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Unappreciated Jealousy

August 11, 2014

So I got jealous this week.

351602For our annual family and friend river trip we went to Desolation Canyon, spending 6 days rafting and drinking with a group of people I dearly love. But when I should have been relaxing and enjoying the phone-free natural beauty of the canyon, instead I found myself feeling what can only be described as pure, unreasonable jealousy. And as much as I tried to fight it, I physically couldn’t shake the green monster. And what scared me the most was the realization that I couldn’t control my thoughts as much as I thought I could.

The person my jealousy was directed at was a friend of ours (for this post I’ll call her Maddy) and while she isn’t a regular member of the group, she has been on these trips a time or two before. I don’t know her quite as well as the others but I’ve never felt anything but love for her in the past. So when I started feeling competitive with her it seemed so shockingly out of place, it didn’t make any sense.

But the thing is it did make sense, it made perfect sense, because you see there is this guy. Well, sort of. Remember a while back when I wrote a post about falling for my friend’s brothers? Well, not the main guy in the post but the other one (the one who out of nowhere became 20 something and tall a few years ago) has become even more of a confusing mess since we bonded a few river trips ago. I’ve been working with him this summer and let’s just say things have gone from a little teasing to a full on flirt fest.

He’s only 22 (I’m almost 26) and there are so many qualities in him that make me confident we wouldn’t actually work long term, but the simple fact is that I’m attracted to him and we get along really well. And when he flirts back, it’s hard to resist. So when I found out he was coming with on our camping trip, I let my hopes get up, thinking that maybe this could be a week where we’d… connect (or something).

The first few days of the trip I was happy and carefree, talking with everyone and enjoying the river that I’d missed. We played cards (I won) and jumped off rocks, ate great food and slept under the stars. He and I found moments together and teased like I wanted; we were even pretty touchy, trying to dunk each other in river wrestling matches and bumping into each other in passing. He gave me a shoulder rub one night and buried me with sand by the light of the full moon. It was exactly what I’d hoped for.

But as the days went on Maddy became more confident and talkative, and suddenly moments that he used to spend standing next to me I’d look up and see him next to her. It was never anything more than a few laughs and an elbow, and he still found time to give me attention too, but they had something and… I was jealous.

9780870294082She’s a few years older than me and is halfway through completing her dental degree in Portland, so I know that she wasn’t looking for anything more from him than I was, but that was the problem, suddenly she and I were direct competitors for his attention. And I hated it. Hated it because I knew it was unhealthy. Hated it because I really like her and we get along well. Hated it because losing sucks. There was nothing to win here, no relationship or confession of love, this was only a war of insignificant battles that sort of proved who was the most fun person to be around. I’d look at her and ask myself if she was prettier than me, if her tiny frame was more desirable than my larger one, if she was more clever than I was. I questioned my personality, my decisions, my motives. Which one of us was better in this moment? The more I wanted to win the more angry and grumpy and emotional I got, when he’s come to tease me about something I’d be pissed and shut him down, or not flirt back because it took effort to smile at him. Suddenly I couldn’t meet his eyes anymore and seeking her out for a conversation was out of the question. Understandably the more moody I got the less he sought me out and I only felt worse.

I was hard core PMSing and my mother and I weren’t getting along great, so I have some sort of minor excuse for not being able to keep my jealousy in check those last few days, but as much as I avoided them and distracted myself with the other people on the trip, I was hurting. And it sucked because I didn’t want to be. I wanted to just be able to smile and take the good and forget him until another good moment came. Why couldn’t I just be casual? Why couldn’t I just be happy that he liked me best most of the time?

I didn’t give up completely, running my fingers through his hair a couple times and clinging to him for my life as I almost drowned in a water gun fight. I rested my knee against his while playing cards a few nights and while I couldn’t smile at him like I used to, the tension was still there, just less carefree. When we said goodbye I couldn’t bring myself to hug him even though I hugged everyone else. I made up some excuse that I’d see him again before he went back to Chicago for his last year of college, though he and I both knew that was unlikely.

Our saga feels unfinished, and since our families are close and his sisters are my closest friends in Utah, I don’t suppose we’ll ever really be done. But I want to be. Nothing good can come of us, and when I think about it all I really want from him is a second of proof that this wasn’t all in my mind. I know it wasn’t, but I’d like to be able to look at this with him and laugh at that one summer where we flirted. I want to be able to talk to him about it later, and roll my eyes about how little we knew about what was good for us. I know I’ll find someone better, but if jealousy does anything good it does show I care. Maybe it’s time to be a little bit more careful about who I flirt with.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2014 10:54 pm

    That envious feeling sucks, but it also shows that you care, right? For me, when that happens, I always feel like I’ve reverted to petty 15-year-old me. But maybe we never quite escape the tendency to compare and be jealous…

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