I have meant to write you as I would like to ask you when possible if you could please write a post about something I have been struggling lately with, I would love your perspective on it as you and your blog have been the main thing giving me any hope of recovery.
The thing I have been struggling so much with is "Justice" do we children or spouses of ACONs ever get justice for what was done to us by the Ns????? Does the karma bus ever stop on their street? Either from the religious perspective or not there is any hopes of justice being made????
DH and I have suffered horrors at the hands of his NParents, vicious stalking for three years that included PI searching for us, restraining order, lawyer fees, court hearings, let down by law enforcement and the courts, constant moves and fear for our lives, financial loss to the point of poverty, isolation, loss of friends, loss of professional goals and career, character assassination, identity theft, I been struggling with depression and PTSD because of all this and cant even afford counseling, our marriage is deeply wounded and as I speak I don't know if we will make it, while all this is going on NMIL/ NFIL and the rest of the N on DH NFOO keep their status in their communities living a lavish lifestyle with everyone thinking they are this wonderful people who love to do charity and help others while their ungrateful son and daughter in law refuse to have anything to do with them! One book wouldn't be enough to write everything this sick people have done to us and where is justice?????? How can I get any sense of peace or closure???? Will the karma bus/God/justice ever catch up with them???? How we spouses and ACON find justice in the all that we go though? There's justice at all? I would love to hear your take on this.
Faithful, the questions you posed have proven to be one of the most difficult topics I've written about to date. I have been pondering your questions, and my answer to them, for weeks now. I wanted to give as thorough and thought-out a response as I could muster, while still doing justice to the questions you have asked. But before I begin my analysis, I want to first disclose a few things: I know exactly where you are coming from. In fact, I think I've asked the the same sort of rhetorical question, "Where is the justice?" here on my blog before. I feel an intense need to tell you that I don't have all the answers, and that the suggestions I will offer you here are nothing more than my opinions. In some cases, I know I won't have answers that are any more tangible than your own. I will offer them anyway, in the hopes that you (and others out there who may be asking the same questions) may have at least a little peace-of-mind.
But before I can discuss the ever-elusive answer to the question about whether or not our narcissists will ever experience justice for the wrongs they have committed, I'd like to first take a look at the meaning behind the word "justice." According to Dictionary.com, the meaning of the word "justice" is as follows:
1. The quality of being just; righteousness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause.
2. Rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.
3. The moral principle determining just conduct.
4. Conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment.
5. The administering of deserved punishment or reward.
a. the principle of fairness that like cases should be treated alike
b. a particular distribution of benefits and burdens fairly in accordance with a particular conception of what are to count as like cases
c. the principle that punishment should be proportionate to the offense
...is rendering to every one that which is his due. It has been distinguished from equity in this respect, that while justice means merely the doing what positive law demands, equity means the doing of what is fair and right in every separate case.
mid-12c., "the exercise of authority in vindication of right by assigning reward or punishment," from O.Fr. justise, from L. justitia "righteousness, equity," from justus "upright, just" (see just (adj.)). The O.Fr. word had widespread senses, including "uprightness, equity, vindication of right, court of justice, judge." The word began to be used in English c.1200 as a title for a judicial officer. Meaning "the administration of law" is from c.1300.
I think it is really important at this point to discuss what we mean when we're talking about the concept of "justice." Unfortunately, it is a difficult concept to easily define because, though there is a universal understanding of what the word means, it seems to be subject to discrepancy in what it signifies for us as individuals. For the sake of clarity, let's assume that the kind of "justice" we are talking about is one that pertains to the following two definitions:
1) Conformity to [the moral principle determining just conduct] as manifested in [the principle of fairness that like cases should be treated alike].
2) The administering of deserved punishment or reward.
What does the first point really mean, in layman's terms? There is this notion that all human beings are deserving of fair and equal treatment. We expect that our fellow humans will treat us kindly and with respect. The sense of indignity we feel when someone has been cruel to us is a result of the idea that we all have the right to be seen as equals; with valid thoughts and feelings of our own. In essence, we are supposed to conform to the principle which states that there should be as much dignity in treating others kindly as there is in being treated kindly by others. The way I see it, regardless of where we come from or the dysfunctions we face, we all have an innate duty to be virtuous insofar as how we conduct ourselves. We have a duty to ourselves and we have a duty to others. In the words of Immanuel Kant from his Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end."
In essence, what we're talking about is the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Or, according to Wikipedia, "This concept describes a "reciprocal" or "two-way" relationship between one's self and others that involves both sides equally and in a mutual fashion. This concept can be studied from the perspective of psychology, philosophy, sociology, religion, etc. [In] psychologically it involves a person empathizing with others. Philosophically it involves a person perceiving their neighbor as also "an I" or "self." Sociologically, this principle is applicable between individuals, between groups, and between individuals and groups. (For example, a person living by this rule treats all people with consideration, not just members of his or her in-group.) Religion is an integral part of the history of this concept." The idea of reciprocity has been around for thousands of years, it is not new.
In terms of this first definition, I am sad to say that I do not believe it is a form of justice that narcissists will ever experience. Here's why: The key component that is missing from all narcissist's psyches is empathy. Narcissists do not feel for others, they are only capable of feeling for themselves. They do not view others as having worth or value, they do not perceive "their neighbor" (or children, or siblings, or friends, or in-laws) as also having 'an I' or 'self'" and therefore will never live according to the principles of reciprocity. They do not care about justice, because they live on a one-way street, in a house with a door that only swings one way. They will never treat you with kindness, dignity, and respect because they don't believe that you deserve it. The fact of the matter is, when a person truly believes that the rest of the world is only out there to serve him and fulfill his needs, he will never believe in or even understand the concept of justice.
