Hands Down, Jealousy is the Worst

My heart broke for the first time at the age of 16 when I learned my boyfriend had kissed another girl at a wrestling match a few towns south.  It was my first taste of jealously, anger, and teenage angst.  We didn’t have playlists back then, but I did have a mixtape that I wore out on my Walkman playing, rewinding, and replaying Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to You.”
Of all the emotions surging through my pubescent body, the gut-wringing jealousy was the worst.  Who was this girl?  Was she skinny?  Was her hair long or short?  Blonde or brunette?  Did she kiss better?  Did he love her?  Why did he do it?  Didn’t we have the perfect connection?  Wasn’t I the perfect girlfriend?  The unasked and unanswered questions swirling in my head were debilitating.  I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t focus on my schoolwork.  It was my first bout with jealousy, and it won, hands down.
Envy and jealously are two abstract emotions often used interchangeably.  While envying someone means you covet something that someone else has (a deadly sin BTW), being jealous means you are afraid of someone taking what you already have (a deadlier feeling).  Jealousy is fear of the worst kind.  It comes with paranoia, and a truckload of psychological baggage. Some suffer jealousy worse than others. When it comes to relationships, we tend to judge our partner’s commitment (and sanity) based on the level of jealousy they exhibit in any given situation.
Let me diverge into an allegory (or something similar).  I like hands; they tell stories.  So, I took pictures of several men’s hands.  I then put the hands into a photoshopped collage and hung it on my wall.  Over the years, I’ve deemed a few men worthy enough to view inquisitively the hands on the wall.

Guy 1 saw the collection of hands and was curious.  He didn’t seem to mind the fact that they were male.  He knew I was a Liberal Arts major and hopelessly independent and that’s where he left it.  From his reaction, I assumed he was either very trusting and self-confident, or he really didn’t care what I did or who I was with because he REALLY didn’t care. It turned out to be the latter. So, I thanked him for his time and we parted ways.
Guy 2 was a complete opposite.  He saw the hands and his jealousy issues erupted from a volcano of molten psychoses.  He would stare at the hands while drinking, his mind roaming with questions and paranoia.  He wanted to know why his hand wasn’t up on the wall.  He wanted to know what hand I’d been with if I came home late from work.  He checked my phone for pictures of more hands.  It soon became all about the hands.  My time with Guy 2 ended when his own hands threatened violence.  I don’t tolerate that kind of behavior.
A licensed psychologist might theorize that trust, or lack thereof, is the root of all things leading to jealousy.  I’m sure that’s a valid conclusion in many cases.  Clearly Guy 2 had trust issues; however, even the most trusting individuals can be overcome with fear of losing that which is most precious to them.  We fear the thought of anyone or anything stealing away the person into whom we have invested our time, emotions, loyalty and soul.
Jealousy personified is a big, green monster with gnashing teeth and a giant belly that consumes everyone and everything in its path.  It’s ugly. It’s vicious.  And I have been overpowered by it too many times in my life to feel comfortable.  Maybe it was time to take the hands down and move on to weaving wigs to placate my hair envy.  I was about to toss the hand art in the trash when Guy 3 came along.
Guy 3, my Honeybun, my Mr. Wonderful.  He praises the artistic rendition of the hands on the wall.  He claims they represent my eccentric uniqueness.   He says they tell a story.  He wants to know what that story is.  When I tell him, he admits he is jealous and that he hates feeling that way.  I tell him I feel the same way when his ex’s name gets mentioned.  We talk it out.  We see jealousy for what it is, a human emotion that, if not controlled, can demolish lives and leave us in rubble.  Guy 3 says he’d be less jealous if we make a new collection of hands, his and mine, a new story to tell.  I agree.
Sometimes hands are just a picture on a wall, and we have to trust the person who put them there.  Maybe there is a story behind it all, and maybe not.  All you have to do is ask or be asked, and hope for an honest answer.

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  1. Adam Sullivan

    It’s nice finding the person you fit into the Goldilocks zone with.

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