dys  Forgive and forget…

You need to let it go…

Put your pride aside…

Be the better/bigger person…

You’re better than that…

Don’t let it bother you…

All this advice is a big, steaming crock of shit!

For those just tuning in, I’ve chosen to go no contact with a specific family member. This means no talking, visiting, phone calls, text messages, nothing. When some people hear this, they jump straight from their soapbox onto their high horse and proceed to lecture me about how I need to “be the better person” and let this family member back into my life because, well… it’s just something I have to do.

The people that give me this advice either don’t know shit about dysfunctional families, or they don’t give a shit about my emotional well being. Either way, I don’t have time for their namby-pamby bullshit.

Newsflash for the armchair relationship counselors: I come from a dysfunctional family… highly fucking dysfunctional, in my opinion. And like all dysfunctional families, I’ve been cast in a certain role, one that I cannot get out of no matter how hard I try. In my family, I’m the “scapegoat” or “rebel,” the one who was blamed for most of my family’s problems, even though it was rarely, if ever, my fault.

By contrast, the family member I’m at odds with also has a role, and that’s the Mastermind. True to the role, this person is an opportunist who manipulates other family members to get what he wants by appealing to their vanities and insecurities. Unlike the way I was treated, this person was always appeased by other family members, and still is to this day.

Here’s what happens when the Mastermind picks a fight with the Scapegoat: the Mastermind very quietly yet quite viciously insults the Scapegoat. In his anger, the Scapegoat lashes back in equally insulting tone and terms. The Mastermind then makes the round with other family members, telling them only what the Scapegoat says, and cleverly omitting the fact what he, the Mastermind, did to start the fight.

The result is equally predictable: the family kicks into high gear, rallying ’round the “wounded” Mastermind. They all curse, shout, and damn the Scapegoat for doing what he’s “always done,” which is “not being a good family member.” The Scapegoat tries to plead his case, but it fall upon deaf ears because, well… he’s the Scapegoat, so he always lies, cheats, steals, and hurts people.

The aftermath: on the advice of his therapist and everything he’s read about narcissism and dysfunction, the Scapegoat goes no contact with the Mastermind. The family’s reaction is much the same as those of the meddlesome, half-ass relationship counselors watching from the sidelines: forgive and forget, be the bigger person, blah blah blah blah fucking blah.

(Did you catch that, genius? My decision to go no contact has nothing to do with something that happened way back when; it’s based in the fact that the dysfunctional family element that blames, shames, and alienates me will. never. change. Got it?)

So back to the present: when you give me your bullshit advice, you’re sending the lamb right back to the slaughter. You’re telling me to quietly and dutifully allow myself to be insulted, ridiculed, and criticized over and over and over again by a family member who has no consequences for his behavior. My family isn’t going to stop him, and neither will you… You’re too busy telling me to “be the better person.”

Since you like advice so much, let me share some with you: keep your bullshit morality to yourself, because it adds nothing to my long-term happiness.

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

  1. Reblogged this on The Big Girl's Guide and commented:
    Some good advice if you’re caught in weird dysfunctional family dynamics…also why I hate when people give advice without getting all the facts.

  2. jessws61 says:

    Boy do I know where you’re coming from on this one. This is why I haven’t talked to my parents in over a year… Tired of having to put up with their shit. And I am equally unimpressed with the people that tell me I should just let it go “because they’re family.” Eff that.

  3. jessws61 says:

    Boy do I know where you’re coming from on this one. This is why I haven’t talked to my parents in over a year… Tired of having to put up with their shit. And I am equally unimpressed with the people that tell me I should just let it go “because they’re family.” Eff that.

  4. Mia Southafricanwhitegirl Valenti says:

    fucking well said.

