No longer running has a thought-provoking post about forgiveness on her blog. It is very difficult not to agree with her and not sound like a brain-washed mantra-repeating dimwit who hasn't truly experienced abuse and will never get it. Bowing to the narcissistic mother and acknowledging her as your superior and having a wonderful relationship with her? It's in the post, check it out. If it wasn't outrageous and infuriating, it would be hilarious.
But, see, I have a very different definition of forgiveness, which makes it a worthwhile goal at some point in the future. For me, forgiveness involves two points:
1) The person forgiving: After a period of time, which can be as long as a lifetime, where the forgiver allows herself to feel and express her anger freely and with no inhibitions, over and over again, she will hopefully come to a point where that anger no longer takes up her time and energy, which she will be free to invest in other, more pleasant aspects of her life. She will be free of her abusers. To get there, she first needs to let herself express her rage and be honest about it, otherwise it's like applying a band-aid to an infected wound.
I'm not there yet. Lately, I've allowed myself to feel and express anger for the first time in my life. I yelled curses into the air, aimed at my father. I allowed and encouraged myself to do this. I think I'm done now, and won't be doing it much more in the future, but it was necessary. I'm still in the angry phase and I'm taking my sweet time.
2) The person forgiven: The person forgiving will not want eternal damnation for her abuser. That's all. No "that's okay", no relationship, no cutesy expressions of love, no, not even having to like that person the tiniest little bit. But, in a way, you have a real sort of love for them - you don't want eternal damnation for them.
Salvation entails facing your misdeeds, suffering for them, repenting deeply, making amends. That's what the forgiver wants for the abuser in my book. That's real love. Yes, that might not be possible with certain people, like narcissists, for example. But if you'd not mind seeing your abuser go through this, through some miracle, then you've already forgiven.
And I'm not even there yet, really. I sometimes pray for my father, but sometimes I almost relish horrible instances of his behavior because they mean I can "write him off" as a person, a human being, a soul. Now, I hope that one day I will move beyond that. But I haven't yet. And I'm taking my sweet time here, too.
(Yes, I'm religious, so this only works like this in my world, but similar things might apply for others. What do you want for yourself, but really? Want them for the abuser too. You wouldn't want to be living in a saccharine lie and sweet delusion all your life, would you? You wouldn't want to hurt the people closest to you with impunity, would you? You'd want to be fully faced with the truth of everything you've done wrong in your life and then try to make up for it, wouldn't you? Even if you know it's impossible in certain cases, just not being averse to the idea of this happening to the abuser is already forgiveness in my book. It means you have not fully condemned that lost soul trapped somewhere deep, deep down.)
And that's it. Of course you can't have a real relationship with a person who is an abuser or a narcissist or both. Of course you can't respect or like that person. Of course you can't say "Oh, it's all fine, don't you worry, just go on enjoying your delusion of perfection." That's not forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn't equal reconciliation. There's no reconciliation with a person who is an abuser or a narcissist or both. Well, maybe, through Christ, after an eternity of purgation and change and growth and the death of the monster who ate the abuser's soul in childhood. But not in this world.