Sunday, March 28, 2010

What Jealousy Offers

In my therapist’s office I read a back issue of Psychology Today from August 2009.

Here was the fascinating tidbit I learned about jealousy:

French Psychiatrist, Marcianne Blevis,—(It really helps that she is French I think) wrote a book called, “Jealousy—True Stories of Love’s Favorite Decoy”. She insists that jealousy is a signal—not to blame a partner—but to look within. Inside ourselves, she says, we will find the source of insecurity that makes a rival seem superior to us. What’s at stake in jealousy—she suggests—is not the partner or the relationship—but the survival of our sense of self.

What is exciting about this idea is that it follows another of Blevis’ assertions: All human emotions exist to help us figure out who we are in the world. So jealousy too is a productive emotion for us. This very thing we cringe to feel or are shameful to admit is trying to help us claim a self. Jealousy is a resource that we call on when we feel at risk, when our sense of self is in jeopardy. “When we are jealous we are in the grip of an identity crisis.”

But invariably, according to Blevis, we misdirect our attention. We imagine our so-called rival with an aura of magical attributes—yet we are the one who assigned those attributes to the rival!—and they represent (hello projection!) something unrealized in ourselves.

I love thinking like this and ideas like this that turn it all upside down.

Think about the kind of people who trigger jealousy for you. Pretty? Young? Sexy? Smart? Successful? Children? Travel?

They are shouting thru a megaphone—This is what I want! They are invitations to take a step toward something that YOU want.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Time Travel--What is Meant to Be

I am reading “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. The movie was so-so but the book is intriguing and delicious. It is one of those books that would never have survived an MFA program workshop..I can just hear the whining—Time Travel!!

But yes and it works. It works in plot and in metaphor and in spiritual challenge. It raises the questions of why we are where we are in our lives and why some relationships make sense even when they make no sense at all.

This week I read several articles that say that relationships like mine with John, “never work” but this one seems too. And we were both in marriages that were “perfect” but then in what way were they not?

“Were you looking for me?” I asked John yesterday. And he said yes, “all of my life”. “I was so afraid I’d die and never have loved like this.”

Those are the kind of words that you do read in romance novels. WE have them here and we have all the other kinds of words too including, “screw you” and “No friggin’ way”. But I keep praying and trusting—and sometimes not trusting.

Will we someday know why this happened in our lives? Will we get a note or a nod from the future and have peace with the cost of being together? I don’t know but I like to think this was meant to be.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Married Illness

Here is a new and wonderful book about making a good—or decent marriage—while facing chronic illness. Called: “A Husband, A Wife & an Illness: Life Beyond Chronic Illness” written by Dr. William July and his wife, Jamey Lacy July.

They had just begun their marriage—his first and her second when a terrible auto-immune illness began to torture her. A former personal trainer and super athlete she was reduced to chronic pain, a life of medical appointments and treatments and a changed body and appearance. The blows were to her and to them. They went bankrupt, lost their dream home (her big income was gone overnight) and their lives were changed in every way. But, they write, they found a way to make a marriage in this long painful illness. It helped that Dr. July was and is a marriage and relationship counselor. But even knowing doesn’t always mean doing.

Powerful lessons from his mistakes and their almost mistakes: the well-spouse has to keep living; has to have a life apart; has to have a self. Not easy to do is it caregivers?

For many of us cancer too is a now a chronic illness. Our minds if not our lives are focused on what’s next, fear, and planning.

Here is a book that is simple, practical and very forthright about how a marriage can survive and sort of thrive in the face of all that.

For more practical wisdom go to theri website:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Letters from the Land of Cancer

A new book adds perspective to the thing I have often challenged: the idea that cancer is a war. Obituaries say, “After a valiant battle with cancer”, “He/she lost a heroic fight with cancer.”

In his last book, “Letters from the Land of Cancer”, Walter Wangerin writes that it is not cancer we fight but mortality. And in that we all are engaged no matter the disease or even those who are blessed with the gift f long life. We die, we die, we will die. Sooner, later, easier or hard. We will die.

What he adds to this discussion—even as he writes during his experience with terminal lymphoma—is that if our battle is really with mortality then—for those of us who have faith—we are engaged in battle with God.

Dare the obituaries say, “After years of fighting God on mortality she finally surrendered.” Or how about this: “After a lengthy battle with God—in the land of cancer—God won.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ask the Right Questions

1. Is this an act of faith or an act of fear?

2. Is this an act of self-love or an act of self-sabotage?

3. Will this choice add to my life energy or rob me of my energy?

4. Does this choice empower me or disempower me?

5. Am I choosing from my divinity or my humanity?

6. Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment or bring me short term gratification?

7. Am I standing in my power or trying to please someone?

from The Right Questions, by Debbie Ford

Monday, March 1, 2010

All of It

A friend of mine told me what a wise friend of hers told her when she was contemplating marriage to the man she had been living with.

The friend told her to get very quiet and “make a list of all the things that upset you, annoy you and that you don’t like about him”. Then very carefully look at that list and ask yourself: “Can you accept each item on that list?”

If you can, then you can marry him because those things will not change.