Saturday, May 1, 2010

Jealousy - that Khaki Coloured Ogre

In primary school there was a saying that used to get thrown around the playground quite regularly; "Jealousy's a curse, pregnancy is worse" You had to kind of sing it though and give curse and worse two syllables each for emphasis. I guess in our little catholic hearts we equated falling pregnant to mortal sin so this phrase or taunt was fairly powerful. I can't remember saying it myself (I would like to think that I was possibly more original - and nicer than that!) but I do remember it being said to me.

We had strange little fights back then. Friendship groups were shuffled and changed and best friends guarded and treasured. How ridiculous it was to be jealous of your best friend staying over at another girl's house for the night and yet to this day I can remember the pain and anxiety still.

For some reason I escaped competition and rivalry over boys. Going to an all girl's school from year 4 onwards didn't really give me much opportunity although some girls still "went with" boys from The Christian Brothers school down the road. Riding past Stephen Leydon's place on my bike was the closest I got to a primary school relationship (looking back I was a little stalker. I can remember planning what I was going to wear!)

It was not until my adult years that men really featured as a jealousy issue. But by then it had become something else. All akin to attracting the "bad boy" and the "wrong guy" I seemed to take great pleasure in making men jealous. I thought this was what you were supposed to do. My immature heart told me that they must really love me if they got so jealous. More fool me. It didn't mean they didn't -but it certainly wasn't proof that they did. My behaviour was annoying. And theirs out of control.

Jealousy is a curse. But it comes from a place within all of us that is related to our self esteem and ego. Shakespeare talks about "green eyed" jealously through Portia in The Merchant of Venice

How all the other passions fleet to air,
As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair,
And shuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy! O love,
Be moderate; allay thy ecstasy,
In measure rein thy joy; scant this excess.
I feel too much thy blessing: make it less,
For fear I surfeit.

And again about "the green eyed monster" through Iago in Othello

O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O, what damned minutes tells he o'er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves

I suppose the colour green is associated with sickness, possibly because the skin takes on a slightly yellow/green tinge with serious illness. It is a sickness. An overwhelming and disabling one.

I have had friends in relationships that seem to thrive on jealousy. It is exhausting to watch and to cope with. Especially when you know how much love is there and that the jealousy is pointless and unwarranted. Yet they play it out with each other. Testing and taunting, probing and baiting. And fighting and screaming.

To be in a good place in your relationship with yourself first eradicates the need for proof of adoration of others. Don't look for ways to prove to your partner that you are admired by others. They will see that for themselves and be proud of that but they don't need it shoved in their face. Look for partners who are confident and self assured enough not to have to have you by their side 24/7 proving your love to them either. It works both ways. And unfortunately most jealous people have trust issues because they themselves are not faithful or strong in the committed stakes.

The peace and tranquility that comes from a healthy and loving and freeing relationship cannot be underrated. It's a joy. Of course insecurity and little nabs of jealousy are going to sneak in every now and again. But learn to control it. There has been documented evidence that jealousy can lead to temporary insanity. The rage that is fuelled by unsubstantiated or real betrayal is dangerous and monstrous. Sometimes we let our mind travel to ridiculous and crazy places. The only way back is through health. If you find yourself going to that horrible, painful land, go for a walk. Listen to soothing, classical music & to the laughter of children. Like yourself. Love who you are. That is the monster's kryptonite. Send that khaki coloured ogre back to its boring and dark cave and skip merrily into the moonlight.

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