Vengeance

I read the report of the woman who broadcast a cheater’s picture on Facebook with equal parts understanding, shame and revulsion. When I first decided to go public with my story, I wanted to use his name and his image. I rationalized it by the fact that his arrest records and mugshot are public documents and that I wanted to protect others from a run in with someone so skilled at conning. Luckily, leveler heads in my life talked me out of it.

That was part of my motivation, but I was still angry at that point and I was also motivated by a desire to get revenge. That’s where the shame comes in. I’m uncomfortable with the fact that I felt the impulse to “out” him. Regardless of what he did, that’s not my role. Furthermore, that’s responding from a place that I don’t want to be. That’s playing by his rules.

Some see it as retribution when I discuss what he did.  I’m puzzled by this.

He left me with a text message.

Fact

I never spoke  with him again.

Fact

He stole money and ruined credit.

Fact (backed up by the IRS)

He committed felony bigamy.

Fact (and there is a warrant for his arrest)

Those things happened. Am I only being a “good” ex-wife if I keep my mouth shut and never divulge what he did? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t sit well with me. Would I also be expected to protect him if he had been physically abusive? When we keep secrets like this, we give the abuser more power and reinforce the victim role.

I’m not acting to put him in jail but nor I am allowing him to keep me in one.

Vengeance is mine but it is not about shaming him and plastering the internet with his visage. Rather, my revenge is finding a way to use his actions in a positive way. It’s not motivated by a chance to get him back, rather I’m driven by a desire to right some wrongs and create meaning and purpose from the whole thing.

And that’s vengeance I can feel good about.

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20 thoughts on “Vengeance

  1. I would’ve happily gone the road of public shaming with my cheating, deceitful ex wife. I have a strong retribution/poetic-justice streak. When I looked at it with a bit of distance, I realised the harm that would be done to my daughters. That stayed my hand.

    Not gonna lie, I still think about it from time to time. It really bothers me that the only consequence from her actions she faces is financial (she was the breadwinner). Being a good father & protecting my girls means she gets to do what she wants with no repercussions and that doesn’t still well with me.

    1. I have the same thoughts sometimes. It feels like he gets off scot free while I, as the honest one, get stuck with the bill. I truly do believe that those who act from a place of dishonesty will face repercussions. I find comfort in the fact that I think he will have consequences even if I never know what they are.

      Good for you for putting your daughters first:)

  2. Thank you again for sharing all of this… Your posts are so educational for me and I really do enjoy your insight… I like the “fact” listing. Very concrete and undeniable. Glad cooler heads prevailed, but I understand the anger and hurt. Excellent post (as always.)

  3. YES! There is no need to become a person you do not want to be out of revenge. You are touching so many lives with your story in a positive way instead. Knowing you were able to overcome and grow stronger through all that you have been through gives those of us who have faced divorce in a less dramatic, but still painful, way hope for a better – and more powerful – tomorrow. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I wanted to post my ex-husband’s dating profile around town with a story of what he did to me and why I left to protect other women out there and shame him. I wanted to also because I felt he would never be punished enough for what he did to me. Now though I see that he is being punished for what he had done- emotionally, physically, and financially. He will have to live with what he did for the rest of his life and losing the best woman he could have ever asked for while I can find peace in knowing that I was the best wife I could be.

  5. I zoomed in your phrase of ‘being a “good” ex-wife’. When one is left suddenly, there is this feeling underneath of care and devotion that cannot be immediately shaken off, because razor-sharp endings do not give us time to process the immensity of what has happened. So on one hand there is the horror of how cruelly you have been treated by the one person who was supposed to protect you, yet on the other hand this inner voice is saying ‘ he is my husband, I must remain loyal and do the right thing by him’. Those contradictory feelings can initially be too much to bear, and different people swing in different ways with their responses. Maybe anger and hostility, or maybe instead withdrawal into a victim-like role carried for years.
    In the end we have to be true to ourselves and do the right thing by our own inner core of values and beliefs.
    You have gone on to make such a positive role for yourself by getting your message out there for others to learn by.
    I am inspired by your strength and courage.
    I was personally helped through on some of my bad days by your positive affirmations. Maybe that (spreading the light of hope to others) does not right any of his wrongs, but it certainly would be meaningful and purposeful for you. And that must be the best revenge.

  6. Understand completely the “want” of revenge and the ethics that hold you back. I still struggle with the dichotomy…and the fact that she got off free and now has two incomes AND gets child support from me, while I’m left with all the debt. I have no problem paying child support if it was warranted…but her take home is more than mine and we each have 50% custody. So…like you and others, it seems as if she has no consequences and in fact is rewarded for her duplicity. Being a truth and justice guy, that does not sit well with me…but I’m unwilling to go the route of plastering her (and his) face all over the place for the sake of my kids who are innocents in this. The Sicilian seeks vengeance while the Buddhist in me wants to let it all go…and after 3 years there is still a struggle. So…good on you that your road is high.

  7. HEAR HEAR! It’s not about revenge, or naming and shaming, its about healing…YOUR healing, your way of moving forward, connecting with others, inspiring others…like you said…making a positive out of this negative. He didnt think about you, he was selfish, in it for himself…you however HAVE turned it around…Good for you! 🙂 xB

  8. There’s a difference between vengeance and telling your story in an effort to heal and also to educate others. I won’t be shamed into silence. I was kept quiet when my now ex-husband lied to me because had I known the truth of MY LIFE, I wouldn’t have tolerated what he was doing. So, if someone insists that I keep my thoughts, feelings, and observations to myself, it feels abusive. Just like it was when he kept me quiet by his manipulations and lies.

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