Friday, May 14, 2010

The Green Eyed Monster

On the weekend I attended Equip - a Christians women's conference.  As usual it was fantastic.  One of the speakers in particular was very challenging.  She spoke on the topic of envy - defined as "pain and ill will at another's success".


Now, I wouldn't have outed myself as an 'envier' before hearing this talk, but I have to admit...I ENVY.

The speaker went on to say how poisonous envy is - mainly to the envier - and also to relationships. What she said really struck a chord with me.  I envy.  And it is poisoning me. I have kidded myself that I am not bitter about Ashlea's disabilities.  And in one sense I'm not.  I'm not bitter.  I don't think "Why me?" or 'Its not fair'.  But do I envy other people?  Too right I do.  Do I sometimes hate them for their seemingly easy lives?  Too right I do.

Its not just that I am sad for what I don't have (which I am), its that I intensely dislike some people who have what I don't have - the seemingly 'normal, easy life'.  That is where the poisoning comes in.  There are a group of women in my life who on the surface appear to have it all.  In my mind I refer to them as 'those bitches'.


I don't want to end up bitter - that kind of attitude only poisons me and my ability to be friends with other people.  People who seem to 'have it all'.  Or even with people who have just a little more than me.  Yes I know that you don't always know what goes on in a persons life, they may struggle in their marriage, finacially, whatever, but I have all those regular struggles AS WELL AS some pretty major ones like a medical condition of my own and a child with multiple medical conditions.

Envy.  Why not them?  Why is it so easy for them?

I even envy other sick kids. At the kidney parents group I am envious... 'they only have kidney issues to deal with...we have so much more'.


The flip side of being an envier is that as humans we also like to be envied.  This is where it gets really ugly.  Today at the hospital there were lots of other 'normal' children running around to be envied.  But then a lady came in with a child much worse off than Ashlea.  Phew - at least things aren't that bad.  Told you its ugly.  Relief that someone else's child is worse off, that mine isn't 'the worst'.

Envy.  Its ugly.

I felt very challenged by the talk.  I know that feeling sadness and grief over Ashlea's disabilities is valid.  But the constant comparing to other people is so unhelfpul.  I hate it.  I hadn't realised that it is something I have done all my life. Compared myself - usually unfavourably - to others.  Its got to stop.

One of the speaker's suggestions for combating envy included being thankful.  I am thankful for Ashlea.  I am thankful for her delightful nature, for the things that her disabilites teach me and the great people I have met as a result.  Its only when I start to look around at others, and start comparing myself to them that I become envious and discontent.

'That's normal' I hear you say.

It may be, but its poisoning me.

I don't want to end up bitter from this experience.  I want to enjoy Ashlea.  I want to enjoy being a mum of 3 gorgeous girls.  I want to live a full life, not one that is poisoned by envy and bitterness.

So, what is your strategy - seeing as it is clear that I don't exactly have one at this stage?  How do you not let envy and bitterness creep in?


Sarah said...

Great post!

I do envy other able bodied children that can do things so easily but I actually don't have a strategy as such for helping me not be too envious.

I have always had in my mindset since Violet was in NICU that someone is always worse of than yourself...I know that may sound awful but those people give me so much strength when things are bad in my helps me to keep on keeping on.

Belinda said...

Alison, it's a hard one.

Envy affects us all in many ways, and I agree it can poison you.

Most people I now who look like they have it all, really don't.

I don't have any strategies, but just wanted to say you are not alone. xx.

ferfischer said...

I think I had a post with the same name not too long ago! :)

I envy other people's lives all the time, and we are still really at the beginning of our new life with Cici, and I admit liking being around people who have "similar" kids because we can talk in complete understanding.

Mostly I feel upset and bitter when other people complain about how busy they are and how much their life sucks - when they don't see how blessed they are. I feel blessed too, but when other people think that our life is "awful" it makes me think twice and doubt myself. Gosh, is it really that bad? My kids are all alive and happy, even if they don't look typical.

I'm still getting to complete acceptance (I still get caught up in the "why me" stage) so if there is a secret, let me know!

Just Writing said...

I wish there was something I can tell you that worked for me but there is none. I still struggle with this, I think more so now that I started blogging and I see the lives represented in these blogs. I see stay at home moms and I wish I was one. I see women with wonderful husbands and I wish I had one. I see kids who don't have to deal with what my son deals with and I wish things were different. The reality is I have to work as mine is the only income because my husband is absent from our lives. My son has to deal with what he has and he needs my help doing so.
It's hard. I remind myself too that there are people who are in a worse situation than we are but that ends up giving me either a "better than thou" attitude or pity for them, which I don't think is healthy and right either.
Instead, I look back and see how much our lives have changed for the better. Despite my being a single parent with a special needs child, where we are now is so much better than where we were a couple of years ago(if that makes sense). Sometimes it takes the envy away, other times I have to remember harder.
Don't be too hard on yourself. Admitting and wanting to change is the first step, :)

Anna said...

Great post.
A lot of what you said has me thinking now. I don't know the answers (is there any?), but I don't think you should be too hard on yourself.

Being a parent of a child with a disability means a VERY different life than most people. And none of us have really chosen it have we? It is hard work. It is physically hard. The emotions you feel are incredibly intense. I think it is reasonable to find yourself envious of other people for whatever reason. I guess the issue comes when it becomes bitterness and you can't find your way through that.
I have that problem at the moment.
How do I fix it? No idea.
But you got me thinking!!!!!