Saturday, January 28, 2012

Revenge: It’s Not Just A TV Show on ABC

(Although it IS a friggin’ awesome one)

Revenge is a sweet, sweet word.  Can anything beat the delicious satisfaction of a primal instinct, the illusion of justice being served?  If we, personally, could have the power to right the wrongs of the world – or, more importantly, the wrongs done to us – wouldn’t life just be grand?

After all, revenge is about ego.  We all have our own little visions of how our lives are supposed to unfold, and how we deserve to be treated.  And when someone tramples our world without a shred of remorse, we tend to feel entitled to brandish our weapons of retaliation, proceeding at all costs.  At least, we fantasize about doing so.  Most of us.  Others of us take the leap to act on those fantasies. 

My first lick on the ice cream cone of revenge came after I ended my engagement and found out the little bastard was selling stolen merchandise on his ebay account from the store we had both worked at.  The balls!  I knew he was a lying piece of crap, but a thief?!  That was new.  I was ashamed to have known him, much less almost marry the loser.  It took some work, but he was eventually fired as a result of the tip-off to loss prevention.  Finally he could get what was coming to him, right?

Wrong.  A couple years later I find out he had a BETTER job which, in some sick way, I helped him get.  Now the crook is ‘Store Manager’ at a place that sells the same type of merchandise!  He had gotten fired from the first place with a little slap on the wrist, no charges were filed, and he charmed his way into a great position banking way more money.  Chapped my ass.  So I sent documentation to the store owner of his honesty problems.  I never followed up to see what happened, but I heard from an old friend he doesn’t work there anymore.

My next foray into justice-seeking came on the heels of his engagement to some dingdong who apparently didn’t know he picked up trash off websites like “adultfriendfinder,” where he advertised for “1-on-1 or group sex” (it didn’t occur to me that he may have met her on one of them, LOL).  So, being the Good Samaritan I am, I proceeded to inform her of some choice details via Facebook message.  Then she was like, “What?  Seriously?  Gross; I’m dumping him.” Not really, not a chance.  She blocked me and married him.  Like Ashley Hebert on The Bachelorette: if she wants Bentley, she can have him. 

You were warned, dumbass...

What I love about the show Revenge is that it encapsulates the inherently flawed logic of trying to settle the score.  Amanda Clark (aka Emily, the main character) is hell-bent on ruining lives in her pursuit of vengeance for her father’s life, which was destroyed.  In so doing, she squashes her own joy and loses out on love.  With revenge, attainment of the goal simultaneously annihilates one’s own opportunities for happiness. 

Why would anyone act on an impulse that stands to cost them more than could ever be gained?  I am convinced that retribution can only consume the heart of a soul devoured by pain. 

There was a period in my life where hatred completely took me over (see above).  It boiled down to a mentality that, if my life was irredeemable, the people who had hurt me should not be allowed to walk around smiling. 

In a situation where I felt completely powerless to fix myself, the opportunity for revenge gave me the only sense of power I could brandish.  I couldn’t get a job, but maybe I could take someone else’s away.  I couldn’t find love, but maybe I could wreck some jerk’s blissful relationship. 

Modern technology fuels this breed of sickness.  I didn’t need to see my exes’ wedding photos online, but there they were.  I didn’t care to know what store they registered their first babies at, either, but thanks to Google, “name” + “town” = “too much information.” 

The worst part of revenge can be summed up in seven little words:

"Seeking revenge is a confession of pain."

Sh*t.  You mean, I thought I was weilding the mighty sword of retribution, and instead I just inflated those jerks’ egos by showing them how much they STILL affect me, STILL hurt me, STILL control my thoughts and feelings?  Wow, did I screw up. 

Payback *is* a bitch, apparently.

They say “Living well is the best revenge,” but if I could do that, I’d love to rub it in a few peoples’ faces how great my life is (methinks that may be a confession of something else).

The moral of the story is:
A) Those people are all doing just fine, and I am not.
B) While they were getting on with their lives, I was wasting time sinking energy into the past.
C) I need to grow the hell up.
D) My life should be about ME, instead of about other people.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Suicide Notes: A Final F!*# You to the World...and to Select Individuals

I guess the only thing good about coming across old suicide notes is still being alive to read them.  It’s painful to relive the sentiments expressed to people, especially if the emotions were never resolved. 

