Tag Archives: jealousy

A New World

I wake up with the sunlight filtering through the venetian blinds, leaving shadows on the ceiling and walls. I have a strange sensation—not sure if it is good or bad—but something feels different.

Suddenly I bolt awake, sit up and look at the clock. OK, it says 7 am so that seems about right. What is it then—what feels so foreign and misplaced? Things feel wrong! I look around the room and at first glance everything seems in order—the furniture, pictures on the wall, the color of the room, the bedspread, so I start to relax, thinking that maybe I just had a bad dream. Yet I begin to notice some strange alterations. The pictures have changed some how—yes, they are animated—my self- portrait is actually talking to me and it seems perfectly natural. I go over and gaze out the window, at the huge glowing chatoyant sphere in the sky, changing shape and form—not a normal sun—almost like an eclipse. I turn on the TV, waiting with anticipation and dread for the latest negative installment of what has become a reality show day after day. It appears that there is no news on The One Who Shall Not Be Named, almost as if he is not even the Commander in Chief anymore, or ever even was. I change channels and cannot find any mention of this person almost as if he never even existed. I look on the Internet and find nothing but good news—no mention of ISIS or terrorists or investigation or collusion.

So now I begin to think that I must’ve died and I am living in Heaven—whew, thank you God. I wonder if they have IPhones in Heaven and what version—are they up to at least 7 yet? Six would be OK too, but come on—if they are operating only on the 4 or 5, this must be the other place—the place I always assumed I would end up in. Much to my relief, Heaven has kept up with the latest technology and they are operating on a new IPhone 8 and I get to use it even before those poor Earth bound creatures do. This also confirms that I am indeed blessed. But wait, shouldn’t I be seeing relatives who have passed on or Sweetie, or Parky (my sweet pet budgies)? Oh no, now an uncomfortable thought occurs to me—maybe this is NOT Heaven after all. So, then where am I anyway? Maybe I am in a sort of in-between world, like Purgatory, where I am being tested to see if I am worthy of moving upwards? I go back to my self-portrait in my bedroom, and start asking her what is happening and where I am. She says I am neither in Heaven nor Hell and there has been a shift since I went to bed last night. I am now living in another world which resembles the old one, but without all the drama and horror. I ask about my children, friends, pets, and she says they are also in this new world, but better. I am not lonely, my son is well, I am happy at last—that empty pit in my gut, which is always there has been filled. I look at my contact list and see that it is basically still the same, but I see my son’s name has been miraculously added. I call him and we have an amazing conversation about how well he is doing, and that he is spending the weekend with his son. He assures me that he will be coming to visit soon and we hang up with “I love you.” I call some strange name on the list which has been added and discover that he is my boyfriend and we are on for dinner tonight, at which we will be planning a world tour—one which we don’t have to worry about being bombed, shot, run over by a car, or knifed at the airport. That anxious, sick feeling that haunts me day in and day out is amazingly gone.

But wait, I ask my self-portrait, “What is the catch—there must be a catch? There has to be something I must do to have this perfect life—so what is it then? Oh please tell me, my other self!” She smiles and proceeds to tell me what I must do to stay in this utopia. I must be totally unselfish and not self-centered; I must not have to have the last word; I must get rid of all jealousy and envy; I must be grateful for what I now have, even if it isn’t perfect; I must accept things as they currently are, not how I wish them to be; I must look in the mirror and love what I see, regardless of imperfections; I must be non-judgmental and practice tolerance and acceptance of others. My Alternate Marilyn assures me if I practice these simple principles in my life from this point on I can stay in this perfect world. Marilyn tells me that I have a week trial-period and if I cannot change after a week I will simply wake up, things will seem the same, but my world will return as before and sadly I will not remember. Now I am frightened because I just cannot fathom my life the way it was—all that time, just thinking there was no other way to live. I know I can do this—I am determined to change everything.

