Elsa’s blog post about Scapegoating got me thinking. One of the most common things I am asked about is the pattern of boundary issues and enmeshment. Enmeshment is when you stop being able to figure out where you end and your partner begins. It can feel wonderful at first, because you’ve merged completely with another human. But after awhile of this, some couples seem to lose their individual identity, and they need to step back. This can cause problems with the partner, who has grown used to having their mind read!
When you step back and decide to take back some of your individuality, you may trigger a reaction from your partner. A very blatant example is the wife of an alcoholic, who, for years, has tried to keep the peace in her partnership by anticipating her partner’s needs, keeping the fridge stocked with beer and making sure the kids are quiet when he gets home from work so as not to trigger his anger while he’s drinking. One day she decides enough is enough, and there’s no beer in the fridge when he gets home. Whatthewhat???
Scapegoating and co-dependency go hand in hand, I think. Becoming a scapegoat may sometimes look like an isolated incident– you start a new job and realize everyone’s blaming all their shortcomings on the “new girl”… but in reality, the phenomena of victimization is a learned behavior, most likely starting way, way back. Like pre-verbal— maybe you learn in the crib that there’s no reason to cry, because no one is going to come pick you up. So you learn how to be self-soothing at a really really early age. You never get to learn that your DEMANDS will be met.
Fast forward 20 years and you’re still not demanding; you’re still relying only on yourself to meet your needs, but the desire for companionship is, of course, a human desire. So you couple up and because you’re so good at being low-maintenance, and you’ve learned, out of necessity, to read your environment like a telepath, you may partner with someone who keeps triggering your childhood issues of “nothing for me, it’s all about them”.
Going back to the original example of the guy who comes home to no beer…. the crucible point is when he’s standing at the open fridge with that incredulous look on his face. He turns and looks at you, ala the girl from the movie “The Exorcist”. You know the pea soup is coming.
Let’s assume there’s absolutely no violence in this scenario— hubby’s rage is limited to stomping, hollerin’ and guilt-producing statements that have no real basis in reality (you never think about me!!). At this moment, you either stand toe-to-toe with the phantom from your past and look him straight in the eye and say “that’s never been true, but am telling you from this day forward I will be putting myself FIRST” and you mean it. You never buy beer again. Every single time you are tempted to fall into old behavior, you take yourself out for a pedicure instead of taking care of a need of his that is entirely his to fill.
There is always a way of looking at the behavior of others who are trying to scapegoat you, or shame you into meeting their needs somehow. But it involves your willingness to see it another way, to entertain the idea that your safety does not rely on your sacrifice.
Water signs are prone to this, as is Neptune in the 7th, or hard Neptune aspects (including Neptune conjunct Ascendant) without a strong Saturn. While Scorpio is a water sign, it is more likely to put up with only so much before making the decision to draw a line in the sand.
Do you have a line in the sand?