The Green-Eyed Bitch

97353996_0aa308b47e_mI’ve never been a particularly jealous girlfriend but I am a very jealous writer. When I see someone promoting a piece on Facebook or Twitter, I feel something a little bitter and slithery churn in me: “Not fair,” I think in my whiniest adolescent voice. My better self might know that it has nothing to do with fair, but that better self doesn’t always get a say.

Now raise your hand if any of the following scenarios churn something ugly in you:

  • Someone else’s kid makes Varsity and yours doesn’t.
  • Your friend drives a BMW P series (or whatever) while you have a shitbox with a tape deck and half a bumper.
  • Some perfect-looking skinny bitch is…well, a perfect-looking skinny bitch.

Don’t lie—your hand is up by now.

  • A writer you know signs a book deal with a big-time publisher.

And now so is mine.

Jealousy is nasty and acidic. It makes me mean and small, and I wish I was better than that. I’m not. And there’s no point in pretending otherwise–that will only make it more toxic, more slippery. And it is slippery, because sometimes it goes in the other direction and shows up as superiority. Because when you’re sitting in all that fear of not being good enough (which is all jealousy is), who doesn’t like feeling smugly superior when you come to find out that the person you’re jealous of is actually nothing but a hack? If you answered in the negative to that, nobody likes you anyway.

Sometimes when I go into something—a book, a party, a friendship—I’m looking for the flaws. Usually. Ok most of the time. I know that there are nicer, better people who go into experiences looking for the good parts, but I don’t. I look for the shit parts. That way, either I get to be right (yay!) or I’m pleasantly surprised. In theory it’s supposed to prevent me from ever being disappointed. (It does not.)5066821207_81224f9ab8

But the problem with having a “presumption of shit” philosophy, is that sometimes you find things in life only because you’re looking for them. Which begs the question–what could I have seen if I wasn’t so busy looking for the awful? What if I could suspend judgement for a minute, and imagine that there’s no limit to the amount of success or happiness in the world, and that the quality of “That Beautiful Essay” in Talents R Us Magazine has no bearing on me or my writing whatsoever? Or to put it more simply—

What if I could believe that there is enough in the world for me too?

I don’t even know what that would look like. Which I guess, is the point.

****

I think there’s an important distinction to be made between envy and jealousy. To me, envy is about admiration while jealousy is more of a if-I-had-to-push-her-down-a-flight-of-stairs-to-get-that-byline-I’d-do-it kind of thing. Envy is about wanting good things for both parties involved. It’s bigger than jealousy, more inclusive. Envy typically shows up in my life with the people who matter most in my life—the people for whom I truly only want good things. I just happen to want those good things for myself as well, and when the people I love have said good things, and I don’t…I get envious. Which can morph into jealousy easily if I’m not careful. The line between the two is never clearly marked.

Those are the times that I find it hardest to like myself—when I’m jealous of someone I love It makes me feel ugly in a whole new way, as if now it’s not only jealousy but betrayal as well.

Except that it’s not. It’s not betrayal, it’s not evil, it isn’t even “wrong.” It’s a feeling–which is neither a fact nor an action–and I get to decide what to do with it. Whether I keep it close and store it like a squirrel’s nut in winter, or whether I simply lean into it, allow myself to feel it, and then let it move through me.

Which all sounds perfectly lovely but I find it really goddamn hard to practice. I’d love to evolve to the point where I have complete faith in both myself and the Universe, and maybe someday I will. But right now, when I click on the link to your article, odds are I’ll be looking for the flaws. Can’t help it. But you can bet your ass that if that article is good, I’m going to promote the hell out of it. Because I really do want other people to succeed.

Just not more than me. JK. Kinda.

photo credit: Scream via photopin (license)

photo credit: via photopin (license)

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15 thoughts on “The Green-Eyed Bitch

  1. Carolyn February 10, 2016 / 10:46 pm

    I am so envious and jealous and pleased and impressed and proud you’re my smarty pants talented gf!

