I get it.
It happened to me almost 40 years ago, and I still remember my rage.
The truth is that it wasn't a great relationship anyway, and we were both kind of just hanging on. The relationship was dying, or maybe it was even dead at that point.
I called her on Monday to set up the obligatory dinner date for Saturday.
She agreed but told me that she was really feeling depressed.
She asked me if I could loan her $500 so that she could get herself some therapy.
This was 1981. I was a student and all I had was $500 in the bank.
But I felt partly responsible for her need for therapy, and I wanted to show my support, so I said "I'll send you a check for $500 in the morning.”
The next morning I made sure to get the check in the mail first thing.
At 7 PM that Saturday night, I walked up to her apartment door. I knocked. I heard a dog barking, which was really weird because she didn't have a dog.
She opened the door, and in her arms was a little black puppy.
We both just stood in the doorway, her in and me out.
I said to her, "Susan, you got a new puppy?"
She replied, "Yes! Isn't he beautiful?”
I said, "How much did the puppy cost?"
She said, “$500.”
I didn’t say a word.
I just turned around and walked back to my car.
What the hell do I do now, I thought.
Did she really do this and set me up just to piss me off like this?
Who does this?
I was beyond enraged.
I just drove away.
That was the last time that we ever saw each other or spoke.
I went back to my apartment at lawschool and wrote her a letter, telling her that I expected the $500 to be returned immediately or else I would file a small claims lawsuit against her.
She ignored my letter.
I was enraged. I felt used and abused, and stupid, too.
I wrote another letter telling her that I really meant it, and that if she didn't make arrangements to repay the $500 I would see her in court.
She ignored that letter as well.
I couldn't do my law school homework; I couldn't focus. I was obsessed with this betrayal. I wasn't concentrating in class. I was fuming.
And this was going on for weeks, while I was supposed to be getting ready for law school final exams.
I remember talking to my uncle about it and him telling me to just forget it, to just write it off, that it wasn't worth screwing up my law school career over $500.
I told him, “You don't understand. It's the principle of this. I’ll fight this until I get every damn penny back!”
He said to me, "Is it really worth screwing up your grades?"
I said to him," Yes. It is!"
I persisted. Letter after letter.
She paid. A little at a time.
Each time I saw her name on an envelope in my mail I saw red.
It took over a year, but she paid back the entire $500.
I got what I had insisted upon: every damn dollar back.
Was it worth it?
Of course not.
But I was out of control with rage, with my feelings of being not just disrespected, but intentionally lied to and humiliated.
I get it.