop. Or I will summon the police." (Luckily for me they crossed the line so flagrantly I was able, with support from a legal aid group, to get a judgement.) In your case, that would probably be counterproductive. BUT!!! That doesn't mean that there isn't the virtual equivalent that you might be able to employ. What that is, I don't know. But there must be a way to draw a line in the sand and say: "Stop! I will not allow you to go there anymore. It hurts me and you are not allowed to do it." That will require inner strength and conditioning, knowledge and understanding.

Did you ever stop to think that you are probably not the source of your fathers' bad behavior? It sounds to me like it, or you, are a symptom of the problem, not the cause?
I mean no emotional distress here. But I'll throw out some for instances....
Could your mother have perhaps had an affair and you are not his child? Blamed, but never informed?
Or perhaps your mothers' pregnancy was unplanned and it affected his career or goals in life? Again, anger misdirected at you?
Does he have childhood issues or family issues that pre date you? Apparently "he" does have issues and they are affecting you. Big time. And it doesn't seem that he is addressing them in any positive way.
There could be millions of reasons. And none of them are your fault. Nor should they be cause for this mistreatment.
It also seems that the entire family is affected and dysfunctional and not willing to accept any responsibility for their misbehavior or actions. All willing to "dish it out", but not "accept" or change the consequences of their poor behavior.

And.....all that being the case, it leaves you to deal with it. Largely alone, and without their help.

Again, just guessing here..... Your father and your sister-in-law sound like bullies. Their (bullies) greatest weapon involves the element of surprise. Whenever you become complacent and comfortable, they attack. A bully "feeds" off the emotional discomfort of others. They can get the greatest amount of "food", or satisfaction for their sick bullying need, by lulling the innocent victim into a false sense of security and then "pouncing" unexpectedly when you are enjoying he greatest moments of happiness and your guard is let down. They can extract the greatest emotional toll on you at that time with the element of surprise and by attacking that which is closest to you.

Your brother sounds affected by all of this too. He perhaps has chosen a mate with dysfunctions similar to those he grew up with in your family. And now, unknowingly, he submits to wild variations in temperament and treatment of you and others in order to keep the peace in his own marital relationship? Same with your Mom? Struggling to just get something out of life? The family, or daughter that she never was allowed to have?

I don't know you or your situation so these are just wild guesses. And they may trigger some discomfort so I am sorry if that is the case. And I will stop there for now, I won't take the chance that I might say something to cause you pain.

What I do strongly feel is that you have been hurt. We all would be. It wouldn't be normal if you didn't feel that way. What is important is to realize that your feelings are honest and real and justified. And it's probably not important to totally understand the "why's" of why all of this has happened as much as it is to just accept that everyone in this situation is hurting. That being - do not feel obligated to "fix" anyone or anything. Do Not. There is an old saying about where fools rush in. You will get hurt. I'm not saying don't ever. Just don't rush.

Detachment. A strange tool. When I was first told to use it to view my life, it was like looking through a closed curtain. I saw nothing. I didn't understand. I couldn't see, but I could feel. And all I felt was anger and confusion and fear and things that made me want to flee or fight. So I was dysfunctional.

But then it was explained to me and slowly I learned to use it. And things came into focus. Some. The anger and fear and confusion began to subside. And then I became able to make intelligent and rational decisions about my life and my well being. And this is how I began to use detachment:
I need to look at my life as though it is through the eyes of a viewer watching "The National Geographic". Or in more modern terms, perhaps the history channel. And make it something boring, like "The History of Oak Trees in Ancient Rome." Boring. Not likely to cause fear or anger. I am somebody else out in the audience. Someone totally detached. Totally. And bored. And the name of the show becomes: "My life and My Family." I look at it through the eyes of somebody else. From a distance, a great distance. Ever so slowly it begins to focus. Any time emotion starts to interfere, I turn off the channel. It clouds my focus. And over time I begin to see what "I" need to see. In the absence of emotion, I begin to pick up on things. I see somebody mistreating me in that show and I say: "I wouldn't let anybody treat me that way!" But in the detached view I start to see that I do. And it's me. And I need it to stop. And maybe here I turn off the "TV" for a while, because anger and fear come back.
I turn on the show again when the unemotional episode comes on that shows some solutions. And I pick through them and absorb them over time and perhaps when am very very strong I can implement them. The ones that apply strictly to me I can start with right away. The ones that involve dealing with others require wise counsel, patience, strength.

And I accept that things take time. In this way some things can eventually be approached. I can find defenses and things that work to help me move forward, either in repairing damage, helping other family members, or most importantly, protecting and healing myself.

I have to leave for therapy in a few minutes. I just wish you some serenity in all this. It must hurt deeply. I'll leave you with the serenity prayer. I keep it on my wall and live by it.

Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot Change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the Difference.

My prayers for Peace and Serenity to find their way into your life today.


@Justmehere , I'm really sorry that you have suffered through so much all your life. I've been the scapegoat for my father and relatives and mum supporting relatives, so I can relate a bit. I live at home with mother and my brother, but I have set boundaries with them so that I don't get forced into seeing the relatives. It took my mother so long to understand this but it has worked. But in on your case it is really sad that no one is willing to help.


Food for thought, maybe. In that whole sad story, there's only one person you can trust and that's you. If the stars align, you might have an ok visit. But that's going to take a lot of luck. You might be able to have an ok visit with your father, but for that to be likely, he'd need to be aware of your mother's sabotage and not give in to it. Even so.... If it was me, I'd find something else to do for the holidays.


I can't stop thinking about how wonderful the time was with my father in 2012.
Ah! The stroke smack mind f*ck.

Justmehere, this is going to sound odd, but I thank you so much for writing this post. It is the very first time that I could actually externalize what is going on with my family. The situations are all different, but man oh man.... the feeling of your posting, the crazy making, the constant 'jump through this hoop, NO, not that hoop, THIS hoop. I didn't say jump through a hoop, I said sit in that corner! Everyone KNOWS you aren't allowed to jump through hoops around here!'

Holy mother of god. What an absolute disaster for mental health.

In reading your post, it seems like your family doesn't like to be reminded that they perhaps were slightly culpable in the family dysfunction. And you are there trigger. And their mouse in the cat and mouse game. Just like me (pardon the play on words).
I don't think there is any way out hon unless you recognize that no matter how much you want a functional family, that one just ain't it. And it hurts like a knife in the heart. And I am so sorry for that for you.


What can you do?

Keep on being your awesome self.

Stick firm to your boundaries. You deserve to be treated with respect.

Hold your head high. Don't tolerate being treated as the family scapegoat.

Be firm yet fair. Stay calm and be willing to work out your family issues with constructive conversations.

This means you're meeting them half way. I honestly think that going any further than half way means you'll have to relax your boundaries or be subjected to negative behavior, especially when dealing with abusive family members. If your family wants you in their life, they are going to have to do some work too.


Thanks all for such support and all the responses. Your kindness and understanding and insight is helping a lot.

I guess I just realized what I have been trying to ignore. They don't really want me. They don't. My therapist has been trying to tell me I'm wanted if I am the scapegoat. If I am not the scapegoat then they have to face their stuff and clearly they rather push me away than do that.

She hasn't told me to give up, or try to reconcile with them. She's leaving it up to me, very purposefully. Said she will support me either way.

I want to write my family members a letter. I don't expect them to respond but maybe it will give me a final sense of "I did all I could. It was beyond me."

Still thinking it through. Will write more soon. Thanks again all.
Not open for further replies.