After a relationship gone sour, we are told to “forgive” and move on. In a relationship with a narcissist or sociopath (far more than just a relationship “gone wrong”); when we are dealing with abuse (physical and emotional) and often the loss of our lives as we knew them (due to the slandering of our character and reputation by the Narc/Sociopath), the loss of friends, jobs and sometimes entire communities……..when we are totally isolated and trying to rebuild our lives and not even knowing where to start…..the LAST thing we want to think about is “forgiving” the person who caused such destruction. In fact, I think most of us are hoping that the Karma bus will arrive and run them over, and the sooner the better.
In the West and in Western religions, we are taught that we need to “forgive” and even to “turn the other cheek”. I agree that we need to forgive, but NOT to absolve the other person of wrong-doing but for our own sake. If we hold on to hate, bitterness, hurt and resentment, we open ourselves to illnesses, we stop our own progress in moving forward and we emanate a negative vibe that taints everything we do. So what do we do? How do we handle this? I will be bluntly honest with you in saying that I have absolutely no desire what-so-ever in forgiving the person who harmed me so badly. However, I DO want to release my pain, bitterness and resentment for MY OWN sake so that I don’t get sick and/or grow into a bitter, angry old woman.
In Eastern traditions, namely Hinduism, they have a different concept. They don’t believe in “forgiveness” in the traditional Western sense of the word. Instead they believe in offering your hurt, anger, pain, hate, resentment to the Mother Goddess, namely the Goddess Kali. She takes your pain and ingests it (transmutes it). She helps you emerge stronger and more empowered. In Hinduism, it is believed that everyone creates their “karma” which means they reap the consequences of their actions, so people do not have to “forgive”. Other people’s Karma is between them and their concept of “God”. This is much the same of the Christian teaching of “You reap what you sow”. The Goddess Kali (and just the idea of a female Diety) might be hard for some to understand and accept, especially if you’ve come from a traditional background. (If the concept of the Goddess and namely Kali does not frighten you, you can learn more by googling “give your pain to Goddess Kali” and you will find more in depth articles.)
My point here is not to push or promote any religion but to say that we need to offer our pain to a Higher Power of our choice, whether it be Jesus, Buddha, the Universe, God or Goddess. We need to offer it up to them so that they can take it from us and heal our hearts. It’s not a process that I can explain in a logical, rational way……it is a spiritual process and practice. It takes faith and trust. No matter how hard I have tried in the past, I cannot seem to heal my own heart. It’s something that is super-natural, done by a force inside me and yet stronger than me in my own humanness. It’s something that works for me because I have not been able (or desiring) to “forgive” on command. It’s not like flipping a switch. But by offering your pain to the Higher Power of your choice, you set spiritual forces into motion that will end up freeing you from your pain.
I think it also helps to realize that as destructive as a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath can be (and mine was; his smear campaign left me ostracized from the entire community and I lost 99% of the people who had been in my life and my work was negatively impacted……in addition to the abuse he inflicted which resulted in a struggle with PTSD) we emerge on the other side still ALIVE. Some days we may feel broken and full of despair and depression but eventually we realize that we are stronger than we ever knew. Slowly we realize that our fears are dropping away and we realize that if we can survive “this” with the sociopath, then we can survive anything. Discovering this strength is the greatest gift. We also begin to realize that the worst has already happened……our character has been slandered, our reputations ruined, our lives have been burned to the ground……but…… there when there is nothing left to lose, our true selves begin to emerge. We no longer care what people think of us because we’ve seen that we could be good people and yet people still will slander and try to destroy us. We begin to step into our own power, strength, and authenticity and suddenly we realize we are beginning to SHINE again. We become these strong, bad-ass women who aren’t afraid of anything anymore and it feels really really good. You also begin to see with real clarity who and what the sociopath really is and you realize that he doesn’t get the right to ruin your life for one more moment. In fact it would be a sacrilege to let him dominate you this way for one second longer. And when you realize all these things, you begin to seek your joy again.
I don’t say any of this lightly because it’s been a few years for me to reach this place. I still have my days (and I had many many many in the past) of being depressed and not even getting dressed but those days are becoming fewer. It fairly recently that someone shared with me the Eastern perspective of offering my pain to the Higher Power. I had been trying for the past few years to “forgive” and it just wasn’t happening and I was still carrying a lot of resentment. On my own, I had already begun to see the “gifts” that came out of my relationship with the narcissist/sociopath. As for “turning the other cheek”……….well, I don’t know what to say about that. I have no intention of offering him the other side of my face after he’s already punched one side of it. So we’ll just leave it at that. This isn’t a philosophical debate.
So, if you haven’t done it already, go to your Higher Power and offer them your pain (you may have to keep offering it, many times) and then trust in this spiritual process of healing. You can also leave your abuser in the hands of your Higher Power. Whether you believe in Jesus or Karma, the message is the same, what goes around, comes around. You reap what you sow. So God will take care of your abuser and their relationship (or lack or it) (or lack or remorse) is between them. Either way, you end up free of pain and resentment, free of the desire for revenge and ready to get on with your life as a strong, empowered, free woman who can SPARKLE and SHINE once again.
In strength, love and power,