The Queen had it right (with apologies to Mr. Carroll)

November 17, 2009
Conventional wisdom says it doesn’t happen often, but I say it happens more than we think.

I know at least four people who’ve married people they’ve had affairs with.

Yes. It’s true.

And all four of them subsequently recreated history, the most perfect example of cognitive dissonance at work that I’ve ever seen.

(Can you tell by recent posts that I’ve been spending quality time with girlfriends? Long, juicy conversations?)

So here’s the deal.

No one wants to think of themselves as someone who would betray trust and commit adultery. No one. So there must be all sorts of machinations: justifications, rationales and yes, even revisionist history, to preserve a positive self-image. A moral self-image.

The Duchess: Tut, tut, child! Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.

Look. Shit happens. People fall out of love every day. Couples find they simply can not get along. They take each other for granted. They don’t treat each other well. Or the thrill is gone.

In a perfect world, there would be discussions, marriage counseling and either staying together or a mutual decision to divorce.

This is not a perfect world.

People are defensive. They don’t want to handle marital issues. They avoid. They act out. Shit happens.

I think “this is not an ideal world” is a better story than “They were as good as separated.” or “They were living separate lives.” or “They were separated.”

Here’s the fact: Most of the time, the spouse who’s been left has no idea what’s going on. Communication has been lacking. To say the least.

One person walks out: “Surprise!” It’s not a hot, naked body jumping out of the cake, it’s divorce papers.

And every time I hear revisionist history, I want to ask, “Do you think we don’t remember how this really happened?” or better yet, “How can you forget how this really happened?”

Because recreating the story after the fact doesn’t change the facts.

Alice: But it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.

One of my exes left his wife and (grown) family high and dry in Hawaii. Out of nowhere. He’d had enough and just walked. Over Christmas. Oh, an ugly story.

No, I wasn’t having an affair with him. But the story was the story. And he didn’t try to hide it.

I know someone in another state who had an affair for several years before the man left his wife and children and married her. To my surprise, she became highly judgmental when someone we knew was seeing a separated man. Did she conveniently forget her own history? Of course she did.

Alice: It would be so nice if something made sense for a change

And I know someone else who now claims their current spouse was actually separated when they began their relationship, when that would’ve been news to the person who was then dumped.

I also know someone who played around like crazy for a period of time, divorced, copped to it, then must have regretted admitting it and began telling a different story.

Say what?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve fallen into the looking glass. Outside the looking glass, reality seems clear. Inside the looking glass, the truth is up for grabs.

The Queen: It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backward.

I get it, but then, I don’t get it. The facts are the facts. People who revise the story are only fooling themselves. Because everyone else remembers the facts. And have gotten past them.

Like The Cat said: We’re all mad here.

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