“Jealousy… is a mental cancer.” –B.C. Forbes
Jealousy is a sneaky emotion that catches me off guard. I usually don’t see it coming and often, I must reflect quickly to find where my feelings of warmth and love turn bitter with envy. I believe that joy and pleasure shared doubles it, and usually feel gratified by the successes of my friends. When it comes over me I have learned to look for the self-doubt that is lurking.
The other interesting quality of jealousy is how quickly it mushrooms when it goes unchecked. It is an emotion with staying power, and the bad feelings that combine love and hatred for the object in question usually last longer than the happiness or success that inspired it. In fact, what I have come to recognize is that although the feeling of envy may be sparked in me by someone else’s experience, it actually lives on my own doubts.
I have had a friend for more than 20 years who was born into a very wealthy and privileged family. Even more than her material wealth, her familial relationships are generous and loving, especially with her mother, the kind of woman everyone would choose for a mother if they could. In the early years of our friendship, the envy I felt came close to ending the relationship several times. Slowly I realized that beyond her seeming life advantages, she struggled with the same demons that sabotage self love as I did.
Those feelings arise less and less frequently between us now, the more that my own sense of value and respect for myself has grown. I have learned to be conscious of how I look and feel about myself in her company because I know that jealousy will scan and locate any evidence it can to prove the point, that others will be preferred and rewarded more than I. Her good fortune, loving relationships and impressive list of who’s who adds flavor and interest to our relationship, except when I am already feeling less than; then it is salt in the wound.
I don’t have any other relationship that has so demanded my clarity and willingness to clear the old voices and useless memories of worthlessness as this friendship. Coming clean in the moments of envy that still pop up from time to time make me instantly clear about feeling the gratitude for my own life. Rather than wasting time in the painful love/hate unfairness that has, in the past, eaten me up from the inside out, I use the seeds of jealousy to remember to love myself. I get better each time at turning the energy of envy into the foundation for my own emotional security.
I remember again that nothing is missing. I choose this life. I am grateful for her friendship and how it helps me build a relationship to myself.