No Apology: I’m Jealous and That’s the Way It Is
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.
I’m a jealous girl. And that is by no means an apology. It is a statement of fact. An acknowledgement of a “darker” emotion that we, as humans are supposed to keep under tight control or be judged as inferior and that we as spiritual beings aren’t supposed to have at all— exorcised, I suppose, with anger, depression, loneliness, fear, and doubt when we claim a relationship with our Gods.
That’s bullshit. These emotions aren’t really exorcised so much as buried and constantly undermining what we want to be and the value we place on ourselves.
By denying the human existence of jealousy or insisting that people are somehow lesser for having an emotion, our society pressures us to tamp down “unhealthy” emotions, something that’s incredibly unhealthy because emotions like fear, anger, and jealousy, when held in, morph into something fierce. Held in, jealousy feeds on its own power, breeds until it bursts outward, leveling everything in its path. I believe it’s much healthier to let it show and to defy this idea that it doesn’t exist or that we’re terrible for letting it show. There are healthy ways to express the darker emotions, and for me, journaling is one. Catharsis for a writer is most often done in words, just as a musician purges emotion in song or a gardener plants it in flowers.
So I’m a jealous girl, and I’ll tell you exactly why…as soon as I figure it out.
I’m jealous when it’s something I want, particularly, the affection of someone I want. For the record, I have not, since my divorce, been jealous of anyone my ex has been with. Unlike many ex-wives, I don’t sit around seething over the new girlfriend because, well, I just don’t care anymore. I was jealous of the affections—time, energy, emotional support—that he showered on other people during our marriage but not on me. Now? Psh. Not even a twinge, even when I dig deep to see if one’s there.
In my next long-term relationship, it’ll have to be with someone I trust. As long as I can trust him and he’s open with me, I’ll me happy for him to have female (and male) friends because no matter who he spends time with, I’ll know he’s coming home to me and making that sweet heart-to-heart connection with me. That his affections, regardless of his friendships, are still for me. And I, as someone he can trust, would expect the same freedom from him to enjoy the friendship of others because he’ll know that my affections are for him and that I’ll keep it that way.
It’s interesting to watch how people treat jealousy. No woman wants to admit she’s jealous when her husband flirts publicly with another woman or her date can’t hold eye contact because he’s checking out every other woman in the room. She plays it cool and pretends not to notice or that it’s all right because she’s oh-so-secure in herself, even if she finds such actions grossly lacking in respect for her. If she confides to a friend, the friend is allowed to become indignant on her behalf but if she admits to jealousy, she’s told she shouldn’t be because, after all, envy is one of the seven deadly sins or she must just be insecure—and it’s somehow worse that she’s jealous than that her lover is paying more attention to another woman or ignoring her.
I find it disconcerting, but I still feel pangs of jealousy when I see someone’s picture in her ads in the local pa- per, knowing that she got something I really wanted, even if it didn’t last very long. The best advice my friends could offer? “You’re going to have to get over that!” and a laugh. My confession of envy made them uncomfortable to the point of either discounting my feelings, attacking my “insecurity,” or telling me that all men are alike and he’s likely out with her again. I’m not sure which felt the worst to me.
The other interesting dynamic to watch related to jealousy is when a woman decides to “make him jealous.” This is true of both sexes, though I’ve seen it most often with women in the spot of the initiator. Her man doesn’t seem to notice her anymore, so she tries to stir his jealousy to get his attention and bring his affections back to her. This never works. Either the other party doesn’t show jealousy, which causes resentment from the first party, or the other party becomes insanely controlling and jealous.
Or they do what I do. Walk away.
If a man decides to make me jealous by flaunting a new woman in my face or letting me know about all the other women he is currently dating (I can overlook past dates, girlfriends, and wives), I’m gone. I expect men who are still healing from a divorce to talk about their ex- wives on a first date or two or even the string of bad dates he’s had, though if we don’t go out again, I’m going to wonder if somewhere sometime soon he’s having dinner with another woman and including me in his list of bad dates. But as long as it’s all in the past and I’m now the focus of his attention, it doesn’t really bother me unless he’s contemplating going back to one of them. I don’t expect to have to listen to a man describe all the other women he’s sleeping with. You’d think that rocket scientists would be intelligent enough to get that, but so far, nope. I don’t want to hear about the woman my date kept up all last night so that he’s too zonked to be very perky today. Bragging, while wooing me, about other women’s attentions do not make a man more attractive to me whatsoever, and if anything, it repels. I’d rather him feel like bragging because I’m interested in him, rather than me being just one of the many admirers, and none of us particularly special.
Maybe it goes back to biology and maybe I’m just territorial. I won’t mess with a married man and I won’t mess with a man with a girlfriend or in a relationship. I will be friends but I won’t pass the boundary into romance or mixing my energy with his. I likely won’t go beyond dinner with a man who’s dating even one other woman on a regular basis once I find out. I want him to be done with the others and free to be in a relationship with me and me alone. I’ve asked men out before whom I never would have asked if I’d known they were dating someone else at the time, even if they didn’t considered it “serious.” (Often, the woman does consider it serious even if he doesn’t, and I know how that feels.) I’ve discovered that a man I went out with went back to the woman he was dating previously—though not really “seriously”—and though I was playing it cool, I was hurt and jealous because the time he spent with her could have been spent with me. Though it was still friendly between us, it felt like rejection because it made him more her “territory” than mine. I’m just not going to play with other women’s toys. Heh. Or men’s.
Metaphysically, connecting intimately with too many people at one time fragments the focus of that kind of energy, which has its own ramifications physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m at a place in my life where I want the full wattage, thank you very much.
I’ve been given all the intellectual arguments of how it’s just great that a man might be sleeping with a couple of women on a regular basis or dating around. How he needs to “get it out of his system” before deciding which one he wants to be with in a monogamous relationship. How it’s okay to date around and sleep with various women until he decides which one. I’m aware of the intellectual arguments but they don’t touch my emotions. On an intellectual level, I really do understand the need for a man to shop around or spread himself around. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I refuse to “compete.”
That’s it. Compete. I won’t compete for a man’s affections. I won’t grovel. I won’t beg. I return love cleanly and honestly and with all my heart. Blame it on my Venus in Pisces, but I don’t want to love 100% and get back whatever’s left over today. I’ll be jealous if I want his affections and he gives them to someone else. I’ll also take myself “out of the running.”
Biologically? I’ll give up on the “territory” before I claim it and later discover it’s being marked by someone else.
Because I don’t like being jealous. I like having a man all to myself romantically, though he’s welcome to have plenty of friends and other interests, as many as I do (if he can!). I won’t fight for territory and I won’t claim or keep what smells of someone else. I want to walk the territory freely, nurture it, and enjoy its seasons.