(UPDATED) Whew. There is no end of gobbledygook out there on the Web about "forgiveness" and "healing." My theory is that it all stems from thinking it a virtue to believe things that defy belief. Then you're stuck having to believe some things that make no sense.
The result is tortuously gymnastic twists and turns of logic in oxymorons that call things what they ain't.
Just what do people mean when they talk about "forgiving" a narcissist? I dare say they haven't the foggiest idea what they mean. They have bastardized the word forgiveness by abusing it to mean some vague kind of warm, fuzzy feeling you're supposed to get when your anger passes.
Some say that forgiveness is "giving your anger to God." Okay, what the hell does THAT mean? The only way I know of to "give" your anger to anyone is to get angry at them. So, why on earth would you give your anger to God?
Wouldn't it be nicer (and smarter) to give him something nice instead?
See the result of a language known as Babble? Nonsense.
Some have rightly said that, in their experience, people think of forgiveness as a mere feeling, a sentiment, not an act.
Ohhhhhhhh! I get it. That's a way to cheat. Your so-called "forgiveness" then is dirt cheap, because it requires nothing of you, except possibly denial of your true feelings. And, hey, who wouldn't love to repress their anger and delude themselves into thinking they're not angry? Anger is a very unpleasant feeling. No one WANTS it.
In fact, you can even lie about having this nicey-nice "forgiving" feeling, so you needn't really forgive even according to your own chincy definition of "forgiveness."
And all this nonsense leads to no end of . . . you guessed it - additional nonsense. Some caution against "forgiving too soon" lest you fail to hold the narcissist accountable for what he or she has done.
Say what? That's exactly what forgiveness really is = NOT holding that person to account. Fully, that is. Forgiveness is forgiveness of a portion of the debt the offender incurs through the offense. I explained that here.
This "not forgiving too soon" reminds me of people who tell us they "forgive" the criminal who murdered a family member - but they didn't even ask that he be spared the death penalty. No, to the contrary: they were there and pushing for him to pay the full price all along. So they didn't forgive one bit.
Forgiveness is a brand of justice - justice tempered with mercy. And so, just as justice delayed is justice denied, forgiveness delayed is forgiveness denied.
There have been cases of the real thing. The criminal has truly repented and accepted his penality as just with deep remorse. The surviving victims have truly fogiven him and pleaded in his behalf for leniency. This is a beautiful, beautiful, precious thing -- on both sides. And phonies cheapen it with their double-talk about "forgiving" someone they pursued all the way to the execution chamber. If he made himself unforgivable by not repenting, he brought it on himself, but "it" wasn't forgiveness.
Every offense is a kind of theft or robbery. Murder is stealing a person's life. Slander is stealing a person's good name. Abuse is robbing a person of respect, human dignity, and the like. And all thefts damage the victim. The offender is responsible for those damages and a (punitive) penalty to boot. In other words, the offender is responsible for repairing the damage.
And that's what healing is = repairing damage. So, how people manage to get healing confused with forgiveness I shall never know.
You heal when the wound heals over, the damage repaired (as well as it will ever be, for there will be scars and permanent damage). The narcissist is NEVER the one who repairs the damage he or she does: YOU do. You do it by repairing the damage yourself, by rebuilding your life. Not by forgiving the narcissist.
The greatest damage narcissists do is the damage they do to your relationship with yourself. They treat you like dirt. They make you feel like a worm. They reflect a false image of you that is rightfully THEIR image projected off on you. They are just using you as a dumping ground for their sins and flaws and wretchedness. They thus vandalize your image, making it abject and miserable and contemptible. Thus they come between you and your very self. They make you despise and hate yourself as unworthy of being treated like a human being.
You either go crazy or repair that relationship after they have laid waste to it in their truculent wake. That repair is healing.
It has nothing to do with forgiving them. In fact, it's quite the other way around. Only in picking up the pieces do you come to terms with the shocking malignance in a person who would do something like that to people who love them, even their own children. Like any pain, your anger will diminish and pass over time, but your abhorrence of the narcissist mushrooms.
In fact, as I explained in On Forgiveness, you CAN'T forgive someone who doesn't repent. Until recently no preacher would have dreamed of saying you must forgive every offense, even those of the unrepentent. We didn't start hearing this noise till a certain movement began preaching that if God likes you you'll be successful and happy, happy, happy. One wonders if people who believe this fairy tale ever look at a crucifix.
Those who believe in God say that God himself doesn't forgive the unrepentant, so why should we? They seem to have some wires crossed so that they think whether a thing be right or wrong depends on who dunnit, not what it IS.