    Like

  2. nzzoom February 11, 2016 / 12:36 am

    Not sure if you’re attention seeking here or not. At least you haven’t started with ‘7 ways jealousy will eat you up from the inside’ Suggested prescription; dharmaseed.org – amazing podcasts going way back to answer your wish “I’d love to evolve to…” Also on itunes podcasts. At least you’re honest 😉 BTW I enjoyed your honesty in a story that was syndicated into a daily here in NZ

    On Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 3:18 PM, sum of my pieces wrote:

    > sumofmypieces posted: “I’ve never been a particularly jealous girlfriend > but I am a very jealous writer. When I see someone promoting a piece on > Facebook or Twitter, I feel something a little bitter and slithery churn in > me: “Not fair,” I think in my whiniest adolescent voice. ” >

    Like

    • sumofmypieces February 11, 2016 / 11:49 am

      @nzzoom Can you tell me which daily you’re referring to? I didn’t know about my work being in a daily in NZ! Just wondering where you read it.

      Like

      • Zac February 11, 2016 / 1:08 pm

        Hey Dani … it was the article from WaPo about nurturing your boyfriend and it appeared in the NZHerald – it must’ve only been in the print version as it isn’t on the herald site. Cheers from NZ!

        Like

  3. Julie Burton February 11, 2016 / 12:36 am

    I do the same thing. Believe me, some variation of “I’m not good enough” runs through my head often. Social media makes this worse. Do you have sisters? I have two. I also blame them.
    I love your blog, btw. The honesty is refreshing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sumofmypieces February 11, 2016 / 4:10 pm

      I do have sisters actually – interesting idea. They’re much older than me so they were never exactly “competition.” But that’s definitely something I’ll have to think about! Thanks for reading and commenting – always nice to hear that my writing is landing somewhere…

      Like

  4. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me February 11, 2016 / 10:18 am

    I think any writer (or painter, or musician, or chef, whatever) who says they never feel this is lying to themselves and everyone else. It’s part of the dynamic, even if not a pretty one, and the nature of the beast.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Chris Karl February 11, 2016 / 1:53 pm

    For a long time I was scared to share my own writing because maybe my style is a little different, or maybe I don’t follow all the “correct” rules of grammar, etc…I was blocked by the thought that I could never measure up or “who wants to read what I have to say?” But once I pushed through that barrier and shared, I was glad I did, whether or not other people are into it. So, I totally relate to the jealousy aspect of it all…good stuff, I enjoy reading your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. odette brady February 12, 2016 / 6:09 am

    Yep! I’m the same. If you beat me to a book deal I will hate you. But for now, I will just continue to enjoy your blog. ps. This is how friends become frenemies – they get something I want and then we’re over. It sucks, I wish I was bigger than that. But as you say, pretending is waaaaay worse. Thanks so much for being open about this. Makes me feel better to know I’m not the only one.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cheyanne February 15, 2016 / 4:48 pm

    I have definitely struggled with jealousy – however I have recently learned comparing yourself to others is just toxic. Yes, it can inspire you, but it can also drive you insane. Great honest post.

    http://www.CheyanneFulton.com

    Liked by 1 person

  8. xomidwestmess February 15, 2016 / 5:17 pm

    “I think there’s an important distinction to be made between envy and jealousy. To me, envy is about admiration while jealousy is more of a if-I-had-to-push-her-down-a-flight-of-stairs-to-get-that-byline-I’d-do-it kind of thing. Envy is about wanting good things for both parties involved. It’s bigger than jealousy, more inclusive. Envy typically shows up in my life with the people who matter most in my life—the people for whom I truly only want good things. I just happen to want those good things for myself as well, and when the people I love have said good things, and I don’t…I get envious. Which can morph into jealousy easily if I’m not careful. The line between the two is never clearly marked.”

    This is so beautiful. Much love

    Liked by 1 person

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