Monday, July 16, 2007

Forgiveness

The standard panacea unhelpfully offered to those who are struggling with abuse past and present is "forgiveness". It is always assumed that you must "forgive" and all will be healed in your torn up soul. Your emotional wounds will finally close and you'll even be able to invite your abuser over for Christmas dinner next December.

I'm going to make a categoric statement and then attempt to fill out some of my reasoning on the subject.

Emotional health and healing does not reside in your being able to forgive the perp. So just forget about "forgiveness" and follow what I have to say. Test it against your logic and experience and see if I have a point.

Yeah, I know, that seems to go against all conventional wisdom. Christian or secular sources seem to beat the same drum..."you have to forgive in order to be able to move on". Bull. Shit. Conventional wisdom is rarely wise, so let's think this one through without the societal consensus blurring the lines.

When someone abuses you, in some way they have taken something from you. It may be something material like money or property. It may be a physical injury, or emotional abuse that has robbed you of self-respect. When someone deprives you of what is yours they incur a debt to you. Think of the years of abuse by the narcissist in your life as an ongoing theft. If you were not related to the person who habitually stole things from you, you would probably be smart enough to get them out of your life. But things get stickier when it is a family member because society places expectations on us to always remain connected to our blood relations. We long ago succumbed to this expectation. So we "forgive" them which means the abuser/thief has continual access to you to keep re-offending. This kind of forgiveness is destructive to you and enables evil to flourish. There has to be something better.

Real forgiveness is never a one-way street; real forgiveness can only be given if reconciliation and restoration in the relationship are desired by both parties. Forgiveness isn't just about you or your feelings. It is about a relationship between at least two people.

Forgiveness is the transaction that allows for restoration. On the offender's side there must be confession (admit to their act against you), contrition (show sorrow for what they've done to you) restitution (pay back what they took plus a penalty) and repentance (show solid determination to not re-offend). The person being asked for forgiveness, you, can then offer a large measure of grace if you are convinced of the sincerity of the offender's efforts. When you see these above actions by the person who hurt you, your heart is touched and you will likely offer mercy and reconciliation which usually means you ask them to pay less than is owed you and call it even. True forgiveness is very much like a business transaction. It is a transaction on the material and/or emotional level. In a real way a debt was incurred against you by the misdeed of the other party. The transaction of forgiveness is what allows the books to be set to right again allowing a relationship to be mended. The word "transaction" means that forgiveness can not happen unilaterally. It takes two to dance this tango.

When you give away your forgiveness without the perpetrator going through all four stages (confession, contrition, restitution and repentance) you show that your forgiveness is a false form of it and not something to be desired. Say you approach someone whom you know has injured you, and they deny they ever did it. They adamantly refuse to acknowledge their debt to you. Now lets say you go ahead and tell them that you forgive them anyway. Here is what you have accomplished. You've clearly indicated that you think so little of yourself that you don't really expect that you deserve any restitution when someone takes from you. What you call forgiveness is a cheap imitation. Now you've insured that the perpetrator is actually rewarded for taking from you. He came out ahead!

For instance, if someone steals $50 from you and gets caught, if all he has to do is hand over the $50 of yours that he stole he has no disincentive to try it again because he lost nothing in the transaction. He has actually has more incentive to try again because next time he just might get away with it and he'll be ahead $50. That is why in the restitution phase the perp not only returns what he took, but he should give you another $50 in addition to what he took from you as a penalty. That penalty is a strong disincentive for him to do the same thing again. Stealing was a costly venture for him.

As mentioned before, you may see true contrition and genuine effort to restore what was taken from you on the part of the thief/abuser and decide to forgive part of the debt. That is the reconciliation aspect of forgiveness. Your acceptance of their efforts to make things right is clearly shown by your willingness to forgive part of the debt. In the emotional realm this is even more true because it is impossible for the offender to put everything back to the way it was.

