The idea of forgiving the narcissist in your life, be they a parent, spouse, colleague, boss or friend, is one that is fraught with difficulty and resistance. Why should we forgive someone who has harmed us, set our lives on shaky ground and launched us on a path of self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy? Simply said, we need to forgive because it LIBERATES US. Forgiveness frees us from remembered pain, from reliving the trauma that was our childhood through no fault of our own. If you truly want to be free of the narcissist, forgive them.
Forgiveness is not the first place to go when entering onto the path of recovery and healing. But, ideally, it is where one ends up. Forgiveness is not accepting the hurtful behaviors of narcissists; it is not an exoneration. But is instead a letting go of our attachments to those behaviors and freeing ourselves from restless thoughts, dark moods and reactiveness to those thoughts and moods. As long as we have not forgiven the narcissist, we aren’t free of them and we aren’t free within ourselves.
I can’t state strongly enough that forgiveness without thorough process proceeding it, is not a magic bullet. I’m not suggesting shoveling things under the proverbial rug. If we don’t process our narcissistic relationships, we live at the effect of them. These effects manifest as self-loathing, depression, anxiety, co-dependence, addictions, and “do-overs” trying to rectify childhood trauma in current relationships. It is only after we have accepted that the mother, father or partner we wanted or deserved is not the one we got or chose, that we can begin the process. We then must grieve that and next thoroughly examine what destructive or disturbing patterns of behavior or thinking we have adopted in order to cope. Perhaps the most challenging task is to then change those behaviors in ourselves which, of course, we can’ do if we don’t recognize them.
Once all of that has been accomplished (no small task), we can move on to forgiveness, which by that point is an easier step. Once we stop reacting to life based on the trauma of our childhood or our terrible marriage (which is probably a result of our traumatic childhood), we are free – no longer a victim. When we no longer feel the victim, forgiveness is the next obvious step. What most of us want in this life is peace and freedom from our chattering, relentless ego-driven mind that is forever telling us we must become emotionally involved in everything that passes our way. As long as we remain engrossed in ego’s ceaseless reactivity to the drama of life, past or present, we are restricted by it, in fact servant to it and we remain mired in life’s demanding pressures and sensory overload. We are robbed of our peace. Move toward forgiveness to obtain peace and freedom. Do it for yourself.