Affair healing Blog
This article was written and posted in our Community Forum by user"Stillme."
It is always frustrating when people say the equivalent of, "If you won't give it 100%, why stay?" That assumes that some decisions are not rational and that life is simply 100% or 0%. I live in the real world, and the real world is filled with compromise.
I'll give an example:
I completely dislike strawberry ice cream.
Vanilla ice cream is okay, just okay.
I like chocolate ice cream.
I absolutely LOVE salted caramel ice cream.
For me, a marriage with an active affair or a repeat offender is strawberry ice cream; I just refuse to do it. Being a single mom is vanilla ice cream. It would be okay. Not the best, but I would be fine and probably satisfied, although it is something that I never crave.
Having the marriage I have now, post affair and with my WS giving it his all—that is chocolate ice cream. I enjoy it. Whenever it is offered, I am likely to say yes. I might even have a yearning for it every once in a while.
The marriage I wanted--the one that didn't involve being cheated on, lied to, and overall hurt to the core--salted caramel ice cream. I would have LOVED it. I still crave it. Although salted caramel ice cream is rare (not always offered on restaurant menus, can't always find it in the store), I know it exist, but I can't get it right now.
No matter how much I try with the chocolate ice cream, it can never turn into salted caramel ice cream. The ingredients aren't there.
How stupid would it be to say, "Well, if I can't have salted caramel ice cream, I will just have vanilla," especially when chocolate ice cream is available, sitting right in front of me, being offered at this very moment. I can even do things that might spruce this chocolate ice cream up--top it with whipped cream and a cherry. Maybe even add some chocolate sauce or melted caramel. Many things can make this chocolate ice cream better.
I would still take salted caramel over the best chocolate sundae money could buy. But right now it isn't an option. Since I can't have what I love, it is still better than what I hate and much better than what would simply be "okay."
Right after Dday, I had neopolitan ice cream. Strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate were all mixed together. As time when on, the strawberry became vanilla. There was a struggle in determining whether I would be eating vanilla or chocolate. Over time, chocolate became more plentiful.
Now I am eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream most of the time. On some days, fun sprinkles are thrown in. There have even been days when I've enjoyed a nice chocolate sundae. Now I am feeling the courage to hope that most days turn into huge chocolate sundaes, where we make this "like" the absolute best like it could be.
Do I still crave salted caramel? Yes.
Can I exist without it? Yes. I have to. It is not an option.
It wouldn't be practical for me, at this point, to throw away the chocolate because it isn't salted caramel. I am not just thinking about me. I also have kids. I have a home. I have a career. It just isn't logical to throw my nice, consistent bowl of chocolate ice cream away to chase after the fantasy of salted caramel that I may never find.
Strawberry again? I would throw that in the trash in a heartbeat, whether or not salted caramel could ever happen. At least I can swap that nasty crap for vanilla and be "okay." The kids would be "okay." I might have to move to a lesser home, but it would be "okay." I would have to come up with co-parenting practices that would be "okay." Vacations would be "okay." Retirement would be "okay." Everything would be "okay."
It is comforting to know that no matter what, the worst I will ever do is "okay."
At this point, I choose "like" over "okay" and I think it is quite ridiculous to indicate that it's a strange choice. It makes all the sense in the world to me, especially because I know that salted caramel isn't as common as I thought.
Heck, I was sitting over here thinking I was eating salted caramel myself only to find out there was a big bowl of strawberry sitting in front of me. I no longer chase salted caramel ponies (I am not so cynical to say unicorns, I know amazing cheating free marriages exist.) This bowl of chocolate-flavored marriage is fine. I like it. It is satisfying. Some days. it is even more than satisfying.
But, I am also more content with knowing that if this chocolate went away, vanilla would be okay, too.
Look, if folks think they have found a way to turn chocolate into salted caramel, more power to them. For me, though, that just doesn't make sense.
Unless otherwise noted, articles are written by Tim Tedder, a licensed counselor and creator of this site and its resources. Twitter: @TimTedder