Thursday, May 21, 2015

Vanessa and Her Sister

I worked till 6:30 last night and got home shortly before 7. It was so gorgeous outside that I hauled in my packsack, my purse and a parcel  picked up earlier at the post office, and headed back out the door and down the road on foot. No jacket required! Just a little cotton blazer that I’d been wearing all day.

Scott was cultivating and as I walked back he stopped the tractor alongside the edge of the field and got off, so I went over to chat. He still wasn’t feeling too well so, though he had hoped to work a couple more hours and finish the field, he shut off the tractor and drove home on the quad. He was in the tub by the time I arrived with the dogs. When I went into the steamy room, I laughed: he was lying on his back and his face was black with dirt. I hadn’t noticed it when we stood talking outside. He wouldn’t let me take a picture, though I promised it would only be from the shoulders up.

A pair of blue-winged teal

I am reading a novel about Vanessa Bell and her sister Virginia Woolf. It is based on reality. Vanessa has discovered that her new husband is having an affair (perhaps only of the mind, but a love affair, nevertheless) with her younger sister, and she is struggling to keep her balance and reform her social convictions. How will she live with this knowledge? How will she not let it ruin the life she has created? How will she safeguard her relationships with those she loves?

It has got me thinking about betrayal. There are so many kinds of it. The obvious ones, like cheating on a spouse or sleeping with your best friend’s wife; these are the ones that society points at with disdain as beneath the decent person who is above reproach.

But what about all the other betrayals, not always recognized for what they are and the damage they do? The ones people so often don’t take responsibility for: betrayals of trust and kindness and respect and fairness, made out of foolishness, carelessness, weakness, cruelty, revenge, immaturity, anger, impatience, misplaced intention, disloyalty, lack of discernment. These betrayals are frequent, and while less obviously humiliating and hurtful, their impact is every bit as powerful.


  1. Well said Kate. From where I sit, the ultimate betrayal is the betrayal of self, often undetectable to others. To me is the betrayal that all manipulators seek to induce in others, because it affects self-worth, and therefore judgement.

    1. You've hit that nail squarely on the head, Maggie!

    2. Your list of other betrayals may indeed be the cause of the heavily condemned betrayal of adultery. They cause a lot of hurt feelings that add up to a seriously broken relationship. I think we should all take note of the small betrayals and vow not to cooperate when they happen. Above all, though, we need to see through the drip-drip-drip methods of destroying a partner, which we ourselves are doing. Our own personal behaviour and the change we can make in ourselves--that is the wiggle room we seek.

    3. I agree, it is likely those "secondary" or "less sinful" betrayals that lead to the more jolting ones. Also, we all need to take responsibility for our own actions, at the same time realizing we are not responsible for the actions of others.

    4. Yes. I really hope that, if I ended up divorced, that neither of us would put the blame on the other when it is so very obvious how flawed we all are. I know I would not blame myself. It's a wonder we do as well as we do, in these very confusing times.

  2. Maggie, I was trying to put my reactopn into words when I read yours. Thank you.


Leave a message here or email me at, home of the snow and land of the wheat!