Saturday, August 02, 2008

Rented Space: Jealousy

[Lara here, with another blog rental post. For those who aren't familiar, this is something I started to give folks a safe space to write when needed. If it's something you can't post on your own blog, you can contact me to rent my space. For more details, read the post where I first announced the plan.

For now, please offer some kindness and advice to this reader, who is dealing with some particularly painful emotions. Thanks in advance.]

I am dealing with some hard-core jealousy right now.

My brother is the oldest of my three younger brothers, and he and my best friend got married a little over two years ago. The whole situation has been hard for a number of reasons... I am super happy for both of them, and I can't imagine either of them married to anyone else, but sometimes it's just hard to deal with. I find myself jealous of my best friend for being married so young (21) while I feel like I'm languishing away at the ripe old age of 26. I'm jealous of my brother for being the first one in our family to get married, mostly because I'm the one whose only ambition in life has always been to get married and have kids. I'm jealous of the close relationship that they have with each other and the resulting lack of closeness that has naturally occured between my brother and me and between my best friend and me. I'm jealous that she got to be pregnant and now has a beautiful baby girl, while I've never had a boyfriend or been kissed or even held hands with anyone.

(Some of you might know who I am from that last paragraph, and that's okay. I just need to vent and I don't want my brother and sister-in-law to read it and be hurt or feel weird or awkward, because it's nobody's fault, it's just the way it is. If you do know who I am, please feel free to email me with any encouraging words you might be able to offer.)

I'm here at their house, helping out, since my niece is only ten days old, and it is, emotionally, one of the hardest things I've ever done.

Don't get me wrong; I am so in love with my niece. I'm so happy that my brother is a daddy and that my best friend is a mom, and that my niece has such great parents. I just wish it were me. I know that motherhood is totally hard and I know that pregnancy sucks and birth is traumatic and that post-partum depression is crippling. And I know that it's harder than I could possibly imagine. But singleness is totally hard, and loneliness sucks and life is traumatic, too. And THAT crap comes sans loving husband and adorable baby to hold. It's just me and my hopes and dreams and fears and insecurities, drowning. I know that marriage is not all puffy hearts and unicorns, but at least in a marriage there's sort of a built-in support system to help with the hard times. I know it won't solve all (or any) of my problems, but even just a shoulder to cry on would help at this point, frankly.

I love holding my niece, and I'm really glad that I'm able to help my brother and sister-in-law, but I feel like the ache of my empty arms is only magnified by the fact that it's not MY baby I hold. I want to hold my own baby and watch him or her grow up. Right now, I'm feeling really fragile and lonely... and it's so hard not to fear that my day will never come. So hard not to let myself be swallowed in despair. So hard to find the hope.

I don't like the person that I am when I am so consumed by jealousy and longing and my own needs. I wish I knew how to put all that aside and just give for now. I think I'm doing a pretty good job on the outside, but I've cried almost every time I've been alone (washing dishes, going pee, etc.). The thing is, I don't want to make my sister-in-law feel bad for me. She's already dealing with a lot, having just had her first child and dealing with extensive tearing and post-partum depression and a breast infection, along with all the worries that being completely responsible for a little human being brings. I don't want her to worry or think it's her fault or think she should try to cheer me up; I just want her to rest and let herself heal.

It's hard for me to beg for responses, but I am begging you, nakedly (metaphorically), if you have any suggestions for me or words of encouragement (especially if you've been in a situation similar to mine), please please please share your wisdom with me.


BetteJo said...

I have never been in your specific situation. But I do remember a time in my life when all I wanted was someone to love me, I wanted to build a life around a man and the family we would create. But I found that I wanted it so badly that I tried too hard, did not choose wisely and held on too tightly.

Of course you want what they have, it's a wonderful thing. But I wonder if you are completely happy with yourself - because another person will not make you whole.

It is something no one could have told me, I had to learn on my own. But I was also suffering from undiagnosed depression which magnified the feeling of hopelessness.

I wish you well and hope your dreams come true. But I also hope you can concentrate more on who you are as a person all on your own. It's a healthy way to approach a relationship - with a good foundation in your own self esteem.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

We all have jealous feelings about friends and loved ones sometimes - that's part of being human (I think Gore Vidal said once "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little).

But the crying jags and the fact that you seem to have been feeling this way for a while seem to suggest that you might benefit from a counseling session or two. Have you considered that? I'm almost afriad to suggest it, because it took a lot for to write that and I certainly sympathize with your situation... but really, I have seen a therapist in the past and found it SO helpful. I think you might, too.

Just a suggestion... whether you choose to follow my advice or not, I hope it all works out for you!

