Relationships: Keep Crazy in a Bottle

I was having a conversation today with a friend about jealousy, which brought me back to 1994, the last time I remember being insanely jealous in a relationship. I was dating a wild Irishman who was an outlandish but convincing liar. Like the time he told me he didn’t come home because it was raining so hard and the windshield wipers didn’t work in his van, so he had to pull to the side of the road and sleep there. All night. There was a Teutonic construction worker in the wings named Monica, and their hushed conversations at parties + his prolonged absences + his short temper with me + rumors about them being together + plus the FEELING that I had about them I knew equaled an affair.

But over and over again he swore that there was nothing going on. Eventually, I took my own lover as a way to soothe the wounds, but not before putting my fist through a window and screaming at him, naked and freezing after I’d gotten out of the shower. At a friend’s house. That was low.

Mind you, I am a completely different person now. This was in the Dark Days of Drinking in a small Northwestern town.

After that, I vowed that I would never again allow myself to arrive at a position of jealousy. If I ever felt that again, justified or not, it was not the right relationship for me.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t felt jealous, or left out, or crazed from non-communication, or a number of other negative emotions since then. But I gained a valuable tool (vicariously from advice a friend’s shrink gave her). “Keep crazy in a bottle,” the therapist said, when my friend became unglued for whatever offense. You can ramble to your girlfriends or parents or therapist about it, but when confronting the boyfriend, keep it cool. You’ll get further and you’ll be more productive. You might be wrong. There might be missing information. Regardless, you’re in the position of power when you are still.

I’d like to take that shrink’s advice one step further. Put crazy in the bottle. And then when you are ready, throw the bottle in the ocean and sail on to calmer shores. You will never need it again.

Vanessa McGradyRelationships: Keep Crazy in a Bottle

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