I am nothing if not methodical, as evidenced in my painstakingly thorough suicide note catalog.  There was the note I wrote to my parents, for when they found out.  There were the notes to my (two most significant) exes, whom I perceived as having “ruined my life.”  I say note(s) because there most certainly was not just one.  No, I really had a mouthful to vomit on the two of them.  There was even the note to my former boss; not so much a suicide note, perhaps, as a crafty letter of resignation.  This was in the batch of outbox letters: sent, never to be taken back.  What’s done is done, what’s said is said, what’s humiliating will forever more be.  The embarrassment’s enough to shame a person into death-wishes all over again.

Two years later there were more notes written, stamped, addressed ... but never sent.  Thank GOD.  Because the only thing worse than having a mental breakdown is living through it to face the humiliation of all you’ve said and done.  Truly.  The second round of letters were reserved for ex-friends who had let me down and failed to be there for me, and even former colleagues whom I felt had a hand in destroying my career and my self-worth.  The picture becoming clearer and clearer here: anyone and everyone who I could blame for the state my life was in (almost) got a piece of my mind.  If I was going to die, I wanted people to feel bad about it. 

There’s a saying that, “90% of the solution lies in accurately defining the problem,” and the clarity that coincides with composing one’s final words brings the tree out of the forest, so to speak.  What better way to really get down to the nitty gritty of what’s bothering you than to lay it all out with no one to talk back to you, defend their actions, or invalidate your feelings? 

In my final summation of things, I glimpse a person who pins responsibility on every single person around her ... but not herself. Countless hours have burnt up in fury at the wrongs that have been done to me, while the worst have been done to myself.  “We may be the product of our past, but we are not victims of the past unless we choose to be.”  I am the one who conceded that others’ appraisal of my worth would have ultimate bearing on my destiny.  For all the hurt I may have wished to inflict with the anger that consumed me, the only life I destroyed was my own.

“Holding onto resentments is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” 
No truer words were ever spoken.

My former profession placed a lot of emphasis on the symbolic acts of closure: burning items that tie us to the past, or releasing balloons into the air with our feelings written inside.  My personal method is the shredder, because I latch onto documentation.  There’s some sort of perverse gratification to be found in re-reading old love letters, old hate letters, old crazy letters.  Up until two days ago, I was still hanging onto a few, perhaps in case I was to regress and decide to actually send them. 

The fear of someone else coming across the psychotipapers got the better of me, and I finally took action to destroy the evidence of my lunacy.  It was hard at first, because of the catharsis of purging all those emotions once again.  The hurt and betrayal remains locked inside, after all, never expressed to these intended targets.  What if I want to relive all this again, I thought.  Even more difficult to demolish were the last “I would die if I lost you” letters from my first love (more accurately described as my first hate). Possibly because it was the only remaining proof that I once mattered to someone? 

In the end that little machine ate the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Then I tied a few of those paper shreds to a shoestring and invented my cat’s new favorite toy; from pain came someone’s joy, at least.

Letting go is an act of surrender; where something in us clings to the past, holding on at all costs, we employ the discipline required to give it up ... a contradiction of sorts.  The harder it is to let go of, the more we obviously need to in order to move on.  And it’s long past time for me to move on.  Like they say:  “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Reading over the admissions in this post, it remains difficult for me to discern if it’s extraordinarily ill or extraordinarily human.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Didn’t we go to high school together?

We’ve all had that stomach-dropping moment when, looking maximally disgusting, we realize the person standing across from us went to the same high school as us.  Terror sets in as it clicks that we cannot avoid the ‘summing up’ of our lives and what we have(n’t) made of ourselves.  For me, this moment was proffered courtesy of an appointment with the cable company yesterday.

Now, the worst part wasn’t that I had failed to make it into the shower after my walk ... so it wasn’t my greasy face, the (likely) rank smell emanating from my body, the hideous workout garb, or my frizzy half-out ponytail.  It wasn’t the blessing of a grotesque zit that had mysteriously appeared on my 31 year-old neck that morning (seriously, does it ever end?).  I don’t even think it was the hundred additional pounds hanging from my once-cute little figure. Even the fact of living with my parents was not the most embarrassing aspect of the experience.  

Although any one of the aforementioned circumstances was enough to humiliate the crap out of me, the worst part was something he didn’t know and couldn’t see.  Totally internal.

