I had a good session with my therapist today, in which we discussed the reasons for my jealousy and steps to deal with it.
Talking with her, it became clear just how scared I am about being in a relationship again and exposing myself to those feelings again. But that fear lead to another fear; one of being alone forever in order to avoid those feelings. It’s hard to say which fear is stronger. I can’t live with feeling this way, so I am going to change it.
The reason I feel such intense jealousy, which has turned violent at times, is because I have such an insane terror about feeling pain of loss, that I will do anything to protect myself from it. As a child I never felt safety or security, and it was necessary for me to be vigilant at all times, as I was in genuine danger. Now, when I experience safety or security of any kind, I am terrified of losing it. My instinct to preserve this precious thing kicks in, as hyper-vigilance and jealousy.
With my last relationship the fear reached it’s apex, as I finally felt that I had found lifetime happiness and security in him. That’s why when it ended, it was more than I could take at the time, and I went to extremes to hold on to him, and then to avoid the pain by attempting to end my life. The emotional pain was more than I had ever felt before, and was strong enough to create a post traumatic stress response. That response kicks in every time something reminds me of this pain, as I mentioned in yesterdays post (for example, a story about someone else’s break up, or someone in a movie cheating).
I need to get some distance from my emotions (through mindfulness), and constantly remind myself that I am not my emotions and they cannot hurt me, until it sinks in. I have to remember that they don’t last forever, and that their intensity cannot be sustained. The things that I believe about my emotions are not necessarily true. And the things that my emotions would have me believe are not necessarily true either. I need to employ my rational mind when emotions arise. They are the devil on my shoulder, and rationality the angel.
If I can keep all of this in mind then the fear of pain should lessen in intensity, and therefore the need to protect myself should not feel so urgent and all consuming. And from that it follows that the jealousy should also subside somewhat, to a healthier level.
It will take a lot of effort to let my guard down. When I think I have picked up on some kind of sign that I am not safe, I need to question it rationally. Is it truly an undeniable sign that my security is threatened, or merely a product of my fear and paranoia? Is it the devil or the angel whispering in my ear? I can no longer afford to act on my suspicions indiscriminately.
In time I should get better at discerning false alarms from real. And if I am confident in myself that I am strong enough to cope with any eventuality, and know that the emotions can’t hurt me and not feel them so intensely, then I should be able to let my guard down. And then real trust can develop.
I also want to acknowledge here that while it has been anything but easy for me to deal with these feelings while in a relationship, I also recognise that it must have been extremely hard for my previous partners, too. To not be trusted, and to constantly be under surveillance and given the third degree over every perceived misstep would have been no picnic. And it is simply unfortunate that the first person I trusted, my most recent ex, betrayed that fledgling trust. I know he didn’t set out to hurt me, and he didn’t owe me anything. We are two separate people. He had to be true to himself, and it’s just shitty luck that things turned out the way they did for me. But on the plus side, I am working through my lifelong issues, something that I wouldn’t have done if these things hadn’t have happened. I will be better because of this.
On that note, I’d like to share a line I love, from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem:
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Lastly, I have to remember that life and love is always a risk. There is no way I can be certain that I won’t get hurt again, or that I will. I can accept this risk and make sure I am strong enough to cope if I lose the gamble, or close off my heart forever and know that I have already lost.
I choose to play on.