As I was sitting in court yesterday listening to opening statements, listening to accusations, and answering questions, I was overcome with gratitude.
I’m grateful to my friends that loved me enough to challenge my unskillfulness in the way I behaved during my infidelity. Chef, Star, and others challenged me in a way that kept me focused on perspective and accountability and not shaming and punishment.
I’m grateful my friends made it safe to continue loving Painter and grieve the loss without cliches or contempt. I’m grateful that gave me space to breathe.
I’m grateful that I loved Painter and our life together enough that I threw myself into therapy in an attempt to better understand how the impact of my actions didn’t always line up with the intent. Therapy taught me that I can love someone and betray them, that mistakes of skill and responding from a place of trauma is a deeply human failing.
I’m grateful that my friends maintained compassion for Painter too without feeling the need to join a team.
I’m grateful they didn’t smear, attack, or rumor-mongering about Painter when they saw my grief and did not shame her for lashing out at me.
I’m grateful that my therapist and friends reminded me constantly that infidelity is a human coping mechanism and not an identity or criminal act.
I’m grateful that everyday we begin and again and what I do today matters most.
I’m grateful that despite the anger, fear, anxiety, and sadness I felt in response to Painter’s smear campaign I’m able to recognize it as her unskillful attempts to cope with her own emotional discomfort without reacting and punishing her back. I can honor her pain and anger as valid without taking responsibility for her.
I’m grateful that I know hurt people hurt people and this is a reminder and not permission.
I am grateful I chose to treat Painter with compassion and empathy even when my responses often slipped into an idiots compassion for her anger in an unskillful attempt to avoid the necessary conflict of holding myself, and her accountable.
I am grateful that I honored my heart and intentions and made the effort to reconcile with Painter for the first 9 months including sending her money, little gifts, offering to pay for any therapy without expectations, and making myself available and accountable to her. The Pursuer-Distancer, anxious avoidant attachments wasn’t always patient and I’m not saying I did it well, but I did it.
I’m grateful I kept showing up even when it would have been easier to run.
I’m grateful that I have adopted an open and transparent approach to growing from this experience that allows me to see myself and Painter for who we are and not what I imagine we were.
I’m grateful that four years later I can sit in court and answer questions without defensiveness or taking things personally when accused of things that didn’t happen or are taken out of context.
I’m grateful that I have a partner that is willing to sit in court with me and hear uncomfortable stories and recognize that I am more than one thing, that I am owning my mistakes, and facing my discomfort without blame or entitlement. A partner that doesn’t start bar fights to defend my honor, doesn’t run off leaving me sitting alone in court while my fear and anxiety swirl about. A partner that, even though things are hard at times, owns her own discomfort without blame.
I’m grateful that whatever the judge decides I am making the effort to recover that which was stolen from me. Three years ago I would simply rolled over and threw myself on the sword.
I’m grateful that four years later that I have enough perspective on myself, and my relationship, that I’m not justifying my anger with entitlement.
I’m grateful that I have been open and transparent, committed to growth and compassion, that I cannot be blackmailed into shame by those intent to misunderstanding, misinterpreted, and misrepresent my identity because they aren’t dealing with their own patterns.
I’m grateful I was able to look across the courtroom at Painter as she asked questions and know I am allowed to love her, I don’t hate her, care about her, and want her to discover whatever she is seeking as she too copes with her life and choices.
I am forever grateful to Painter. I will always be grateful for the life and experience with her and allowing me to live, however shortly, with a passion and love I didn’t realize I could experience.
Despite the remorse and regret, grief, and sadness I carry, Monday was a great day.