Paper tigers: why I choose understanding over rage.


I know I don’t need to (or should) forgive what the narcissists in my life have done to me. I will never again enable them or give them the benefit of the doubt.  I certainly won’t attempt to fix one (an action about as futile as trying to empty the ocean using a teaspoon). I can’t fix a narcissist and neither can you. The only viable way to deal with a narcissist is not at all. Go No Contact. Release them from your life.

Going No Contact  isn’t an act of hatred or revenge, and it doesn’t break any commandments either (if they are your mother or father) because they haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain as a parent.  If you have narcissistic parents (and that includes having one who isn’t technically a narcissist, but was codependent to the narcissistic parent and never took your side and colluded with the abuse), then you are an orphan.  You were mercilessly abandoned.  So it’s not a sin to go no contact with a narcissistic parent.  It’s an act of self-preservation. The same goes for a narcissistic spouse, sibling, or friend.  You owe them nothing, no matter what they tell you.

That being said, I still do try to understand the narcissists in my life. I see them as broken people who, whether by choice or design, have adopted a way of relating to others that poisons their own minds as much as it poisons the life-force of their victims. Yes, I feel badly for them. I don’t like them or what they do, but I feel badly for them. They cannot help themselves.

Some of you won’t understand my attitude. I understand the lack of understanding. Narcissists have made our lives hellish and compromised our ability to become everything we could have been.

Anger, rage and hatred is a perfectly normal and desirable initial reaction when you find out you’ve been had by one or more narcissists, especially if they were your parents, who were supposed to love you unconditionally. But it shouldn’t be permanent. I’ve been criticized for my attitude before, but I think it was taken out of context, because I’ve never suggested, not even once, that anyone needs to put up with a narcissist or keep him or her in your life. But for me, feeling pity for them (NOT forgiving them!)–from a safe distance–helps me to feel like less of a victim myself.  You might be surprised how well it works, too.

I don’t choose to be an eternal victim because that sucks. I don’t choose to hold onto my rage and anger (been there, done that!) because, well, it’s toxic to me. Seething anger eats away at my soul and turns me into someone I don’t like at all. I start obsessing on my rage and hatred and that turns me bitter, resentful and depressed. It drives home my victimhood and makes me wallow in self pity (“Oh, poor, poor me, WHY did *I* get stuck with such evil monsters as parents/spouse/friends, etc.”)

By seeing narcissists as broken people who can’t help themselves and will probably never change without some kind of earth-shattering shift in their consciousness (which must come from inside them and only them), their power over me seems diminished. They become paper tigers instead of terrifying beasts who rip me to shreds and eat me alive. And by seeing a narcissist, especially one who has “raised” you, as a toothless paper tiger, by contrast I feel more powerful and less afraid.

I used to have as much rage and hatred toward narcissists as any other victim of narc abuse does. That attitude served me well, too, because it motivated me to make the final break. But I found that after a few months, I couldn’t hold onto that anger anymore because all it did was make me feel bitter and depressed, and it also held me into an identity as an eternal victim, which is an identity I don’t want. I’m tired of always feeling like a victim, but to do that I had to change myself and my attitudes.

For me, releasing my hatred and rage allowed me to stop stewing in negativity and self pity, and once I did that I could begin to work on the things in myself that needed working on. Since I moved on from all that rage, my overall attitude toward life has improved immensely. I’m beginning to feel like a real live person who can overcome just about anything my narcs have done to me, because all you can do is laugh at a paper tiger.

And, if you’re still wanting to get back at your narcs,  think about this:  Narcissists WANT you to continue to feel victimized.  They WANT you to be afraid.   They even revel in your hatred because your hatred (which is based in fear) makes them feel powerful.  The best revenge is to see them as ridiculous paper puppets, which is really all they are.  By seeing them as pathetic paper tigers with no teeth or claws, you are giving them the opposite of what they want and they will HATE you for that!

I think the Serenity Prayer is something that can be as helpful to us as it has been to countless people in 12-step programs:

God grant me the Serenity

To Accept the Things I Cannot Change

The Courage to Change the Things I Can

and the Wisdom to Know the Difference…


12 thoughts on “Paper tigers: why I choose understanding over rage.

  1. FWIW: In reading your thoughts and feelings on this topic before, I have always understood where you’re coming from. And I agree.

