Category Archives: Revenge

Walking the Talk

walk the talk
One of his last words to me was, “You talk about loving kindness, but do you really think you apply that in our relationship?”

The thought sat with me for a long time… I didn’t want to admit it.. “No…I didn’t”

In a moment of intense emotions, I said things I now regret. Things I knew would hurt him most. I told him I questioned his sanity. I told him he was insecure and reactive. I gave him the silent treatment for a whole day. And later, I did what I normally do to cope with all this inner turmoil and yuckiness, which is to write about my feelings, knowing full-well that he hates when I publicly write about my personal life.

At the moment I felt justified. This is how I cope. And telling him how I felt about him at the moment was true. He let me down, and I felt he MUST be aware of how I felt. I had to “show” him how hurt I was.

But as I showed him how I was hurting, I was simultaneously hurting him as well. It was like exchanging my pain for his pain. And then I realized that in doing so, I most certainly was not thinking at all about loving kindness. I was not thinking about the feelings of this man I loved.

And the more intense our argument became, the more we spat unloving, condescending, disrespectful words back and forth at each other. We were mean and cold. Yes, two people who genuinely loved each other so very much, did this to one another.

I began to realize, maybe I was justified to say what I said… But did I have to? Was it necessary? Was it helpful? And maybe he was justified to say what he said too. But he didn’t have to. And we both know it is not helpful or necessary. What are we getting out of this verbal slammage? What are we trying to prove?

I don’t think we got anything out of it. But I’ll tell you what we didn’t get though. We didn’t get closer. We didn’t feel very loving. We didn’t feel loved. We didn’t feel cared for, listened to, respected, and we most certainly did not feel very forgiving. In our exchange of verbal aggression, what we walked away with was animosity, anger, resentment, and shame… And what we lost? The very thing we were fighting for… Loving each other.

As I sat there reading his text asking if I really applied all that mumbo-jumbo about loving kindness, and realized that I actually don’t, I felt like I had just walked flat into a mirror face first. It was true… I was not walking my talk. In fact, every time I was presented with the opportunity, I never did… It was always the same pattern of behavior. Silent treatment and blaming the other person. It wasn’t a coping mechanism. It was a defense mechanism. Defending myself from having to deal with that ugly unloving reactive part of me. Regardless of who is at fault, when someone we love does something “unloving” to us, naturally, our first thought is that they don’t really love us. We feel betrayed. We begin to doubt them. We must remember that those feelings go both ways.

You can carry that anger and resentment, and assume that they do not love you. After all, their behavior did absolutely nothing to prove their love to you. Yes, you can stand your ground and demand an apology before (and IF) you forgive them. You can certainly “teach them a lesson” and make them feel bad until you yourself feel just a little bit better…

Or you can understand that they too, are hurting- hurting in some way far deeper than you can or will ever understand, and perhaps they do not know how to lovingly express that fear, anger, resentment, or insecurity… JUST LIKE YOU!

You see, even when there are walls between you, you still are so much alike. You are still so similar. It’s that part that makes us human. We all come with our own stories, and regardless of who the “bad guy is” the way we deal with our disappointments really has nothing to do with the other person, but something deep inside of ourselves.

The thing is, we never truly know what the other person is going through, because, simply, we aren’t them. We are all walking our own path. We feel things differently, we experience things differently, and we process things differently. After remembering this, it occurred to me that I actually was walking my talk. Granted, I wast doing a HORRIBLE job of it, but I had realized that through every failed love, every mistake I’ve made both personally and professionally, I was opening myself up more and more, growing more and more, and changing for the better.

In all my interactions, I had always tried my best to be loving, kind, and compassionate. And yes, in many (*cough* ALL) of them, I failed miserably. But it was the opening and expansion through these mistakes that left my footprints, proving that, indeed, I was walking my talk- and it was precisely that hurt, and pain, and all those grand failures that served as an opportunity to try my “talk” out through real life experiences. And that’s just how it is. We depend on others as mirrors. We depend on others to really learn and come in to know love.

Maybe it’s not about learning greatness and then applying it, but learning greatness, preparing yourself to use it, and then jump into that unknown, hoping and praying (fingers and toes, and eyes crossed!) that we can successfully apply what we’ve learned when the time comes. And at that same time, when other people let us down, disappoint us, or offend us, we can remember too, that they are also taking that scary, scary leap of faith. They too, are taking with them all that they know and are also given daily opportunities to make a choice- to love or not to love. Just like you, they will also experience success. They will also experience failure.

So you see, walking the talk isn’t about doing everything right. It’s about moving forward, continuing to live, and open yourself up to all the disappointments and failures of both yourself and others.

My love, I’m truly sorry.

The Blame Game

to-belittle-240x300
We all make mistakes, and we all seek forgiveness. Ironically, we also tend to downplay our own mistakes and over-dramatize the mistakes of others. And because we know what our intentions were, we expect forgiveness to come easy for the ones we have hurt or disappointed, yet we find it so difficult to forgive those that have crossed us. Why do we do this?