This illustrates an important aspect of the forgiveness transaction: the person forgiven is a recipient of your mercy. This is very humbling. Even though you've forgiven part of the debt, you do so at cost to yourself and therefore you are by default in a position of moral superiority. Not that you feel that way, but the reality is the forgiven party realizes they still owe you in the moral realm even after you've forgiven them...their debt should now be one of gratitude. Can you see why a narcissist has such a problem with the transaction of forgiveness? He has to humble himself in order to receive a true gift of forgiveness. He has to receive your beneficence humbly and gratefully in order for things to be set right. I've already spent some lengthy posts dealing with the narcissistically driven person's inability to apologize. The dynamic of a true forgiveness transaction reveals the reasons why the narcissist will refuse to acknowledge their debt to you. They are not willing to pay the cost to set things right again. It would require they admit to a wrong, show genuine remorse for it, do all in their power to make things right, and determine not to wrong you again. They do not value the relationship enough to incur that cost to their pride. They will do nothing that will admit to your moral superiority. They can not abide by the idea of them needing something from you. They are god. You are beneath them. How dare you think they owe you anything. Narcissists make it impossible for them to receive true forgiveness from you.

Narcissists are notorious cheats in the forgiveness transaction. You may get them to admit that they wronged you, but do not let yourself think that means you now owe them your forgiveness. There are three more steps. They rarely may get to the second part...that of showing what appears to be sorrow for what they've done. But they will lie, cheat and wiggle to avoid the next two very important parts of the forgiveness transaction. Do not be snookered by a cheat. Your gift of forgiveness is valuable and you shouldn't mark down the price to fire sale prices. By the way, your forgiveness is never owed to anyone. True forgiveness is always a gift. A gift must be freely offered. Extortion is not a way to legitimately gain it. If you don't want to give it, that is your choice. You must be satisfied that the person who wronged you is serious in their efforts to rectify their wrong. If you are not satisfied, you do not owe them your forgiveness. As soon as someone says you owe them forgiveness you have absolute proof that person is not genuinely repentant. Or you have a nosy holier-than-thou persecuting you from the sidelines. Either way, don't cow to the pressure.

So here you are. All alone with your anger and distress with no hope of restoration of a relationship because the narcissist refuses to engage in the transaction of forgiveness. Where does that leave you? What next? If a gift of true forgiveness can't be given what are you left with? Where the hell do you find some peace of mind? I am sure that it varies from person to person, but I think there are some basic things that must happen for us to find that quiet place in our minds so the past abuses of the narcissist don't continue to ruin our lives.

We've all heard the phrase "coming to terms" with something. Have you thought about what that means? When we "come to terms" it means we have found a name for a thing. Naming things enables us to categorize, quantify, qualify and talk about that thing. When you don't have a name for something it usually means you are in a confused state. When you are able to properly and correctly name a thing it becomes possible to know what it is. You have discovered a name for the destruction and evil that has wreaked havoc in your life. It is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. People who are dealing with this evil personality are incredibly relieved to find out there is a name for it! That is the process of "coming to terms". You finally have a name for what has been perplexing you and vexing you and sucking the life out of you. Do not minimize the importance of this process in coming to a place of peace in your life. It is an important first step.

Once you have "come to terms" it requires you to make a decision. If forgiveness is not an option because the other party will not participate in the transaction, you are left with two possible decisions. Either you decide that you, your life, and your well-being are of so little importance that you allow the perpetrator to have continual access to you where they can continue to hurt you over and over again at their whim, or you decide that you have the right to remove yourself from a destructive person and minimize the possibility that they can continue to commit crimes against your person because you are a person of value. You can not expect your anger and hurt to dissipate if you choose to remain where this person can continue to abuse you. Removing yourself from (or greatly minimizing) the malignant narcissist's contact is a major component to finding peace in your soul. "Forgiving" a crime in progress will only fuel your anger. How reasonable is it to expect that you can "get over" what has been done to you if you continue allow the same types of abuses to go on? Acknowledge your right and power and responsibility to remove yourself from a person who persists in hurting you, even if that person is family. If you don't value yourself, then who else will? Certainly not the narcissist.

Stop beating yourself up for feeling angry. Emotions and actions are two different things. You are not responsible for feeling angry. The narcissist is. Be honest with yourself about how you feel. Pretending you're not angry when you are is a lie and will not benefit you in the long run. How you choose to act is your responsibility. I recommend constructive uses for anger. Anger is just an emotion; you don't need to be afraid of it. You need to realize it is telling you that something is wrong. When something is wrong we need to bend our abilities and resources to fixing the problem. You can't fix the narcissist, so don't even go there. You can change your circumstances. Use your anger to motivate you to make the necessary changes to protect yourself. Use your anger as motivation to help others in whatever way your talent and experience enable you to. Helping others can go a very long way toward helping you find peace of mind, purpose and meaning for your life. Even volunteering to help orphaned or injured critters is a form of helping others.

