The conundrum of being the scapegoat in an alcoholic family system #alcoholism #familysystems #familyculture #blindspots
October 10, 2014 § Leave a comment
I think I finally understand why I find these tributes to Father and fond memories of childhood at the cabin so disturbing. I shared those childhood memories and I loved the island. I loved belonging to my family.
But then, for some reason, there was a gap of 20 years where I was out of touch with it. My children did not grow up spending summers on the island. Why is that?
It is because I was so traumatized by growing up in my family that I left and tried very hard not to come back. When I look at the reasons for that, I can see it was not my fault that I was traumatized, and it has not been my fault that I have had to work so hard to put my life together. The fact is that the journey I have taken did not follow the same path as my siblings and my cousins. I was not able to maintain a sturdy emotional connection to my family because I was so emotionally and psychological injured by my childhood and youth. Later, when I tried to make connections, I found that my experience was dismissed, invalidated, and denied. It has been very difficult to process that reality of family culture.
I have lived a long time with a deeply felt sense of not belonging in this family and it is because the real harm I endured, and have continued to endure, is not recognized. It is invisible to the family culture. I deal with the reality of that harm on a day to day basis, as do my children, but it is as if this harm does not exist to the rest of the family. I am left feeling deficient, singularly inadequate to meet the standards of family membership, and by my deficiency, I cause problems to the family. I need to ‘get with it’, ‘suck it up’, ‘get over it’.
But the casual cruelty of the family system continues to put pressure on me. It doesn’t matter if I try to belong and make connections, or if I try to avoid and not make connections. The entire exercise is moot. My presence in the family is not accepted, because I bear the scars, and even the recent injuries, of family encounters. At the same time, I am vilified for not falling in line.
And so I feel this very strange condition of pressure to belong, to attend family events, and pressure to conform, to family culture and myths, while my internal condition is weakened by these demands and make me less able to be part of the family system.