It’s Narcissist Friday!
The narcissist is out of your life, but not out of your head. He/she is part of your history that you would like to forget; but there are lingering effects that just won’t go away, memories that still hurt, and fears that have become part of your life. Every time you encounter one of the consequences of the relationship, the anger returns.
Or maybe you are still in the relationship and you don’t want to be controlled by the anger and frustration you feel any longer. Is there a way to forgive?
Let’s talk about forgiveness. Now, I understand that some people may not be ready to forgive. You just realized what happened to you. The relationship wasn’t that long ago and the hurt is still fresh. I understand, but you will still want to move in the direction of forgiveness for your own sake. Others need to think about this today.
What forgiveness is not
- Forgiveness is not saying that what happened is okay. It isn’t okay. What happened was wrong. Your narcissist used you and hurt you. Call it abuse. Call it meanness. Call it sin. But don’t call it okay.
- Forgiveness is not trying to act as though it never happened. That’s called denial. If you try to lie to yourself, you will suffer even more problems. The old struggles won’t go away and new ones will come. It happened and it was wrong. That’s the truth.
- Forgiveness is not excusing the sin. Just because you realize that the person who hurt you was a narcissist and narcissism is considered a personality disorder doesn’t mean that you have to excuse the behavior. Almost all narcissists know very well that what they do to others is wrong, they just don’t care. They don’t stop to think about it. They are culpable for what they do.
- Forgiveness is not becoming friends with the one who hurt you. Some people, very few, are led to re-enter the lives of those who caused such pain. You can if you want, but you don’t have to. If you want to love the narcissist, you may do so from a distance. Forgiveness and love, even reconciliation, do not require an ongoing close relationship.
- Forgiveness is not some big religious sacrifice that brings you closer to God. I believe Christians should be better able to forgive others, but I don’t think forgiveness makes you a better Christian. It just frees you to be a better person. God won’t give you extra points for forgiveness, but He will help you enjoy the freedom it can bring.
What forgiveness is
- Forgiveness is releasing the other person from your right to vengeance. When you claim that you have a right to justice or vengeance and choose not to exercise that right, then you re-claim the power in the relationship. You are not afraid to bring justice, not intimidated into submission, but you are choosing to let the person go. This doesn’t necessarily stop you from warning others or coming alongside those who need your help. This just means that you choose not to carry the weight of revenge.
- Forgiveness is you moving on with your life. That person and that relationship, even if it was a parent, do not define you. You are not them and you are not theirs. Let yourself be separate from them. Go on to be what you were before or to become what you were never allowed to be. One of the best ways of putting the narcissist in his place is to marginalize him in your life. He no longer matters. If your narcissist remains in a relationship with you and you feel morally obligated to continue it, you can still separate who you are from that person. Her opinion, for example, is not yours. You are moving on.
- Forgiveness is a gift from the Lord. If you are a Christian, your sins were forgiven when you came to Jesus. At the same time, He showed you His willingness and ability to forgive the sins of others. Forgiveness is His thing. All sin is an offense against Him. When you forgive someone, you are simply acknowledging that the other person needs the Lord’s forgiveness and that you are willing for them to receive it. Let Him forgive them.
These things may help. Wrong ideas about forgiveness are often the reason we hesitate to forgive.
Let me know what you think.