Navigating Jealousy

Several times in recent months I’ve had moments where I felt jealous. Usually it happens when a friend is celebrating a big success in an arena (parenting, publishing, etc.) where I’ve been struggling. Then I’m left with a hard pile of emotions to juggle because I have to figure out how to both honor my own feelings and to share in the joy of my friend. It helps when I recognize that jealousy is like anger in that it is a secondary emotion. When I peel away anger or jealousy I discover that what I actually feel is hurt or grief. Usually the source of grief is wholly unrelated to the person I’m feeling jealous of. When I see the grief for what it is, I am better able to hold it separate from my joy for my friend’s triumph. Then I can aim the shared joy toward my friend and process the jealousy/grief in a space where it won’t impact their celebration.

This year is a minefield of potential grief for Howard and me because this is the year when we are feeling the financial and emotional pinch from the projects we were unable to work on in 2020-21 because of Howard’s Long Covid. We did a lot of creative work during that span of time, but it was mostly focused on life-adjustment rather than saleable creative output. This year we’re in production mode. We’re producing work which will hopefully mean that the during second half of 2022 and all of 2023 we’re releasing things and moving forward with additional new things. Being in a more stable place ourselves will help my immediate reaction to the success of my friends be solely joyful rather than tempered by private grief.

Until then, I remind myself that jealousy is a natural response to circumstances beyond my control and I’m accountable for what I do with the feelings that show up in my head, not for the fact that they’re there.