Tag Archives: pity
There are so many victims who have been told, scolded really, that they need to have compassion on & even feel pity for their abusers. People say stupid things like, “You can’t get mad at him! He just doesn’t know better because his father did the same thing to him!” “That is your mother & if you really were a Christian like you say you are, you wouldn’t get mad at her! You would honor her!”
Some people who say such stupid comments are well meaning, yet ill informed. Mostly though, such people are quite aware of their comments & the effects they have. Their goal is to shut their victim down by invalidating or shaming them. Maybe they have their own abusive past, & your situation reminds them of theirs. Being too cowardly to face their own demons, they attempt to shut you down instead. Or, maybe they have bought the narcissist’s “good guy/gal” act, & you speaking the truth threatens that. Rather than face the ugly truth, they try to shut you down so their delusion can stay in tact. I’m sure there are countless reasons that people say such cruel remarks. These are only a couple of possibilities.
I don’t think that people who say such ludicrous statements stop for one second to consider the ridiculousness of their words, only the effect they wish to have. I mean, what sense does it make to feel pity for someone who deliberately causes you pain? This actually reminds me of something my father told me. When he was 15, he was driving home one night when the local drunk hit his car head on, flipping his car over into a ditch. My father nearly died from the traumatic brain injury, yet people told him he should feel sorry for the man who hit him. Think about that for a second.. people said he should feel sorry for the man who decided not only to get drunk, but to get behind the wheel of his car in that condition, endangering everyone else on the road & nearly killing my father. Why feel sorry for him rather than my father who lived with lifelong health problems stemming from this man’s poor choices?! As far as I know, the situation with my father didn’t even stop this man from driving drunk. Maybe if someone had confronted him, & made him realize the depths of the problems his actions caused, he might have stopped driving drunk.
They are also supporting someone’s choice to hurt other people. How does this make any sense at all?! No normal, functional person would support someone who deliberately chooses to hurt another person. They know what it’s like to hurt, & don’t want others to feel that way.
Instead of encouraging victims to feel compassion for their abusers, why not support a victim who has had the courage to escape the abuse & tell their story? Tell them they are brave & strong. Tell them you admire them for having the strength & fortitude to survive what they have experienced. Encourage them to share their story in whatever way will help them & hopefully also will help raise awareness. Listen to them. Validate them.
And if you somehow end up talking to an abuser, don’t excuse what they did. Abusers need to know what they did was bad & why. They also need to know that they hurt their victim & there was no good reason to do it. They need to be aware of the fact that to abuse another person is a choice, just like being good to another person is a choice, & they chose the wrong thing to do. Hold this person accountable! Maybe doing so will open their eyes somehow & make them see that they need to make some changes in their behavior. It’s certainly worth a try though, isn’t it?
As some of you may remember, my late mother in-law was a covert narcissist. She also was exceptionally good at what she did. My own husband didn’t believe me when I told him of many of the things she said & did to me. Like everyone else, he was fooled by her innocent act. I can’t blame him entirely for that. Like I said, she was VERY good.
During the time she was in my life, I knew something was wrong, even though I had no understanding about Narcissistic Personality Disorder at the time. It blew my mind how, like my mother, she could appear one way to other people, but the moment we were alone, the fangs came out. That just isn’t normal & you don’t have to have a degree in psychology to know that.
Then one day when my husband & I were at his parents’ home, visiting his parents. My mother in-law said something, & my father in-law said, “Shut your stupid mouth. Nobody wants to hear what you have to say!” I’d never seen that side of him before, only heard about it. He & my husband went outside shortly after. My mother in-law & I were left alone. I don’t remember exactly what she said, it was probably over 20 years ago by now, but I do remember that she was especially mean to me that evening. I figured she was just upset by how her husband spoke to her & taking it out on me.
The anger I usually felt at her because of her nastiness softened a lot. I felt bad for her for what just happened. And, for some time after that, I put up with her nastiness without complaint. I figured she obviously has no real coping skills, so maybe being mean to me is the only way she can deal with the hurt & anger she felt inside. I didn’t like it but I figured if it helped her somehow, fine. If I could live through the horrible things my mother said to me, I could handle the mother in-law.
This didn’t last long, a couple of months tops. I realized it wasn’t helping her, it was really hurting me & frankly, it wasn’t fair.
Situations like this are no doubt why so many people say you should never pity a narcissist. It means you will tolerate a LOT of abuse. Well, that is a very valid point. I tolerated so much more than I should have because I felt pity for my mother in-law.
However, that being said, I still don’t regret feeling that pity for her at that time or at any point. Probably that makes me sound crazy, but hear me out…
I realized some time later that the ability to feel pity for someone who was so cruel to me showed that in spite of all of the narcissistic abuse I’ve been through in my life, it didn’t destroy my ability to feel compassion for others. It can be so easy to turn bitter & angry when you’ve been through narcissistic abuse. I also didn’t turn into a narcissist like a few victims of narcissistic abuse do. I am grateful that neither happened to me.
