The past is gone but something might be found; To take its place… Hey jealousy
There are so many points in our life where we feel jealous and then beat ourselves up for feeling this wretched emotion. The destructive power of jealousy is enough to destroy relationships and scramble headspaces. However, all is not lost, because a powerful emotion like jealousy, also has the power of making relationships stronger, and bonds, purer and prettier.
“Let jealousy be your teacher. Jealousy can lead you to the very places where you need healing the most. It can be your guide into your own dark side and show to you the way to total self realisation. Jealousy can teach you how to live in peace with yourself and with the whole world if you let it.” ~Deborah Anapol, Love without Limits
We all have had that one time, where we experienced jealousy for the first time and that was the moment we told ourselves ‘Never again. Never again am I going through this horrid hellhole.’ That day, we took that sensation, and bottled it in a ceramic pot; and today, whenever some event, that so much as to treads towards this very path, that has the tendency to make us feel an emotion remotely close to jealousy, we shake that very ceramic pot with such vigour that the deafening sounds of those bottled emotions, remind us the golden rule. ‘Never again. Never again am I going through this horrid hellhole.’
I have indulged in both polyamorous and monogamous relationships, and from this, the one thing that I have realised is that, ‘Monogamy is no cure to jealousy’ and there is nothing that you can do to ensure that within relationships, you don’t feel jealous. However, the moment I opted for polyamory, I had nothing else to do, but accept this very emotion and live through it. Today, I have embraced jealousy like I have embraced love and hate and care and with it, I have gained control over myself by disempowering jealousy.
Before conquering jealousy, however, we better understand what jealousy is. We have always seen jealousy as that emotion which is triggered by seeing someone/something else get something that you long for. Jealousy is that bad bad emotion that is evil and sinful and if you feel it, you are acting petty. It’s that emotion. This exact hush hush about jealousy is what makes jealousy so inexpressible and which is why jealousy takes other forms, such as invalidation of self worth, anger, hatred, etc.
Exercise 1: Remember 5 times you felt jealous as a consequence to something that your partner did and after that, write down the primary emotion your head conjured up with, to deal with the situation. What emotions did jealousy spring up in you? Some common feelings are: Grief, despair, disregarding yourself as ugly, worthless, not good enough, intense anger, loneliness, etc. Perhaps you respond to jealousy with labelling yourself as dumb. That’s good progress. You have successfully completed part 1 of the exercise. Then, after you have identified the emotion, set aside some time for introspection and try to understand when was the first time you felt the very emotion of being a dumb individual and where does this actually stem from? Is it because your parents always invalidated your intellectual poweress as a kid? Did your teacher insult you in front of the whole class and made you feel so little? It’s once you realise why you react to jealousy with that emotion, you will come to the realisation that none of it is your partner’s fault. It’s in your head and your head only. You are just projecting your deflated self esteem onto your partner. A good example of cross questioning yourself is, would you feel equally jealous if your partner had done the same thing with a person of the same gender? If the answer to it is no, you know that the reason why you felt jealous was because the idea of your partner finding comfort from a person (who could possibly be your competitor) scares you. However, for the partner, it might just be them seeking comfort in another person.
One way to not feel is to project it at your partner. After understanding and coming to terms with the fact that one feels jealous, and only very little of it has to do with what your partner has done, and more to do with what you have experienced as a child, you will realise that there is no need for you to hold the lid of the ceramic pot anymore. It’s about time you let the lid go and let the emotions flow (yes, it is as hard as it sounds). However, it is a necessary step because you can not have your head doing summersaults everytime you see your partner talking to that hot sexy intern in the office with her future prospects brighter than her skin tone. Moreover, you can not have that hot sexy intern make you feel like your partner doesn’t love you enough. That is a disservice to your partner’s love.
The first step at dealing with something is accepting it’s existence and this is the time you congratulate yourself for doing the same. There is no need to be harsh on yourself because you feel a certain way. Remember that it’s not your fault, it’s only because you experienced certain things. However, now is the time you take control of it and strip the ability of that thing to make you feel negative emotions.
Unlearning what you know about jealousy is a slow, gradual process and never make the mistake of taking this road to self improvement as smooth sailing. It’s a rocky path ahead.
Exercise 2: Write a letter to your jealousy, personifying that emotion, asking it what it wishes to achieve, and all the other questions you have for the emotion and then, the next day, play the role of jealousy and write back to yourself a reply.
It is important that you understand that jealousy stems out of needs. A need to be validated, a need to be accepted, a need to hear I love you’s and a need to know that your partner loves you. Whenever someone else gets it from your partner, there’s a tendency in us to feel jealous. Remember that time your partner chose to watch football/sit with his friends, rather than to spend that cozy night with you in the snuggly, and you felt this intense sensation of being overwhelmed? That’s you feeling jealous about the attention your partner chose to give something else the attention you thought you deserved.
