Frankly, through this grief and loss, I gained far more than I lost.
That perspective will trigger some people.
However, their anger doesn’t change the truth: I like myself and my life. I am living an emotionally more skillful and conscious relationship, job, and life.
I have gained a more dedicated group of friends and a deep appreciation for community, friends, and family. In four years, I have driven the country from Key West to Buffalo, Philadelphia to Bisbee. Since I am not dumping 100% of my financial resources into caring for Painter, her business, her boys, and her house, I have financial resources that have allowed me to invest in my life and my future.
Beatrix and I have found truthful and meaningful healing both together and apart. There has been some meaningful reconciliation and closure in that relationship.
I have discovered many truths about myself and my life that have allowed me to grow as I practice new skills. And in practicing those skills, I have found a compassionate, open, and loving relationship that balances appropriate transactional and relational approaches to life. It’s unsettling to be in a relationship with someone practicing skillful relationship behaviors. Chef is curious and reflective enough about themselves to own their mistakes without making me responsible for their well-being.
Although if truth be told, I probably would have gained a great deal as well if Painter and I had reconciled.
Either situation demands a sacrifice of my pride and entitlements and a change in my approach to connection, intimacy, vulnerability, and sex. Reconciliation would have required the same intention over time for my growth to be meaningful and lasting.
Maybe not, though.
I recognize that reconciliation might have also required the continued subjugation of my identity to Painter’s ego, entitlement, pride, kids, and art. My type tends to be the distancer making others responsible for their actions.
Painter was my type.
Painter’s ongoing avoidance of what was hard and uncomfortable would have left little room for my growth. As a result, I would only have been further obligated to her expectations and entitlements in this scenario, paying an emotional debt as she defined it.
I see this often in discussions of infidelity. The betrayed partner demands compensation and remains indignant when the man or woman that betrayed is struggling emotionally and mentally. There is no room for the experience of the one that cheated.
On more than one occasion, a person impacted by infidelity espouses a perspective of emotional and moral competition where “my pain trumps your pain.” A narrative that often fuels an alarming game of emotional hot potato trapping good people in a spiral of emotional, mental, and too often, physical violence.
In this approach, each person trades emotional sovereignty to someone else. “You did this,” becomes, “you did this to me.” A version of egotism perpetuating the self-serving and false stories that all infidelity is abusive and malicious. The superiority reflects a highly narcissistic victim-informed perspective that defines other people’s affairs as unforgivably personal.
Here is the thing, only because Painter and I didn’t reconcile or attempt to reconcile can I imagine what reconciliation would have required.
For example, on multiple occasions over the last four years, Painter used men and women to douse me in the fire of her emotional eruptions while telling me she wasn’t angry and had forgiven me. They did this Just as I carried Painter’s passionate fire to her exes.
Painter tried to get a client to yank a contract. She refused to return personal property or discuss the disposition of joint property. Painter filed false police reports for things that never happened. She withdrew from mediation and blamed me. She continued to accept money from me while she told others I was harassing her.
Her fifty-year-old fiance tried to start a bar fight.
Her friends discovered my Good Doctor and contacted her nearly seven months after Painter, and I split. This monkey wrote out an email telling the Good Doctor precisely what he imagines is wrong with me.
In 2020 I organized a Covid Safe drive-through art show, and Painter and her monkeys contacted other artists and the business partner, telling them not to do business with me. They reported me to FB as a scam artist stealing money.
The list of the emotional childishness goes on and on.
Frankly, at moments it nearly broke me. As the Good Doctor and I have discussed, in some ways, it has broken me. Which is good, because there are some things that needed shattered and annihilated if I was going to grow through this moment.
As such, when I say, “through this grief and loss, I gained far more than I lost,” I recognize what I am saying. I may romanticize and idealize Painter and our relationship, but I also realize how much that relationship cost me and how much I gained now that it is over.
I know this because I am doing the work.