Is It Important to Forgive My Narcissistic Parent?
By Roxanne E. Smith 2010
There is a big difference between a parent who “had” a narcissistic disturbance in the past and is genuinely trying to change and a parent who is a malignant narcissist. A parent who is now able to feel and express genuine remorse, look inward and grow, learn compassion and love for themselves and others, and then finally express this love to you deserves compassion and forgiveness.
The malignant narcissist on the other hand can be more like a sociopath and mimic this remorse and apology as they can be brilliant and convincing actors who can be insidious, master manipulators who can guilt you into forgiving them too quickly. This can leave highly sensitive souls feeling confused, enmeshed and re-victimized all over again. There are many levels of narcissistic abuse and we each will have different requirements in our healing.
Many N parents were abused as children. Severe abuse and atrocities in childhood can cause a person to become completely separated from their true essence and be "run" by the dark beliefs that they were forced to believe as tiny children. But that is no excuse for those who continue the cycle of abuse that they subject their children to out of ignorance and no remorse--the free will of their soul is responsible here. There are many people who are emotionally abused who do not go on to blame, lash out, disempower, control, induce guilt, and intentionally cripple the self-esteem of their children with this sense of entitlement. Please do not feel as though compassion for your N parent “should” be your goal when in fact your healing process (compassion for your self and what you went through) can be impeded if you try to empathetically understand and try to "help" your N parent.
A malignant sociopathic narcissist can twist the truth, deny all wrongdoing, and guilt you into feeling sorry for “them”. It is unhealthy for highly sensitive souls who have been victimized by such an emotionally disordered person, that puts on an act of “poor me I didn’t mean to”, to forgive these acts of conditional love and exploitation when the true healing has just begun. Trying to forgive before you have worked through all the layers of anger, pain, and grief will impede the healing process.
Each person must decide for themselves the extent of malignancy of their N parent and not feel guilt if the answer is to put their own feelings first and stop all contact and not extend compassion or forgiveness in order to protect themselves from an emotionally unhealthy person that is unsafe for you to be around while you are healing. It takes time to know whether your parent is capable of a new relationship with adult-to-adult give-and-take with new healthy boundaries in place.
In time, when you can love yourself with full compassion for all you went through and become the true self you were meant to be, you will have learned the painful lesson of how to protect yourself from unsafe people, and then “forgiveness” of all that happened to you before, to bring you to this point of inner peace and self-discovery, will just naturally happen. Healthy boundaries for yourself will still be necessary even after the forgiveness process is complete.
For more information on the topic of forgiveness, please see the post from my blog from April 12, 2010