The hardest punch is the punch never thrown. It took me years to learn this. While striking back at someone who has brutally wounded you may be understandable, it is not the strongest and healthiest response.
I recently took such a blow from someone who, in an attempt to lead me into thinking they cared about me, made a show of sending me an e-mail in which the recounted an imaginary conversation they had with my father, promising him they would never hurt his son. This individual knew my father died when I was 15 and they knew my father was and is the person with the greatest presence in my heart and soul. Then, as you may already suspect from the nature of this essay, this person proves themselves capable of some hideously dishonest viciousness.
Blessedly, I have for some years now pledged allegiance to Chief Josef’s famous quote, “I will fight no more forever.” Responding to blows leveled by the emotionally unbalanced around us feeds into their well entrenched emotional troubles and is a waste of time. I could be reading, or writing, or hiking, or spending time with a friend. Moreover, the self-inflicted damage their lives suffer as a result of their dysfunctions is far more severe than anything I or anyone else can do to them. That said, there is another truth. I do not at all wish them harm. I wish them healing.
As for the hardest punch being the punch never thrown, I believe not striking back is the one thing abusive individuals don’t understand. It bends their minds in new ways, maybe. And maybe, in rare instances, it bends their minds just enough to open a door of hope that allows a sliver of light into their being that, if they are paying attention, will lead them to an awareness that they too can get well and enjoy life in a truly honest and healthy way. But that is their journey, not mine. The only punch I have to throw is to walk away, wish them well, and let them know all is forgiven.