I have a friend who recently separated from his wife. Since I can relate to the pain, angst and disruption such an event causes, we’ve been discussing the complexities of romantic relationships and shared experiences. I was telling him about an ex-boyfriend I dated right after my divorce, when I was pretty raw and vulnerable. I never thought it was possible to feel numb and get to the point where you just don’t have even one ounce of loving feelings left for someone whom you once loved, but that’s how I feel about him. It’s amazing how someone can take your fond feelings for them and grind them into dust simply by the way they treat you.
My friend asked if I ever harbored any desire to take revenge on my ex for the nasty things he did and said to me. I admit that once I finally got the courage to leave for good and had lots of alone time to look back on everything, I did indulge in a revenge fantasy. You see, I made the mistake of letting my ex drive my car — it was one of those pathetic, needy, self-sacrificing things I did for him way too often — and during a blisteringly passive aggressive bout with his mother, whom he basically loathed and was just waiting to die so he could inherit the family fortune, he drove my beautiful NEW car right over the curb in front of his mother’s house and dented the rocker panel under the front passenger door.
He was initially very apologetic and promised to pay for the damage. However, it wasn’t long before he imposed a caveat — despite his lack of knowledge about cars, he was convinced the repair should cost no more than $200. So he refused to pay any more than that. I went to the body shop he essentially dictated that I take the car to. He gave me a precise set of instructions for how to go about getting an estimate. I ignored them and when I came back with an estimate for considerably more than $200, he went ballistic on me, practically rupturing my eardrums with his bellowing and insults, and refused to pay for the repair.
Once I finally wised up and left this dysfunctional relationship that I let drag on WAY too long, I was stuck with this dent under my door that was a constant symbolic reminder of my pain. Both me and my car were wounded.
Sure, I thought of revenge. I knew all the places where my ex liked to hang out. I could easily and stealthily have attacked HIS car, which, like mine, was brand new, and left him with similar damage. I imagined the look on his face when he went to the parking lot of his favorite cafe to see a giant dent under HIS passenger door. Let him go to his favorite body shop and find out how much it really costs to fix it, I thought smugly.
I never acted on these thoughts. I’m just not a believer in tit for tat. Gandhi said, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”, and I agree. You see, my ex doesn’t need me to do a single thing to make him unhappy. I know him well, and his life is a constant struggle. He’s battling demons most people can’t even imagine. Plus, I know there must be some shred of conscience in his black heart somewhere, no matter how tiny, that nags at him for the way he treated me. He’s living his own punishment. I moved on with my life and found plenty of happiness. I have so many amazing friends and family members, and a career that’s creatively and financially satisfying. My ex has…well, a horror show of a dysfunctional family, and a loyal dog..and that’s about it.
And guess what? A little over a month after our breakup, I was rear-ended. Neither I nor my passenger was hurt, but my car sustained significant damage. When I took the car to the body shop, the owner told me, “There’s no structural damage to your car, fortunately. Oh, and by the way, I noticed that dent under the front passenger door. Don’t worry, I’ll fix it.”
I crumpled up my face worriedly, remembering the astronomical quote I got from my ex’s favorite body shop. “How much is that going to cost me?”
The owner winked. “I told you I’d fix it! Enough said…”
When I returned a month later to pick up my car, it was perfect. My car looked just as nice as it did the day I picked it up from the dealership. No more dent..no more reminder of my pain. And I didn’t even have to pay for the repair.
Another remnant of our past together was also resolved, soon after that. I had loaned my ex some money. We had worked out a several years long payment plan, and I had been dreading, frankly, receiving checks from him for so long. A couple of months after our breakup, he sent me a check for the entire balance and then some.
I finally felt free and clear of him, and I can’t tell you what a relief it was. Had I made the mistake of acting upon my revenge fantasies, who knows what kind of toxic battling might have ensued that would have continued to tie me to him, or what kind of trouble I could have created for myself.
There’s a saying: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” I think revenge is a dish best left in the refrigerator. Unless you want to write a “tell-all” book..well, that’s a whole other ball of wax.
Copyright 2017. S. Wade