It is important that good people not participate in encouraging and enabling evil to prosper by giving out cheap forgiveness. Forgiveness isn't about giving you peace of mind; it is about restoring a broken relationship. If that restoration is not actively sought by both parties then forgiveness isn't even on the table.

You can find peace of mind and equanimity all by yourself. You don't have to depend on the other person acting in a certain way before you can allow yourself to find that peace
. This is good news.

If you feel like you can't find peace unless and until the perp straightens up and flies right then you've just made your happiness dependent on the crook! That isn't even rational. You can "come to terms" with what has happened to you and then take decided measures to make sure you don't continue to be a victim. When you remove yourself from being a perpetual victim you will feel stronger and will earn some self-respect. Self-respect is a major ingredient of happiness and peace.

Frankly, I hope you never lose all your rage at what has been done to you. By that, I'm not saying I want you to live day to day and moment by moment in your anger and rage. But I do want you to keep some of your outrage at the unconfessed crimes against you. Why? Because this is what enables you to 1) stay away from the evil that is so harmful to your body and soul 2) it gives you empathy for others and the desire to help other victims of this type of evil 3) prevents you from giving aid and comfort to evil people in the future. I do not live my life in a state of anger, but when I describe narcissism on this blog I do feel anger at what they do as I mentally review how it feels to be abused by these monsters. The anger motivates me to express myself on this blog so you too can understand what you've been dealing with. My residual anger is constructive to my life and others lives, not destructive. When I'm not writing on this blog I'm living a happy, productive and peace-filled existence. I am surrounded by emotionally healthy, productive and loving people. My life is very good. I have found a peace-filled existence with lots of happy moments because I have had the courage to face my abusers and then give them the boot. I have gained a lot of self-respect because I've had the strength to stand up to the evil that terrorized me for decades and then left evil to rot in its own hell. I don't give a flying crap what the narcissists or their sympathizers think of me. I am truly free. You can be too. When I'm not blogging I barely think about my family narcissists. It took time to get to this place, but it not eons. Only a few years. Once I was no longer in any communication with them I found that I didn't have to think about them hardly at all. They don't deserve any more of my life. But I've digressed...

So, the question isn't even about forgiveness. You can not forgive an ongoing crime. The narcissist has refused to stop what they do, therefore it is a crime in progress. It is senseless to think you can forgive such an individual. To pretend that you can forgive an unrepentant perp who has no intention of stopping their life of crime will only guarantee them continued access to abuse and use you. Which means you will never find relief from the anger they continually stir up in your heart, and you will actually encourage them to continue in their evil ways. Cheap forgiveness perpetuates evil. Some may pass out cheap forgiveness thinking it means they are a "good person". Well, to thinking individuals like me, you are not a good person when you do this. You are part of the problem.

The concept of forgiveness is an important one to clearly understand. I think this concept is so important that you shouldn't even tell yourself in the privacy of your own head that you "forgive" someone for their past abuse of you. It sets you up to try to pretend something is okay when it isn't. It makes it likely that you'll start lying to yourself about how you really feel. I know this doesn't sound right to many of you. We've all heard the preaching about the necessity to at least forgive someone "in our heart". I think that is well-intentioned advice, but is misidentifying what is really going on when we "forgive in our hearts". I will say it again, forgiveness isn't about you personally. It is about a relationship and it works like a transaction. What happens in your own head (if you want to find relief) when you can't give a true gift of forgiveness is acceptance. Don't strive for "forgiving in your heart"; that is not an honest way to get the peace you're looking for. Aim for what you can achieve...acceptance of the truth of what was done to you, acceptance for the fact that restoration of the relationship is impossible, acceptance of what someone else chose. The narcissist has chosen to not receive your gift of forgiveness. Accept that fact and move on. You are searching for peace through acceptance of truth...not through a false or loose definition of forgiveness.

Someone recently wrote to me and described me as "relentless and solid in your unforgiveness". This person was offering that as a compliment and I took it that way. I am glad to hear I come across like that because it is the reality of where my head and heart are at. I refuse to forgive the unrepentant narcissist. In the Bible the unforgiveable sin is the unrepented sin. So, for you Christians, consider the fact that God can not give a gift of forgiveness unless the sinner repents. Neither should you. True forgiveness comes at a cost to the giver...it shouldn't be given away willy nilly. When we do that we are actually making evil more evil because you reward them by letting them get off cheap. I don't think you want to be responsible for that.