  5. Lill Speckmann says:

    JP, Been there many times. Being Family used to qualify for members to act like jerks . Not any more !!! I totally agree with your thoughts ( which you back up so well by giving examples ) . I have a few family members who fit into that mastermind category perfectly. Game players who enjoy the thrill of making others fell insincere , stupid and unworthily . Their behavior had taken a toll on my well being for years. Thank God , I finally allowed myself to take a stand . In my opinion , the rules for treating family “special ” have changed . An asshole is an Asshole no matter what their name. Hence, I finally omitted them from life. The difference is wonderful. And guess what ” Don’t miss then at all ! ” I feel like a free person now.. Thanks you for posting this subject on your blog. Wish everyone would read it and take a stand for themselves as well…… Love you much, Momma Lill xoxoxo

  6. Dragonfly says:

    Wow! My husband comes from much the same dynamic, with him growing up as the rebel or “scapegoat.” Has the worst relationship with his father because of it – he got blamed for many things he never did… and watched as his two other siblings got away with murder and were never punished.

    He’s also gone no contact… with all of his family for now, but because they were incredibly rude to me. We stayed around them for 5 years of marriage, but once they started being just too overtly rude in front of our first child, we decided it was enough. Hope you find healing… those kinds of people usually never seem to apologize unless they are on their death beds…and even then, it’s a toss up.

  7. Beth Donovan says:

    I cut off all contact with my sister-in-law after a phone call a few years back when she said that I wasn’t really that bad but that she did not feel safe around me.
    Safe. She did not feel SAFE around me.
    Why? Because she does not like my viewpoints, and I figure I was micro-aggressing her when I defended my faith, my upbringing and my political views.

    We put up with her crap for years and years. Every holiday was a nightmare for me because she made a point of picking on Andy and I. She hated the high school I went to. She hated that I’m Catholic. She really hated that I did not look to her as an expert on how to live life like John’s previous wife did.

    After their parents passed away, I cut the cord. Fortunately, not one person told me to be the better person.

    • Lucy says:

      I have to be honest with you, I wouldn’t want to be around someone I don’t feel safe with. Feeling safe is a part of our core being. I’m guessing you didn’t want to look too hard at yourself and ask yourself the question why someone didn’t feel safe around you. I’ll give you an example, I didn’t feel safe around my parents growing up, do you think I really want to be around people where I can’t be me?

      • JP_Ribner says:

        Yeah, I don’t know, Lucy. These days, everyone needs a “safe space” from ideas that they feel threatened by. Based on Beth’s comments, I’m inclined to believe that her sister-in-law feels threatened by life in general.

      • Beth Donovan says:

        My sister-in-law does not feel safe around me because I am conservative and pro-life.

        And Catholic. She hates Catholics.

        I have tons of people in my life who feel perfectly fine around me. Plus, my sis-in-law drinks a lot.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Very well said. But you know what a good response would be for the ignoramuses who make comments like, “Be the better person”? “I AM the better person – and that’s why I’m being treated this way by my toxic family.” Honestly, the best way to handle these abusive family members is to simply walk away from them and never look back. And for those who defend these evil-doers, walk away from them also. Last year, I’ve had to walk away from my best friend of 45 years shortly after going NC with my entire family because she believed them over me. I’ve always had my suspicions about her being a covert narcissist, and now I know I was right. So sad – but that’s life. I’m done with t B.S.

  9. Michelle says:

    Hell bound humans meaning they have no idea how to regard the rights of individuals, especially good folks with god like good behaviour,,,no matter evil try’s to blame, win the day……

  10. Fuck Humans says:

    Any asshole that spews that “be a better person” shit deserves to be trapped in an abusive relationship until that they either get killed, commit suicide, or get it through their little minds how damaging that “advice” is. By dismissing and ignoring (familial) abuse, they’re contributing to the prevalence of abuse.

  11. zoey says:

    YES!!!! That is EXACTLY why I decided to cut all ties with the “mastermind” of my family. Of course, everyone else in the family thinks I’m the asshole but I cannot care anymore. Being the scapegoat is a horribly abusive place to be in. It robs you of your unique beauty and value, it kicks you when you are already down, and distorts your sense of self.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s