Oh, dear, not another post about forgiveness! #sociopath #abuse #recovery

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!

Love—Life—OM

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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4 thoughts on “Oh, dear, not another post about forgiveness! #sociopath #abuse #recovery

  1. Thanks…I love this! I think what has been so crucial for me when it has come to forgiveness is that I am unable to do it in the normal/traditional sense, not because I can’t but in order to grant forgiveness to someone, they need to respond with repentance. It is a 2-way street and the two are intimately connected. Repentance means that the person can see what they did was wrong and then make amends for the wrong by not just saying sorry but most importantly by changing the hurtful behavior. This is impossible with a narcissist/sociopath since they don’t think they did anything wrong and that you deserved it. Just like the uni-directional relationship that you had with them, this one direction concept also pertains to how you decide to heal and forgive. They are not involved in the equation since they were never really REAL to begin with. They were in many ways an illusion or construct of the imagination. So, a person that is an illusion and disordered is incapable to repentance.

    I think I was getting stuck on “letting go”-I actually hate that f’n term now since it puts all responsibility on me and I’m supposed to feel all warm and good inside once I’ve done it. Just one more thing for me to have to do, when I feel like I’ve done enough…and I’m tired. Like you said above, there is lots of pressure to just get on with it. But forgiveness is a personal decision and I have decided to forgive her behavior and mine too but she will never know. What makes this OK for me is that she will never hear it from me. She will never receive this gift from me. I feel at peace with this, since like everything else, she’ll not appreciate it and exploit it for her own good. I also rely on knowing that she can’t repent and that’s her problem, not mine, so she will never get the satisfaction from me dissolving her of her sins towards me. I’ve learned that instead of “letting go”(all responsibility on me), I am “giving up” (seems more appropriate since their behavior is responsible for it)…and I’m hopeful that being indifferent is the next phase for me. I’m getting there.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      As with all concepts, our interpretation of them makes all the difference. But where does our interpretation come from? Is it ours or is it someone else’s, is it cultural, societal, generational, or is it an amalgamation of many interpretations from different sources, some of which conflict and we end up not really knowing what something means, yet feeling that we should understand it because the concept seems to have value as it keeps coming up.

      I think it’s important to figure out what a concept, like forgiveness or letting go, means to you, what your interpretation of it is. It is also important to view the concept in context, to assess each situation in which a concept may apply and adapt the concept to the context.

      In other words – if your view of forgiveness entails repentance as you explained, then in the context of dealing with a narcissist or a sociopath, it is not viable. They do not follow the ‘rules’ of interaction, relationship, behaviour and living which people who are not narcissists and sociopaths tend to follow. They do not do cooperation and compromise and anything like that, they pretend to do it when it suits them but it is not genuine. If they apologise or ‘repent’, it is to advance their own plans. Their interpretation of forgiveness and how it applies is very different from the regular interpretation of it which many people have.

      Sociopaths tend to view most of the social ‘rules’ of behaviour as being BS, but they are useful to know as they can be used to manipulate people.

      Narcissists aren’t as detached from social ‘rules’ of behaviour as sociopaths are. In fact they are very attached to them, however they have one set of rules for themselves and a completely different set of rules for everyone else.

      Narcissists love the concept of forgiveness, but for them it works differently than it does for people who are not narcissists.

      They tend to keep ‘score’. They hold grudges with an iron grip. They never forgive anyone anything, they never let go, and they tend to perceive almost everything as being an unforgivable sin committed against them. They hold our ‘sins’ against us and expect us to repent – which means we owe them and we can never pay them back. When you ‘forgive’ a narcissist they perceive that as being you admitting to them that they are in the right and you are in the wrong. They hear your forgiveness as an apology which they will never accept, but they will use it as evidence in their case against you.

      In the context of dealing with a narcissist – forgiving and letting go is not about giving anything to them, it is about releasing ourselves from them. The reason to forgive a narcissist is so that you don’t hang onto the relationship and keep yourself stuck in it. Letting go means releasing our grip on them so we don’t get dragged further into their version of reality and further out of our own version of reality.

      Narcissist tend to view our anger at them as being proof of our obsession with them, it feeds their sense of being important. That’s one of the reasons why I love this post because it touched upon this in an insightful way.

      You’ve understood the situation and your approach is correct, you need to do what is healthy for you. Take care of yourself, and trust yourself to know what is right for you. This is your life.

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      1. Thank you…appreciate your insight and helpful response. You always have a way of making things more clear.

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