We’re in this together

Huge peony blooms from my cutting garden.

I know it’s confusing to some, how or even why I would want to stay partnered with a person who lied and cheated and systematically betrayed me. How to get past the wounds, and why? Why trust? Why knowingly make myself vulnerable to a proven abuser.

The question of whether to stay, or not, isn’t an easy one to answer, not even for the person smack in the middle of the train wreck. So it certainly wouldn’t be easy to understand for the bystander. There is no one size fits all response to intimate betrayal, not if you’ve been dating someone for a year, and certainly not after you shared a life with this person for more than three decades.

Two years ago last month, one of our employees walked into Blue Eyes’ office (while I was away) and quit, on the spot. He had worked for our company for more than 11 years. He had been difficult all along, but worked hard and was like family at the time of his departure. His closing remarks were rude, disrespectful, and hurtful to Blues Eyes. We then found out he had stolen from us. Blue Eyes hasn’t completely healed from the experience.

Blue Eyes should have let the employee go, a few times, but as our older son said back in 2014, after hearing his father had gone back intermittently to the same woman for eight years to feed his addiction, even though she was physically abusive, “well you know how difficult it is for Daddy to fire people.” So true.

This morning Blue Eyes received an email from a current employee. He’s been with us for a year and is not happy with his one year review, or the fact that we have currently put a freeze on raises and bonuses, amongst other things. The employee copied me and my brother, The Listener (also a managing partner) on his email. Blue Eyes was heading out to take the dogs for a walk when he told me about the email. This morning had already been a bit ungrounding. We woke early to booming thunder showers after two unseasonably hot days (it’s been dark & rainy all day) in Portland and then the news of middle of the night riots across the country, including right here in Portland, two miles from our home. I just now received an emergency alert on my phone about the imposed downtown 8pm curfew.

I didn’t immediately look at the email. I needed to run out and put slug bait down on my new dahlia garden. More on that later.

May has been quite a month so far, with ups and downs, my 57th birthday was two weeks ago. A week later my dad would have turned 78. I think about him every day. He was such a big supporter of me, more than I realized until I went to pick up my phone to call him and tell him something just to realize, I won’t ever be able to do that again. I think about him, his life, who he was, how much of him is in me, regularly. I’m still sad.

Yesterday my mother and stepfather (with prostate cancer, in his spine, turning 80 in a couple weeks) called. They’ve had to postpone his 80th birthday celebration and their 50th wedding anniversary trip due to Covid19. My mom, age 75, has been diagnosed with depression and early onset dementia. In the middle of troubleshooting irrigation problems in the yard, I had an hour long conversation with them about the medications she is being prescribed. It hurts my heart to think about all my parents dying. I need to live each day grasping for all the good… and call my mother more.

Volunteer foxgloves gone wild in the garden this spring

I’m not a big fan of birthday gatherings anyway, so sheltering in place this year was fine by me, although strange. The Peacemaker made a beautiful meal for me including this big pot of bacon, jalapeño mac n cheese.

What I’ve really wanted for years, is a dahlia cutting garden so that’s what I gave myself for my birthday. I ordered 40 dahlia tubers from a local dahlia nursery. The Peacemaker has worked with me the past two weeks weeding and removing shrubs, amending soil, and hauling debris in order to make room for my garden. Last night I planted 29 of the 40 tubers but it was dark by the time I finished and I didn’t want to put down slug bait in the dark so I ran out this morning and got it done first thing before the torrential downpours.

My cutting garden after weeding and shrub removal, and planting and staking 29 dahlia tubers. I can’t wait to watch them grow!

Then I called my brother about the employee email.

Blue Eyes had come back from his dog walk and I could tell he was down. I looked at his eyes and they were sad and red-rimmed. I knew he’d been crying. I asked him what was wrong and I could tell from his slumped shoulders and evasive mannerisms that he didn’t want to talk about it, but I pried. I needed to know what he was feeling. He’s down about everything going on right now, but as suspected, he was most upset about the employee. It’s a complicated matter, but the disturbing aspect of what Blue Eyes had to say about it was that this employee, at times, reminds him of Dan, the employee that turned on Blue Eyes and stole from us. I know Blue Eyes has PTSD from that relationship and especially the end of that relationship and the betrayal. Blue Eyes and I had a productive conversation and then I talked to my brother. He kindly took my call even though he was out in the yard in Salt Lake City setting up a slip and slide for his kids after watching the NASA launch. Fun times! Apparently SLC still has their warm, sunny weather.

During our conversation about the employee, we talked about Dan and Blue Eyes concerns for this current employee. Blue Eyes is a tough guy to work for (and be married to), but one of the things my brother brought up was how, over the years, no matter how difficult Blue Eyes was, as a boss, that nothing he ever did was meant to hurt anyone. He’s not a mean or mean-spirited person. Blue Eyes’ deep wounds and self esteem issues were buried so far inside that even Blue Eyes didn’t know what drove his behavior. And he still doesn’t to a certain degree. My brother and I are here to help muddle through this situation. We’re in this together, eyes wide open, and we all have each other.

