Jealousy. What an intense, unnerving feeling. A sensation enough to rock even the most stable of people - if those people exist, which I truly doubt. Jealousy is often something I think about, but also something that hardly makes me incensed..anymore. Not to say that I am immune to the searing pain in your chest, the sweat down your back, the pain in my womb, the feeling of wetness in my mouth because i'm about to be sick, or the feeling of worry that you're being mocked, or the balancing act of being on the tightrope of loving or hating your partner, or just the sensation of something that is yours being taken away, or worse, hurt. No.
I am constantly in the process of fine tuning, working at, and redefining jealousy. In my mind, this emotion is one by-product of the violation of trust, honesty, respect, and simply not having all the information of knowing where your partner is at.
As I entered my current understanding of love, about the time I turned 25, I recognised that I had and still have serious issue with being possessed. This led me to question my own relationship with jealousy. I never really understood it. I, a pretty carefree person, regularly seemed to attract protective, and sometimes possessive partners - or perhaps these traits were quite acceptable by society's standards, but just not for me. While I was challenging my partners, literally looking at them like they were talking another language, assuring them that there was no need to be jealous, perhaps it was me, that in fact, was speaking another language. I just didn't understand why they were jealous, because if I said my heart was theirs...well, it was. I wasn't being coerced into a relationship - I didn't have a reason to lie. So why did/do my partners doubt me?
See, I have always been au fait with the truth. I know that people like to think they are honest, and "honesty is the best policy", but putting that into practise is easier said than done. We'd like to think of ourselves as brave enough to speak our minds, or speak candidly to our closest ones, but we fear judgement, shame, and also, hurting the other person (or people). While I have one or two skeletons that niggle away at my subconscious, I am fairly familiar with the feeling of gulping down the lump in my throat before sharing a truth that may run the risk of hurting the other party, because I know that being loved wholly for who I am is more important than allowing someone to love an illusion of myself. I am happy that I am accurate in saying there are only one or two skeletons - working on those, promise.
It took me 26 years to realise that there was no hope in keeping silent, and I should just save myself the agony of skating around the truth, because keeping silent feels like bubbling, boiling agony for me. I also care very much about what people think of my character - maybe a bit too much - and so I cannot stand when someone thinks ill or is angry with me. On a basic level, my brain digests that lying as wrong. So if someone is lying to me about relations or attraction, then the lying indicates that it is bad. That bad/wrong feeling triggers jealousy, because those feelings of being lied to, embarrassed or not being trusted enough to be honest with rush back. Of course, I talk from a polyamorous perspective - I believe that everyone has the right to do what they want with their mind, heart and body.
Reflecting on real experience with previous partners, I am often shamed or made to feel bad for revealing intimate history or current attraction, and my natural disposition is to be happy to do so, which also unnerves the other person - this may be rooted in those feelings of betrayal, which in the moment, override that integrity of telling the truth.
Sometimes it will take me a while to open up, and when I do so, I can have the tendency to play down the truth in failed attempts to protect the other person. As someone who has been on the receiving end of such behaviour, I know that it only makes me more jealous or angry when you feel you are being given half the information. I want to scream "I am okay! I have considered the worst! I can take the truth - what is pissing me off is the feeling that you think I am incapable of handling it all!" as in actuality, I, and the rest of the world have handled much worse.
Perspective is a big thing - when I feel heartbreak or disrespect or jealousy, what calms me is putting things into perspective - this feeling..does it put me in danger? What are the long term effects? Why do I feel threatened? Is it something i'm insecure about, or is the other party actively making me jealous? These are all things I consider before I choose, yes choose to act on my jealousy.
This leads me on to the pièce de résistance, if you will. The thing that usually dissipates and controls my jealousy. Information. I cannot get enough of it.
Some only want to know the framework. You know, the facts - dates, places, how many times, how long for? For me, I want to know as much as I can. I like the details. I want to know why you fell in love with them. Tell me why you cheated. Tell me about your happiest times, why they made you who you are...what was so special. Or just tell me if you found that person who walked past us attractive, or if you're actively in another connection with someone and you love it! I want to celebrate with you. The answers to these things help me learn so much about myself and also, you. As well as this, allowing myself to share the other person's lens with me lets me reason with jealousy. It offers another perspective by saying "hey, this other person actually made this person feel good", or "they taught him/her something" or sometimes, "that person filled/is filling a space unique to them, and that's okay". More on that last thought later.
It's important to realise that your partner's (or the person you desire) attraction to someone else isn't a direct attack or disrespect to you. Of course, sometimes it can be done with more tact or care, but really, they are/were probably attracted to that person independent of you. As a species, we are programmed to connect with and explore other people. I don't mean physically either - mentally, spiritually, cosmically. We are social mammals!
At the end of it all, it boils down to communication. If information and communication helps deal with my jealousy, how can I expect someone to be totally, explicitly honest with me if I make them feel bad for making a mistake by lying, or loving someone else?
I still also shout, cry, argue, have tantrums, but I really work at checking myself and figuring out what the major goal is. I find most expression of high energy emotion exhausting, and I just want to speak out loud and reach resolve quickly. I genuinely don't have time to spend stressed about personal life any more than I already am.
Of course, the other person may have their own issues with opening up, even after I have have arrived at making my conversation free of judgement and anger. After all your efforts, they may still do things that trigger your jealousy. We must respect that they are on their own journey, and we have to know when to step in or step out.
If you're like me, when jealousy rears it's ugly head and makes you feel your most insecure, your lowest, and not good enough, do you still have the ability to make that person feel welcome to speak freely, so you can both have all the information to move forward? It is so, so important to create an environment for the other person to open up without judgement. If you have done that, and that person feels secure, then you know you have done all you can to make sure there is no reason to lie, because you have decided that whatever information they bring to the table, you will maintain a safe space, and love unconditionally.
That open line of communication and celebration of love is what reasons with my jealousy. To hear the other person genuinely tell me how happy they were, or think fondly of someone and feel comfortable to do so makes me feel as though I can take on anything. Call me crazy. I find solace in being able to love people independently of our connection, and feel happiest when I can create safe spaces with people. I do hope that these safe spaces are reciprocated more frequently. It's not easy.