In the poly world it seems that jealousy often equates to the Boogie Man. But recently, I have come to recognize my own acute sensitivity to disappointment. When I am disappointed by a person, an event, even myself at times, the nightmare in my closet emerges. Disappointment is my Jealousy.
I took me some time to come to this epiphany. I mean, for most people, disappointment isn't exactly on the same level with Jealousy. So what's the big deal?
I started to recognize a pattern in my relationships. Someone would fail to live up to one of my expectations. It could be as simple as cancelling a date, or a repeated irritation like leaving a mess of globby toothpaste on the sink.
My initial reaction is anger. How could they do this to me! For toothpaste-like infractions, I might even launch stupid angry phrases at my beloved: Why do you keep doing this?! Don't you know how much it upsets me?! It makes very little sense to anyone just looking at the messy sink, but the issue goes deeper than that.
Next, I start to feel worthless. If he's cancelled our date, I must have done something wrong. I must not be good enough. And, finally, abandonment: He doesn't really want to be with me. If he did, he'd clean up the sink every night. *Sigh* I am a silly girl.
I'm not a naturally jealous person. So, it made no sense to me why I would care if a partner decided to take the evening to pursue other interests. It became plainly obvious to me that this was my issue when my lover wasn't even going to meet up with someone else. He just needed some personal time. Can a sane person really be jealous of that? Hmmm, seems I'm fresh out of bodies to blame.
Being with the same partner for ten years has helped me to step back and look really hard at my own reactions: Is this something to be upset about? What is really going on here? And separating reality from the crazy, delusional distopian fantasy my anxiety invents.
Freud would be thrilled to hear me say that it all goes back to my mother. I really try not to blame things on her any more. And I certainly don't think my problems are all her fault. But she had tendency when I was growing up to leave me places, forget to pick me up, disappear until well after midnight, etc. So, when she disappointed me by not coming to my choir concert, poetry reading, tennis match, extra-special, extra curricular, well, my childhood psyche felt worthless. And, in time, psychologically abandoned. Though there were times I was physically abandoned as well.
BAZINGA! (I ♥ Sheldon.) So now, knowing the situations that trigger my disappointment/abandonment, and understanding where these pesky emotions come from, I have an arsenal of reassurances in place. I haven't gotten to the point where I need to write them down, but I'm not too proud if it gets that far.
Also, I am blessed to be married to such an understanding soul. He sees my emotions for what they are: powerful disillusionment. He doesn't discount how debilitating they feel. And he's willing to serve up reassurances as necessary.
Regardless of the strong emotions I feel, they belong to me. Blaming my rotten feelings on the actions of others won't ever make me feel better and, in the long run, may actually make me feel worse by driving away those people actually willing to put up my crazy.