March 14, 2009

Why doesn't revenge taste so sweet?

Did I ever mention that I find vengeance to be one of the most interesting notions? It is; it’s such a drive that has its very own strong momentum and it can just drag for years and years, and like it or not it’s behind a lot of good plots be it in reality or fiction.

Is it a co-incidence that most of my favorite movies revolve around the consuming idea of vengeance. When I first read A Tale of Two Cities, as appalled as I was by Madame De Farge’s unforgiving pursuit of Charles Darnay and his family, deep down, I couldn’t help but sympathize for the amount of injustice she’s been subjected to which completely changed her into what she’s become. You must react to that kind of hurt and feel for it even if it turns into something so cruel.

When I read The Count of Monte Cristo, I was satisfied with Edmond’s revenge and it was as if I was getting my own. Yes, I believe in payback and it in its healing power just as I believe in the destruction it could cause to all parties.

I could go on and on about vengeance and how I think it could be legitimate, as well as when I think it went to an uncontrollable extreme, but I’m not sure I’d come up with something any more brilliant than all the things that’s been previously written. Just take my word for it, revenge is a very strong thing and it’s anything simple or marginal; it’s also the thought that came to mind as I started writing this.

Where do I begin, I’m sure a lot of those who read this know where it started, or at least are familiar enough. Nonetheless, I find it hard to write this coherently because if I do it will be too long for me to write and it might get more personal than I can afford, so it will just be bits and pieces, and I’ll leave it to your imagination to fill in the details.

I once told him I’d break him to pieces if he’d ever hurt me that way again. I looked him right in the eyes saying I’d destroy him and he’d see a side of me neither of us knew existed. I guess he knew me better then because he never believed; he hurt me anyway! When the time came for me to use everything I could possibly know against him, I just couldn’t. I am not saying I am a better person here, I am not; because I spent enough time thinking of how I could harm him, and there came times when I was very close to doing it, I just didn’t know if I had it in me to live with myself and whatever consequences there were to come.

Some time long after I got over my shock and my agony, I stumbled into a movie, Something’s Gotta Give. At the end, when Jack Nicholson goes all the way to Paris to win Diane Keaton back, only he finds her there with Keanu Reeves (EWWWW). There is that moment where they’re singing her happy birthday and she’s laughing so happily in Keanu’s arms (EWWWW again), and you can see the way Nicholson looking at her an you can almost hear him thinking “that should have been me holding her”. That was when I decided that the only revenge I could get without being a horrible person was to see that very same look on his face. I wanted him to see me living happily, enjoying the life he can no longer share with me.

I forced myself to move on and be stronger just to have that moment. I glorified the feeling I’d get and used it as a motive to get myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. I can’t deny that I have a relationship phobia or that I have so little faith in love. I can’t deny that in the process of moving on, I almost stumbled and fell, and that I still look back and wonder what the hell happened back there. I always end up shaking my head and saying it didn’t matter; I was never ready and it was never meant to be. Little by little, it started to be less about my revenge moment and more about just getting by day after the other.

Now, that we’re on talking basis again, I see him quite often. He very occasionally hints that he still wants me back and that I’m better off with him than with anybody to the extent that I find it insulting because WOW, if I’m better off with him then I’m really bound to misery! Seeing him, talking to him and having to communicate with him amicably for the boys’ sake, I realized I’m actually capable of being a bigger person, something I never thought I could do! It’s not that I am not that forgiving or that I am vindictive by nature; it’s just because I distinctively remember how hurt I was and how the idea of revenge helped me get back on my feet, or close enough.

Yesterday, I took a leap of growing up. I agreed (without much argument) to have the kids visit his grandma before her surgery. I did that knowing there will be all sorts of people I dislike there. I wasn’t that pleasant except to the one person in his family that’s been decent to me, and the sick person to whom I couldn’t really afford beingharsh, given her age and her health status despite how much I dislike her. I could clearly see how embarrassed he was when his kids didn’t know his own immediate family and were too intimidated to let go of my hands, I actually felt sorry for him and kneeled on my knees as I tried to soothe the boys and tell them to go say hi to people I don’t even like. I don’t know, I really surprise myself at times.

Today, I had that moment I had almost forgotten that I once wanted! I just did a while ago. It wasn’t face to face, and I didn’t have a Keanu to hold me (THANK GOD), only I didn’t think it brought as much comfort as I once thought it would.

He apologized, he acknowledged his faults and he said I was never the bad person he worked so hard to make it sound like.

He said he was lonely and with all that money could buy him, he couldn’t find someone who loved him the way he knew I once did.

He said he was miserable, and it was eating him up that he can no longer see that love in my eyes, and that the best he could hope for was indifference.

He said he found some of my last journals from before I left, and that he read how I gradually lost hope in him, and he couldn’t believe he had become that person he himself detested as he read on.

I wanted to stop him because it sounded too sincere and I didn’t want him to put himself out there when I knew I was going to reject him at the end of his speech. Only he wouldn’t let me, he said his apology was due and it was hard enough for him to apologize so I should just let him.

Why didn’t I feel the warmth and fuzziness I promised myself all those two years? Why did I not smile contently that he’s sorry and suffering? Why did I not find solace in his misery and regret?

I have two theories; it’s either because I have more damage than him only it wasn’t my own doing like it is in his case, or because I have taken my time healing on my own, I no longer need any revenge from him. I don’t think it’s either, at least not exclusively.

