Melissa Todd: Driven by spite

A week after I’d met my new husband – before we’d even had a proper conversation, although I fancied him something rotten – I had a dream.

And in this dream we were arguing about who to invite to our wedding. Spooky or what?

“I don’t care what you say”, my dream self screamed, vulgar and inelegant and utterly unlike my usual sweet persona. “I am not having that loathsome vicious psychotic flabby saggy pile of festering tramp excreta at my reception! I’d sooner call the whole thing off!” Although I may have used less printable language.

Eighteen months later, he proposed, and we went through that very debate, word for unprintable word.

So thus I learned I was gifted with second sight. Alarming, when I so often dream about killer robot puppies taking over the world, and Theresa May selling her populace for compost.

It was also when I realised how exclusively, fulsomely and powerfully I am motivated by hatred. It’s pretty well my sole driving force. It gets me up in the morning, forces me to work, save, strive, exercise, socialise – all in the hope that it will make someone, somewhere, seethe.

If you’re not filled with hatred and rage, why bother to do anything? Why not lie on your sofa, telly on, downing cider, if you feel you’ve nothing to prove? I’d certainly love to. Only fear that my enemies would rejoice at my sloth forces me up, to challenges I might otherwise flee.

Everything I’ve ever accomplished has been done out of spite.

What can it be like, not to hate constantly? My husband would know. He’s a Christian. He believes in forgiveness, understanding and charity. I am not a Christian. If I have a religion, it’s hatred.

Now I’m aware, of course, that received wisdom considers this a Very Bad Idea – bad, that is, for my personal well-being. How jolly kind of received wisdom to care. You must forgive, for your own sake, people say. Before embarking on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. Love makes the world go round. And other such banalities. What poppycock. Hatred is the opposite of despair, not forgiveness. If I’ve been slighted, or wounded, hatred is a necessary and useful part of the emotional repertoire. Don’t suppress it. Don’t internalise it. That way lies insanity. Channel it.

I only hate where hatred is due. I don’t, of course, refer to hating whole communities or races.  And it takes more than a sulky stare or stolen parking space. You, personally, need to do something life-changingly bad to me. Then you go on the list. Then the fun starts.

And incidentally, if you’re wondering if you’re on the list, you probably are. And not even death will erase you from it, as I shall look forward to seeing you again in hell.

Sweet dreams.

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