When I Get Jealous
The threat of ambiguous loss.
“I’m doing grief right. In my exhaustion, impatience, frustration and all the rest, I’m a good griever. Am I there yet? No. That’s correct.”Offering: July 23, 2023
It’s the middle of August. I’ve been eating watermelon every day until my belly aches, taking rides to nowhere in particular on the back of T.’s motorcycle, and feeling jealous of everything more than usual.
Jealousy frustrates me unlike any other emotion I experience. I’m not very nice to myself when I get jealous. Often when I notice its presence, I use my energy to swat it away while shaming myself for not being more evolved. This compounds the issue, I know, but old habits die hard.
Lately, I’ve been listening to what my jealousy and my intervening “higher self” have to say to one another before I attempt to clear them both from view. For me, jealousy perks up in the usual (and boring) places, like when my boyfriend talks to another woman, when an artist seems to be mentally sane while using Instagram, or when a friend gets engaged after a romantic proposal.
But jealousy also surprises me. This week, it showed up after I ran into a pal having breakfast with her husband, mother, and grandmother, wherein every generational tier still seemingly had their marbles. I felt it when Hannah sent me pictures of her dad, nearly eighty years old, while they worked on a home project together.
In all instances, I notice that my higher self sweeps in, and in a commanding voice says, You have so much! You have everything! You also have nothing! You will be fine no matter what! You are not losing anything!
Until recently, I never questioned this voice. Desperate to rid myself of the jealous feelings, I’ve listened obediently. I’m not hard to convince, either, because I do have everything. I do agree that I’ll be fine no matter what the future decides. What’s changed is that I can’t push myself into thinking that I’m not losing something anymore.
Today, when my brother and I used some of the little money that remains for my mother’s care to pre-pay for her funeral, I realized that I inhabit a place of ambiguous loss at all times. I actually think this is a universal reality for all of us, but my experience there has gotten louder and increasingly personal while I watch my mother unravel with dementia.
Suddenly, my ambiguous jealousy makes more sense. It is, after all, the looming threat of loss that provokes jealousy in the first place. I am losing something — my mother — and the threat is real. I am not jealous of what other people have per se, but what they have reminds me of what is growing scarce, or maybe what I never had.
I am revisiting the location of grief between denial and anger, which looks like being jealous of all old people who don’t have dementia, of my friends and their parents who don’t have dementia, and basically anything related to families being healthy and happy and doing nice things together.
I use the term “revisiting” because I’ve learned that grief is cyclical, repetitive, and long. In an Offering from July,introduced the work of Matthew Ratcliffe, noting that “grief isn’t something that can unfold over a prolonged period of time, it’s something that must. It is an inherently, undeniably, enduring thing”.
Grief, like jealousy, is also hard to express because there’s a flagrant entitlement about it. “These things” — an aging, sick parent — are supposed to happen to other people, not to me.
But guess what? I am other people. We are all other people. Death comes for us all.
Cheryl Strayed tells two women to run.
More Cheryl Strayed on what our parents owe us.
Simone Grace Seol speaks to the tectonic shift happening around intentionally working and earning less in fifteen minutes. A perfect thing to listen to after reading my letter from last week.
Simone and Luis Mojica on the necessity of feeling helpless and capitalism as a catalyst for change.
Margeaux Feldman on how we might move beyond the binary of (righteous) critique or (problematic) joy and occupy a place in between (yes, there is some Barbie stuff in here).
T. and I watched The Jewel Thief on Hulu and it made me think about the importance of confidence, and the increase in societal rules and surveillance since the 1980’s.
Other nice things…
We had RAIN IN AUGUST at the ranch last week, and it brought with it a beautiful rainbow.
Tracking my cycle and intermittent fasting after reading Mindy Pelz’s book Fast Like a Girl.
Doing the list every day with, who is now also writing about love.
Raw, unpasteurized heavy cream in my coffee.
T. and I:
This potato salad recipe that Brian’s friend James brought for community potluck. No mayo, but uses blended caramelized onions, vinegar, and oil to make it gooey: