They say the best revenge is living well. Theoretically speaking then, I've enjoyed tenfold any revenge I might ever have been destined to inflict.
When I was eighteen and nineteen, I lived with a man, G, who was twice my age. He was, in fact, the age that I am now. It's a perspective that offers me the opportunity to laugh wryly and shake my head. He was a very stunted man in more ways than one. He was also a fairly textbook abuser. He would say things like, "No one has ever made me this angry before," while pinning me to the bed. I really don't know if I believed him, even then. After all, he'd been through a divorce only a year or two before I met him. The fact that I was even with him is every bit of evidence you or I will ever need that I was a very damaged young woman when I turned my back on childhood.
G lived for sex and drugs and he would do just about anything to get them. From anyone. Anywhere. Any time. He lied and cheated everyone from strangers to his dearest friends. I believe he couldn't help it. He lied to get what he wanted and he lied when the truth would have served equally well. He would tell outright lies to people's faces and assume that I wouldn't out him. And I didn't. He would take mad risks constantly. For the most part, he made friends easily. It wasn't that he was particularly likeable, he just had a way of making you feel as if you'd always been mates. A stalwart of G's social circle once confided to me that he didn't trust G. He told me that before I'd met him, G had just turned up at the pub one day and blustered in as if he'd always been there. He became a more or less instant fixture in that little bar with its comorbid community of misfits. He was undeniably charming in his bullshit and bluster and people were always bizarrely reluctant to call him on it, even when it was utterly blatant. I was certainly no exception.
Obviously, I eventually left him, which is a story in itself, for another day perhaps - or perhaps not, since it's not a very pretty one. I don't remember ever seeing him again. It took me a long time to stop feeling vengeful towards G. Eventually, deeper hurts eclipsed him and though I will admit that I have kept scars as souvenirs from our time together, I really haven't given him more than a passing thought for several years.
Then in the wee hours of this morning, when I should have been sleeping, I unexpectedly stumbled upon his obituary online - two days before it expires and tumbles into the misty ether of whatever it is that bits of the Internet become once they cease to be. And there, between the scant lines of the obituary and the funeral notice and a few notices from mates, are those all too familiar hints; an effort to protect, belying a need to protect. And I'm not at all sad, because as harsh as I'm sure it sounds, I impassively believe that the world is a very slightly better place today, but I am a little shocked. I genuinely would have thought that his narcissism ran too deep for suicide. I guess there was more to him than I could parse at nineteen. It's been a long time and the way he lived his life cannot help but inflict damage, not just in a circle radiating outward, but in a spiral inward and downward.
So there's the flip side of my living well. The day that I was out with three people that I adore, paying too much for a shower curtain with butterflies on it, G was ending his life. It feels neither bitter nor sweet. It's simply not my burden to bear.