Many people have very definite opinions on the topic of forgiving narcissists. Usually it’s one of two extremes- either you forgive & forget, or you refuse to forgive because narcissists don’t deserve forgiveness & aren’t sorry for the damage they cause anyway.
I am a firm believer in forgiveness, but not in the “forgive & forget” sense.
In a relationship with a narcissist, if someone confronts a narcissist, they can count on any of a variety of possible, ugly scenarios happening: The narcissist denies everything, the narcissist blames the victim for “making” her act that way, the narcissist turns the tables so she is the victim & the real victim is mean/unreasonable, or the narcissist recruits her flying monkeys to talk some “sense” into the victim while taking attention off the narcissist’s actions & making her look like an innocent victim.
When this happens, many people end all contact or greatly limit their contact with the narcissist. Often, especially in Christian circles, this is mistaken as the victim hating the narcissist or holding a grudge. That can be true of course, but in my experience, it’s seldom the case.
Using myself as an example, I’ve had to end friendships. The hardest was with an old friend I’d had for over 20 years. I’d prayed a great deal before doing so, & knew in my heart it was the right choice. Not because I hated my friend, but because I knew I deserved to be treated better than I was being treated. I forgave him for his actions, but since I’d seen him changing, realized I would be hurt again if I continued the friendship. I didn’t trust him anymore.
I’ve seen many scenarios with adult daughters of narcissistic mothers that are very similar. The daughters go no contact because of how awfully their mothers treated them, & they learn their mothers are trash talking them to other people which shows they don’t want to fix things. It also shows they have no desire to apologize or accept responsibility for what they have done. These daughters are seldom angry about what their mothers have done, & almost never say they hate their mothers. I would guess that 99% of the daughters I’ve spoken with in these situations don’t harbor anger. They have forgiven their mothers, but they also know they have to have her out of their lives for the sake of their own mental health &/or to protect their husbands & children.
Unfortunately with narcissists, a normal, functional, healthy pattern of working problems out doesn’t happen. Normally, someone is approached about the hurtful action they did, that person apologizes & if necessary, changes their actions to regain your trust. Since that won’t happen with a narcissist, many times very limited or no contact is the only option left. If you are in that situation, please don’t allow others to make you feel badly for making that choice or accuse you of being unforgiving or un-Christian. Do what you believe you need to do!
And, remember- forgiveness isn’t about the narcissist. It’s something you do for yourself because you deserve better than carrying around anger or bitterness. That is all. It can be done whether or not you’re in a relationship with your abuser. Reconciling the relationship & learning to trust the abuser require that person’s participation, but forgiving her does not.