However, all hope is not lost: Just because THEY don't understand the concept of justice, doesn't mean that it does not still affect them.
And here is where the second definition of justice, as outlined above, comes into effect: The administering of deserved punishment or reward. Here, Faithful, I can say that I believe the narcissists in our lives will experience justice. Though I can not say how that justice will get administered, or by whom the punishment will be served, I do believe that justice is a natural consequence for their actions; just as it is a natural consequence for our actions. Again, just because a narcissist does not believe in consequences, does not mean that they get to escape the natural outcome of their behaviors in life.
In my own personal experience dealing with narcissists, I have found justice in the following:
1. Finding and developing my own self-esteem. This was a crucial key for me in dealing with my own long-term relationship with a narcissist. I believe it is one of the first steps a person must take in order to disengage from an unhealthy relationship and see fully her own value and worth as being completely separate from that of any person who wishes to do her harm. When you realize your own self-worth, it becomes meaningless what ANY person (your significant other, parent, sibling, friend) thinks of you. When you stop allowing others to define who you are, it will no longer matter when they say, "You are worthless." How does this translate in my relationship with NMIL? Having already done the hard work years ago, by defining myself and assigning value to my person without outside interference, it was not hard for me to ignore the value she attempted to assign to me. I am the only person who has that right, no one else. So for me, the very first thing that comes to mind when I am looking for justice is the knowledge that, even if I have allowed my self-esteem to be damaged in the process of dealing with a cruel or manipulative person, it is not gone entirely and can be repaired. The only people who have hurt me in this life are the ones that I have allowed to hurt me. Though I can not control their behaviors, I can certainly control mine: And my self-esteem demands that I be treated with respect and kindness: I deserve nothing less. Faithful? My dear readers? I believe the same of you.
2. Knowing that a narcissist is a narcissist, in part, because their self-esteem has been so damaged (in most cases, I believe, irreparably). What does this mean? It means that you have something they don't: The strength to not allow anyone else to define you; the courage to find your own self-worth and build a strong-hold around it, that even the most persistent and cunning enemy can not crumble; the intellect and willingness to seek the truth, even when it hurts. What are narcissists, when you peel away their outer layer? They are cowards and wimps. They are ignorant and small. They are hopelessly pathetic and unabashedly villainous. The only "friends" they have in their inner-circle are those who share a similar plight: those who are equally weak, selfish, and ignorant. On a personal level, I find this knowledge to be refreshing. In the narcissist's delusional world, you are nothing but a prop, a puppet, or a tool. But in reality, it is they who are the pathetic ones.
3. Beating them at their own game. In terms of NMIL, I have beaten her at her own game. Hers was not a game I invented, or even one that I wanted to play. And yet, I still won. I was not the person who set up our relationship to be a win/lose dichotomy: she was. I was not the person who set up our relationship for inevitable failure: she was. I was not the one who forced her to lose her son and his FOC: she was. I am simply a person who expects that she and her loved ones be treated with kindness and consideration. I am a woman who believes that no one has the right to hurt me, my husband, or my children. She started this game and I finished it, simply by choosing not to participate. On top of that, I have the confidence to know that whatever daggers she throws in our direction will never reach their intended targets, for their is nothing she can do that will hurt us. The same can be said of EFIL and L, and any other narcissists who cross our paths. They have no power over me:
Source: Labyrinth (1986)
Jareth: Sarah, beware. I have been generous up 'til now. I can be very cruel.
Sarah : Generous? What have you done that's generous?
Jareth : Everything! Everything that you wanted I have done. You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me, I was frightening. I have reordered time. I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations of me. Isn't that generous?
Sarah: Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great...You have no power over me.
As in the clip from the movie shown above, where Sarah makes the revelation that her narcissist only has power over her if she allows it, so I have had to make similar realizations in dealing with the narcissists in my life. And again, once you realize they have no power over you, then the jig is up and they have lost: their world crumbles, they are rendered powerless. It does not matter that the goblins they are surrounded by will continue to worship them. It does not matter that they have used up all of their resources trying to attack and belittle you. It does not matter that they have not and will not change - whether you are in their life or not. What matters is that YOU have defined your own value and have stopped allowing them space inside your head. For me, there is a great sense of justice in knowing that I have what they want: I have happiness, I have DH, I have surrounded myself with truly loving and loyal family and friends. Yes Dear Reader, I have what they want, and what they want, they will never have.
4. They are miserable people. For me, there is also a great sense of justice in the fact that NMIL, EFIL and L, and other narcissists I have had the misfortune of knowing are not really happy people. There is justice in the fact that the closest they come to knowing the same happiness that I have known comes only in the form of seeing others experience it. No amount of money or power will ever help the narcissists achieve what I have achieved. I don't believe that justice will eventually come to the narcissists, because I think they are living it everyday. I don't see justice as being something that sneaks up on us in time, it's something that is always present. In my opinion, they won't have to wait until they are on their death bed to experience the kind of misery I think they deserve - every day is a new opportunity for those people to change the outcome of their own lives, and to become better, more enlightened, more honest people; and every day they choose NOT to, which means that they don't deserve to have my husband in their lives, they don't deserve to have my children in their lives, and they don't deserve to have me in their lives.
Don't be mistaken into believing they are happy and satisfied in their lives simply because they are on the receiving end of so much lavish praise and attention: for there is no true justice in being adored by fools. Don't be mistaken into believing they get everything that they want: for as long as they are in want of you, then they haven't won. Don't be mistaken into believing that they are not miserable in spite of their jubilant facade: for they are empty inside and will never know true happiness. While they are busy pretending that they have it all, you have to allow that it's just another of their lies. The narcissist doesn't have it all and, as long as you are not willing to be their victim, they never will.