Narcissists Play These 5 Weird Games With You & It Makes Living With Them Hell

Narcissists Play These 5 Weird Games With You & It Makes Living With Them Hell

Have you ever found yourself Googling stuff someone has done to you and running into something that led you to suspect someone in your life is a narcissist?

Is someone close to you generally cruel, unfair, manipulative, and painfully clear to you or others in ways that don’t make sense?

Identifying Narcissistic Behaviors and Characteristics

While other unifying characteristics aren’t as obvious, the way that narcissists affect your life almost appears to be from some kind of ‘narcissist playbook.’ no different in how they will impact your life. 

A narcissist is a person who is defined by egocentricity, self-centeredness, and grandiosity.  Learn more about narcissistic traits.

The narcissist may or may not be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, a Cluster B Personality Disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention, and a lack of empathy for others.

A narcissist’s behavior can be difficult to deal with because it can be very irrational and manipulative. Sometimes it can be very subtle, especially when dealing with a covert narcissist. This, of course, confuses their victims.

5 Crazy-Making Behaviors of Narcissists

If you are in a relationship with someone who has narcissistic tendencies, some of the behaviors I describe here may seem familiar to you. Narcissists are not the easiest people to be around. Some of the signs of a narcissist are obvious.

For example, you know if someone is arrogant, demanding, has an inflated sense of self-importance, and a lack of empathy, they’re demonstrating narcissistic traits.

Has someone in your life caused you to start Googling things that led you to suspect you’re dealing with a narcissist? Are you the target of cruelty, unfairness, and manipulation by someone you suspect could be narcissistic?

Do you keep repeating the same mistakes in relationships that hurt you but don’t seem to teach you anything?
You’re not alone in feeling frustrated by a lack of change in your relationships, even though you try to fix everything and make amends.

Here are five common behaviors displayed by narcissists that might seem bizarre at first glance but illustrate some very telling red flags about the true nature of your relationship (and the person you’re dealing with).

What to Know If You’re Preparing to Leave a Narcissist

If you have been thinking about leaving a relationship with a narcissist or you’ve already left, it can help to know what is likely to come next.

  • Narcissists may try and drive their partners into denying the truth that the relationship is over, and many do whatever they can to thwart and hurt their former partners, including things like stalking, intentionally shaming you threatening your safety and actively gaslighting you.
  • They may engage in hoovering through love bombing to try to suck you back in.
  • Hoovering can be any behavior that draws you back into the narcissist’s web –  positive or negative.
  • They may also retaliate by hurting you emotionally or physically attacking you, and worse. 
  • Failing this, they’ll start a smear campaign and gather their respective flying monkeys to help facilitate the rumors they’re spinning about you. All to play the victim and get more narcissistic supply.
  • Remember that once they’ve passed the love bombing stage, narcissists tend to be limited in their ability to be emotionally responsive due to their limited capacity to feel anything other than cognitive empathy.
  • In the case of some ‘lower level’ narcissists, they don’t even mean to hurt you as much as they do. They cannot feel in ways other than how they want others to feel, so they will cling and try anything else to get what they need.
  • Malignant narcissists, on the other hand, are more likely to attempt to destroy you intentionally.
  • Either way, you must stay safe, and the best way to do that is to ensure that you don’t miss a single detail.

How to ensure you can safely leave the narcissist if you live with them

Start by thinking ahead – spend a little time watching the PLAN (Planning to Leave A Narcissist  videos. Download our free guide to a safe escape from a shared home with a narcissist and other free resources there.

  • The PLAN ensures a safe departure and leaves you no room for failure.  
  • Each video is designed to both support and validate you as you’re preparing to leave, each video covers a different aspect of what you need to consider before, during, and after you’ve left the narcissist. 
  • Plus, you’ll get a printable plan to leave, including a planning guide workbook and a planning timeline.
  • Also included are a to-do list, and checklists of must-have items and important paperwork you need to gather up and make copies of before you go, if possible.

Learn more about narcissists and their insecurity in this post.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

 

Are you ready to get safe support and validation from your QueenBeeing team and your fellow survivors?

Then there’s only one thing left: get the app now!

Get the app now!

 

NARCISSISTS ARE COMMITTED TO MISUNDERSTANDING YOU! Try this to be understood.

NARCISSISTS ARE COMMITTED TO MISUNDERSTANDING YOU! Try this to be understood.