Actions speak louder than words, but actions seem meaningless without verbal validation. ~Zeena Koda
You are not wrong to demand those things from your partner and as a partner, it’s their responsibility to cater to your such needs. At times, when your partner is not catering to those needs of yours, because they are with someone else, we need to remind ourselves that they have always catered to our needs before. The relationship that has survived thus far is proof of that.
We often presume that the love coming from our partner is limited, and if you see your partner giving attention to someone/something else, you take it as that attention is being taken from your kitty and is being offered to someone/something else. However, most of the time, that’s not the case. These are just your mind’s machination because it is always easier confronting your partner than your inner demon.
Consider the process of unlearning and disempowering jealousy as the process of learning a new instrument. The process is long and arduous. Cuts and bruises to your fingers are a common part of it, and you have to accept them. However, the final result is all so worth it.
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” ~Sigmund Freud
Exercise 3: Start maintaining a journal, and the next time you feel jealous because of something your partner did to you, pour your heart down on that journal. You are free to express whatever you want, whichever way you like. SLUT. SLUT. SLUT. SLUT. I DON’T DESERVE LOVE. I AM WORTHLESS. Write it down. Don’t hesitate. It’s a moment of intense emotion, and you have to let it out, or else it will take a demonic form that will thwart upon the relationship. (One of my partners used to do it and it really helped our relationship grow at a better pace) It is a fact and the faster you accept it, the easier it will be for you. Now, once you are done writing and feeling so shitty about things, keep the journal aside, and let it be. The next morning, read what you wrote, and don’t forget to lend yourself the breathing space of compassion while you read so. Baby yourself. Spend time with your own self and try to understand why you felt this way as a reaction to what your partner did. Then, once you have made sense of that, discuss that with your partner. Sharing vulnerabilities with your partner is the only way you have for the relationship to grow. Remember the last time you shared a weakness with your partner and how it helped make the relationship better? That’s what is going to happen this time as well. (P.S. If that did not happen the last time you shared yourself with them, I would genuinely recommend you reevaluate the relationship and it’s toxicity levels)
I read about this couple once who had developed a very novel way to circumnavigate their way through jealousy. “Jelly Moment!” Exclaimed Marolyn* as she saw Tom* run his hands through Jacob’s hair. Tom and Marolyn had developed this technique of shouting Jelly Moment to each other whenever one of them felt crushed by the burden of jealousy as a consequence of what the other person was doing. This made their relationship a safe space where they could freely express themselves and acknowledge each other’s weakness. After this, whenever they would get a chance, they would talk about this very jelly moment.
The talk in itself is a very important aspect of stripping jealousy of its power to make you do things that you might regret later in life. Let’s say your partner says something like, “Hey, I don’t want you to spend so much time with her. It makes me jealous.” The correct answer to this is not for you to say “Okay, I will not spend time with her.” or for you to say “You’re acting jealous” but to further enquire “What about that particular interaction makes you feel unsettled?” Changing behaviour is an important part of fitting someone in your life. However, to accommodate jealousy, this is a flawed approach. Apart from that, calling out the other person for behaving jealous makes them feel bad for feeling that emotion, and they will repress it the next time that emotion arises within them and we all know what that could lead to. Jealousy is a normal emotion and it’s natural to feel that way. What’s wrong is, expressing jealousy as anger, hate, self harm, etc. and that’s exactly what you will stop your partner from doing when you enquire further, rather than call it out or change your behaviour.
Sometimes, the other person will want to rant and make you feel like you have been a terrible lover, in such cases, be more accepting, and quietly listen to them. She does not mean any of it. It’s just, you are the journal now and instead of writing that down, she is speaking it out. After your partner is done with the rant, get them a glass of water, and talk to them about their emotions. Remember, the talk about jealousy is very very important.
Like it or not, the only person who can make jealousy hurt less or go away is you.
Exercise 4: Write down 10 things your partner can do to make you feel more comfortable when you feel jealous, and ask your partner to do the same as well. Make sure that your partner is not around when you write it. After you are done, exchange the piece of paper. It is important that in such times, you don’t write intangible things such as, ‘Express love better’ but rather more action oriented points such as ‘Write me a poem’ or ‘Serenade me.’ It’s rather utopic and foolish of you to expect your partner to know what things they have to do in order to make you feel better. Instead of them shooting random bullets until one hits the target, this is a more pragmatic approach. Even if they do have some idea about it, it always helps to have some assurance that this will work and your efforts will have the desired effect on the person.
Normalisation of an emotion helps you feel it better and helps you not react to it, but rather understand from it and improve yourself, and the relationship in question as well. Constant practices of the above exercises will most definitely help you through this headspin. It helped me, and a few people I know as well. Jealousy is not your enemy, it’s your friend. It has the power to make your relationship go to much deeper and intense levels. Feel jealousy, accept it. You will not regret your decision of confronting this demon.
Suggested reads (To be read as, the blog is inspired from):
- The Ethical Slut, Chapter 13
- Psychology today: Jealousy