A few years ago, I had the unhappy experience of being used as a tool for revenge.  I didn’t know it at the time because I was caught up in the drama, but upon reflection it’s become clear and now that I know, I can’t help but wonder if the victory was as sweet as she hoped.

She was a close friend, successful and admired, but with a sadness that only the brokenhearted share.  Her marriage had seriously foundered several years prior and only strength of will had kept it together.  Failure was not something with which she was comfortable, so she had taken extreme measures to ensure that it would not happen again.

But she was wary of criticism, real or perceived, and her pride was great.  One day, while dining out with another long-married couple, she observed the admiring glances paid to her friend’s husband and asked if the threat of infidelity ever worried them.  The wife, a none-too-sensitive creature, boasted that she had complete confidence in her husband and that he would never cheat on her.

The remark cut her deeply, even more so as the boastful wife was not only aware of the painful details of her past, but also indebted to her for many professional and legal favors.  The insensitivity of her friend galled her.  Who was she to boast when her own family was in dysfunctional shambles?  It was then, perhaps unconsciously, the plan to avenge herself began.

Enter myself, a newly single woman to whom her friend’s pious husband was inordinately attracted.  Sensing a crack in the façade, she encouraged his pursuit though she had been victimized by similar circumstances, and persuaded me to put aside the obvious and seriously consider his offer.

And I did, if only briefly, for she was as passionately convincing as any I had ever met and for some inexplicable reason, I trusted her.  Her arguments seemed valid and I almost believed that the improbable was possible.  I found myself entertaining notions that were not exactly moral, yet not completely corrupt.  I was treading in the grey zone, ready to succumb and that was dangerous.  

All the game pieces were in play.  Her plan to topple the mighty and avenge herself on her witless friend was nearly complete.

But karma has its own agenda and it didn’t take long before it came to call.  And like most who are unwilling to pay the bill, the irony escaped her. There was no impregnable fortress of monogamy to breach and relish; the notoriously perfect husband of her silly friend had fallen, repeatedly, off that pedestal long before I arrived on the scene.  And while she was busy promoting his current indiscretion, her own husband once again fell prey to it. Her health and business suddenly declined and she found herself in desperate straits and unwilling to look at the part she played in creating them. 

Instead, she searched for something to blame and decided that the tool of her revenge, namely myself, was responsible and I was cast out like a leper.   I was of no further use.  I failed to give in, failed as a prop and failed her as a friend.   And for a long time, I continued to buy her argument and blamed myself for these failures.  As I said before, she was remarkably convincing.

Fortunately, time and distance bring clarity.  My participation was as much a lesson for me as it was for her.  There are some lines which ought never be crossed because their consequences are ruinous… for the instrument and its wielder.


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