Ever tried to explain something to a narcissist, and they pretended not to understand? It’s like speaking another language from behind a brick wall; in other words, incredibly frustrating, to put it mildly.

I should know. After all, despite what the narcissists in my life have claimed, I’ve become pretty successful in my communication skills – I literally communicate for a living. Some people say I’m pretty good at it!

And yet, even with a very simple concept, the narcissists in my life have always acted like they just couldn’t comprehend what I was trying to explain – no matter how many different ways I’d say it.

Narcissists choose to make you feel unheard and misunderstood.

Eventually, I would come to understand that they chose to misunderstand. It was a form of gaslighting, and it drove me insane!

After a while, I had to acknowledge that I was dealing with someone who was showing malignant narcissist traits.

The truth will set you free in narcissistic abuse recovery.

Once I finally figured out the truth – that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist, I felt devastated.

And yet, as painful as that was, it also relieved me beyond belief because it explained so much – and it proved that I was relatively sane despite the narcissist’s claim to the contrary.

Has the narcissist taken your identity away?

Before I discovered I’d been dealing with abusive narcissists in my life, I found myself feeling like I had nothing – like I had become a shell of the person I used to be.

I was so wrapped up in making the narcissist happy that I stopped feeling any desire for things and situations.

I lost myself and didn’t even know where to find myself! Nor did I want to be around other people.

I was overwhelmed by this person’s need for attention and narcissistic supply, not to mention his blatantly clear intention to misunderstand me and make me uncomfortable.

Why do we focus on fixing the toxic relationship?

We focus on fixing the toxic relationship (and ourselves) for several reasons; denial, trauma bonding, and toxic hope.

Whatever the reason,  when I found myself at the point of being actively devalued, along with occasional silent treatment discards, I was fully focused on one goal: to fix this person and make it all okay again. It was all I could think about.

Of course, the only thing I had any control over was myself – and even though I was pretty sure that I couldn’t make the narcissist become something new, I was also someone who isn’t afraid to do a little work and fix the broken parts of ME.

So, I’d always focus on whatever was wrong with me and try to fix that (in hindsight, it was nothing but deaing with undiagnosed and unrecognized C-PTSD symptoms ).

I thought if I could fix ME, maybe the narcissist would naturally ease up. Of course, I was wrong there. I got a little mad at myself.

But then I did something SUPER dumb…

I tried to help the narcissist. 

No matter how hard I tried, I never found a way to fix this person – at least none that worked.

Through the lens of my FOG (fear, obligation, guilt), I figured I’d try to fix the broken parts of “me,” thinking maybe he’d catch up – or that his behavior might change on its own if I was perfect.

Of course, the narcissist was pleased with this development. It offered plenty of chances to both love bomb and devalue in alternating rhythms, the intermittent nature of which is the very basis for trauma bonding.

But it also offered plenty of invalidation; I had zero support during this time, and I felt more alone than ever.

Narcissists don’t want your help unless they want it. 

I couldn’t believe how clueless this supposedly intelligent man was able to act, but I must have believed his BS on some level.

After all, I would spend hours trying to figure out exactly how to explain something, I would even write down what I wanted to say and say it as calmly and carefully as possible.

But rather than trying to defend bad behavior, I’d shut my mouth and get lectured by the narcissist on my apparent lack of communication skills.

You can’t fix a narcissist.

For the narcissist, there was clearly no desire for change on his part, and his sense of entitlement blew my mind.

He reminded me often that he thought I was a total loser, someone who needed all this mental health help – and sometimes, he’d even convince me that I wasn’t as smart as I’d led him to believe.  It got so bad that I literally started to believe him.

Narcissists do not change. 

The fact is that narcissists simply do not change because, in layman’s terms, they don’t think they need to change. Their personality disorder essentially causes it to feel impossible. 

Not only that, but their glaring lack of emotional or compassionate empathy for you or anyone else is exactly the reason why the narcissist has no remorse when they flip everything around and become angry with you.

You are NOT crazy!

I “needed help,” they’d say. So obviously, I felt like no one understood me, and I felt alone and completely insane – and the narcissist took advantage of my weakness at the moment and assured me that this might be the only time I’d ever been right.

(If you can relate to that, please know that you’re NOT crazy – and know that the narcissist behaved this way on purpose to add “mental health” issues to your plate.

