How to love your ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend (really)

One of my more recent ex-boyfriends is a wonderful, adorable person in every dimension.  Let's call him Gianni.

Gianni and I had a good thing going - but no physical chemistry betwixt us, so we parted ways.

Gianni now has a new girlfriend.

I thought I was okay with that, until I had a dream the other night in which I really wasn't.  I kept hurling insults towards this woman I barely know, trying to convince Gianni to leave her and come back to me.  When I woke up, I felt lousy.

And thus I became aware of a big, pulsating, juicy store of ill-will that I've got going on.

So today during my metta practice I really worked hard to send loving-kindness to the New Girlfriend. Let's call her Marie.

In doing so, I became aware that not only do I have obstacles to universal metta in my heart like pride and territoriality - I also have an idea of myself as "someone who couldn't possibly actually love Marie or rejoice in her accomplishments." The very idea seemed ridiculous! Like, I would totally be lowering myself by trying to love someone so clearly undeserving of admiration as my ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend.

Marie, in my mind's eye, was some foreign intruder who bore all the terrible qualities I passionately ascribed to her in my dream.  Qualities like meanness and arrogance.  Which, I can't help but now notice, are actually the projected qualities of my own closed-down and possessive heart.

After thirty solid persistent minutes of sending a bombardment of metta Marie's way ("May you be happy, free from suffering..." and visualizing her having a grand old time), I began to soften.  Something odd crept into my awareness.  I began to feel meltingly warm towards Marie – glad for her talents and success – happy for her relationship with Gianni – almost as if she was my own daughter or sister and Gianni was just - you know, her boyfriend. Not "my" former boyfriend.

Suddenly, I was someone who could love Marie.

Weird.  I hardly recognized myself in that surging moment of metta – and I also noticed that I felt happy and calm. Free of the burden of being hateful.

I don't think my metta for Marie has fully stabilized yet – I'll have to keep up the practice of sending it to her – but it was honestly disconcerting and wonderful to break through that barrier of my own pride and envy, if only for a brief while.

Disconcerting in that good way. I notice that I like myself more as someone who can love Marie.  I'm becoming aware that due to the subtle spit-in-the-wind-and-it-blows-back-in-your-face phenomenon, having ill-will towards someone else actually makes me like and enjoy myself less.  How does that work? I think it has something to do with the fact that it's tough to like bitter, envious, grouchy people who are filled with ill-will.

So what about you? Is there anyone in your life that you dislike and feel that if you did like her, you would somehow be less yourself? I would love if you told me all about it in the comments below.


image: [Irina Patrascu]

Posted on January 3, 2013 and filed under Metta.