Even if we know that the apology may just be a hoover and fraught with bad things for us (a Trojan Horse, for instance), we sometimes still want the apology.
Perhaps we know that an apology is only meant to get us back into a role accepting abuse again, but we still find ourselves aching for an apology.
If we are survivors of child abuse we can't have a parent who treats us with love, caring, respect and dignity. We've been told a million times that we can't always have what we want (far from it), and that includes a real parent, the kind of parent other people have. We also know they mean to give us a parent who is cruel to us, or rejecting of us, so that we will feel we don't deserve what others have.
If we are survivors of spousal abuse we can find another spouse, but we can't have a real heartfelt apology from the spouse who hurt us so badly. Even if we were to receive an apology, we would probably be suspicious of the intentions of that spouse or ex-spouse. We would probably ask ourselves: "Why would he (or she) hurt us so badly and trash what we have and then decide they want us back all of a sudden?" -- hmmmm .... survivors make it a point to check for ulterior motives for the rest of their lives after you have left. We aren't innocent little fawns any more.
If we are survivors of sibling abuse (the most common form of abuse), we can't have a sibling in the way other people do. No, our sibling probably only cares about taking things away from us. We aren't close; we aren't visiting each other and bringing our children together. We aren't having vacations together, laughing about old times, looking over pictures together. Most likely, all that our abusive sibling wants is everything we have, everything he can get, to control us, demean us, take away our common parent, own our common parent lock stock and barrel, get our common parent to hate us and abuse us under false charges ... How DARE we not look at them as lord and master of our lives, as well as our parents' lives? They will make all of the decisions about our common parent, and if we want to live, we better stay away and never interfere with their plans.
If we were brought up in an abusive household, we might have all three situations going on all at once. That is because we have been groomed since birth to accept abuse -- from siblings, from partners, from co-workers, from a spouse, all originating from our parent's abuse of us. Perhaps we got so used to it that we abused ourselves, even. "You're no good!" "You're worthless!" "What worthless child deserves an apology! In fact, you are so worthless you should be apologizing to everyone who ever abused you!" "Even childhood sexual abuse is too good for you! You should have been grinded up in a chipper instead when you were a kid!" "Worthless children deserve to be abused, denigrated and discarded!"
It all effects us, but we can't ever expect a real apology delivered from Santa and his reindeer. No, we can only ache with the want. We have to accept a fate more like Ann Boleyn: head chopped off for trumped up treason charges just so that King Henry could marry his next source of narcissistic supply.
We may be reprimanded or attacked for:
* expressing emotions when we are hurt (because, you know, emotions are for weaklings, and because they want to decide what emotions you are feeling and when, even when it comes to labeling them for their own needs)
* expressing emotions they don't like (because, you know, you are only supposed to be expressing emotions that they have deemed right for the occasion)
* a facial expression they don't like (because, you know, facial expressions they don't understand, or that they deem to be "critical" of them are a punishable offense deserving of the utmost cruelty even if it was not our intent to hurt them)
* making an autonomous decision (because, you know, you certainly will never be allowed to be autonomous, and your decisions are sooooo flawed -- only they deem themselves experts in the decision-making department ... and how dare you think you can make your own decisions!!)
* making a life decision that would benefit us (because, you know, you are supposed to be selfless, only serving their needs -- how dare you make a decision on your own behalf or that would benefit you! How come you don't put them center of everything in your life?)
* having an opinion that differs from our abuser's (because, you know, you have to go along with whatever an abuser says, mindlessly and emotionlessly, in what ever brainwashed fashion they want for you)
* being spontaneous, having fun (because -- how dare you have fun! Take off that party hat now! Serving them means being abused, and you can't be abused and have fun at the same time -- how dare you get out of the role they picked for you!)
* not letting our abusive family make decisions about our life (because, you know, all decisions that should be yours have to be a family decision. Every move you make needs micromanaging, persuasion, chastising, belittling, confusing double standards, arguments, debates, being compared to others unfavorably, gaslighting ... no decisions allowed without all of that! -- otherwise you will pay and pay and pay and pay and ... )
* not keeping quiet about hypocrisies that we see (because, you know, you aren't even supposed to be seeing hypocrisies, let alone talking about them! You are only supposed to be looking at how perfect they are ... because if you see hypocrisies or dare to utter a word about it, you will pay and pay and pay and pay and ...)
* making the narcissist jealous even when we don't want them to feel jealous (because, you know, narcissists are so super jealous and insecure that only dressing down in shoes with obvious holes and shredded laces, unattractive filthy clothes, gray clothes that need mending, unwashed unkempt hair, bruises, heroin tracks on our arms, and a tear soaked face is the only thing that will make a narcissist feel better by comparison!)
* not worrying for a moment about the narcissist's super sensitive feelings and ego even as they trampled all over ours for the entire time we have known them (because, you know, only their feelings count in the mutual relationship between us)
* setting a boundary (because, you know, narcissists hate boundaries ... and how dare we set boundaries when they feel so entitled to know everything!!!)
* for not feeling guilty (because, you know, we are supposed to feel guilty for having been born)
* for feeling sad (because, you know, you're supposed to be happy around them when they say so)
* for calling them out (because, you know, you're never supposed to call them out ... How dare you! They have decided they are too perfect for that and you better get with that program!)
* for trying to think about how we feel and think about a certain subject (because, you know, they have decided what they want us to feel and think, and nothing else will do!)
* for disagreeing with them (because, you know, they are control freaks and it is the ONLY thing they care about, and that includes getting you to agree with them at all times ... and if you don't let them have control over you at all times, you will pay and pay and pay and ... well, you know)
* for loving others (because, you know, they own us! We are only supposed to be loving them!)
* for wanting more freedom (because, you know, we should feel like we are jail birds of theirs at all times, indebted to them because they give morsels to lowly people like us and should be worshiped all over the land for it!)
Okay, so now are we cured this Christmas season from wanting an apology out of that sleigh?
(note of thanks to Lenora Thompson for her article, Narcissistic Abuse Makes Us Say “I Couldn’t”, which inspired me to write this post)