February 8, 2023

Pinoy Trekker

Pinoy Trekker – We go anywhere

When people are mean and refuse to admit it or apologize

“Life gets easier when you learn to accept an apology you never received.” ~ Robert Brault

I’ve always tried to distance myself from people who are rude, overly aggressive, and mean. But sometimes we become attached to people who may not have our best interests in mind.

One summer I hooked up with a colleague who was at a bad point in his life. I thought I could help him through this difficult time, but just like a swimmer drowning in a pool, he grabbed me and drowned me when I reached out and tried to save him.

After several months of verbal and psychological abuse, I finally realized that the situation was beyond my control. That evening when I got up to get a glass of water, he followed me into the kitchen and started yelling at me to go back to his room.

I did what I was told, but I wasn’t happy about it. He noticed my mood swing and asked what was going on. But when I told him it was because of the way he had treated me, he was surprised – a surprise that soon turned into a second wave of intense anger.

He couldn’t understand that his actions had directly affected me, and he found it ridiculous that I would feel anything at all. When I started crying he got confused and started patting my feet to try and roll me onto my back. It felt like I was being attacked by a bear that wasn’t entirely sure if I was edible or not.

When I finally broke up, I told him I wasn’t feeling well. That his behavior towards me was unacceptable. That I was very hurt by the hateful way he had treated me. That I couldn’t and didn’t want to get involved with him because he didn’t respect me as a person.

But that made no sense to him. He told me that he had nothing against me and that I should choose to feel differently. That I couldn’t possibly feel hurt because he didn’t feel hurt. He felt pretty good, and I should have felt the same way.

He couldn’t see that his actions were causing me pain, even when I pointed it out to him.

I even used examples from his life of things that hurt him and then tried to make the analogy that the same things that hurt him hurt me too.

I told him that if we were to put things right and be friendly at work, I needed a lot of time, a lot of space, and a lot of compassion. That he had to be nice to me and realize that it would take me a long time to be comfortable. He agreed and I thought we hit it off.

The next time I saw him was a few weeks later at a company party. He sat down on the couch next to me, pulled out his laptop and started showing me the weather forecast for the next ten days. I politely dodged the question and tried to end the conversation as quickly as possible. I wasn’t ready, and I didn’t want our first conversation as “friends” to be a meteorology lecture.

Shortly after, he started sending me hateful messages on Facebook, threatening that if I didn’t get over it, I might as well get another job. I tried to explain to him that I wasn’t ready and that sending out hate mail wasn’t getting me any closer to being ready. But he only responded with even more hate.

After several weeks of silence and a trip out of state for me, we resumed talking and we were actually able to address some of the issues. I reiterated what I needed: compassion, patience, understanding, and kindness (and a personal apology would be great, too).

He agreed and I finally had faith that things would get better. But those things never happened.

He never apologized, and shortly after our series of talks, he reverted to thinking that I deserved to be treated this way and that I was the culprit.

The disrespectful behavior returned and, exhausted, I decided the easiest way would be to just avoid it. After a few months of tactful avoidance, I found another job.

I could spend a lifetime showing him the evidence, citing witnesses who saw what was going on, and explaining why it’s not okay to treat people this way. I could bring in a professional psychologist, our manager, our co-workers, and our friends to verify that I am 100 percent entitled to an apology and deserve respect at work.

But would I ever convince him? Probably not.

People only change when they want to change. You cannot force anyone to respect you. You can’t force someone to admit they were wrong or to apologize. Only they have the power to change their perspective. And sometimes it just won’t happen.

I finally realized that sometimes people are just mean. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

I made the mistake of believing that with compassion, patience, and understanding I could change him. But he didn’t want to change, so I bucked his rock-hard determination instead.

When someone is proactively threatening you and your happiness, seriously ask yourself: Is the juice worth the squeeze? Does this person respect me? Do you really feel sorry for me? Do you want me to be happy? Or are they a drowning swimmer pushing me underwater just so they can breathe a little easier?

I don’t like finishing a project I started. But I’ve learned that when that “project” is an unhealthy or toxic relationship that’s causing me harm, sometimes it’s best to just walk away.

If you think you’re in a toxic or unhealthy relationship, seriously ask yourself: Is this good for me? Does that make me happy? Does this make me feel validated as a person? If the answer is no, end it. The best choice for you is the best choice of all.

About Sarah Charlie

Sarah Charley is an explorer. She enjoys exploring everything from upstate California to the mystique of the human psyche to advances in science and technology. She’s also a writer when inspiration strikes.

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