Does trying to forgive someone send you running for cover? It does to me. I was listening to the song Forgive by Trevor Hall on my walk yesterday and started to think why it’s easy to forgive some people, but so hard to forgive others.
On the difficult to forgive side, I thought of people in my life who had the following abusive and narcissistic characteristics.
- People who get angry at you if you disagree or don’t “act” the way they think you should.
- The walk on eggshell people who at their whim will make up some way that you have slighted them, like not reading their mind and being able to “act accordingly.”
- Jealous people. A jealous partner who interprets every smile or laugh as seductive if another man or woman is around. However, they flirt and cheat with complete abandon, never considering how it makes you feel.
- Other jealous people who can’t stand to see you happy and successful and will either ignore your successes – never ask you anything about them, or tell you you’ll never be successful.
- The unpredictable people who you’re never really sure which devious version of themselves will show up. Will they be angry, neglectful, critical, accusatory, manipulative, controlling, drunk or high?
Okay, I’m not really moving in the direction of forgiving difficult people. So after listening to Trevor’s song, I desperately searched for a reason to forgive these individuals, I remembered times when they actually did something “nice.” However, it goes back to the whole “what version is going to show up, how long will it stay, and how long will it take for the narrative to go south? The price is high and you can quickly fall back into “debt” at any perceived slight that makes them (the entitled ones) feel uncomfortable or like they are losing control.
A narcissist’s vision
Their internal selves are like glasses with the wrong prescription. They have blurry vision, inaccurate perceptions, peripheral vision, and many times blindness. Nothing is ever their fault. However, they have razor sharp 20/20 external vision when it comes to others and their focus is on how they can manipulate you.
They can’t feel their emotions, so emotions in others are “forbidden.” They like to instill fear so they gather people around them who they can keep under their control. They focus on vulnerable people. A friend described it best one time: “abusive people prey on those with gentle spirits.” Their objective is not to relate, it is to dominate and if you refuse to follow the rules of their game, you will be exiled from the kingdom.
Going dark with Harry Potter and the “Dementors”
I’m going a little dark here on you, but ever since I saw “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and learned about the “Dementors” they remind me of certain abusive and narcissistic people I know. Here is how Wikibooks Muggles’ Guide to Harry Potter/Magic/Dementor describes them;
Dementors are dark creatures that consume human happiness, creating an ambiance of coldness, darkness, misery and despair..
They “are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them…Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself… soulless and evil. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”
Should I “really” try to forgive someone if I feel like running for cover?
( I told you it was dark-but running for cover implies dark, or at least saving yourself from disaster) Another way to say this is they — narcissists, abusers, dementors– will suck all of the authenticity out of you – through criticism, neglect, threats, manipulation, fear – whatever it takes to “put you in your place” (render you soulless) because your genuine self is a threat to them. It terrifies them and they feel out of control if they see you are getting on with what “should be” a joyous life.
In my desperate search to exonerate these people, I found an article by Sharie Steins, called: How do I forgive my abuser? She explains that forgiving someone doesn’t let them off the hook for what they did, it means that you don’t let what they did hold power over you. Here are some of her points on what is NOT forgiveness:
- A statement that the crime was not that bad.
- The same as reconciliation.
- Is not something you have to feel like doing in order to do it.
- A step you take in order to avoid feeling the impact of the damage.
- Lip service
- Something that anyone can force upon you.
- The same as forgetting. You many never forget what happened to you. Just because you forgive someone does not mean you gain amnesia.
- Has nothing to do with fairness.
I had a session with my life coach recently and described these difficult people I have to “endure” despite the disrespect, manipulation, withholding, etc., . She pointed out that there are “rules” that we are taught as we’re growing up. They are not beliefs that we created, but that someone else “forced” on us. So as we experience personal growth and the positive awareness that goes with it ourselves, we MUST question their validity.
Or we don’t run for cover
Or, we don’t run for cover. This means wandering through life, scratching our heads and wondering why we feel anxious, disconnected, and worthless.
In a book called “An Unnecessary Woman” the author aptly describes this unpleasant phenomena. “Her eyes settled into incuriosity a long time ago.” I identified that with a life dictated by someone else – a complete loss of self.
I will not accept a life of incuriosity and despair. I will only accept a life of curiosity and abundance. Here’s another quote by Soren Kierkegaard: “Once you label me, you negate me.” I couldn’t agree more.
It’s easier to forgive people who accept you for who you are. The more I “run towards” my authenticity, the more I demand the truth, and the more I demand respect, the more the narcissists lose their hold on me.
I don’t have to forgive narcissistic people in my life
I don’t forgive those narcissistic people in my life – I don’t have to. What I will do is become stronger and draw boundaries around their impossible expectations.
This will be inconvenient to them – but they push people away from them anyway. It’s not just me who sees this. I’ve become privy to opinions of some of their other acquaintances and they feel the same way.
So I forgive the ones I love and respect. When difficulties come up–as they always do–we have conversations, not strict demands about what we can or cannot talk about, what we should or should not do, or how we should or should not act. We can listen for understanding, we can come to an agreement or we can agree to disagree. We can all bring our genuine selves to the table and grow our relationships with love and compassion.
Until next week – and as always please leave a comment below or EMAIL ME