The Jealousy of Bad Breath
Does jealousy stem from the self or the partner? I see jealousy as a surface issue pointing at a deeper problem in the relationship. Jealousy is a symptom.
Think of it this way; Jealousy is like bad breath, sure it is offensive but it is not the main health concern. It is an icky side effect alerting one to further investigate the cause. Could our halitosis be caused by gingivitis? Something deeper? Like liver or kidney problems or perhaps diabetes to name a few.
If it is deeper, it is more complicated.
Just brushing the teeth, even gargling with Scope will only temporarily shine up and mask over the real threat to whole the body.
So whose problem is the bad breath jealousy, the one who exudes it or the one who smells it?
In a relationship all things are shared, even those things people would rather keep hidden and silent. Often times these silent ones are in actuality the loudest and most destructive. Just as the good and great aspects in our relationships affect each other so do the negative ones. But instead of cheering together over the positive we humans tend toward either fighting or stuffing our emotions regarding the negative things. It is far easier to come together to cheer over the superficial than it is to dig deep and extract the negative.
What is lying in wait in your relationship underneath your jealousy?
In other words;
Where did the jealousy start?
How did it start?
What is the earliest memory you have when you felt that ping of jealousy?
Can you follow those pings of jealousy throughout your life from childhood to now?
Are you beginning to see a pattern?
Is the jealousy stemming from low self-worth? Do you find yourself always in some version of an abusive relationship, even those that are non-sexual? Perhaps there is a lack of trust or the inability to deeply and honestly communicate with people. Do you find your spouse to be an unsafe partner with whom to share your more personal thoughts and memories?
Where do I go from here?
Well, now we are not just going to be satisfied with brushing and gargling away the bad breath. Now it is time for a tooth extraction!
When I began extracting the junk in my life I wasn’t trying to uncover the cause to my jealousy, but rather the cause of my bursts of anger that seemed unexplainable. I prayed a lot. That kept me aware I had a problem, but awareness, while the only first step to regaining mental health, it is only a first step. One step doesn’t climb a mountain. More steps are needed, more effort is needed.
I wrote a lot, I created a lot of artwork and I mused over many songs. It seemed like the ones with the F-word resonated with me quite well. I went back decades and reread old writings; I even read them to my husband to bring him into the loop. And I joined a 12 Step group within Celebrate Recovery at my church. Even though I tend toward being fairly intuitive of my feelings, the 12 Step helped me say out loud what I was dealing with. That became an invaluable piece of my recovery. Saying my problems out loud, not just the surface ones like my kids are misbehaving at the store, but the deep ones like I am a girl with severe bursts of anger. It was scary. I felt like I was alone in a room with 15 other women who had “girl” problems and here I was about to admit I had what I considered to be a “boy” problem.
What I found was quite the opposite.
I wasn’t alone, not by a long shot. All my prayer and introspective writing, art and music listening worked to bring God to the forefront of my mind and kept me remembering I had a problem that was more than a superficial issue. When I truly began to change my behaviors my step forward was to speak the truth, my truth. This did not come without fear, anxiety and fighting. It also come with eventual peace, calm conversations and support from my family, friends and my husband, and far less explosive behavior.
And this connects to jealousy? How again?
My story could have easily been a story of my jealousy toward my husband instead of my anger. They are deeply rooted, stem from childhood, and are scary to talk about. They are both symptoms of something larger and both can be dealt with in a peaceful manner.