Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Force of Nature

If you've withheld forgiveness from the narcissists in your life then I am sure you have experienced some particular accusations. These come from the narcissist and their sympathizers. They accuse you of "refusing to forget the past", "holding a grudge", "being resentful", "not letting go". One of my and my family's favs is "a heart full of hate". We erupt in gales of laughter when we conjure up that particular memory of my father's accusation in defense of my mother.

Narcissists have a very limited range of emotions. While being able to fake having a wider range of emotions, they really operate on an emotional level of an animal with the two primary motivating emotions of fear and anger (jealousy is a close third, but is really a combination of the other two). This is one reason they impute one of these two emotions to you when you are not behaving properly. They project their own emotional state or reactions to you. Which is why, when you calmly and firmly withhold absolution for their misdeeds, they immediately assume a negative.

Is it true? Is it inevitable that your decision to wait for someone to show true signs of confession, contrition, restitution and a firm resolve to not repeat the offense can only mean that you are a resentful, grudge-filled, vengeful, nasty person? Is it possible to withhold a gift of forgiveness while simultaneously living your own life with productiveness, happiness, and a clear conscience without bitterness?

Indeed, the assumption of the narcissists, sympathizers and Holy Joes is that you can't be a spiritual person with a clean conscience and a focus on the good things in life while withholding forgiveness. They are screwed up in the head so you can put their opinion on this in the trash. Lets look at it from healthy person's perspective.

Emotionally healthy people are realists. They are people who want to see reality, accept reality and live in reality. The realist has seen that the narcissist is not wanting a real gift of forgiveness, therefore the realist has accepted that truth and proceeded to live their life based on that truth. The realist doesn't have to be upset or angry about this reality because it never does any good to get pissed and stay pissed at reality for any length of time. Reality is. If you refuse to accept what is, you end up fighting truth. Not a good situation since, in the end, truth wins. The person I'm describing is able to depersonalize the behaviors and accusations of the narcissist because they've come to understand that the narcissist is not truth-based. Because an emotionally healthy person is only interested in truth-based reality, they don't take a lying narcissist at their word. When the narcissist starts hurling accusations the realist doesn't take them to heart once they've figured out that the narcissist is an inveterate liar.

In fact, this person is able to completely depersonalize the narcissist too. The realist thinks of the narcissist as a Force of Nature. Realists do not get angry at a force of nature. It would be senseless to do so. The force of nature is just what it is and it can't help what it is. It does what it does, wreaks its destruction, and moves on. The energy and effort of the realist is used to stay out of the way of the force of nature until it passes. When the hurricane threatens, the wise realist does all they can to protect them self and their family from the coming storm. They hammer boards over the windows and hunker down in the relative safety of their basement. When the hurricane comes knocking you don't run up and open the door to it. You don't invite the hurricane to dinner. You don't throw your kids out on the front porch to appease the hurricane in order to save yourself. Or, like the natives of certain tribes, throw your virgins into the volcano to stave off its rage and rampage. No, you simply do all you can to protect yourself and stay out of the path of a force of nature. Where is the resentment? Where is the grudge-holding? It doesn't even apply. You have simply come to recognize the truth about the narcissist; they are destructive forces and unsafe for humans. You do not try to reason with a force of nature. You don't try to placate it. You don't waste time hoping the force of nature will grow a heart. You get out of its way and stay out of its way. That is all you can do.

In one significant way the narcissist differs from a tornado, hurricane, tidal wave, volcano, etc...a force of nature is not predatory. The narcissist is. And, unlike most predators in nature, narcissists are predators of their own kind. This reality only underlines the need to get out of the way of the narcissist's storm.

Let us say for a moment that you've misjudged the narcissist, or perhaps a non-narcissist person who has become a detrimental force in your life. If you have misjudged them, your withdrawing doesn't prevent them from proving they are good people. Your withdrawal doesn't hurt someone in an irreparable way. Yes, maybe their feelings get hurt, but normal people are able to function in spite of some hurt feelings and eventually their feelings will resolve. What I'm saying is that withdrawing is the kindest and least damaging of any other action you can take. The other person, if misjudged by you, will lead their lives in such a way that will prove they are something other than what you thought they were. You may or may not be aware of how they are leading their lives, nevertheless, your withdrawal does not damage anyone's ability to carry on their lives successfully. You are no one's savior. Staying in the narcissist's life is not going to someday save them. Leaving them will not destroy them (no matter what they tell you). If you decide you must withdraw, do so without apology or shame. If you happen to be wrong, your withdrawal is not going to damage the other person's life. If you didn't misjudge, you've taken an action that has protected your self without taking retaliatory actions against the other party. Narcissists would like to pretend your withdrawal is retaliatory, but that is a lie. It is the kindest, gentlest way of dealing with their toxicity. It acknowledges that you are not willing to be hurt anymore, and that you've abdicated the idea that the narcissist's salvation somehow is dependent on you. While they characterize "no contact" by you as cruel, the opposite is true. It is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for them. They are deprived of using you and you are not responsible for increasing their evil by letting them hone it on you.

