Last month, I ran into someone who Did Me Wrong a few years back. We had a falling out of sorts. He was upset about something he thought I did, and believed someone else’s self-interest driven, gossipy untruths, so he angrily confronted me when I was (unbeknownst to him) having a very difficult time. I mustered the strength and calm needed to go back at him without completely scorching the earth. He then went about having a childish mini-campaign against me. He made it awkward for me to keep engaging in something I had previously enjoyed so much, and his shenanigans even extended to LittleMan and his participation in sports. Not in any dangerous or overly traumatic way, I should add–or else I would not have reacted to him with the maddening cheerfulness and continued (surface) good will that I did, and I might not have minded scorching the earth. But still, he caused discomfort to me and mine, and appeared to get away with it.
And yes, even as he later had continued, all-positive contact with Stretch and I had continued cheerful, if clippy, interactions with him, I did harbor a little wish to see him miserable. To slip on one of life’s banana peels and have a spectacular fall, and spend some time in awkwardness and discomfort and be humbled and know that it was because of his crappy treatment of me. Weak threads of this wish continued on for some time, I’m ashamed to say.
In recent months, he did slip on one of those peels, and he lost a lot, in a very public way. I heard through the grapevine things that I had no business knowing about his situation, about his family. I think it’s accurate to say that he fell hard and was, and is, bereft.
When I ran into him last month with Stretch, there it was–that moment of schadenfreude that we all imagine. There was a bear hug and a “you looked great in that game” and there were updates about our kids exchanged. The banana peel was never mentioned, but he knew that I knew. His demeanor was humbled, and he looked like it was an effort for him to be upbeat.
This was the moment to snicker inside and think, “ha-HA! You dissed me and were awful to me in 2009, and I see that what has gone around, has come around, my friend, praise be to karma!” But instead of some yahoo karmic victory, I just felt sad for the guy. I said goodbye and was siezed with nothing but compassion and a desire to make him a big pan of baked ziti or something. Any wish to see him suffer a bit was just hollow. I hope things improve for him and his family soon.
I discovered that I don’t have the stomach for this schadenfreude thing, though I think I may need to be tested a few more times, just to be sure.