I had never heard the saying “hurt people hurt people” until about four years ago when I was going through one of the most painful, ugly conflicts I had ever been in, and sadly am still in. I was trying to understand how a long-term relationship that I genuinely cherished could go so wrong, so quickly, so brutally.
I spent days and sleepless nights trying to comprehend how it happened, why it happened, and to the degree in which it happened. I still do. The verbal abuse, the profanity both in person, in text and via my husband directed to me was emotionally damaging and none like I had ever seen before. My family and I just could not comprehend what we were witnessing. The most difficult thing to comprehend was that, when confronted about the atrocity of the behavior displayed, they had no idea that what they were doing was so incredibly wrong on so many levels. Blank stares, shaking their head in condescending disbelief and looking at me as if I were crazy to even insinuate that an apology and change of behavior was required if we were to move on.
That is when I realized that there was something very wrong with this person. I had never been talked to or talked about with such vengeful hate. I had never experienced such ugly conflict before in my life with anyone. I consider myself, and those who know me well agree, a very nice person. I show everyone respect, but I expect it back. I seek out to help others in any way I can. I don’t ever seek to intentionally hurt anyone, it is not in my make-up. Contrary to that, I am an empath who has a heart for the hurting and wants to make things better for them. That is why I am having such a difficult time wrapping my head around this behavior we’ve been exposed to that everyone else seems to be oblivious to, ignores, denies, or tolerates. I just don’t get it!
I have had issues with people, and I’m quite sure people have had issues with me. I’ve parted ways with people for various reasons, as they have parted ways with me. These parting of ways were uneventful. No trauma or emotional scars. No verbal abuse, demeaning, belittling or mocking. No one seeking to destroy me, my relationships, my family, and my reputation over a disagreement. It was just a mutual parting of ways among people that grew apart. I have no ill will or hate toward those that I have parted ways with and I’m pretty sure they don’t hold any ill will or hate toward me. That’s normal.
This incident was the beginning of a very tumultuous period of time in my life and my family’s life and it still continues today. Our family has changed greatly from that first moment of conflict that made us all take a step back and question who and what we were dealing with. We are left in a state of confusion, sadness and disbelief as the family we once knew and loved is now divided with many scars at the work of this person’s hands.
It wasn’t until I sought church counsel when this originally began a few years back to help me understand what was going on that I heard “hurt people hurt people” for the first time. They explained that you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself, your life, your situation. It makes sense. If you are filled with hate, dissension, and resentment, that is what you will teach your child and that is how you will respond to others. If you have no love in you, you have no love to give. I get it. I understand how this could be an accurate assessment of what was happening, the lashing out, the anger, the ugliness because of the chaos in the life of my attacker that I was aware of.
Even while battered and emotionally wrought through all the pain this conflict caused me, I still felt empathy for her. I still wanted better for her. I still had a heart for her to be okay and prayed that God would heal and soften her heart. I knew this wasn’t normal behavior and if she were whole, she wouldn’t behave like this. She would recognize the repercussion of her choices and the detriment to her family and step back and say, “What have I done? I have to make it right.”
Is this trendy psychological terminology now simply an excuse to cause pain to others and act badly? Is the pain so deep that you honestly don’t know what you are doing to others and get a free ticket? Or, is this just an excuse for being selfish, mean and someone who simply just doesn’t care about others and is more hell bent on doing what they want to do with no accountability and blaming it on being a victim?
I’ve been deeply hurt before and I realize when you are hurt, you do have a completely different mentality than if you were happy and joyful. However, even in my deepest pain, I knew enough that if I were to lash out at someone, I knew exactly what I was doing and I knew it was wrong and eventually took accountability for my actions.
At some point, people check themselves and have a conscience or what Christians refer to as conviction and they know they are not being kind and need to make things right. You do know what you are doing to others, especially when you see the outcome of your destruction.
I am a changed person from the trials of the past 10 years, this ugly and on-going conflict included. I think differently, I act differently, I prioritize differently. I embrace and recognize the kindness in others much more now than I ever have because I have seen such ugliness and indescribable meanness over a disagreement. I am grateful for genuine people in my life. Genuine people do not equate to people who tell me everything I want to hear. They are people who care enough about me to tell me what I need to hear for my well-being. That is someone who loves you.
I am pretty convinced that our experience wasn’t due to “hurt people hurt people” and that it is something much more cynical. I have uncovered insight about behavioral issues I was not aware of until recently. A light has been shone on our situation which has really helped me cope, understand, and ultimately be able to hand this situation over to God.
Regardless of the reason for our ugly conflict, prayer and hope in Christ are the only things we have to heal ourselves from the pain we’ve been caused at the hands of others. My decisions are based on my obedience to God these days. I am confident that the problem does not lie within me in this conflict because I am not filled with hate after everything that has been done to me. Ridiculously enough, I still have a heart for this person who did such wrong, broke my relationships with family as well as our mutual friends, ruined my reputation with lies, and hurt me and my family on such a deep level. I still want her to become whole and have a life of joy. It’s only then will she understand the destruction she has caused. This speaks volumes about how God is working in me through His Holy Spirit and allowing me to slowly heal and forgive. I’m still painfully hurt, but I don’t have an ounce of hate in me. Thank you, Jesus!
The old me, aka un-saved me, would have certainly retaliated in equally ugly attacks and this conflict would look a whole lot different had two people been involved from the beginning. A feud is between two individuals. This was never a feud. It has always been a one-sided attack with me vehemently defending myself.
I have now relinquished all my efforts to defend myself and have left it to God to fight my battles for me. And, He will. If you are walking in obedience to His Word, He will fight for you and vindicate you. The darkness will eventually be exposed by His light. You cannot hide truth forever. Ask Bill Cosby and OJ Simpson, among others. It will come out. It may take years, but it will. I have to be patient and wait for His timing.
Where is my lesson in this? I have learned to not let anyone’s bad behavior change who I am. We must fight through the pain and resist the temptation to stoop to a level unbecoming to someone who is claiming to be walking in Christ. I have found the best answer to such unwarranted attacks is silence. I’m learning patience in waiting for God’s timing to rectify this. I’m learning mercy and grace on how to deal with the fallout of a divisive family and overcome my emotional resentment toward those who got sucked into her lies and be able to face them with an unbiased demeanor. I’m learning…STILL LEARNING…forgiveness. Forgiveness without an apology. I’ve always needed to be a better forgiver. This is painfully teaching me to forgive without an apology. It is very difficult. And lastly, I have learned to have faith and trust that God will ultimately fight this battle for me and vindicate me.
For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.
“The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.”
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent
Have you been through a similar experience? Has someone wrongfully caused you pain and you are learning how to cope? Are you still carrying the burden of what they did to you and you can’t seem to let it go because it’s just too painful? If so, how are you handling it? What does your journey to recovery look like? Please take a moment to comment on your experience and your goals for peace. Your comments could help others going through the very same thing. And, if you are in need of help because you don’t know how to cope with the pain someone has caused you, please reach out and ask help in the comments.
Let’s share our wisdom to help others.
This blog has been very therapeutic for me. Thanks for letting me share it with you.