Coleen had a hard time forgiving her mother
for all the things she’d done to make her life miserable.
Coleen still has so much resentment
she can’t get her hate for her mother out of her mind.
One day she read a story about a man
who forgave his father for doing a horrible crime.
and she wondered how can a person who is still hurting forgive?
After a few sessions with her counselor she learned a few things about what forgiveness is and what it is not. Forgiveness is never a free pass for future abuse. Nor is it a wiping away of memories and past abuse. It is simply an acknowledgment and releasing of a need to get even. To forgive is to stop thinking about hurting the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is also not reconciliation. Here are a few things Coleen learned to help herself stop feeling all the bad vibes and chose some better thoughts for her head.
1. Acknowledge What Happened
Denial is a continuation of abuse. It’s impossible to forgive what we haven’t acknowledged, so we need to admit what actually happened before we can forgive. Of course the narcissist will probably refuse to admit to what they’ve done. They don’t want to remember how they’ve hurt others because their narcissistic pride stands in the way. They might even expect you to sweep your pain under the rug, but a healthy relationship always calls for honesty.
2. Show Compassion
Our abusers have often been abused themselves. They might have become abusers before they even realized what was happening because they might have had narc parents themselves. Whether they brought it on themselves or refuse to turn away from their behavior, you can still show compassion to them. This will contribute to your own healing.
Most people have some form of being messed up because we come from the same dysfunctional human clan, but we can learn to show compassion as a principle–even to our abusers. If an abuser is not safe to be around, we can look for others who are in pain. Showing compassion in any form to someone who is not responsible for our pain can prevent us from becoming bitter and reaching out in love to even a stranger can heal our wounds.
3. Let Go
Not everybody wants revenge, some of us wish we could rebuild our broken and abusive family. In most cases narcissistic abuse has rendered a relationship with the narcissist non-existent. To let go you can first acknowledge your pain, then forgive and then let go.
By letting go of your need for revenge, you can turn your attention from your abuser’s behavior to focus on the good things in your life. By letting go of your expectations, you can find healthier relationships. There is no need to increase the pain in this world by trying revenge–it will only harm yourself as well as your abuser.
4. Pray for Your Abuser
When we receive God’s grace in our own lives, it allows us to pass on grace to others. By asking God to bless those who have harmed us, we bring healing upon ourselves. Many narcissists will rationalize and justify their own behavior, but a warped conscience allows their distortions. You don’t want to become like the narcissist. You want to be clean and free from all that lying, hate baggage.
Other abusers might realize they’ve done wrong, but they’ve fallen so out of harmony with God, they can’t imagine how to fix things, so they go on wearing their shame. When we pray for them, we release our pain to God to allow his will on earth as in heaven.
5. Pray for Yourself
It doesn’t happen overnight or in one day, but little by little, one healthy thought at time, we can let go of our pain and we can forgive those who have harmed us. It’s important to ask God for healing so we don’t repeat the patterns of abuse.