The Illusion of Revenge
Revenge is an interesting urge within the human experience.
When we are wronged, we want to balance the scales by getting our proverbial pound of flesh back from the wrong-doer but payment, or repayment isn’t always easy to calculate.
Material possessions can offer a certain ease of understanding when coming to agreement on equivalent values, but when there is a personal violation or an emotional component to a wrong it is far more challenging to find a resolution.
I was in my early 50’s when I began to recover buried memories of childhood sexual abuse and let me tell you, I was pissed, with a capitol ‘P.’ The depth of rage and desire for vengeance was empowering and I understood in those moments how a ‘sane’ person can commit murder.
Even our system of law recognizes that extreme emotions can override rational thought driving one to temporary insanity and is a legal defense in our country.
After a number of months of processing the repressed emotions and trauma, I still wanted my abusers to pay for what they had done. These were not strangers, they were my family and I wanted them to hurt, and not just a little bit. I wanted my revenge.
My counselor asked me to make a list of everything I wanted done to make my abusers pay for their crimes against me. I furiously wrote down everything I wanted – money, jail time, torture, public humiliation - I left no stone unturned.
When finished, I was asked to read my list out loud which I did with self-righteous vindication and when I was done, my counselor asked, ‘and will that take away your pain?’
I began to sob as I realized that nothing would take away the pain of that experience or give me back what I had lost. There is no way to undo the past.
It was a conundrum. I was carrying around my unresolved pain from 45 yrs ago and living in a state of PTSD that was still screwing up my life. How could I resolve the problem if there was no way to fix it?
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the only way out of my pain was to accept the experience and my part in it, which was that I was there and I agreed to it so that I could survive. I was very young and didn’t understand but I had a choice and I chose to live through it.
My ongoing sense of victimhood was tied to the belief that I had no power and that was the root of this cancer within my psyche. My power was my power of choice and I chose to let it go. No revenge, no payment, no pound of flesh because it would not undo the harm or the trauma.
My acceptance of the abuse was not quick or easy but I was able to learn a lot about my relationship with rage and revenge. At first, they felt deliciously powerful, but ultimately failed to satisfy or balance the scales.
I was free of the pain when I decided to be free of the pain.
I offer my microcosm experience as a possible window into the horrific situation the world is witnessing in Israel.
The brutality of the situation is affecting people everywhere. Each side declaring the need to exterminate the other once and for all expresses their desperation that they cannot live like this anymore.
Some would wonder if a sane world has gone mad, but perhaps what we are witnessing is a mad world going sane.
Historically, there was no real resolution with the crusades and the ancient hurts and ideologies of vengeance have been passed down through the centuries. Cultures have inherited the hate and pain of their lineage.
When will the scales finally be balanced, what is the final price paid when people can stop fighting and killing each other? This is their decision to make, their responsibility and their choice.
The energy of Peace that is currently flowing into the system throughout the planet, brings change and maybe the conflict we are witnessing is being inspired by humanity’s desire for peace, albeit through destructive choices.
Perhaps something very old is coming to an end so that a new way of life can begin. Only time will tell and these are just my opinions but I believe that within the destructive nature of the situation we will also see and learn something of value.