Forgiveness and Healing After Narcissistic Abuse

I commented on a friend’s Facebook post that argued people are wrong to tell the victim of a narcissist that they must forgive the narcissist in order to heal. I agreed and called bullshit!! on forgiveness. This was my comment.

I think sometimes some good old hatred is needed in order to heal and move on. Forgiveness is great with normal healthy people who hurt us. The people capable of truly being sorry and changing. That is what forgiveness is based on in my mind. God knows we all make mistakes and all deserve to be forgiven because we can make amends for our mistakes. But with a narcissist you are dealing with a disordered person who is incapable of ever changing or making amends because he/she does not feel like a normal person. They don’t feel guilt, they are disabled emotionally, they only want forgiveness to use it against you. How can you forgive a lie? A mirage? A hologram?
The only forgiveness needed is for the victim. People who love a victim of a narcissist need to forgive the victim and the victim needs to forgive themselves because no one goes looking to be abused. If they would have known what he was they would not have chosen to be abused. My biggest struggle has been to forgive myself.
On the other hand; it is not healthy to carry hatred and to seek revenge on the narcissist. Hatred and revenge involves obsessing about the narc. Blotting and planning. Consequently putting far too much attention on the narcissist and that is his goal. He would love nothing more than for the victim to spend the rest of their life hating the narcissist. Plus it is counter productive to healing and moving on. Trying to find forgiveness is also counter productive because either way the victim is thinking about the narcissist embedding him deeper in their brain making it even harder to forget him. (Not that we ever truly forget him) the best thing a victim can do is get to know themselves intimately and live true to their core self. To learn to set boundaries in ALL their relationships, to honor their own values and standards and not believe the lies they have been told about themselves for their whole life. Embrace their sensitivity, they are not wrong or defective because they feel and care more than most people. They are rare and special and are needed in the world. They just have to learn how to protect themselves

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15 Replies to “Forgiveness and Healing After Narcissistic Abuse”

    1. Actually it IS healthy for what you’ve likely been through. In feeling this way, you are reacting in a way that is a defense for yourself, you are wanting to protect yourself. I liken it to how I would feel if I had a child and someone hurt my child. It would be total mama bear mode.

      That being said, and speaking from my own experience, it’s a stage. It needs to run its course and it will. Just let it come. I would not recommend acting on any thoughts of revenge, except for maybe in your mind. They will pass on their own and trying to force them to stop won’t work and in fact may exacerbate those thoughts.

      It is OK to feel whatever it is you’re feeling…rage, anger, sadness, frustration, whatever else that’s there. Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you feel. Think of it as a wave and ride it. Even express them… cry, scream, punch pillows or a punching bag. Just be sure to keep yourself safe.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Mary Jo, I agree with everyone who has commented here. I think anger is one of the stages that helps the victim get through and heal. I know at first I couldn’t make myself hate him. To this day I don’t think I have ever truly hated my ex, I feared him, was disgusted by him, was hurt, and there were times I loved him. I gave myself permission to feel whatever feelings came up. Mostly I was just horribly sad.
      I even allowed myself to love him. I didn’t tell anyone, because everyone would have thought I was insane and been angry with me but I stopped trying to stop myself from feeling what I was feeling. The only thing I did was make myself think realistically and rationally.
      Realistically I had been loving him without him recipricating for a very long time so me loving him from a distance and not getting anything back was familiar. The only difference was now I no longer cared false hope and knew I could not act on that love. Once I gave myself permission to love him I was able to let it go. Me trying to stop loving him kept me locked in this vicious cycle of obsessing about him. I had been spending so much emotional energy just trying to not feel what I was feeling and feeling like a failure because I wasn’t feeling what other’s told me I should be feeling.
      The most important thing to recovery is staying no contact, keeping your head in reality and knowing what you are dealing with.
      I believe true healing comes from acceptance. If you are feeling that intense anger go with it if that is what helps you to cope; as long as you keep yourself grounded and in reality and know any form of revenge will only blow up in your face. Anger also keeps you focused on the narcissist but so does not trying to be angry so might as well just be angry. Eventually you will get to acceptance and Meh! Where you just don’t care any more.
      But it has taken me literally years to get there.
      You can’t rush healing. You can try, you can force yourself to bury your feelings, start dating, pretend you are just fine but if you don’t deal with the feelings they will resurface at some point when you least expect it. Why not just deal with them now?
      Everyone thinks they should be healed in a few days or weeks, true healing just does not happen that fast.Truth!
      One thing I have learned is; anger is almost always some other suppressed emotion trying to surface. You might want to explore what feelings you are trying to suppress.
      Hang in there! We care and you will get there

