What is resentment? Oxford Dictionary defines resentment as “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly”. Abuse at the hands of a narcissist is unfair. You were sold a dream and bought a nightmare. You were stripped of yourself and redefined by a monster who molded you into their image of the perfect partner, then despised you for becoming it. Your vulnerabilities were preyed upon and exploited by someone with no empathy. Feeling resentful is natural.
Why is dealing with resentment so important in recovering from narcissistic abuse? And does letting go of resentment mean your narcissist deserves to be forgiven for the cruelly destructive things he did?
Forgive, but Don’t Forget
Forgiveness doesn’t equal absolution. Forgiveness is for you and is about breaking the negative emotional chains that bind you to your ex-narcissist. Absolution is for the benefit of the wrongdoer and wipes the slate clean and its purpose is to pave the way for a fresh start. That is only deserved by those who are truly remorseful for the harm they’ve caused and a narcissist is not that person. The narcissist may be sorry they lost you but they’re not sorry for how they damaged you. They’re only sorry for themselves.
What you can’t afford to do with a narcissist is “forgive and forget”. If you forget how toxic they were for you, what engagement with them did to your sanity, health and self-esteem, it can lull you into abuse amnesia. This leaves you vulnerable to hoover attempts when they’re in need of future supply. So occasionally tapping into a memory of some of the righteous anger and the sadness you felt when you were with them can actually serve you by protecting you from predatory love-bomb efforts to win you back.
How Resentment is Disempowering
Holding onto resentment after you’ve left a narcissist keeps you locked into the pattern of obsession over being victimized by them. It keeps the focus on how unfair it was and how they’ve wronged you. And it allows their darkness to remain your driving force. Think about it. When you were with your narcissist, your entire world was him and all of your emotional energy was invested in managing the relationship. You stayed in a constant state of hypervigilance, navigating the ever-shifting landscape of his whims, moods, lies, temper tantrums, flirtations, dalliances and worse. It takes time to detoxify your mind from that all-consuming pattern. When you continue to ruminate on “what my narc did to me” it keeps you stuck there, in a problem-oriented way of thinking, and that can be an impediment to significant healing work if it remains your focus.
Fully understanding what happened to you and sharing about your losses with those who can understand and validate you is an important and necessary part of processing your grief and moving forward. But ruminating forever enables your narcissist to continue to dominate your thoughts, emotions, and conversations. There is more to you than “your narc”. Letting go of resentments can help you shift your energetic focus from being your ex-narcissist’s victim to becoming a survivor who is taking control. That can become your new narrative.
How Anger Can Serve You
Anger is a reactive emotion that begins spontaneously when some form of harm is perceived. It can be managed in healthy or toxic ways. Resentment is what you do with your unresolved anger when your feelings of bitterness, hatred, indignation, and victimization persist.
I hold onto a little piece of my anger. It has helped me survive numerous hoover attempts, lovebombs, guilt-tripping and the occasional nostalgiac moment. I deliberately call to mind reality: I was with a liar, womanizer, and rageaholic and it was completely demoralizing. The psychological abuse was nightmarish and the smear campaign is still ongoing. It conjures up some anger when I remember. It broke my heart while I was there. But I no longer have any emotional connection to that information; I simply have the awareness of it. I no longer feel victimized because I know I put a stop to his ability to ever hurt me again by ending the relationship. I feel free!
The fact is, as a person who escaped from an abusive narcissist, you truly were once a victim. Nothing will change that fact. The danger of resentment is that it can keep you locked in the disempowering role of victim for as long as you allow it. But if you’ve escaped, (or even if you were discarded), you’re no longer a victim. You’re now a survivor. You may have scars, many of them deep and painful, but you’re recovering and you have a chance to be happier someday.
@Coach Amy @Narcstalgia
@Copyright March 7, 2018, All Rights Reserved