Feeling pity for my mother in-law motivated me to pray for her, & all Christians know God wants us to pray for others, including our enemies:
“43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (fellow man) and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, [a]love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]. 46 For if you love [only] those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers [wishing them God’s blessing and peace], what more [than others] are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles [who do not know the Lord] do that? 48 You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (AMP)
I prayed for her quite a bit over the years, albeit not as much as I should have. All of my prayers for her were answered. My mother in-law did come to know Jesus, so she is in Heaven now instead of Hell. She also died in her home rather than a nursing home, as she wanted. She even died in her sleep, peacefully.
Praying for her also was good for me. It helped me to release the anger I’d felt at her for so long. I eventually got to the point of feeling nothing for her beyond wanting her to come to the Lord & not to suffer at the end of her life. Sorta sad, I admit, but it sure beats hating her like I once did!
My point in telling you this story is this.. some people find it easy to feel pity for people, even narcissists. When you know that the narcissistic person in your life has suffered, in spite of how awfully they treat you, there’s probably a little part of you that pities that person. It’s natural to want to shut that part of you down when the object of your pity is so abusive. Instead, why not acknowledge it? Accept that feeling as it is- just a feeling. Also, you can take the feeling as a sign that person needs prayer & you need to be the one to pray.
However, please, PLEASE do not get all crazy like I did & let the pity you feel be a reason to tolerate abuse from the narcissist. It’s very possible to feel pity for someone while still maintaining healthy boundaries & distance. I did with my mother in-law & still do with my mother. Please learn from my mistake in this area!
Lastly, if you don’t feel pity for the narcissist in your life, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or a bad Christian. Many people don’t feel it & there is nothing wrong with that! Even good, loving, faithful people don’t always feel pity towards narcissists. It happens, & it’s ok. This post is simply directed at those who may feel differently than you. 🙂
When narcissism is discussed, often it is the behavior of the overt narcissist. Very little is discussed about covert narcissists.
Covert narcissists are much more devious & sly in their actions, yet they are just as abusive if not moreso than overt narcissists. Because their actions are so covert, their victims are often very hesitant to admit what was done to them was abusive. They often doubt what was done to them was done out of maliciousness, taking the blame on themselves for being over sensitive or reading too much into things. One way this is accomplished is by the covert narcissist using pity & sympathy.
Pity & sympathy are tools covert narcissists often use. If they can make you feel sorry for them, chances of you calling them out on their actions or setting boundaries are very slim. If you do either, you are going to feel very guilty for being so mean & unreasonable.
One way covert narcissists acquire that pity is by acting as if they aren’t very smart. Whether or not they are educated is beside the point. Covert narcissists like to give the impression that they’re very naive & innocent. Do NOT be fooled by this act however! There is absolutely no way a person can be stupid & extremely devious at the same time. Someone who is genuinely not very smart won’t know how to abuse people while appearing innocent. They also wouldn’t know what they are doing is wrong & it needs to be hidden.
Another way they acquire sympathy is by being married to an overt narcissist. Very often, overt & covert narcissists marry. It’s the perfect dysfunctional match. The overt narcissist can do anything, gaining all the attention, without anyone standing up to him or her. Meanwhile, the covert narcissist is able to abuse quietly, behind the scenes. No one really notices because the overt narcissist is gaining all the attention. The covert narcissist enjoys this because compared to the overt narcissist, the covert narcissist doesn’t look so bad. In fact, they tend to play the role of the good spouse very well. They look long suffering, patient, even martyr-like in the fact they can tolerate so much from their spouse.
Because of this appearance, many people, particularly empathetic ones, are extremely hesitant to set boundaries with or confront covert narcissists. I was the same way with my late mother in-law who was clearly a covert narcissist. I noticed she was especially mean to me after a disagreement with my father in-law. I felt bad for her- sometimes he said some really hurtful things to her. I thought, naively, maybe she was just getting out her frustrations. And, I didn’t have the heart to say anything to her because she had enough to deal with. As time went on though, I realized she got meaner & meaner, whether or not they had a disagreement. Not saying something wasn’t helping her or me.
Most people like getting a little sympathy or pity periodically. If you have a bad cold, doesn’t if feel good if someone says they’re sorry you’re sick & brings you some soup? Covert narcissists take that normal thing to an extreme, though, using it to get away with any abuse they can.
Overt narcissists may use sympathy & pity too, but not nearly as much as covert narcissists do. Plus, their methods are much easier to spot. They often can turn on & off their tears as easily as most people flip a switch, for example. I’ve seen that with my overtly narcissistic mother. She has back problems, & uses that for sympathy. If she isn’t getting enough attention, she has burst into tears, claiming to be in pain. Yet interestingly, when I didn’t rush to her side, after a moment she stopped crying & went on with her activities.
If you notice someone in your life constantly wants pity or sympathy, be forewarned, chances are, you’re dealing with a narcissist.