Jealousy

Jealousy for me is defined as an irrational FEAR that somehow I am missing out on something or that someone is getting recognition for something that I deserve (at least in my mind). I never thought of jealousy as a FEAR, but upon introspection, I realize it really is. Although almost everyone is jealous at some time in their lives, it seems more extreme in my case. It comes in many forms and can attack when I am feeling spiritually fit, emotional, depressed, happy—in short, it sneaks up on me when I least expect it, regardless of my state of mind and can be triggered by even the most mundane comment. A perfect example happened today when the instructor in my Spinning class was extolling the virtues of a “masseur” she went to in Naples, Fla. She went on to say the it was “a whole hour” of bliss, and even though I have elected to walk away from that profession, I still found myself feeling annoyed and jealous and actually wanted to say that I was indeed a massage therapist too. Luckily reason prevailed and I reminded myself that this was my choice because I wanted to pursue my creative self that I had put on the back burner for so long. I simply did not want to continue as a therapist. But, jealousy, or the green-eyed monster as some people call it, is an emotion that is found in almost every species. A few years ago I discovered that my 18-year old parrot was extremely jealous of the new Macaw. Every time I paid attention to the new “baby”, Merlin would come running over, get on top of the cage, get in-between us, and try to engage me. I found it very funny and cute, but it is not so endearing when it involves myself because it often leads to other emotions such as depression and resentment. In searching for the roots of my jealously it is easy to find it when analyzing my childhood. I grew up in a middle class apartment complex called Stuyvesant Town on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. At that time, neighbors actually knew each other and it was a sort of a Peyton Place type of atmosphere (for those of you who remember that show), where we all knew each other’s business. Although Stuyvesant Town’s buildings spanned 14th through 20th Street, having at least 13 floors in each building, it didn’t seem like Manhattan. In fact it was quite bucolic—a little oasis surrounded by a not so savory neighborhood—with playgrounds, grass, trees, an oval, and a flagpole. By the surrounding neighborhood’s standards, we were looked upon as “rich” but looks can be deceiving. My Mom had a group of friends that lived in Stuyvesant Town—some in our building— who played Mahjong every week at each other’s apartment. I would always overhear their banter about their vacations, or their summer homes and wonder why we didn’t have that. Their family life always seemed to contain an element of happiness, which was missing in mine. Years later I realized that it is all about “perceptions”, but didn’t recognize that when I was a child. All I knew was what was in front of my eyes so I compared “my insides to their outsides”, or in this case, “my family’s insides to other family’s outsides.” Although I certainly never went hungry or without decent clothing, I was acutely aware of the difference in my family compared to the other families in my neighborhood. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment, which necessitated me sharing a bedroom with my older brother, creating more and more resentment as time went on. Our Main floor apartment overlooked a main walkway and allowed my brother and I to see the comings and goings of our neighbors. It always seemed that we got the short-end of the stick and I was filled with envy when, looking out our window, we would see my Mom’s friends loading up their car, getting ready to go on a family vacation. I remember thinking that why was it that WE (our family) weren’t able to load up OUR car and take off for a fun vacation. Well, for one, my parents didn’t drive so we had no car, but the other reason was that we struggled financially due to my Dad’s compulsive gambling. Luckily my Mom had a good job but those extras that we noticed other families indulging in were not ours to have. I believe that is where the seeds of jealousy began and to this day, I still find myself “looking over the fence at other people’s yards” and finding my situation or life wanting. As an adult, wherever I worked, the green-eyed monster plagued me. Someone got a better review, better job, better assignments, better, better, you name it—whatever it was it was better. As a massage therapist, I would constantly see other therapists getting more clients, more bookings, more money, more of whatever it was and, again I would be left wondering, “Why not me?” Whenever I think I have conquered it, it pops up again. Recently during a photo class, I found out that a few people were taking a class I didn’t even know about and that they had been to the instructor’s studio several times. Immediately, I asked, “When did you find out about that?” or “Really, when was that?” And there I was, feeling “left out” as if I was a child again—as if I was looking out the window at my friend’s family, happily laughing, loading up their car, getting ready for a fun time—one that I couldn’t partake in.

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