There isn’t a great deal I want to add here.
In the process I’ve been reminded over and over how much has been left unsaid between Painter and I, as her flying monkeys and ill-informed outsiders have used their own damage to spread lies, rumors, and innuendos about me, my life, and our life together.
How quick we are to believe the worst about people we don’t actually know because we want to believe the best about the people we love or because it gives out hurt someplace to go.
As such, this week I’ve been thinking a great deal about a letter I wrote to Painter’s high school boyfriend, Indy. In November of 2014, with Painter’s permission, I wrote to Indy and told him to stay away from Painter. I wrote the letter to Indy because Painter was “scared” and “angry” because he was harassing her and stalking her on social media. She was complaining to me and to her best friend that he wouldn’t leave her alone.
Essentially, telling the same unquestioned and convincing lies she spreads about me to her new Knights.
If nothing else Karma understands irony.
…you can see the letter I wrote here.
My letter is one more example of where, as like so many other men, we have chosen to insert ourselves into a situation where Painter needed to adult in her own life but where shame probably wouldn’t allow her to own her part, to see her own patterns. As such, like many others before and after me, I picked up her emotional water and carried it for her.
And she let us. Even encouraged us. This is the power of beautiful women everywhere and always.
As I’ve said before, what I wrote to Indy in November of 2014 is nearly identical to what Patsy III wrote me last March, and Patsy IV said to me in the bar last year when he made a scene on Painter’s behalf. Like all Heroes we sought to protect her honor and enhance our significance within her life.
And in return she smiled at us.
At least I thought she smiled. We find in others what we are looking for…
Then I think of Painter’s defense last spring when I confronted her with what we did to Indy. “I didn’t ask you to do that.”
And I realize it is possible what was a smile for me may have just the shallowest of reflections, or perhaps a sly nod to her power over men. Each of us owning her dirty work so she can keep her innocence.
…and now Shame whispers sweet nothings to me about trusting Painter with my heart and believing in a future for Us.
As I think on what Painter’s Patsies, Warren and Flying Monkeys have written and said about, and to me, I was reminded of the extent men are willing to go to be thought a Hero. We would rather die on our horse than appear weak.
I realize this is what some men do to find meaning and value. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we do what we are conditioned to do until the conditioning breaks down and we are left confused by the eventual collapse of the pattern and our lives.
Today, as I reread the letters I wrote to Indy I shake my head in sadness. I am confronted in my own words about the way Painter, her best friend Arrow, and I laughed at Indy’s attempts at vulnerability I am left with a deep sorrow for all of us.
He did nothing to deserve to be shamed by a stranger for trying to love someone struggling to love themselves. He carried his own shames for things that passed between Painter and him when they were 18 and with Painter’s permission I leveraged his shame against him. I did this not knowing that before I came on the scene, Painter was fitting him with armor just as she was fitting others while with me.
It saddens me deeply that I lacked self-awareness that I volunteered myself to be used as a spear to further wound him. Hurt people hurt people.
It won’t happen again. I’ll keep practicing and will continue to get better at this.
If I was more skillful and aware I would have seen it as the first of many of Painter’s unskillful betrayals foreshadowing the many things that would eventually rot away the foundations of intimacy and trust in our life. Although, my Good Doctor cautions me against creating stories, I sometimes wonder if Painter only loved me for what I did for her and not for who I am.
Can both be true?
I’ve come to believe my role as Painter’s Hero was to distract her from her own shames and I became one more shame replacing one more shame replacing one more shame…
It saddens me deeply that I didn’t know this was my role. It saddens me deeply I was unaware of the Patterns. It saddens me deeply that I willingly participated in the deception. It saddens me deeply that I was so shallow I accepted at face value what Painter said about him. It saddens me deeply that I was proud of the way I talked to him. It saddens me deeply that the woman I love is so hurt by life that she hides behind others. It saddens me deeply that I believed it was my role to save her from herself.
It saddens me deeply I so eagerly sold my integrity so cheaply. It saddens me deeply that I would sell so much of my soul just to see Painter smile.
I wrote Indy a letter last night and apologized. I will not carry Painter’s shame and unskillfulness any longer as my shame. All I can do is own mine. It is Indy’s choice to learn from it.
The idea here is not to divert the sadness, but to give it context for life other than what is making you sad. Just as ginger can lose its bitterness when baked in bread, sadness can be leavened by other life.
When feeling the sharpness of being sad or hurt, it helps to take new things in. This pours the water of life on the fire of the heart.
So when exhausted from expressing all that hurt, listen to music never heard of, or ask someone to tell you an old story from before your birth, or take a drive down the road near a ridge you’ve always meant to look out from.
Look with your sad eyes on things new to you that will give you something to do with your sadness. Your sadness is the paint. You must find a canvas.
Just breathe, and let the chair teach you about wood, let the wall teach you about being bare, let the window teach you how to let light in.