46: Stories of Safety

“A nervous system that’s been literally, physically formed around the need for self-protection isn’t gonna drop all its old patterns just because it’s told, ‘you’re safe now.’ Our nervous system’s gonna demand that we PROVE, again and again, that NOW is not THEN.”

Dr. Glenn Doyle

Dr. Glenn Doyle post hit me hard this morning.

In my relationship with Painter I spent a great deal of energy playing the role of Hero to her insecurities in order to assuage mine.

There are a lot of reasons for my role as her Knight to her Queen. I’m not going to rehash it here.

I’ll simply say our relationship was infused with this dynamic from the beginning as she told me stories of how her husband had abused and abandoned her. She was a Queen trapped in another man’s castle. She didn’t feel safe, appreciated, or supported in her marriage and was planning on leaving.

At least that was her story.

Being a knight, and wired as I am, she gave me a purpose and I acted accordingly. I too didn’t feel safe, appreciated, or supported in my marriage and was planning on leaving.

At least that is my story.

Although these are honest stories, they aren’t truthful stories.

The truth is I didn’t always appreciate Beatrix and carried my own entitlement and immature coping mechanisms.

I’m sure their are similar truths in Painter’s marriage to her ex-husband.

It didn’t serve either of us at the time to examine the truths behind our infidelities.

After my relationship ended with Painter there has been an extensive smear campaign as new knights have stepped forward to protect the now “vulnerable” Queen.

Early on I really struggled to understand why people would choose these roles and why Painter would use these people to carry her hurt, anger, and rage. I didn’t understand.

It has a taken a lot of inner work to recognize that these monkey’s choices are no different than mine. That the monkeys’ need to be someone’s hero, Painter’s Hero, outstrips the reality of the experience. From their perspective what is important isn’t what actually happened but what they imagine happened.

I look at how people have mobbed around Painter’s entitlements and threatened me with violence, harassed me publicly and privately, and spreading lies to hurt my business. The impact has overwhelmed my idealism about people. I just didn’t realize just how damaged people behave.

I honestly had no idea. I thought it was just me that was damaged.

However, as I have growth through this experience and begun to appreciate the trauma bonding that happened in our Pursuer-Distancer, Knight-to-Queen roles, I have been able to maintain compassion for Painter and her behaviors. Even as I have been confused, angry, and hurt by those behaviors.

As I have sussed out the stories of my passion for Painter and our life together from the reality of our life together I am repeatedly reminded how often Painter thanked me for keeping her safe. She didn’t thank me for building a life together but rather for “keeping her and her children safe.”

Because that is a Knight’s job, sacrifice everything to keep the Queen safe. I was even willing to give up my integrity to try and keep her safe from my mistakes.

As I read Doyle’s post I’m reminded how often I showed I was safe. I worked hard to be safe.

Chef reminded me recently that for many people a sense of safety is the same as love. For them love isn’t about the experience but rather the transaction. In this sense, “as long as you keep me safe I will love you.”

Which isn’t wrong if both parties are truthful and transparent about the transaction.

I was neither truthful or transparent in this space of our life. Painter acted accordingly to her need for safety.

I knew this. I’ve always recognized this is who she is.

Frankly, Painter wasn’t truthful or transparent either but her dishonesty served my need for safety. I imagine it was for the same reasons I wasn’t: truthfulness and transparency makes us vulnerable to discomfort.

As such, when Painter asked me to leave, I left. I never rolled up on the house, art shows, or work. When I saw her on public I have always walked away.

Not from cowardice but because I honored her need to feel safe. I was still taking responsibility for her feelings even as I was annihilated and living in my van and hotel rooms.

None of what I do to keep the people I love safe matters if the person allows their feelings of entitlement and importance dictate their approach to the world around them. There will never be safety if we take our feelings as directives and treat every trigger as the truth. It doesn’t’ matter if we trauma bond our triggers to other people’s triggers creating a feedback loop.

Here’s one of many things I have learned, nothing I do or say will create a sense of safety for people avoiding their own traumas. I cannot love someone enough to heal the wounds they are trying to avoid.

Nothing anyone else does will heal mine. We heal by growing around the wound, not by overlooking them.

If safety is the motivation than safety, like so much, is an inside job.