Thursday, 4 December 2014

Lessons Come Wrapped in Ridiculous Packages or Learning About Jealousy



This was a very long time ago, as I'm 46 now.

Anyone who knows me well now would laugh at the idea that I might be jealous - a totally ridiculous thought. But anyone who knew me when I was a kid, or a very young adult - up to age 18 - would possibly (well, very likely) recall this. I certainly do, but it was a life-lesson that steered me in the right direction. This doesn't mean that there wasn't any work that I'd to do; it took me more than one year to train myself to not fall into this kind of trap. It was the best time I ever spent working on an issue that destroys so many people. The other factor was someone I met not long after I treated myself for this issue. He made me see this from the other side, convincing me that this was the truly worst kind of problem to have.

I also had a huge inferiority complex that very nearly wrecked my life and the jealousy fit in quite nicely with it. I shall at some point or another need to tackle this as well in my blog, to truly get it completely out of my system, but it is good to say that the... uh... side-effects of this ceased some years ago. This is going to be much, much harder to write about, so no pushing. It will come out soon enough and needs to, but this has to be of my choosing, no one else's. It is key to write about it, as it leads as much to self-awareness as anything can.

Back to this topic...

I was quite envious of others as a child, for many reasons, I suppose. All children are, and it is truly impossible to train them out of it. You might say that you as a parent managed it, but really, this would only work with very inhibited and passive kids. It is a normal human emotion, jealousy, and it is the worst one and the most challenging to work out. And just like any child, my parents tried very hard to work it out of me, and ultimately failed. It was up to me to recognise it for what it was and deal with it appropriately. And the gods only know, I came up against it in others as much as in myself, and they had no more success than I did working it out. It is that much more challenging to get rid of this scourge in ourselves, as well.

When I was about 16, I met Sean, a classmate in my high school, a place I have very few fond memories about. (Never end a sentence in "at" or "of" if you can help it. Proper English always.) I really liked him a lot, in the way of all school girls. The issue? Well, besides my being totally unpopular, he was in the senior class and I was just a junior or sophomore (I'm pretty sure I was a junior, but he may have graduated in 1984, which would have made me a sophomore - or a moron, either way, ha, ha!) and who wants to date someone who is essentially a kid? I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have wanted a virgin, either, being a sensitive person, a rarity in the wonderful world of high school. As it was, I have to thank H.S. for doing the honours of that, the day before my 18th birthday. Was it the best birthday gift I received? Hard to say - it was and it wasn't. Two virgins ("wrongs") don't make a "right", so to speak, nor was it completely comfortable (I suspect that it was much better for him than me, but that's completely natural) and it did hurt, but the pain is fleeting. Anyhoo...

That's for another time. However, it does have a place here, in this tale. As it was, we had no kind of jealousy about one another; we weren't going out, or dating, nothing serious or exclusive, so it was never an issue. And i know that for myself, and I think for him, too, it was better this way. None of that wailing when things broke up about "my first love(r) broke up with me, WWWWAAAAAAAHHHHH!" It was nice not to have that kind of crap hanging over us. We did indulge a few more times and are still friends to this day. Now that is the best kind of history!

I ran into Sean again when I was 18 and he was 19 or 20. We started dating and having fun, but I was still living in jealousy and was always bugging him to know what he'd done without me and where he'd been, and I probably should have seen the writing on the wall, as it were, then. Of course, truly nutty-jealous women never see it and so go through short relationships all along. Still, this totally missed me at the time.

And of course, I kept on missing things of this nature, and went a little crazy if he so much as glanced at another woman. (You will read later on in this post how I react to Luis looking at women.) Not that it came up all that often, but I considered all other women my competition and enemies. Imagine considering more than half of the human race your enemy. Just try to tell me this isn't the stupidest feeling in the world!

When we were involved, we would hang out with others at the King George Diner in Wayne, which we referred to as the King Whore Diner (just one of those typical, tasteless, teenaged nicknames). We got to know a waitress there, uh... oh boy... I've forgotten her name. Completely forgotten it. And I went to their wedding! Yikes. Anyway, we would all chat and have fun, and then at some point, we invited her to come out with us. Other than her age (mid- to late 30s then, if I recall correctly), she was fun and a little flaky, much like we were. She certainly fit right in. She was very much a New Ager, or maybe a mixture of New Age and Wiccan, which made her even more ideal to join our little band.

And things were good, for a while.

But then I began to notice a rather strong connection between her and Sean, and of course ugly jealousy came screaming right to the fore. The more I tried to exert control over the situation, the worse things became - quickly. I knew I was losing him, but had no idea what to do about it, other than to react as I had. What a horrendous feeling.

I had to ask myself what had gone wrong, and of course the immediate answer was that it was her. I had turned into one of those women who thought the "other woman" was at fault. I never looked to myself or my own behaviour to find the answer. But then, who does? How many men or women taken by this worst of feelings look at themselves to figure the answer out? The last thing we want to do is admit to our own flaws. What made me any different? And how different is it now? Just as difficult - I still have to hear things from others a million times or learn the hard way. More often than not, it is the hard way, like just last July.

That, too, is a tale for another time.

