IF I had rhymes both rough and stridulous,
As were appropriate to the dismal hole
Down upon which thrust all the other rocks,
I would press out the juice of my conception
More fully; but because I have them not,
Not without fear I bring myself to speak;
For 'tis no enterprise to take in jest,
To sketch the bottom of all the universe.
-- Dante Alighieri, The Inferno
Imagine that just yesterday, the malignant narcissist in your life abused you. He or she flew into a rage at you. Maybe they beat you. Maybe they spread vicious lies about you. Maybe they deeply wounded one of the children. Whatever. They attacked you, or a loved one, and treated the victim like dirt.
Now today the narcissist walks into the room acting as though it didn’t happen.
What are you to do?
Are you to act as though it didn’t happen, too?
Ah, “forgiveness,” right? Wrong.
What if the person who had attacked you was a stranger on the street? If you come upon him again today, are you going to act as though it didn’t happen? Are you going to treat him like you trust him? Like you have nothing against him? Like he is a good person?
Of course not! He attacked you, so you are going to relate to him as a known enemy. You are going to keep your distance from him. You know he is a predator, so you have a hostile attitude toward him. You must, for there is no such thing as a friendly attitude toward an enemy out to do you harm.
And isn’t a predator in your own home even more dangerous? Why do you have to trust him with access to you, when he has proved that he will use that access to attack you? That’s as absurd as thinking you must open your front door to anyone who demands admittance.
And if you behave today as though nothing happened yesterday, aren’t you acting out a lie? Aren’t you falsifying the relationship that exists between you and the narcissist? It’s a predatory, parasitic one, but you are acting as though it’s a friendly and mutually beneficial one.
And aren’t you ENABLING the narcissist to erase what he did yesterday? To annihilate it?
He will even talk as though it didn’t happen. He will say things that contradict the facts of the past. Are you going to let these lies pass?
If you don’t – if you contradict them – he will throw a fit, a narcissistic temper tantrum – until you shut up and let him have the last word. Which will be to deny that it ever happened.
And you don’t like fighting all the time, do you? You want peace. You hate the temper tantrums, because they’re as obnoxious as any spoiled brat’s temper tantrums. Like a three-year-old, he is deliberately as obnoxious as possible with them to make you prefer to let him have his way than to put up with that obnoxious, irrational, fit he throws to herd you the direction he wants.
But if you let his lies pass and act like it didn’t happen, you are committing treason against yourself and your children. For, you have just absolved him of his sin. You have “washed it away.” It didn’t happen.
Which means that he didn’t do anything wrong when he did it, so he has a carte blanche to do it again tomorrow.
And tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.