‘Will you come over for coffee?’ I said. ‘My boyfriend is in London. The kids can play together.’
‘Why is he in London?’ said my friend.
‘Oh he’s gone for work, I said. But of course it is the ideal situation for him to see other women.’
‘I so admire you for being able to be so open and accepting. I am so far from that.’ my friend said.
I looked at him and said.
‘It’s a constant work.’
I am not some enlightened being immune from jealousy. I am not above jealousy. I, like the rest of the planet, used jealousy to get what I wanted and needed as a child. Jealousy is a tactic the mind has for seeking security outside ourselves. A survival mechanism. But as an adult, jealousy no longer serves a purpose because I don’t need in the same way as I did when I was a child. I am perfectly capable of surviving on my own. As an adult I am (usually) secure in myself. I have fought, for years to assuage my insecurities and become an independent, self actualized woman. I know this…theoretically. But as I have identified in other writings, the mind – once it recognises successful tactics for survival – will cling to them. And our minds’ device of jealousy is used by most of the western world to keep us in monogamous arrangements. To keep what we think we need to survive.
But here’s the other thing about jealousy. If you do not feel it, you cannot identify and solve the problems that lie behind it. It’s a symptom of an issue. A secondary emotion. And here is the difference between me and monogamous people. I do not try to control the triggers that cause my jealousy. In fact I actively invite them (being in an open relationship) And then I look behind them to see why I feel bad. Because I believe that doing so will present more growth for my character.
‘How far did you get with her?’ I said.
He said ’All the way, although it was supposed to be only for drinks. She’s very like you. Well, like you five years ago. She’s an analyst. She even loves excel.’
I felt fear settle a cold grip upon me and paralyse my vocal cords for 5 seconds. Very like me. Was I being replaced? Luckily we were on skype (and my fingers certainly were not paralysed).
‘Was she with you when I sent you the photo of the kids this morning?’
‘Yes, she thinks they’re adorable.’
I closed my eyes and felt the adrenalin kick in. Fight or Flight. I wanted to shut the chat right there and howl. But only for a minute. Because I knew that getting angry was useless (there was no one to be angry with), hiding was useless – and selfish. It would be an attempt to take the power from the situation by making myself the victim. So I chose not to be. Let me make perfectly clear that he did nothing wrong. Everything that happened had been discussed and okayed. She was aware of the situation and I knew that there was a distinct likelihood beforehand. But it didn’t stop my instinctive reaction.
He slept with her. She’s like me. Or at least like I was, before I stopped working to have kids. No doubt slim…with no stretch marks, no post breast feed tits and still achieving success in her profession.
I said ‘I feel half okay and half not okay. I mean it’s great to know that you talked about the kids and me and stuff. How did she feel?’
‘As far as I could tell she felt fine. But if you are wobbly we need to talk more. I welcome that. Part of growth and us developing together. I love you. ‘ he said.
‘I love you too.’ I said.’
After my minute of wanting to hide had passed, I sat back and examined my emotions without feeling betrayed and cheated on (because I am not). My jealousy is my signpost. And I know what it’s pointing to. It indicates that I am still struggling with my insecurity, which drives a fear of intimacy, due to a fear of abandonment and reinforced by the shame of my upbringing and our society. Polyamory doesn’t mean you are immune (or that you stay immune). Some people are. I hope one day that will be me. But right now, it means that I confront the issues behind the triggers.
Deep deep down, I fear abandonment which will reinforce the lie that rings like truth in my ears that I am inherently, and personally, shameful and unlovable. Since having kids, I no longer match up to the successful slim business woman I once was. My priorities, life and values have changed. But society’s has not and try as I might, it is difficult not to care. Our codependent shame ridden society has driven our need for monogamy; much of it due to our inability to measure up to the youth-worshipping, linear-achievement standards glorified by much of the western world. Thankfully on most days, I don’t need monogamy to know that I am lovable and on no days do I want monogamy as a security blanket to know that I will not be abandoned. But I must practice that thinking. Because practice makes perfect.