If you had the opportunity, would you go back to that one person who hurt you so badly and let them have it? All that visceral anger that you have been harbouring, unleashed.
One of the traits of someone living with depression is that we tend to ruminate, especially on those people or incidents that left us feeling unvalued, hurt, humiliated. We tend to play over and over in our minds the details of the offending event, imagining what it would have been like if only we had been braver, more succinct, able to think better on our feet.
Oh my how that person would suffer at the hand of our witty, but cutting, repartee. The look of abject horror in their eyes, knowing full well that they had been non-violently beaten into submission. We would turn on our heals and leave, their dropped jaw gleefully seared into our brains, and we would know that, finally, we had won. Vindication would be ours.
But it never quite happens that way. Victory is rarely won by any form of confrontation.
In humanity, there are people who delight in causing mayhem and harm to others. They are ignorant, unaware, pigheaded. There is no reasoning with them and whenever you are in their company they always leave you feeling less than, never valued. Often they create drama wherever they go and they always seem to pull you into their web. You don’t want to be there, but somehow you are powerless to avoid it. More often than not if you were to ask them what type of person they were, they would reply that they are good, kind people who only want to bring goodness into the world, completely unaware of how their bombastic ways leave people feeling. This is part of the human condition. It is unavoidable. We cannot change this.
It can all feel so disempowering. And it is that feeling of disempowerment that leaves us with residue anger that can live with us for years.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
It doesn’t seem right, I know, but the single most liberating thing you can do is to let them go, to let the incident go, to move forward, to live free. Free yourself of the weight of the anger, frustration, injustice.
It isn’t easy. The brain tends to replay incidents in our minds. It is a biological response, you see, to replay that incident that caused us harm. It is a way of protecting ourselves, preparing ourselves if the incident should ever happen again. And our body can’t differentiate between what is real or imagined. When we ruminate, it is as if we are living in the moment of that incident. We feel wretched, angry, hurt all over again. We are stuck.
The only way to stop the cycle is to let it go.
In recent years I have had a couple of incidents that have left me reeling. And I carried them with me like medals of a battle I should have won.
I was torturing myself. Every time I was alone, it seemed, with nothing but my own thoughts to keep me company, I would replay those incidents over and over again. A stuck record, searing a scar so deep into my brain it felt like I would never be free of the misery.
But then I realised that I am master of my own destiny. I do have control over my thoughts. I do have control over how they dance across my mind.
I consciously chose to sublimate those thoughts. It isn’t easy and it can be a good few minutes of ruminating, self talking, imagining my responses before I become aware of them. But then I close my eyes. I breathe in and breath out. I say the words “breathe in, breathe out.” You see, it takes conscious effort to speak. It diverts your mind from those ruminating negative thoughts to your voice. “breathe in, breathe out.”
Before I know it, my heart rate has lowered, my breathing has slowed and a calmness has settled over my mind.
It takes practice. A lot of it. Sometimes, it is a real struggle. My mind fights with me. It wants to be heard. It wants to warn me of the impending danger, remind me of the pain and hurt I felt so that I can be better prepared next time.
But I have learned. It isn’t real. The hurt and anger is futile. The event has passed. Retribution isn’t coming, and it is pointless to hold onto it. And so I consciously let the person go. I say the words, “You can no longer hurt me, and I let you go. Breathe in, breath out. I let you go. Breathe in, breathe out.”
I also choose never to have anything to do with them.
This seems harsh, and it wasn’t a decision taken lightly. But I believe in my right to choose whom I have in my life. After a lifetime of allowing people to dictate my worth, I have taken ownership of it. And so I choose to let them go. Not with hatred. For they acted in response to their own demons. And I take ownership of my part, for there are always two sides to any story, good or bad.
Still, I choose not to dance with them any longer, to not engage in their little game that seems to drive them, thrill them, control them. That is their internal fight, not mine. I choose to walk away.
And I feel so much better for it.
Do I wish I could yell and shout, and give them a piece of my mind? Sometimes. But mostly, I choose peace of mind and that makes all the difference.