You don't have to give out forgiveness like penny candy in order to prove that you are a good person. A truly good person, one who is acting like God does, waits until forgiveness can be received for the gift it is. In the meantime, you can willingly relinquish your right to vengeance. Leave the vengeance part to God who is capable of perfect justice. If you are not a Christian, this principle still applies. If you rule out vengeance as an option you will enable your mind to stop dwelling on the past abuses which fuels your anger. Letting go of the right to mete out justice will allow you to concentrate your mental and emotional energy on healthy pursuits. You will allow yourself to stop turning over those painful memories in your mind and use your mind in ways that will not corrupt your emotions and actions. What we focus our mind on day in and day out is what we eventually turn into. Letting go of vengeance keeps us from becoming like our abusers. It also allows peace an opportunity to grow in your life.

Forgiveness is not even the question when dealing with unrepentant abusers. So drop the word and move on to more constructive concepts. "Coming to terms" with what has happened to you, confronting evil when appropriate, getting yourself out of reach of the abuser, resolving to not plot revenge, helping others as time and ability allow, acceptance of reality...these are some ways you can deal with your anger and allow your mind to rest from the turmoil the narcissist has roiled you with for years. Give yourself time to heal. Replace the bad people in your life with good people. If you can't do that, then find healthy and good pursuits, hobbies, interests, some kind of pet to take care of. You can't evacuate the bad from your life and then neglect to fill it with good things. Bit by bit, peace and healing come...usually when you least expect it.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I understand what you wrote: but what happens when BOTH PARTIES THINK THEY ARE RIGHT? (they are the offended party?)

Who moves first?

Anna Valerious said...

The only movement will be moving apart if both parties are convinced of their rightness and refusing to concede to the other person's view.

It is typical for narcissists to act like they not only didn't do anything wrong, but that you are the offender. Everything I said applies in this situation as well. If you know what you know and don't allow yourself to be bamboozled into substituting the narcissist's reality for your own, then forgiveness is not going to be an option. By this game of switcheroo, the narcissist shows they aren't willing to have reconciliation on any other terms than their own. If you know yourself to be right, then you shouldn't be willing to reconcile on the narcissist's terms. It will not end up being reconciliation; it's more like a truce. A temporary truce.

In the situation you describe there is only movement apart. No realistic coming together can happen if the offender insists they are the offended. This is a common narcissist's ploy to avoid accountability. You can't offer forgiveness to someone who doesn't think they need it.

Anonymous said...

Anna,

Thank you for this amazing post. I have often thought that the pop psych emphasis on "forgiveness" is misleading and perhaps dangerous. If you are Christian and look at the way God offers forgiveness, it isn't a blanket thing. You have to go through each of the four steps you outlined to earn it. I can't tell you how many times I've been told I have to forgive my narcissistic parents. They don't want my forgiveness. They don't think they've done anything wrong. In fact, they are incapable of thinking they did anything wrong for more than maybe a minute. Then we switch back into the alternate reality that they create where they are right and the rest of the world wronged them. The drama is always about them.

Your blog has been my lifeline these past few weeks after a particularly devastating encounter with my mother who I've just come to understand is a narcissist. My father is absolutely classic NPD, I just didn't realize what narcissism looked like in a mother until I read your blog and identified with pretty much everything. My mother has always been "the child" and I've always been "the parent" except when she decides to switch the rules for her own public ego gratification or financial gain. It has been miserable, taken a huge toll on me and my relationships with my siblings and finally I understand why. Keep writing! I'll keep reading. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. Just thank you. I really appreciate the time and effort you took to answer my question.

I really wish this post of yours could be read by everyone who has struggled as I have to "forgive" the narcissist. I have evicted my NPD mother out of my life, but I have people telling me I need to forgive her and I just can't. I won't. She isn't worth selling my soul.

jordie said...

Thankyou for presenting your argument so effectively, its encouraging to hear someone else speak up on this common sense approach to forgiveness. I always thought forgiveness was for the repentant, and not just a general 'cover-all' for everyone who offends you. It would tend to diminish the work of the cross if that were really the case.

