Schadenfreude, Full Circle
Long ago and faraway–or at least what seems like long ago and faraway–someone cheated me out of something very precious to me. There were lies told to me and threats made against me.
“Let it go,” my friends said.
“Be the bigger person,” they advised.
“Put it in the past and move on,” they urged.
But that’s so much easier said than done when the person who stabbed you in the back rubs salt in the wound on a daily basis. It never really has the chance to heal because the wound is being aggravated daily and sometimes reopened a few times a month.
Whereas I should by now have a scar that is simply a conversation piece for a new lover, my wound instead still bleeds, thanks to this person’s persistent desire to hurt me.
But wait. I’ve discovered that that’s not entirely true! It’s less about this person wanting to hurt me–though that is certainly a stated promise–than about this person’s need to justify hurtful actions designed to bolster a flagging self-worth. This person, whom for the rest of this article I shall call “X” and refer to with a masculine pronoun, has cut me to my core and has continued to do so for a long while.
He still hurts me, but less today than yesterday or any day before. And with the exception of the catharsis of the written word, I’ve borne it alone.
As open as I am about a number of tragic events in my life, only people who know me very well know the real story of the events that happened with X. They’ve heard me talking about moving to get away from X. They’ve heard me talk about quitting a job I love and leaving a home I love to get far, faraway from the bucket of salt thrown at my wounds every day.
These close friends tell me to ignore it, but they don’t have the same wounds, and my friends and family are almost never with me when I turn the corner and there is X, grinning happily, reminding me. Until now, I havebelieved that there is no price for lies, or at least that there is no price that is apparent. There could be no closure without justice, without a willingness to let me heal.
When the wound was fresh and new, I prayed not only for healing but for clarity. The rune kenaz became my friend and enemy at the same time. I needed clarity, wanted clarity, to see the truth behind the lies told to me.
And clarity came. And more salt in the wounds. And more wounds. New wounds. And more salt.
For some reason, I never stopped praying for clarity, and so clarity has come in unsuspected ways. Healing ways. The closure he denied me hasbeen granted by allowing me to see the truth.
Show me what’s real and what’s illusion, I once prayed.
The illusions were shown to me first, and mostly just to me, in a private way. In ways that X–and his friends–meant only for me. But now, just in recent weeks and days, the truth is being revealed and in a much more public way. Not any one big event that could be attributed to someone having a bad day, but a fair number of small events that are indicative of the daily bitterness and unhappiness behind the bright smile.
If I look only with my eyes, X is deliriously happy, loving life, a bright and shiny future ahead. That’s how it looks, anyway. That’s what X wants me to see. But if I stop paying attention to what I see and instead listen, really listen…or at least be willing to listen rather than accept the façade shown to me…then I hear things–and oh, do I hear things!
X’s friends forget I’m in the room, within earshot, and tell his secrets. X’s enemies talk openly of his transgressions. X’s acquaintances talk about surly, mean-spirited, downright hateful comments he’s made about them in public, not knowing he was overheard. X has become widely known as a façade: bright, shiny, and positive in front of the right people, but bitter, jealous, miserable, and unhappy when the mask is lowered. I’ve seen through the illusions I fell for, though time is long-past now. And now, I’ve seen the truth.
The thing that I was cheated of, the thing worth lying for, the thing worth threatening for, did not bring the happiness he thought would certainly come. But he has no other choice but to put on a smile.
He lives now in a trap of his own making. There is no way out except through the way he came, except by acknowledging the lies and the mistakes he made. As toxic as life may be right now, it’s still easier to live within the trap than to take the steps to get out of it. Rather than glee, it makes me just a tiny bit pitying of him but not so much that I’d fall for illusions again.
As for me and wounds I carry, they are finally beginning to heal. The salt that’s thrown at me falls short of its mark, now that I know what’s behind that bright smile–and the persistent negativity and self-hatred fueling his every waking moment.
Yes, he took something from me, but whatever happiness it gave him was not long lasting. I wonder if he still thinks it was worth the price. Oh, not to me, but for what it has cost him.