July 18, 2023

Why we Don’t Need the People who Hurt Us to Apologize.

people who hurt us

I recently saw a Reel on Facebook and heard someone ask this question:

“Do we really need the person who hurt us to come back and tell us sorry?”

So, I’m going to speak on that.

As someone who is avoidant (both fearful-avoidant and dismissive-avoidant), in the past, even though I would remove myself from situations that were causing me pain, there would always be this deep longing within that the other person would come back and apologize for how they hurt me and try to make it better. And I would feel the ache of that wanting, so deeply.

In fact, I couldn’t settle, heal, or move on from situations because of it.

You see, when we rely on someone else to say sorry, take accountability, and “make it better,” we are giving away our power. Chances are, if you sit in this space, you may have been programmed to be in this type of dynamic as well.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned how and why this deep longing was happening.

When I was a child, after anger or punishment from my dad, it was normal for him to come in the following day “baring gifts.” He would be super charming and funny, in a great mood, and offer gifts, often in the form of food treats. We had a strict eating dynamic in our household, so the gifts would always be things we normally did not eat. Things high in sugar, salt, and fat.

They would be his “peace offerings.” And they worked. They worked because it was a high mood after a really low, terrible one, and was paired with a reward. I’ve learned this is referred to as “intermittent reinforcement.”

This went on to be the pattern in all my relationships. I was always subconsciously drawn to the same types of people, either those who hurt me or those who could not show me love. We would fight after they did something horrible, and I would retreat in pain. Then they would show up at my house with flowers, tearful eyes, and an “I’m sorry.” And every time we fought and I moved away, I felt the tension as I subconsciously “needed” them to come after me and play out this dynamic.

I had no idea I had internal programming that was making me play out these scenarios over and over again with the people who matched that same energy I had experienced as a child with my father.

I would feel instant relief when they did come, which is a normal and expected reaction because this is the very nature of trauma bonds. When we become trauma bonded to others, the reaction is akin to a drug addiction and the relief experienced when we finally take a hit of the drug we want.

But that wasn’t the only thing I felt. This feeling in the pit of my stomach would appear as well—a feeling I would come to learn was my intuition and my inner child, both signaling to me how this was the wrong choice and how I was self-abandoning. But at the time, I didn’t hear that voice or recognize it. Many of us have been conditioned to not listen to our inner voice, especially if it was overridden by someone who limited our power at a young age.

Learning why things are happening the way they are is incredibly important. When we can understand what is happening at a deeper level, we can begin to unravel the threads that keep us bound to the patterns that aren’t serving us, without having false and inaccurate notions of love clouding them.

Then we learn that we never needed that other person to come back and tell us that they’re sorry. We don’t need them to take accountability for how they behaved with us. That’s their own story for them to repeat with everyone else in their lives.

But it is not our story. It ends with us. Because we are no longer giving away our power to others. And we don’t need anyone’s admission or remorse to allow us to heal and move on.

We can do that on our own now—without them.

And there isn’t anything more freeing and empowering than that.


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