Have you ever indulged in revenge fantasies? These are the normal outcome of feeling victimized or traumatized by others. Especially if you’ve suffered from PTSD, complex or otherwise.
I’ve lived long enough to see my childhood bully come to a grisly and untimely end at the hands of a family member. Another of my perpetrators contracted a fatal illness.
Interestingly, these developments brought me no pleasure. My desire to see these people suffer lived only in my imagination. In reality, I experienced sorrow when calamity befell them, and pity over their inauthentic lives.
James Baldwin wrote one of my favorite life quotes:
People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.
My revenge fantasies paled in comparison to the punishment these people inflicted on themselves. By holding tight to the need to be right and condemning others, they created loveless lives.
By denying themselves the personal growth to find their true calling in life, they resigned themselves to meagre existences. This led to physical illness and relationships with people who cared nothing for their well-being.
What causes revenge fantasies
The desire for revenge comes from a feeling of bitterness against someone who wronged you. As you move away from such people and tend to your own needs, your resentment abates.
Revenge fantasies serve as a coping mechanism to relieve the pain of complex PTSD. But as we heal that pain through self-love and self-compassion, the need for revenge dissipates.
As you grow and create a fulfilling life away from your former persecutors, pity replaces bitterness. And forgiveness has nothing to do with releasing these bad feelings.
It comes with the knowledge that those people no longer hold any power over you. You see how small they become as you expand into your true essence.
In the film The Revenant, the protagonist spends much of the film seeking revenge against his son’s killer. In the end, he realizes revenge belongs to God. When the perpetrator faces justice in the end, it’s by someone else’s hand.
If there’s a moral here it’s that your abusers will pay for what they’ve done. Whether through the small lives they’ve created, or through physical calamity.
You may be surprised at how little this satisfies you, and even pity them. That’s because you’ve grown like a phoenix from the ashes, while they remain scurrying on the ground.
As you soar to new heights in your personal development, they no longer hold power over you. In fact, you can barely see them from your new vantage point.
That’s enough to take the air out of most revenge fantasies. Independent of whether you’ve forgiven your persecutors or not.