Thursday, May 2, 2013

It's a loooooooong story

Giselle Renarde

That's what I told Aisling Weaver when she asked why my girlfriend and I haven't spoken in two weeks.

It's a long story I've spent the past two weeks trying not to tell anybody.  Not even my mom.  But, what the hell?  I'm an overshare-er, especially when it comes to relationship drama.  So here we go.

I'm not a traveller.  At all.  There's only one vacation I've ever wanted to take: a train trip across Canada.  That's it.  No tropical getaways or European holidays.  A train ride across the country.

Three weeks ago, Sweet told me she was going on a trip...

"That's nice, honey.  You've been working so hard lately.  You deserve a vacation."

A trip across Canada...

"Oh." train.

A trip across Canada by train.  Without me.  She's taking my dream vacation without me.

I don't think I've ever been so... jealous?

But, see, ever since I started reading Tristan Taormino's book "Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships" (which I told you about a few weeks ago), I've had trouble identifying any of my emotions as jealousy.  That's because:

Jealousy is really an umbrella term for a constellation of feelings including envy, competitiveness, insecurity, inadequacy, possessiveness, fear of abandonment, feeling unloved, and feeling left out. (Opening Up, pg 156)

I'm really angry about this situation.  I'm hurt.  A year ago, I would probably tell you I'm jealous, but I don't think I know what jealousy is anymore.  Part of that is because I'm more compassionate than I have been at any point in my life, and I constantly seem to be evaluating other people's predicaments.

But I also see the pieces of jealousy more clearly.  I feel envious--I've wanted to take that trip for as long as I can remember.  I feel insecure--why are you going with someone else?  I feel possessive--you should be taking that trip with me.  I fear abandonment--I don't even know where you are right now.  I feel unloved and left out most especially--why not me?

Maybe breaking jealousy into components just gives me more to cry about.  But maybe it allows me to better articulate the pain I'm feeling.

Sweet didn't bother making excuses.  I told her I felt like she was taking something of mine and giving it to someone else.  She understood.  But I didn't want to yell.  I didn't want to act like the "vengeful harridan" an ex once accused me of being.  The problem is... if you're angry but you don't want to yell, what's left?


It's not like she's having the time of her life.  She isn't out to the person with whom she took this trip.  My girlfriend is trans, but she's still in the closet with a lot of her family members and friends.  So, I don't know exactly how long it takes to get from one end of this country to the other by train, but my girlfriend's spending that time dressed in the boy clothes she despises, and being acknowledged as a man, which she hates even more.

If I were truly "jealous" (whatever that means), I would probably be bathing in schadenfreude, knowing that she's as miserable as I am.  Unfortunately, I love her too much to think that way.  I want her to be happy, even when I'm not.

Before she left, she said, "To take this trip, I have to leave ME behind.  I have to pretend I'm something I'm not.  You're my anchor.  YOU are the one who as always accepted me, no matter what I look like. You've helped me grow as ME, and I need you now more than ever."

She wanted my blessing and my support.  She wanted to stay in touch while she was away.

I couldn't do it.

Maybe I'm not as compassionate as I'd like to be.  A more compassionate girlfriend would say, "I'm hurting like hell right now, but I can put my feelings aside for your sake."

I couldn't do it.



  1. i hope you & your g/f are speaking now, Giselle. sounds like she had to do a difficult thing. all being well, the two of you will be able to take that trip together some day with your g/f being able to be herself. i've always wanted to take that trip too. i adore the train. closest i've come is an overnight trip from Ottawa to Halifax sleeping in an upper berth. it was fun, but i don't think my body could handle that now.

  2. It's always dangerous putting in one's two cents about the complex interpersonal problems of people one barely knows... but at the risk of talking through my hat, I'll offer the thought that an incident this major within a stable, long-term, loving relationship must somehow boil down to a communication failure. That is, either you don't yet fully understand why she chose to make this trip, or she doesn't fully understand why it bothers you so much. Because clearly neither of you is in the habit of being insensitive to the other's feelings and needs. I'll go out on a limb and say that the conversation isn't over yet, and with more conversation will come better mutual understanding.

  3. Jeremy, you're absolutely right on all counts. Part of the reason I was distant to begin with was that I didn't want to scream and shout and be a bitch. After a while, it's hard to pick up that conversation.

    Amanda, thanks for your kind thoughts. I've only taken the train Toronto-London (Ontario, obviously) and Toronto-Niagara Falls. There's every possibility I would hate it after a few days. LOL

    When is someone going to quote Oscar Wilde for this topic? That one about the only thing worse than not getting what you want is getting it...

  4. Well, I know it's easier said than done sometimes, and anyway each couple has its own dynamics and strategies... but, for what it's worth, in my experience approaching the conversation with nonthreatening questions, calmly stated feelings, and a perspective of "let's tackle this problem as a team" instead of an atmosphere of antagonism can minimize the screaming and shouting. I try to say things like, "I don't think we're on the same page about this; can I try to explain again why this bothers me?" or "Maybe I'm missing something—can you try to explain again why you felt you should do X and Y despite the fact that B and C?" Another thing that I find can be really eye-opening (and then I'll shut up), provided it's done in a constructive rather than accusatory spirit, is using "shoe on the other foot" analogies, e.g., "OK, so you're saying you don't think there's anything wrong with doing X after I told you B. So if this were about situation Q, something that's important to you, instead of this situation R that's important to me, and I did X despite B, you'd truly be fine with it?"

  5. The theory of "open relationship' is simple but objective reality is something different. Here, it seems there isn't even sex in the equation but other emotions (envy, possessiveness, etc) want to pile on just as dutifully. It likely boils down to a simple and understandable desire to realize your dream with your loved one.

    It seems she isn't too enthralled with going either. So I have to wonder why she's taking this trip in the first place? Is this filling some kind of obligation for her?

    And-- Traveling is cool. Don't discount it.

    And-- Yes. Jeremy should teach a class. Great insight.

  6. Daddy X, yes the trip was an obligation--perfect word.

    And I'm just not a traveller. Some people are, some people aren't. The weird thing is, I love travel shows on TV.

  7. Now, that's complicated... and "jealousy" is, as this story shows all too well.

    Thank you for sharing with us, Giselle. And I feel confident the two of you will work it out eventually. You're too conscious of the value of your relationship not to.

  8. Oh - and we did do a trip halfway across the U.S. a few years ago. Great fun, if you're not in a hurry!

    You can read about it at:

  9. Intriguing post, Giselle! I hope you & Girlfriend eventually travel across Canada by train. Unfortunately, passenger trains no long stop in Regina! (The grand old train station was turned into a casino.) However, you could get off the train in Winnipeg or Saskatoon & take a bus to Regina to visit me & Spouse. We have a guest room. :)

  10. Maybe you can blot out her memories of the trip by making her so glad to be back with you!


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