    Admittedly I’m not over the anger but then I am not angry 24/7 either. My wish is to be more on the indifferent side. My feelings for my family contradict each other which I feel and know is normal since it’s natural to need to feel that connection with family. Plus the fact that it wasn’t all bad either so in remembering things that were fun or good my heart hurts as I think about those memories.

    In addition to the anger and sadness there is also understanding in there as well. I know they were abused too. Both my parents were abused by their fathers. My siblings of course lived in the same family environment as I did. It becomes a chaotic mess and when no one else is willing to look at what’s going on and really see, stop denying and blaming one particular family member as the scapegoat, then all you can do is get away and build yourself back up in whatever way works for you.

    A lot of that is done in the mind, like the way you think and feel about the whole thing as you’ve illustrated here so eloquently.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think indifference is actually a very healthy place to be. When you’re indifferent, you don’t even think about them. They mean nothing to you anymore. It isn’t hate. I used to hate my mother with a white hot intensity. It was eating me alive, and destroying me, even after we were no longer in contact (yes, I do still send cards–I can’t keep myself from doing that–but they are very generic and impersonal). Now I’m just indifferent to her. I can’t say I love her, I certainly don’t like her, but I don’t hate her. I pity her. But I’m indifferent. It pains me to say that I don’t even think I’ll cry when she dies. That’s how much I no longer care. It sounds terrible to say that, and I don’t think most people would understand, but when you have a NPD mother who scapegoated you all your life, and turned the family against you, they can’t possibly understand what that’s like. Because I’m indifferent to her, she never even crosses my mind. I rarely think of her at all. She’s just not on my radar. If she knew that, I know she’d hate it, but you know what? I don’t care. I do pray for her, because I hate the idea that she dies in that state and I do have pity, but I don’t dwell on it. I know she became that way because of the abuse done to her, but it’s no longer my problem. I want to stop that cycle. My own kids were damaged enough because of my BPD/complex PTSD and my ex’s ASPD/NPD/complex PTSD. But I’ve changed and am trying to be a good parent now. I wasn’t even that bad when they were young but I made a LOT of mistakes. Today I have a very good and close relationship with both my children and I have made amends to them. They forgive me and know I’m trying. They know hw much I love them. I don’t think my mother ever loved me. To her, all I was was supply and a mini-me she could play with and toss away like a toy doll.
      I’m glad you understand where I’m coming from. I’ve seen too many ACONs stuck in rage and hatred and not able to move forward or ever become happy. Their rage keeps them stuck in obsessing over their narcs which turns them bitter and dwelling on being victims, and I find that very sad. I’m so sick of being a “victim.” Ugh.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. lol! I still have my rage days. And I swear I WILL get up, do a jig, and sing ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’ when my sister kicks it. But I’m not being consumed by rage on a daily basis anymore, and that’s largely due to the fact that I cut all contact with her and most of my family. It feels a bit lonely, but I’ll take lonely over wrathful any day of the week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel the same way. I’d rather be lonely than constantly upset and angry, which is the way I felt when I was in contact with my mother, who goes out of her way to make me feel about 2 inches tall and always has. When she dies, the only thing I might be sad about is the fact we never had a normal mother/daughter relationship. I’ll be sad for what never existed, not for what I lost, because I will have lost nothing.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Lucky otter, I hate to say this, what if you have gone no contact, but they continue to stalk you and cause trouble in your life? You could have even moved 500 or 1000 miles away. They don’t play fair. They do unthinkable things so trying to get help for it is almost pointless because people don’t want to believe it. Narcs know that too, I think it’s called the colossal lie, where the more far-out the abuse, the more likely they will get away with it because others say, “No way, that wouldn’t happen.” Or if they do believe you, they run because they don’t want trouble in their own lives. Oftentimes the victim gets blamed, the listener first becomes frightened by what theyre hearing and then it quickly turns into anger. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve given this to God at this point. I’ve been running and rearranging my life for a very long time now. I’m running out of steam and hope(and money). I keep close to God and talk to Him often.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right, they do all those things. I think the only thing you can do at this point is exactly what you’re doing, turning it over to God. I am not in a 12 step program, but I say the Serenity Prayer every day, because it pretty much covers everything in life and helps me focus only on those things that are worth it to my life. You have to choose your battles. I hope that makes sense.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks Lucky otter, it helps just knowing that you know what I’m talking about. And yes, I am familiar with the Serenity prayer. It really does apply to this.

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.