If you’ve ever loved deeply and been betrayed by a partner’s infidelity, you know just how good it feels to hate. Hate is incredibly seductive. Hate feels empowering, even if it’s disturbing for our better selves to think so. However, I’ve noticed how this sort of fierce resentment can soak into our bones. And it just makes things even worse for ourselves.
I confess: after being betrayed by the infidelity of someone I once loved deeply, my anger initially began to change into, a deep hate for my now ex-wife and her affair partner. Some would say that’s understandable, of course. But at a certain point, I realized this: choosing to bathe in the filth of my own hate actually betrays myself.
Now, kindly allow me to put my nerd cap on for a moment: For the fellow nerds and geeks out there, the idea of “hate”, for me, resembles what happened to a character that on Game of Thrones (*Season 7 spoiler alert, for those who haven’t seen it yet). I’m referring to Viserion, a beloved dragon of Daenerys from Game of Thrones. While not as friendly as Puff, the Magic Dragon, Viserion was trained to serve the side of “protecting humanity”. But, in its demise at the hands of the undead army in the North, the White Walkers, it became possessed by the un-death of a force that thrives on its most savage parts of self.
And so, the point I’m trying to make with this somewhat random analogy is this: hate, is actually like the “un-death” of love.
At risk of sounding a bit silly, I might even call it “zombie love”.
I say that because the opposite of love, as some of you know, is not hate, but something closer to apathy.
Hate, then, is a zombified, or a darkened corruption of our love scorned, rejected, and abandoned.
But what is being consumed by the filthy, swampy, icky, and hell-forged grasp of “hate”, is actually a deep, powerful, and true longing of love…for love.
Now, I absolutely get how “good” it feels to feel the resentment, to imagine or plan scenes of (legal!) vengeance, and such sweet flights of our more seductive, silent fantasies.
If you shared any sort of binding, meaningful love with a life partner that you’ve chosen, experiencing your partner’s infidelity against you is like having your arm ripped apart from you.
Finding out is a savage awakening.
It plants a deep, deep resentment, that can be very tempting to nurture, like that pet-baby-embodiment of evil Demogorgon you want to keep.
If we’ve been hurt or betrayed by someone else, this hate, of course, is often fueled by our honest and natural anger.
Anger is Not Hate
Yet, depending on our history with anger, it can be a tricky emotion. Our relationship and friendship with our own anger can be incredibly delicate.
Burying, squashing and hiding it doesn’t really help. It’s obviously also dangerous to ourselves and others to allow it to burst in all its fury.
But, if we can befriend our anger, and what it’s saying to us, then we can get a better handle on releasing resentment and hate.
So, what can we do?
I believe that better understanding our own relationship to our natural experience of anger starts with Awareness.
It sounds “easy” if I say it like that. If you’re a fan of meditation and/or prayer practices like me, you’ll also probably nod your head with me.
But you and I both know it’s both super simple yet super hard to do.
Especially when “he-she-they-that” did this horrible thing to us.
And we just feel the anger seething, and the resentment growing.
In matters of injustice, being betrayed, or hurt in some way, some might tell me the resentment is deserved. They themselves may weep or throw their iPhone X’s, Google Pixel 3’s, or OnePlus’ at me across the room in righteous indignation. You’ll throw it for me, on my behalf.
Some will weep with me.
Others will simply listen, even if they cannot truly imagine how devastating the betrayal of a mutually chosen life partner is.
The anger at injustice is obviously understandable. In fact, it’s protective of you. When anger meets with resentment and hate have a fun party in the swamp, sometimes we just need to stew and swim in the filth, muck and mire for a while. Even if it’s nice for a while, it doesn’t take long for the resentment to soak into our bones. It doesn’t take long for hate to become the new standard and reflection of our most wounded shadows.
Again, anger isn’t a bad thing–it’s a natural part of us. But from my own shattered experience of love, I find that an otherwise healthy anger is often invited into the shadow of my inner violence.
This is when a natural and healthy anger can become darkened.
I’m not really the type to deliver any outbursts of anger in public, even if it’s just me and one other person I’m close to.
Instead, the violence of anger’s shadow often finds me as a spiteful inner self-loathing.
I just start saying horrible things to myself like,
- “You are a total failure”,
- “Nobody will ever love you”, and
- “What good is being kind to others? She cheated on you because you cared too much. So stop caring, and you’ll never get hurt”.
Of course, these thoughts and voices are all lies. It’s been a tough, long, and continual journey to hear what these inner critics formed from my self-loathing are trying to tell me.
So let’s be kind with our anger and our friendship with it.
As for hate? I really don’t like “hate”. I don’t “hate” it, but I don’t think it’s helpful beyond its function as a raw survival, primal emotion.
After all, I believe it’s born out of an almost primal sensitivity. For example, when the slightest needle prick strikes the bottom of the foot, I hate it. I hate the pain. That makes sense. So I do something to try to end the pain, and my hate fades.
Or if I’m ever in a situation when a horde of fast-moving zombies are chasing me, I will surely “hate” these zombies and also hate my situation. Yah, that’s survival of my own life and humanity. That makes sense too.
Yet, somehow, along the way, our human species has adopted this emotion/experience like a weapon of mass destruction (literally + figuratively).
So our hate grows into a ferocious judgmental prejudice against those different from “us”. Instead of becoming curious of our differences, whether in race, culture, gender, height, nerd or geek affiliations, Sega vs. Nintendo, DC vs. Marvel, or national affiliations, we become extremely protective about them–as if this difference threatens our very survival.
It’s so twisted that this hate-forged violence towards both self and others can be seen as a sort of narcissism that devalues anybody that is simply not you.
It’s often hardest for those of us who empathize deeply and can see the beauty in human beings. We can see how one person can empower and bless the world. But we also see how much horror, havoc and tragedy one person can cause on one life, many lives, a country, or the planet.
Even for the most inhuman of us, it’s tempting for the “best of us” to also join in the seduction of a hate that they surely deserve from us.
This shadow of our truest natures surely invites us to an inner and/or outer violence of emotion, thought, physical acts of terror, or worse.
Of course, for any public displays of hate, that is the kind we choose to maintain our sense of human empathy, strive to prevent.
When we are unable to grow from our most natural primal defences of self-preservation, and decide to feast on the emotions and rationalities we think can protect us the most – – hate, savage anger and resentment – – then we devour ourselves and hold in us the most ferocious of invisible beasts. Their fiery flames and toxins taunt us and spurn us in their devastation to our lives and of others.
Within our everyday lives, hate can be spawned from our most secret and private moments of hellish suffering.
In fact, there’s always an invitation to hate.
But we don’t always need to heed it, even if it feels easier to do so.
After all, hate fails to be patient.
Hate fails to be kind or compassionate.
Hate thrives in envy and certainly boasts of its own mire and righteousness.
It’s a hate that is learned and a hate that is born not out of the person’s inherent cruelty.
But eventually, if and when we feel ready to, there is power in forgiveness and compassion.