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  1. to me the ultimate goal was to be able to get where I forgave. I run a support group for victims of sociopaths and maybe I’m going about all this wrong way I don’t know. if I mention that forgiving will set you free I get a lot of backlash and negative comments. why was I able to forgive? I don’t forgive his actions against me I forgive the fact that he is sick and I cant change him. maybe my definition about forgiveness is all screwed up I don’t know. but it makes me sad to know these men and women and such power over my members. I’m stuck now. maybe I should just shut up about forgiveness not many seem to get it.

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    1. I like this perspective. You are not really forgiving the person but the circumstance that made things the way they are/were. I can’t say whether you should give up the idea but yeah, just the word forgive can trigger those who’ve been so hurt by these types of people that the rest of the explanation of what you mean by it doesn’t get through, especially in the beginning when it’s all so raw.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You’re definition of forgiveness is not screwed up. Understanding where a narcissist is coming from allows you to live your life without allowing your hatred for the N to to continue ruling your life. And it helps the victim to not take how badly she (or he) may have been treated, so personal. I do get it.

      It might be a better approach if you invited your guests to explore the root causes of Narcissism in order to heal, without mentioning forgiveness. To a victim of a N, forgiveness may imply that their abusers are not at fault and shouldn’t suffer any consequences for their actions. But just express to your members that everyone has to find their own way to heal and recover. I personally had to know what in the world was wrong with my ex. The more I learned about a N, the better I felt about myself. And the less likely I will be to allow myself to get involved with another narcissist. So it is a healing mechanism through understanding and forgiveness, but it is also a safety mechanism for me.

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  2. Well said Carrie. It’s about taking care of yourself. I don’t think anyone should ever say that “You need to forgive to move forward.”

    It’s about acceptance (which takes time). Acceptance about what happened. Acceptance that he is what he is. Acceptance of the time spent with the person. Acceptance of missing the red flags…etc. Acceptance, not forgiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree I think the feeling we are all looking for is acceptance and not forgiveness. We just need to accept who and what they are and there is nothing we can do to change them and as such cannot have a healthy and happy relationship with them. I will never forgive the N I spent 30 years of my life with because he admitted to deceiving me from the moment he met me. He told me if I really knew who he was I would never have married him. Amazing! He knowingly stole 30 years of my life. Forgiveness never but I am reaching acceptance. My anger is dissipating. My challenge is forgiving myself. I loath people who con because they take so much more than what they are after. Usually trust and it is hard to get back. I’m working on my forgiveness. The negative voice inside my head gets told off it rears its ugly head and I’m taking better care of me. I do what I want when I want. Carrie is right stress is a major contributing factor in heart disease and the hormones produced when stressed make you gain weight. I have lost 10kg in less than a year with very minor changes to my lifestyle. What more incentive do you need to claim back your life. Apart from my freedom I have probably gained 20 years of life so I’m going to enjoy it.

      Cheers!

      Nelly

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    2. Forgiveness is a process. First comes understanding how the N became the person that they are. Then comes the acceptance of what happened to you, the wasted years of some of the best years of your life, missed opportunities and all of the red flags that were easier to ignore. Then with time, comes the forgiveness.

      I still love my ex but he can never be the normal person I first met and fell for. It was really just a facade. I have accepted that that actor does not exist, and that real person is who lives on in my mind.

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  3. Wow, i am at that stage right now. Time to be selfish. Me, me, me loll this was well written and made me cry a little. It is so true. Your blog has really helped me trough all of this. It made me realize what was going on but mostly that i wasn’t the only one in the world living this. The first post i put on 6 months ago when i realized what was happening and that it was happening for 10 years. I felt like a fool and wanted revenge, i hated the world for a while and even family close to me. The other thing that i realized is that even if my narc “makes efforts ” to change it is now a different abuse. Everyone that we know have all different stories and i didn’t realize it at first but now i do. I also know that his desire to control will never go away so does the abuse unless he gets help. He is not the only one in his family that is the said part. Some of them are successful in life and he has all the backup he needs. I am always the one who ahuts up and suffer in the corner. Now, my view on it is why would i defend myself to all these people and different stories. Sorry but its not worth my time. Im done …

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