Self-Forgiveness after Narcissistic Abuse
When you’ve been devalued and discarded by a Narcissist, it’s a lot like being told you have a deadly disease. You’re not sure if you will survive. In fact, part of you may not want to survive because you’re in such emotional agony. One more day in the aftermath of Narcissistic abuse seems beyond what you can bear.
Describing this fallout to friends and family often leads to additional shame. They cannot empathize with you because they can’t possibly relate to the stories you tell them regarding your relationship. Phrases like “he was a jerk anyway”, “just get over it”, and “you’re better off without her” are well-meaning, but do nothing to ease your suffering.
Involvement with a Narcissist is comparable to ingesting small amounts of arsenic over time. It starts out seemingly harmless, but gradually leads to defects in cognitive functioning, high blood pressure, headaches, and stomach upset. In severe cases, it can lead to different types of cancer. It’s no surprise that female victims of Narcissistic abuse seem to have higher incidents of breast and ovarian cancer.
A break-up of this nature goes way beyond a normal break-up. In addition to the typical stages of denial, grief, anger, the impact of such a union often has profound psychological, spiritual, physiological and financial effects on its victims. Once a partner does manage to disentangle themselves and gain the much needed emotional and physical distance, either by necessity or abandonment, they are often left with some terribly distressing questions like – Did they ever love me? Did I mean anything to them at all? How could they do this to me after what we shared together?
Medley of Misery
It’s important to keep in mind that Narcissists do not love. They have no capacity to form healthy attachment bonds to anyone. To a Narcissist, their lovers, spouses, and companions are objects; sources of supply. Accepting that you meant nothing to someone who meant so much to you is incredibly painful. Realizing that you were lied to, defrauded and manipulated from the start is enough to send even a saint into a psychotic frenzy.
The hardest thing to recover from is the deliberate mind fuck, the emotional warfare that the Narcissist uses to keep their targets emotionally invested in them. Another disturbing element in this relationship with the Narcissist, and the one that keeps you entrapped, is that they are the epitome of projection and paradox. When the Narcissist says; “I love you. Your happiness is important to me,” what they actually mean is, this is what I want to hear from you–and what I desperately need for myself. This explains why their words and behaviors don’t match, and why you’ve had so many conflicting occurrences that made you doubt and distrust their expressions of caring or affection. Ironically, the more you love them, they less they love you.
With the Narcissist, your sense of congruency is constantly defied. A Narcissist’s selective memory and distorted thinking convincingly make you doubt your perceptions, and have you believing that up is really down–thus you’re always floundering in confusion. There comes a point at which you can’t determine which end is up or down.
You then become obsessively focused on making sense of something that’s downright irrational. You feel unstable, so you keep attempting to fix it; to right the wrong! This alone is an addiction that keeps you going back (a control issue on your part). Even after years of separation, you might believe that things can be normal between you and your ex–but you’re mistaken. You can never let your guard down with them, not even for a second.
Are you holding yourself “accountable” for remaining in the relationship too long? Especially if you’re dealing with significant consequences? Owning your part in any dynamic is important–but only if it serves as a learning tool. Would you persist in scolding a small child every day for having made a detrimental mistake? Of course not! It’s time to forgive yourself. Use this experience to heal and grow.
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