From the moment I found out about Blue Eyes’ secret life, I instinctively knew what Blue Eyes did, even though it was incredibly painful, and affected a lot of people, not just me, was never meant to hurt anyone. He was punishing himself over and over for his own perceived inadequacies. It all seems counter intuitive, but addiction is that way. I’m grateful I stuck it out. I’m grateful for my team.

I’m so excited for my dahlia garden! I’m hoping that August will be filled with dahlia blooms to share! In the meantime, I took a walk around the yard yesterday with my trusty iPhone camera. Since we are on a hillside, a big portion of our property is rock wall. Things have really come to life over the past few weeks! And BEES! So many cute and busy bees! 🐝

Bees love to bury themselves in the foxglove
Hang on little raspberry bud, I got ya!
Blooming succulents and corsican mint in the rockwall
More blooming succulents
Who knew cactus grew in Portland?
So dainty and pretty!

29 thoughts on “We’re in this together

  1. The blooming succulents are amazing! (So are the foxgloves!). Big hugs to you… my husband would drive to the nursing home after work, to visit his mom, for a while after she died. Can’t wait to follow your dahlias.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love my rock wall succulents! The foxgloves (all pink/purple/white) were volunteers. I didn’t plant a single one and there are dozens of them. I just ordered some seeds for next year, peach and yellow. I’m excited to see if they grow! I understand what your husband went through. It’s been hard! About 80% of the dahlias are popping through the soil right now! So exciting!!! ❤️

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  2. I love your garden pix and stories. I was actually going to write a post about my former gardens (w/ pix), which definitely broke my back – LOL – and what I tend now. I may have over-simplified my life that way now, but that’s OK – example,e – I have ONE dahlia in a pot and bought it on a whim b/c it was pretty and I thought of you! I should name it “Kat”. I was thinking about THEN (pre-discovery) vs. NOW (healing, self-care mode). I love your Foxgloves. WOW!!! Great idea about climbing the cukes – I did that once as a happy accident and they produced like mad! Things are starting to open here too (yep – NY), but we aren’t changing our behavior yet. I hope your son in NY is OK — what a time for NYC. Sigh.

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    • I’m so behind on the blog reading! Which dahlia do you have in the pot? Maybe I have the same one, although there are so many varieties.

      The foxgloves are all volunteer… standard colors of pink, white, and purple. I just ordered some seeds for peach and yellow. I have never seen those colors before. I also ordered delphinium and lupine seeds. Going to try my hand at growing some things myself. I can buy a hundred seeds for the same price as one plant at the nursery. 😮 I just have to learn patience! I think we are going to have A LOT of cucumbers! Right now the raspberries are turning red, yum! Our weather has been really rainy, not atypical for June, so getting a bit of a slow start. Too much rain is not good for the dahlias.

      My NY boy is out marching. I hope he is okay too. He wears his mask, but… at least he is young. Anti-racism is more important than sheltering in place right now. Our younger son is heading out tonight to protest. The police have been awful here with the tear gas. He’s got protection. Portland is a very protest oriented city.

      I’m staying home. My hair color was my one outing out in the past 3 months. xoxo

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      • The Dahlia in the pot has a tag – Gallery Dahlia – Art Nouveau. It’s not a really rare Dahlia; it was a whim purchase. But I thought it was so pretty and you popped in my head, so I bought it.

        I was never successful at getting Foxgloves or Lupines to establish in my OH gardens. Other gardening friends had them. So much is about soil and location. It’s interesting. I think Delphiniums are biennial? Love them all. Seeds are fun. Sometimes taking the “slow route” is very rewarding. There are people (groups / societies) who trade plant seeds. A thought. 😉

        I miss my raspberry patch. I used to go out with the 3 Goldies in the morning and they’d run around the property and I’d eat berries. LOL

        I hear you about antiracism. When the poop hit the fan in BFLO with the elderly man being shoved by the police a few days ago, I said, “I’ve got to go. I need to be there.” I couldn’t freaking breathe, but I was going to go. Then reason took over, and I said to myself – ummm – you can barely breathe outside in the humidity – still medical issues. I would give it a day-ish to see if the DA would act swiftly. He did, and charged 2 officers, and BFLO’s mayor had a 4 hour meeting about law enforcement reform. It’s a start. I have protested since I was in college when I felt called upon. My father saw me on the news once and called me a “damn hippy” – lovingly – joking.

