Jealousy- It’s Not Them; It’s You.

My Dearest Friends and Readers,
In a way our world and society has been set up so that our
sense of self is often derived by comparison to others. It is a way we measure
success or rank. Jealousy and envy occur when we compare ourselves unfavorably
with another who we believe is attempting to replace us in some area in which
we feel is personally valuable.  These emotions
can start in childhood when we feel that our sibling or some-other is taking
over a coveted position or place or thing that we want. Envy is when you covet
a position or thing but you do not feel capable of attaining it. Both envy and
jealousy share the roots of rage and low self-esteem and shame. The mechanism
of each of these emotions is complex. Often times the envious person disparages
the envied person and this allows the envious person to feel superior and
blinds the envious person to his own sense of believed inadequacy. Some
psychologists say that the level to which the envious person disparages the
envied is a measurement of the envier’s lack of self-esteem. The more the
disparagement the lower the disparager’s self-esteem.  The premise of jealousy is that you the jealous
person can be replaced. However, we all know at an intellectual level that we
are not fungible or replaceable. But tell that to a person in the grips of
jealousy. As one author put it “jealousy is like trying to stop a moving car on
ice”. The following story  exemplifies a time when I was both envious and
I was dating a man to whom I was addicted to or some would say that I was codependent with.   My husband had died. I was fearful of being
alone. I was scared of living alone. I was afraid that I would not know how to
financially take care of myself and that I would end up homeless, man less and
on the streets of Baltimore. So to say that myself esteem was missing is an
understatement.  The worry of caring for
my late husband, who I had idolized both in life and death had worn me out and
aged me. I was depressed. I brooded and I had extreme self-loathing of   my
aging psychical self. At the same time, I was the pleaser and caretaker that I
had always been. Taking care of my dying husband had made me more so. Dave the
man who I was dating was the perfect “temporary” guy. . He was a little in awe
of me and the kind of man that I felt was “safe.” No one was going to claw
their way to get to him.  While I
verbally berated Dave, inwardly I was desperately afraid that he would leave me
for a younger woman because there was a 7 year age difference between us. Automatic
behavior kicked in and I waited on Dave’s every need.  Yet, I did not receive the kind of
acknowledgement that I had received from my grateful and dying husband. Dave
responded in the way a teenager is pleased with finding himself with a B rated
former sex star. The more I catered to Dave, the more I loathed myself and
projected that loathing on to him. So, here’s what happened.
It was in mid-October three years ago. Dave had been busy
running his small underfunded business. He was swamped and overwhelmed. He and
I had not seen each other for a week, which was odd. He had called every night
explaining his absence and for six days I had pretended that his absences were
ok. In the meantime, Dave and his single young attractive female colleague with
whom he worked had been spotted spending a lot of time together. This caused me
suspicion. This young woman who I had always believed to be in love with Dave,
was incredibly accomplished and had been honored with the highest honors of her
profession as a young composer. She was beautiful in the light skin, light
eyes, light colored hair that my generation of black people found to be
beautiful.  The potential for envy of her
was high. With a second malicious report of spotting them together reached me
and when Dave had not shown up that week, I was at high alarm. I was sure that
he had taken up with her. In my madness of jealousy I put together disparate
incidences of times that they had been together and I was jealous. I was being
replaced by some young nincompoop!
When on the seventh night Dave had begged off, I got into my
car and performed a “drive by.” A drive by is when you show up unannounced to
see if your boyfriend or girlfriend is home and if home- alone. So I drove by
and I saw only his car, but this young woman either didn’t have a car or didn’t
drive so a missing car was inconclusive. The angry knock on the door was
necessary. Dave opened the door and was puzzled? Hadn’t he just said that he
was not feeling well? Why was I there? When I told him my suspicions, he said that
they were completely unfounded.  And then
he made it worse and said that even if he was seeing her, that he and I did not
have an exclusive relationship and that he didn’t have to hide anything from
me. This was fire on gasoline. I called him every ugly name. Dave never raised
his voice or was loud. He was simply amazed to see what he thought was such a
put together woman falling apart. He offered me water and I could see the pity
and alarm in his eyes, which shamed me even more. My ego and I had no place
else to go, but to stalk out and leave him. But as I did so, my heart was
breaking. I realized that I was totally out of control and it wasn’t about
Dave, it was about me.
I had gotten lost and afraid. My erratic behavior had scared
me into realizing that I needed to find myself; to re-invent myself. It was one
of the hardest things that I have ever done. I had to learn to like myself. I
had to learn to live alone. I had to learn to take care of myself on my own for
myself. The journey to finding myself or finding the beloved within myself is
the basis for my second book, which is yet unnamed.
I have set myself on the path that is right for me. I have
accepted myself and know emotionally that love is within and not found without.
I also learned that someone’s attraction to another or desire for another does
not lessen me in any way. At my most secure self, at your most secure self you
know your intrinsic worth.  The first
step in anything is awareness. When you catch yourself being envious pay particular
attention to what and who you are being envious about. Then ask yourself, “Why
is it that I feel that I cannot attain that?” 
Before you get to the point of insane jealousy ask yourself why you are
jealous of that other person who is trying to take your place. Perhaps the
question to ask yourself is “Where is my place?” These are not easy or short
term skills to develop. However, understanding that envy and jealousy relates
to our own lack of self-esteem might provide us with the necessary next steps.
Remember it’s not them; it’s you.

The Addict Writes

4 Replies to “Jealousy- It’s Not Them; It’s You.”

  1. If you'd like to subscribe to this blog, please leave your email address in the comments section.

  2. Been there. Very insightful comments and helpful suggestions.

  3. Been there. Very insightful comments and helpful suggestions.

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