“Beware of the man who does not return your blow: he neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself.“
~George Bernard Shaw
Several years ago, a high school classmate of mine started dating this girl. Because he and I were always close, I also became close with his girlfriend. For years, she and I hung out together, shared secrets, and was there for each other in trying times. I really loved her, and I believed that she loved me.
One day, my classmate told me that he had said to his girlfriend, ” Brandi is cool. Just don’t make her mad”. I had mixed feelings about that. Even though I knew that what he said was true–I’m a good friend, but I truly believed in payback if crossed. His girlfriend had been around me long enough to know that. But, why was he warning her of that now? I have to admit that I thought it was kind of cool that this personality trait of mine was known. Maybe it would ensure that the people in my life would treat me as well as I would treat them. After he told me this, I didn’t ask any follow up questions; I just laughed.
Months later, my good friend tried the theory that was previously issued to her as a warning, and all Hell broke out. Perhaps she thought that, because of our close relationship, I’d eventually get over it. If so, she was wrong about that. She had committed the most gross offense that anyone could commit against me: she lied on me. That was unforgivable.
In response to that offense, I made some phone calls and did a few things that would guarantee that her life would be difficult for a while. Unlike her, I didn’t lie–there was no need to. The truth was much more powerful. While her life had become unbearable, it was no longer my problem. I heard very little about it after that.
And Life Went On… Or So I Thought
This was not the first time that I was crossed by someone and immediately returned the gesture with an equal (or more dire) gesture. I’d skip off into the sunset with a false feeling of redemption, but it was always short lived.
My sensitivity antenna was never as strong as I wanted it to be, and in turn, I wasn’t as ruthless as I thought I was. In fact, I wasn’t ruthless at all. I’d lose sleep as well as my appetite, and things in my life would seem to go wrong all at once. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was agonizing over the grief that I had brought on those who really deserved it. This went on for years, and during that time, I continued to distribute retribution to those of whom I felt had it coming.
I’ve always been who I present myself to be. I’m honest, trustworthy, and loyal. I’ve always expected the same from anyone that I called a friend. That was my standard, and it wasn’t a bad standard to have. However, people are who they are and you don’t always get what what you give. Some people don’t know how to be loyal, trustworthy, and honest, so it’s futile to place such a high expectation upon them.
Sometime, in my late 20’s, I really started to feel drained, though nothing had happened that would cause me to feel that way. I pondered reasons that could have been contributing to that feeling. After days of thinking, I realized that years of retaliation, even though warranted, was weighing on me. I felt really bad for the things that I had done to people in attempts of evening the playing field. Did it help? Did it really change anything? No, it didn’t. They were all acts of being emotionally hurt, feeling betrayed, and having a bruised ego. There were proper channels that should have been taken. Instead, I decided to interrupt the livelihoods of those who had offended me.
Eventually, I began to understand that I am not built to destroy things; I am here to build things. Going against my nature had proved to be damaging to me, perhaps more-so than to those who were on the receiving end of my wrath. Surely, they had all gone on with their lives; yet there I was, years later, still agonizing over past events.
Universal Law of Cause And Effect
Universal Law of Cause And Effect: for every effect there is a definite cause, likewise for every cause, there is a definite effect. Your thoughts, behaviors, and actions create specific effects that manifest and create your life as you know it.
Plain and simple, whatever you give unto the universe, the universe will return unto you. When I was returning bad favors with bad favors, I was no better than those who I felt had wronged me. The right thing to do was state my case and walk away from those people, grateful that such beings had been removed from my life. My attitude should have been, “Wow! I feel sorry for you. I would have walked to the end of the earth for you. It’s not likely that you’ll find that kind of friend again, but I hope you do. And I hope that you will treat them better”, instead of, “Oh, you wanna play? Let’s play!”
By allowing people and situations to bring me to their levels, I was essentially asking the universe to send me more of the same, and the universe obliged.
I did not forgive myself for any of this, and I never will because it doesn’t deserve a pass. However, I’ve taken the lessons and I continue to move forward. I’m much more cautious of who I choose to call a friend, and much more flexible with my expectations of people–in fact, I only expect them to be who they are; this eliminates any chances of being let down. When someone shows me that they no longer belong in my life, I try to leave without hard feelings, but sometimes that isn’t possible. In either case, my conscience is clear.
This Does Not Mean That You Have To Be A Doormat
Disrespect is never acceptable. You have every right to feel the way that you feel about it, as well as express said feelings to your offender. It’s very unhealthy to keep your feelings bottled up (a lesson that I’ve learned the hard way). State your case and make your point without allowing yourself to stoop to the levels of those who have disrespected and/or hurt you. Your continued greatness is the best retaliation. In the interim, be a sunflower!
Regardless of who hit whom first, you are only responsible for your actions–not the actions of others.