Many of us are asking ourselves if it’s ok to feel a sense of vindication, even celebration, that certain people got some bad news this week. As a licensed clinician and survivor of complex trauma, I thought I’d share some insights about what’s happening.
When someone’s behaved in ways that recklessly demolished the hopes, dreams, safety, freedom, sanity or lives of either ourselves or people we love, it’s normal to fantasize about hellish revenge against that person. I had, admittedly, violent day dreams about the tribe of grade school bullies who routinely tortured me (and once, almost actually killed me) until we moved to a different state. In those childhood day dreams, I had unlimited super powers which I used to publicly humiliate and mercilessly punish my diminutive enemies. I flew through the air like a miniature Neo, kicking, slapping, punching and otherwise smashing my infantile oppressors to smithereens. I verbally assaulted them in smarter and even harsher ways than they’d verbally, physically and psychologically assaulted me. I wanted them to hurt harder than the ways they’d hurt me, foolishly hoping inhumane punishment would somehow transform them into human beings. Even in my closet of darkness, I knew these were fruitless intents but they offered temporary reprieve from the next miserable tomorrow, until I opened a book and drowned myself in one of many beautiful distractions about victims, bullies and heroes who had better costumes than me.
I had different but darker revenge fantasies about my physical, emotional, psychological and sexual adult abusers. I dreamt up tragic deaths for them, followed by elaborate funeral scenes in which I gave impassioned speeches to the people who could’ve stopped them from hurting me but who, for all kinds of reasons, failed to protect me from harm. Sometimes the speeches were to god, sometimes to the abusers themselves. Other times, in my mind, I’d strut assertively to their mourner-less headstones and curse them in their graves. All these visions were created in the defenseless mind of an angry, terrified, grieving, powerless, wounded and hiding child. Now, as fully grown, statuesque, 5 foot 5 inch, hundred and something pound adult, I think and feel much differently.
Systemic oppression stunts our biopsychosocialspiritual growth, rendering us angry, terrified, grieving, powerless, wounded and childlike, until we acquire whatever we need to see clearly and stand taller. For Dorothy, it was a bonk on the head, a few good friends, a fairy godmother and a fabulous pair of heels. Maybe some of us also need a shrink or a sponsor?
It’s not that we come to condone the sick, cruel or twisted actions of broken people. It’s that we realize sickness, cruelty and twistedness are the result of succumbing to sickness, cruelty and twistedness until we surrender to truth and the work of cultivating the light of understanding. It’s a giant pain in the ass to cultivate that light but it’s easier than lugging around untold tons of misery and hate. I think it’s called forgiveness, boundaries, recovery, being woke. Consciousness is what separates humans from animals, though I still think my dog is nicer than I’ll ever be.
Less than one percent of humans are broken past the point of restoration according to sources who previously committed women to insane asylums for accusing abusive spouses of domestic violence. Therefore, we’re entitled to our rational doubts about statistics. That being said, if you’re finding yourself looking at your heart and wondering is my death wish towards this nightmare of a jackass a sin? Nope. It’s a normal and natural part of the healing process.
There’s no right way to feel when we’ve become the dehumanized target of a barbarian’s emotional shrapnel. However, somewhere between righteous rage and saintly absolution lives the only freedom I’ve yet to know in this worldly plane of honeyless, sour milk, and that emotional freedom, I wish for everyone.
In other news, he is profoundly revolting.