As I was sitting this morning, scanning the list of the ingredients in the alchemical mix that is cooking in the cauldron of my heart (yes, my heart is also a cauldron; actually it’s the whole region between my lower throat and my pelvis) I finally was ready to face one that isn’t even on there, and it surely needs to be: Jealousy and it’s close cousin Envy.
I never thought I was jealous; or that it posed a real problem. When in the past my girlfriends had a lover I hardly felt jealous about it, maybe a little pang in my heart now and then but nothing serious. A possible reason for that might have been that more often than not I was having an affair myself. And at other times, when I was not having one and was ‘on my own’ when my girlfriend was in somebody else’s arms, then still it didn’t bother me too much. Maybe I never really got very close to them, maybe I wasn’t that open, at least not in the way that I’m open now. So I really wasn’t really jealous like I always heard other people to be…
My guess is that this was so also because in some way when my girlfriends had a lover it alleviated some of my fear of not being good enough, I didn’t need to cover all bases and provide all their love-needs (which, I thought then and until quite recently, are much more than a man’s needs). That’s how I would’ve explained it. Now, I really don’t know; whatever I did or didn’t do, it was very effective in saving me from feeling ‘real jealous’.
So when this morning I decided to have a go at it it wasn’t too easy to invoke at first. It took some time to really get into, maybe because jealousy really isn’t one feeling, it rather is a conglomerate of feelings, a mixture of thwarted longing/desire, the fear of being left, the sense of being victimized – which is different from feeling abused as the action is not actively against me; there also is a sense of being suffocated, and very deep down a feeling of forlornness.
So it’s a mixture of all these feelings, and depending what part of a story comes up in my imagination/mind the appropriate mixture of feelings is activated… or is it the other way around, or even a synchrony? Whichever way it might be, when being jealous there is an automatically triggered behavior: ‘closing down’.
It’s truly hard to remain open with your partner when you’re feeling jealous, whatever form the ‘pain’ takes. It seems inescapable to want to protect yourself against what you feel is your partners ‘fault’ – after all, it is what she is doing that triggers the feeling of jealousy, and if only she would stop the feeling would not be triggered and everything would be alright; at least that’s the story that justifies and almost automatically causes closure of the heart. The irony, of course, is that the very ‘thing’ you want, being/feeling close, feeling really connected, is not really possible when you’re closing down.
But staying open is “just too painful”.
Here is the stark splendor of what this experiment is also about: Staying with the ebb and flow, the ‘just too painful’ and whatever else the feelings morph into; staying in touch with the ‘naked feeling’. And, what shall I say, it is indeed possible. It is possible to not escape into the multitude of tactics that insulate me against feeling all that, that ‘disown’ (as a psychologist might say) those parts of the melody of my character.
Jealousy is a “Blow against the Empire” of myself; from a developmental point of view it is mortifying the “I am the center of the universe” sense of self where one believes, “It’s all about me.” Just being with it, with it’s eddies of thwarted longing, it’s ripples of fear-of-loss, it’s waves of suffocated sadness, it’s deep currents of forlornness, is good enough. Yes, there is the desire to do something about it, to change the situation, to dive away, to put on an armor and take a sword and cut the knot… and those are feelings that are also part of the tangled knot of feelings called jealousy.
When one really enters the ‘field of feeling’ from any point regardless of its signature or name then it always connects – there is a flow that, if I were to use a big word, could be called the “flow of being”, but then “being” is a word that suggests something being static where there is really nothing static there; it designates something that is ‘really real’, it’s substantial, so the best I can do is call it ‘connecting flow’. One discovery, or ‘uncovering’ of these first 6 days is the connecting quality of the “feeling field” and it’s “substantial reality”.
Now, as I said before, an important part of jealousy is that you don’t want to connect, you don’t want to feel the flow between yourself and the person that triggers the jealousy because it is painful; by that I mean, the ‘jealous imagination’ (like in the Munch paintings above) is getting refreshed again and again as long as the jealousy is there.
This puts one in the midst of a paradox; the nature of feeling being to flow in an open field – even so called negative feelings – and it is the nature of the jealous imagination to want to distance and/or protect you. So I’m happy to have decided almost a week ago to explore being with whatever I’m feeling unconditionally, so that in this paradoxical situation I simply be with the flow. Never mind the paradox…