That’s because when you don’t trust your own judgment thanks to their abuse, narcissists will actively try to disturb your peace and, yes, even your sanity. They can’t stand for you to be happy.

Even my friends didn’t get why my relationships were so toxic.

It floored them, they said, because I was so easy to get along with. After all the years of hearing about how awful I was to live with, you can imagine my surprise to hear otherwise.

But my friends weren’t alone in their confusion. In fact, I got plenty of feedback from anyone who had the nerve to offer it.

For example:

  • My toxic parent mystified them, but they’d say in a horrified voice that she was my MOTHER and I had better repair the relationship with her before it was too late. That last part, for the record, means they would shame me.
  • People would tell me to just get over it and move on.
  • Some suggested therapy – but that never works with a malignant narcissist.
  • When it came to my toxic marriage, it was even worse – they were annoyed and would ask, “why don’t you just leave already if it’s so bad?” (NOT helpful, btw!)

Does your life feel like some kind of cosmic joke that makes you dysfunctional?

I have gone through several existential crises during which everything I did felt wrong, off-balance, or just plain crazy. Here I was, living in what felt like a cosmic joke of a life, with narcissists everywhere I turned.

Even friends who weren’t intrinsically toxic were still unable to understand my issues.

I mean, after being so beaten down and being so conditioned to question myself – I really didn’t even know what I believed, much less understand how to figure all that out.

I knew I needed help.

But not just any help. I needed to feel seen and heard. I needed a way to share the times when I did not feel good enough or even like I was a “real” person.

I didn’t know how to find help. I wanted a very specific kind of help. Not from just anyone, but specifically with people who UNDERSTOOD where I was.

After searching and trying out therapists and various support groups and systems, I found no relief: no one could quite “get” what I’d been through.

But something in me told me that I couldn’t be the only one going through this.

So, I got busy and started doing my research, and right about 2012, I learned about narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse. And boy, am I glad I did – these little bits of information were life for me – as in they changed mine.

Back then, no one even really knew the term “gaslighting” – I had to go to the library to learn about it. There wasn’t much information on the internet that was easily digestible. As I began to post about this stuff on my blog, things turned interesting: many people came to me and asked for my help.

How could I help?

I was a journalist by trade, so research and writing were my bag. I knew how to write, I reasoned – and I I felt terrible when I learned how underserved this group of people was at that time. And after a lot of study and research, I took it upon myself, and I got to work creating that much-needed content.

It was a start anyway. But I had bigger plans. I wanted to build an app. And so I did. 

Easier, less painful narcissistic abuse recovery is the goal. 

My goal in building this new app was to make it easier – or at least far less painful – for our fellow survivors than I had it back then. I wanted to create content that made narcissistic abuse recovery easier to discover, understand, and get through.

I did this by sharing information and helping victims and survivors understand what they were dealing with and what they’d need to do to heal themselves. This led to an entire movement that would eventually be supported by a whole team of fellow survivors.

Over the years, we have really learned who we survivors are and exactly what we need to heal ourselves so we can evolve and thrive from here on out.

Not only do I do my best to be the person I needed in my own recovery for you, but I have simultaneously healed myself along the way.

So, I learned I wasn’t alone – and I hope I’ve helped you do the same. (If not, stick with me – we will get there!)

Get the app now!

So, why am I telling you all of this?

  • Because I’ve developed something BETTER to help you in your recovery.
  • Because after all these years, and after helping hundreds of thousands of survivors get through their recovery a little easier, I’ve created something that will intuitively help you heal and get (and stay) connected!

Narcissistic abuse recovery support that you can put in your pocket and take with you wherever you go.

That’s right! Even better, there are hundreds of narcissistic abuse survivors just like me – just like you– who have joined me, and they are finding (and giving) serious support in our new in-app tribes, not to mention the tools, tips, and helpful information that is designed to walk you through your recovery from wherever you are, right now.

Introducing the All-New Narcissistic Abuse Recovery App

Inside this amazingly intuitive and easy-to-navigate app and its private community, you’ll find a new (and more secure) way to connect with me, my fellow coaches, and our fellow survivors.

  • You will also find toolkits, trackers, helpful tips and ideas, and more from the QueenBeeeing team – all designed to make your recovery as painless as possible. 
  • You can count on not having to deal with any more judgment. No more shame or worries about narcissists or flying monkeys finding your posts or anything about you.
  • The app offers you a safe space where survivors are free to share their thoughts, ask their questions, be scared, and stay vulnerable without any judgment or shame.