Either way, his apology didn’t bring that much of a victory I long anticipated! In the contrary, it brought confusion because as he spoke of good things we once shared, I found my mind drifting to the horrible things that happened and took all the good away. He spoke of memories that were no longer so vivid and it confused me even more to be caught between resentment and sympathy for the same person.

I really wish we could write the words “The End” now, and that we can manage to be good to each other outside the marriage just for the sake of the kids. He still says it’s too hard for him to let me go, but I would like to think he would after all is clear enough to him. He thinks I might change my mind given time, but he doesn’t get that the more time I spend with him, the more I realize we were not a good match like I once thought and that there is nothing in the world that would make me repeat the mistake of choosing to be with him.

At the end of the day, I am glad and grateful I am not in his shoes and I do not have his burdens or his guilt. I realize that it is a blessing that I am not enjoying my revenge because it means that there is something in me he couldn’t change. Did that make any sense?


Slop said...

Could it be that you're just too good to have joy in someone else's suffering?

You see, holding grudges is normal, it's what you do when the time comes for payback that defines what you really are.

Some people would just savour the moment and enjoy every minute of the payback, which is fair really.

But then again, there's the more profound feeling of letting go of your hatreds, of not allowing yourself to be debased to the same level as your aggressor.

The latter is good, but tough, tougher still is the feeling you get later on, that of being robbed of your moment of sweet revenge, in the long term however, you'll look back and find you did the right thing, by not allowing yourself to be twisted into what twisted you.

insomniac said...

i don't know! it could be that i sensed some sincerity that was never there before in this apology... he said so many sorry's before but they were always fake and it always felt rather insulting...

or it could be because it was too sudden... i mean last week he was going on and on about how it was mostly everybody's fault except his! i just didn't see that much remorse coming! makes me think something terrible must have happened and it was enough payback even if i know nothing about it!

i too believe savoring the moment of revenge is fair, i believe in revenge big time to the extent that i was a little bit mad at myself for not enjoying this! i am still grateful :) alhamdulilah.

Ma 3lina said...

1st A tale of a two cities is the best of all !!!

2nd, I think that u huv healed and u don't need his regret to make u happy, it does not matter anymore!!!

Eventuality said...

You're a good soul. I really respect what you're doing in order to make your kids' lives as normal as possible. It takes a lot of self control from a person to do that.

About the revenge part; I guess you've had closure and you've settled the issue inside your own mind, that's why you didn't get any pleasure from seeing him break down. You should be proud of yourself.

Ice Queer said...

U really got totally over him! That's so gr8, really! =))

We share vengeance =D I remember u left a comment about it somewhere over my blog!

insomniac said...

ma 3alina :)

tale of two cities is a masterpiece :)

i guess i'm no longer hung on the pain, healed is a bigger word at this point :))


it means a lot coming from an amazing soul like yourself :)

i guess all i really needed was an acknowledgement that showed that he knew he did wrong and was the least bit sorry!


haha, i've been over him for a while now, my anger was not just about him u know...

u have no idea how intriguing the notion of vengeance is to me!! i don't think it's healthy especially for someone like me who can't really inflict harm... but seriously, u should see me watching vindictive plots all excited and sometimes i go overboard saying "but he should have done more, that wasn't enough"... very evil side of me :) that i like!!

Ice Queer said...

That i like too! =D

Shimaa Gamal said...

One of my friends posted a question a couple of days ago wondering if we deal with people based on how bad they treated us, or eventually we treat them based on how good we are.
The question was one of those that you can't answer directly, common sense is "an eye for an eye" but seriously how many of us put that in action.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, because only then you can take your time to plot the perfect plan and cease the perfect moment and finally set your records straight, but sometime when things cool down we find other ways to feel better and when we finally get to the moment we always imagined we don't feel as good as it was supposed to feel. Surprisingly we might feel guilty, and small for even craving that moment in the 1st place.

That's why now, I understand Madam Devarge's urge to knit the names. Because only her knitting would remind her how bad it was and how not to let go to that feeling of guilt for shedding innocent blood.

Don't trust his feeling of guilt. It will soon wash off and he will be meaner just because of that moment of weakness

Will E. said...

I'm a bit late, but I have a different answer altogether.

The answer to why revenge doesn't taste so sweet is simple. Revenge tastes sweet only when it is observed not when experienced. When reading a book we're happy to see some sort of justice and that's why it seems sweet because we have a notion of it without experiencing it.

The sweetness is our idea of fairness and our observation of a party that was hurt and the only thing to ease this sense of injustice is to see the other party hurt.

But experience is different, hurt inflicted on the other party doesn't take away our own, doesn't really make things right, compounded with the occasional lust for revenge, a lust to hurt, it makes us feel worse about ourselves if we're good in the first place. Plus we can sometimes become too detached from the person that we cannot feel avenged completely.

In any case, revenge is sweet when observed, the same sweetness can only be found in forgiveness when we experience injustice.

insomniac said...


your comment sounds exactly like something i would write :))) meaning, i kinda think so too ;)


this is why i always appreciate your comments, you always give me insights!

as much as i agreed with what everyone else had to say, i find sense in what you think... yes, i enjoy watching revenge being plotted, but having to do it myself, i realize it doesn't fix me, it doesn't make things right again... and even if i believe in fair and justice of my revenge, i realize that the only relief i would really get is resulting to feeling the other party's remorse rather than harming them...

don't be a stranger :)