Nauseating Nostalgia

We all know what nauseating means…and probably nostalgia too: a longing…sentimentality…yearning. And a sneaky little creature that sometimes tugs at the edges of our emotions luring us into rewriting times and events into something they really weren’t in the first place.

My dad was military and we lived all over the place. I remember how I thought of one of our houses in my mind’s eye…a really nice neighborhood, mid-size home, pretty yard, other homes that were lovely and spaced out too. I returned to the area of that house as a young adult and nostalgia hit…so I took a detour to drive by that home that loomed large in my mind and memories.

But it wasn’t so big. As a matter of fact, it was really really small. And all the houses in the neighborhood were small. Honestly, they weren’t nice houses in a small neighborhood, they were shoddy and poorly constructed utilizing minimal materials with small yards and very, very close together. Definitely not what I remembered…what I’d clung to all those years.

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It happens with people too. Some of the people who loomed large in my mind’s eye – physically and in esteem – upon revisiting just – didn’t. Perhaps it was my younger age, smaller size and perhaps it was also my stage of life and experience, but when we met again later, it just wasn’t as BIG as I’d remembered.

And that’s how it is with Affair Partners. Statistically, most affairs start one of two ways: at the workplace, or someone from the past. HUSBAND’s affairs were both. His “past” affairs followed high school reunions: of the three he/we attended, affairs were birthed from two. And he sees now how nostalgia played a role…painting a picture of a past that really wasn’t…and enticing him to take a journey – which he was already working toward in his sex addiction – but this made it easier.

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I talk with Other Women who have reconnected with friends, boyfriends or lovers from their past. They are determined, almost to a one, that fate messed up. That they were always meant for each other. That their MM (that would be married man) just married the wrong girl, and if they got married, it happened to them too. It really wasn’t anyone’s fault…that they are soul-mates, or twin-flames and that’s what justifies them having an affair now. Because it is really bigger than them…out of their control…the heart wants what the heart wants is what they say.

And I say nostalgia is playing its grand trick on you. It’s making that time, that friendship, that relationship more than it was. That through the years of reality and hard knocks and life, nostalgia helps you believe it was all good even when, upon closer examination, those early years were also fraught with fear and pain and uncertainty. Oh, there were good times back then – but bad times too. Ironically, much like the present, perhaps?

While submerged and engrossed in his journey down nostalgia lane, HUSBAND agreed to a point with SW’s urgings to recreate the past, to make it something it never was. She made music play lists of songs and he shared songs back from the early days…and they listened to them again and again. She spoke words related to events from high school, reminding him of his youth and virility and he gladly rewrote history. As he moved into recovery, and stepped out of the fog, he began to talk to me about high school – the real memories – and they weren’t all so great. Actually, there was fun…but also lots of pain, and angst and rejection. Yet while wrapped in the figurative and literal arms of his reminiscent lover, those memories took on different form, nostalgically pulling and drawing him and promising him a future that would look like the past that really wasn’t.

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Nostalgia. Not the same as fond memories, or a smell that reminds us of a moment in time or picture that takes us back to an event. Nostalgia for things that really weren’t but we thought they were, perhaps also called foolery, can play a role in justifying infidelity in the minds of cheaters. And that kind of nostalgia? Nauseating.

 

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