Have you ever had someone hurt your feelings, and no matter how you try to address it with the person… they just won’t own it. They may try to blame you for the issue, or even shift blame by giving you the “if you didn’t ___, then I wouldn’t have ___” excuse. You may have even apologized for the things you did in the situation that were wrong, and yet the other person is incapable of even acknowledging their part in the problem.
Unacknowledged hurt, hurts. It really does. And, I have found, the longer that it goes unacknowledged the more it hurts. Whether you have been quietly waiting for the apology or out right demanded one is totally moot, because you are not going to get one either way. Some people are totally incapable of admitting to their wrongdoing.
In my opinion, it boils down to one of three options:
The victim won’t admit to being wrong, because they are incapable of doing so. They have a skewed perception of reality, and will even project guilt onto you that is actually rooted in someone who previously abused, mistreated, or took advantage of them. You end up paying the price because of harm that someone else had done long before this situation. The more people who mistreated them, the more victimized they become. The more victimized they become, the more they will see everyone out in the world is out to get them. They are unable to see anyone through an objective lens, unwilling to give the benefit of the doubt or accept that they may have hurt you.
Martyr’s are a bit different than victims because they WANT to be a victim, or at least appear like one. It’s not that they are incapable of knowing that they hurt you, they just don’t want to bear the responsibility of owning it. So, they PLAY the victim in order to garner sympathy from others outside of the situation. They also want you to feel bad, like it is your fault, and bear not only the brunt of the blame … but to do all the work to repair things with them. Which usually means that you will go above and beyond to try and make things right. The martyr knows that they were wrong, in whole or part, but you will never hear an admission or acknowledgment from them.
The prideful person actually believes that they are totally innocent of any wrong doing, but not like a victim. On the contrary, the prideful person is always right and everyone else is always wrong. This has nothing to do with past experiences or victimization, but instead is a heart issue. If you are hurt, that is YOUR issue… they did nothing wrong. You are either too sensitive, have no right to be hurt, were the one who was wrong, etc. And, the thing is, they totally believe this. It’s different than the person who knows they are at fault (or at least partially at fault) and tries to pass the blame. The prideful person truly believes they are totally innocent of any wrong doing what so ever.
The victim will usually make you feel horrible for hurting their feelings, so that you will bend more toward their sensitivities. The martyr wants everyone else to see how they suffered and how terrible you treated them. The haughty person would rather walk way from you in their “rightness” than admit to being wrong and try to do the right thing. But, what is really interesting to me is that there are some people who are mixture of all three. I didn’t realize it until I wrote this piece, so I suppose there is a fourth category.
There are those who are so certain they are right, that they will put all the blame on you. (Pride)
They will also make sure you feel absolutely terrible about hurting them, even if you are the one who was hurt. (Victim)
And, they will make sure the whole world knows what you did to them and how you treated them so poorly. (Martyr)
So what do you do, when you have been hurt…
… and the other person in never going to acknowledge that hurt?
- Pray for clarity over the situation. Is this a relationship that is otherwise healthy and this is just a particular situation, or is this a toxic relationship and this behavior is repetitive? Is it time to let this relationship go, or is there restoration possible now or in the future?
- Pray for forgiveness. Pray for God to forgive you in the areas you failed in the relationship, and then ask God to help you forgive the other person. Forgiving the other person will be freeing for you, as you will no longer be captive to their dysfunction or the situation any longer.
- Pray for discernment. We usually can not just entirely remove a person from our life. It may be a family member, a coworker, someone we attend church with, or part of a circle of friends. Pray that God will help you determine what kind of boundaries you can put in place to protect yourself. This may mean removing yourself from that person entirely, but it may be a few key decisions that help keep the person at a safe distance.
- Pray for healing. You can cry out to God about your hurt and pain, and ask for Him to heal you. His healing is not dependent on their acknowledgement of wrong. His healing can help you move on, more forward, despite their inability to be accountable and reconcile the relationship.
Regardless of their ability to acknowledge the hurt they caused has no bearing on your right to call it what it is. You can be frank with them, making sure they understand in no uncertain terms that they have hurt you (and perhaps even identifying the level of hurt). You can choose to draw a line in the sand that can not be crossed until they are willing to acknowledge the hurt they caused. It’s totally appropriate to do so in a manner that is straightforward without being catty, disrespectful, or mean.
You can acknowledge the hurt.
God will acknowledge your hurt.
Together, God will help you move beyond it to greater things.
Stop thinking and caring so much about a person, who was able to not only hurt you so deeply… but who didn’t care enough to try and make it right.