“Forgiveness is part of healing. It is not a prerequisite to healing. It is a point we reach when we understand and accept the truth about what happened to us from a position of emotional neutrality without the pain, blame and shame that our abusers shadowed on us.” — Evelyn Ryan
I’d like to share some information on forgiveness, justice and victimization that may not be so obvious to survivors of narcissistic abuse but is critical to their healing.
Survivors of narcissistic or for that matter any abuse were victims, no different than a victim of a crime, a brutal illegal attack or violation of our boundaries, rights, authorities, or freedoms. What is the difference between a brutal attack of one’s body or possessions and one’s psyche and one’s heart and betrayal of intimate trust? Not many. But there are a few fundamental ones.
One attack, you may think, takes place in the conscious physical world — the other, in the metaphysical, the metacognitive world where we feel and think. However, the pain and shame and anger and fear and trauma we experience from a brutal physical or emotional brutal attack are the same. They inflict the same wounds and frequently open old ones.
In addition, there are major differences to how we heal from the wounds. This is why.
We can achieve justice and emotional relief when our attackers are found, charged, found guilty, and punished for their evil deeds. Our victimization is then validated, our egos are soothed, and we can achieve some sense of safety, security, and closure.
But what happens when a criminal “gets away with murder” and is free to roam and victimize whomever he or she chooses to target?
Isn’t this what serial thieves do?
Isn’t this what serial murderers do?
Isn’t this what serial narcissists do?
Healing and justice are not acquired through excusing the evil or pain or betrayal that was inflicted on us by our attackers or by showing compassion for our abusers. Healing and justice are not acquired through resentment and revenge that feed our egos and keep us bonded to our abusers and keep us trapped as we continue to give up our power to them. This is denial of the truth and causes us unjustifiably to take on additional pain and blame and the ensuing shame that will hamper our healing and recovery.
In addition, a huge amount of additional emotional burden is unnecessarily added to an already painful situation by telling us if we do not forgive, we punish ourselves twice.. blah blah blah. Our need to forgive can also be guilt-driven by our moral, ethical or religious beliefs and convictions. This can leave us conflicted and feeling added guilt and even shame when we really do not want to forgive. I agree with Dr. Ross Rosenberg that we do not HAVE to forgive and that forgiving our abusers is a very personal decision.
How, then, do innocent victims “get justice” when their attackers get off free of charge?
How then do they achieve emotional relief and a sense of security? Victims of emotional abuse do not even have the option of becoming vigilantes because the narcissists like the mutants on X-men and space creatures on Men in Black look normal on the outside, do their dirty deeds, and remain unscathed. In essence, not only are we the victim, but we also become the police, judge and jury.
Abuse survivors must turn their compassion and care inward to work on releasing the pain, trauma, shame, anger and fear that were projected onto them and inflicted on them by the emotional criminals, vampires, and thieves who also stole their identities. We are left to heal invisible wounds that were caused by our active but unaware participation in a very harming situation. We, to heal, must not only release the pain and anger from the attack but also the shame from betrayal and of our unconscious complicity in the crime and our perceived foolery. This is why self-forgiveness and self-compassion are so important in healing.
Forgiveness is part of healing. It is not a prerequisite to healing.
It is a point we reach when we understand and accept the truth about what happened to us from a position of emotional neutrality without the pain, blame and shame that our abusers shadowed on us. Releasing the pain and anger will allow us to heal emotionally. But to fully heal we must forgive ourselves for the part we played. This is why understanding why we were targeted is critical to healing. We are then emotionally free to see things truthfully and accept what happened to us, take back our personal power, and stop being victims to emotional criminals.
I personally believe, it is close to impossible to fully accept what happened to us until we have first healed from the abuse and recovered from the trauma and then stop believing we are victims…. NOT the other way around.
Healing requires fully understanding why we love people who inflict pain on us.
Healing is a process of self-discovery, self-analysis into the root causes of why we were victimized, addressing how our beliefs contributed to that, correcting our skewed beliefs and building our self-worth as well as healing our trauma wounds.
As a survivor, I can say that I do not excuse the despicable acts of the abusers in my life but I can say that I am clear on what happened and why it happened in my childhood, why I was targeted and why I let it happen into my adulthood.
I am also clear that the abuse no longer continues because I do not think like a victim so I am no longer victimized.
I choose not to participate in the dysfunction so they are defused and go away. They continue to target me because that is just what abusers do but I am not emotionally vested. I no longer fear them. I no longer believe I have to suffer or self-sacrifice to be good or lovable. I do, however, accept them for the abusers and broken people they are.
We cannot expect things from people who are not capable of giving them.
I accept that life is not fair and I was born into a herd of narcissists that I had no choice over. But I do have choices now based on my own personal truth and not others’ lies.
I choose a life I know I deserve, a life of peace, harmony, happiness, emotionally healthy love and mutual respect! I also accept that they cannot.
We also in the process achieve the justice we seek.
The best revenge is success!
This is how we heal. This is how we achieve justice. This is how we thrive.