I have always considered bullying as something that takes place in the school playground amongst children who are just being mean to one another. When recently I was accused of being a bully I withdrew myself and gave it some serious thought and dedicated a lot of my free time looking back at my childhood. Apart from the usual sibling arguments and the tactics deployed to resolve them by children which are still being used today, my childhood was no different to anyone else’s. I didn’t stop there I got in contact with friends I grew up and asked had I ever been unkind intentionally? It was nice to learn I was normal and well thought of amongst my friends from zero to eleven years old. I didn’t ask anyone after the age of eleven as I went off to boarding school and my time with my family was limited from that day forth.
But this reflection got me thinking and digging deeper for answers in an effort to find out who I am and my role within this time period.
Within the family unit which is very complex and full of very different personalities there is sometimes one family member who can feel excluded for various different reasons. To them this experience/emotion can cause a real distress. They feel left out, unwanted and not loved and believe their contributions are worthless to the family. As a child this can go easily unnoticed and become perceived to others as a personal trait.
Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and people including families can look to a family member for the mistakes, wrongdoings or their faults especially for reasons of convenience. Essentially this individual is being made a scapegoat. ‘Scapegoat’ was first introduced in the Bible, a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it. In most instances they are completely unaware of what they are doing and would absolutely deny it if they were confronted with this accusation.
This behaviour perhaps is how families hide problems they cannot face, as we get older it must be a method of hiding problems, disappointment or resentment towards that family member for a misgiving or a sin. It certainly serves as an effective weapon to attack someone who is vulnerable at that time. The reality is this family member becomes responsible for everything that is wrong in the family. It serves a good purpose to vent their own frustrations, aggression and at worst hatred.
For a child to deal with this, well I can’t imagine and am not qualified to make a comment. As for an adult dealing with this, one would think they are equipped with the skill set to deal and cope with it. Of course this a problem, this causes the person to withdraw, makes them anxious and can lead to depression. It cannot be underestimated, the fear and self hatred this person will come to feel. Of course they will believe what they are told and will accept all of the blame and finger pointing at them despite the fact that most of it is untrue or at the very least completely their fault. Therapy, I found is a very good start to understanding the problem and if that doesn’t work then the only thing left is to walk away and severe all ties. This decision is by no means easy to arrive at but self preservation of ones health is what’s important.
The bottom line is that making someone the scapegoat is hurtful and damaging, whether that person is a child or adult.
When something unpleasant happens, we will naturally try to come up with an explanation for it. We explain it through our experiences, skill sets and knowledge. There are people who trust completely in their own answers rather than siding with you and the reality of the details and information because admitting their mistake challenges their ego and expertise. Example, “Why didn’t you just say no?”
I always valued fairness, because if you do the right thing or what you are supposed to do, you’ll get good things and visa versa. So I suppose people view if you have done a bad thing or something goes wrong you are at fault. Thus where fairness applies it is hard for them not to blame you.
Forming relationships is difficult, and trust is an integral part of any relationship and safety within that relationship. Can we trust them or not? Once a dispute starts, people may not behave as we have come to expect and blame you rather than accept that someone they like did something wrong. Accepting what happened violates their sense of security, making them insecure and even scared. It is important at times to understand what drives people to blaming and finger pointing. Ultimately they are trying to protect themselves.
Nevertheless you are driven by guilt, emotionally drained and confused feeling useless and incompetent. Perhaps there also exists a person who doesn’t see anything wrong with what they are doing, they firmly believe you are wrong and they are right and they are helping you by putting you down so you will see the errors in your ways and never make the same mistake. Boundaries don’t exist, this person is to be admired. The more you try to defend yourself the worse the situation gets and god forbid you try to share the blame. Anger raises its ugly head and the tables are quickly turned and everything now is entirely your fault, you are evil. There is the right way, the wrong way and they’re way. Offence is their defence. In essence they never make mistakes.
Im not sure if my desire to please everyone is a result of this behaviour? Perhaps some coping mechanisms I have developed have made relationships difficult, perhaps all of this is in my head and I need to rearrange my life and how I view things.