Why abuse survivors should let go of guilt

notalonemoonAfter so many years of dealing with narcissists, I go to therapy, I read a lot of self-help books and I am active in support groups. One topic that comes up in so many of these groups and books is guilt. A lot of us feel guilty for some reason: we “allowed” the abuse, we didn’t tell someone sooner, the abuser went on to hurt someone else, we feel dumb that we got involved with the abuser, we feel guilty that the abuser hurt our kids…you name it. Somehow, we feel like we should have done better.

But you know what? We did the best we could! If we dated/married the narcissist, we were just looking to relate to people and find a relationship. If our parents were narcissists, we had to survive childhood or we wanted to keep our family in tact. If we have children with a narcissist, it isn’t because we wanted our child to have an abusive parent. Almost all of the time, we were in situations where we couldn’t pick our families, we were naive, we wanted to make the best of things. We were doing what seemed best to us. And who can blame us for that? How can we know what we didn’t know? None of us purposely chose to be abused!

I have a lot of worries and stresses related to the abuse I went through, but guilt is low on my list. I know that I was a good, caring, sweet and innocent person. I know that as a child, I deserved normal parents and did not get them. I know that as an adult, I was hoping to find a good husband and a real family life to make up for what I never had. I know that I gave lovingly and did my best. I know that I didn’t deserve any of the horrible things that were said and done to me! So I don’t feel guilty.

When I did do something wrong, I apologized for it and tried to make it right. That is all I can do. So why feel bad forever? There are a few things that haunt me even though I did my best and fixed it as fast as I could, though. I still feel sick that I let the narcopath around my child. The narcopath was mean, controlling and cruel to my toddler, then later physically attacked him. I hate that I let that monster near my baby. It’s hard to not feel guilty about that. But, I also ended the marriage immediately after the attack, so I try to remember I did my best. That is all I can do.

I was raised in a home with no love, support or validation. I didn’t have normal role models to teach me what a good family or a good relationship looks like. All I ever did was try to overcome and take care of myself the best I could. I understand that, and I forgive myself for not knowing any better.

I hope you do too.

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