        We are still home. Only groceries, but a couple of trips to open-air garden centers, hikes in open spaces, and I saw my chiropractor (I bit the bullet and took the risk). I’m afraid of getting a haircut and I am friends on FB w my stylist. She just attended a BIG wedding for a son or daughter. So I will give THAT at least 3 weeks. Just grow my hippy hair. HA! The good news is that NY’s numbers have gone way down and our area is (has been) low.

        Hope your sons stay safe.

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  3. Your garden is beautiful. I’m dying to know how you get that cactus to grow.

    Just curious… can BE draw any kind of parallel between how he experienced Dan’s betrayal and the impact of his (BE’s) betrayal on you? Totally different beasts, I know, but does he have any ability to reflect on that? I ask because occasionally I’ll find Handsome complaining about something that happened to him and he very often thinks he’s “special” in how he is experiencing those emotions. By way of example, our 13 year old can get crappy/ snappy with him and he’ll complain that he’s “tired of getting yelled at all the time.” I just look at him, think back to all of his angry outbursts, and wish he could say “Wow. I hate getting yelled at all the time, so I can’t imagine how hard it was for you and the kids when I was raging.” He’s not that introspective/ empathetic yet though.
    xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t plant the cactus, blackacre. We hired some high school friends of my older son, now all about 28, who started a landscaping business a couple years ago. They source plants from around the world that are beautiful, low maintenance, and can survive in our area. We have an Asia garden, a NZ garden, an Oregon (lots of different climate zones in OR) garden, a Mediterranean garden, etc… I think the reason the cactus works is it is planted on a rock wall that gets lots of sunshine (when there is sunshine). It’s really pretty. The boys decided this past summer that they wanted to open a marijuana/house plant/tea store, and so they did (right in the middle of a pandemic—I guess marijuana is essential 🤷🏻‍♀️) and now don’t have time to tend to our yard, ha. I hope I can keep everything alive. Once my dahlias are done for the season, we’re putting in a greenhouse. This shelter in place has reminded me how much I love my garden. We have a large yard on a hillside, no grass, so we have a lot of areas to maintain. We’re having fun with it!

      Regarding BE, he did recognize the parallels right away (it happened 4+ years post dday) but I’m still not convinced that he truly understands my betrayal trauma since he caused it, he seems to have some kind of stellar coping/deflection skills when it comes to my pain. He also has trouble differentiating his own anger from pain, so he just settles on anger because pain is too, well, painful. He has a different make up than I do, but for sure these guys are very emotionally selfish. He tries, but, he will never feel like I feel. His feelings were partially trained out of him. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read this and it resonates so much. Handsome’s therapists are all trying to get him to be “comfortable being uncomfortable” but when you’ve spent decades medicating your discomfort that seems to be a tall order. And yes, anger seems preferable to pain. It’s frustrating as hell.

        Good luck with your garden. We have big, mature plantings at our house because the prior owner spent hours and hours in the yard. We just can’t do that. We’ve put in a few low maintenance newbies (like the dragon’s eye pine) but are trying to switch over some of the beds to grass or ground cover. Otherwise it’s just too much to weed. And we are getting old and achy. 🙂 lol

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        • Adjusting to these “new” people is exhausting. It’s not what we signed up for, not what we bought into. “Is it worth it,” was a constant unanswered question running through my mind for a long time. I had to decide whether “I” thought “HE” wanted it bad enough. Eventually I realized he did, but that compromise was going to take on a whole new, even larger part of the rest of my life with him. He’s not like me and he’s not even who I thought he was, and he’s still incredibly frustrating, but I’ve adjusted for the most part. I know he tries hard and I love him. I’ve changed. Life goes on. Time is a friend I’ve embraced along the way. The more that passes, the calmer I get.

          The beds in the flat area outside BE’s tea house that the “boys” planted are beautifully self maintaining and virtually weed free. Spring brought with it so many weeds to the rock walls, but my son and I spent the better part of April getting them out and then big hillside spaces are covered in foxglove. I’m still working some beds for more dahlias, plus leeks, ramps, garlic & onions. I ache all over, but I am trying to convince myself that it is a good kind of ache? My knees are absolutely not having it though! Ibuprofen is my bedtime friend. Thankfully my son is fit and strong and can haul soil, weeds, etc… with ease up and down the hills. He’s also great at digging out roots & stumps! Lucky me ☺️. Will you be heading to the coast soon? Once everything is planted and the irrigation system is not leaking anywhere, we’ll be going back and forth. It looks like things will start opening up here in the next couple weeks, but we are going to be conservative. Stay safe & healthy! xo

