How can one reconcile with a NPD spouse, who has been emotionally and physically abusive and forced to leave?
Humility: What Can It Do for You? (This link will take you to my personal guidance column at Psychology Today.)
Ruchi Singh is a young woman who refused to be just another statistic of domestic violence. To turn her life around after fearfully incurring years of abuse at the hands of her alcoholic husband, Singh decided to choose courage—and forgiveness.
“Life is made up of millions of moments but there comes a moment that decides the rest of our life,” Singh says. “For me, it was the night my husband (now ex-) put a knife to my throat, threatening to kill me. I am lucky he changed his mind.”
Although Singh wishes she did not have to know how it feels to be terrified in her own home, she acknowledges that it happened and that she had to choose what was going to drive her life—fear or courage.
“I chose courage,” Singh now tells anyone who will listen. “I chose courage, gave myself a voice, and took ownership of my life. The moment I took responsibility for my life, I moved from a place of weakness to a position of strength.”
After the knife incident, Singh was able to get away from her husband in Sydney, Australia, and return to her home in India where she told her parents for the first time about the abuse she endured. With her new-found courage, she told her husband she was not coming back to him and instead filed for divorce.
“Forgiving my husband was something I needed to do to avoid becoming a negative person,” Singh now relates. “I didn’t want to be cruel and hurtful like him. One way of staying internally clean has been by never calling him abusive names. I have even blessed him. It’s not easy, but it’s helped me free myself.”
Singh clarifies her statement by adding that forgiveness does not mean saying she is okay with her husband’s treatment of her, but that she can now continue with her life in a more peaceful frame of mind.
“The reason I forgave him was because holding onto hate would have been very harmful for my mental wellbeing,” according to Singh. “I started my new life by creating awareness on domestic violence together with the message on courage, confidence and the power of communication. Little did I know that it was the beginning of an amazing journey.”
For Singh, forgiving didn’t come easily. It took her three months of intense meditation and hard work to forgive, in large part because her ex had never apologized and he still said everything was her fault.
“I couldn’t just think myself into forgiving, I had to take action,” Singh says. “I had to clean out the muddy water by feeling my way through all the ugly emotions until finally these negative feelings began to dissipate. Also, the chronic hip pain I’d had for four years, which no specialist could figure out, disappeared after I moved away from the relationship.”
Today Singh is an international keynote speaker, best-selling author, talk show host, and humanitarian who runs her own personal leadership and communications company. Courageous leadership is at the heart of everything she does. She brings that to her website talk show “RuchiSinghTalks” where she provides a safe platform to have uncomfortable but important discussions.
“I share my story to create awareness about this epidemic (domestic violence) which impacts millions all over the world,” Singh says. As she outlines in her video The Power of Forgiveness: Mindset Motivation, she believes everyone has within them “the power to transform and recreate your life.”
Last year, Singh was invited to deliver a keynote speech at the 2020 Peace Summit of Emerging Leaders held at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok. The Summit is designed to inspire and empower young people who are passionate about positive social change. The 450+ attendees from 55 countries gave her a standing ovation.
Singh is featured in a documentary film “Till Death Do Us Part” that was the official selection of the 2020 New York Lift-Off Film Festival. That same year, she received one of her country’s highest awards, the Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Award (named after the 2nd President of India).
Learn more about Singh’s amazing transformation and decision to forgive on The Forgiveness Project website.
Visit Ruchi Singh’s website.
It seems to me that when I forgive, I should forget or put the whole thing behind me. Yet, I am not entirely letting go of what happened. I am no longer angry, but I do find myself going back and remembering what happened. What do you suggest?
When we forgive, we do not necessarily forget all of the details of what happened. In other words, we remember in new ways, but without the burning anger. This seems to be what is happening with you. Now you look back without the anger. This is a triumph. If, when you look back, you are emotionally upset in some way (perhaps sadness rather than anger), then go through the forgiveness process again with the same person. This should help with the more recent emotion and reduce the sense of going back in your mind to any unfinished business with the forgiveness process.
When we forgive, we confront negative emotions. It seems to me that if a person now associates these negative feelings with forgiveness, then this would damage the forgiveness process for the person. What is your opinion on this?
Yes, when we forgive, we at first link the negative emotions to the forgiveness process. Yet, this linking is for diagnostic purposes only. As an analogy, suppose you broke your ankle while jogging. When you go to the doctor, you are linking the broken ankle with the medical procedure. Yet, this is necessary for the purpose of diagnosis, treatment, and healing. It is the same with forgiving. We need to know the emotion and the depth of the emotion so that we can ascertain whether or not to go ahead with a forgiveness intervention and whether or not the forgiveness intervention is working (which it is if the emotions quiet). If the forgiveness intervention is successful, then there actually is not a strong linking of the negative emotion with forgiving but a decoupling of that negative emotion with the forgiveness process.
We all need some time off from hard work and forgiving can be hard work. It is not dishonorable to suspend the forgiveness process for a while as you rest. Once rested, try to focus on what I call the strong will. This is your inner resource of knowing that you need to persevere. With the energy garnered from the rest, try now to put some of that renewed energy back into the forgiveness process.