Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sweet Revenge

Sweet revenge often begins with a wonderful fantasy. Perhaps you will finally give someone a verbal thrashing of epic proportions. You have every clever and cutting word planned, a list of every offense ever committed by your enemy. All the world will be present and watch the offender burn in shame at your words. It will be wonderful. All the while, lost in the fantasy of revenge, you are not aware that your own mental well-being is deteriorating from the obsession and avoidance of proper self-care.

Revenge consists of the fantasy/planning phase and sometimes the acting out of the plan. For many people, the fantasy alone gives them a "rush" and relieves the hurting person of whatever caused the hurt to begin with (in their mind-- the recipient of the vengeful act). A person seeking revenge often feels jilted, rejected, used, embarrassed, betrayed, or shamed. This hurting places the source of those feelings on an individual, making themselves the victim and the other party the heartless perpetrator who must pay! In some instances, this someone may have truly done hurtful things to you-- a co-worker who spreads gossip about you, a friend who lies about going vacation so he doesn't have to help you move, etc. These events are all the more frustrating when this is not the first time they have happened. Perhaps you have been used and abused as a pattern in this particular relationship and you have finally reached your limit.

Before you finally hurl that brick through an ex-boyfriend's car window or accidentally "forget" to send your mother a wedding invitation, just stop for a deep breath. Now take another. Ok, you probably need one more. Now consider this-- for every moment you spend in revenge fantasies, plotting, and/or acting it out, you are victimizing yourself. YOU are making yourself another person's victim in your own mind and solidifying that with obsessions and fantasies. You are validating in your own mind the other party's responsibility for your pain and taking none of the responsibility toward yourself. If you really want to feel good again, if you really want to move on, then take responsibility for not allowing this person to hurt you this way again. Know that this is possible to do, because you are an adult who is in charge of your own life. If you are a child, you do not have a say in the abuse at the hand of adults. We are grown up now. We are no one's victim unless we remain in that mental state. The hour you spent planning someone's demise, could be an hour you spend taking a thorough inventory of how this will not happen to you again at the hands of the offender. In that hour you will acknowledge that you, too, have hurt others at times. You will realize how overwhelming it might be should someone decide to confront you with every stupid and thoughtless thing you've ever done, and then you will relax. You may even feel a brief glimmer of compassion for the person who hurt you. From this place we are able to see the hurts in others that motivate them to behave the way they do. Perhaps they are wounded humans just like us, trying the best they can to avoid pain. Continuing to maintain yourself in a victim stance long after the offense has occurred does nothing to make you whole again. We've heard it said that "revenge is a dish best served cold." I say "revenge, a second on the lips, forever on the hips." Just skip revenge.

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