Together, we’re changing narcissistic abuse recovery!

No longer will narcissistic abuse resemble a lonely, dark crawl out of hell and into the unknown.

Now, you can recover faster and with less pain with our new narcissistic recovery app and the full support of the QueenBeeing Narcissistic Abuse Recovery team and your fellow survivors!

Plus:

  • You’ll get immediate access to our support tribes community.
  • You’ll be given toolkits and complete step-by-step blueprints to help you get and stay safe and healed, from discard to evolution and more.
  • You’ll be warmly welcomed as a member of this secure community by our amazingly supportive, empathy-filled survivors who truly understand where you’ve been – because they’ve been there too.

What does it cost?

While I usually price my apps at a reasonable $25 per month, this one is different. I want it to be more accessible – so I’m only charging $9.99 a month for now. And as long as you remain a subscriber, you’ll never pay more.

If you’ve used one of my previous apps, I am so excited to tell you this is the VERY BEST and most intuitive one we’ve ever built! You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to customize for your own needs and the level of information, tools, and support you have at your fingertips!

Are you ready to get safe support and validation from your QueenBeeing team and your fellow survivors?

Then there’s only one thing left: get the app now!

Get the app now!

 

Why do narcissists downplay your worth?

Why do narcissists downplay your worth?

Have you ever wondered why narcissists have a way of minimizing everything you do, say, think, or feel?

Narcissists are never generous with praise unless they’re using it as a way to manipulate you. In general, once they get past the love-bombing phase of the relationship, narcissists have a way of never doing or saying anything to make you feel good about yourself. 

If you feel like you have to work a little harder to earn the praise of a narcissist, it’s not because they’re harder to please or discriminating in their approval. It’s because they have reached the “devalue” phase of the toxic relationship. 

What is the devalue phase of the toxic relationship?

Devaluation is what happens when a narcissist tears you down emotionally, insults you (outright or covertly), and makes you doubt yourself and your self-worth. This is done as part of the cycle of abuse and when effective, it can cause you to believe you don’t have a chance of finding someone better, or that you’re not worthy of love or consideration.

The narcissist will often use devaluation to keep you from leaving by implanting such ideas in your head. Alternatively, some narcissists don’t even recognize they’re doing it since it’s part of the standard cycle of abuse. It can happen to a “thing” just as easily as a person when a narcissist is involved.

Why does the narcissist downplay your worth?

Narcissists downplay your worth and highlight their own accomplishments, in part because they want to keep you feeling inferior, but it’s more complicated than this. In fact, narcissists use their “false selves” to mask their deeply profound insecurity and often use this tactic to sort of boost their own ego.

It’s all about making sure they have control over us and keeping us feeling less than them so they can get what they want out of life while using our goodwill as leverage against us when needed.

In other words, they need to feel that they are above you, that they are superior to you in every single way.

What does it mean when the narcissist compliments you?

Do you sometimes feel that when narcissists do compliment you or praise you it is not genuine? Well, you are right. It isn’t. As a matter of fact; narcissists downplay the worth of those with whom they wish to gain favor.

If we are on their good side (during the idealization or love-bombing phase), then we will get compliments from them about how wonderful we are doing at work or school or even in our personal relationships.

Sometimes when narcissists compliment us, it is done so in a way that makes us feel inferior or lesser than them – or it’s about impressing someone else who overhears the compliment. The other reason a narcissist might compliment you outside of the love-bombing phase is to take credit for your work or efforts in some way.

Explaining by Example: The Narcissist at Work

In order to understand this behavior better; let us consider an example of how someone with narcissistic personality disorder might behave in a work environment. The narcissist will often claim credit for various projects even if he or she had nothing to do with their completion or success.

They will brag about their accomplishments and compare them favorably to others’. At the same time, he or she will also put down coworkers and subordinates who may have made similar contributions but not received as much recognition as they did.

Narcissists like to make themselves seem better than everyone else around them, especially if these people have something that the narcissist does not have (money, power, fame).

So, when a narcissist compliments you, it is not because of your worth, beauty, or talents. It is to get you under their authority so that they can use your talents for their own good.