P.S. Big believer here in the "If it was meant to happen, it will happen" theory. Hang in there and stop looking - you never find what you REALLY want when you're looking for it. Enjoy yourself, your independence, and you'll be a much happier person for it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bettejo. We must make ourselves happy before we venture on to other things. I dont have words of wisdom for you. All I have is what my parents always told me & what I tell my own kids: God only gives us what we can handle. I hope I am not offending you with the religious reference. I believe that everything happens to us at the time we are ready to accept them and be able to deal with them. Try to find yourself first. Sometimes we romanticize the reality of life. Being married & having children is real work and it's tough.

I wish you the best of luck and hope that you will find your happiness.

gnomesque said...

That is rough. But you know what? Someday, you're going to meet the right person, and you're going to end up happy, just like your brother and best friend are. Everything's going to work out just fine, as long as you're not too busy dwelling on your jealousy to see what's right in front of you.

As hard as it may be, relax. Stop worrying about it, be as happy as you can be with what you have right now, and before you know it, everything you want will be happening.

I wish you all the best!

Mindful Molly said...

I haven't been in your exact position, although I have had similar feelings. All three of the previous commenter's are correct. I found myself from an early age wanting to be married and be a mother. One of my youngest sisters almost got married before me. As stupid as some may think, I had really tried to be everything I thought I needed to be for Mr. Right to find me. What I found, was that I really had to put myself out there...have new experiences, and really test myself and others to see what it was that I really wanted.

Now, were all my choices wise? NO!! I made some dumb choices, and some choices that really could have ended HORRIBLY.

Be wise in your choices, but find ways to get out there and see who you are, what you want, who you want or don't want, and do it responsibly.

I finally found a guy that I really believed I wanted. He made me crazy and that is a whole story in itself. But, I finally decided that I couldn't sit and wait for him to call me, I had to find other dates, I had to either find some joy for the moment or make him jealous or something. What I found was that once I made a decision to put myself out where others wanted to be with me not WANT ME but want to be with me, be my friend, and once I did, I had opportunities come not all at once, but frequently.

I ended up dating a guy, and it was more like the best friend I had never had! We did something every weekend, usually took his horses to the hills, and rode all day, and then back to his place or his parents. But, what I found in myself with him, was the person I really was. I found joy, in myself, and my decisions.

I also knew something about him that I didn't like and wasn't sure I could handle if I married him. Although I didn't think he would ever do it again, I thought he was changing, I just wasn't sure. He decided in order to be free of the guilt that he needed to take action. That meant that for 6 months to a year, we really wouldn't see much of each other, he wasn't in jail, but, close to it. He took all the necessary steps so it made his life easier because he told the truth. At this same time I had an aunt set me up, long story short, we started talking on the phone, then went out, and 8 months later we were married.

Moral of this story? I had to make change, I had to find peace with myself, and love what I did, and resign myself to the fact that I was me...I needed to like me, and I couldn't care what others thought.

It's a process, and you should seek a higher power to help you. Trust yourself dream, decide, and take action on the dreams and decisions. Have faith that you will get through this, and keep up what you are doing now. You need to serve others in order to get back. As much as it is hard, you will be blessed for your service. If it becomes too much, step back a bit, just enough to be ok, but, still enough to test yourself and be of service.

I would be happy to share more if you need it. I remember being in your shoes, and feeling the same feelings. Yes, marriage is hard, being a mother is difficult. But, I do have someone to lean on, he is my best friend, and I love my children and wouldn't ever give them up (uh, for more than a few days of mommy

Anonymous said...

In these situations I think it is important to live in the moment and enjoy the blessing of life in relation to the baby. Then when your visit is over, take some time to write the good things in your life and what you are grateful for. Then, if finding things to be thankful for is hard, maybe talk to a professional counselor. Even one or two sessions can really help with perspective.

anonymous said...

From the blog renter:

Thank you all so much. I do think that I'm already dealing with some depression and anxiety, and you're right, bettejo... I am not happy with who I am right now.

bejewell, I have considered counseling. I'm not really sure how to go about it or who to see, but I definitely think I do need some help.

jamimiami, totally not offended by the religious reference. I'm a Christian, which sometimes makes unpleasant emotions a little harder by tinging them with guilt as well. But I do believe what you said, that God doesn't give me more than I can handle. Sometimes I feel like it's more than I can handle, but the truth remains that I am still alive and kicking. :)

mindful molly: Thank you for sharing your story. I'd love to hear more of it (ihazaemail at gmail dot com) if you feel like sharing. Getting out there and discovering who I am has eluded me so far (I am a chicken and I tend to hang out at home), but I do want to train myself to leave my comfort zone.

blogversary: That is a great idea. Thank you!

flutter said...

I so understand this. Do the work you want to do on you and all of this will fall into place

Cate Subrosa said...

Big hug for you... you are clearly a kind, loving person who is very self-aware and just happens to be having a very difficult time at the moment.

So, your best friend became your sister-in-law, eh? As you said, I'm sure you're very happy for them, but you almost lost someone there, didn't you? She was your best friend, the person you should have been able to discuss your new sister-in-law with, not both rolled into one.

