I want to take a moment to thank Beatrix, my ex-wife. I probably don’t say this often enough.
Two months after Painter ended the relationship, Beatrix sent me this letter in response to what she was watching happen in the background. Beatrix watched me slowly drown and sent a life preserver. Beatrix was far more aware of what Painter was doing than I ever was.
In her loving and patient letter to me, Beatrix wrote, “What is important is we own our deficiencies, flaws, and bad behavior and work to overcome them. That we give every human being a chance to fail, to be stupid, to do hurtful things without judging their entire character and cutting them out of our life. That we forgive and accept that people are fallible and really, really stupid at times.”
I’ve owned that wisdom Beatrix shared with me.
Below is the original post from January 25, 2018.
Sent to me by someone that has known me intimately for nearly 15 years and accepts me. She knew, based on what she has seen, I needed to hear it and focus on something other than the ghost stories of angry and ignorant people.
To truly love someone we give them the keys our heart and vulnerabilities. That is why they know how to hurt us the most.
Thank you for reminding me I am more than the sum of my parts.
What you offer the world:
-You have a great sense of humor.
-You appreciate beauty in every little thing. Whether it’s a blue sky or in the wisdom of an elderly person.
-You approach new things, thoughts, ideas, cultures, etc. that interest you with unbridled enthusiasm.
-You show those who may not have any obvious qualities or the inability to communicate or show those qualities, respect, and admiration.
-You help others see their potential.
-You are a great cheerleader.
-You are complicated
-You are passionate
-You are a great conversationalist
-You are very, very fun to hang out with (at times!)
-You are a great traveling companion
-You are an enthusiastic explorer
-You are very intelligent and witty
-You have your own style and live it unapologetically
-You drive others to be better
-You make people feel special and important
You are, however, not perfect. But neither is anyone else.
Your infidelities and lies were very wrong and hurtful, but not deserving of public humiliation or scorn. You are being unjustly abused by C and her friends. Her actions in publicly shaming you are very, very wrong and not deserved. She is acting extremely immature and unjustifiably spiteful in sharing your and her’s private information, intimacies, and relationship with the community. It serves no purpose other than to garner her sympathy and punish you.
You hurt her, not the community. You were deceitful with her, not the community. You deserve her anger, resentment, and pain, but you don’t deserve it from anyone else other than her. You are not a monster but a man with issues, frailties, and traits shaped by your life and who has made some very bad choices. Yes, you have done extremely hurtful things to some people, but you own your mistakes and shortcomings and work to be a better person.
There is no one person in this world who has not hurt someone. It may have been unintentional, but it happened. There is not one person alive who has not acted, at times, without integrity. Or who has lied, cheated, or punished someone unjustly.
What is important is we own our deficiencies, flaws, and bad behavior and work to overcome them. That we give every human being a chance to fail, to be stupid, to do hurtful things without judging their entire character and cutting them out of our life. That we forgive and accept that people are fallible and really, really stupid at times.
That being said, we don’t have to be in relationships with people who have harmed us repeatedly without apology or remorse. And even if someone does apologize or show remorse, we don’t have to let them back into our lives if the hurt is too bad to deal with at the time. Or if that person doesn’t approach the relationship with the intention of being better, making amends, and putting in the very hard work of making a relationship successful.
No one can make us feel inferior without our consent (not my quote, but I think of it often).