Brilliant post! And very worth reading if you are struggling with the concept of forgiveness.
This issue comes up a lot when trying to recover from a traumatic relationship. Especially when other people weigh in on our story.
I discussed this in a reply to a recent comment on one of my posts – Forgive and Forget and F*** Yourself Over and Over Again – and in my reply I said this:
“Forgiving a narcissist is more about forgiving ourselves for having loved them and allowed ourselves to get caught up in their reality. For having been fooled by them and for having denied our own truth to support their version of it. So we really need to focus on cutting ourselves some slack, being gentle with ourselves, being compassionate towards ourselves. Forgiving ourselves.
They don’t really need our forgiveness, they’ll just waste it if we give it to them, use it against us, but we do need it. But as always we get caught up in what they need and forget our own needs, and that festers.
Other people (interfering) tell us to forgive them, but what do they mean by that? If this had happened to them, would they forgive as easily as they expect us to do so? Most people tell us to forgive people like narcissists because 1) they don’t want to hear about our problems anymore, they want us to shut up. 2) It sounds like the sort of thing a ‘good’ person would say and they see themselves as being a ‘good’ person. 3) They can’t think of anything else to say. 4) They feel superior when they say it, and they’re fairly certain that nothing like this would ever happen to them. 5) they’ve never been in a relationship with a narcissist, don’t understand the situation and think (as perhaps we used to) that all people are good and sometimes do bad things, and thus should be forgiven and given another chance, or at least a chance to make amends. There are other reasons, I’m sure.”
As I see it, the only person to whom you owe forgiveness is yourself. Everyone else can take care of themselves. If someone is pressuring you to forgive someone else before you are ready or willing to do so – ask yourself why they need you to do something which you are not ready or willing to do. What is their vested interest? And if you do what they want you to do, perhaps to win their approval or because you feel you should, who has to deal with the consequences of that – them or you?
Take care of yourself, look after yourself, focus on what you need to do for yourself.
Thank you for sharing this, Paula. Great post from an inspiring soul!
From my experience with my recovery and communicating with others about their recovery, it’s clear that we all have very different interpretations of what it means to forgive. Depending on many factors such as our religious beliefs, spirituality, and life experiences, we put various degrees of importance on forgiving our tormentor(s) and even define “forgiveness” to suit our plan. The beauty of this community is that we respect each other’s interpretations and give each other room to grow and recover unrestricted and at a pace and with the tools that work best.
Unfortunately, it’s the folks who have not experienced the extreme effects of emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial abuse who seem to have the most criticism of how we choose to heal and move forward. I think many on the outside of sociopath/narcissist abuse fool themselves and judge many survivors with regards to forgiveness. These seemingly, well-meaning folks insist that we must forgive, according…
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