It’s hard to move on from our past mistakes especially when people keep bringing you down, or reminding you of your failures or bad decisions. In the peak of my divorce and child custody battle, I remember my ex forwarding me old emails of things I’d said or done that weren’t that “smart”. He would leave old anniversary or Valentine’s Day cards I had written him when we were married on my doorstep as a “reminder”, and screenshots of texts I’d sent to him when I lost my cool. He would document the moments I was less than the perfect mother, and say I was a horrible, weak, ignorant person that could not be trusted. He would threaten to use my childhood trauma and history of psychological counseling as “evidence” that I was an unfit mother, and that my son had to be taken away from me. He would keep detailed notes of who my friends were, and threaten that by being their friend I was exposing my son to “bad people.”

At one point, I began to believe him. His stories almost became my stories. Maybe I was a failure. Maybe I should have stayed in the marriage. Maybe I was stupid. Maybe I was mentally unstable… No.

That was not true. That was his story, not mine.

We all make mistakes and it’s important to remember that not all mistakes are one-sided (well, some are…) I’ve never liked the word “mistake”. I prefer to call them “bad calls” or “bad choices” because mistakes make it sound like we didn’t have a choice in the matter. When we make bad choices, our job is to own up to them. Now if you’ve paid your debt, even if the other person hasn’t moved on, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t move on. You don’t have to wait for someone else to move on in order for you to. Sometimes forgiving yourself is the best thing you can do. When we forgive ourselves or others, we are not saying that what was done was ok or somehow justified. When we forgive ourselves or others, we are simply saying that what has happened is done and we love ourselves and others enough to move forward and grow from that experience. This doesn’t mean that crimes should never be put to justice. What it means is that we don’t have to ridicule, put someone down, or remind them of bad decisions made (and it might help a little, or a LOT, to acknowledge the role that you played in that experience as well).

But if someone keeps bringing up your past or telling you that you will always be a horrible person because of something you have done, that’s ok. It isn’t a reflection of who you are, it’s a reflection of where they are in life at that moment. And it’s ok to forgive yourself for what you’ve been through. Although it is ok to feel bad and maybe even a little regret for the bad decisions you’ve made, it is NOT ok to stay there and live in the past, and it is NOT ok to allow another person to keep you or pull you back into that past.

We are progressive beings. We move forward, we evolve. Most importantly, we love, and we love passionately. Our spirits thrive on goodness. We feel joy in kindness and being kind.

And so maybe the next time someone belittles you or tells you how horrible you are because of your past, try this:

Think deeply at the last time you held a stubborn stance when someone apologized to you. Look back on the last time someone let you down and you hesitated to forgive them or respond in kindness. Remember that time when you were judgmental about someone who did something you questioned as morally wrong.

Regardless of how unkind another is, regardless of the mistakes others make, we too, have unkind moments. We too, make hurtful choices. We too, have difficulty forgiving.

I have a challenge (for myself, and I ask it of you too). The next time someone makes a mistake, instead of pointing out the flaw, how about looking for a way to encourage them?

“You’ve come a long way. I’m so proud of your progress. Look at how well you’ve been dealing with ….”

And if they still are struggling, maybe add kind suggestions that get them thinking, such as:
“I noticed that when x,y,z happened, you responded by doing, a,b,c. I wonder if your message got across to them effectively…?”

Perhaps these small gestures can end the cycle of this blame game, one person at a time, and encourage empowering relationships instead.

Maybe, instead of blaming and pointing fingers, we can build people up. Bring forth encouragement when people are at their lowest. Remind them, by our own actions, that peace prevails. Goodness prevails. Love prevails. It always has, and it always will.

And if that doesn’t work (because sometimes it won’t) and those SOBs keep bringing you down, fly high! There’s a story I once heard that goes something like this:
Storm-Eagle

When a storm is coming, the Eagle sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm.
While the storm rages below, the Eagle is soaring above it.
The Eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher.
It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

When the storms of life come upon us – and all of us will experience them – we can rise above them by setting our minds and our faith toward a greater good.
The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow our faith and fearless inner peace to lift us above them.

Faith is what enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives.

Like an Eagle we can soar above the storm.  Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them.

(Story adapted from http://www.indianchild.com)

Doing The Right Thing When You Don’t Want To (and you’re pretty sure it won’t work anyway)

I remember when I was a kid growing up with two other siblings, fairness was always an issue (and a totally rational excuse for starting a fight). If my elder sister got to go on a date, it only made sense that I should be able to go on one too. If my brother didn’t have to do dishes, then I shouldn’t have to do them either. When we were kids it made sense, and we applied that rule to EVERYTHING. As humans, we are always comparing, measuring, balancing, as if it is our responsibility, our personal obligation, to make sure he doesn’t have more than me, because if he does, it’s simply not fair and this world MUST be fair.

In some circumstances, this may be true, but what we often fail to recognize or consider is that what may be suitable for one is not always suitable for another. What may be good timing for one person may not be good timing for another. My sister went on several dates before I did. My brother never had to do the dishes. But it didn’t ruin my life. In fact, it made it better.