My advice would be this: spend more time with your other friends. She is your best friend and I'm not suggesting that you pull away from here now, but in your other spare time, put your energies into your other friendships.

Best of luck... your time will come ;)

Anissa Mayhew said...

I sure with I had the fix-it magic wand. I'm so sorry that your jealousy is stealing some of the happiness in your life. It's hard to be happy for others when they have the things, and not "things", but the things that are toted as most important in life, that you so desperately want. It's not wrong for you to feel that way.

I had a miscarriage just as my best friend gave birth to her first daughter. I could barely look at her, I couldn't call her because the sound of a baby crying caused me to break down. I was so consumed with wanting HER life, the one that had the husband and the baby and all the joy.

She called me one day, we talked and cried and shared about what I was feeling, what she was feeling coming from me. Trust me, there's a really good chance that your friend knows and just doesn't know how to say the words to you. If you've been friends for that long, there's no way she can't feel your pain.

I would so suggest talking to her about it, maybe not now when she's so post-partum, but soon. Before you let it hurt you more and before you let it interfere with the relationships with people who are so important to you.

I will also share with you that I have those 3 kids and that husband I ached for. It will happen for you too.

Anonymous said...

Oh, sweetie. I KNOW that boat you are in right now, and I know it well.

I can't offer the reassurances that the other wise women on this blog can. Because there are no guarantees. While that might not necessarily seem supportive in the sense that life is all rainbows and flowers, it is reality.

Where I do think these fine women strike the nail on the head are when they say you must love yourself FIRST. This road will seem that much longer if you don't like who you are. It's not like you can just leave, right? :)

Second, depression seems to be filtering through your words, and some counseling might do you some good. Something to think about.

moplans said...

I think we can be happy for other people and still be envious of what they have.
I cannot even imagine how difficult this is for you. I do know that your brother and friend are so very lucky to have you helping them with the new baby.
it is an emotional time for everyone and i think it shows great maturity , which my mother does not possess btw, to put their needs first at the moment.
As time goes on though I think as others have suggested and you have said in your comment here, you need to look at ways of making yourself happier in your life.
best of luck. you are a wonderful friend and deserve to treat yourself as well as you are treating those in your life.

Anonymous said...

You seem really sweet. As others have written, I don't think you need to feel bad about being jealous: anybody in a similar situation would feel the same. One can't prevent any feeling, good or bad; what makes a person is how she deals with those feelings. Writing about them, as you have, is probably a good method. And as others have suggested, once your friend recovers, a conversation with her will probably help even more.

One other comment: In my view, wanting a husband too badly makes you vulnerable to settling for an imperfect, and ultimately unhappy, relationship. The other comments have it right: you need to adventure out into the world more, challenge yourself more (and thereby gain respect for your abilities), and learn to love yourself more. Easier written than done, of course. I think one ingredient in a healthy future marriage is to enter a relationship despite enjoying the single life.

Mojo said...

My first question was how you came to reach the age of 26 without ever having any kind of intimate connection with someone else. I don't mean that to sound perjorative, it's just something I found very unusual. But it's only important if it's contributing to the underlying problem, and I can't tell if you think it is or isn't.

Absent actual sociopathy, I think we all want to be loved, to feel connected to Another, to be Not Alone. I know I certainly want that. And I think it transcends age, gender, socioeconomic class... and every other classification you can put a person into.

I think it's significant that you recognize the feeling for what it is. And a wise man once told me that feelings aren't "good" or "bad" in and of themselves. They just "are". It's how we act on them that requires a value judgment. In other words, your feelings aren't hurting your brother and his wife, but you could take some hurtful action because of them.

I guess what I'm trying to say (badly) is to forget trying to "get rid of the feelings" and focus on the thing you can actually control: your actions. Which it sounds like you're doing a good job of.

Being mindful of your feelings is good, but trying to control them? That way leads to madness. Sometimes literally.

Anonymous said...

First - don't beat yourself up for feeling jealous - it's understandable in the situation. My two closest friends now have children and it does give me real pangs at times. and I'd definitely echo the advice about finding a time to talk to your friend about how you feel.

One things that really helps me is to view what I'm doing now as preparation for being in the situation I want to be in. So by helping your sister-in-law you're taking a step towards to having a child of your own, even if that may seem a long way off just now.

You may well ask, how can I possibly view being single as preparation for a relationship? I would say that being able to live happily on your own and singly is a fundamental basis for a successful relationship. To be on good terms with yourself, and have a life of your own, is for me the best way to prepare for a relationship. And it means that being single can still be a valuable and enjoyable part of your life.

Good luck, anyway!

Teacha said...

(((Hugs))) you are not alone. I have not words of wisdom. Only understand and feel you. Our tears are the same.