Refusing to forget the past is thrown in your face like it is a bad thing, but if you don't have any recollection of the terrible damage a tidal wave can do, then you won't know enough to get off the beach when the water draws back. Remembering the past is essential for survival. It is not a fault of character. An operational memory is what helps keep us safe! Don't let someone shame you with that.

The narcissist should be asking us for our forgiveness. Instead, they demand us to forget. There is a very large difference between the two. They don't want forgiveness, they want us to wipe our memories into blanks. Why? Because they want carte blanche to recommit their crimes against us at their whim. This is why I refuse to let the bad guys make the rules for my life anymore. The criminals want to make the rules. Their demands always boil down to the same thing--that I continue on as before and allow the narcissist the right to abuse me as they see fit. Well, I have a good enough memory, and enough sense, to know that I have been dealing with a force of nature. My desire for it to be different won't change it. When the blizzard threatens, I'm locking the doors and not stepping a toe outdoors until it has moved on. While the storm rages, I'll be quietly and contentedly reading a book or taking a nap. No, my heart isn't full of hate. I'm very happily and realistically leading a life out of the path of the storm.

"A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished." Prov 22:3 (NKJV)


After Beckett said...

A cousin I was once close with has been telling me this sort of thing since I left the family 10 years ago:

"I have seen your mom so many, many of times cry over whatever happened. She has seemed so sad. She has asked me over and over again if I knew how you are and what you are doing."

She has also indicated that she and I cannot be friends (or talk more) until I can explain to her why I "hate" (her word) my parents so much.

I can't even imagine how to explain my experience to her, so I don't.

There are so many people out there who are just waiting for me to rescue my mother. They just don't have any idea how souless and ugly she really is.

They think that not only will forgiveness rescue me from any hurt or pain I feel, but better yet, it will relieve my mother of her saddness.

Why don't they know what crocodile tears are when they see them?

nina said...

I have read much of your blog and it has helped me.

The forgiveness section esp.

I have started trusting only what people do and not projecting on them what I wish they were.

I am waiting for the apology, but not holding my breath...I know it will never come. To think how MANY TIMES I accepted they couldn't apologize... wtf.

I should just paint double yellow lines down my back!

Keep writing.

kyleth said...

I can relate to what after beckett said. "There are so many people out there who are just waiting for me to rescue my mother. They just don't have any idea how soulless and ugly she really is."

My mother takes pride in how her brothers will protect her. She has, in fact, maligned me to all my uncles (and some of her friends) as the rotten child. The irony of this is that they know how she really is and who she really is because she proudly tells stories about how she used to pick fights with people and then watch her brothers step in when the other person wanted to fight back. My uncles saw her for who she was but they didn't see her disordered mind.

Lately, they tell me how much she loves me and that I shouldn't give her so much trouble (because wanting her not to put me down or blow up at the drop of a dime is giving her trouble), but I seem to be the only one getting the trouble.

I'm so sick of this sad, twisted world where it's ok to tell your child (of any age) they were unwanted. Worse yet, call the police on your child while you're having an argument and as she protests that she didn't do anything say, "Who do you think they're going to believe-- you or me?"

If she can't own up to her mistakes then she can't have my forgiveness. Once I get out of this house (hopefully without having the police called on me again for things I didn't do) I'm never looking back.

(As a side note I would like to say that she's never had me taken to jail. It was only a part of her power play, but that's no surprise because she needs her primary supply.)

Anonymous said...

Often I have had accusations made at me along similar lines. Resfusing to waste my time arguing or justifying myself I simply reply, "well if I am such a bad person, then why do you want to have anything to do with me? Why are you wasting your time arguing with me?"

Anonymous said...