As my mom proceeded to launch into her usual life-story-conversation-technique, he casually (or maybe braggingly) mentioned that he banked $60-70k a year doing installations.  This is the pinnacle of disgrace, I thought to myself: 

Him: self described “little punk” in high school, goof-off always running his mouth and getting into trouble, short for a guy, glasses.  Bottom of the class. 
Me: nerdy little teacher’s pet, never speaking out of turn, pulling in straight A’s and not so much as touching a cigarette or a can of beer.  Top of the class.

Him: glasses are gone, tall, cute, nice guy.  Upper middle class, three kids.  Doing well for himself.
Me: not a pretty sight, obese.  No boyfriend/husband/kids, broke, unemployed.  Nothing going for her. 

Undoubtedly, I shudder to think of his perception of me, or the offhand remark, “You’ll never guess who I ran into the other day” potentially unloaded from his lips at some point, with description to follow.  Frightening.  A million times worse: what I think of myself.  When I reflect on all the things I could have done-been-had, I just want to crawl in a hole and die. 

Amazingly, there are things I can do to top this feeling: I can look up the other salutatorians on facebook and puke over their Ivy League educations, aerospace engineering degrees, and wedding photos.  I don’t even think it’s about envy, it’s more this sense that they’ve won, and I have lost.  Even the people who didn’t even try, THEY won, too!  The cable guy rubbed that in for me.

It’s not a competition, you say?  Ahhhh, but it was for me.  Ever since 5th grade when the chubby quiet girl beat the “smart boy” on a test, I felt like there was nothing I couldn’t do just as well (ok, usually better) than anybody else.  Was it ego, or just a big “F you!” to all the little bastards who used to make fun of me?  I think I thought that, one day, ONE day, I was going to show all of them.  I was going to work super hard and make something of myself and they could all go F themselves.

Some people would say, “Karma’s a bitch.”  Except I didn’t do anything to anyone.  People were cruel to me as a kid, and they’ve been cruel to me as an adult.  It’s only life that’s a bitch.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Pro-sparrow on, yo.

Y felicidad.  Well, Dixie Chicks, it’s been FOUR long years now since the top of the world came crashing down ... apparently I’m reeeeaaally taking the long way around.  Maybe I peaked early, and cracking 30 put me “over the hill,” so to speak.  As another year screeches to a halt, I reflect on the build-up of all my life’s accomplishments one after the other, the wall I smashed into, and the straight drop down. 

Straight A’s.  Scholarships. Awards.  Prodding from my professors to move onto Ivy League PhD programs.  But I stayed at my safe local university for my MA, because that’s what a practical, naive girl does.  I had a fiancĂ©.  I had a life in mind, a plan that was going to unfold MY way.  I would graduate, get married, pop out kids, and embark on my middle-class career in a secure field. 

Turns out I had to ditch the guy along the way (and all my ideals about love), but the career!  Now that was going to be the shred of stability I could focus my perfectionism on.  I plodded on with my accomplishments, “growing” professionally by about five grand per year, always moving on to bigger and better opportunities.  And then it all vanished, never to be found again. 

I literally cannot figure out where I went.  The old me would not even recognize whatever I am now.  She would be disgusted by me.  She could not begin to relate to “giving up.” 

I am a nobody.  I am a has-been.  I am nothing to no one.  It used to be my life’s work to help people in this very frame of mind, now I can’t stand the thought of helping myself.  I can’t stand the thought of continuing to pretend all the time.  I can’t stand not being able to fix myself.  I sit here crying at the prospect of another year to get through.  I just don’t understand when it’s going to get better.  After all this time, why hasn’t it? 

It’s funny how, if you go long enough without something you thought you wanted sooooo bad, you can end up not wanting it anymore.  Period.  Like kids.  And marriage.  If given enough time, you’re forced to examine why you wanted life’s traditional ends to begin with.  You analyze the lives around you, and ask which shoes, if any, you long to be in. 

What if you can’t even find anyone to envy?  I mean, if you see someone who has something you want, you can try to go out and get it.  Well there’s nothing I want to go out and get, folks.  I’d rather sit around and waste away, apparently.  If you think long and hard enough, you may not end up finding the solutions to your life’s problems; instead, you may just grow terribly sick of mulling it all over endlessly.