When folks engage in affairs (emotional, physical, or both) they enter a mental and emotional state wherein their ability to maintain clarity and sensibility about the realities of life fade away. It is a state that produces a fog very similar to new love, but that is complicated by the covert nature of the relationship - the secret excitement of it all. And just like new love people become just plain ol’ stupid…so surrounded by the fog that they can see virtually nothing but the new interest immediately in front of their own face.
In new love this is okay because it is part of the mating process – it needs to happen for society to continue. Eventually the new love matures and grows into commitment and intertwined lives and kids and grand kids, etc., etc. But affairs are a different animal – even though emotionally they may present themselves in the same way. Affairs are akin to skipping a pebble across a lake…they affect the water in different spots and ripple out with the pebble having moved far beyond the series of reverberations before the pebble finally settles. Unfortunately, the ripple effect represents the fallout damage to folks around those in the fog – the existing spouses or partners, the children, the families, the friends, and the co-workers. Those outside the fog have little appreciation for this disruption and the ripple effects caused by it. Those outside the fog only receive the unhappiness of the fog; because, unlike new love, the happiness does not transfer to others. Indeed, it is viewed as selfish, unrealistic, damaged, and myopic.
There are many signs that folks are moving toward or are in the fog. Those in the fog often believe they are doing a great job of covering these signs up, but it isn’t difficult from the outside to notice the subtle changes in behavior that accompany an affair in the making. A sudden greater concern with appearance, changes in time away from home, more covert phone calls or text messages, subtle glances or touches, changes in long established daily routines, and (my personal favorite) new underwear. The day someone upgrades from granny panties to french-cut bikinis or from tidy whities to new form fitting briefs has become hailed as almost a universal signpost of trouble ahead. I have to laugh at that, both because I recognize how true it is and because I also realize that it makes any mid-life decision to change one’s underwear style more difficult than it probably needs to be.
Alas, from the outside the ability to see the entirety of the landscape is quite easy; and, those of us on the outside can sensibly bemoan, “What the hell are they thinking?” But we know they are not likely “thinking” – they are unable to accurately see or care about anything beyond themselves in the moment. And that is because affairs are the ego’s intoxication – they cloud one’s vision and judgment much like alcohol does.
Today as you read this – you the person who is clearly outside the influence of the fog – you intellectually comprehend the realities of the distortion that occurs while in the fog. Of course, so many folks intellectually understand this truism before they themselves enter the fog; but, once in the fog, the capacity to hold tight to that understanding evaporates. So I say to those of you who still have your wits about you, appreciate the real danger of the fog before you even consider going near it. Appreciate the impact it will have on your judgment and the impact it will have on your life, because the sad reality is that eventually the fog dissipates and you do move back into real life often with a much more complex and troubled life structure than you started with.
As a girlfriend of mine once said, when it comes to the end of the day it is still about work and bills and doing the laundry – even if the laundry does have new underwear in it. The fog, as alluring as it may be, is a temporary state. Please remember that folks before you tear asunder your life and others’ lives.
Day nine hundred and seventy-two of the new forty – obla di obla da