Learn more about narcissists and the devalue phase of the toxic relationship

In this video, I explain the devalue phase in detail and offer tips on how to deal with the narcissist who is actively downplaying your worth. 

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

 

 

Divorcing a Narcissist

Divorcing a Narcissist

Divorce is always difficult and life-altering. When you’re divorcing a narcissist, there’s a whole other layer of manipulation and controlling behaviors involved. And, as painful as it is, it is less uncommon than you’d hope.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost half of all marriages end in divorce. If you are planning, experiencing, or have recently gone through a divorce with a narcissist, there are things you should know about starting over.

How Divorcing a Narcissist Affects Your Health

Research tells us that while most people are resilient after a divorce, surveys indicate that 10-15% of divorced people find it very difficult to manage to start over. If you’re dealing with a narcissist during divorce, you’re probably in that 10 to 15%, sadly. This means that your divorce was or will be quite traumatic. You may be feeling stuck, confused, lost, and abandoned.

Mental Health and Stress Issues When Divorcing a Narcissist 

You might feel like dealing with narcissistic abuse for as long as you have could leave you without the skills to cope with loss and start over. And you would not be alone in that feeling – as it turns out, we have seen thousands of narcissistic abuse survivors struggle through divorcing a narcissist. You might suffer from increased anxiety, depression, and a variety of symptoms related to C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) related to narcissistic abuse in your toxic relationship, both during and after the relationship.

You might also feel excessive stress that can lead to additional mental and physical effects. Due to the rejection you feel during divorce, you might struggle with even deeper mental health and emotional wellness issues. In a study published by Ovid Technologies, researchers found that oxytocin, a pleasure hormone associated with social bonding, may have protective health benefits. A separate study published in the American Journal of Science showed that the brain areas that sense pain are also activated with social rejection.

And, according to one researcher, dealing with your parents’ divorce as a child increases your risk for divorce. This makes sense for narcissistic abuse survivors on a deeper level, as a large percentage of narcissistic abuse survivors are also the adult children of narcissists, according to my own research and experience.

The Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), which measures the relationship between life events, stress, and illness, tells us that divorce is rated as one of the top stressors – and this is just general divorce – not necessarily divorce involving a narcissist. Divorce is topped only by changing jobs in the list of stressors. Other top stressors include moving to a new place

Physical Health Issues When Divorcing a Narcissist 

Divorcing a narcissist can be all-consuming, but it’s very important that you put yourself and your health first if you’re going to survive this safely. If you’re not careful, divorcing a narcissist can have serious physical health ramifications. Not only could your brain health be affected in surprising ways, but you might even die earlier than you would have otherwise. A study published in the Association for Psychological Science journal shows that people who are separated or divorced have a 23% greater mortality rate than married people.

With that being said, ongoing narcissistic abuse is known to cause mental and physical health issues that might even be more profound – and divorce may be the first step you must take in order to begin to heal yourself from the long-term trauma you’ve been dealing with. In any case, when you’re dealing with divorcing a narcissist, you’ve got to take good care of yourself.

Research tells us that staying physically healthy and mentally positive are the most effective ways to overcome the health risks associated with divorcing a narcissist.

Starting Over After Divorcing a Narcissist 

Staying mentally positive can help you overcome challenges and be resilient when starting over after a divorce. You can do some basic things to help yourself be resilient.

  • Do your research
  • Let yourself feel
  • Get professional help
  • Self-care
  • Practice coping skills
  • Embrace challenges

Research is a really easy way to empower yourself during any stage of a divorce. I always say that knowledge is power, and that is definitely true when it comes to divorce. There are many amazing self-help books you can read that are specifically related to overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships, including some on divorcing a narcissist (see our favorites here), a variety of narcissistic abuse recovery support systems you can engage, and professional legal resources available to help emotionally, mentally, and financially.

Learn What Other Narcissistic Abuse Survivors Have Experienced in Divorcing a Narcissist 

Since divorce with a narcissist might be more common than you’d expect, there are many others who have survived it. Their stories, ideas, and advice can help you start over. See some narcissistic abuse survivor stories here.

But be careful here and don’t allow anyone else’s experience overshadow what you are going through. How you feel may be different from what others have experienced, and my friend, that is completely okay. You are not required to relate or to do anything because of anyone else’s experience. Divorcing a narcissist is difficult and painful and the experience, as well as the healing, is going to be completely individualized for each person who experiences it.

