“Vanity Fair,” by William Makepeace Thackeray (note his middle name) was required reading for me as an English Lit major in college. The only thing I actually remember from the book was the line, “Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural.”
I am not to proud to admit that I’ve sought revenge against an ex or two in my lifetime. I’ve also witnessed many heinous acts of revenge committed by others. I’ve seen cars keyed, credit cards charged up to the limit, photos cut into tiny pieces, and a beloved pet given away to strangers. I’ve seen photos of bedroom walls containing freshly-painted obscenities, and f-bombs carved into antique furniture. I’ve even read about a company based in San Francisco that will deliver a dozen dead roses. Can you imagine? Just google “revenge on an ex,” and you’ll find photos of clothing set on fire, luxury cars ruined, billboards announcing infidelity, and more.
My conclusion is that although it may be natural, it’s not all that healthy.
Our emotions about the end of a relationship are very powerful. Feelings can easily run the gamut from abandonment to rage, from betrayal to hatred, from sadness to fury, sometimes faster than we can identify them. Divorce litigation only adds fuel to the fire, because opposing counsel can make it worse by giving even more cause for anger and hurt. I believe the most important thing about these complex emotions is to understand the need to express them to a therapist or, better yet, to a mediator. While a therapist might choose to delve into the history behind those feelings and why the relationship has come to an end, a mediator will help to validate the feelings in an effort to help work through them with an eye towards moving forward.
Let’s be honest here. Revenge is a step backwards. It has nothing whatsoever to do with justice. Unless you’re a judge, you really have no right to issue punishment on another adult. Instead, why not use your potential, your humanity, your smile, your greatness, and your success to propel you forward? Leave it to the universe, to karma, to fate, to God.
Let go of the need for revenge.
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” — Mahatma Ghandi