The 'R' word
Chances are, if you've been through a situation where someone messed up...really messed up...you've heard these comments from well-meaning friends and family who are religious.
"I'll be praying for you."
"I'll be praying for you to forgive them."
"I'll be praying for reconciliation."
The last two are probably the hardest to hear. N's are nearly never sorry for their actions. It was not an accident they chose the manipulation and power route to intimidate you or someone else. It was certainly no honest-to-goodness 'oopsie' that ends in someone treating another human being like crap. Barring actual mental disorders like Alzheimer's, adults must be held responsible for their actions. I believe deep down, N's know what they are doing. Chances are, if you hear an excuse from someone on their behavior....
Accept me the way I am.
That's just how I am!
I didn't MEAN to hurt you.
I didn't say that.
I didn't do that. (selective memory)
Then take comfort in knowing they KNOW their behavior was wrong or else they wouldn't feel the need to excuse it or for anyone else to as well. As sickening as it is, seeing into how an N's mind works is actually incredibly helpful in dealing with interactions with these people.
In my own experience there is abuse, escalating abuse, manipulation, control, belittlement and disrespect from N's. Followed by outbursts if you do not do their will. Followed by excuses and crazy logic-defying reasons. Followed by 'take me as I am' and lastly the non-apology. These things may come in many different orders but all together are probably the most telling traits of an N's behavior.
They are unrealistic people, they feel for themselves most keenly and for others very little. They live in their own world of make-believe where their family is happy and they are the perfect husband, wife, spouse, parent and relation. They are never wrong.
The 'R' word is thrown around with reckless abandon in most conservative or religious circles. Many many people are proponents of forgive and forget, move on with the person in your life... total redemption of the relationship kind of advice. Never fully understanding or even hearing out the person abused by power. I've found the church to be one of the worst places to open up about struggles I have when authority, adults, members of the community who call themselves 'Christian', as many N's are in control and passing themselves off as the perfect godly example to the public. Needless to say I've shut many well-meaning Christians out of my life because I believe they are ALSO in a bubble to believe reconciliation is a must and first-step to moving on from abuse.
"Don't you want to meet up with them? To reconcile?"
My mom said these words to me months after going no contact with my in laws. I looked at her incredulously.
"That's totally up to them (the N's). Besides, DH wants nothing to do with them in the future."
The bitter truth is that reconciliation cannot happen without a true apology and repentance. To turn away from that lifestyle and make active attempts to change. To mean it, to make it up to that person. Shouldn't these things be fundamental to teaching children how to apologize and forgive?
N's know how to forgive. My DH claims he's seen his family genuinely ask for forgiveness in the past for other things. The point is, they know how. My husband has called them out on abuse and to what end? Silence. Maybe, just maybe... months after the incidents I received an 'I am sorry our relationship is not such that....' fill in the blank and use a guilt trip to close off. It's laughable.
I reached a new stage in healing and coming to terms with what happened to us when I realized this. They know what they did. We did our part in calling out what was wrong and told them it should be righted. To this day they have not made an attempt to do anything but simply want to forget and move on as if nothing happened. It's clear with many N's that reconciliation is not an option. At least probably won't be an option until it's too late and they're dead. How sad is that?
Until an N abuser repents of their past actions, make attempts to change and make it up to you. Says they are sorry for specifics, for the actions and words belonging to them- reconciliation cannot take place. To do so would be inviting the enemy back into your life to take another swing at you. Like giving someone extra bullets because they missed you the first time.
I do not love the N's. I do not even like them. I certainly don't trust them and won't be welcoming them back into my life anytime soon. They had over a year to make it up to us, to say something before we went no contact. To do something. As far as I'm concerned my only job now is to move on without them.
'Honor your father and mother'
Sometimes the best, most loving thing you can do to a person is to keep them at a distance. Sometimes I feel there is no better way to honor moms and dads who do not deserve it than to go no contact and to raise your kids in a way that is opposite of theirs. To honor what horrible memories of them you have and to change that for the next generation. To instill the knowledge in your own lives that no one in your household will treat or be treated the way you were.
Reconciliation is something everyone should HOPE for, but it's important to know that in dealing with N's... it's probably not realistically going to happen.
To many people forgiving means to right all wrongs, to be okay with what happened. I've found that in dealing with abuse, especially from unrepentant abusers, forgiving means something else entirely. It means freeing yourself from the chains of living in the pain. Giving yourself permission to go ahead and live your life even if you never get an apology. Reconciliation is the third, not first step in the process. You can forgive 'let go of the pain' without an apology. You can have an apology without reconciliation. But only after both previous things happen can you have reconciliation of any kind.
For me, a valuable lesson I learned through months of banging my head on the wall because I 'could not forgive' was simply that. I needed to focus on myself first. On letting go of pain and anger in my own heart. Not okay-ing the pain and abuse I suffered. Only after I realized that was I able to make progress in moving forward. Only after that did my anxiety get better and I was able to feel any kind of joy in my life again.