Jealousy

jealousyIts ugly but amongst my plethora of failings, jealousy always had a starring role.

No, I don’t crave other people’s possessions or their cellulite free thighs and I’ve never felt that prick of bitterness when someone benefits from good luck or hard work. In fact, I’m fairly covet-less in my life… right up to the point where a man gets involved. At which point, I’d like to introduce ‘raging psycho nut job’.

I know that jealously stems from insecurity and lack of confidence both of which I’ve been intimately familiar with during my life. I spent my twenties marveling that ‘no one had found me out’ when I managed to sail through college and into a prestigious company, and despite the grip of anxiety that I lived with for 12 hours a day I managed to develop a reasonable approximation of a confident professional. I was so good at faking confidence and self assurance that my the time I hit my mid thirties, a work colleague admitted that she found me ‘intimidating’.  I, sadly, was thrilled that I was duping everyone so well (even as I was popping Xanax like breath mints).

But its hard to fake self confidence in a relationship. You can make it to …ooo.. about date 4. Or right around the time you start developing some feelings for the guy. Which was cue for me to start questioning ‘is this guy really interested in me?’ and then *bam*, she showed up right on time – Jealousy. Damn that girl be cray-zeeee.

Every guy has dated that girl. The one who asked ‘who was she?’ or ‘are you looking at the waitress’s boobs?’. She questions how you feel about your female work colleagues and god help you if you’ve got a female friend in your life.. that’s kindling for WW3.  The insecure woman can’t help herself. Deep down she doesn’t feel like she’s good enough and the outcome is a ragingly insecure control freak. Yep.. that was me. Delightful.

On a good note, I only dated people who were even more insecure than me (dis-fuuuunctional) so we’d spend many a happy night not trusting each other and wondering when the other person was going to show signs of cheating. (Ah… warm memories!) Two wrongs do not make a right; something I realized when he was hacking my phone to check my text messages, and I was checking his travel bag for condoms.

But jealousy makes you crazy. It blocks all rational thought. The fear of the other person finding out that ‘you’re not as awesome as they think you are’ creates an expectation that its all just a matter of time. So every interaction becomes fraught which can only lead to a self fulfilling prophecy. He never calls you back. He cheats. He dumps you. You were right. You didn’t deserve him. You really aren’t all that… and the cycle kicks off again. Ug-lee.

Actively trying not to be jealous doesn’t work. You can’t fake it, especially when the heart in involved. Because jealousy is so much about you, and how you see yourself. Plastering on a smile and assuring him ‘of course I don’t mind if you want to grab coffee with your ex’ might fool him.. but you’ve just sentenced yourself to an afternoon of imagination gone rabid. You can’t fake your emotions. By the end of the evening he’s left you, moved back in with her and they’re renewing their vows next Tuesday.. all in your head. (meanwhile he’s just spent an afternoon remembering all the things he didn’t like about her).  He walks in the door and *bam* let the games begin.

Your role, should you choose to accept it, is to find all the information you need to verify that you’re not the one he actually wants to be with. It sounds ridiculous.. but that’s jealously. Proactive destruction.

So how do you stop jealousy? How do you stop it from turning you into a psycho controlling nut job?

Easy.

Like yourself more. Find ways to build your own self confidence. Face your fear of the worst and know you’ll survive. Because you will.

(FYI: 7 years of therapy really helped)

You can’t fake self confidence or feeling positive about yourself. You can’t pretend you’re not afraid, indefinitely. And the only way to stop jealousy is to start focusing on you. Not him. You.

How to build self confidence? Stop the fear and insecurity?

Second thoughts. It’s not completely easy. It takes some work.

I did things that scared me, I challenged my idea of who I thought I was and yes, I worked through some shit from 30 years ago. I stopped living the life I thought I had to, and started doing the things that in my gut, I’ve always felt I needed to do to be me. I reclaimed me.. and these days I’m pretty impressed at what a bad-ass she turned out to be.

I’ve accepted that I’ll never be that cool professional in the Prada suit with the perfect apartment, or that bubbly blonde with 47 best friends and a social calendar that schedules out to 2017. I’ll always be a supporter, not the lead, and I’ll never again imagine that the grass is anything other than shades of green for everyone. I won’t ever live that life I was promised since the age of 7 or the one I see on TV. I’m not going to be Mom and maybe not a Wife. I’m secure and happy in the life I have today (sure it could use more sex, but hey, nothing is perfect). I have a butt load of joy and love in my life from all kinds of weird places and I now have the confidence to life my perfectly imperfect life.

And I no longer need to fake anything.

So these days jealously doesn’t feature in my life. It might have a brief one line walk-on part when my crush falls in love with someone else and posts it on Facebook (I was bummed it wasn’t me), or an ex boyfriend gets married.. but largely, I’m happy for other people’s happiness. Jealousy… I don’t invite that bitch in any more. She’s a terrible party guest and damn it, she never brings anything but trouble.

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