I am also the daughter of a narcisstic mother and finally had to cut her out of my life a few years ago for my own sanity and that of my family. I can so relate to much of what you write, including this post about forgiveness and taking yourself out of the path of the storm. My life is so much better not having to deal with all the constant crises and mind games, and not I can concentrate on caring for my family and myself and live in reality, something my mother just refuses to do. Thanks for your bravery in posting your thoughts and feelings. Suzy

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just found this site and I'm glad I did. I was raised by a N mom and just broke up with my N boyfriend. I didn't know what he was until recently when he was told in therapy the "n" word. I realized the mother I haven't talked to in 8 years is one too. I am so glad to see that all this time I thought I was the one who was "wrong" really was him making me feel that way. He twisted everyting I did and said. Today I left him a message that he can F off. I have yet to hear back from him. I was his little submissive dog for 2 and a half years. I am so hurt, so bitter, but I finally spoke up. Thanks for all of your writings, I have somewhere to go to heal and hope I will never attrach another one.

Jane said...

I have heard alot of these types of comments for a long time and expect to for the rest of my life.
It doesn't bother me anymore. I figure there are two types of people who are saying things like this.

1. Nice people who grew up in healthy families and cannot even fathom the circumstances that were part of our daily lives. These kinds are usually more baffled then judgmental.
So why get mad at them? Quite frankly I'm a little envious.

2.The mean, outspoken types give themselves away. They are narcissists themselves or under the direct control of one. They do not want their own supply depleted by following our example so they lash out.
They don't fool me, not for a second.

I don't care what they say about me. I am free and will never go back to that soul destroying slavery again.

Anonymous said...

I just "ended" a four year relationship with a narcissistic boyfriend. The only way I could finally get him to stop calling me was to change my cell phone number. I hope it works. He completely drained me of my energy. After reading Sam Vaknin's book cover to cover, I realized that I needed to get out. It's a strange feeling knwoing that I was "in" the relationship, but he never really was. It was all a game to him.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
I enjoyed your profile and unfortunately can relate. I was just wondering have you ever heard of any kind of a support group for people like us more or less motherless. I would like to befriend others with this issue or perhaps even adapt a new mother so to speak. I have lots of love to give a parental figure now all I need is to find someone that would actually appreciate it. I would love to hear any advice or suggestions you might have on the above. Seems to me it would be a healthy way to channel some of the more negative feelings one is left to deal with in going through a situation like what we have both had to endure.

Anonymous said...

Holy man. I am late coming to your blog, but there have been some fantastic insights I hadn't thought of or been able to articulate myself. The last part of your blog, on forgiveness and forgetting drove my own experience home. After my last relationship exploded and I began to see my (now ex) girlfriend for who she really was, she almost immediately asked for exactly that: forgetting without showing any remorse for her actions or asking for forgiveness. She just wanted it to go away but couldn't bring herself to be in the least contrite. Very interesting and thank you.

Anonymous said...

What a great blog! It speaks to my situation so directly, especially after listening to my Ndad go "boo hoo" over the phone for 10 minutes straight, claiming I am breaking his heart for going no-contact. When I try to point out that he has not once tried to contact me, he blames me for that too.

His actions make about as much sense as laying down on the freeway and blaming cars for hitting you.

With Narcissists, no good deed goes unpunished. :-\


Anonymous said...

I am ashamed to I admit to being the outsider who didn't believe all this. I witnessed my girlfriend's Nmom's behavior for 10 years before I finally started to really see it for what it was. A last straw for her happened at Thanksgiving 2008 (funny how Ns seek to corrupt all holidays).

Then, when I read this:

I even wondered if my partner WROTE it, it conformed that closely to what she had been telling me for so long. Not that I thought her mom was a saint, but I could practice denial, since this was so far outside my experience. Now I see the torment she lived with from day one and where it came from. Her Nmom is a textbook case, and her brothers aren't far behind. Now I can wholeheartedly support her in her wish for no contact, instead of feeling squeamish and guilty about it. I may even get the blame! I'm ready!

Thank you for giving people the freedom to avoid the destructive people in their lives. And thanks for giving me an education.

Unknown said...

This article really does make me feel better about my situation. I keep wondering and wondering, analyzing and analyzing in order to see things as they really are.

I struggle with having to face up to her about why I still think and talk about it. I think I am less afraid of that now, just ready to keep healing and slowly crawling out of an emotional rut that started long before I even met this person.

Luke said...

I am dealing with a narcisstic sister at the moment, and at times it is hard because I am made out to be the bad guy. This post you made helped me get out of my funk for the moment. She doesn't understand why I can't forget what happened, but she has never said that she was sorry, instead the truth is twisted.

Thanks so much for your blog. Everytime I feel guilty and think of weakening, all I have to do is read more posts on your blog and reread others.

Fresh Basil said...

And another thing: Not only does the Force of Nature in that last paragraph demand we forget, they demand, for our my own good I once was told, we plea forgiveness for our sins -- against them! How bloody crazy is that?! Also Romans 16:17; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Proverbs 24:1; Endless the list I'm sure.