That’s why it’s so important that you give yourself time to process your feelings instead of bottling them up or pushing them aside. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my own recovery from divorcing a narcissist was not allowing myself to take the time I needed to grieve the relationship. I thought that because I was “out,” things would just immediately get better. And in some ways, they did – but I needed to take the time to mourn the relationship.

Things to Avoid When Divorcing a Narcissist 

Going through narcissistic abuse is, on its own, an extended trauma in your life. Pile divorce on top of it, and you’re looking at a whole new level of concern. It is never easy, and we all make mistakes in the process. But if you are at all able to avoid the following, you will be doing yourself a big favor when it comes to your narcissistic abuse recovery process (not to mention the process of moving on after your divorce).

  • Avoid doing anything, especially making life-changing decisions, out of desperation. Always take time to THINK before you act, even if that means you refuse to make any decision related to the divorce on the spot. Get away from the narcissist and take some time to think in a stress-free zone.
  • Don’t allow the narcissist to treat your children as negotiation or manipulation tools. Do your best to keep any kids you have out of discussions that do not involve custody or the business of raising them. Stay calm and only focus on FACTS when you must communicate about the children. Try to keep your emotional energy to yourself during the divorce – at least when it comes to the narcissist and their flying monkeys.
  • Don’t share everything on social media. Be careful with how much you share about your divorce and/or your soon-to-be-ex on social media. Rather than posting on your persona page, consider joining a private online narcissistic abuse recovery and/or divorcing a narcissist support group.
  • Be careful to avoid developing or resuming bad habits or addictions. This one is harder, but while occasional indulgences might not hurt, long-term bad habits can be hard to break. Focus instead on what you can do to make yourself and/or your life better in this process. So, rather than eating ice cream every day to feel less stressed, or having a glass of wine (or three), maybe you could add in a stress-relieving walk or a daily meditation session. (Or if you’re like me, your walk can BECOME your daily meditation!)
  • Avoid becoming a hermit. Divorce can lead to social isolation. Don’t get back together with your ex or date anyone available out of desperation or loneliness. Try socializing with friends or using your time for medication and self-care instead of engaging in risky behaviors. I suggest you wait a minimum of one year beyond the finalization of your divorce to allow yourself to have plenty of time to heal.

Divorcing a Narcissist When You Have Kids

If your divorce will involve children, you might be interested in getting this free toolkit designed to help you smoothly transition into being a single parent.

Get the Help You Need When Divorcing a Narcissist 

You should not be going this whole “divorcing a narcissist” thing alone. There are plenty of resources available to you, whether you’re looking for one-on-one coaching narcissistic abuse recovery coaching, one-on-one divorce coaching, a support group, or even a therapist. In any case, it definitely helps to talk to someone, be they a coach, counselor, or another mental health professional during a divorce. In some cases, you might even be lucky enough to have a friend or family member who is willing to listen and who may understand.

Since divorce is one of the top life stressors, don’t take this lightly – your health is essential, and NOT getting the help you need can put you at unnecessary risk. Even just talking out your problems with a friend can make a difference and allow you to develop resilience.

Remember too that self-care should have a space on your priority list. While there may be practical issues to manage, like living arrangements and dividing property, do not forget to make time to allow yourself to heal. You will need to practice your coping skills to start over and seeing a professional can help you build the resilience you need. Embrace the challenges of starting over with the knowledge that you are creating a new, different, and better life for yourself.

Divorce is almost never easy, and narcissists make it miserable. At times, it may feel like your whole world has changed, and that’s because it has – but my friend, that can be a very good thing if you allow it to be. Point your eyes toward your future and start intentionally choosing what comes next. You can take charge by starting over with an intentional mindset with focused and specific goals as you move forward. You might even want to consider strategizing your own personal “comeback” with one of our coaches.

Resources for Divorcing a Narcissist

 

Scapegoat: The Black Sheep in the Toxic Family

Scapegoat: The Black Sheep in the Toxic Family

Watch My Scapegoat/Scapegoating Video – When I was about 12 or 13, I went shopping with my mother, a friend of hers, and my younger brother. As we entered the store, my mother and her friend splintered off and went to do their shopping while my brother and I went in the other direction to look at toys and games.

