Forgiving your Narcissistic Parent

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Beth McHugh
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Forgiving your Narcissistic Parent

Post by Beth McHugh » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:29 am

This topic invokes so many different feelings, many of them negative, that when I am counseling someone with a narcissitic parent I seldom if ever bring up the topic. As any counselor should, I wait till the topic is brought up by the client.
However, that doesn't stop me writing about it!

You can read my thoughts on the role of forgiveness in the whole scheme of detaching yourself emotionally from your dysfunctional parent.
You can read the article by clinking on http://mental-health.families.com/blog/ ... tic-parent

Best wishes,
Beth
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Topsy
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Re: Forgiving your Narcissistic Parent

Post by Topsy » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:38 pm

Thankyou for this and your other clear and concise articles Beth. I am new here but have read and been assisted by them for a while now.
My NPD mother has been in hospital and it seemed appropriate after six months of no contact that I make my closure. In that six months I dealt with the last bits of my anger - for it had gone on too long. It was part of the grieving of accepting that I never had a loving mother but it seemed stuck. So I had to face that I could not get back that which I had lost, which she had taken from me and accept this was my path. Out of her bad parenting I made a good mother, or a good enough one anyway ! So my speech to her was that I accepted who she was, that I was sorry that she had not had the life to which she thought she was entitled. I said that I hoped that she would allow people to care for her now. I felt so much lighter and I left her for the last time.

She lingers on and I think her determination will see her not give up on life yet. However, for me that acceptance has made a difference. I still have trouble with the damage done to siblings who are in denial on any mental issues. Of course she has convinced them it is I, not her, who is trouble. As the scapegoat who took on the "fixer" role of the family I see that it is impossible to fix those who do not want to be...though I struggle with this one still. After all it was my lifelong role as her parent and siblings parenting which all fell to me. It's needing more acceptance I guess.

Until she is gone I cannot trust that she will not do more harm - that is who she is. But it is always amazing how much they get away with, how much damage is done and how not enough acknowledgement of this problem happening in families is doing us all a disservice.

Beth McHugh
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Re: Forgiving your Narcissistic Parent

Post by Beth McHugh » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:02 pm

Hi Topsy,
Thank you for popping in any sharing your story with others who walk the path of the adult child of the narcissist. You have doen to well to make that difficult decision to put a formal end to the relationship. Notice the year sit took you to be able to do this, and all the thought that went into it, conquering the anger, rage, sadness and guilt. I'm sure some of these emotions may linger on but not enough to make you go back into the lion's dens/ While you spent all that time weighing up the pros and cons, your mother put so little though into you as a person --- this is the tragedy of NPD.

And yes she will try to scapegoalt you for what you have doen and poison the minds of anyone she can against you. This is all she has left as her ammunition -- to deride her daughter. It's all a sad story and one I have heard so may times over the years I have worked as a psychologist but be prould and stand by what yu feel to be the right thing to do for you. Guilt may be your biggest problem especually when your mother ultimately dies, so continue to work on that issue. When narcissistic mother do die, the pain still comes, but it's a differnt sort of pain. A pain that involves losing something you never had, and unless a person has gone through this situation, they wouldn't know what I am talking about!

Best wishes on your continuing journey to regain you.

Beth
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Principal, Your Online Counselor

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Re: Forgiving your Narcissistic Parent

Post by darvo@iw.net » Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:29 am

Beth,
Personally, I cannot forgive a person who is unrepentant. How do you begin to consider forgiving someone who is not at all sorry for what they have done and who would continue their abuse without missing a beat if they were given a window back in your life. In fact, even though you may not be in their life, they will continue to discredit you to try and preserve their false image and to keep their loyal cult like converts tight within their sphere of influence. I can feel sorry for the Narcissist in my own life, because I believe they are twisted and evil and that is a sad state of being. But....forgiveness.....they don't want it. They don't understand it. They see the victims need/desire to forgive them as a sign of their weakness and an opportunity to reel them back in for more because obviously the victim sadly feels something for them and they rejoice that they have caused the victim to need to do something like develop some elaborate context for forgiving them.

