This is something that has been on my mind a little bit lately. I think it’s an important human tendency that is often misused and and at the same time underused in the right areas. Getting payback on someone that has wronged you or even that you have perceived has wronged you can be quite cathartic. Whether it is an ex who broke your heart, former business partners who used you and stole from you, or that boss that constantly holds his position over your head with the threat of firing you, wanting to even the scorecards is a very common human condition. And I would argue a very necessary one.
I’m not advocating getting revenge physically or doing something petty but I’m also not advocating beating yourself up too bad if you do do something that may possibly be frowned upon by society (just don’t hurt anyone or do anything illegal). Really, I would argue that giving back a little of what has been given to you is actually necessary for the long term health of your psyche. I want you to really think about that because I know there are things done to me in my younger days that still affect me. Especially now that we have Facebook and we can look upon our perpetrators anytime we want. Heck, the internet gods might even be throwing their continued charmed lives in your face every time you log on. Hard to get them out of your mind when they keep popping up in your friends photos.
Now I want to share a personal story with you. Years ago I was victimized by a group of guys in my school. It started in the sixth grade and these guys beat me up on an almost weekly basis until tenth grade. Well that might be exaggerating a bit but it did happen more often throughout those years then I would like to remember. The problem was not only was I getting beat up and picked on, but the ring leader was my cousin. Our families weren’t really close but still, we are related by blood (pun intended). Unfortunately this little son of a bitch was also very popular and he knew how to get people to like him and follow him. I was no exception. Sometime in the seventh or eighth grade he decided he wanted to be friends. Needless to say I jumped at the chance even if it was just an effort to stop getting jumped.
So that’s when he would start the Jones is cool now and then not cool and now he’s cool again until I decide he’s not. It really ended up making things worse because I never knew when he would change his mind and now instead of it being just in school, he would do it when he would have sleepovers at his house with the same group of friends that always pounced on me. All in all it sucked.
Well, at the beginning of tenth grade I ended up moving and going to a different school. I’ll admit that my cousin and I started having a better relationship and we actually had some fun a few times. Who knows how it would’ve turned out but when I left I was glad because the bad times far outweighed the good times. So let’s fast forward a few years.
I was fresh out of boot camp and I ended up going to my old hometown to see a buddy who still lived in that town. We ended up going out to the local bar and who do we end up running into? Of course my cousin. Now everything was pretty cool and we ended up hanging out with him and some of the guys that used to beat me up. It was a few years out of high school but you know what happens when guys are drinking. So after a few hours my cousin starts acting like his old self again. Now I knew this was gonna happen because he knew I was in the military and a few of the guys were a bit intimidated by that (plus I wasn’t a scrawny looking kid anymore). Now one thing you have to know about my cousin is that he has always been cocky but for good reason. He could back it up. He was a star athlete and he could fight. He wasn’t the biggest guy but he was by far the best fighter in our school. I never once dared to fight back with him that is until this night.
So my cousin starts in on me and saying how it doesn’t matter what I learned in the military he could still break my bones if he wanted to. Now, when we talk about something being cathartic, I want you to understand that not only had I dreamed about that moment but also all the old fears and trepidation crept in. It was overwhelming but I played it off pretty well. You see for years after leaving my old school, I actually got into boxing and judo. I even competed regularly in both. Now of course no one knew this they just knew I went to boot camp and figured I got some hand to hand training there (to be honest it’s pretty minimal compared to what I knew).
So I told my cousin that all of this was just talk and that he would be put on his ass so fast in the military that it would make his head spin. In fact, I went on, I doubted he could even make the cut (I knew this would kill him cause he just thought he was the world’s best athlete). I told him that to be honest I didn’t really want to make an example out of him but since I was in a playful mood I would gladly step outside just to see him on his ass. And, I also told him that I’m not gonna hit you unless you start getting serious but I am gonna throw you on your ass at least 5 times. While I said it I slurred my words like I was blitzed out of my mind. (I was drunk but come on dude, I was in the military).
