Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Jealous of my younger self

"Mara was jealous of you," said JV, referring to his ex-wife.

"Why?" I asked.

"She claimed that when I talked about you, I had a special look or tone of voice that wasn't there when I talked about anyone else," he said. "Including her. She used to say things like, 'Well, of course I'm not Ayelet, your first love.' She was jealous of my memories of you."

I found myself feeling jealous of my younger self. JV talks about his first love as though she and I were different people. In a sense, I suppose we are.

"Back then, it was school and you," he told me. "Now I have other responsibilities and concerns. I don't know if I can feel a love like that again. I feel lucky to have had it."

You would think that would incline him to feel a little grateful toward the current Ayelet, especially since I'm being nice to him this time around. Actually, he probably is. I shouldn't blame him for being cautious. He fell in love with me once, and I broke his heart. He fell in love with Mara, and she tried to destroy him. Right now, he's understandably wary. But I feel sad thinking that he'll never love me that much again.

However, I certainly won't make him fall in love with me by complaining, as Mara used to, that he doesn't love me enough. I have to earn it somehow. It's frustrating because I did absolutely nothing to earn his most passionate and devoted love before. It was mine for the taking, and I threw it away.

Maybe I should use my soothing therapist voice more often with JV. Seems to work very well on wary clients.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. Is Mara actually her name, or is that a pseudonym because she's such a bitter person?

    Yes... definitely use the soothing voice... lol. Notice how you're using voice in this post. Tone of voice is important. Just as Mara noticed a special tone of voice when he spoke about you, and just as you notice a different tone of voice when you're talking to someone who needs your help... there's a special softer, more intimate voice that you use with the one you love.

    I remember when I was first talking to the man I eventually fell in love with. My nieces came over to me while I was on the phone with him, and I briefly spoke to them. He said "I want you to use that voice with me someday." And when I had fallen in love with him... I did. It wasn't a "baby" voice, just softer, more loving.

    Yes, JV was more open and free with his heart when he was younger. But so were you. We don't realize how much we build up our defenses over the years of hurt and loneliness. Let your real self peek out a little bit more. If you want to feel more love from him, show him in all those "corny" little ways how much you care for him too. I don't mean cheesy poems or flowers (although those aren't necessarily bad). I just mean... things like tone of voice... offering to help with little things. Which I know you already do (such as helping with his haircut) and I know he already does for you (such as helping you with little things around your house). Be more open, softer, more affectionate. It's okay to be.

    Even if things don't work out between you two (and there is no way at this point to know whether or not they will or won't), you'll have blossomed and achieved as a human being. Let yourself love him. He'll love you back if you let him.

    Your friend,

  2. "Mara" is a pseudonym. When I started the blog I gave people meaningful nicknames in Hebrew (for example, "Jerusha" means "inheritance" and "married"). I've gotten a little lazier as the list of supporting characters grew. But "Mara" was kind of a no-brainer.

    Thanks for a beautiful comment, and good advice, as always.

  3. I agree with S.! : )

    You are doing too much thinking about the relationship rather than living it, in my opinion. We never know in advance what turn relationships will take so the trick is to close your eyes, let down your defenses and leap!!!

    And no regrets re rejecting JV in college. You both were different people then, right? Maybe it would not have worked at that stage in your lives. I always say to my husband that I wish I'd met him earlier and he says he might not have been ready to get married then.

    So live in the present, and don't dwell on the past.

  4. Trenches and S are 100% correct. I've felt, looking back, that I fell 'too deeply' in love with one person and thus couldn't 'fully love' the next person, but it's really not comparable and not productive. When I was with the next person, and I felt that I was in love with her, it felt good and right. Forget about relative depth and intensity. Just enjoy.

  5. Earn his love? I'm sorry, but once you've both hit your 30's, those kinds of games should have ended already. Love is not a currency to be earned. When two adult people have strong feelings for each other, they decide to build and work on a relationship together. I'm not sure where the earning love comes in.

