“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”
~ William Congreve, The Mourning Bride, 1697
People make jokes about this line all the time… like, “Oh snap, don’t make her mad, you know how a girl gets!” or, “Damn, why’s she so pissed off? Well you know what they say…” But it dawned on me this morning, in a grey moment of epiphany, that I actually proved this maxim recently. I experienced such complete and focused rage directed towards a very particular individual because of their unbelievable dissing of me that I can only express it in terms like <Hell Hath No Fury> Now, said individual’s behavior was egregious and in many ways inexcusable, but that is not what interests me anymore. I am more interested in the levels of anger that it inspired within me. To. My. Core.
Why? Why did it make me so angry? Well, lots of reasons come to mind, but they seem silly when I look at them on their own. And frankly people I know far more intimately and far more concretely have done things that are far worse and not inspired even an iota of the ire I am talking about here. So, what was the deal?
I honestly contemplated doing things to this person that are beyond outrageous. I considered tweeting his phone number… posting the NSFW photos he sent me to a public web domain and linking it to him… spamming his email… forwarding his emails to me to random people who may or may not have anything to do with him… making his physical address known to all and sundry. Seriously, I contemplated all of these things. And I reveled in the satisfaction of reigning down vengeance on this person. This single, inconsequential, small, little person. The irony.
Of course, I did not do these things – though I could have. But I am absolutely mystified as to why I wanted to… It was so completely out of character for me. I mean seriously, I have put up with some whacked out bullshit from people that I have just blown off… but this really got to me. And the more I let it get to me, the more I saw this unfamiliar rage rise up. To be honest, it was a little scary.
I was thinking about this as I chilled out in Bangkok last weekend, and you know, while I was there the whole thing seemed so remote – so distant – so tiny, that it was even more perplexing as to why it got to me so severely. At various times I had chalked the whole thing up to a lack of information, humiliation, disrespect, deceit… to name but a few. I imagine it has a bit to do with all of those things. But notice, none of them indicate an emotional connection – like heartbreak, say. Or betrayal. It was totally ego-driven. Wow. And, ironically, the bruised ego seems to subsequently act in ways that are actually truly humiliating.
As I sat poolside at the Mandarin Oriental, sipping a cool drink and reading Cosmo, yes – actually on purpose, I saw an article about stalkers. Now, I have been stalked, and I take that shit quite seriously. This article was discussing how casual interactions can lead to stalking and one sort of off topic line jumped out at me: “…that he would even want to engage with someone who was not even remotely interested in him was…” And I was like, “Holy shit. Why am I even interested in working any of this out with someone who has made it clear that they are not even remotely interested in the same?” I mean, how contradictory in nature for someone with a sensitive ego… I was not stalking this person, but the mental energy was certainly comparable.
How. Totally. Embarrassing.
So, yeah, Congreve’s line might better be expressed as ‘Hell hath no fury as an ego wronged.’ [I think it best to remove the gender qualifier since it is reported that the majority of violent crimes against women are perpetrated by men who believe they have been you know – faced.]
In the end… I am glad I did not act on my ideas for revenge. He is not worth it. And even though I got this email from him recently that made me want to immediately jump right back into his quagmire of crap…
I know that I treated you badly and I’m sorry. I would just rather forget the whole experience. Some messed up shit, that I care not to go into, happened in April. Please don’t contact me again; I don’t want to rehash any of this. I wish you the best.
…I abstained. And I will abstain. For, while plotting revenge is sweet, and a righteous good time… carrying it out seems scary and creepy and yucky. And I definitely do not want to share in his karma. In the end I prefer my revenge served up by others, on others, for pure entertainment value: Like you can see here in the 20 Best Revenge Movies.
And one night in Bangkok worked that all out for me… Just in time.