Adventures in Recovery: Happiness is the Best Revenge

 by Calulu

In “Jacula Prudentum” (1651) George Herbert said that living well was the best revenge, but I am finding there is actually something else that is better and much freer than living well. The best of all revenges against those that have harmed you is to simply be happy. Happiness is the best revenge. Plus it doesn’t cost as much as living well.

 During different times of my recovery from fundamentalism/evangelicalism and quiverfull I’ve been mired in misery or confusion, pain, negative emotions. I’m sure at various times I came off to the people I’d met as someone carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. Particularly those that I’d once be in fellowship with at my old church that now made it their business to heap me with unkind words. I’d rush off and cry.

 But, with time and distance plus the healing of my own emotions, growth away from that whole cult I’d been part of, I realized the sun still shone, that life was as precious as ever, maybe more so now that I had sweet sweet freedom from the repressive framework I’d been living with for years.

 It’s been interesting to watch those I know from the old church who’ve been driven away in the last great split after I left. The ones that are left at the church do to the others driven out what they all tried to do to me, demonize and punish. Gossip runs rampant.

 What I find the most fascinating about all of this is that most of the ones driven out haven’t struggled to get free. What many have done is trade one master for another. Leaving one cult for another differently flavored cult, all the while proclaiming how ‘free’ they are. Any one or any thing that insists you follow a prescribed set of false rules while claiming to have the ‘real’ answer should be looked at with hearty skepticism. Examine and think, just don’t jump from ecclesiastical frying pan to fire.

 Freedom and happiness do not look like a cult, doesn’t force others to conform and doesn’t make you sacrifice. Even in churches.

 This is not a bashing against Christianity, I’ve seen this cult-like control exercised in every group from Atheists through Zoroastrian. Not every branch of it but enough so that it’s important to your recovery from spiritual abuse to be able to recognize it in yourself and in others. I’ve seen others try to establish their own control over others and themselves after leaving spiritual abuse and it’s not healthy for anyone.

 Secure people don’t try to force others to do things their way all the time.

 Back to happiness. I’ve thought about happiness a lot lately because we’re in the planning stages at our home of my husband’s retirement. The plans right now involve a move to either Panama or Costa Rica within the next eighteen months. We’re ready to retire and have both agreed it has to be some place warm and on the ocean. I’ve always said I feel the closest to the universe, to God, when I’m in the ocean. Something about the water mends whatever is going wrong inside of me so to retire to the beach makes me so happy I cannot totally express it.

Secret reason I want to move to Central America! I want to cuddle sloths at the sanctuary in Costa Rica

Yesterday I was at the grocery store and ran into one of those nasty left at the old church people, the former church secretary and leader of the local homeschooling group that is known for her being Gossip Central in this part of Virginia. She always wants to know what we’re up to, talks about her kids and then takes an ugly dig or two at you in a very passive aggressive way.

I don’t like her. I never have. But I try to avoid her, and if I can’t I don’t say much, just let her ramble on about her kids and the doings at church. I have no wish to give her grist for the gossip machine. Let her get her fodder elsewhere.

 When she flagged me down yesterday in the produce dept between the cucumbers and the melons I was in such a mellow mood from all the research and planning I’d done this week for our retirement that when she asked me what I’d been up to I actually told her. Told her we were retiring and moving to a seaside community in Panama very likely. I was smiling and happy, positively giddy over the idea of getting up each morning to surf and to spend the day with my oil paints and canvasses.

 Her face fell at my news and it struck me that happiness is the best of revenges you can spring on one of these ugly little gremlins from your past. It’s not the living well, because they’ll put that off to the devil letting you flourish now, it’s the happiness. They cannot stand it. Freedom and happiness.

Comments open below

Read everything by Calulu!

Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Seeking The Light

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 

About Suzanne Calulu
  • brbr2424

    “Happiness is the best revenge. Plus it doesn’t cost as much as living well” I love that. Living well, the well needed to achieve revengem is sometimes not within reach. Being happy is possible regardless of financial circumstances.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    I had always assumed that “living well” in that context meant the same as what you mean by “happiness”, not “well” in the sense of expensively.

  • Saraquill

    I hope your plans work out for you, and that your Spanish is good.

  • persephone

    I am very happy for you, though quite envious. I wish you the very best.

    Congrats on making the nasty old bat miserable.

  • persephone

    That was my interpretation, not that you were wealthy, but that your life was going well, despite that naysayers and the mean.

  • Theo Darling

    Same.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I need to brush up on the Spanish and am planning on taking a few courses at the local community college before we go. When we lived in Germany I picked up the language pretty quickly and I used to know some Spanish so it doable. Already bought a new short board, LOL

  • texcee

    My late mother was like that — judgmental, gossipy and only happy if she made other people miserable, mostly me. After much soul-searching and therapy, I came to the conclusion that it was a power play, that is, knocking other people down to a level lower than she was so that she could feel superior. She always had something negative to say to me, right up to the last night of her life when all the family was gathered around her death bed. In the year since then, I’ve been happier than I’ve been in years, maybe ever. The best revenge is getting those negative people out of your life, even if it means simply out-living them! RIP, Mom. I don’t miss you as much as you predicted I would!

  • Dorothy Young

    Wow! :) Congratulations on your retirement plans–they sound delightful. :)

  • gimpi1

    “Secure people don’t try to force others to do things their way all the time.”

    This. A thousand times this! Only people who are insecure in their own beliefs, or their own skin, try to make the world over in their own image. Well said.


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