Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gonna Make My Green Eyes Blue

I think the holidays typically influence people towards a little introspection and I am no different in this respect. For example, today while at the library, I saw a young mother with an adorable toddler leaving story/craft hour and instead of the "awww" reaction you might anticipate, I was jealous. This response both surprised and disappointed me, but after I told myself to knock it off, I began thinking about the why.

The conclusion I came to is that I have a small problem with envy. Not coveting, but plain old jealousy. The whole time I was pregnant with both children, all I wanted was to be able to stay home with my kids. Note that I said "to be able". I'm not sure that this would have been the best thing for any of us, but I wanted to have the option. I'm jealous to this day of those who do.

When we bought our house, we could not afford to live exactly where we wanted. This in and of itself is no unique first time homeowner experience but what made me mad was that everyone I knew was able to do this, regardless of what kind of means I knew they may or may not have had. Some had assistance from their families, some had inside scoops on various deals and some just used creative accounting, but the point is that I was upset about feeling like we were the only ones who had to just take what we could get, so to speak.

In hindsight, this was completely ridiculous, and at this (hopefully wiser) point in my life I would absolutely love to have my adorable little brick house with it's amazing yard back, but that is water under the bridge now. The point is that again, I was jealous.

When you think about jealousy within relationships, I think most people would agree that it arises from insecurity. Sometimes the players are insecure by nature and sometimes the relationship itself is insecure and the people in it become jealous from feeling like they are on shaky ground. I have never been the jealous type in love but it would appear that I am insecure myself if I am using this theory as a barometer.

I don't want to take anything away from anyone or begrudge people their lives, because only they know how to live it. I try to push those thoughts out of my head but I've come to the conclusion that doing so does not resolve the greater issue. So what, then?

The counting my blessings thing just doesn't do the trick for me. I'm too practical and pragmatic for that style of thinking (not that there is anything wrong with that). But for me personally, I think the cure is to be nicer to myself. To value and love myself a little more. To appreciate my gifts and work on constructive ways to utilize them. To focus on what is in front of my face rather than what off in the distance. To try to become more secure.

I wrote awhile back about feeling ready to come into my own and I have given a lot of thought to this over the last month or so. As a parent, I do not want to look back children's youth and realize I spent it wishing that it was different. My children need a present and engaged mother and I'm sure my husband would enjoy more of the same from his wife. I don't want to waste my time or emotional energy being irritated about what other people have or are doing. As trite as it sounds, life really is too short to do anything other than live your own.

I plan to continue pursuing further understanding because just working through this stuff mentally has provided a lot of peace for me. Peace which was sorely needed and well-timed, to be honest. I'd be very curious to know - are you jealous or envious? Of what or who? Do you feel that my theory of insecurity is correct? Let's chat about it in the comments, shall we?

PS. I just installed Disqus and can't wait to use it to talk to you guys!
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laura smith said...

I love this! It is so true and so much to think about. I think we've all been there at some point but then realize that looks can often be deceiving. Things might look fancy and perfect on the inside but what's really going on behind those bricks!

Angie said...

Oh, Rebbecah, I just love how honest you laid this out...Oh, I used to be just a jealous, jealous person in high school...I grew up differently than most of my friends, but I never really let on and shared my experiences. They all had two parent families, two incomes and everything that goes along with that. I grew up the child of single mom who was herself a neglected child who grew up in foster homes. I suffered all of the emotional neglect that goes along with being the second generation of a foster child. I was so jealous of the love and support other people's families seemed to lavish on their children so easily. I became resentful of the (seeming) ease in which they were able to navigate through life.
Luckily, somewhere in my twenties, I read "Seat of the Soul" and there was a line in there that said something along the lines of..."You cannot fully love if you cannot appreciate other people being loved." Rebeccah, I bawled for about thirty minutes straight, and all of those feelings just came flooding out of me, releasing what had held me back from fully loving my fellow man.
It was a life changer, for sure.
Now when I sense my little green monster perking his ears up, I stop and evaluate what I feel I am deficient in and 1) recognize that that's why I'm feeling jealous, and 2) resolve to appreciate that other people are worthy of happiness and joy too.

bereccah5 said...

Angie, thank you so much for being so open about your experience. It's amazing what people don't know about other people, no matter how much time they spend with them. I'm sorry that you grew up like that and would like to tell you that I have always considered you to be one of the kindest people I know, which is a compliment I do not use often. It's amazing what goes on behind the scenes that shapes our perspectives for a long time, sometimes even a life time.

I plan to read this book and love the quote you shared. Jealousy is a bitch and I plan on kicking her ass. Hiii-yaaa!

bereccah5 said...

That is the absolute truth. I think so much of our perceptions about other people comes from our OWN perspective and experience. But in reality, we don't know what happens in other people's lives. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving me a comment!

bereccah5 said...

To clarify, such kindness coming from someone who didn't have their emotional needs met as a child is impressive. Be proud of yourself. :-)

Angie said...

Aww, that's really sweet of you to say. I actually remember telling you during a group project in English class once that I wanted to be a yuppie when I grew up...I think that was a way of saying I wanted to have a happy middle class experience when I grew up! One of the few times I ever let my guard down and it was with you- so pat yourself on the back, dearie...
I love reading your blog and seeing your perspective on things--you are quite a gifted writer!