I sit soberly reflecting, asking myself if I will look back in a few months, entangled in a much bigger mess than I had ever imagined, wondering how I got here. Or will I, next year, find myself reflecting on this very sober moment, realizing that it was precisely this moment – the point at which I knew I was in over my head but proceeded anyway? The garden overgrown with weeds.
The process is a bit like pruning neuroses we have driven ourselves to. I’ve just finished reading Doris Lessing‘s The Golden Notebook and am surprised by how much of the way a woman’s nature is described rings true. Not so much that every individual woman is as the main characters are, but there are universal threads we can all sew together or unravel at different times in our lives. Seedlings to plant and weeds to uproot. Still, it’s demeaning to the self in many ways to succumb to the pedestrian motivations of jealousy and possession. But in many ways, at many times, it is the trap we get caught in no matter how we insulate or guard against it. The book so well captures that twisted dichotomy: you could be the most accomplished, polished, intelligent, beautiful and sophisticated woman but still wither away in petty jealousy about something – or someone – so insignificant and so unworthy of your attention.
“Don’t you think it’s extraordinary that we are both people whose personalities, whatever that word may mean, are large enough to include all sorts of things, politics and literature and art, but now that we’re mad everything concentrates down to one small thing, that I don’t want you to go off and sleep with someone else, and that you must lie to me about it?” -from The Golden Notebook
I recognize this, but I don’t completely understand it intrinsically. I have seen this happen time and again in other people’s lives. It is not that I have never felt a hint of jealousy, but it has never been a pure and blinding jealousy that refused to view all the different angles of a situation and other people’s feelings within situations. I don’t understand the limitations of love – or even sex. That reductive impulse that demands ‘you will love (or fuck) only me’. It’s not that there’s anything at all wrong with wanting, having, expecting or engaging in monogamy. It’s the mania that motivates and demands it. Are we really wired this way? Is it not the sense of being cast aside, ignored, not loved any more that makes people jealous and hurt?
We are after all taught from earliest childhood to share. How and why are we so territorial then with our love, our feelings, our bodies and the pleasure we can give and receive?
It’s more complicated than that, of course.