Thursday, March 14, 2024

How I am healing from narcissistic abuse by being unforgiving

Hello friends of this blog on how I lost 100 pounds without gastric bypass or weight loss drugs. So I said earlier that I was going to post tomorrow on how I'm healing from narcissistic abuse by being unforgiving, but I couldn't wait that long. Cuz I think that some of you need to hear this right now. See, in my opinion, those of us who have suffered from lifelong narcissistic abuse from parents, start at the wrong place in healing. We worry first about forgiving the hurt, often before we've even understood or accepted that we WERE hurt. And this is further evidence of the parental manipulation, exploitation, abuse and gaslighting about those things. 

We do this because we were told that we had to. By church, other family members, sometimes counselors, etc. We are told that God expects this but He doesn't, not at this stage of the game, at any rate. And not in the way that way are told to. I don't claim to know exactly what God's definition of forgiveness is. But I know what it isn't. It's not saying "I forgive you." Just like saying sorry is not repenting. It's not exonerating, absolving, excusing or overlooking. It's certainly not "getting over it." And it's certainly, certainly not moving ahead in the abusive relationship as if nothing ever happened. This is an open invitation to an abuser to continue abusing. 

It's also not the victim's "duty" or responsibility to forgive. It's not something you can or should do immediately after very hurtful experience. It's not something you should do if the perp hasn't recognized, admitted, expressed remorse and made a dedicated, consistent effort to change.  All these fallacies are put about by the very people who are doing the hurting. 

Why? Because narcissistic abusers always make it your fault. Your problem. Your responsibility. No matter what they did, they will bounce the ball right back into your court. This deflects attention away from them and their vile actions. Quietly they say, well I may have done this or that and then loudly BUT YOU  HAVE TO FORGIVE ME!! I SAID SORRY! IT'S YOUR JOB!! It always comes back to you. 

And this is the problem with forgiveness, especially too soon. It puts the responsibility on the victim, not the perpetrator. It makes those of us who feel too much guilt and guilt for things we didn't do, feel even guiltier. We question ourselves...did I really forgive him? Am I sinning by "not forgiving?" And because we carry so much undeserved shame, guilt and responsibility we jump right to worrying about this. And we forget all about even admitting let alone acknowledging all the ways the abuse devasted us. 

And this suits the abuser just fine. 1) No eyes are put on them as the cause of the problem. 2) They don't have to stop the hurtful behavior 3) they now (in their twisted heads) have justification for it and 4) value added, they have even more shame to leverage. Pretty soon, they have themselves convinced that they never did anything wrong. Or if they did, you made them do it. Or if you didn't, you were wrong for not forgiving them (even though they never even apologized). With narcissistic abusers, you were always going to be in the wrong.  

Pushing forgiveness as promulgated by many institutions, especially churches, is just further abuse. My father weaponized the Bible, Christianity and God so thoroughly that I think toward the end he almost believed he was God. He certainly expected me to worship him like one. He tried to tell me basically that whatever happened, whatever he did, it was "covered by the blood." I.E. God has forgiven, absolved, washed away and forgotten everything he and his wife ever did wrong to me. 

I bought that bullshit for a long time because, first I was a kid steeped in his bullshit and second, as so often happens with delusions, it has an element of truth. Our doctrine teaches that God does forgive and forget. But there's a HUGE IF that my dad completely ignored. "If we CONFESS our sins." Which they did not. They did not see that they were wrong, despite violating God's law in many enormous ways. Like binding me up to burdens they didn't carry. Like telling me to honor them but forgetting that they were supposed to love and respect me and not lead me to anger. Like not just leading, but pushing and dragging me astray. Like exploiting me. Like blaming me for everything. Like parentifying me. Like gaslighting me. Like scaring the shit out of me so even now, at 59, thought of confronting them terrifies me. Like causing me so much pain that I can't sleep at night for the nightmares. 

My dad was masterful at twisting and repurposing scripture to suit himself. He had every angle covered, for himself, that he was golden. He claimed that because he said he'd confessed his sins to God, that not only should be good enough for me but that I was now disobeying God if I didn't (wait for it) forgive too. And say that it was all okay. If he was ever confronted, he just trotted out his pet defense that he was "covered by the blood." 

But it wasn't God he abused. It was me. God is hurt when we are hurt, but God is the only one who got the apology. So I'm confused. If he was wrong, why not apologize to the one he hurt in real time? Because he really didn't see he was wrong. He was covering his ass. People can argue all they want about how bad Catholics confess to a priest and good them go directly to God. Smoke and mirrors. Confessing only to God sins we committed against each other, is just a way to avoid responsibility we have to those we hurt.  It's fire insurance. 

And the abuse didn't stop. So he clearly didn't even see it as wrong, let alone feel sorry.  And he didn't extend God's mercy to me.  He who didn't know the first thing about me, assumed he could read my mind and conscience. He was omniscient. And from Dad-god I got no covering in the blood. for me, it was the full hellfire and brimstone. He told me that I had committed unforgivable sins in premarital sex. I had not told him about this. He assumed it. Talk about your razor blade to the wrists thoughts. 

But he, on the other hand, had had many girlfriends and hookups without benefit of clergy. One was with 17-year-old girl when he was 34. I was 8. He used to take me to her house. So pedophilia, too. And since I was 5, he'd talk to me about how he often planned his suicide. If premarital sex is unforgivable, what does that make suicide? A lot of mixed messages live in my head. So many times I had to talk myself back from the edge. It's so bad that I can't stand the image of God the Father. That's been ruined for me. Poor God. It's not fair, tarred with the same brush. Hopefully, I'll find a way to unsee and unhear those unpleasant associations. 

So on forgiving narcissistic abuse? Why should we? It won't help us heal. That's just a sales pitch to make it look more attractive. Forgiveness is only to make the perpetrator feel better. It drives those of us with CPTSD mad. We should all over ourselves with every breath, already. Expecting ourselves (because we are expected to by others) to perform some magic act to make the abuse all better is torture. 

I don't even think forgiveness, as we define it, is possible. I cannot fix what I didn't break. I am not responsible for that. To try is to invite further pain. It gives an already self-centered person more room to make it all about them. It further arms already dangerous people. It gives manipulators something more to twist and confuse us with. 

But for all this, we pray in the Our Father "forgive us as we forgive." In God's mind, we must be able to forgive or He wouldn't ask it of us. We must be able to forgive safely because God doesn't want us further endangered. So the problem with forgiveness must be in our definition. Which of course it is, if we are getting it from abusive people and abusive systems. 

God says "your ways are not my ways." I take that to mean that many of  our preconceived notions about Him, His will and His expectations are wrong. And if they've been twisted by arrogant, proud, abusers who let's admit it, kinda fancy themselves God, they definitely are wrong. Dead and deadly wrong. 

Forgiveness in God's definition must be something good for us. It really does help us heal. So without further preamble, here's my idea of what God means by forgive. "To accept that the past will never be any different than it was." To accept that what happened, happened. To say, out loud, that what happened, happened. To not excuse, defend, deny, justify. And I also think that a part of forgiving, is knowing what we did and didn't do wrong. Owning what is ours and leaving to others what is theirs. For me, figuring out what ISN'T mine is the harder part. And then doing an authentic act of contrition (confess, repent, apologize and make amends) for what we did wrong. I'll blog more on that tomorrow, for sure. 

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