“I Wrecked My Marriages Because Of My Jealousy.”
A reader wrote to me recently with a heart-wrenching tale. Let me share it with you, so that we may look into the roots of jealous feelings and jealous behavior:
It’s three years and a huge amount of self examination later when I finally was willing to deal with my real problem. It wasn’t jealousy; it was lack of self esteem that drove me to push both my husband and a three year loving boyfriend into the arms of another woman. I had so little self-esteem and respect for myself, how could they possibly love me when I couldn’t love myself?
I saw betrayal everywhere because deep down I felt that it was all I deserved.
When my husband was answering the phone, engaging in a friendly conversation, I was immediately suspicious. Why is he talking in such a playful way? His letting me know from time to time that he would be late for dinner convinced me it was a cover up for his cheating on me. His leaving for a business trip made me panic. I was sure there was some monkey business going on. I tried to catch him calling at odd hours at the hotel, and when he answered tried to mask my voice and mumbled “sorry, wrong number.” I literally drove him away with my suspicions and accusation, and eventually he found someone else and left the marriage. I was devastated and vindicated at the same time. Ha, I knew all along he was a cheater. I never questioned my own doings.”
Most everybody has felt jealousy at one time or another. Sometimes the feeling is justified; often it is not. Ultimately, jealousy is based on fear; fear of abandonment, fear of losing one’s love, fear of being embarrassed or shamed in front of our friends or community. Most often, jealousy has its origin in low self-esteem or unresolved issues from the past.
Eventually Monica met her next, a wonderful and very loving man. But within a few months the ugly suspicions crept back into her mind. The only way he could make her feel safe is by his repeated assurance that he loved her and would never leave here. Even though, she couldn’t help being suspicious and eventually accusing him of a wandering eye and being unnecessarily flirtatious. She started checking up on him secretly. The moment he left home, her fears took over. She simply couldn’t keep her jealous demons in check till they came to blows.
Reaching the bottom of her emotional barrel, Monica was finally willing to deal with her real problem: lack of self-esteem. Much as she tried to please her father since early childhood, she could never get his approval. He always found something to criticize, someone who looked prettier, another child that was smarter. Thus, her disbelief in herself became the fabric of her soul – and her undoing. How could one be deserving of love, of being cared for, of being worthy when she couldn’t believe she was deserving? Jealousy was the manifestation of her lack of self-acceptance. Why would anybody want to stay with me? So she forced the break-ups to happen because she lived in constant terror of when it would occur.
Finding fault with a partner to obfuscate one’s own destructive feelings is never the answer. Coming to terms with one’s demons of the past can turn a haunted existence into a happy life. The healing starts when we feel love and acceptance for ourselves.