You can't forgive someone who denies that they punched themselves out on you for 20 minutes straight yesterday because you begged them on your knees in tears not to throw you out of their life at a moment when you desperately need someone. No matter what, narcissists don't even admit what they DID, let along that it was wrong. You can't forgive an unsigned/unacknowledged debt. As for contrition or remorse, forget it. Narcissists are as remorseless as psychopaths. In fact, they claim the right to keep right on using and abusing you to make themselves feel good. They refuse to give back whatever they stole. And they continue to attack you with slander all over town. Duh, that's a crime in progress. Sheesh. You can't forgive a crime in progress! The very idea is absurd, as any religious theologian will tell you.
Sorry for the rant, but this nonsense angers me, because these holier-than-thous try to impose their illogical and immoral fuzzy morality on us, acting like you're a bad person if you're too honest to parrot that nonsense.
Worse, their holy-sounding sermons serve the narcissist by heaping insult on injury to re-victimize the victim for complaining. What a farce. Instead of crying out for the narcissist to cease and desist and pay damages, they're crying out for his victim to shut up.
So, whose side are they on?
That's why Ezechial is my favorite prophet. He sarcastically calls such people those "from whom there is no peace" because they constantly attack the VICTIM of violent aggression, demanding "Peace! Peace!"
According to them, you are bad if you don't go around smiling, smiling, smiling as if nothing happened, as if no robbery was committed, as if there is no wrong that should be righted, no justice that should be done, no damage that should be repaired. That's nihilism. It makes NOTHING of what happened! Though you are pierced through and torn in torment as grievous as Prince Hamlet's, you mustn't show the pain to them!
Is that not callousness rivalling the narcissist's? Wouldn't acting like that be lying? Yes, acting out a charade is lying in deed. I want to know why such holy ones are telling us that it is a sin not to tell this lie.
So, if the narcissist swipes five dollars from your wallet, you should raise a hue and cry about it and see that justice is done. But if he robs you of your self respect, the credit due you, your career, your friends, your good name and peace of mind, that's NOTHING?
Sheesh, even without a brain, these people are dangerous. The song they sing is the LAST thing the victim of a narcissist should ever hear: it re-victimizes by reinforcing the narcissist's brainwashing that the victim is a bad person.
So, I'm sorry, but because of the additional damage they do to the already beaten-down victim, these holier-than-thou parrots deserve to be slammed for that. (Maybe that will turn their brains back on.)
According to them, you're supposed to act happy (like good people are), as though nothing bad happened to you. In other words, you must hide your pain and keep the narcissist's crime a secret by acting like it didn't happen.
How's that for making someone bend over for it? No harm, no foul, eh? Then they needn't feel obligated to help you do anything about it, right? I bet that's why these holier-than-thous make it out to be a sin for you cry "Foul!" Ask any theologian, they aren't so holy: they committing the Sin of Sodom against you, the sin of extreme perversity = making the victim bend over for it.
Why are they preaching at the victim, instead of the victimizer? Is it because the victim is highly vulnerable at the moment and easy to dump a holier-than-thou load of you-know-what on?
They say you are to make nothing of being abused. That says in deed that nothing worth doing anything about happened. It can only mean that (a) the narcissist didn't do anything to you or that (b) he did something but what he did wasn't wrong, or that (c) what he did amounts to nothing because it damaged nothing of value.
What a degrading value judgement of YOUR human worth. Indeed, if the narcsisist damaged your automobile they wouldn't say you should act like it didn't happen, would they? They'd say you should make him repair the damage. But if he damages YOU, causing you immense suffering, that's nothing to do anything about in their eyes, isn't it? Then what are YOU? You are a thing of less value than a mere object in their bizarre judgement.
In other words, in their twisted thinking, the narcissist's offense requires nothing of him. Instead, they view YOU, the victim, as the one who incurs responsibility by it: you must cover up the evidence of his crime for him, keeping quiet about it, and taking on yourself all the damage and the responsibility for repairing it as if nothing happened.
In fact, according to them, you don't even dare repair the damage to your good name, because it's a sin to complain to people about what's happening and thus counter the narcissist's campaign of character assassination to discredit you.
In other words, instead of requiring the character assassin to shut up, they require the victim to shut up. Instead of requiring the attack to cease, they require the defense to cease. You can't commit the Sin of Sodom more ballistically than that. They are absolutely denying the victim any right to self defense and self preservation from abuse.
And so, what wondrous fogs cloudy heads beget. They couldn't care less about you. They're just so busy trying to look and sound holy that they don't even pay any attention to what they're saying. Result? Absurdity after absurdity billows out.
They vilify your very FEELINGS and blame the victim for them. (Maybe someone should educate them by punching them in the nose and then blaming them for their pain.) As if people have any control over their feelings. As if feelings are conduct and could be a sin. That's absurd. You can lie about your feelings and you can repress them. You can exaggerate or downplay them in acting them out. But you can't change them. They just are what they are.