Jealousy, Revisited

Jealous heart“Then I started to write about my envy. I got to look in some cold dark corners, see what was there, shine a little light on what we all have in common. Sometimes this human stuff is slimy and pathetic – jealously especially so – but better to feel it and talk about it and walk through it than to spend a lifetime being silently poisoned.” Thank you, Ann Lamott. 

This is not the first time I’ve written about jealousy; but last time, I was still under the impression that I just needed to think about it harder and I’d find the key out of it. Not that what I said was wrong, really, I was just also clearly trying too hard to be smart and Christianly. No such delusions or distractions this time. Just a looksee in some cold dark corners, the only comfort a distantly intellectual one (that probably, I’m not the only one to have felt these feelings).

So I’m tired of pretending like I’m not jealous. I’m tired of hearing from smugly coupled Christians how I’m “idolizing” human love. I’m tired of hearing and cheering for others’ successes while working my ass off over here and having monstrously little to show for it. I’m tired of not talking about it because it bothers other people. I’m tired of being told how much of a “sin” it is – as if I didn’t know and was actively choosing to ruminate on all the things others have that I don’t. Like, you think it’s awful to deal with a person who’s jealous? You’re right. And it’s also hard, just as hard to be that person.

Despite how everyone has looked upon another’s life – or what we can now present as our lives and people’s amygdalae are none the wiser – and found theirs wanting, jealousy is a profoundly isolating experience. It’s shameful to be jealous; it makes you feel or seem to others like a terrible person that you can’t “just be happy” for all the yeses in that other person’s life while yours suddenly seems barren, void and embarrassingly without point or purpose. It’s also not something, I don’t think, that you can just walk out of when someone “calls you out on it.” I’m not saying folks should feel flattered when a friend is jealous of them; but jealousy is directly proportional with desire. The only way out, until you can find enough contentment skittered about your own life, is to stop wanting that thing that other person has or does or is that you don’t or aren’t.

I can’t talk myself out of it. I can’t positive-thinking my way out of it. I can’t do anything (more than I’m already doing) about the things I want and don’t have. It’s not like I “have nothing” or even feel like I have nothing (anymore…I used to, which I understand was frustrating to the people in my life…so, step forward, yeah?) but the thing people seem to forget about jealousy is that it’s painful. Can we have a little compassion here? Hope deferred makes the heart sick, after all, and there’s nothing more difficult to bear than a nauseous heart.

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