At some point, Sean and she asked to sit with me (I don't recall where it was, but at the King George seems reasonable), so I said sure, and went, feeling trepidatious. I was right to, as it turned out. They were really nice about all of it, telling me that they recognised that they had feelings for one another, and that Sean was unhappy with my jealousy and general behaviour. Nothing had happened at this point, and they felt it was only right to speak to me first, before anything happened. Now, don't misunderstand me; I was very, very upset. And I went home and cried, feeling crushed. It was several days if not a week or two to reach the point where I could think logically about what they'd said and how things went. The more I thought about it and looked back on the situation, the more I realised they had hit the nail right on the head. The only unhappy person in all of this had really been me.

So I began to work on it. And work on it I did. By the time I met Joe, over a year later at age 19, I had learned to ruthlessly squash any feelings of jealousy if anyone I dated in the interim mentioned another woman. Not that it came up often, but when it did, if I felt that monster raising its head (and I still did, all too often), I just worked as hard as I had, to dispel that worst of feelings. And it worked! I won't say I got over it immediately, but I worked my ass off to get rid of this affliction, until I finally became who I am today.

There was another side of this coin, with Joe; while I had no jealousy that he ever knew of (and I didn't), he was overly protective and jealous, almost crazy at times. He'd never have hit me and knew I wouldn't have eve allowed it (other than the first shot), but he would yell and get all worked up over what was nothing. I'm a friendly, mostly outgoing person, once I come out of my shell, so if a man can't handle that, he does not get to have me.

Funny, true story: I ran into Joe a few years after we'd broken up (we'd been together for a year and a half), and he had a beautiful girlfriend, but she was super unbelievably jealous and he was terribly unhappy about it. I had to smile at that, not to be mean, but to see that he'd learned the same lesson.

Lessons come wrapped in ridiculous packaging.

By the time I met Luis, it was no longer any kind of struggle to not feel jealousy, none at all. I had long since excised it, about two years prior. When we moved in together, in October of 1990, we were very happy, and have been ever since. This is not to say that we haven't had our hard times, of course we have - some very hard times - but we have both come out clean on the other side. (Yes, a favourite phrase.) However, you can ask Luis if jealousy had ever been an issue, and he will laugh. Never, he'd say. And he knows it!

How do I tell you all that we do that shows I have no ill will toward other women, none of whom are a threat to me? Or that the only person I'd be mad at for the egregious act of falling in love with another person - regardless of gender, not that Luis would - would be the man with me! No one else is at fault in that scenario. That when Luis points out the gazillion women he finds attractive, would "do for a dollar" or would want to screw if given the opportunity (this last only applies to actresses and models), I put in my comments on whether or not they would be legal or if I'm not sure that they are that good looking. We joke about that all the time. Not to mention that he usually comments that they won't sleep with him; he's very bald, quite overweight, not that I wouldn't like him to lose weight - strictly for health reasons - but the baldness, well, anyone met Ray, my father? This explains a lot.

Anyway, we never have any problems in this area. I know Luis' entire romantic and sexual history, just as he knows mine. We know a huge amount about each other, what with our twenty-fifth anniversary approaching next year. Twenty-five years! Isn't that amazing? I just read in one of the Uncle John's Ultimate Bathroom Reader's books - yeah, of course I read in the loo, doesn't everyone? - that marriages that last past their thirteenth year last end in death rather than divorce. Sounds good to me!

To give you an excellent example of how easy-going I am, I have a great story from when Luis turned 30. It was something else.

Luis' birthday is 5 June. He's 48 now, but then he was turning thirty. I think we had only mild plans, as it was a week day, but the coming weekend we would celebrate. We might have had plans for a quiet dinner that night, since it was the big 3-0. Luis called me from work, though, while he was at the user meeting that year. He said he was really sorry, but Pam was there and really upset about something, and was it okay with me if he went to dinner with her?

I knew Luis well enough then, that he'd go to dinner with her almost no matter what. Normally, he is very much stubborn, but I am, too. However, this time, he did put the decision entirely into my lap. And it would not have bothered me at all, if it had been anyone else. Not a bit. But Luis had a heavy history with Pam, and I was not completely sanguine about my position as girlfriend/live-in lover when it came to her. I needn't have worried, but still, knowing Luis' full history with her, I worried. We discussed this for about a half-hour, and I had only one condition: her next visit to this area (which I well knew would be next year's CLS user meeting - yes, they met through CLS, where Luis worked as programmer since he was 19 - and he agreed, just like that). This did more - much more - to reassure me than anything else he had said to make his case. That, and how good a friend he would be to ask his girlfriend to do this on what is essentially a very big day. So I said it was okay, although I reserved the right to needle him about it for a few weeks. I didn't really do that, although he did - without my asking - give me the full skinny on what he talked about with her.

So that is the closest I have been to reacting with jealousy at all of our entire time together. And, yes, I did meet Pam the following year, just as he'd promised. He's a wonderful man, and he thinks I'm wonderful for 1. not trying to change him and 2. not being at all jealous of anything he says or does. In fact, he knows that I love him for being in love with all women, thinking all women are wonderful.

And so are men!

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