When you have hard times — and you will — your relationships will be tested. Whether it’s an internal angst or an external set of circumstances, at some point you will have a shitty time. And when this shitty time occurs there are those who will disparagingly judge you for it. We often call them fairweather friends.
One morning on Portland OR’s MAX train I found myself daydreaming about getting even with one of these people. I’m devout to my meditation practice, and I am generally keenly aware of my thoughts. Revenge fantasies are not normal for me.
Maybe it was because I was hungover that day (something I hadn’t experienced in months) or because I was due for my Depo-Provera hormone shot, but I found myself in a reverie about warning a fairweather person’s fiance of her nasty nature and then telling her to go fuck herself.
(Why suggesting someone go masturbate is so satisfying, I do not know. Perhaps because it’s saying someone isn’t worthy of another’s affection? Or because it’s something deemed shameful in our repressed society? Or perhaps the reason isn’t so deep, and it’s just the hard consonant ending with the flowing ‘fff’ sound? Go fuck yourself. It really is satisfying to say…almost as great as indubitably. I’ve only ever actually exclaimed it once, a jillion years ago, and I admit, it was wildly satisfying indeed. But, I digress.)
I snapped out of it, a bit shocked at where my mind had wandered, and recalled the only time my vengeful Scorpionic side had been truly revealed. It was over a decade ago, my junior year in college. A dude had chased me for months, charming me, asking me out, pursuing me relentlessly.
Even in my shenanigan-filled college days, my intuition was pretty sharp and I didn’t trust him. There was no reason for it, I just felt in my gut that he was up to no good. But he eventually wore me down. We spent an unsatisfying few minutes together, after which he never returned my call.
I was pissed. Back then I was totally hot hotty hot, I had stalkers for Christ’s sake, and this dude gets me, then doesn’t call me back?! It was the first time I felt really and truly burnnned. I stewed in my anger whilst watching the movie Grumpy Old Men on basic cable. I was judging the characters for wasting so much time spiting each other when judgment turned to inspiration.
I had been invited to a kegger at the dude’s house by his roommate, and suddenly decided I should attend...with Grumpy Old Men inspired supplies. I called a couple best buddies who went to the grocery store with me, where I purchased several fish. (Heads and gross eyeballs attached.) I remember my dear friend E saying, “Meg, this is a disturbing side of you, but damn if it isn’t entertaining”.
We went to the kegger, where I pretended like I wasn’t mad. After some friendly chitchat I excused myself to the restroom, which was just outside of the jerk’s room. Inside it I found a clothes hamper. I emptied out half of the clothes, placed the fish inside (heads and gross eyeballs attached), and replaced the clothes. I exited, signaled my accomplices, and we bailed the party, laughing all the way home.
The jerk moved away, and I wound up making good friends with his roommates. About a year after my revenge, one of the roomies told me a devastating story about how someone had ruined his best suit by placing several fish (heads and gross eyeballs attached) in his hamper.
My revenge had struck the wrong person!!
I turned beet red, cried a little, and apologized profusely. He wouldn’t let me pay him back for the ruined duds, and he forgave me immediately. Ooooohwie, did that hurt! I remember wishing that he would have told me off like I deserved. I still feel awful about it, and haven’t attempted revenge since. I learned my lesson.
So, those few who dismissed me during some of the hardest times of my life (dark night of the soul), will not be the butt of a cruel prank parlayed clumsily by myself (heads and gross eyeballs attached), nor a diatribe of their perceived faults, nor any euphonious sneers. Of course, as I learned with my wayward fish prank, kindness really is the best revenge.
The compassionate act of forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing oneself to be mistreated, but simply acknowledges the harmful actions, and releases emotional attachment to them. It’s wise to forgive, not so the transgressor heals, but so we heal. Holding on to resentment to hurt someone else is as useful as holding onto a grenade. It’s only going to hurt you.
It’s empowering to let go, and an apology isn’t necessary to move to forgiveness. We can release ourselves whenever we choose. Why not now?