The largest stumbling block for me in the polyamory minefield was jealousy. I had learned long ago that situations that make you take a long hard look at yourself are not to be avoided but rather viewed as a gift. They are the vehicles for transformation if one wants to be free. Initially, my way of dealing with my jealousy was to enter into a relationship as a secondary partner, that is with someone who already had a live-in partner or significant other. Surprisingly, it kept the emotions under control because I felt in control, but I also realized I wasn’t giving it my all. These were very half-hearted attempts at intimate relating. When I did get into a primary relationship with a polyamorous man, every time he started to interact with another woman, everything went to hell in a handbasket! The emotions were so strong and I felt so weak in its throes, that I felt completely powerless and out-of-control. A very horrible feeling of falling into a dark hole took over my being.
I turned to the words of Osho, my life teacher, for some insight:
People think they know what love is – they do not know. And their misunderstanding about love creates jealousy. By love people mean a certain kind of monopoly, some possessiveness – without understanding a simple fact of life: that the moment you possess a living being you have killed him.
Life cannot be possessed. You cannot have it in your fist. If you want to have it, you have to keep your hands open.
But the thing has been going on a wrong path for centuries; it has become ingrained in us so much that we cannot separate love from jealousy. They have become almost one energy.
For example, you feel jealous if your lover goes to another woman. You are disturbed by it now, but I would like to tell you that if you don’t feel jealous you will be in much more trouble – then you will think you don’t love him, because if you loved him you should have felt jealous. Jealousy and love have become so mixed up.
In fact, they are poles apart. A mind that can be jealous cannot be loving, and vice-versa: a mind that is loving cannot be jealous.
Osho, Sermons in Stone, Talk #13
The concept of polyamory was so very appealing to me because living my life in freedom was my priority. In my experience of going to support groups, I now realize that I was trying to work out the dichotomy between the concept of polyamory that so fit with my values and the reality that caused such an upheaval of frightening emotions. For years I struggled with this, wavering on the fence with monogamy on one side and polyamory on the other.
In a poly support group it was suggested to me to see my jealousy as insecurities. It did seem to turn things around. In jealousy, I was looking toward the other woman as a threat. She was obviously prettier, sexier, more intelligent, more interesting….on and on, and my partner was going to leave me for her and other thoughts that the mind conjures up. With “insecurity”, it brought my attention back to myself. These were the old bugaboos that reside inside of me… that I’m not pretty enough, not sexy enough, etc. etc. A huge difference, because then I knew where to look, inside myself. Taking responsibility for one’s thoughts and feelings is the first huge step in changing oneself. It was actually such a relief, because if I created the thoughts that created the feelings, then I could also let those same thoughts go, dissolve.
- First step was deciding what was my intention in all of this… my intention was to create more peace and love for myself, my partner and those we interacted with.
- Second step was recognizing the thoughts and feelings that were arising that weren’t in alignment with my intention and be willing to deal with them through catharsis, meditation, humor, exaggeration and any other method that worked for me.
- Third step was seeing the changes in thoughts and feelings that take place
- Fourth step was enjoying my own space, my own life
Just to give an example, I remember feeling like a miserable victim one time when my partner was out with another love interest. I decided to exaggerate my feelings by walking around with my head hanging very low, my face in a scowl. I used a full-length mirror so I could both be actor and audience. I encouraged myself to get more and more into this role until I just had to start laughing at myself. When we can laugh at ourselves, it’s a very good sign that change is happening.