I’ve talked about the recent small claims court case and because I was asked I wanted to give an update on the impact.
The judge awarded me money. He determined that Painter “unjustly enriched” herself throughout the relationship and after by selling property that didn’t belong to her and refusing to return property.
Now that I understand this process better I realize how much more I could have been awarded had I argued my case just a bit differently. Painter got off light.
The simplistic and entitled argument is that I didn’t deserve these things returned because I had an affair. Which essentially is every entitled defense offered by wounded people for their revenging. As Painter said, “These are gifts.”
Which for all intents and purposes is a spoiled child’s defense.
I’m not resentful at Painter for refusing to have any discussions about navigating the end of our relationship. Most moments I have forgiven with an eye-roll and sigh. There has been a lot of eye-rolling over all the nonsense over the last several years.
By nonsense I mean the exaggerated and false accusations of infidelity, harassment, and abuse and the interference in my business through rumor-mongering. All accusations Painter and her monkeys leveled at me without any merit, evidence, or a basis in reality. All accusations intended to avoid the conversations growth-oriented couples negotiate at the end of a relationship.
That isn’t to say I’m not still grieving at times.
I still think lovingly towards Painter in moments and cherish the moments I had with her. I miss traveling to art shows with Painter and sitting in the sun, watching her twirl about in her sun dresses. Not everyone experiences that depth of love.
Occasionally, I say something sarcastic about Painter to Chef or Star but they recognize my sarcasm comes from a place of grief avoidance and not maliciousness. The sarcasm and contempt is about my discomfort and not about Painter.
As I said, Painter owes me money.
The court ordered Painter pay me, or makes arrangement to pay me, within fifteen days. That was nearly sixty days ago. I was on vacation nearly fifty of those days. While I was gone Painter sent me a registered letter. I wasn’t home to sign for it. When I got home I went to the post office to pick it up but it had already been returned to her.
I don’t know what it contained.
I had a decision to make about how to proceed. After talking to Chef, I decided to call Painter.
To my surprise, Painter answered the phone. It is the first conversation we have had on the phone since she asked me to leave four years ago. I explained I wasn’t ignoring her letter but was out of town and she should resend the paperwork.
She said she would. It should be here this week.
Or it won’t be.
I have never had control over Painter’s choices. In my opinion, Painter has repeatedly paid a toll by allowing her angry pride to ride shotgun over her choices both during and after our relationship. As Tennyson wrote, “sometimes a man’s own angry pride is cap and bells for a fool.” Any change in Painter’s foolish behavior would be a pleasant surprise. In the mean time, I find it constructive to keep my expectations on Painter’s choices incredibly low. I have repeatedly made the mistake of imagining Painter wouldn’t go lower until she does.
A few days after the call, I had a conversation with the Good Doctor and she asked me how I felt when I heard Painter’s voice.
I answered, “Meh. Mostly sad.”
In elaborating I told the Good Doctor that my memory of Painter is now defined by seeing her hiding under a table on New Year’s Eve, sexually throwing herself at her not-yet fiance in a mostly empty bar in Yo-Yo Town, and her first boyfriend threatening to smother me in cheesecloth with the help of the Cumberland Dairy mafia.
I’m sad because this reality isn’t consistent with how I experienced Painter while together. Now I experience her as a frightened and spoiled little girl using people to avoid living life. In my imagination I imagined we more than that.
I imagined Painter was too.
I want to add one last detail about where I am emotionally on this experience.
I will always have a conversation with Painter.
If Painter called me today and asked to meet, I would sit and listen to anything she would have to say to me provided we agreed to respect boundaries.
I’m not afraid of her or her feelings. I am not afraid of mine. I am willing to sit in the discomfort.
Pain is not the enemy but the light over the path to growth. Despite the chaos, I am grateful to Painter for opening the door to this life and this experience. I continue to love her from afar and want the best for her.