I see pictures on Facebook and Instagram of my friends in their workout or dance attire, sharing their skinned knees and sore feet from dance practice, bruises from pole or sore muscles from working out. I see people flexing and squatting or lifting heavy weights, then sharing stories about blown knees and torn arms and tweaked backs. I hear story after story after story about people with injuries who lift heavy weights, or swim or run dozens of laps/miles, or do push ups and pull ups and other things that put tremendous amounts of stress on their injured shoulder/back/knee/whatever and in the next breath complain about how much it hurts or that they know they shouldn’t do these things but choose to anyways. I hear them complain about how much it sucks.
It frustrates me. It makes me angry. It leaves this gnawing, raw, bitter feeling in the pit of my stomach. It makes me jealous. Oh, yeah, hey there jealousy. I want to shut myself away and put as much distance between myself and my friends because don’t they know how much I would give to be able to complain about bruised knees and rolled ankles? Do they know how much I wish I could lift my arm over my head and do presses? I don’t want to listen to complaints about these things. It makes me want to scream. And shake them. And yell some more.
When I wasn’t able to dance this year, I felt like something had been separated from me, like a piece of what made me, well, special, had somehow become detached and was floating there, within sight but enough out of reach that no matter how far I stretched, or reached, or tried, I couldn’t quite touch it. Watching my dream, my outlet, my escape just bobbing there just out of reach started out feeling like an ache. It was just going to be a couple months, a small bump or setback. I could deal with that. Then it was a few more months, and then more still. I can still see the string holding it getting just a bit longer each day, can feel it sliding out of my grasp just a bit more, but can’t really do anything to stop it from happening.
I hate myself for feeling this way, really. Jealousy eats away at you like a fungus, covering a bit at a time until it spreads, and eventually you are buried under all of it, practically unrecognizable and quite possibly smothering. You feel rotten, because you are. Jealousy makes you feel like a bad person, an angry, hateful person, who just can’t be happy for anyone and wants everyone to be as miserable and unhappy as you are. I’m not that person though, I’m not.
It is show season, competition season, performance time. And I am not there for any of it. As much as I want to be there to support my friends, and watch and cheer from the sidelines, yelling myself hoarse and clapping till my fingers and thighs sting, drinking in the experience and reveling in their awesomeness, I can’t. It hurts, actually hurts, to sit there and watch people doing the things that I should be doing. I should be out there. That should be me.
And it’s not.
It’s ugly, feeling this way. I cry about it, hot, big fat tears of self-pity and want to kick my feet, drop to the floor and scream at the top of my lungs “it’s not fair!!!!”. I’m aware, though, that my feelings and my reactions mean that I care. Deeply, passionately, care.
You know, I know that there are others who are suffering so much more, people who would want to slap me and shake me and ask if I know how good I’ve got it. I just watched cancer as it stole my Dad. At least I am not fighting with a terminal illness, or something life threatening, I tell myself. It’s just pain.
It’s my pain though, and it’s real. It’s constant, literally 24/7. At this point, I can honestly tell you that I don’t really remember what it feels like to have a pain free day, or to only feel pain that I’ve caused myself through a workout or activity. If you’ve never dealt with chronic pain, it’s hard to describe what it’s like. It’s part of my day to day, and is there, no matter what I do. I don’t want sympathy, that’s not why I am sharing this, promise. But I will be honest and say that I am jealous of those who don’t know what it’s like. It is not something I would wish on my worst enemy, but it kills me that people just don’t get it.
Oh, yeah, hey there jealousy.
I hate not wanting to be a part of things because it makes me feel even more alone. I despise feeling like my friends are more on the periphery and that the places that I held in my social groups have been shuffled away to make more room for someone new, someone who is a part of the group when I’m not. I’m jealous of the fact that it’s not me out on stage. I’m bitter at the knowledge that I couldn’t even try. It sucks feeling forgotten and replaced and I don’t want to feel that way but I also can’t help how I feel. I want to feel happy and excited for people who will be performing in their first show or competition, I want to be able to watch and appreciate and not think “that should be me”. I want to be ok with the fact that people have these opportunities to do things that I would kill for, and instead of basking in them, complain and not seem to understand and appreciate. I just don’t always know how. I put on a smile and give words of advice or sympathy, share in the excitement, like pictures and statuses, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. I want to squash this thing, keep it from taking hold and turning me into something that I am not. I know it hasn’t yet, because I really *am* happy and excited for people. I’m also just really, really sad.
Suck it up, Princess, you might be thinking. Stop being such a jerk and just be happy for someone other than yourself. It’s not your time, that’s passed and gone and you need to let it go. Trust me, I’ve told myself these things a million times, but when that green-eyed monster decides to make his appearance, I’m pretty much powerless to stop him. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, we are human, after all. It’s easy to want what you can’t or don’t have. It’s natural, even. It’s how we choose to deal with those feelings that can make or break us, at least I think so anyways. It’s ok to have feelings though, and it’s ok to be sad or mad or jealous or feel how you feel. It’s what makes us real, fallible, relatable, human. What’s not ok, though, is to let yourself be eaten alive by those feelings. To get to a place where you can’t feel happy for anyone else, where you are nothing but a ball of rage and hated, and have turned into that thing that you despise. We’ve all been there, and will be again. It’s hard not to beat yourself up about it, but it’s what needs to be done.
So know, I will choose to go, if I can, to shower my people with love and energy and support. Please understand, though, that if I can’t be there, I have my reasons too, and that I am cheering you on or loving on you from afar. If I can be there I will, although I may have to pretend to have some dust in my eye to not seem to be so sad. It’s not you, I promise. It won’t always be this way, I hope, and over time, this emotion and I will come to some kind of understanding with each other. Oh, yeah, hey there jealousy. I see you and I feel you, but I will not let you win. Mark my words.
How do you cope with feelings like this?