What Jealousy Taught Me About Authenticity

Photo by Cristian Escobar on Unsplash

In my recent experience, I was feeling a high school level case of “why are you flirting with the people I like” jealousy.

The facts: I’m polyamorous and a relationship anarchist, I don’t have a claim on any person, and everyone around me is free to have whatever relationships they like.

So what was I jealous of?

Explore the fear

I talk to myself a lot. I write out my thoughts or speak to myself in a voice recording app so I can go back and read or listen when I’m not as amped up about the issue at hand.

A few days ago, I asked myself what was bothering me so much about this situation. I went from fine with this person to jealous about their behavior, so what happened? I had to talk it out to find the pearl of truth buried within.

I realized that I felt like I had to perform at their level of magnetism and flirtatiousness to keep people’s attention.

I was worried that if I wasn’t as bold and bright as this person, if I didn’t command a room the way they did, if I wasn’t as blatant about my interest in someone… that no one would notice me, and that the people who were in my life would lose interest when they compared the two of us and found me the lesser choice.

That realization scared me, but it also set me free.

I don’t have to be anyone else to be loved.

Give fear the space to tell you the truth

Realizing the root of my jealousy set me free because I also realized that I don’t want to be in relationships where I feel like I have to keep up a level of performance. That’s not me.

I’m charming and I make people laugh and I’m beautiful and I’m an extremely deep person who can talk about my experiences and my growth through trauma. I let people know the real me, and I don’t have to be anyone else to be loved.

The further I get from leaving my abusive marriage, the more I discover myself and take up all of my space without apology. But I fell right back into the idea that I had to be what other people wanted instead of being who I am.

Having to behave properly and play my part in order to receive love was my reality for thirty years — it’s not going to go away overnight, but I do need to find it when it happens and work through it in order to come out the other side.

I am always a little bit afraid that I am the easiest loss to cut.

I am perfectly me. And the people who love me are people who love me — the real me, the me who isn’t acting like anyone else.

I’m really awkward, deeply loving, very sweet, bitingly sarcastic, always looking for a place to make a joke, and always just a little bit scared that people will stop loving me if I mess something up, or I’m too needy, or I talk to them when they’re having a bad day.

I am always a little bit afraid that I am the easiest loss to cut, that I am an inconvenience, that I am boring if I am not bright and shiny.

That’s not true at all.

The friendships I am developing at this time in my life are the most authentic, loving, open, and honest relationships I have ever had. I am safe here. But I also need to allow my fear to be safe, to push to the edges of trauma’s expectations, and to have the opportunity to learn that love and trust aren’t always dangerous.

Why would anyone feel like they had to choose one friend? Why would I feel like that choice was inevitably going to leave me abandoned?

Is being chosen better than being real?

No. Not anymore. Not ever again.

Prone to sudden bursts of encouragement. They/them. Queer, autistic author of bit.ly/GaslightingMillennials

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