Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hell Hath No Fury

I don't really do revenge or payback or what-have-you with regard to romantic or sexual relationships.  There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is that it prolongs the agony and creates a kind of mental tag in the brain.

I had a friend/roommate, back in my youth, who went through a truly terrible break-up with her boyfriend.  Many things happened, but eventually the man took a new woman to the restaurant my friend's sister (and fellow roommate) worked in as a waitress.  He flaunted the date, the sister called my friend and in a fit of vengeful rage, my friend drove to the restaurant, marched inside, confronted the man and his date, told the date the man had an STD, flounced out the door, slashed the man's tires and keyed his car or some such thing.  She then drove home and righteously marched herself back inside our apartment.  Doors slammed, music blared and so forth.  At this point I was at home and gingerly made inquiries and was told the full story.

I had the sense to realize that this was a "just listen" moment, so that's what I did.  I just listened and heard my friend out as she ranted and vented her considerable ire.  I had a lot of thoughts about what she was telling me, but few of them were appropriate to share and none of them would have cooled her fiery temper.  So, I just listened and nodded occasionally and kept my mental fingers crossed that this would be the end of it.

Several days later my friend told me, with some bewildered indignation, that she had told a couple of people at her workplace about the incident and that she and her story had not been greeted with enthusiastic and unequivocal support.  Again, I perceived this to be a "just listen" moment.  Eventually, she said, "you would have done the same."  That's when I decided the "just listen" moment was over.

"No, I would not have done the same and you know I would not have done the same.  Never in the years you have known me have you seen me do anything like what you did or anything to indicate that I would do anything like what you did.  It's not a choice I would make."

She was a little huffy, but she wanted to talk about it, so we did.  I told her that if a relationship is over and ends badly, I don't want to prolong it or cement it further in my head.  If the guy turns out to be a creep, then I want nothing, absolutely nothing, more to do with him.  Her body, tense with her anger, relaxed in a kind of defeat.  She confessed to me that her actions had been so violent and so vivid that she was reliving them in her dreams at night.

I think it takes strength, maturity, and a helluvalot of self-discipline not to lash out at someone at the bad end of a tempestuous or painful relationship, and frankly, the fact that it takes all that, reinforces my belief that not seeking revenge is the right thing to do.

One woman's opinion.

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