Irish Daily Mail

MADNESS MADE ME COME OUT IN A RASH

- By Candida Crewe

THERE are two extreme human emotions, to my mind: bereavemen­t and jealousy. Both constitute the worst feelings in the world — but I will stick my neck out and claim jealousy as the worse of these two.

Bereavemen­t is an ongoing ache that ebbs and flows and can last a lifetime. But jealousy is like possession. Something moves into your body and takes over, so you don’t recognise yourself. It consumes you at a cellular level, eats up every minute of your day. It is a terrifying madness.

When I discovered my ex-partner was being unfaithful to me, it felt like an inward explosion, as if an alien had burst into my body.

And the torment of my mind, so overtaken by distress, anger and hurt, gave rise to a horrifying physical reaction. I developed a livid rash from the top of my head to my toes, and my face swelled up so I looked like a creature in a Victorian freak show.

This, I thought, is what jealousy looks like, right there in the mirror.

I was rushed to A&E and given an urgent dose of steroids. The doctors there spoke of some sinister viral infection but it was just too much of a coincidenc­e.

I knew the real cause. It was that malign gatecrashe­r, the cliche of the green-eyed monster.

I know the shrapnel wounds inflicted by betrayal can heal relatively quickly compared with the ongoing ache felt when someone dies. But betrayal works on a person differentl­y from loss.

Loss leaves a vacuum; infidelity gives rise to an overwhelmi­ng feeling of hatred and the desire for revenge. It is these, not the traitor and their new lover, that a woman — or indeed man — must fight.

Jealousy demands action at any cost, but control and restraint are crucial. For vengeful acts give shortterm, superficia­l satisfacti­on only. The one who suffers in the end? The avenger, because revenge is grubby and nearly always ineffectua­l.

Silence and dignity were the route I chose through the madness which, kept closely under wraps, always fades away eventually.

Of course, the lasting legacy, once the alien has been seen off, is learning to trust again — either the unfaithful partner or someone new.

This is, arguably, even harder to achieve. But if you pull it off, it can liberate you to love again. And that, surely, is the ultimate triumph over the monstrous green demon.

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