I don't believe I am so angry that I can't forgive. What they did to me was unforgivable. I choose not to forgive. I also choose not to live in anger. I feel anger and I deal with it as it comes. I have right to be angry. What was and has been done to me was just plan wrong. But, it was, what it was. Now that I know what, when, how, and why....I just want to heal my damage and move on to live what is left of my life the best I can. But all of us should ask the question: "Why should anyone be asked to forgive the unforgivable?" The Narcissist doesn't care about receiving forgiveness and I don't buy that it is necessary for the victim's own healing that they find a brain twister rationalization in order to forgive them for their own recovery. In fact, I think the whole idea of trying to forgive these people is like engaging in a lie. The reality is that the narcissist loved to play sick games with their victims. It was their main source of amusement and of all the things in their lives, probably what they enjoyed doing most...assuming of course they even experience enjoyment like reasonably mentally healthy people do. Narcissistic parents especially savored torturing the scapegoats in their lives and they strategically enlisted others to help them in their campaigns of abuse, exploitation, subjugation, denigration, slander, and humiliation. Perpetrating made them feel powerful and the worse their victims felt, the better they enjoyed the success of their games. Like any psychopath, devoid of a normal spectrum of human emotions, they liked seeing people suffer. Psychological pain fascinates them. In that respect, they are much like many serial killers who are documented to have been first torturers of animals. It is postulated that such psychopaths tortured animals precisely because they exhibited fear, pain, suffering and they got off on watching it. Some psychopaths are even documented to have found their animal victims suffering funny. I don't think malignant narcissists are all that much different. They go as far as they dare and yet most are intelligent/savvy enough to not go so far that they are danger of incurring legal consequences or general discovery of how twisted they are. They understand, there are limits to what they can get away with and who,what, where, and how they can push those limits without incurring undesirable consequences for themselves. Psychopaths are most likely just low functioning, less successful narcissists unable to control their primal urges enough to keep themselves out serious trouble. I am quite sure though that the Malignant Narcissist has the same kinds of urges. They just feed their monkey in ways safer for their own survival.

When I first started counseling, the issue of forgiveness was presented to me as something I should move toward in the healing process as if this was a logical goal of the therapeutic relationship. Yeah...been there, done that, sold the t-shirt, and even bought it...in the past. But, how on earth does any sane person forgive evil? I don't think it is even rational to forgive evil. God Himself prepared a place for the unrepentant. It is called Hell. If Narcissists actually ever really do have a moment of real repentance, I guess that is between them and God. I am just a mere human. I can't see into a person devoid of a fully functioning soul and I have concluded after almost 54 years of dealing with one, that applying "normal" human rules to them, is just a waste of time. The person I have needed to forgive most is myself...for being so blind, for rationalizing too many things and for too much overlooking and ridiculous amounts of forgiving, for not getting out sooner, for failing to protect others in the family, for most particularly failing to protect my own children from my NPD mother who did them un-estimable damage, for every tear I wasted, for every year I lost to being enslaved.....I could go on. But I think you catch my drift.

As you are helping people. I just wanted you to consider this. I think it's wonderful this website is out there for people like me to hook into and learn more. I just didn't agree with this particular point; and, as a victim, I wanted to share my journey in the hope it may help someone else.

Thank you for hearing me out!
Dorothy

Beth McHugh
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Re: Forgiving your Narcissistic Parent

Post by Beth McHugh » Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:15 am

Hi Dorothy,
Thank you for telling your story and sharing your thoughts on what is a very contentious issue.

As I stated at the start of the article, I never bring up the issue of forgiveness to a client -- as you say some things are unforgivable. And I certainly never work towards a goal of ending therapy with an act of forgiveness. However, I have had to deal with clients who ask about forgiveness and its role in therapy and so I wrote this article knowing that it would likely stir up a lively debate!

I never make forgiveness a part of therapy, but have to consider the issue for those who ask. My take on it is if you can see your NPD parent as profounded disabled (which they are) and consider that if I had been your mother's daughter instread of you, then I would have been the same. Many clients have found the idea of having a disabled parent helpful in order to let go of some of the pain that the narcissitic behaviors caused.

I think that if you are able to forgive it does defuse a lot of personal pain, however as I said I never bring up the issue up in therpay, it has to come from the clinet.

It's the same for rape and other violent crime, when I deal with a victim of crime, forgiveness must come from the mouth of the client. Then the pros and cons are up for discussion. So, yes, I knew this topic would divide people but it's great that you have started a discussion on it and hope to hear from many more readers.

