@redpepper: Yea, no sweat on missing me - I was at work too, it was just slow at the time so I thought I'd give you a shout.
I feel the same way; it's more about feelings than labels.
You said I've been working hard...what's really weird about this whole occurrence is it's forced me to look at the way I look at people in my life (not just women!) and realize that I've lived (in secret?) as a self-centered prick for a large bit of my life up to this point.
For instance, my friend B is my single closest friend. He and I go back farther than anyone I know. His dad died not too long ago, and he has a newborn on his hands. He has a really hard time talking about his feelings...I know he's having a hard time letting go of his dad's death.
He's said a few times...things that, had I been caring about him, should have indicated to me that he needed me; so many times I just ignored it. I'm not ignoring those things anymore - he'd had a really hard day yesterday, and for the first time in a long time I put his needs in front of mine, and drove out to him with a couple of brews. (His baby-mama was out of the house, too, as she seems to be a lot. He's told me she leaves him alone kind of a lot, and when he's alone he cries to himself.)
I only bring this up as an example - you go through life thinking you care about people, but so often it's just pretend, and life's entirely too short to pretend.
C and I are actually not shook up at all. Better than ever. We did end up talking really intensely for a few days, about what turned into a much wider range of topics than just me and S.
I had a strange epiphany about it. Remember that "odd" feeling I'd had, how things just weren't quite right with me and C, even though we weren't fighting, or having any major problems? I'm about 99% sure I know what it was now. We hadn't connected emotionally in a long time. I realized something about C that I hadn't before. She feels secure and connected to me when I open up to her, and talk about my feelings with her. I've always (surprise surprise) had a really hard time talking about any of my feelings, and especially things that have to do with my upbringing - there was a lot of "soft" domestic violence in my home, and although my dad has a lot of good qualities, treating women correctly and caring about people was never one of his strong suits. It hurts me so bad to talk about some of those feelings, so I've always boxed them up.
Here's how I know. I've read that jealousy is indicative of something secondary, and I've also read that it stems because of an unmet need; it now makes perfect sense to me that C would be upset that I was having an emotional connection with someone when I hadn't had one with her in a long time - and still have trouble opening up to her when I do. When I talked to her, and opened up to her, the jealousy faded so quickly and was replaced by love and passion. She wasn't mad at me about S. She understood about S. She'd had her need to feel connected met, and I think that's what really put her at ease.
Going forward, I'm going to make sure THAT is the need that I meet, and it's a lot harder than what I'm used to. It's easy to buy someone a purse to make them feel superficially happy; it's much harder to share yourself and share your feelings with someone when you're not used to it. But that's what feeds her, and she was starved.
It feels so good knowing I have a lover who understands me. C isn't threatened by S as much/at all, even knowing "the whole story."
You might have noticed I speak in metaphor a lot - I just find it helpful. I think I found my favorite one so far though, talking to B last night. I told him, human relationships aren't black and white, or even delineated by shades of grey. They're more like individual paintings; each one has it's own palette, with it's own mix of colors. When you paint a painting, sometimes you apply more of this color, or more of that color; if it's a relationship you care about, you really concentrate and pick the right colors to make it the...best painting you can. If you don't care, the colors sit on the palette, and mix, and get untidy, unkempt. You try to paint it and it's dirty, and doesn't look how you want it to. That's just my new favorite metaphor and I wanted to share it.
I thought for a while, "How can I start having the relationship I want with S?" ...and I kept thinking, and thinking. What I finally decided to do was send her a text message:
"How's life for you today?"
Nothing much different than something I've said to people a million times before. But this time, I care about the answer. And that's all I have to do to feel good.