Repeatedly friends bring up that, despite ninety-six days of silent treatment, the normal acts of jealousy and revenge, and the behavior of armchair psychologists, I’m still protective of Painter. Although, I write about my pain I do not blame her for my pain.
When friends accurately point out I’m occasionally blaming myself for her choices and decisions I default back to the qualifier of my infidelity.
That is probably not honest or healthy but at the moment it is where I am.
Like many other moments in our relationship, I am still carrying Painter’s water on something that is clearly hers…and I’m aware she sometimes carried mine.
This is how relationships work – I think.
I defend Painter through my shame, confusion, hurt, and loneliness. I’m still protective of her and when the rumors of the things Painter has said and done get back to me, and they often do, I roll my eyes, feel a tinge of anger, revert to my qualifier, reason it out with someone else, breathe deeply, and then sigh.
After three months, over 15,000 miles driven, traveling sixteen states, and sleeping in a whole lot of hotel rooms, continuous tears, and writing reflections later I often find myself sighing.
I can stand far away enough to recognize the pain behind Painter’s choices too.
My friends like Chef and Star are right of course, regardless of the reasons, I’m still protective of Painter and our history.
Here is an actual reason: I’ve asked Painter to accept and love me despite my ugly. I am committed to providing her the same clemency, acceptance, and compassion. I can practice this whether Painter loves me or not. Acting lovingly does not require anyone’s consent or approval.
The reality is at this point in my grieving process, I recognize there is no such thing as a moral high ground.