67: Sorrow and Grief

timelapse photography of brown wooden puppet running on a black screen

Grief is the inevitable side effect of living. And loving.

To lose someone⁣ to death⁣, to divorce⁣, to break up, to dislocation⁣ necessitates a reimagining of the self. We are so profoundly relational that the loss of a relationship changes us. Our identity must be reworked in shadow cast by our loved one’s absence. ⁣

— Dr. Alexandra Solomon, Grief and Judgement

Some things need breaking to heal correctly. The breaking hurts.

The breaking of my relationship with Painter shattered me in fundamentally meaningful ways. The loss has been an emotional and mental struggle as I grieved the death of so many things I liked about myself in the experience of loving her and things I imagined about her.

I’ll never understand Painter’s choices at the end of our relationship. Not because they are wrong, but because I wouldn’t make those choices.

When the conversation comes up, Chef and Star remind me that Painter’s actions after the relationship are conscious. Her acts of harassment, intimidation, gaslighting, lying, triangulating, grooming, and bullying are more than venging. They perceive Painter’s behavior as the act of a selfish and entitled child taking her ball and going home as she narcissistically spews anger over her shoulder.

I struggle with seeing this about Painter. I make excuses. I minimize her behaviors. I enable. As a result, I don’t see her for who she is. I turn a blind eye to Painter’s behaviors because to see her for who she is, is to reveal truths about myself and our relationship that shatter the mythology I carry about her and our life together.

I judge myself. I judge her behaviors against mine. In the process, I lean into an idiot’s compassion or blame myself for her behaviors. I forget how dangerous her entitlement and immaturity can be. I forget how Painter had the freedom to make other choices.

I imagine none of it is personal.

Chef and Star remind me Painter’s behaviors are conscious behavior. Painter’s actions are a deliberate and practiced coping mechanism. She made the choices she made because they worked in the past. They are Painter’s habitual response to discomfort.

I often wonder why I have minimized and dismissed Painter’s actions over the last four years. Part of it is I imagine my affair had an impact; that my actions, secrets, and lies hurt her feelings and wounded her pride.

Perhaps vengeance is how she avoids her losses, sorrow, and grief?

Mostly I minimize Painter’s behaviors and exaggerate my own to avoid grief. The willingness to truly see Painter as who she is means seeing myself as I am in that pattern.

And to see this truth is to live with remorse and regret, and experience sorrowful grief.

Our judgy is us telling on ourselves. Our judgy reveals just how scared we are of ever having to touch that core of sorrow.⁣

— Dr. Alexandra Solomon, Grief and Judgement