I’ve spent a large portion of my time wishing, and attempting to make, life in to a musical. Many a friend has been embarrassed by my lackluster dance moves in the pharmacy or my unexpectedly boisterous diaphragm while walking down the street. Many a friend has joined in. On our own, I won’t pretend impromptu lyrics have been as enthralling as their initial concept. Perhaps that’s why I love Glee so much, particularly when their songs expand beyond the classroom assignments. It may also explain my fascination with karaoke, which is about as socially-acceptably close as I can get to a life-musical.
The day before J. and I called it off, it occurred to me that if life was a musical (with covers), I was singing “Lovefool” by The Cardigans and he was singing, “It Ain’t Me, Babe” by Johnny & June Carter Cash.
Since Saturday afternoon, I’ve been on a T-Swift kick with “Better Than Revenge.”
In my first draft of this post, I typed out the situation in which I felt betrayed – the situation I thought warranted revenge. I felt the slow deflation as my shoulders came at ease, the warmth returning to my sternum. And then I read it, and, embarrassed, backspaced to this point. Who cares? Not you, dear reader. And I don’t want to.
Something my Forensics coach said about anger has always stuck with me. I was doing a coming-of-age scene with an unusually creepy boy in which my character was going to pierce his character’s ear (wink-wink) and his character initially gets angry and yells at me. Well, this guy was pretty good with the psychotically angry, but we couldn’t tone him down to subtlety.
Anyway, my coach said something along the lines of, “Anger is boring to watch. Anyone can shout and sound mean and give dirty looks – can ‘act angry.’ But that’s not what anger is about; anger is the final product of some other emotion like sadness or fear – what is making you angry. Anger needs motivation, so when you act angry, you need to be conscious of that motivation because that’s what the audience really wants.”
That’s probably a lot less eloquent than what he said, and I might’ve filled in the gaps over the time, but that’s the jist of it. The idea that there is an underlying cause. We ended up switching out the creepy boy and it was a fun, if not too obvious scene.
When I started craving revenge, driving home, screaming out Taylor Swift, kind of crying, I thought of some really awesome – awesome? poignant? – things to do to the accused. Small things. I knew my potential for damage, but I also saw how cheap it was. I didn’t want to be the crazy girl that struck back, that someone might say, “well if that’s really her then I don’t blame you.” It sort of transformed itself from that “don’t get down to their level” sentiment to one of, “don’t let them have that power over you.” Which sounds weird.
The “power” idea is more of a retrospective thing, though, because I don’t think it should be some jaded sense of never letting people affect you/feel things/what have you. That’s foolishly cynical. It’s more of a sense that, if that person is capable of such a betrayal, they don’t really deserve to mean that much to you. So it’s not an offensive move as much as it is an ineffective defensive, since you wouldn’t think that of them unless they did have that power over you.
I started to see that my anger wasn’t a “how dare they” ordeal, but that I couldn’t believe I actually meant so little to people that meant so much to me. I felt like a fool – embarrassed, tricked. I was hurt and had to realize that those relationships might have just ended.
That’s not to say that I don’t believe in forgiveness, but I’m cautious when it comes to applying it to a betrayal. I guess that’s a broad category and could technically be applied to less dramatic circumstances. The reason I don’t shy away from it here is that these people knew what they were doing would cost my friendship… So they, together, were comfortable with betraying someone. And separately, that means each person has a price at which they are willing to betray another person. Which is not a friendship I would feel comfortable in.
I’ve tried to actively avoid thinking that their price range for me is an accurate reflection of me. I’ve tried to make sure I don’t see that as the world’s idea of my worth. That’s kind of hard, especially considering these were two of my closest what-have-yous. I’m not sure if that’s justified, or if I should be looking more introspectively on why it wouldn’t be hard for others to “sell out.” Maybe I am making a mistake.
A few opportunities have already presented themselves in which I could exact revenge or say something snarky and hurtful, but I’m trying to resist that. The only people that need revenge are those that have been victimized, and I’m not going to be a victim just because they act in a certain way. I hope I’m not acting like a victim.
The “higher road” also seems a bit confusing. To extend the metaphor, taking the higher road means you can be pushed down – and fall farther. I’m not sure whether this morally right choice makes you more or less vulnerable. If you don’t react to the pain someone causes, what incentive do they have to stop causing you pain? I’m supposed to choose to not only not harm them back, but let them cause me more harm? So again we are back to making sure someone can’t cause you pain. I’m not sure the higher road is supposed to be about becoming disaffected.
Oh crap, this is the whole turn the other cheek thing. I learned this in Sunday school, and yeah, I suppose the higher road does possibly enable you to get hurt more. But it also makes sure that you have a clean conscience, so you are making sure that you don’t do anything you might regret. You’re making sure that you – the only person whose actions you can wholly control, who you have complete responsibility for – aren’t hurting yourself in the long run. Wow, good save Jesus.
I would like to say, “I would take the higher road, but I’m afraid of heights,” but fear isn’t the right reason to stop from doing something. Although I have some really ingenious ideas for revenge, I need to let them go.
Edits, for clarity:
There is a difference in forgiving someone and returning that person to the position he/she held beforehand. In fact, to not seek revenge – and to not desire it would be taking the right steps toward forgiveness. I don’t plan on begrudging these people for what they did, but I won’t rely on them to be trustworthy people, either.
Also, as a sort of update – I am cutting out unnecessary contact. That seems like a given, but it’s difficult to crack the whip on something like that. When I crack it, it still reverberates up my arm. (I wonder what I would say if I didn’t constantly abuse metaphors?) Ultimately, I don’t enjoy the conflict or desire the unease. On my worth as perceived by others – I’m not going to degrade my value to what some people are willing to give. I think acting like the betrayal never happened would be like saying, “Sure, you can play darts on my back – no no, I understand that the metal tips are better for your game.”