I also think 'righteous anger' has a well earned place for the abused. We are always told its wrong to be angry as a Christian, but 'be angry and don't sin' seems to describe the situation well here. We can be angry at the abuse and be justified in our anger (not sin) because we are reacting to true evil. Having said that, I must admit that it can be ennervating to be that angry all the time. I would like to come to the place you described of being at peace, and grounded in being able to 'name' the evil we encounter, in order to be protected against any further incursions against us, but at the same time, not dwelling on revenge, or indulging in hate.

Anna Valerious said...

Anonymous @ 7:10 PM...You are quite welcome. I am glad to know you found what I said helpful. Stay strong.

Anna Valerious said...

Good comments, Jordie. I agree. As for the "righteous anger", I'm glad you too understand that principle. I rarely ever feel anger over what was done to me. I feel very matter-of-fact about it 99.99% of the time. Active recall like when I'm blogging can bring the anger up. So that's good, it is still there to motivate me to avoid the monster and help others do the same. I've been able to put a lot of time and distance between those events and myself which minimizes the anger. You'll get there too. When I get my ire up is when I witness, or recall witnessing, the abuse of others by narcissists and other evil people. It makes me much more angry than when I recall what has happened to me personally. I'll be damned if I will be indifferent to the evil abuse of others. Concern that is centered outside myself keeps me from being in a perpetual state of anger or angst, as well as time and perspective. Hope this makes sense in a practical way.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely true! I am sick sick sick of people telling me to GET OVER IT. How do you get OVER evil? How invalidating!! I agree that revenge is wrong but TELLING and having your pain validated as well as keeping others from being hurt is KEY! Don't keep it to yourself, the N is counting on it.

faith said...

I appreciate your determination and passion to share your insights and help heal so many of us that have been devastated by narcissists. I need help understanding what you mean by ruling out vengeance as an option in order to enable your mind to stop dwelling on the past abuses which fuels the anger. "Letting go of the right to mete out justice will allow you to concentrate your mental and emotional energy on healthy pursuits. You will allow yourself to stop turning over those painful memories in your mind and use your mind in ways that will not corrupt your emotions and actions." I think that partly it means that I won't waste my energy defending myself when interacting with the N. During the fall and spring months I remember the abuses daily and get angry. I think it's more than Seasonal Affective Disorder which I am told it is. Thanks again. Your blog is amazing!
-Faith

Anna Valerious said...

I think that partly it means that I won't waste my energy defending myself when interacting with the N.

No, it doesn't mean that. I emphasized in this post the importance of removing yourself from the narcissist in order to keep them from incurring fresh abuses which only fuels your anger. Not being a punching bag!

I wrote: You cannot expect your anger and hurt to dissipate if you choose to remain where this person can continue to abuse you. Removing yourself from (or greatly minimizing) the malignant narcissist's contact is a major component to finding peace in your soul.

If you choose to remain in the sphere of the narcissist then it becomes necessary to defend yourself or you will lose your self-respect! Not seeking vengeance doesn't mean giving up the right to self-defense! Self-defense is a God-given right and must be exercised when someone is threatening our well-being.

Vengeance is something quite different and apart from self-defense. Don't conflate the two. Vengeance requires thought and effort to find ways to hurt another person. That is what I'm talking about when telling people not to waste their mental effort on vengeance. Vengeance keeps you focused on the past and threatens to corrupt you if taken too far. It is dangerous business. There are healthy forms of vengeance in my opinion. Such as the 'vengeance' of going on without the narcissist and being happy and living a good life. They actively try to steal these things from us so to leave them to themselves and to go on like they don't exist is something that disturbs their 'peace'. It is exactly what all of us should be doing. Living our lives on moral and right terms which means we excise bad people from our lives. That, happily, turns out to be a kind of vengeance from the perspective of the narcissist, but from your own perspective it is just you living your life aright.

I hope you'll re-read this post as I gave many suggestions of ways to take your mind off of yourself (i.e. dwelling on past abuses) by helping someone else. Another great way to change ones mood is to listen to your favorite music when you find yourself unhappy. Get an MP3 player, put your favorite music on it and dance away the blues. Music is a wonderful therapy. Use it.

T said...

