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Forgiving The Narcissist
Forgiveness is a very personal issue. No one can tell you when to forgive, how to forgive, if you should forgive or anything else. It's completely and totally under your control. Some people don't feel forgiveness is possible in the current stage of their lives, and that's OK. They may feel differently later or they may not. The important thing is understanding that there is no need to entertain "should" thinking here. People often needlessly upset themselves with shoulds: I should do this, I should do that, I shouldn't have done this. "Should" according to who? Your family? Society? Random strangers? Nobody's feelings matter in this decision except yours and it's important to be really honest with yourself about what they are.
People have different ideas about forgiveness. It's up to the individual what they believe forgiveness is, but we can say for sure what it isn't. It is not relieving someone of their responsibility. It is not pretending the past does not exist. It is not letting someone off easy. Forgiveness is nothing more - or less - than saying to someone, "I am no longer allowing my anger at you and my hurt over what you have done to control my life." It sounds cliche, but forgiveness really isn't for the other person. It really is for you. It enables you to move on and let go of things that happened in the past so that you can go forward in your life. You are evicting the narcissist or other abuser out of your mind and not allowing them a place of importance in your life anymore.
It doesn't mean the person did nothing wrong. It doesn't mean the past is erased. It doesn't absolve the abuser of their responsibility. It doesn't mean now everyone is friends and all the hurt is forgotten. It doesn't mean you are weak. On the contrary, forgiveness requires strength. It doesn't even mean you ever talk to the person again. It means that you have taken control of your life and you are not going to allow hurt from the past to dictate your present or your future. It's a lot of work carrying anger around. Anger is heavy. It's stressful. We were not meant to feel anger constantly. It's exhausting and bad for your health. Many people think anger is helping them and keeping them strong, and this can be true for short periods of time when action is required but anger is a crutch. It's often a mask for fear. Crutches are for people with a disability or an injury. If someone needs a crutch, it's because they can't stand on their own. You can put the crutch down. You might have needed it in the past, but you no longer do because you are strong enough without it. You always were. You just needed to see it for yourself.
It is true that most people find they cannot move on without forgiveness, but it's also true that each person does things in their own time. You dont owe anyone an explanation for your choices here. All too often, we hear people defending their decision to forgive the narcissist or abuser in their lives, as if they feel they've done something wrong or that they will be judged for it. This is a shame. It takes great strength to forgive someone for abusing you, especially someone who isn't sorry or won't admit it. Forgiveness takes the focus off of the abuser and puts it on you. It takes the focus off of pain and puts it on healing. It takes the focus off of the past and puts it on the present, the future.
Everyone has different things to work through and there's no specific formula for how things must be done. In the end, no one is required to forgive anybody for anything. There's no law that says you have to forgive somebody. Some things are unforgivable, in many ways. So if you aren't ready to forgive, that's all right. Maybe you never will be. But more than likely there will come a day when you really do feel less angry - even if that seems impossible right now. And if you should one day decide you are tired of carrying that burden around, don't be afraid to lay it down. No one will think any less of you for it.