Emotional abusers are big on projecting shame onto others. Who wants to be told they’re not a forgiving person? Just hearing those words makes most people feel deeply ashamed. When you throw in the fact that both people are supposed to be Christians, it makes the situation even worse. My ex used this trick fairly often, and he really laid it on thick as our marriage was falling apart.
Wow, You Really Hold a Grudge
I experienced several traumatic events during my early years that were difficult for me to overcome. When the memories resurfaced, I looked to my then-husband for comfort and understanding. I got neither. He simply looked at me blankly, as if he had no idea why I was talking about events from so long ago. I got fake empathy exactly one time, but from then on I was expected not to discuss my pain. It didn’t even matter that he wasn’t the one who caused it. Suffice to say that he never discussed anything of substance either. While I was trying to form an emotional bond with him, all I got was judgment. He told me that I really hold a grudge against people and that I just need to forget about the past.
I agree that hanging onto the past can be damaging. However, I don’t think there is anything healthy about stuffing away painful memories and never discussing them again. Most women need to verbalize their thoughts in order to process what happened to them. Often times, that means discussing the event several times. Sometimes I just needed to cry and have someone give me a hug. I needed to hear that events from my childhood were not my fault. I didn’t need to hear that I hold a grudge. That almost hurt more than the original incidents. I didn’t expect my ex to be a therapist, but I did expect basic human empathy. Now that I know he is a narcissist, I understand that I expected too much.
You Have a Black Heart
There is no limit to how low these types of people will stoop to make you feel awful about yourself. As long as they can justify their own actions, your emotional pain is of no consequence to them. Case in point: I was told that I am not only unforgiving but that I actually have a black heart. Here is what caused him to say that my heart is discolored.
A few weeks after my ex-husband moved out, I found an envelope full of receipts for items he bought for his personal porn collection. It appeared that he had been saving them to get a free product. Even though I had seen firsthand evidence of what he was into, finding the receipts was emotionally devastating. They were in sequential order by date, proving to me once again how thoroughly he had duped me for years. I mailed the receipts back to him. After all, it looked as if he would need them if he wanted to receive a free item.
When the soon-to-be-ex received the receipts in the mail, he called my cell phone when he knew I couldn’t answer it. He left a rambling message about how I was unforgiving and that he felt sorry for me. It was piousness at its best. He ended the message by informing me of the status of my heart. Apparently it is black and I never even knew it.
While the ex heaped shame and judgment upon me, he didn’t subject himself to the same standards. There was no apology for having the receipts in the first place and no acknowledgment of the pain that finding them caused me. I guess it didn’t really matter anymore by that point. Unfortunately, I really let his words get to me. When I told my good friend about the black heart comment, she just laughed. She understood his propensity for ridiculous statements all too well. I wished I could have done the same.
The “black-hearted and unforgiving” remark hurt me because it exposed my deepest fear. What if it was true and I ended my marriage just because I couldn’t forgive? Yes, I see the foolishness of that thought now, but it bugged me at the time. What if other people thought the same thing about me? My ex knew the statement would bother me, which is exactly why he said it. That is what emotionally abusive people do.
Demanding Your Forgiveness is Not Love
It is not fair to be judged as unforgiving or bitter. If you are struggling to forgive, seek counseling or talk to a friend you can trust. Always remember that forgiveness is a journey and not a destination. Only you get to decide the path.