I find this article especially insightful and poignant. My charming mother, whom I came to the unenviable conclusion is a narcissist a couple years ago (something that can still drive me crazy with doubt unless I run through events logically), constantly sends letters and cards ("gifts" with strings attached, quintessential blood tribute intended to buy favor) hinting with poems by Oscar Wilde and others that I should forgive her ... but she never says what she is asking forgiveness for. And any time I've tried to have a dialog with her about things she's done that have really concerned me she shuts me out, cries to everyone that I hurt her feelings and I get treated like the offender by the rest of my family, friends, neighbors, etc ("sympathizers" I see here, I call them proxies). If she thinks that I'm ignoring her, the same. It's become clear that this is a one way deal with her that cannot be reconciled. I do what I can to encourage empathy with my position from her proxies that I do care about but it's difficult. Who wants to realize that their mother is a monster who cannot be saved when the delusion is so much more comforting?

Tammy said...

I know this is an old post, but I wanted to thank you for writing it and keeping it available all this time.

The term forgiveness has been used to describe what you're saying "coming to terms with the reality of the situation." However, it never really seems right to just change the definition of forgiveness. Or to say there's more than one kind of forgiveness. I struggle with this as I'm Buddhist and that has not sat well with me.

Acceptance and coming to terms with reality, the moving on, makes much more sense. I would love to find another word that describes that as separate as the relationship rebuilding experience of forgiveness.

What they did was not right, but I am no longer interested in holding on to what they did to me as a definition of who I am. I'm letting go of the attachment to what they did (and how I reacted) as a way to identify myself, and instead use the experience as knowledge to stay the hell clear of that person and to be able to recognize the behavior in others.

Still working on this, but your post really hit home. Thank you.

Pierre in Houston said...

Forgive narcissists? This subject is huge! Applies to governments, religions, organizations and families.

Excellent analysis; nothing beats a good theory. The truth shall make you free. Think clearly about conventional wisdom, political correctness, common sense, love and Quid Quo Pro.

This reconciles Catholic teaching on Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation and Ayn Rand. Jesus and Ayn agree. So does Dale Carnegie. So do I.

Applies to all your relationships, human and divine. Resolves conflict and war.

Confirms my experience that writing things down, documenting evidence is helpful to clear my mind for self-defense.

The goal is your genuine PEACE of mind and heart; pursuit of your happiness, Liberty. (Tom Jefferson)

Tyrants and bullies are narcissists. This is how to deal with them. Silence is golden.

Pierre R Latour

Paula said...

Hello Anna,

I found your blog a few days ago, and I have been immersed in reading every single word ever since... Thank you for putting your insight and experiences out there. I've come a long way since going NC with my psychopath/narcissist about 10 months ago, but he is now part of my toxic extended family (I used to date him, but ended up marrying his first cousin, before his true nature started to reveal itself in a way I could put my finger on). Much of what you have gone through parallels my situation, and you have given me great comfort and reinforce that NC was the best course of action for me. Most sites out there are concerned with those who have narcissists as partners, not as family members, and I appreciate seeing this information from a perspective I can better relate to.

I started blogging a little while ago, and wrote about forgiveness, too; you and I are pretty much on the same page (when it comes to the concepts) but differ mainly in semantics. I know you have distanced yourself somewhat from your blog lately, but if you care to read my take on it, the blog (which I called the "Pink Elephant Blog") is accessible on my website at http://psychopathwatch.webs.com.

In short, I believe that the meaning of the word "forgiveness" isn't as all-encompasssing as most people seem to think. The meaning that most people have in mind when they hear "forgiveness" is better paired with the word "reconciliation". Reconciliation is optional; forgiveness is an important part of the reconciliation process, but isn't the whole of reconciliation.

I DO believe that "getting to a state of forgiveness" is a must, however that needs to be accomplished. (Semantics is really the only reason we kind of differ on this point, in my opinion.)

Anyway, read it if you like, and I would appreciate your thoughts if you care to contribute them.

Peace,

Janice

thetrouserman said...

Thank you so much for this blog. It was given to me by someone else because I am the type of person who believes in forgiving others no matter what, even if they don't apologize, and then I get dumped on over and over.

What interests me is that you talked about how God forgives, the steps one has to take to be forgiven my him.

My other problems is that I don't hold onto anger, so as soon as it is gone if the person tries to get back into my life, just because they want back, not because they have asked for forgiveness, I let them in and again I am dumped on. Now I have written down the hurts and the conversation if it were in email or mail to save to remind me why I don't want them in my life. And I have this article printed out and can't wait to read your other posts.

