How to Speak Scapegoat

I’m continuing with the Chinese year of the goat theme with this post.  I went through my notes on the last three visits with family and friends of origin and since I journaled during the visits it was eye-opening to see what I had written down after some time had passed.  One aspect that I have been focusing on is my own behaviors that fuel my false self (scapegoat).  As I re-learn how to speak, I tried to answer questions more in line with my true self than with my scapegoat – a trying habit to break.

I use the phrase “I’ve been Goat’d” as such:

Goat’d!: refers to someone placing you in the role of Scapegoat without your assistance

Facts versus Feelings: What’s the difference?

Friend: “How are your father and mother doing?”

Me: “My father’s illness is slowly getting worse and my mother is taking care of him.”  (non-ACoN friends only know I’m not close to my family and nothing further)

Friend: “Well, ya know, TR, it is really difficult to take care of someone who is ill and it is really a burden to them.  Your mom must be having a rough time.”

I’ve been Goat’d!

As much as I struggle with the relationship I have with my parents, I know that I am very careful in how I speak about them.  I aim to answer honestly without oversharing.  I usually stick to “We are not close” or “We don’t have a healthy relationship”.  People may ask me and I am open to a discussion but that has never been the case so our relationship is open to interpretation.

Opinions are either Right or Wrong?

After a dinner with friends, we were walking to our cars and a freight train moved through the middle of the town.  In my opinion, it was going fast and I blurted out loud: “Oh, that freight train is going really fast through a residential neighborhood”.  My friend’s response: “Oh, come on, it isn’t really, it’s normal on a Sunday evening.”

I’ve been Goat’d!

My opinion could have been based on four years of working with freight transport, having been inside and on top of freight railcars, inside barges, etc. (Btw, that is 100% true).  And my friend’s opinion could have based on his knowledge of the town’s ordinance for freight transport (as he lives near that town).  Nobody is WRONG, yet the goat’s opinion had to be wrong.

Your Answer is NEVER Good Enough

This one is hard to ‘catch’ because it comes across as an innocuous question and all roads lead to a trap door.

Friend: “Where are you planning to go for holiday this year?”

Me: “We are thinking about either area A or B.”

Friend: “Isn’t that a luxury problem to have?  To sit here and contemplate two places to go on holiday while others can’t.”

You guessed it, I’ve been Goat’d!

I love it when you can answer a question and it doesn’t matter what you say!

What Happens in Your Head, Stays in Your Head

I went to a wedding last year where the bride and groom were having three weddings (in three different cities).  We were invited to the first one and I asked the best man (in front of friends after he started to explain the other weddings and how much work he had to do):

Me: How big is the next wedding?

Best Man: Well, we are having a wedding in the area where a lot of our cousins and distant relatives live.  We are actually not that close and haven’t seen them in a while.  We are actually not that close of a family.  So, yeah, to answer your question, we aren’t really a big happy family.  (His monologue was really, really long that it seemed my question was forgotten but when he ended with “to answer your question” that was telling)

I’ve been Goat’d!

Focus on the Pain, Not the Gain

When sharing my story (during these visits), I tried to share both the positives and the negatives in my life.  For example, I shared that I had started a new book club and I had failed my language exam when asked “What I had been up to lately?”.  I am okay with focusing on my struggles if the intent is to truly help however, when an Q&A session starts about why I failed an exam and nothing about the book club, I realized that letting go of my scapegoat role is nasty business.

It’s nasty business because somewhere along the way I learned that the only way to get my story heard (attention) was to tell my worst, most pitiful story.  Being the scapegoat seemed to serve everyone’s purpose – including my own.  I engaged others by engaging in my own pain.  I learned that my successes would never be acknowledged (with my family and friends of origin) and how to interview for pain.

Other examples of being Goat’d?

18 thoughts on “How to Speak Scapegoat

  1. Pain and rejection seem to be the center of our lives….with our mentalities that we fight to overcome (scapegoat) it seems that it’s an uphill battle all the time. I have come to the conclusion that people aren’t really interested in the battle, they are stuck in what they want to believe about another. So, I have grown very careful about what I say or reveal to others. Strangers can be very cruel…these constant questions about “why” aren’t you close to your mother/father. It’s a combination of unhealthy curiosity and none of their business.
    I am also aware that acting like a scapegoat is something that only we can stop: There is little interest by others in our changing our behavior and mentality. But it is essential that we jump off this merry-go-round.
    We are made for better things.