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  4. You have a beautiful garden Kat! Always good to read your blog, and I’m glad that I found it. The few other blogs/support groups/websites that I have come across on the internet seem to be rather negative and promote SA as something that cannot be recovered from. I don’t agree with that and have great hope for my husband who is doing very well in recovery. When SA is discovered and a partner chooses to stay, the last thing they need to hear is that it is hopeless and just a matter of time before their partner/spouse resumes acting out again. Your blog is honest, realistic and hopeful. Thank you for sharing your journey (and your garden!) with us.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Catherine. I do love my garden. I’m glad I started this blog and happy that some people can find a safe space here. There is hope. Each situation is unique and complicated. Some would have us believe, at best, our husbands are lost causes, and at worst, evil, but they don’t know us, and they don’t live with our husbands. It’s nice to have camaraderie, positive energy, and hope! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful flowers and pics. I can tell they bring you a lot of joy 🙂
    Everyone’s situation is different, and the reason why men get pulled into a sex addiction is often different too. I think we need to understand the reasons behind the addiction, why it developed, and what needs it served before we can decide whether to end the relationship or not.
    A lot of the time it is not about us AT ALL, and the discovery breaks the person because they actually see how they’ve treated their spouse – something they couldn’t see before (although it can be hard for an outside observer to grasp that). Sometimes that’s the first time they actually see/ experience how much they love us and desperately want to be with us.

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    • I do LOVE the garden and my mom just reminded me how much her dad loved dahlias. He had a huge garden full every year, along with all his veggies. I remember them from my childhood. My grandmother from my father’s side loved ice plants and hanging fuchsia. I can easily lose track of time in the garden. It’s definitely one of my happiest places.

      I agree with you. It’s not about us. I think intimate betrayal in general and sex addiction specifically, seeking out other people for various physical and emotional outlets without contemplating the consequences to the loyal partner stems from all kinds of wounds, and also an ability to compartmentalize out others feelings in order to feed insecurities and mental illness and addiction. It’s really almost never about the loyal partner. I realized that quite quickly especially with my husband specifically because he never ever appeared unhappy with me or our marriage. His insecurities were medicated. But that doesn’t mean the decision to stay is an easy one. There are some behaviors that simply aren’t conducive to a long term relationship. Lying has got to be the one he still works on every day. So ingrained. A sex act, to me, seems almost insignificant compared to the lies and secrets of living a duplicitous life. I don’t want to live with a stranger. I’m grateful he has chosen to take the road less traveled. I’m also grateful for my support network.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I come from a family of gardeners too, although I never inherited their green fingers. Still, I appreciated a beautiful, colourful garden and fresh grown vegetables. I wish I had your talents 🙂
        I agree that the lies and deception are the most scary aspect of an addiction. We understand their drivers/ underlying needs, and the fact that many people (especially men?) compartmentalize their lives, and deny the reality of what they are doing to themselves.
        Even so, you can’t build a shared life on lies and deception. If you can’t trust the person you are living with to tell you the truth about important things then there is no basis for a relationship. It isn’t safe and you’d never know where you were! That’s a recipe for chronic anxiety and fear. Honestly, you can’t lead anything resembling a normal life if you are sharing that life with someone who leads a Jekyll and Hyde existence. I couldn’t have continued like that, and would NEVER have stayed in my marriage if I wasn’t genuinely convinced that my husband had turned his back on his past, was living, now, as an open book. Thanks for sharing your experiences here. You are such a help and encouragement to so many others 🙂

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        • Thank you for the encouragement. Open book, yes! I feel like I am an old broken spine book where the pages are loose and easily accessed whereas my husband is one of those books that just when you think you’ve got it in the perfect position, it snaps shut on you! 🙂 He’s working on it. I believe he wants to be open and vulnerable, but there is still fear. I get it, and I no longer question myself because I do get it. It’s okay to be a caring and compassionate person, even with someone who hurt me. That took a while for me to accept. Thanks for your blog! I haven’t been on the blog daily like I was at one point, but I do catch up regularly and always appreciate your insightful words.

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          • I think society often sends the message that you show more self-respect by walking away than staying – even although it is often the harder thing to do. Thank you for showing us it can be the right thing to do – and the hard work leads to healing in the end, even if it takes a lot of time!! Have a great week. Enjoy the flowers 🙂

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            • You too, DLH, have a fantastic week! I think sometimes we have to shut the door in the face of society and not be so critical of ourselves. Unless we are being harmed, then of course, reach out for that hand, even if it is attached to judgment. Sometimes we do give too much. 🤗

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            • Re: Self-respect = leaving – I experienced so much of that in therapy and with a few friends — blech. Still trying to discern if it’s the area we live in or what. There are therapists in other areas who aren’t so “black and white” on this issue. Sometimes leaving is the best decision and sometimes it’s not. Only we can decide, and we can always leave at any point if we choose.

              Healing does take a lot of time. And when these guys really get it – at least in my experience – it makes a big difference. My husband is in touch with his emotions, expresses them, he’s so much more relaxed, and so much more kind.

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              • You can’t make the decision for anyone else. It really doesn’t help to be black and white in your thinking. Everyone’s situation and relationship is different. As you say, if you stay you can always change your mind at a later date as well. That’s important to remember 🙂

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