What does it mean to be a scapegoat? I mean most of us get the term. That's the person we point the finger at when stuff goes bad, that's who is going to take the fall, that is who is going to hold the blame, be the bringer of trouble and the source of all your worries and woes. Lay it at their feet and you walk away scot free.
If you grew up the scapegoat you learn to eat pain, shame and blame- trust me it leaves little room for ice cream after dinner. So, why do it? Who would sign up for this job? Well, believe it or not when you are the scapegoat you are typically the most honest. You typically are telling people things they don't want to hear and I spent a long time feeling alone and targeted. I spent a long time getting comfortable in the role of the one with the problem. When you grow up with therapists that would be the IP, Identified Patient.
Time moved on, everyone else seemed successful and happy, here I was unable to figure it out- consistently struggling with getting through a day, let alone finishing my college degree even though I was "so bright"; I felt like such wasted potential. They all had it together and I was racking up therapy bills. I wasn't getting any better because as hard as I tried nothing I did was going to fix another person's issue and I had gone my whole life carrying it. It didn't stop at my family of origin. I moved on and did it in unhealthy friendships, romantic relationships and work situations. It was like I was always wearing the proverbially "kick me" sign, I wore it like a badge of honor, but it was how I learned to navigate my way through. Let me eat your shame, blame and pain then you will love and accept me, all it will cost is my sanity.
Eventually it came to a head, I couldn't bear the weight of it all anymore, but as resolute as I was in my decision not to be the punching bag the behavior and thinking was second nature. So, what did I do? First I needed and got help, changing a lifelong behavior was not something I could do on my own. Then I it decided to redefine this role and that has made a lot of difference. I have made the scapegoat into what I really was intended to be all along: the light bringer.
I had to stop suppressing my voice, as is obvious, I had a lot to say. I have found people don't always like to look in the mirror particularly when they are getting an accurate reflection, that isn't everyone, a healthy person will thank you for feedback, and can assess whether that is something they need to take in. I hadn't dealt with that many healthy people. People who are hurting, wounded or unwell are going to project it back out onto you. Now, I was so used to accepting it, part of my healing was realizing their stuff was not mine to hold onto, all I was doing was bringing light to a shadow and when we do that we give someone a gift, and bringing them an opportunity to heal something. I often forgot this is the point where my role ended and the rest was their work to do.
I mean think about it like this, when someone has been in the dark a long time they get used to navigating in it, their eyes adjust to it, they may be used to bumping into things and getting into their own way, but somehow they have figured it out. Now imagine you come in and pull open the curtain. Sunlight comes pouring in and they are temporarily blinded. Their eyes take a few moments to adjust to the intensity of the light, they may even tear up. The sensation is uncomfortable. And as they start to look around tentatively they notice there are blunt objects and all the things they’ve been running into- it didn't seem so bad in the dark, but there is no denying it in the light. Here is the thing, all you did was open the curtain- quite normal when you cannot see. However, they were used to moving around the chaos with no light, so they may get mad the curtain is open and may blame you for changing things up. Now they see how everything looks, and may feel forced to do something about it. So it comes down to a choice, they may yell at you to shut the curtains and get out so they can go back to the dark and keep running into things until they are so badly banged up and bruised they cannot move. They may decide to keep their eyes open and as uncomfortable as it is and start to clean up their mess. Either way the one who opens that curtain did them a favor, you brought the light, and gave them chance to make a choice. Choice is a gift and allowing someone to own their choice can the beginning of a miracle.
So, to all the scapegoats out there I want to offer you a rewrite- you have been the bringers of lights. Own that, embody that and don't eat other's shame, blame and pain. They need all their own feelings to heal. You have a big role, but it isn't to be boxed up and backed up, it is to bring light to those shadows.