When I was newly divorced and visiting my hometown in Oklahoma from Los Angeles, I ended up going on a date with a man who was a childhood friend. It was a complete surprise to me that we had sexual chemistry after all of these years.
In fact, our sexual chemistry was the most intense I'd ever felt. And in retrospect, I can say that our quick decision to embark upon a long-distance relationship was not one guided by logic. Well, at least not for me.
I loved him, but within six months of our long-distance relationship, I started to see, and feel, that things that weren't quite in alignment between us. We had little in common, with the exception of childhood memories. I was spiritual. He was an atheist. I was interested in self-reflection, the notion of personal growth and the importance of change. He wasn’t. We expressed ourselves very differently so communication lacked (except in the bedroom).
One weekend when visiting him, I found myself getting suddenly upset about the cleanliness of his home, his diet and how much time he spent on Facebook. I became acutely worried about our lifestyle differences, and felt a pang of doubt about the relationship.
After retuning to LA, I told him I needed a few days to think. I didn’t know it but during those few days, he began wooing his ex-girlfriend. Within a month, we broke up. And within a day after our breakup, they were back in a relationship. He emailed me that day to confess.
That’s when my obsession started.
Rather than accept the situation for what it was, I simply became fixated on her. I "stalked" her Instagram, and even messaged her on Facebook to find out the truth of their infidelities. I knew the relationship wasn't for me; in fact, I was the one who was feeling doubt about it on a conscious level.
Yet still I couldn’t sleep at night imaging them sleeping together. I continued to text him trying to get answers, secretly wanting to hear he loved me more — it felt like some kind of crazy game to conquer.
Based on her pictures alone, and the power of my imagination, I envisioned her as someone who was more accepting, easier going, simpler and more fun than I was. What I came to realize was that I was actually just judging myself as not having these qualities. I was using my ex-boyfriend's girlfriend as a vessel into which I was displacing my insecurities, rather than dealing with them.
My intense jealousy ultimately illuminated what I wished to cultivate in myself, as well as the feelings I really wanted to embody in my next relationship. When I began focusing less on her and more on developing these qualities with self-compassion and clarity, I didn’t crave his love or attention anymore. I genuinely validated myself, and that was what was really needed to reclaim my power.
My intuition did initially guide me to take a step back from the relationship. But rather than hear the message I was being given — that something (or someone) wasn’t for my highest good — I paid more attention to the fact that I “lost him to another woman” and less to the fact that I was “losing me.”
Interestingly, what made me feel the most insecure during this experience was not his trustworthiness (or lack thereof), but rather my inability to trust my own instincts.
My obsession was an unconscious attempt to soothe anxiety and gain control. Focusing on someone “outside of me” was a desire to fill a perceived sense of emptiness. And mainly, I feared loneliness.
So my jealousy gave me something to do, something to distract me, so I didn't have to be with myself. I wanted to escape having to feel the uncomfortable feelings of the breakup. And to be honest, I wanted to continue escaping from dealing with the pain from my divorce.
In the end, none of my emotions had to do with her, or him. What it boiled down to was how willing and able I was to put my full attention on my own self-fulfillment and carry a lighter hand — a hand that needed to stop grasping, open, and place itself on my own heart instead.