I wake up it seems the next day, I turn on the TV and there is yet another investigation of our President, there has been a bombing in the UK with dozens killed and ISIS has claimed responsibility. The world is back to the usual chaos and I blindly accept it with a sigh and resignation as I drink my morning coffee because I don’t know any better. I don’t know what could’ve been because I am back in the old reality—the old world. My self-portrait looks almost the same except for the small tear running down her right cheek.

If Only

The world of “If Only” is a fantasy world I sometimes live in. It is a very dangerous place and nothing good can come from visiting, especially if I stay too long. If Only is a close cousin to Regret so I try very hard not to say those two toxic words. Yet I still find myself thinking, “If only I had done…..” or “If only I didn’t do such and such, or “If only I were rich”…..—you can fill in the blanks and any way you look at it, you end up with remorse over some missed opportunity, or a regret over something you did that you are sorry for. It’s too bad that we can’t just turn the clock back or hit the undo button on a decision we’ve made. We are all human and sometimes we don’t always think things through when we decide to embark on a journey. A case of the “If Onlys” can also lead to envy and jealousy especially when you cannot afford some material item that your wealthy friend can. Then you say, “If only I had married better” or “If only I had not been so stupid to divorce my husband so quickly”. The thing is that whatever is done or was not done, you have to live with the consequences or live with the reality of a situation you cannot control. Acceptance and the Serenity Prayer go a long way when I am living in that fantasyland of “If Only.” My options are to “accept the things I cannot change” and “have the courage to change the things I can” and to “have the wisdom to know the difference.” Since we know we just cannot press the delete button on bad choices, the sooner we realize we cannot change them, we can move forward and create a better life based in the reality of now. “If only” keeps you mired in the past or keeps you in a perpetual state of jealousy, depression, regret, and remorse. Either way, you are stuck and personal growth ceases.

Competition

Competition has ruled my life ever since I can remember. Everything from being the fastest runner in the playground when I was a kid, getting the best PR in a race, being the best looking, or whatever it is; I have to turn it into a competition. Although I seem to crave it, competition is also the source of constant fear and unhappiness. Fear that I won’t measure up to someone else or someone will be “better” than I am and the ensuing unhappiness when I feel disappointed in myself. It is a never-ending merry-go-round that I can never win because there will always be another person who trumps me.

For years, I ran races with a very competitive spirit. Of course, not being an elite runner, my competition was other runners in my running club, or often just myself. In running there is such as thing as a PR (personal record) and before any race, especially full Marathons, I had an idea of what my time should be. Sometimes I achieved my mark, being very proud, but inevitably another runner I knew had a better time. Then my pride in my achievement would dissipate. Other times I didn’t live up to my own expectations (there’s that word again) and although I just ran 26.2 miles (something that most people can’t do) doing pretty well, I would beat myself up. It was when one day I decided to totally stop running races and just run for the pure pleasure of the sport that I became free. I never entered another race and I felt happier. The same holds true for anything in my life because to me everything is a competition. All through my working life, I constantly compared myself to coworkers, wondering if they got a promotion, a raise, were liked more by the boss, etc. As a massage therapist, it is almost impossible not to be competitive–always wondering how many clients someone else had that day, how many “regular clients” they have, always jockeying for the boss’s approval. Of course, jealousy and competition go hand and hand. Even in my photo meetings, I want to be the best, instead of just enjoying the companionship and learning from like-minded people. I tell myself that I should just write because it feeds my soul, and not to worry about making money. I tell myself that I should just do photography because I like it and not try to feel that I have to adopt other’s methods, or their style. I want to be creative because it makes me feel good, and not have expectations or have to be accountable to others (which would happen if this became a business). I need to remember my own lesson with running and follow my own advice. For some reason competition is in my blood and although I have my theories, I’m not totally sure why. But, what I do know is that “everybody is a star” in some way; most of us have something we’re exceptional at and I need to recognize my own talents. When I stop comparing myself to other people, and just accept who I am, and not who I think I should be, I am so much happier.

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.