At one point, I noticed my brother shoving a hand-held video game in his pocket. I asked what he was doing and he informed me that he was taking the game and had done similar things before. He said he never got caught. Well, as misguided as this was, he convinced me that it was safe. And I’m ashamed to admit that I took a couple of cassette tape singles and shoved them into my purse.

Before long, we noticed a man following us through the store. It creeped us out, but in our cluelessness, we didn’t connect the fact that we had just put merchandise out of sight with the intention to avoid paying for it. The guy wasn’t wearing a uniform, after all.

Eventually, we met up with my mother and her friend and went through the checkout lane. My brother and I looked at each other as we passed through, feeling a weird kind of vindication when the checkout lady didn’t seem to notice us.

As we walked out the doors of the store, we both felt kind of excited to think we’d gotten away with it. We were almost to the car when the man who had been following us through the store came up and grabbed us by the shoulders. My mother freaked out and rushed over to us and was horrified to find out that he was taking us in for stealing.

After several hours of hell and a signed promise to never return to this store, they released us to my mother and we rode home in silence. As we arrived home, my mother asked us for the story. Why had we done this?

I tried to explain that my brother had suggested it and I’m pretty sure he even agreed to the truth – but my mother couldn’t stand the idea that it could’ve been his idea.

He was the youngest one, and the golden child at that. I, the scapegoat, must have been the problem, she decided, and after a brief admonishment to never listen to me or my evil ideas again, she sent my brother to his room. I, on the other hand, was severely physically punished and emotionally battered to the point that still to this day, when I’m walking through a store, I feel the need to keep my hands visible at all times.

The Scapegoat: Why and How the Narcissist Scapegoats You

Today, we’re going to discuss scapegoating and exactly why and how it happens. Plus, what you can do if you’re the scapegoat to start the healing process. So, let’s get started.

What is a “scapegoat?”

Also known as the black sheep, the scapegoat is the person in the toxic family structure who always gets blamed for everything that goes wrong for everyone, a member of a family or group. The black sheep is usually considered the outcast, the “bad kid” or a straight-up disgrace to the family. A scapegoat may have the following traits:

Empathic, strong-willed, internalizing blame easily, emotionally reactive, highly sensitive, protective or overprotective of friends, strangers, etc. They’re often the caregiver of the family and they’re likely to question everything – including authority (which adds to their pain in the family) and of course they seem to be different or to stick out from the rest of the family in some way.

What is the toxic family structure?

Generally, the Toxic Family Structure includes the Narcissist (or the toxic person the family revolves around), Enabler (often the other parent who may willingly or unwillingly support the narcissist), Golden Child (the child who gets all the positive attention and who often lives with extreme pressure from both the parents who want them to succeed or be perfect as well as the siblings who feel jealous or slighted by this attention that is so opposite of the attention they get), Scapegoat (the problem child/the one everyone blames for everything) and Lost Child (the invisible one who doesn’t get in much trouble or who is largely ignored due to attention to the golden child and the direct abuse of the scapegoat). There are other possibilities of course – the peacemaker, the comedian, and so on. But this is the basic structure we’re going to work with for today.

What is scapegoating?

Scapegoating is when someone chooses a person or a group of people and casts blame on them for any and everything. Then, they treat that person or group unfairly or punish them unfairly for all of these perceived slights. This can be done by individual people or groups of people.

The term scapegoating is mentioned in the bible as well as in other ancient texts in which ancient tribal societies would choose an actual goat to represent the tribe’s collective sins. They’d sacrifice it in one way or another, and then the tribe’s collective sins would be forgiven and they’d essentially have a clean slate.

Interesting, right?

How does the dysfunctional family choose their scapegoat?

There are a couple of things to consider here. In some families, the role of scapegoat seems to sort of rotate between everyone who isn’t the narcissist or toxic, controlling person in the mix.

For example, I know of one toxic mother who has two sons. At any given moment, one of the sons is in her “good graces,” while the other is being scapegoated. The issue is that each son does time in both roles. The family jokes that “she can’t be friends with both of them at the same time,” but in reality, they’re minimizing her toxicity and the level of dysfunction in their midst.

Of course, both of these boys grew up to be men who had a ton of self-doubt and who each married controlling women who could potentially be labeled as narcissists.

But the “rotating scapegoat” role is far less damaging than the role of the permanent scapegoat, in which one single person is the ongoing target for the toxic person in the family. It is this person who is blamed for everything that goes wrong, and it is this person whose accomplishments are ignored and minimized. This person is never good enough (and KNOWS this based on how he or she is treated) and nothing they do is considered “real” or “enough.”