Best wishes,

Beth
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whatisnormal
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Re: Forgiving your Narcissistic Parent

Post by whatisnormal » Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:43 am

Forgiveness is a topic that has been on my mind over the last several months. It will soon be 2 years since I last saw/spoke to my NM, notwithstanding the surprise pop in visit from both her and her NM a few months ago as if nothing was wrong...incidentally I did not let them in and instead exchanged heated words over the phone before my NM stormed out of my driveway, no doubt all geared up for the pity she could then generate from family members that she and her NM have pitted against me. My take of forgiveness is this...from my religious perspective I believe I do need to forgive,and so in doing so, I do think it will make me feel better for having done what I feel to be the right thing. Whether it will have some magical healing effects beyond just feeling like I did the right thing, I don't know. And in most ways, though not formally, I have already forgiven. I accept that my NM is only passing on to me something that she inherited growing up for whatever reason, and all her sadly dysfunctional mind is capable of. I feel sorry for both my NM and her NM so I no longer feel hate or anger towards them...that may have a lot to do with being no contact so I don't see/hear what they are up to. :D The part that I struggle with most surrounding forgiveness is that generally you forgive someone for a particular incident, and move on from the incident leaving it and all of the hurt associated with it in the past. If you are still in contact with an N, then even once you forgive them for the multitude of past offenses, they will surely be replaced with new nearly identical offenses. So, while I am no contact, I can move on with forgiveness tucked neatly away (in my own mind, not an actual communication to them that I have forgiven them...I don't see what good that could do...they don't think they've done anything requiring forgiveness so of course they haven't requested it), understanding that I have owned and done my part in my healing process.

If I someday open the door to future contact, I will be opening the door to future offenses and so, I guess forgiveness now would need to encompass not only past transgressions, but also the inevitable ones still to come. It would be like "pre-forgiveness." I think I could even do that, as once you realize someone's capabilities/limitations, you can alter your expectations of them which lessens their ability to offend/hurt you in the first place. So,I guess in writing this out I just resolved for myself a portion of the issue, that is, future offenses while guaranteed to occur would not be capable of producing the same level of hurt or devastation that it did to the young, unsuspecting me because I will know what it is as it is happening and I won't emotionally associate the acts as coming from someone who is supposed to be my mother. I just don't look to her as someone who is supposed to provide anything motherly to me anymore.

By the way, I have given thought lately to re-establishing contact at some point with my NM. I don't want to...I have no desire to have a relationship with her or her NM...I've never had a real one with either of them anyway so I'm much happier living in truth than pretending things are something that they aren't. But, as time passes, and they each grow older, I know that at some point I will face their passing. I'm just wondering if patching things up now, and by that I mean establishing some limited contact with strict boundaries, only enough to pacify them really...as little as I can get away with, maybe it will make it easier to deal with relatives when they pass. All of my NM's friends and relatives have cut contact with me since she told them whatever she told them. Except for one friend who sends me Christmas cards with not so subtle "call your mother" messages in them. Still pondering this idea, but the forgiveness for me, helps me to let go of anger and move forward, almost as though I have resolved it in my mind so I no longer have to keep re-playing it in my mind as if trying to solve a puzzle. For me, forgiveness equals a sort of finality. To be clear, I'm forgiving the person afflicted with the disorder, however deep down below the surface of NPD she resides. I'm not forgiving the disorder...I still think it sucks.

Beth McHugh
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Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 9:47 am

Re: Forgiving your Narcissistic Parent

Post by Beth McHugh » Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:47 pm

Hi Whatisnormal,
Forgiving your NPD parent is always a subject that brings up such intense feelings, ----usually along the lines of : no way!
And as I said , this is an issue that I don't bring up in therapy unless introduced by the client.
In your case, you seem to be quite comfortable with the no contact stance. But as you bring up the issue of death, and how you will feel about your mother, her behavor and your actions when that time occurs, now is the time to think about it.

When a narcissitic mothr dies it is a strange situation in that there is nothing concrete to grieve about. There is no loss, since there was no mother in a form that we recognise. And yet there has been a death. You need to be able to get yourslef into a situation where you feel you have done all you can and have do regrets should your mother die tomorrow. Then there can be no "what if's? " or other forms of regret. Imagine your thoughts if you rmother did die tomorrow and if anything regretful comes up, then there is still work to do. But you have come this far, so you will be able to pass this last hurdle. If you ned help you know how to contact contact me!

Best wishes,

Beth
ImageBeth McHugh
B.Sc (Hons). B.Psych. Dip.Sc.
Principal, Your Online Counselor

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