One thing that I have noticed in most of the people I talk to who have been in a relationship with a narcissist for any length of time is that we are looking for some sort of validation from the narcissist. We feel we need it for closure. We fantasize about him suddenly becoming aware of how he treated us and coming back to ask forgiveness. In some small corner of our hearts we believe that somewhere deep inside he is ashamed of the things he did and aware of what he stole from us. Somehow, even after all of the lies, the criticisms, the shaming, and the manipulation we still believe that he harbors a spark of goodness and kindness deep within his being.
Stop it. Stop it now. You’re ten times more likely to travel through an antique wardrobe and find yourself having tea with a faun in Narnia than you are to get any kind of apology from your narcissistic ex-husband.
You know that so why do you keep allowing that one thought to flicker to life?
Repentance Is Validating
If your ex comes to you with his hat in his hand and gives you a sincere apology you will be able to get closure. You will feel validating. After all of this time his apology will mean that you weren’t crazy, that your feelings do matter, and that he recognizes you as a living thing with needs of various sorts.
He will also be admitting that he is responsible for hurting you, causing trauma, and breaking your heart.
When someone admits that they have wronged you it is a relief. You can stop wondering if you really are overly sensitive, if you really did imagine things, and if everything really is you fault. There is a huge relief that comes with that and you deserve to hear the apology and experience that relief.
But, deserve it or not, it isn’t likely to happen.
Brainwashing Is Hard to Overcome
The healthy thing to do would be to accept that you are not going to get an apology, have the self-confidence to trust you own perception of what you lived through, and move on regardless of what he does or doesn’t do. You can’t do that because you have been carefully and systematically brainwashed to depend on his definition of who you are and what you can and cannot do. You have been programmed to need his validation and affirmation as much as you need air to breathe.
So, even though you know that you have been the victim of narcissistic abuse with everything in you that is logical you still need confirmation from him that you have indeed been treated badly. As long as you have that tug of war going on you are going to have a hard time moving forward.
Accepting That Your Story Is Your Own
A friend and I were chatting recently about a time in our lives when we were being manipulated by a variety of people and situations. To my knowledge not one of the people involved have admitted any wrong-doing. I don’t expect them to and neither does she.
However one thing she said stuck in my mind. It’s my story and no one else needs to like it, agree with it, or judge it because it is mine.
I don’t know if every single moment with my ex was as I remember it. I was not, and am not, perfect. I am capable of selfishness, unkindness, and irresponsibility. What I do know is that I am left with complex PTSD, a number of symptoms commonly found in those people who have come out of narcissistic relationships, and some disturbing memories. I know what still goes on to this day despite having been divorced for over four years.
No one has to believe my story, it’s not up to them to judge it, like it, or agree with it. It is what I experienced and more and more I am able to give myself the confirmation and validation that I am looking for. Yes, it happened. Yes, it was wrong. No, it wasn’t my fault.
It is my story just as your story belongs to you.
Understanding Is the Key to Overcoming
Once you understand why you are holding the door open a crack, hoping the he will come and apologize, you can slam that thing shut and lock it down. It doesn’t matter if you are remembering 100 percent correctly or not. It’s your experience – you lived it and you don’t need anyone else’s opinion of what happened.
Now I don’t second guess myself as much. It still happens but I am better able to remind myself that it is my story. I am not going to be getting any apologies and he won’t be admitting his abusive treatment of me and the kids but it doesn’t matter anymore.
You don’t have to defend yourself. As a matter of fact, when you find yourself on the defensive it’s time to walk away from the conversation. No matter what happens it will always be your fault according to him but you don’t need to be in agreement!
The more you trust your own feelings and perceptions the easier it is to accept that you won’t get the apology you deserve and it’s time to stop waiting for it.
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Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User: Mizrak