I Got Revenge And Now I Want It Again
I had a boyfriend that I verbally abused. I called him a coward and other names because he avoided dealing with differences in our relationship. Angry verbal outbursts has always been my choice way of coping. My outburst was around his birthday and I opted out of hosting his party with his family and myself. About a week went by, we did not talk. Then I ran into him at the local social club we hung out at. He was cold at first, and then we had a few drinks and decided to go back to his place and talk about our issues. We enjoyed our time together, he acted as we had resolved our issue, we had sex, then the next morning he was stone cold and told me he didn't want a relationship with me. He dropped me off in front of the club (to get my car) on his Harley Davidson. I was crushed as he told me, "I just feel better telling you the truth. I don't want you." Then he rode away.
This kind of painful experience was not my first. I have a history of allowing myself to be used and abused by men. I have a history of struggling to find self love. After he left I cried in deep pain, as I had just been taken advantage of by yet another guy. Again, my hope for love had been rejected. It was not being dumped that cut so very deeply, it was his way of breaking up with me in an effort to gain power that deeply penetrated my core and angered me. I was infuriated inside. One week later I went nuts when I saw him hanging all over a girl. He had found a new toy. This was the turning point in my life I started to become an aggressor. No one anymore was going to mistreat me and get away with it. I was no longer going to be a victim.
I drove up to his house enraged. I picked up a shovel. I wanted so bad to smash his window in. I couldn't bring myself to do it. So instead I broke in via window access. I saw his precious biker jacket and his new girl's leather jacket hanging on the bed post. (A bikers jacket with its pins and memorabilia of the places it has gone, is a bikers pride). I put her jacket on, it was now mine.
I continued to raid his drawers and found women's numbers and took them. I proceeded to take his jacket, jumped out the window, got my lipstick out of the car and scribbled vulgar things all over his car window and wooden doors of his house. I tried to kick in his shed door. I do not know what I was going to do if I had succeeded, I just know I was on a rampage. I than went to the local biker joint. I sat next to a hard looking man and started conversation with him and told him I have a bunch of cool pins and patches. I said I would go out to my car and get them off my jacket for him. I just needed something sharp I said. He pulled out a 5 inch knife and said "Here you go honey--you'll bring it back, right?" Defiantly I assured him.
Like a wild woman, I went and got his jacket from my back seat and began cutting it up into pieces, dismantling it, and throwing it piece by piece from the bridge into the river. It was a feeling I had never felt before. I kept slashing away at that jacket. I felt that there was no one more in power at that bar than me. He devalued something that was important to me by using me for sex. I was now taking something that was valuable to him. I then proceeded to pass out his memorabilia to the people in the bar.
The feeling of sweet revenge lasted for a long time, but then I had another boyfriend break up with me by not talking to me and ignoring me. Because I had committed an act of revenge before, it has been hard not to think like a crazy stalker. I know this is wrong. I have not done anything to him even though he went back to his ex one week after he started ignoring me. I was not worth enough as a human being for him to treat me fairly. Instead he ostracized me (so I felt).
I think about petty revenge all the time. Like...Gluing his thermostat to 100 degrees (He hates being warm). I have even had thoughts about deep revenge. I draw out the details in my mind of how I could do it and get away with it.
I am trying to figure out what is wrong with me. Why do I feel such gratification in retaliation for having my heart broke? What is this mental disorder called? Why can't I just let it go? All in all, I can say I have deprived myself of being able to be happy despite others' attempts at devaluing me. Or in dealing with rejection. I prefer to not let them think they can 'win'. I believe they do not deserve to walk away with any gratification in going about their life. I feel a desire to cause harm. I feel a sense of entitlement to 'teach them a lesson.' I think how dare they not deal with me in a civil manner? The energy it takes to think this way is exhausting and toxic. I know this state of mind keeps me from functioning well in my life. Negativity invades my head at work, at home and in my bed. I feel angry all the time.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Paige. Thanks for reaching out for help on this site. You are smart to ask for help before going any further with your efforts or plans for revenge. You are smart enough to know that this kind of thinking and toxic emotion is extremely harmful to you, and you could end up ruining your life if you just let it run.
Right now, there are men and women in prison who would give anything to be where you are, and still have the choice that would give them their freedom and their life back.
Congratulations for being smart enough and healthy enough to try to stop your revenge process at this point.
You ask for a diagnosis for your problem, but I'm not going to label you with a diagnosis. I don't think it would help you at all. You are a human being on the human journey, and you want to do better, and that's what counts.
You're not alone in liking revenge. How many people like to watch movies and see the "bad guys" get what's coming to them? Billions. It's part of human nature--but it's a part of human nature you don't want to cultivate and develop.
I want you to try an exercise. This will help you to see clearly what you're doing, and it will help you to gain control.
1) Get a mental picture of this part of you that takes over when you're caught up in your anger and rage, getting revenge. Make sure this image has a face, with eyes and a mouth. The image does not have to be fully human or anything you've ever seen before, it just has to "capture" the feeling you call "sweet revenge."
2) Then give the picture a body, noticing the posture and position of its hands.
3) If you're willing, trying drawing a picture of this image. You don't have to be an artist, as a matter of fact it helps if you aren't. Just keep sketching until you look at what you've drawn and have the feeling, "Yes! That's it. That's how it feels."
4) Next, let it talk. What I mean is, I want you to write in a journal what it has to say. You were writing from it above, for example, when you said, "I believe they do not deserve to walk away with any gratification in going about their life. I feel a desire to cause harm. I feel a sense of entitlement to 'teach them a lesson.' I think how dare they not deal with me in a civil manner?"
5) This part of you is not bad--you just don't want it being in charge of your thoughts or actions. Your "revenge mechanism" is overactive right now, because you indulged it by acting it out and letting it take over your behavior. As you know, you committed acts of vandalism and destruction of property, which could get you arrested and end up hurting your life. The best of you, which is who you really are, doesn't want to hurt yourself or anyone else.
Next, after getting a clear idea of how this revenge mechanism looks and thinks, start trying to see the good, healthy part of you that is asking for help.
1) Read the page on revenge on this site in detail, and follow all of the recommendations.
2) Begin a daily journaling process where you write first from your anger, then shifting to gratitude, appreciation and optimism. You will find detailed instructions on how to do this on this page.
3) Be sure you're getting a lot of good physical exercise to work off excess tension.
Anger is not bad, Paige--you just want to learn to make it work for you and not against you. You can do this, you've got what it takes. You are a strong woman. Use your strength to make your own life better, remembering that the "greatest revenge is a happy life."
Feel free to write again on this site if you like.
I am confident that you will succeed in your efforts to master these emotions.
My best to you,