For those of you not familiar with poetry slam, here’s the abbreviated definition: it’s a performance poetry competition in which you perform your own work and are scored by judges in the audience. All year long, slammers compete and some qualify to slam-off for a spot on the team that will represent their city in the National Poetry Slam.
Mike and I met at a poetry reading, have written and performed together, hosted slams, run the National Poetry Slam three times. I trained his girlfriend to work as the Volunteer Coordinator when I was Program Director at Nationals during my pregnancy.
In years past, Mike and I have talked about the slam off, who was competing, who might make the team, who we had coached and were rooting for. Sometimes we competed. Sometimes we made the team. It was a big part of our relationship. I haven’t been there since Cavanaugh was born. But Mike has. So has his girlfriend.
Tonight I’m home with Cavanaugh. But I thought about doing something else. I thought about getting a babysitter and showing up at the club to watch, or yell, or maybe end up not going in because I was sitting in my car crying.
I imagined psyching his girlfriend out so that she’d screw up her poem. I don’t even know for sure that she’s competing. I haven’t asked Mike. I didn’t try looking it up. Whether she’d really be trying out for the team or they’d be running the slam as a couple or whatever was irrelevant. That’s what makes it a fantasy.
When I thought of showing up at the slam tonight, I imagined the look on Mike’s face when he saw me enter the room. It wouldn’t be good.
And that’s where the revenge fantasy falls apart. There is no retaliation for what’s happening. It wouldn’t save my marriage but it could tank any possibility of friendship or collaborative divorce. I would make a scene, make people (including myself) uncomfortable, and I would be acting outside my moral code. I would not be in integrity with my true nature.
Somebody else’s actions would be my excuse to behave in a way that is unacceptable to me. That’s a flimsy excuse.
I allow myself the fantasy, but not the action.
It helps me to realize I am not that person. I have to be able to live with myself at the end of the day and feel in alignment with my values. There’s a lot I’m losing in this divorce: my marriage, my house, the future I thought I would have, the past I thought I was having, my belief in who Mike is or what he would do.
But I’m not losing myself. No one can take that. Not unless I give myself away or otherwise betray myself. Instead tonight, I’m reminding myself that I am powerless over others and their -isms. That feels like a much more productive use of my time.
What makes you want revenge? How do you feel if you actually seek it? What keeps you from hurting back when you’ve been hurt?
Photo by Dark Mew