When someone hurts you badly there’s often a strong pull towards taking revenge but could this mean sacrificing something even more valuable – your dignity? Is dignity better than revenge? Read on as the author shares some of their thoughts on why maintaining their dignity through the breakup of their marriage was more important than getting even.
Nobody can take your dignity
Michael J Fox once said “One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” For me personally, not surrendering my dignity was an important tool that gave me a sense of strength during the most dramatic episodes of my separation and divorce.
Last night whilst indulging in a bit of channel hopping I stumbled upon a reality show. Its premise is to catch cheating partners in the act and then provide the injured party with video evidence of infidelity and an opportunity to confront their spouse and the lover whilst they are together. It is truly horrific to watch. I think it is massively irresponsible to catapult someone in this shocked state straight into a public confrontation that is whipped up into a dramatic spectacle for what they must suppose is our viewing pleasure.
The shock of discovering that your partner is cheating, even if at some level you suspected it, is awful. When I found out my ex was having an affair I felt a huge surge of adrenaline which left a bitter taste in my mouth. Right there in the moment I had a choice to channel that energy in a positive direction that would help me in the long term or a negative direction that, at best, would have given me an immediate moment of limited gratification.
Dignity is better than revenge
If you have been cheated on I think maintaining your dignity is immensely important. It shows strength, class and helps to limit some of the fallout your relationship breakdown has on your friends. It can be incredibly difficult but self-restraint in the face of anger, deep hurt and shock will mean a huge amount to you when the initial drama is over. Taking sandpaper to his favourite CDs, giving away his priceless wine collection or shredding his designer suits may make you feel better short term but it will never make you feel like you really “got even”. Even petty sniping about your ex or trying in small ways to make their life awkward will erode your dignity and sense of personal strength. If you take things too far you may even lose the very friends you are going to need to help you through recovery. If you are married you still have to go through the divorce process which is easier and cheaper if you can do it “as a team” with your spouse… regardless of how angry you are or how much your “team mate” has hurt you.
I’m not proud of my divorce, or everything I said to my ex during the process (I’m no saint I said some very hurtful things) but what I am proud of is that I can look myself in the mirror and know that I kept my dignity.
Do you want to keep your dignity but struggle with angry and hurt feelings? Join us for a Restored Lives Course we can help. Visit the find a course page for more details.
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