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Narcissists & The Myth of Closure

The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.

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What is closure? Closure is essentially, the end of something. Like closing a book when we are done with it, it signifies the place where understanding has met acceptance and we are able to truly internalize the reality of this thing and can start to process it in order to move on. Most relationships have an ending of some kind. For example, someone may have cheated on their partner and their partner has left the relationship. The person who cheated may be hurt by the ending of the relationship and they may be sorry, but they understand why the relationship ended. There is no true confusion or question. They understand that they hurt this person and now the relationship is over. The person who has been cheated on may have some confusion at first but in a healthy adult relationship, usually they can garner an understanding and move on.

However, in narcissistic relationships, this generally does not happen. The narcissist will certainly not admit they've done anything wrong and they are inclined to blame the other person for whatever wrongs they may be accused of. The behavior of a pathologically narcissistic person is often confusing as well, and seems to have no reason or explanation. This can sometimes cause people to feel trapped and unable to move on. The relationship may devolve into nothing but the person trying to get the narcissist to admit what they've done, over and over again to no avail. The person just feels more invalidated, more frustrated and more hurt. There is no resolution to the situation.

We see this a lot of times with family relationships, especially when the narcissist is a parent. The person feels unable to move on or heal because the narcissistic parent will not admit what they've done or acknowledge their child's pain. They simply keep denying, gaslighting, deflecting or blaming and it never goes anywhere. This results in an environment of frustration and even rage, because the person's feelings, their pain and suffering are being dismissed. The conversation goes around and around in a circle, sometimes for years, with the pathologically narcissistic person never admitting anything.

This is why closure is a myth with pathologically narcissistic people. You can achieve closure, but it will not be through any assistance from them. Closure is where understanding meets acceptance and you don't need them to admit what they did or explain why in order to achieve either of those things. It's unlikely they will ever admit anything and really unlikely they could ever explain in any way that would be satisfactory. Luckily, you don't need them to do those things. You know what happened, and you can come to understanding and acceptance on your own. It's a good thing too, because narcissistic people don't know anything about closure. They don't seem to understand how to process things and move on. They understand denial and holding a grudge, but not how to process emotion in a healthy way or how to move on from hurtful things that happened in the past. Someone like this cannot help you with this stage of your healing process.

So again, what is closure? It is where understanding of the situation meets acceptance of the situation. You are working on understanding right now, more than likely. That is why you're listening to these videos. Once the understanding is firm, acceptance begins. It doesn't happen all at once, but the more understanding a person has, the more sense things start to make. The more sense things start to make, the more a person starts to see that this is really how it is, and that is where acceptance begins. For example, once someone understands that they are dealing with a narcissistic person, they begin to learn about what that actually means - because of course, a label with no definition is just a word. As their understanding of the situation and the narcissist's motivations becomes deeper, they start to see more and more things that prove what they've learned. This person really isn't listening, they really don't have any empathy for my feelings, they really don't understand that I'm a person and deserve consideration, they really won't change. As this happens, acceptance begins. The person begins to accept that this is how it is and there really is nothing they can do about it. They realize that this is a person with a huge amount of problems who cannot give them what they want and they move on, having understood and accepted the situation. That's closure.

You don't need validation from your abuser to move on. It would be nice and it would be fair, but you don't need it. This is a toxic, hurtful mindset because it reinforces the idea that the abuser is in control of your reality and your self-worth. They are not. You can validate yourself. You know what happened and you know it was wrong. If they deny it, fine. If they refuse to address it, fine. In reality, this changes nothing. The truth is still the truth and much to the narcissistic person's dismay, they have no real effect on that. It happened and that cannot be changed. They'd usually like to pretend it isn't true though, and this is why chasing closure or any type of validation from a narcissist is pointless. The only thing they will do is talk you in circles, blame you or someone else and dismiss your feelings - and that's if they even address it at all. You will end up frustrated, angry and more traumatized than you were before the conversation happened. It's not worth it, and really, you probably already know that because you've probably already tried. Repeatedly.

The idea that you have to force this person to admit what they've done is toxic to you, too. It's toxic because it traps you in the mindset that the abuser holds the keys to your future, your peace, your happiness. This is nonsense. They hold the keys to nothing. They have no power. If they had any power, they'd be able to take responsibility for themselves instead of always needing a patsy to blame things on and a nanny to take care of them. Many people want the narcissist to admit the things they've done in order to repair the relationship, such as in the case of a narcissistic parent. "Just admit it so we can move on!" they say. Well who's "we"? There's no "we," because the narcissist has already moved on. There is no problem and there never was. Not on their part. As far as they are concerned, you're the one with the problem. A relationship cannot be repaired in this situation. It can only be accepted as it is. You cannot control the narcissist - or anybody else. You cannot make them care. You cannot make them understand. You cannot make them sorry. The only thing you have control over is how much you are going to allow this person to affect your life.

If the narcissist's behavior is unacceptable - and it probably is - then it is up to you to do something about that. They don't have an issue with the behavior, you do. Just remember that the way to deal with unacceptable behavior is not to allow the person to stay in your life but then constantly try to force them to change. This doesn't work and it sends mixed messages. Something is either unacceptable or it isn't. If it is, and they are not changing it, then you have to accept this. If the person is narcissistic, you are going to take steps to ensure your own well-being, because they are going to do whatever you let them do for as long as you allow it. This is what it is. This is what they do. It's up to you to stop it, and many times, the quest for closure is just another door the narcissist can use to walk back into your life. They see all things as how they can benefit.

This is why, regardless of how your desire for closure is addressed, you are unlikely to get what you want from the pathologically narcissistic person or people in your life. You may hear denial, blame, gaslighting, deflection, projection, minimization... you might hear, "That was because I was drunk," or "That was so-and-so's fault." You might hear, "Yes, I did that but you did this and this and this and this!" You might hear, "I did the best I could," or "I tried my hardest." You might even hear, "Yes, I did that and I don't care that I did it because I don't care about you." None of these things are any real acknowledgment of your feelings and none of them are a true acceptance of responsibility. And even if you did hear exactly what you want to hear, odds are that tomorrow or in two hours or 10 minutes, it would be a different story anyway.

Understanding is the comprehension of facts. Acceptance is the recognition of the validity and veracity of that understanding. Closure is the meeting of understanding and acceptance. Closure is saying, "I understand the situation and I accept it as it is. I understand and accept that I cannot change it." You're on your way toward closure, without the narcissist's help. Don't let conditioning make you believe that you can't make it all the way on your own. You can. Once you give up the idea that you have to change or fix the situation by controlling the other person, it becomes a lot easier.

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