Friday, June 21, 2013

Jealousy, part II

Jealousy is an ugly thing that will eat away at you, even if you know it's there, even if you try to ignore it, even if you think you've succeeded at ignoring it.

I'm sure it can be overcome and properly defeated, I just haven't got there yet.

I don't really know how or when or even why my own bout of jealousy started. Sure, I've struggled with various types of envy most of my life, particularly when it comes to my body, but those have been intense bursts of "Why don't I look like that?!" followed by a cooling-down period and then all is forgotten. I'm not saying it's a good thing, but at least my envy has been manageable and I've been able to (mostly) realize it's silly to be envious and that my energy is better spent making myself happy rather than fixating on the perceived happiness of others.

Yet, despite this awareness, I found myself completely, totally and horribly consumed by jealousy of one of the Beau's ex-girlfriends.

The odd thing is that this jealousy has only reared its ugly head in the last six months or so - meaning after almost four years of dating, after buying a house together AND after getting engaged, I became jealous of an ex-girlfriend. Oh, and it should be noted that the Beau and this particular ex ended their relationship back in 2005 - so roughly four years before he and I even started dating. They have worked at reestablishing a friendship, so they are still in touch, but it's strictly platonic now.

So what gives?

I don't even know. I don't know why it happened now. I don't know why it happened towards her. I don't know why it's become so all-encompassing. I don't know why it's reduced me to tears on more than one occasion. 

What's a girl to do?

After having it bother me for a few weeks, I did a very difficult thing: I talked to the Beau about it. At first I didn't want to bring it up with him because I felt that actually putting my feelings into words would make it more real, give it more power over me; I thought that if I just battled it out in my head, I'd win.

I didn't win.

So I sucked it up and told him. I told him who I was jealous of and that it was gnawing away at me and making me scared and insecure and I hated it, but it was still there. I told him I didn't know why it was happening or where it was coming from, but that it existed and that I couldn't beat it alone. I also asked him some awful questions, like if he felt he was settling by marrying me and if he wished he'd proposed to her instead of me (his answers to both questions was an unequivocal and very decided NO). I told him I didn't know how to make it go away and that it was going to be there for the foreseeable future and that I couldn't promise it wouldn't spill over again.

His response? Hugs. Kisses. Gentle back rubbing. And the reassurance that he loved me, that I am the right person for him, that he doesn't know what to do for me but that he'll always be there for me, that he'll help me now and forever. But the most important part of his response was listening to me, not getting angry with me and not judging me.

Talking with him definitely helped but it hasn't made the jealous feelings go away completely and, honestly, I don't know if they ever will. I hope they do, but until then, the best thing I can do is to keep talking to the Beau about it and making sure he knows when I'm feeling particularly vulnerable to those feelings.

Because that's what jealousy does: it makes you feel bad about things but it also festers and if you don't talk about it, if you don't recognize it for what it is, it will continue to spread and before you know it you're fighting with the person you love about who's turn it was to empty the dishwasher and then you're sleeping in separate beds or worse separate homes, for good. And I never want that to happen.

I do plan on beating this jealousy thing though. I just don't expect it to be easy.

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