Revenge. It’s a loaded word. Some people like to refer to it as justice.
Revenge is possibly one of the most primal instincts within each of us but it takes a specific event, behaviour or action from another to unleash it. What differs between each of us, is our ability for restraint in acting upon the urge to seek revenge.
Lately I’ve been enjoying listening to Carrie Underwood’s, ‘Before He Cheats.’ It is a proud confession about seeking pure unadulterated revenge, as the woman hurt takes justice into her own hands and vandalises her betrayers beloved car.
“I dug my key into the side
Of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive
Carved my name into his leather seats
I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights
I slashed a hole in all four tires
Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats”
I had given my husband my years, my love and care, my dreams. I had given him everything of me. When I found out about his affair, it was the most significant hurt that I will ever experience. I became collateral damage, as he redirected his care and love towards his new partner (and work colleague). I was simply tossed into a pit of rejection and abandonment and shown no remorse, compassion or humanity.
At first, I felt nothing but shock but soon a fire was ignited in me and each hurtful word or act he carried out seemed to stoke the flame. I would think a lot about revenge but I referred to it in my mind as justice. I wanted to have them be shown up for the deceitful people they are, to feel that embarrassment and shame.
I am a devoted follower of Jesus but I am also a human. I felt the strongest urge I have ever experienced in my life, for my husband and his affair partner to have their comeuppance. I would play out in my mind the ways I could expose their appalling behaviour. I would hope beyond hope for their relationship to fail, for what had gone around to truly come back around.
I quickly came to understand that in following this path, a person may gain their revenge but they will likey lose something of themselves in the process.
It hasn’t been easy at times but all these months on and I haven’t sought revenge of any kind on my husband or his affair partner and I know deep down that I won’t pursue any. It has taken a great deal of work on my self-control and a lot of serious self talk and reflection about understanding the wider consequence of seeking revenge. Sometimes it took my family, those that love me, encouraging me to see the bigger picture and to not act out of emotion.
I have thought a lot about what message revenge sends.
My husband and his affair partner have demonstrated their lack of self-control or care for boundaries but these are things I pride myself on and I’m not going to send the signal that I don’t possess these qualities anymore. That is them, not me.
My husband knows the person I am and he knows that imposing hurt on another is not within my character. He has betrayed me and has tried to rewrite my character throughout this time to justify his betrayal. If I seek revenge, I would be playing into his and his affair partners hands and I become the character they would rather I be. A bitter, twisted, nasty person. If I don’t, I remain my true self, a good person that they mistreated.
I know myself and if I were to have carried out any acts of revenge, I know I would be so stressed and worried about further reprisal. Why would I create more stress for myself in an already highly stressful situation? Why would I give them that satisfaction? I would rather be kind to myself and not put myself in that position, not for them.
I have probably saved myself a world of bother and additional stress in not acting on this urge for revenge. Sometimes however, the thought pops into my mind. Why should they get away with this?
The reality is, they haven’t. God has seen everything. He knows the truth and I have to find peace that he has seen everything, every lie, every hurt and will heal these within me.
It is also the reality, that they are now in a relationship that is built on lies and deceit, not a foundation conducive to a trustworthy, healthy relationship dynamic. The other woman has won no prize, she has won a person who would be willing to wreck her whole life if someone, who he perceives to be better, comes along. Perhaps that is the revenge?
I also know that the grass isn’t as green as he really thought it was. I have seen signs already of regret and unhappiness from my husband and it has come at a time when things in my life are ever so slightly starting to look up.
Have I been a wimp in not seeking revenge? Maybe. But it’s taken far more strength to not seek revenge. All I know is my dignity is still in tact and my future self thanks me for that.
I am learning that the world and God truly does have a way of rebalancing things and I choose to believe that the best revenge really is living well and being happy. This is what I’m striving for everyday and I will not compromise on this for those people. They will take nothing further from me than they have already.
Why do I love listening to the Carrie Underwood song right now? Because it is cathartic. It makes me feel empowered in what does sometimes feel like a powerless situation. Sometimes, when I feel very powerless, I listen to the song and find it exhilarating to imagine taking such revenge, I can’t lie. I know it’s something I wouldn’t do in the real world but for a brief moment I allow myself to indulge in it through that country power anthem and I allow that primal need to run free, if only in my mind.