The emotion hit me like a bat swinging right at my head. One minute I was sane, the next minute I was insane. This all happened in 2006 after I met my husband and found out that he had dated someone before me for 15 years. At first, this bit of information was titillating. Interesting. I had never known someone to date anyone longer than two years maximum before calling it quits. I was only 26 at the time, and so a 15 year long relationship felt like a lifetime (or at least half a lifetime!).
However, my brain began to spin with all sorts of internal dialogue, and soon I was gripped by a debilitating emotion that felt so personal to me that no one could understand. I was competing with a girl who my boyfriend (now husband) loved for over a decade! For me, there was no competition. The other girl won.
And so here are some pointers I wish I was told when I felt lost and destitute for ten months of my life:
1) Admit that you are not in your right mind and that you are temporarily insane with jealousy. When I was jealous, I was a master justifier. Every time I picked a fight with my boyfriend for reasons that I found perfectly valid, there was some part of me that realized how crazy I was behaving. Of course, the crazy part of me usually overpowered the sane portion, and so the craziness took over... for ten months of my life. It took awhile for me to WANT to get over the jealousy. Our egos always fight to be right, and if we can justify why we are pointing fingers and being nasty to loved ones, there is a certain sense of satisfaction in that. Jealousy can feel like it's protecting us from getting hurt. We don't realize that we are just mentally hurting ourselves.
2) Jealousy––true jealousy––is an irrational emotion that tricks you into thinking that you are competing with someone or something. In fact, this is FALSE! There is only a competition if YOU make it a competition. If everything you do and say revolves around winning this imaginary competition that only exists in your head, you will lose every time. No question about it. How on earth can anyone win against your own imagination?
3) Detach from everyone. I know that this may seem counter-intuitive when you are seeking answers and ways to overcome your jealousy, but the only answers you need are within yourself. Yes, yes, you are acting and feeling a bit crazy with all of these jealous thoughts swimming around in that brain of yours, but if you find a quiet place (church, bedroom, empty hallway, wherever) and remember all of the great things about yourself, you will soon remember that you have plenty to be proud of. We all have gift to give to this world, and the trick is remembering your own. Remember who you were before this crazy emotion bit you in the butt. Remember that you are a unique individual and that no one is like you and that this is a good thing! People are like fingerprints––no two are alike––and if you try and pit yourself against someone else, you're bound to only focus on the negatives instead of all of the positives.
An image I evoked when I had my own awakening was my body in a bathtub. I visualized myself with the word "love" written in permanent ink all over my body, and I drenched myself in the feeling of love. The water became love. (Some might find the feeling of love difficult, and so I will compare it to the feeling of being accepted.) If my boyfriend could not find a way to make me feel loved (he never had a chance with all of my complaining), then I realized that it was up to me the whole time! I reveled in the fact that I had the ability to lift myself out of the abyss of jealousy and remember who I was and why I mattered. I separated my crazy self from my normal self and vowed to stop letting the crazy self win.
It was nothing short of simple and amazing.
Even if my boyfriend had broken up with me because he chose to be with his ex girlfriend, I was not concerned with that anymore. All that I was concerned with was myself and making sure that at least I loved myself. After all, if you can't accept yourself, why would anyone else?