    Lady Nyo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi LN,
      I think what you say about it being an uphill battle is very true and important. I think that was so revealing in putting together some of the behaviors I saw from the recent visits. I was able to discern what I’m responsible for in playing the scapegoat role and what others are responsible for. This, ultimately, helped me determine that I’m not going to spend my time fighting the battles that are listed above. I’m not going to battle my friends on a relationship that has become ingrained with only seeing me as the ‘scapegoat’ instead of a person. After all, we’re not goats. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • No we are not, though some goats I like much better than people. LOL! I think it progress when we can begin to pick our battles. Fighting on their fronts only make us defensive. It’s better to walk away from these kind of people. They are energy vampires. Better we put our energies to our own talents.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This may be another aspect; I’m not sure if this is goat’d or not: For as stupid as I am (from the way they talk to me), I’m expected to know the answer to whatever question is asked up to and including what my siblings are doing, even if I haven’t see them recently.

    The minute I read about opinions being treated as right or wrong I thought of how often NM’s opinion was treated as the truth. I hate to think about how much time I wasted weeding through all the lies.

    Great points.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! That is a good one to bring up. This happened to me during presentations at work A LOT. There were certain co-workers that would ask questions that were so off topic that I was expected to know the answer to b/c I was the one presenting.

      Agree about time, I can see my mother’s behaviors modeled in many of the examples above.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a GREAT post! I think sometimes that familial roles aren’t as well defined as they need to be, and the examples you provided really explained scapegoating extremely well. My role is lost child and one of my siblings recently challenged me to give her an example of how she had treated me like a lost child and it took a few minutes,but I was able to come up what I thought was a perfect example and I saw the “ah-ha!” moment on her face, but she continued to deny it…. But I knew that I had hit home all the same! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Pearl! I think that is an excellent point, the roles are not defined, I found myself identifying as the lost child as well. I am curious about the example you shared? (if personal, I understand)


  4. TR, I did not write the comment above. It sounds as if someone copied and pasted something I wrote a while ago. But I didn’t write it. Gee, let me try to figure out who might be “impersonating” me here: could it be the pig, or the crazy “Mayor of Aconville” accuser? My money’s on the pig. Note all the crap typos. That’s not me.

    Liked by 1 person

        • I realize it’s impossible to distinguish who is the real CS because I deleted my http; but you can go over to my blog and I’ll let you know what’w what. It’s interesting that someone decided to comment under my name. What they wrote might’ve been something I’d write; but it’s full of so many errors that I wouldn’t have made. Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to do anything with this info here. But come over to CS, if you’re wondering. I haven’t done a new post lately, but still check for comments a few times a week. xo CS


  5. “Being the scapegoat seemed to serve everyone’s purpose – including my own.” ~TR

    Ouch…this is close to the bone for me because I have put myself down to serve other people’s purposes and my own! The way it served me was to remove me from the competition. As long as I minimized my work as if it were nothing, other people weren’t threatened. And then I didn’t have to worry about them putting me down ‘cuz gosh. I’d already done that!

    My sisters and I learned to compete with each other, to rank one another’s talents, skills, and accomplishments as to which one of us was best at that particular thing. It’s taken years for me to heal the damage done in this cruel comparison game learned at my parent’s knee. And it’s taken years to stop doing it, to catch myself in the act when I’m putting myself down to maintain relationship and avoid confrontation and/or jealousy. It’s only this past year that I’ve examined my role as a scapegoat. I’ve learned so much about myself from insightful ACoN blogs like yours, TR. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen, CZ. You compiled this huge body of work and for years you underestimated just how major it is. And TR, your in-laws, esp. sister-in-law, have really put you through the one-down ringer, along with your parents. Look how far you’ve come in understanding those dynamics. From your earlier posts about fellow classmates’ passive aggression, to understanding it everywhere else in your life. I wish we could all give each other diplomas. Not that we won’t need “postgraduate” training from time to time. We still all face major events in the future that will test what we’ve learned. But I’m pretty confident that not one of us will be thrown back to where we were three years ago, by anything that happens in our FOOs. Not deaths, not being ‘guilted’ at funerals, not anything. We may be destabilized, but not for long. And for that I am so grateful. To you, to my other blogger friends. You’ve all made a huge difference in my life. love CS

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi CZ and CS,
        The point about minimizing competition, I can relate as well. Competition the unhealthy kind or to borrow your word, misbegotten, is fueled by one woman down and the other up. I had started to forget a key principal in narcissism – is that everything is a competition, from cooking to careers! And this game or competition can only stop when we can see what our roles in it have been and stop the behaviors that drive it. Because with other games, there is an end, with narcissism there is never an end.

        A second amen, I have learned so much from you both. Cheers to the progress and celebration of it! Love, TR



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