I split the post into 2 parts to make it easier to read…
I found a flat rock on the edge of the roaring river, the sound lulls and quiets my chatty mind. On this fresh clear morning I have pen and paper and draw a grid. I want to study jealousy, how I experience it to understand it better. It’s easier to do this now with a clear head then when I’m going through a bout of it.
Starting with the word “jealous”, any reference to this word in a question to me gets my back up immediately. It rings to me like an accusation and I would hate to think that the other thinks of me as anything less than perfect. My brain screams – how dare you accuse me of this despicable emotional state?! or “nooooo I’m only…” followed by a justification. However I know rationally I am not perfect. Why is it easier for me to answer “are you angry” or “are you annoyed” rather than “are you jealous”. Perhaps because in polyamory sometimes I sometimes feel that jealousy is not an acceptable emotion. Rationally I know that it is an emotion as any other and yet if I’d chosen to have open relationships then what right did I have to suddenly have an issue with my partner sharing anything with anyone else.
It occurs to me that I should treat it like any other emotion and dissect it accordingly into 3 parts:
I believe we are the sum of our history – this is a good starting point to understand a trigger by finding out where it comes from it may be easier to deal with. Some words could be enough to trigger past insecurities, anything that reminds me of a past unpleasant experience can be a trigger. Those are the ones that are easiest to identify because I remember the bad experience but what about the one’s that I cannot remember? The subconscious can have it’s own triggers. In any case my worst triggers are the events I have no control over. The ultimate non-realisation and blatant obvious truth that no one has control over who any other person loves, engages with, sleeps with… the action is almost irrelevant it is the moving balance that disturbs me the most. A one night stand is funnily enough not a trigger for me. It is temporary and therefore of no concern, almost indifference. Potential new relationships however are a major trigger. Which brings us nicely to the next part of the equation.
Here I split emotion and behaviour – emotion is the driver for behaviour and yet there could be emotion with very little behaviour manifestation.
I’d say it’s not easy to describe jealousy, for me it’s a varying combination of fear, sadness and anger. Fear of abandonment, sadness for a perceived loss of my lovers attention, feeling inadequate (not enough) and anger for being so easily replaced. Worse of all is feeling that I have absolutely no control over what is happening to the relationship. I am suddenly a spectator anticipating an impending car crash, where I am at the mercy of someone who doesn’t know me and therefore couldn’t care less. Like an out of body experience almost. My mind races and I have limited control over my feelings to pull them in I cue in rationalisation. It is the major part of my coping mechanism, putting things into perspective helps. But that’s not always immediate and it takes time to kick in, making order from chaos. Humanising the new element helps, after all this person is likely to have doubts and emotions just like me. S/he will have their own insecurities. The old adage – No one is perfect – is a great comfort. As sordid as it may seem this basic reinforcement of a known truth bring my focus back to what is important. This is not a disaster. I am not being replaced. NRE doesn’t last forever. After all it was emotionally challenging for me at the beginning too, fear of being rejected by my metamours gave me many sleepless nights until I met them. The became human then and I was fine.
Now this is for me the best part of the equation and in my case this is because I feel in control of my behaviour at least most of the time, I might be a little snappy and short but never anything beyond that and only to him, I would never dream of attacking in anyway the new love interest, . In fact I can remove myself completely from the attention of my partner by simply going to bed early and wallow in my own thoughts without outside manifestation at least none that he can experience. This is the worse case scenario. In general I deal with the situation with minimal disruption. Whilst major bout of jealousy need to be discussed at some point when I’m able to do that, minor events and triggers I tend not to worry too much about and am able to get over them fairly quickly. Especially if during my risk assessment I don’t find anything worrying.
How would I react in person, I’m not sure yet, it depends on what I am confronted with perhaps, if I’m able to do a risk assessment quicker because I’m present I might be able to control my behaviour as I’ve been doing up to now. It’s one thing being told on the phone by text and another witnessing it with my own eyes. Isn’t it the same? Not really. Fear, sadness and anger and not easy emotions to deal with and any acting out might damage the relationship. On the other hand burying feelings will result in longer term damage like resentment. The killer of any relationship.
Taking time by walking away is still an option but what effect would that have? Uncertainty lingers with punctuation. The thought that this could make him feel rejected draws tears in my eyes. I’m projecting my own fears.