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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19 thoughts on “Nauseating Nostalgia

  1. Visiting from A-Z. It’s very easy to imagine that a life with fabulous hottie from the past would be better, because our minds don’t fill in the details of day-to-day life. I just read a biography of Charles Dickens, and he was infatuated with a young lady that turned his offer of marriage down. 25 years later, he was over the moon to meet with her, and imagined that she hadn’t aged. He was shocked to find her 25 years older! Chasing youth and flawed memories…. not good! I hope things are working out with your life and there is hope on the horizon!

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  2. You wrote this so perfectly. I have raised 2 sons who both had long lasting, early serious relationships lasting from 17-22/23. When those relationships ended, I was obviously concerned for their (then) current emotional state. Also, I wanted the endings to be clear about “why”, specifically because of what you address. I know they will both end up in marriages that at some point are boring, challenging, and stressful – because that happens in ALL marriages. I didn’t want my sons to look back at that first serious relationship and yearn for a fictionalized what could have been. 6ish years later, those relationships are not generally discussed. But the first couple of years, we talked as a family about specifically what made those relationships fail. I hope they always remember the good parts, but remember the truth of why they didn’t work.

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  3. Haha, how fitting! I am nauseous right now, from forced “nostalgia” (narc is back and hoovering. Lol).
    I agree totally with this. I read some article some time ago, that talked about how our memory plays tricks on us. That our memory has a tendency to wipe out bad stuff and embroider and emphasize the good stuff. Perhaps a kind of protection mechanism, lest we be flooded by all the old, bad stuff… who knows.
    Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing, to us! Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I can completely relate to this! I was talking a friend not long ago about a past relationship of mine and how great it had been. She has been a friend for 25 years, so remembered the time and person I was talking about … she turned to me and said “I think you’re looking at it with rose-coloured glasses, it wasn’t that great. Remember?”. And it dawned on me, she was right, Nostalgia was playing her tricks again!

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  5. It can be so easy to idealise and fantasise. My husbands AP was someone he’d known since he was 18 – although he never mentioned her to me – they never got together I think because he wasn’t ‘cool’ enough back then for her. So I guess he thought he’d try his luck when he was a bit older and successful, must have really stroked his ego finally getting the one that got away I guess

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  6. Nostalgia…yes…I agree..

    Afraid to get older..afraid to have missed out on something good and afraid that “this is it”…old age and death are ahead and nothing to look forward to. Having affairs and being totally occupied by distraction and deception…it gives people a way out (as if time stops)…Rude awaking when the veil lifts and the betrayers look in the mirror and see the middle age fool who fooled themselves with false memories and did not consider that all that time that they wasted time, they could have spent with partner and kids….and they could have done something GREAT, but they did it with a “nothing”, not even a “would be”. Another pathetic individual because which self-respecting person would fuck a married person?

    “The older we get, the better we were….”…Ha…affairs and deception is nothing to ever look back on in pride…it is a pathetic attempt to feel better about oneself. It is not a heroic story that can be told to the grand kids.
    So narcissistic and so empty. That is the legacy they leave…pain and humiliation (they humiliated themselves).
    It is harsh….yes, very harsh…..but it is there and there to stay.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I never understood the high school reunion stuff.
        The main reason people go is
        1. To show how great they are now: Money, status, job.
        2. How great they look, compared to all those other suckers: still slim and fit and so much younger than the rest.
        3. To check out those they had a secret crush on and never had to guts to say anything.

        For god sake…people you have NOTHING in common with those people! If you had you would have remained friends….

        Nostalgia indeed and a lot of falseness and a lot of lies…because who would know anyway that you had a stage of unemployment.

        So…what is the real reason people go to those events?

        Needless to say, I am not going ever. I received a while ago emails from “a secret admirer” (yikes). Did not say his name…wanted me to guess…I never replied….in the end he said his name and wrote that he was in my class in high school. He had never forgotten me…

        HONESTLY I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THIS PERSON IS.CAN’T REMEMBER ANYTHING!!!!!

        Did he really kept on thinking about me (maybe after his marriage fell apart)….what was he thinking…I am married and I take that the way it was written in my vows.

        The man fooled himself with the idea that I had a crush on him too….

        That is pathetic…really …nostalgia….it is all false memories….

        OK I have to get my act together….work!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ummmm….gross! Can you even imagine thinking about someone all these years – a FANTASY – Yup…that nostalgia at work. You are amazing!! And bravo to you for actually being committed to your marriage. What a concept 🙂 xo

          Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a great post. My husband’s affair was with a co-worker, yet nostalgia still played a role. He was suffering from depression and receiving treatment. During his affair, he would often mention wishing he and i could “go back in time”. We met in high school, dated through college, and spent eight married years in another state before we had kids. He looked back on fourteen years or so with a tremendous amount of nostalgia. But as you said above, he forgot the bad parts. The stressful parts.

    In the affair, the adoration and attention was the driving factor. He could escape his adult world of mortgages, bills, kids, elderly parents, etc and do what he wanted. After all, he had me to “babysit” and “housekeep” and make sure all the tedious business of being a grownup was attended to without fail. They visited many of “our” favorite places. It was like he was recreating our past. He even said that he would often look at her and wish it was me that was with him. So now I wonder what nostalgia he has left. For me, there are many places that I will NEVER go to again. He has stolen much of the nostalgia out of our past. He has taken so many connections that anchor our history together and severed them. It’s hard to reminisce about some of favorite places, or even be able to look at our old photos without remembering that he took his whore there. Sorry to be the bummer tonight, but I am staring down my yearly gyn checkup. It’s always stressful with the whore’s STD history, and it makes me feel triggery and angry!

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