The Scapegoat Gets All the Blame

When the golden child does something wrong, the toxic parent finds a way to blame it on the scapegoat. Why do they do this? Well, on a subconscious level, the “broken” scapegoat allows the rest of the family to feel like they’re well-adjusted and emotionally balanced. The family can tell everyone about this scapegoat and how terrible they are, and people will feel sorry for them – and in some cases, even praise them for putting up with such a problem child.

The toxic parent can tell the world, and herself, how perfect she is in her parental role, and anything that makes her unhappy or makes her feel bad about herself can be blamed on the scapegoated child.

Of course, chances are that the toxic parent doesn’t recognize this consciously. She isn’t actively thinking that she’s trying to use the scapegoat in this way, most of the time – and yet, she still actively bullies and targets the scapegoated child over the course of years and even decades in many cases.

Sadly, this can often lead to the other siblings following suit and victimizing the scapegoated child well into adulthood and even after the toxic parent dies. It becomes their “truth” – and they often unintentionally see the scapegoat as the bad kid or the one who just refused to be happy.

This means that the toxic parent keeps her proverbial nose clean because anything that goes wrong or is perceived as a failure for her is blamed on the scapegoat.

How is the scapegoat affected psychologically?

It depends on a couple of factors. First, the other parent. If the “enabler” parent does not join in on the blame game and putting down of the scapegoat, they may end up actively supporting or even validating the scapegoat at times. Or, if the scapegoat receives external validation from a grandparent, teacher, or other trusted adult, they may manage to recognize what is happening eventually and work on healing.

In my case, a girl scout leader and a bunch of my teachers validated me and I was able to recognize eventually what was happening. In the long run, this made my healing easier. Of course, the other side of the coin is the child who believes everything the toxic people say about him or her and sort of takes it into themselves and almost becomes exactly what the toxic parent claimed they were.

This often means that they never take credit when they succeed or something good happens (they think – it must be a mistake/luck/a fluke!)

And then when something bad happens, they assume it’s because they’re bad/broken/not good enough – or that they caused it in some way.

I personally can also relate to this side of that coin because even though part of me thought it was wrong, the other part of me believed at least the part about not being good enough or capable of being a “real person.”

And in both cases, most people who are scapegoated as children become really good at building walls and keeping people at a distance. They may also develop what they call a “thick skin,” meaning that they don’t take things personally (or at least they don’t end up being rattled by rude comments or disrespectful treatment in the same way as a healthier person might be).

They almost always feel like they don’t belong or like they’re not an important part of the family – and this often follows them into adulthood. They might be focused on achieving big things in order to prove their critical, toxic parent wrong – or they may just totally give up and fall into the role she cast for them. Alternatively, they might set very low standards for themselves in order to reduce the pressure they felt growing up – they may struggle to set and accomplish goals at all. In all cases, there are serious emotional and psychological issues at play for a scapegoat.

Scapegoated? Here’s the Silver Lining.

There is one possible positive to all of this, and that is that the scapegoated one is the child who is the most likely one to recognize that there’s a problem in the family, and is also more likely to get help to overcome it and possibly to break the cycle of abuse in her his or her own family as an adult. In fact, of all of the roles in the toxic family, the scapegoat is most likely to have a chance to eventually develop and maintain healthier relationships overall.

So, that’s something, I guess. But when this healing isn’t realized early enough, it also opens the scapegoat up for toxic relationships with narcissists as they navigate adulthood, because they sort of just take what they can get, if that makes sense. We can talk more about that in a future video.

If you are a scapegoat or a former scapegoat, the first step to healing is to recognize the issue and to recognize that it wasn’t your fault- that you weren’t the total trainwreck your toxic parent claimed you were, and that you are worthy of love and respect just like everyone else. Once you get this logically, you’ll be able to separate the emotional and psychological garbage you’ve been fed and the facts so you can begin to heal.

Ultimately, I want you to know that you ARE good enough, that you ARE a real person, and that you DO deserve good things in life. Look at me. I mean it. Don’t forget.

The question of the day is did you grow up in a toxic family, and if so, what role did you play? Share your thoughts, your ideas, and your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

Need help recovering from a toxic relationship with a narcissist?

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

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