The third part of my friend’s comment that caused me to think we need better communication about narcissism are these comments downplaying mistakes—which often turns into downplaying the pain of the survivor to protect the abuser.
“The one area that you may have a harder time understanding when it comes to motherhood, Cheri, is that when your children are grown or almost (like mine) a mother looks back and thinks of the things she would like to redo. She wishes so badly she could do things better for her children in whatever way.”
“Well, there are not redos, so the next best thing is that her children forgive her for the things she has done wrong. She hopes they will love her despite her mistakes.”
Such comments are often given to allow abusive parents a free pass. I don’t have to be a birth donor to have regrets. I’ve certainly made mistakes I regret with my nephews and nieces, but when I hurt someone, I apologize and try to make things right—I don’t see it as they owe me forgiveness.
Since it’s only human to make mistakes, why do we even need to talk about them? Because it may take years for some people to find their healing and those who haven’t experienced their pain can’t tell them when or how to heal. It’s a lifetime process.
A wound can’t heal unless it is cleaned out first and one of the fastest ways to clean it is for the abuser to apologize. The problem here is that a narcissistic parent will never apologize. They will only rationalize their mistakes and make it out to be the child’s fault. This is why so many are still hurting and trying to deal with the aftermath of an abusive childhood decades later. Those who do not have narcissistic parents just don’t get it.
When a parent is abusive and never owns their junk, their child grows up with the feeling they are at fault. Sometimes it takes decades to realize we are acting out of this broken place because our parents abused us and went to church and spoke about God in glowing terms leaving us with this cognitive disconnect between their actions and their preaching.
Because we thought our Christian parents were close to God, so we reasoned it must be our fault they yelled and beat us. This has caused many ACONS to walk away from God completely because they believe God is just like their parents. For some people, realizing their parents’ mistakes is a matter of eternal life or death. If they can’t discover the contrast between their parent’s abuse and lack of love and God’s unconditional love, they may lose their eternal life altogether.
The bottom line is that Christian or not, no wound can be healed unless it is acknowledged. If Christians insist survivors over look the mistakes of their abusers, they are merely adding to the abuse. The only solution is for the parent to do what Jesus taught in Matthew 18, if you know your child has something against you, don’t go to church and act like nothing happened, go to your child and make it right.
This is a part of a series I am posting in response to a friend’s comment on my blog about Mother’s Day being painful. I know my friend’s mother is NOT a narcissist. From what I know of her mom, she is very loving and interested in her children’s lives. One reason why some people seem apathetic to the pain of ACONs* could be they have either not experienced narcissistic abuse or they are still in denial about their own wounds. I hope this series will help people like my friend to better understand narcissism.
*ACON—Adult Children of Narcissists