I feel that my Christian and then Buddhist background has caused me to feel much guilt if I didn't forgive others. So you have helped me so much as did the person who sent me your blog address.

I wish that I could get this out to others, but all I could think to do was follow your blog so it will be seen on my own blog, and I will add a link to it on the blog.

I could have saved myself years and years of pain in my life if I had learned these things years ago. You are a blessing.

Sharoney said...

What do you do when your dry drunk, narcissistic younger sister who made your life and relations with the rest of your family a living hell since you were both in junior high posts a self-righteous little screeds on Facebook (where you can see them even though you've unfriended her), specifically aimed at you, like the following:

....."The unintended meaning that people project onto what I do is neither my fault or something I can take credit for...."

Or, well aware that your primary use of FB is to discuss politics, she posts the following:

"I use Facebook to keep in touch with people, not as a bully pulpit."

or, best of all...

"I won't let the way some people have hurt me or shut me out of their lives affect my outlook. I believe in forgiveness, not resentment."

How can I contain my anger when I read this crap? She's ruined FB for me.

Anna Valerious said...

Sharoney,

Since I doubt telling you to just blow it off or ignore your sister's comments on FB aren't going to work for you...how 'bout some retaliation? I recommend you hit the "like" button on Luke 17:3 Ministries on Facebook. Renee (owner of said site) is a dear Christian lady who has a complete grasp on malignant narcissists and specializes in the family narcissists and their games. She will often post comments and links to relevant articles that you could either "share" or "like" on Facebook which would then show up in your feed the way your sister's crap shows up in yours. Anything Renee posts is a complete contradiction and usually an excellent exposure of the games and posturing that family narcissists are famous for. Here's a link:

http://tinyurl.com/6n5whwe

Noni Pa said...

Dear Anna! I need your help. I hooe you remember me by name. I've been posting comments on variuos threads of yours on this blog e.g., the one about Narcissistic Grandparents.
In December, I was pushed to go to therapy by some critical circumstances: It was my PMS and some of my worst memories (with my N-MIL) were triggered by some events that resulted in the form of manifestation of "Nerve Entrapment"; I had to go to a psychiatrist for therapy as I couldn't risk my mental health any more. He prescribed Prozac along with sessions of EMDR to desensitize the most problematic memories. So, far I've had eight sessions in which most of the time was consumed in discussions rather than the actual therapy. I find it difficult to figure out the most problematic memories after the intake of Prozac as it makes me relaxed and unable to feel the emotional pain any more...

Noni Pa said...

Now, as we're in the concluding sessions, the thing that's bothering me is that the psychiatrist is telling me to look at the narcissist as a "victim" (a slave of his childhood traumas). I have read your articles regarding religious issues concerning this matter and I 100% agree with you as I've experienced the narcissist first hand. But, now the psychiatrist's position over this matter is bothering me. Instead of putting the blame on the narcissist, he's somehow trying to convince me that I have a bit of ego too which I need to "curb" and I need to show some "altruism"...

Noni Pa said...

In my last visit, he told me to search and read up on "Beck's Cognitive Distortion". This is what I found about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_distortion

While reading the first line, I was thoroughly offended. I admit that some part of my cognition must be distorted when I was in chronic depression due to abuse, I certainly and absolutely do not admit that the problem lies with my "cognition" and not the abuser...

Noni Pa said...

Please, guide me on how to deal with this matter in my next visit! Will it be fruitful in any way to continue the therapy with him? What's your recommendation?

At least, I intend to tell him in a very reasonable and civil manner that being a psychitrist he only knows the "bookish version" of the reality of narcissism and hence cannot fully grasp the reality of relationships a Narcissist has with others in real life...

Noni Pa said...

Also, I want to add that I am a Muslim and also a religious one. We have the same commandments in our holy scriptures regarding the rights of parents and they're misused the same way as in other religions. But, thank God, I read my holy books myself without being dependent on others to interpret it for me. I have no doubt that your take on religion is absolutely right. My holy book even goes to the extent of devoting a separate chapter to the (characteristics of) hypocrites and categorically demands us to BEWARE of and PROTECT ourselves from them; and that they're condemned and not worthy of any compassion. So, thank God, my thinking is clear and I don't fall for what religionists in my community have to tell me about Narcissists.

Anna Valerious said...

