My kids want to go skiing. And my husband wants to take them. Me? I organized the gift cards for Christmas presents and I keep checking our calendar along with the weather to help find a day where our schedule and the environment align in magical harmony. I want them to experience the freedom and beauty of the mountain. I want them to expand on their athletic abilities. I want them to have the opportunity to stand at the top of a run, look around themselves and feel not only the enormity of the world, but also of the privilege it is to be a part of it. But—if I’m being totally honest with you—there is a part of me that wants them to absolutely hate it because I can’t do it with them. I’m Jealous. There, I said it.
Jealousy. It is ingrained deep within me. I have faced it every day for my entire life. I’ve sat with it, leaned into it, fought against it and ultimately learned to live with it. It isn’t an attractive quality to possess—nobody is adding it to their resume or online dating profile—but nevertheless, it is part of me and I work hard to override it. This isn’t an easy side of myself to show you. It’s ugly. But it’s real.
I often become frustrated with myself because jealousy is my default emotion in many scenarios. “Babes supporting babes” is all the rage and as much as I love the sentiment and work to apply it in my life, it just doesn’t come naturally to me. My first instinct when I see other people succeed—even people I love—is jealousy.
God, that’s hard to admit.
Not only has envy surrounded every success that wasn’t my own but it’s been part of every relationship I’ve ever had. For years—well into adulthood—I had to remind myself that it was okay for my friends to have other friends. That them having a relationship with another human didn’t negate the relationship we had. I also spent years telling myself to trust in my marriage. Slowly working to convince myself that my husband’s interests in other people didn’t diminish his interest, love or commitment to me.
It wasn’t until after my spinal cord injury that I really learned how to deal with the prevalent role jealousy played in my life. Because at that point, it was going to start impacting my kids. I knew that watching them play soccer in the backyard, go off on a hike or go skiiing without me, would trigger severe feelings of envy that would eat away at my self-worth and sense of belonging. Worst of all, they had the potential to hold my family back. So I had to try and get a handle on it.
In many ways, grief taught me how to deal with jealousy. It taught me to let it come—invite it in—knowing it would subside. I can acknowledge it and accept it for what it is without believing it means I am evil—because I don’t act on it. Jealousy may come naturally, but I never desired or allowed it to lead my actions. I have almost always acted based on the woman I want to be—the woman I choose to be.
Something I said early on in my recovery was that I wanted to join in whenever I could and send everyone else off happily when I couldn’t. At the time—although it felt like the right thing to say—it seemed like an impossible goal. Now, it’s getting easier. In part because I’m willing to admit to the jealousy, instead of bury it.
I’m sad thinking of my family going off to the mountain together. It makes me jealous that my husband gets to experience this with them and I don’t. I am envious that they all have the ability to easily access the ski hill. But what kind of mother/wife/human would I be if I allowed my feelings of jealousy to impede the people I love from doing things they are still lucky enough to be able to do? It might hurt a little bit—sometimes a lot—but giving them the freedom to do these kind of things without guilt, helps me to believe I am better than the instinctive jealousy that resides within me.