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Envy, Jealousy, the Eating Disorder, and Me

Posted Apr 18 2010 12:00am

I have known, for a while now, that I am going to have to write about jealousy at some point. I have started, multiple times, in the past year, and then abandoned the attempts in frustration as the words splutter out with no resolution; and, amidst the debris, I can not find what I am trying to say.

Jealousy is something that I struggle with on an almost daily basis. A cruel and angry emotion that starts in the pit of my stomach; winds its way around the object – and then shoots back to me again.

Envy is closely aligned, yet more crippling. It is ingrained and slow-moving, and I often get them confused.

Her job is more interesting than my job; his flat is bigger than my flat; where they live is better than where I live; blonde hair has far more allure that brunette; if only I was as clever – or as beautiful – or as popular – or as slim, as her.

One complaint leads to the next and the poison oozes, insidiously, until everything’s tainted.

For as long as I can remember, I have been like this.

Threatened by other people’s success (and then ashamed of the emotion). Envious of other people’s attributes (and then aware of my own deficiencies). Possessive of people and qualities (which you can not own, nor really compete over). Angry and hurt and frustrated that it is always them – and not me.

Followed by the bitter after taste of self-disgust and a dribble of rage.

Jealousy is never pretty.

Envy eats you up, from the inside out.

Together, they reek of desperation and the deep yellow of the acidic bile that I used to wretch up in an attempt to expel the emotions. They are linked, I am beginning to see. The eating disorder and jealousy and envy. They have been dancing around in my head, egging each other on; or, else, tangled together in a kind of grotesque hold.

At the start, I think I thought the eating disorder would stop the emotion or, at the least, provide a means of punishing myself for it. This is how the cycle began, I think. Emotions – then guilt – then punishment – then lower self respect – then more emotions – then guilt – then punishment – then lower self respect. The further you sink, the higher up the rest of the world begins to appear.

And so we start again.

Later, the eating disorder became a substitute; a stand in for all that was lacking. The gnawing subsided, here, for a moment; or was, at least, subdued. I do not care that they have more friends – or a better wardrobe – or higher grades; because I can, at least, be thin .

There is, of course, a fundamental flaw in this line of thinking, and a twist that you only appreciate near the end: you’re running in the opposite direction from your aspirations; moving further from, not nearer to, where you really want to be heading.

And now? Now, it is back with a vengeance and a fiery twist. The more I engage with life, the harder it pushes and pokes and surges and urges me – not on, but away; not forwards, but backwards. Backwards. Again.

Which is why I have realised that it is time to stop. Now. And work out what is going on.

And therefore, I hold the key.

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