The Lizard


I have heard a few times jealousy being described as a primitive lizard that dwells in a cave in your brain.  You never really realize this lizard lives there until something doesn’t sit well, and it comes out of its cave, clears its throat, and makes its presence known.

And when it makes its presence known – it never does it in a way you can ignore it. Nope. It does it in the most perfect way possible. In some cases, it roars loudly – a rage of jealousy. In other cases, it is the quiet voice that runs counter to what you are thinking and hoping.   Both cases, it causes the person with said awakened lizard grief.

The brain in circumstances tells one story.  It looks at the situation and says “Hey, this happened because, well, it happened. There are no motives. There are no hidden meanings. It is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less.”

The Lizard knows this isn’t entirely the way you feel.  It knows you feel differently. It knows you are disappointed or upset or angry or sad. It is familiar with those tricker emotions, and it knows how to circumvent the brain in a way where logic is overridden by feelings.  And it knows how to get you to listen to it.

My Lizard surprises me at times when it makes it’s appearance. Sometimes it simply comes out of its cave, clears its throat, and demands attention.  And my brain, it being a creature of logic and inquiry is stupid enough to ask “what’s up?”  From there, all hell breaks loose as the lizard and brain begin a battle using my feelings as ammo.  It leave me conflicted and battered and sore in ways a physical battle would not do. 

And when the battle is over, I am left second guessing myself. Second guessing my emotions. I am left feeling like an idiot around people I care about that are caught in the cross fire.  No matter how hard I try, it happens the same each time. 

I am trying something different this time. I’m asking for what I need from those around me involved (even indirectly) with a Lizard sighting.  I am trying to articulate my feelings enough to help them understand how they can help.  And, they are helping.  Through words, through hugs, through ears – it helps.  Just simply being hugged, told it will be okay, and some understanding makes me feel better.   Asking for help has never been my strong suit. Mainly, I don’t ask for help not because I view it as a sign of weakness, but because I don’t want to inconvenience someone. I don’t want them to have to go out of their way to give me something I need when I’m not even sure it is worth the worry and the effort.  I have also found that I am never good at articulating it in person or in chat, but I can write it out.  So I am writing it out as much as I can. A factor that allows me to help those around me too.

I am also trying hard to do two things (other than asking for what I need): I am not pushing people away which is totally my modus operandi when things are bugging me – and I’m trying to accept my feelings instead of apologizing for them.  Both are amazingly hard for me.  Both show weakness in my mind – not strength. It’s funny how asking for help is not a weakness, but showing my feelings is one.  Pushing people away helps me breath. It helps me be proactive – hurting before someone else can hurt – as stupid as that is.  Sometimes the distance is necessary. I have found that by doing it, I am feeding the lizard.  I am helping it have more power and control over the situation than it deserves. 

Just like the act of not pushing people away, I have found not apologizing for my feelings is critical for keeping the lizard under control. If the brain accepts the feelings, then the Lizard has no ammo.  The Lizard is left to stand there as the two things it is good at getting into the conflict stand united against it.  While I am far from perfect, I keep reminding myself of this quote: “Never apologize for showing your feelings. When you do, you apologize for the truth” by Benjamin Disreali.  I try hard not to apologize anymore. It is hard though because I feel like such a dork when I am overtaken by my feelings.  I feel like an bumbling idiot who can’t stay on my feet.  I hate that feeling, thus the need to apologize to others.

I realized, however, that doing both keeps my Lizard at bay versus giving it control.  When the Lizard has control, stupid things happen – stupid things get said.  And all is compounded by the fact I cannot lie.  Try telling someone you are fine while not being able to make eye contact for fear they may see your lie? Yeah, that’s how I am.  Doesn’t work so well, I am learning.

So instead, I focus on why I’m feeling this way. What need isn’t being met? What is the Lizard trying to keep me from dealing with?  Because what I have also realized is that Lizard feelings arise when we feel something is lacking.  Is it more time with someone? Is it a missed date that you brushed off in your head, but it still bugged you in your heart?  Is it the need to hear something from someone – a validation of how things are going in the relationship? That you both are in the same place?  Is it a partner who has had one too many dates – and you really need some time away from the kids to recharge? 

All of these are example of the root-cause type needs-not-met that give the Lizard true power.  Trying to deal with what the Lizard is guarding by dealing with it out-loud (instead of in-head), disables the Lizard.  It has no voice – and it cannot hurt you (or others through your actions while under the influence of said-Lizard). 

Will the Lizard be permanently killed?  That would be like expecting treatment for depression to keep you from ever being sad again.  Jealousy is an emotion just like sadness is.  The key is to acknowledge and accept it as an emotion, and learn not to let it overtake your life when it does crop up. 

At the end of the day, it will come back again whether we want it to or not.  The question becomes how to deal with the Lizard so it doesn’t overtake you.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Joker_SATX says:

    I like this post…a lot! You offer really good insight and I simply love your metaphors.

    I would simply like advice for when your lizard becomes a Komodo Dragon. What then?

  2. Knowing what triggered the lizard is more active way to recognizing the impending signs next time. I should know – I was clueless about certain behavior patterns of OCD until I met a fellow blogger (now since gone dark) and she helped me recognize those impending signs.

    Now with a clear idea of what triggers my behavior, I can take steps to stop it from getting out of control.

    Lizards can be great pets. 😉

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