    I'm sorry to tell you this, but being in a relationship really shouldn't be this hard. As I've said previously, I've been involved with these types of men (ie: men with lots of baggage/ men with "first loves" they could never let go of) and it never ever worked.

    I knew my husband was the one for me when it clicked quickly and simply, when there was no analysis, or issues about whether he did or didn't love me or whether he needed space/time/more thinking to decide how exactly he loved me. I'm not saying this to brag or make you feel bad. More to show by example that a good and healthy relationship doesn't require this much analysis.

    It sounds like you're both trying to relive a past that doesn't exist anymore. You see him as a last lifeboat in a sea of solitude and he sees you as his chance to return to his safe "first love".

    Is your therapist addressing these issues? These seem like very basic healthy relationship ground rules that any therapist worth his/her salt would get down pretty quickly.

  6. Sympathetic Sam12/01/2009 3:34 PM

    Reason number #26 why this relationship isn't meant to be:

    You are trying to earn his love.

    I'm fascinated by how many excuses you come up with for JV's attitudes and behavior. It reminds me of the movie Anything Else. --"No really, she slept with another man therapeutically to help our problematic intimacy issues."

    What I'm wondering is how long will it be that you cut him slack on all this. Sure he got divorced. Sure you "broke his heart" before. Sure you weren't nice to him the last go around. But when will it be that all that doesn't matter anymore and you're at square one.

    Are you prepared to live the rest of your life making up for your previous relationship, and cutting him slack for his divorce and your previous time together?

  7. I would like to take issue with what Commenter Abbi said. It IS nice that her healthy relationship with her husband was easy and always is easy. Not every healthy relationship works that way and doesn’t take any work at all. In fact, MOST healthy relationships do take work.

    I am VERY happily married to a wonderful man whom I’ve been with for about a decade. We have, by far, the healthiest, happiest relationship I have ever seen, and this is not because I haven’t seen many. I am a person who is blessed to be in a family where even within the large extended family, only ONE person ever got a divorce. The others aren’t all staying in unhappy marriages either; they are truly happy in their marriages. Almost ALL of the people in my family and MANY of my friends have good, healthy relationships. Even having said that, my relationship with my husband is by far the healthiest. There is not a subject that we can’t talk openly, honestly, and with compassion about to each other, and we’ve had PLENTY of hard, painful discussions of EVERY kind on EVERY subject.

    Our relationship is so solid, and strong, and good precisely BECAUSE we walked through, and talked through, all of the horrible, painful, and stressful baggage and what-not that each of us had. When I met him, he had “first love” blues and had trouble letting go of that at first. After we had worked on things for about 1.5 years, he revealed to me that what he thought was love before was NOTHING compared to what we had now. He said that our love was so deep and pure that he realized the girl he pinned over in the beginning was “just long-term dating” not real love.

    I knew he was the one for me, when he showed me by his actions (not just his words) how much he was willing to change is attitudes and actions (based on his baggage) to work things out with me. I knew he was the one for me when he showed me that he was as willing to work on the hard things and that he was as devoted to the relationship as I was.

    There are many roads to an enduring, healthy, real love. Ayelet, you should try to relax and enjoy the moment more for your own good, but Commenter Abbi, Ayelet is analytical by nature (as am I). It is who she is. Her healthy relationship (regardless of whom it will be with) will undoubtedly involve at least a little analysis. And that is okay. It worked for me.

    Ayelet, as I said, you should definitely relax more, but always keep an eye on whether his actions and words are in unison. If they are not, his actions are more revealing about where he really is. You SHOULD cut both him and yourself slack, but it shouldn’t be slack that goes on forever. Best wishes to you. Enjoy the love YOU feel, don’t worry about the love he MIGHT feel, enjoy the moment, be willing to work on things in yourself to grow as a person and within the relationship, but make sure it is NOT one-sided work. If he shows you by his actions (in due time) that he is willing to do the hard work to change his attitude and actions (based on his baggage) for you, he might be the one for you.