As we grew up, somehow the term “eye for an eye” was misinterpreted to assume that reciprocal justice had to be carried out by you (or another person, or some legal official) instead of leaving it to karma, or “God”, or whatever other beliefs are out there (I’m going to talk about divorce, because that’s what I’m really knowledgable about). Divorce cases with children typically end up losing the main focus (the best interest of the children) and result in two spouses fighting it out, sometimes for years, until they either both lose, or the more powerful feels they’ve adequately gotten “even” with the other person. The idea of “taking the high road” or “doing the right thing” has not even had the chance to become an option. Emotions are high, pride is on the line, and ego is at stake. The idea of revenge feels so much more pleasing than walking away and starting over. Why should I have to accept this? Look at all he’s done! He shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this! He must be punished!

The past few weeks I was blessed with the opportunity to challenge myself on several occasions in trusting this “karma”. Although tempted to manipulate the situation, I took the high road. In each moment, I took a risk, but knew that even if I lost, I would still have the resources I needed to make it through.

What happened, you may ask. Three things:

1) In signing the child custody papers, I was supposed to select 3 co-parenting therapists (a professional that helps two divorced parents peacefully parent a child). I found two extremely qualified Psychologists that I felt would be an excellent fit, and one other that was “meh”. Since I couldn’t find a third “amazing” Psychologist, I added the “meh” one but noted that she didn’t accept insurance (the other two did).  Since my ex is all about money, I assumed he wouldn’t pick one who doesn’t take insurance. As luck would have it, my ex chose the “meh” one and I immediately starting thinking of ways I could manipulate the situation so that we didn’t have to have her as our therapist. I reminded myself that these kind of tactics don’t work in the long run, and that I needed to trust the Universe, trust the process, trust karma, and accept the repercussion of my own decisions. One week later when we tried to schedule the “meh” therapist, she responds that she can’t take on any new clients, which left us with the two preferred therapists in the end. My ex ended up selecting the one I ultimately had my eye on.

2) Our child custody case has always been high-conflict. Our biggest problem was that my ex was a flight risk. He had threatened on several occasions to take my son away from me and move to Japan, or Vietnam, or Detroit. My attorney and I were able to put stipulations in place so that he couldn’t fly out of California without my permission, and I was to hold on to the passport and IDs, but Japan is still an infant when it comes to child custody and divorce issues. Even today, they have little to no regard for any US court orders in child custody cases. If my ex wanted to create a Japanese passport for my son and fly him out of the country, there is almost nothing I can do from preventing that, and once done, almost nothing I can do to bring him back to the US. That said, I did some research and found that I could petition to the Japanese Embassy and ask them to put a restriction on renewing/creating any passport for our son. The catch? When our son was born, my ex failed to name me on the Koseki Tohon (Family Registry) so the Embassy didn’t recognize me as my son’s mother, and told me that I had no authority to put such a restriction in place. I was doomed… I tried to think of ways I could manipulate the situation, and again, had to remind myself that “doing the right thing is ALWAYS the right thing”. After talking to my best friend in Japan I found out that there were other ways of going about it. After directly contacting the Ward in Japan, we resolved the case in less than a few days and they sent us the documents we needed to continue the process.

3) My ex had been out of the country and out of our lives for nearly all of my son’s life. It was only 2 years ago, when he found out I was seeing someone, that he asked for custody of my son.  Our litigation has taken that long. To make a long story short, the cause of the delay was basically unnecessary delay on his part and my allowing that to happen for too long (This is a topic I’ll address in a separate post about what you need to know when talking to your lawyer, and how to take the lead on your case). My ex delayed the case because he needed time to hide assets. The Financial Disclosures he did provide were incomplete and we didn’t know any better because they came to us in Japanese, which no one could read. After some translation (on my part) I found out that he was missing several months of salary and stock/bond options. When it came time to present our case to the Settlement Officer Conference (something we had to cancel 3 times prior because he “wasn’t ready”) they again, asked to post-pone. But this time, I was smart enough and decided to call them out on their bluff. I gave them the their Financial Disclosures and asked them to account for the missing salary and stock information, or to sign off on the orders immediately. I threatened that if they did not sign off on the orders, I would hire a forensic accountant and external attorney to discover assets with the intention of pursuing half. The document was signed the next day… Yeah, they got away with fraud, but I got closure to the custody issue. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but I got what I wanted most, which was peace from the hell of litigation.

What happens now is to keep reminding myself that good always triumphs. We cannot see, hear or feel the magic of this truth, but it is out there. I promise.

“Everything will be ok” does not equal “everything will go my way” but it most certainly means that you can trust God, the Universe, or whatever you want to call it, that doing the right thing, even if you don’t want to, will always be the right thing.

We live in a 3-dimensional world in which we define our reality as what we can see, hear, or physically feel, and given that our species is still so young, that doesn’t make us much different than gorillas, dogs, and fish. Our small minds are more reactive like our primal ancestors, and we fail to see the larger picture. But as scary as it is, it was precisely this restraint from primal reaction that allowed us to evolve as human beings, and I believe it is the nurturing of this restraint that will continue to push us towards further evolution (and possibly into a 5th dimension…but that’s for a different post). There’s a Confucius saying that I absolutely love:

“The ultimate revenge is living well and being happy. Hateful people can’t stand happy people. Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”- 
Confucius