You have seen the intensity of my emotions when I become infatuated with someone. I should also note that I get ragingly jealous, but not in the way you think. Unlike most people, I don't get jealous when the object of my affections already has a girlfriend. To me, that makes no sense. Unless the person is polyamorous (or having a secret affair), only one person can be the significant other. It is not something that singles me out. It is something where only one person gets put on a pedestal, and it is a statement about the person, not me. If it were a statement about me, it would be a statement about everybody else who didn't get to be that person's girlfriend/boyfriend. What's frustrating is people don't believe me when I tell them this. They think I'm not being honest with myself. I think if anything my blog posts show just how honest I am with myself.
So how do I experience jealousy when I become infatuated with someone? It's simple. I'm jealous of everyone else who gets to be friends with that person. I, after all, have been singled out as someone not worthy of that person's friendship. And then I become ragingly jealous, to the point where it haunts me in dreams. For example, after Sergio, of my last blog post, stopped talking to me despite reaccepting my friend request a few months after the initial blowup, it was already firmly planted in my head (mostly due to my mother's comments) that I was too "immature" to have friends who were a few years older than me.
Sergio is a phenomenally talented professional artist: he's a painter, a filmmaker, a musician, and an actor. He even appeared in an opera. There was a photo of him on Facebook performing in the opera, and he and a few friends were commenting on it. I thought to myself, "Opera is sophisticated. I'm not interested in opera. That makes me immature. My parents are, of course, interested in opera because that's what intelligent people have to be interested in." Never mind that around that time I had started reading books about evolutionary biology by Richard Dawkins and others. Oh, no. Not being into opera makes me "immature" and "uncultured". But yes, my mind latched onto that as a possibility of one reason why I did not have Sergio's permission to be his friend. And my mind did not let that go. It doesn't help that I have incredibly vivid dreams, complete with sharp images and convincing sensory input.
One night I had a dream that I walked into a room and saw my mother effortlessly talking up a storm with Sergio. She was allowed to talk to him and be his friend. I stormed up to her, jabbed my index finger at her chest, and said, "Why the hell do you get to be friends with him?" This dream was a perfect symbol of my jealousy and my anger of what was expected of me. My mother-- who was co-captain of the cheerleading squad in high school; who has always had a very feminine hairstyle, has always worn big hoop earrings and makeup, not because she feels she has something to prove but because these are fashion decisions that reflect her personality; whom everyone loves within nanoseconds of meeting her; who loves hanging around with large groups of people-- was allowed to be friends with Sergio. After all, she was in great contrast to me, the high school track runner who always came in last; the tomboy who hates makeup, rarely wears earrings (and never big hoops), and who felt relieved when she got her first androgynous haircut at age 20; and who does not enjoy spending time in large social groups. No, my mother was the standard of normal and socially acceptable, and I would never meet that standard. And unless I could, I would not be allowed to be friends with people a few years older than me, or even have the privilege of talking to them on an equal basis. No, once neurotypical people reach adulthood, having friends of varying ages is not an issue. And they take this for granted. It seemed that I, on the other hand, was expected to say to myself, "Well, I have Asperger's, so I'm immature, so of course I am not allowed to have older friends. Why would they want anything to do with me? Hey, no problem."
Likewise, when I have had crushes on other people, I have felt a similar jealousy. In college, when my teacher, Doug, lied to keep me out of his class, I was jealous of everyone else who got to be in the class. Not being pushed out of a class is something that neurotypical people take for granted. Oh, and there was the time when I got him an Onion anthology to give to him on the last day of class the first semester that I had him. His response when I tried to give it to him? "I don't want it." However, the following year one of my classmates gave him a Christmas present and he thanked her profusely. She was "normal", so she was allowed to give it to him. I'm sure anybody else who wanted to give Doug an end-of-semester present would have been allowed to. After all, everybody else was allowed to be buddy-buddy with him. There was one particular girl who had this privilege (and no, she wasn't a "hot babe"-- she was severely overweight). She, like my mother, is "sweet", "charming" and "charismatic", things that I'm not. One day, because I was just in such a horrible state of mind over all this, I went up to her and said accusingly and with no small amount of sarcasm, "It must be so nice to be Doug's favorite."
Then at the camp in Michigan there was Joe who went to Gary, Indiana with a friend after promising to go to Chicago with me. I saw him hanging around groups of people but refusing to associate with me and acting like I was beneath him in front of all of his neurotypical friends (all the while assuring me, when we were alone, that he really liked talking to me). I was jealous of all those friends of his who, once again, took for granted things that I was expected to earn.
I should also note that I don't feel jealousy only when I am infatuated with someone. I have felt jealousy for other reasons. Once, someone who I went to camp with got a book published. It was about "women's issues"-- marriage problems, childbirth, shame of infertility-- and it got rave reviews. I felt a pang of jealousy, that such issues that have been done to death in the past were in a book getting rave reviews. I denied to myself that I was jealous but my unconscious knew better. How? Well, one of my vivid dreams, of course. I had a dream that the author of the book was being interviewed and was getting a princess-Diana style greeting. You've seen the footage of the incessant camera flashes that went off when reporters took Princess Diana's picture. It looked like a strobe that would be dangerous to someone with epilepsy. In the dream that's what was happening to the author of this book. In the dream I also went to my mother about it, and she said dismissively, "Well, this is the kind of thing that women like to read." I want to be a writer, and I would never write something like this.
Ultimately, I bought and read the book to support the author. Ironically, the book was actually therapeutic-- it was about raging jealousy. I was up all night reading it. But the point still remains. I felt like who I was was "wrong" and I would never be who I was expected to be.
This post has been very cathartic. The issue with Sergio came up last week with my mother (long story as to why) for the first time since it had happened seven years ago. To my surprise, Mom said she had thought about it several times over the years and that she thought Sergio's shunning me was horrible and insensitive. Then she asked me why I didn't mention it if it still bothered me. I said, "Because whenever I tried to bring it up with you, you just shut me down and told me to get over it." She apologized profusely. She also admitted that she was wrong. She told me she was ashamed of how she reacted and admitted that her reaction was humiliating to me and made things exponentially worse. She also admitted that Dad saw with greater clarity what was actually going on. Most importantly, she admitted this:
"I was blind."