I’ll be honest, this wasn’t the post I started writing earlier today, nor had the idea of writing a post about jealousy or envy really crossed my mind. Yet, something happened tonight that caused those exact feelings to hit me like a truck, and I knew in that moment I needed to write about it.
Why Not Emily?
So, here’s how I went from drafting up a post just hours ago to writing something entirely different tonight.
My weekly Bible study group was wrapping up, and people were sharing prayer requests. One woman spoke up and said she had a praise, then proceeded to talk about a friend of hers who recently needed to be placed in a medically-induced coma. The doctors weren’t sure it would work or she’d ever wake up, and yet after just a couple weeks, she’s awake. She can talk, she remembers people, and she’s going to move to rehab soon to continue her recovery.
It’s an incredible story, and I’m genuinely happy for this woman I don’t even know. And yet, as the woman in class shared all of this, I felt those all-too-familiar tears begin to leave my eyes and run down my face. And out of nowhere, a single thought echoed through my mind as if someone shouted it in my ear.
“Why couldn’t that have been what happened to Emily?”
A Heart Full of Jealousy… Or Envy?
I’m not perfect. None of us are. And I accept the fact that I’m human which means I make mistakes at least once each day.
However, I also know (thanks, Emily) that I’m a fairly compassionate person who genuinely cares about other people. In fact, I love cheering on the people I love when something good happens in their lives, no matter how small the thing. I love hyping people up, and I know that it’s really important for us all to do this for each other because it builds self-esteem (which is something I lack).
Yet, since Emily died, I’ve noticed myself falling into an emotional space that I thought I left behind when I went to college. And man, it sucks.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure how to label it. So I went to my emotion wheel and searched for words that aligned with this nasty feeling.
I saw the word “jealousy” and thought that was it. But then I remembered a conversation Emily and I had a while back about the whole jealousy versus envy thing (yes, these are the conversations that happen when you love a soon-to-be therapist). Anyway, it boils down to this: Envy is when you want something that another person has, while jealousy is what you feel when someone is trying to take what you think is yours.
So, in my present life, I feel envious of others.
Like tonight, my first thought wasn’t, “How wonderful!” but rather, “Why the hell could that have not been Emily?” When I see people post their wedding photos or pregnancy announcements, I can’t help but feel bitter because that was all taken away from me. Hell, even seeing my ex-husband (who I normally hold no ill will towards) happy alongside his wife (who is a wonderful woman) makes me stop and say, “Why the hell does he get to be happy but I don’t?”
And yes, I know we’re not supposed to covet our neighbor’s stuff and all that. But, seriously, how can I not feel a twinge of envy when it seems like everyone else in this world gets health and happiness except me and my fiancée?
We All Experience Envy Sometimes
Like I said before, we’re all human. Also, as I mentioned, Emily and I had talked about the topic of envy a long time before she died. That’s because envy is a normal human emotion we all experience at times.
I always found the things Emily envied others for to be quite fascinating. For example, she was envious of people who didn’t have to deal with all the long-term health things that came along with her heart transplant. She didn’t express those sentiments all the time, but sometimes she’d make a comment and I knew what she was feeling.
I know she also envied people who could simply love their partner and marry them without fear of judgement or barriers in their way. I don’t think she wanted to be straight, and I’d like to think she was mostly happy with me. But sometimes she’d worry over things like whether or not we’d even be able to get married or wherever or not we’d get to have a child together as an “unconventional” family.
Despite these feelings, Emily was one of those people who, like me, loved supporting her loved ones and cheering them on as they accomplished their goals.
I May Always Experience Envy
I know that the only constant in life is change, and I know that we can never predict what’s going to happen next. However, I do think I know myself well enough to know that I’m always going to miss Emily. And because of that, I’m always going to experience at least a small amount of envy towards anyone who has the things I wanted with my soulmate.
Because here’s the thing about emotions: they’re just feelings. What really matters is what you do with your actions instead of what you merely feel.
Because Emily died, I feel envious of the relationships others have. But also, the only reason I’m envious of all of that is because Emily showed me what true, unconditional love feels like. And you know what? I don’t think I’d ever want to live in a world where I couldn’t feel love.
2 thoughts on “Because I’m Jealous… Or Something”
hi, i’m a 19 year old girl who has spent the past hour being so incredibly moved by your blog. i am so, so sorry for your loss- if it’s any morsel of consolation, i’m sure she would have loved this beautiful, authentic writing. you can feel your love for her in your words- it’s tangible and immortalized. it sounds like you had an amazing relationship. just reading you talk about her has shaped my conception of love. i’m young, have probably never actually been in love, and i know i can’t possibly imagine what you’re going through right now. but i’m thinking of you and of Emily this Christmas- i hope you manage alright this holiday season. your story is something to be treasured, even if unfairly ended too soon. thank you so much for sharing it. i don’t think i can accurately put my thoughts into words, as i type with tears streaming down my face, but i just wanted to somehow convey my gratitude and wishes that you find strength to get through this. not only will she never be forgotten, but i can personally attest that you are now having her memory change the lives of others. i think she’d be proud of how you continue to see her in little things around you- her love will stay with you forever and be rekindled every day. a person has to be really great to so fundamentally change someone’s view of the world like that.
Sorry for the much delayed response, but thank you so much for this comment! Really made my day.
I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read this and for sharing the impact it had on you.