Yesterday I decided to allow envy. And as I think about that phrase ‘allow envy’ my mind wants to make it ‘I allowed envy to get the better of me’.
But it didn’t get the better of me. The envy I experienced didn’t have an overall negative impact on me. In fact I believe that it was a positive experience, even though it was painful.
How was allowing envy a good thing?
I have long held the belief (mostly subconsciously) that jealousy and envy firmly belong in the category of childish emotions that one can grow out of. They are ‘bad’ emotions. They are the emotions of immature and unenlightened people. And if I wanted to be a ‘good person’ (and yes, I definitely wanted to be a good person!!!) I would not have those sorts of feelings. So if I felt envious or jealous I would bypass that emotion. But that wouldn’t mean that the emotion ceased to exist. I suppose it would be ‘rerouted’ into some other expression. Maybe anxiety. Maybe a stomach ache. Point is – it didn’t just disappear because I was so mature or enlightened. But I thought it did. I didn’t make the connection in the past.
But I have been working on this as part of my therapies over the last couple of years. And I recognised the pattern of behaviour. It was the same thing I had done with anger.
When I realised what was happening, I checked in with my body. Where was I feeling this ‘stuff’? In the guts. In the jaw. In the usual places in my body where I tend to bury my emotional pain. And then I allowed the emotion, and that’s when I recognised it as envy.
Allowing the envy meant that I felt safe being vulnerable enough to admit in my thoughts that what I was feeling was envy.
And then I felt safe enough to write about it.
And after I wrote it, I knew that I would be sharing it on my blog, which is another huge step. Allowing myself to experience and then share the vulnerability of my (perceived) imperfection is one of my biggest challenges. It’s always been there, but I think the advent of social media has made it even more difficult to show what could be considered weaknesses, flaws, mistakes or imperfections. But that is precisely why I feel more and more emboldened to put myself out there.
So what made me feel envy?
It wasn’t social media. It was a newsletter I received in my email. It was an email from a local organisation for writers. And in that newsletter they highlighted a woman who is my age. She is a late-diagnosed autistic. And she is a poet. Not just a poet. She is an award winning poet. She has been published and acclaimed for twenty years.
And I immediately went through self-judgement. Thoughts began to swarm. Your poetry isn’t as good. Her poetry is ‘real’ poetry. Yours is so literal. You’d never be recognised by any of these literary people. What the fuck have you been doing for the last twenty years? You shared poetry for a brief moment and then got scared. You’ve looked for every excuse to keep yourself hidden. You’re too weak to deal with criticism. Your writing is never going to go anywhere. It’s too late. You’re too old. You don’t have enough capacity. You’re broken and damaged. She’s autistic too. She’s a mother too. If she could do it, and you couldn’t you’re a failure.
Okay, I think you get the point.
Here’s what I wrote after I had taken the time to check in with my body.
9 October 2022
She wrote for more than 20 years. And so did I. But our paths were not the same. They couldn’t be. For she is she and I am me. And we all have our own challenges. Our own lessons. Our own hero’s journey. And we only know what we are allowed to see. We don’t get to peek inside the intimacies of every day life. We don’t get to know how all of the outside noise and stimulation and trauma is or isn’t being processed. We don’t know each other’s patterns and programming. And we don’t know how all of these things mix together like a cocktail with ingredients that we don’t get to see; blended up into our own specific recipe for being. We don’t get to climb up into someone else’s life. We only get glimpses of what someone allows us to see. And even then, we apply our own filter and cast our own judgements and expectations and assumptions. All for the sake of self-deprecating.
We judge ourselves against what is similar to another being, and when we fall short we neglect to look at those points of difference that make our situation unique. I see her story as already written with success without seeing where I too have been able to succeed. And I pretend that she has been on a linear trajectory toward greatness – a greatness that she has already achieved. Without knowing what her idea of success or greatness is. Without considering that she may not see herself as a success. Without knowing who she puts on the same kind of pedestal that I have set her upon; Is it likely that both she and I are looking up at someone else with idealism in our eyes?
And then I remember that none of this is about her after all. It’s all about me. Always has been. Always will be. Only can be. And that she is she. And I am me. And we are each on our own trajectory toward unfolding. And I can let myself feel envy without getting lost in the wrong messaging. And I can choose to see that it’s just another opportunity to grow into the lessons I’m learning. That it’s not about asking “Why not me!?!” with anger and resentments but instead in asking “Why not me?” with curiosity. And if anger or resentment show up, I can give them the space in which they need to breathe. And when I’m ready, I can approach the question with the curiosity that will give me some insights into what I need in order to unfold in the way that allows me to live most fully as the divine expression of my being.
A new perspective
Okay, so I am not ‘where I want to be’ right now. And I probably never will be. That’s just the nature of my being (and probably everyone’s). But one thing that struck me after I read my journal entry to my husband is that there are probably people who would look at my website and see my blogs and my poems and think that I am far ahead of where they are. Maybe they’d compare their writing to mine. Or their relationships to mine. Or their progress in therapy or self-realisation to mine. They may have wanted to move overseas, or start a business, or start a family.
Yes, of course there are people who look at my life and my ‘successes’ with envy too. But I have been so caught up in what I don’t have and what I haven’t accomplished, and what I could’ve achieved ‘if only’ – that I haven’t given myself enough compassion for the challenges that I have faced, the hardships and losses I’ve experienced, and the traumas I’ve been through.
And I haven’t celebrated my successes throughout my life – I have often just looked at them as inconsequential, or as stepping stones to what’s next or as a way to tell myself that it’s not enough; that I’m not enough.
And that is not how I want to treat myself. That is not who I want to be. And so every time I stumble back into an old pattern or behave in a way that 45+ years of living has conditioned me to respond, I renew my commitment to treating myself with love and compassion and feel grateful for those who have helped me on this path so far, and for those who continue to support me in my journey.