Thoughts on Mark Nepo’s Being Sad

On Love

One rarely falls in love without being as much attracted to what is interestingly wrong with someone as what is objectively healthy.

― Alain de Botton

There isn’t a great deal I want to add here.

If nothing else Karma understands irony.

I’ve spent the last 10 days in Wisconsin  working to sell the ’59 Shasta Airflyte camper and the Vee Van. Things we bought to build a future with. The work has left me with a deep feeling of sadness.

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?

More sadness.

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.

May 26

Being sad

The best thing for someone sad, replied Merlin, is to learn something.

T.H. White

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.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Mark Nepo’s Being Sad

  1. blackacre02631 – I'm more than a betrayed wife - I'm a lawyer, a devoted mom of two awesome kids, a travel nut, bookworm, and a daughter - but I blog about the state of my marriage at .
    blackacre02631 says:

    Always up for it, but will have to play it by ear a bit… it’s my kids’ last week of school which seems to translate into parental mayhem. Shoot me a text when you’re back and settled and we’ll see what we can work out. 🙂

  2. blackacre02631 – I'm more than a betrayed wife - I'm a lawyer, a devoted mom of two awesome kids, a travel nut, bookworm, and a daughter - but I blog about the state of my marriage at .
    blackacre02631 says:

    Don’t be too hard on yourself about Indy. You trusted someone you were trying to build s relationship with. It would probably have been less healthy to have jumped to the conclusion that C was misleading you/ lying / wrong. You did the best you could with the facts as you knew them.

    Hopefully writing to Indy was freeing and it brings you some peace.

    1. Wanders – #Infidelity is an outcome of an unskillful coping mechanism, everything else is a story someone imagines. Sharing thoughts and letters with those the men and women that #betrayed their Loves, lives, and selves too. What you do today matters most. All anyone can do is own the experience and practice doing better.
      An Explorer says:

      Thanks BA.

      I don’t believe © thought she was misleading me either. I take the generous perspective over and over an try to remember how traumatic that experience was with Indy at their age. What she said was true on the moment…only later did she own the rest of the story. We all trickle truth the story when Shame writes the scripts.

      Of course, I could have met the problem with empathy and listened, bit instead, like a good soldier, I tried to fix it.

      So much unskillfullness to go around. I hate nearly every moment of these experiences but I believe it opens the door to something more moving forward.

      You know, I’d still go back if she would own something. Anything. She isn’t there today. I hope she finds the peace and happiness she is chasing.

      My love for her now is deeper and has more depth than when were together because I see so much more truth about Us and me.

      I wrote a follow-up to this. It posts Tuesday morning.

      I’ll be back this week. You up for dinner next week sometime?