Saturday, February 13, 2010

I'm Sorry for the Ramble but My Oh My this Wine Tastes Good


Jealousy has been on my mind a lot over the course of the last several months. Not because I'm feeling jealous...honestly, I can't remember the last time I felt the sting...but because of the circumstances of people I know.

That's not to say I've never felt jealous or never will again, it's rare.

If I were ever to be in a position to feel jealous, perhaps that time would have been over the course of the last few days - the first time my feelings about my own circumstances have been tested.

Yet, what I've felt is pleasure, contented, connected, joyful, loving, generous. There is no bitterness, fear, sadness, grief. And certainly not even a twinge of the jealousy those other emotions bring.

And I've asked myself why? Why, when others so keenly feel it in similar circumstances, do I not feel...threatened, sad, afraid? Why have I not felt it before in these types of situations? Do I not care as much as I believe I do?

Ha! Do I not care.

In fact, I care very much. Certainly more than enough to have felt vulnerable.

But not jealous.

Add to that a statement made to me recently regarding a special event taking place in a friend's life soon about how I was the only friend who had not expressed jealousy that the event was not happening to me, and my curiosity about myself is peaked even further.

So I set off on a quest to answer why, turning to my two favorite online starting points to begin my and the wiki.

According to


1. Fearful or wary of being supplanted; apprehensive of losing affection or position.
2. a. Resentful or bitter in rivalry; envious: jealous of the success of others.
b. Inclined to suspect rivalry.

I then looked up the definition of envy because...well...I would use envy as a synonym for jealous but not vice versa and its appearance in the definition of jealous peaked my interest.


1. a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.
2. an object of envious feeling: Her intelligence made her the envy of her classmates., in simpler terms, jealousy stems from the fear of losing something we possess and envy stems from something we want but do not have.

Interestingly, when I landed on the wiki entry for jealousy, I found this...

Perhaps the overlapping use of jealousy and envy occurs because people can experience both at the same time. A person may envy the characteristics or possessions of someone who also happens to be a romantic rival. In fact, one may even interpret romantic jealousy as a form of envy. A jealous person may envy the affection that his or her partner gives to a rival--affection the jealous person feels entitled to himself or herself. People often use the word jealousy as a broad label that applies to both experiences of jealousy and experiences of envy.

A bit further in the article, the wiki offers this distinction by psychologist Gerrod Parrot:

The experience of jealousy involves:

* Fear of loss
* Suspicion or anger about betrayal
* Low self-esteem and sadness over loss
* Uncertainty and loneliness
* Fear of losing an important person to an attractive other
* Distrust

The experience of envy involves:

* Feelings of inferiority
* Longing
* Resentment of circumstances
* Ill will towards envied person often accompanied by guilt about these feelings
* Motivation to improve
* Desire to possess the attractive rival's qualities
* Disapproval of feelings

At this point, I began to draw an interesting conclusion. Jealousy is really about possession and a sense of entitlement. And it's starting to all make sense.

Think about it. When we refer to relationships, we use possessive pronouns to describe them..."my girlfriend", "our relationship", "his heart belongs to me".

Uhm yeah, no it doesn't.

People are not possessions unless we're talking about actual slavery1. Therefore, a relationship cannot be possessed...owned. We can engage in a relationship with another but we cannot ever own anything more than our own feelings and actions within that relationship.

I know this. I know it like I know, no matter what, I am alone. Relationships are distractions from that fact...a fact I've accepted and embraced and even enjoy. I know it like I know nothing is never say never...or always.

I am not so vain as to believe I give something no one else can give. But I am secure in the knowledge that, for now, what I give is special because it is me offering it.

However, I'm not entitled to have my offering accepted. All love is unrequited, after all2. Nor am I entitled to receive anything in return. Relationships are simply this...offerings of mutually beneficial feelings, actions, and affections given and received at will.

The only thing I'm entitled to then is what I give to myself. The only reward I'm entitled to is what I earn and give to myself. If I want love, I give it to myself. That is the only love to which I am even remotely entitled. Anyone else offering me love, offers it freely but with no promises of reciprocation, continuation, expectation.

More than that, I am also not so vain as to believe I am everything or to believe one other can be everything to me. I do not want to be someone else's everything. Talk about an impossible expectation!

What I can be...what I simply me...Just Jane. I am my own everything and, as such, reserve it for myself. I am enough only for me. I give what I treasure but not so much without which I could not live. I have no expectation of time or affection. I am entitled to none of these from any other except me. I do not envy what I do not have materially for what I have is enough. If it is not, it is up to me to earn it, not expect it. I am not jealous of those who are not me because, without them, I would not be free to be only myself.

Is joy not the best emotion to witness in another? Joy, excitement, happiness? Are these things not what we wish for everyone but most especially those we love and care about the most? Does it matter how these feelings are obtained then? Certainly our own joy can be found in fulfilling the desire of someone we love, but is it our only source of joy? Can we not experience joy simply by being privy to it?

I am not jealous because my love is happy, excited, experiencing life...doing, believing, joyful. I do not need to be the source of the happiness to love that an experience - a desire - is being fulfilled. In any case, I am indirectly a part of it3. The fact that I am happy in the knowledge that my partner is happy contributes to the increased joy for the both of us. This also leaves me free to seek out and enjoy my own experiences, explore my own desires outside of ourselves, have joy come to the both of us because I am joyful and able to pass on that joy to another.

In essence then, jealousy is selfish, vainglorious, and manipulative. Selfish because one person must either satisfy all desires or those desires remain unfulfilled. Vainglorious because there is the mis-perception one can, in fact, fulfill all desires of another. Manipulative because jealousy attempts to keep another caged by insecurity and mistrust.

And now I know why I am not jealous. Because I am me.

1: Actual slavery whereby someone is bought and sold as opposed to consensual slavery whereby a contract is put into place between 2 adults establishing "ownership" and null and void whenever one of the 2 (or both) decide the relationship is ended.

2: Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

3: Just like the scissors are a part of it.


Anonymous said...

first of all - thank you!
second - yes the scissors are ALWAYS a part of it!

Kristin said...

Wow, that's a lot of deep thought there, Jane! But thanks for gives me much to ponder about some of my own current situations.