Noni Pa,

It is apparent that your therapist isn't a good fit for you. I would recommend you find another one. Your therapist has made it clear that they think you are exaggerating and irrational. I don't know how you can benefit from someone with that opinion of you. This person doesn't have a grasp on the effects that narcissists can have on those they prey on. You need to find someone who gets it.

Susan said...

I had a bad therapist who was telling me that I needed to forgive my mother and work toward reconciliation. All my other therapists told me to stay away. I took her bad advice and went and visited her and it was my worst nightmare. She damaged me even more (as well as other family members)and I ended up crying all day. I blocked all of them (again) and won't go back to that therapist. Also, Renee Petillis ministry is awesome. She has helped me so much

goddess proxy said...

to me forgiveness is personnal, whether the narcissist or abuser realizes fully what they have done or not I still want to forgive for myself. It's not my burden to carry anymore. I will never expect a narcissistic to ever go thru those phases anyway. But I sure do know that forgiving them opens a new door for me and that's all that matters.

ksl said...

Wow this post is amazing, and came to me at a time when most needed. My mother in law is a narcissist. My husband and his sister has dealt with her narcissism for so many years and it has been detrimental to them. It has also been detrimental to our marriage and children. My husband and his sister are both well rounded successful people and I've often wondered how they ever turned out so good with dealing with their mothers narcissism. She has never validated them for anything and for many years my husband bent over backwards to meet her every need. She would start arguments on just about anything she could use against us and that was always a tactic to rid us out of her life. Forgiveness was never and will never be in the cards. I being a very sensitive person would apologize even when I had no reason to apologize and like you said in the above post they are uncapable of authentic forgiveness. Thanks for this I have always been so confused and frustrated and being a Christian always thought I have to forgive and make amends with her. I am now ready to move on and forward and refuse to let her steal the joy Jesus wants me to gain access to. Thanks again for giving me a true perspective on this horrible disorder.

ksl said...

Thanks you so much for this blog . It came to me exactly when I needed it. My husbands mother is a narcissist. My husband and his sister are both very well rounded and successful people and have never received any validation from their narcissist mother. In the past and even recently she starts disputes on anything she can use against us as a tactic to rid us out of her life. This relationship with her has been toxic and very detrimental to our marriage and children. Being a Christian I always thought I had to forgive and in reading what you said about forgiveness had to be authentically repentant, and a narcissist is uncapable of doing so wow that struck a cord. I used to go to her with gifts and everything to win her forgiveness and most of the time it was us who was owed the apology. Thanks again great blog, very informative for someone who was desperately trying to understand this horrible disorder.

Flo said...

My narcissistic sister, having used bullying, projection, triangulation and a smear campaign to damage me and my husband, is now using the well-documented 'hoovering' technique to suck me back in and pretend that none of her nastiness happened. I intend to detach myself from her as far as possible, so hurtful has been her behaviour but I'm just waiting for her to cynically suggest some kind of truce, as if we have both been aggressive and hostile, when nothing could be further from the truth. This blog is helpful to me in that it shows me that I am right in not wishing to forgive bad behaviour that has never been acknowledged by the perpetrator but simply to go away from her and lead my own life peacefully and without reference to her.

Grace Sigurdson said...

Anna, you're truly blessed by having the courage to face truth and in doing so, you have acquired much wisdom...worth more than gold , for by doing so, you have guarded and preserved your heart...the heart that has helped so many as well as myself tonight....in reading in particular: what you have written about the "unforgiveable sin" that is non-repentive

This is something that i, myself have struggled with for years...wishing to forgive all..yet knowing there was at times, a missing piece in this equation....and i agree there are steps to forgiveness and repentence is part of it & as Jesus said after forgiveness "go and sin no more", but can evil really go and sin no more? tis like asking a snake to think and act like a bunny rabbit...tis out of the nature of evil to trade in their identity ego boost for love.
Many, many thanks Anna...God bless

Barbara Smith said...

Thank you for writing this! I could not have said it better. This is something I have been struggling with as I rebuild my life "post apocalyptic narc." It is logical and so well said. My favorite and in my opinion, the most clear point is the part where you parallel the grace of God in forgiving us, however only once we are willing to accept the forgiveness from Him - which requires it's own process of repentance and humility. Perfect, and spot on. Thank you for keeping this post alive for those of us who have gone through the hell of this kind of abusive relationship so many years after you found your freedom.