Friday, May 29, 2009

the sin that keeps on giving ...

I'm in love.

No, really. Some of you may know this already, some may not, but it's true: I'm in love, and it feels fabulous.

I'm also going through a divorce right now, so there's that.

Regardless of what you might think of the wisdom of my relationship chronology, I'm not going to talk about that. At least, not yet--there are still a lot of days left in the blogging challenge! Instead, I want to talk a little bit about that thing that goes hand in hand with love: jealousy.

I used to be a jealous person. Just ask my ex. One time while he was on a business trip I deleted all his speed dials and erased every woman's number in his phone book (this was before cell phones). Of course he had to tell his mother why he was asking for his grandmother's number ... I guess it's a good thing he remembered his mother's phone number, or he might never have spoken to his female kin again.

In the past couple of years, though, my ability to redirect my energy from jealousy into constructive conversation has been tested and honed. I won't get into all the reasons for this, but suffice it to say that the most important thing I've learned is that jealousy is instructive. It's never about the other person, but rather about you--what you need to feel safe, and what your insecurities are. The only way to get past these things is to talk about them with your partner, in a non-confrontational way, for example like this:

"I've been feeling jealous of your friendship with Svetlana. I know I'm 5'8", but I've always wanted to be taller, and so when I saw her recent spread in W and then thought about her lithe 6'1" tall body, I felt jealousy taking over. It doesn't help exactly that in addition to modeling, she holds a Classics Ph.D. from Harvard, but I recognize that my feelings about her intelligence are only a reflection of my own frustration with my graduate school experience. I hope we can talk about this, though, so that you can help me feel better about your friendship with her, and help me move past these insecurities that are bothering me right now. I'd feel much better if you occasionally invited me along when you go for drinks with her. What do you think?"

At which point the beloved, if he or she is wise, has a long and involved conversation with you that ends with both people feeling loved and valued, preferably leading to the hot steamy sex.

And now, just to put myself out there, here are my triggers:

1. Youth. I'm dating a younger man, and no matter how ridiculous it sounds to both of us when I say it out loud, I can't help but shiver at the thought of smooth skin, high perky breasts, an unlined forehead, a still-tiny little uterus, and a maddening lack of grey hairs.
2. Educational pedigrees. I've spent the past nine years on a doctorate in English literature that I still don't have, and I'm completely stalled on my dissertation. I keep hoping that will change soon ... perhaps blogging will get me back writing? At any rate, I find myself loathing anyone who has completed a Ph.D., particularly if it's in English, and most particularly if it's at Penn or some other fancy-shmancy school. Sorry to be a hater, all y'all. I know you're my sistahs, really, but just shut up about turning the diss into a book when I'm within earshot, hear me? I mean, I can only soothe myself with snarky comments about your footwear for so long.
3. The creatively employed. I don't give a rat's ass if you're the lead in the Arden's latest or running the box office for some one-shot company no one's ever heard of. If you have a job with a creative employer, and that's your JOB that pays you MONEY with which you pay your RENT, you may be my friend but I still hate you, just a teeny bit.

Now, why I would waste a moment of time worrying my guy would drop me for a 26-year-old Ph.D.- (or MFA!)-holding lighting designer is beyond me. If he reads this he'll laugh out loud. The beautiful thing about it is, having written it, I'll be laughing with him.

After all, if he's fallen head over heels for a still-married, overeducated and under-degreed, essentially unemployed 36-year-old mother of a five-year-old, then what the hell would he want with someone else? I mean, he's got me.

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