Now I know that sounds kinda cocky but I was doing it for the group. I needed them to laugh cause I knew the moment they did he would have to prove me wrong but do it the way I wanted to…outside so I could have room. Sure enough I saw his blood boil and he said let’s go and with that EVERYONE in the bar went outside to watch. Now I didn’t really realize everyone was watching but word had gotten around that I was his cousin and he used to beat the shit out of me all the time. In fact a lot of the people there remembered me and were curious to see what was gonna happen because to be honest, I was pretty much a pussy as a kid.
Well my cousin squares up and tells me he’s gonna break my nose. So I look at him, with my hands down and I say so I guess it’s serious. Good I won’t feel bad about hurting you but I’m still gonna throw you on your ass at least five times. I knew he would make the first move because he always did and he had absolutely no fear of me. I guess that happens when you beat someone’s ass dozens of times and they never fight back. Luckily I had training because my cousin damn near broke my nose on the first shot. I had my hands down and he shot a straight right. I shoulder rolled just in time and then slipped my head immediately to his right shoulder cause I knew my cousin likes to throw the left hook right after (sometimes he even fakes the right and leads w the left hook…but he always follows with that damn hook). As the punch came I glued my right ear to his right shoulder and shot my right hand under his left armpit and gave him a hip throw from hell. I had practiced it many many times. I purposely lifted him high in the air and let go so he would fly. Usually we hold on and either assist the landing or land on him but, I had 4 more throws to do and I wanted to make a show of it.
My cousin hit with the crowd giving a coordinated aaaawwwww. He hit hard but rolled and came back to his feet (he was a gifted athlete I have to give him that). He looked around and said I got lucky and now he was gonna get serious. (I know cliche right, but the dude didn’t know how to handle embarrassment). So now he decided to throw a kick. He did train at some point and I had seen him throw some kicks before in fights but I took it pretty easily and countered with a body shot. I could tell he was surprised by the power of it. Not that it necessarily hurt him but he definitely wasn’t expecting that type of power and technique. I took the opportunity to fake another body shot and then leg swept him back on his ass again. He actually got a shot in on his way down but his backward momentum kept it from doing any damage.
2 Down 3 to go. I backed up and told him I still have 3 more throws if you want them come and get them if not then we can go back inside and you can buy me a beer. Nope, now I saw the determination in his eyes and he decided to go for the tackle. He was a star football player after all. He sprinted and got a good grip around my legs, luckily I wrapped his armpits and continued his momentum so he flew over me. I got back up and he was on me. We exchanged about a 5 or 6 shot combination and that’s when it happened. Crack. I broke his nose.
Now to me this was the cathartic moment. Not throwing him, not making him embarrassed. Nope, it was giving back what he had given to me so many times only I did it all at once. He stumbled and I took the opportunity to uppercut him and then throw him again with a leg reap. He was hurt and pretty much out. I bent over him and said now, I haven’t started to get serious yet Scott and I still have 2 more throws so the balls in your court and I can start breaking more of your bones if you like.
Guess what. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t respond, he didn’t look up, he wasn’t even holding his face. He just stared at the ground defeated and dazed. I looked at him and said I’ll be in the bar if you want a drink or if you want to continue this conversation. Oh and if you ever want to learn how to fight give me a call. I’ll teach you how to do the other 2 throws I was gonna use. And with that I walked back in the bar.
Now this whole episode healed me in a big way. You would think that by me telling it to you this way that I went back into the bar and everyone would be cheering and high fiving but that’s not what happened. Nope, half the people went home and hardly anyone said a work to me the rest of the night. My cousin left on his own and nobody saw him leave. Someone did say he was home drinking and was embarrassed and that they had never seen him that way. I felt kinda bad but that feeling didn’t last long. I just had to wait to get back to my military buddies to get the proper celebration from others that would’ve made that moment perfect.
Now I know this story is about violence but it doesn’t have to be. If you ever get the chance to give back something to someone who has wronged you, and they haven’t changed or repented, then by all means give it back. You will heal years of hurt in an instance and you might even teach the other person a lesson in the mean time.