Toxic Jealousy is complex and obsessional. Any obsession is consuming. When we are obsessed we cannot interact properly with others and we certainly cannot make any emotional connection with them. It stifles our creativity and our spirituality, kills our souls and fills us with paranoia and depressive thoughts. Obsessional thinking brings us into a world of negativity and distress. Morbid jealousy is a close relative of toxic jealousy and seems to be based upon other underlying pathological conditions such as paranoia or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (Borderline Personality Disorder). Irrespective of how we label it, the destructive power toxic jealousy wields over an individual can be overwhelming.
Jack came to me some years ago distraught at the breakdown of his marriage. He had been with his wife, Lynn, for eight years and they had two children. Initially Jack had been an attentive and loving boyfriend, whom she regarded as a soulmate. But, within a month of getting married she noticed a change in him. He became more and more possessive. Initially, she had been flattered and misunderstood his possessiveness and jealousy for love. When they went out at the week-end he continuously watched her and noted if she seemed to be admiring other men. After some years, however, she felt smothered and became alarmed when Jack grew more threatening, as she tried to preserve her independence within the relationship. Lynn was a faithful and loyal wife, but his toxic jealousy accompanied by anger destroyed her happiness and left him bereft. I felt saddened by his haunted face as he began his story.
“My wife, Lynn, left me a month ago and on no account will come back to me. I manage to see my children every week end, but my heart is broken. I miss the three of them so much and I can’t get a wink of sleep. I normally wake up at 3 or 4 o’clock and that’s it. I lie awake for hours waiting for the clock to go off. What’s killing me is that she begged me two years ago to go for counselling but I refused point blank. I know now that I did wrong but I could not bear the thought of her being with another man. Not indeed that I knew that she was seeing someone else. She told me I was being ridiculous. I could feel my anger rising when she came in from a night out and my imagination went into overdrive. The more I thought about it the more I fantasised about her being with another man and the madder I became, until one night I pushed her. I wanted to hit her hard, to hurt her, to make her feel my pain. Why should I suffer while she was gallivanting all over the country? I can even feel my anger coming on now when I think about it, even though I know she was only out with her friends, except that I know there was one fella in the group who fancied her, because she is a beautiful woman. I used demand to see her text messages and made sure I checked her Facebook. When she closed me out of her Facebook I became paranoid. I just was not able to trust her. Whenever we were in the pub I watched her to see who she was looking at and could feel my stomach turn. I could feel myself turning sour and worked myself up so that we always fought, when we got home. Eventually we stopped going out together and she moved into another room. The next day I always said I was sorry, but in the end she got fed up of it and took the children and went home to her mother. She is now living in another house that she rents.”
That is only a small part of Jack’s story and although he worked hard his relationship never rekindled. You can probably see echoes of Nancy’s story, told earlier. Toxic jealousy is the angry cutting edge of fear of abandonment. It is the essence of this fear. The relationship counsellor, Lynda Bevin, also concurs that fear of abandonment is a main source of jealousy. Altogether, she lists thirteen fears associated with it, such as fear of being betrayed, of losing face, of being criticised or rejected because of body image problems and feeling inadequate. Toxic jealousy is, therefore, complex and multifaceted. It is an irrational but profound feeling of anticipated loss that keeps the sufferer on a treadmill of hyper vigilance. Mired in suspicion, he is driven to endless questioning of his partner, checking her phone, phone bills, text messages, Facebook activity, bank statements, and speedometer, to name but a few. It is intrusive in every sense and torments both partners. Jealousy powered by the need to control extends into almost every aspect of a relationship, sometimes, as with Jack and Lynn, inflicting fatal damage to it.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE