Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Resentment

I'm unsure if this is a product of our gender socialization, or human nature. But we are competitive creatures it seems. We are constantly comparing ourselves to each other in every way, especially with those of the same gender. This idea has been in the back of my mind for a while, and I've been observing the ways that it manifests itself, but I'm beginning to wonder what resentment or competition my life and my story spark in others, as I remember it sparking me in the past as well.

I love this picture. This is just after our first kiss, and I am totally cheesing it.
I've recently come into possession of a portion of my wedding photos. Not all of them, but the prep and ceremony pictures (which are mind-numbingly beautiful and emotional for me). As I look them over and begin to use a select few for Facebook, both my personal profile and the blog's page, I begin to remember how jealous and resentful I would be seeing other people post their adorable/beautiful/breathtaking/emotional wedding pictures. Or new baby pictures. Or new house pictures. Or graduation pictures. I could never explain this irrational overly jealous reaction. Their success has NOTHING to do with mine (or lack thereof) .... right?

Rationally, yes, that is correct. The idea that others being happy ruining your mood or chances at happiness is about a ridiculous as claiming Adam & Steve getting married down the street somehow ruins the sanctity of your personal marriage. ;) See, we all seem to be either programmed or trained to compare ourselves to others. I'm partial to it being a trained behavior, especially in our gender socialization. Women and girls are trained to compare ourselves to others. Especially in the areas I just listed above, mostly marriage, home, and babies. Also looks, but luckily for me, I don't hold that to a very high degree of importance and have escaped most (but not all) of the body/image issues many women do suffer from. But still, we believe we have to be better at these things than the other women around us. And men aren't actually excluded from this either, but it seems to manifest in completely different areas. How good is my job, how hot is my gf/wife, how sweet is my car/surround sound/computer/Magic:TG deck, etc. Also, it should go without saying if you are a regular reader, but for those not in the know, these are all sweeping generalizations. I am aware not every woman falls into those traps, not every man has virtual dick measuring contests, but this is a majority of interactions I observe in my daily life. And for those of you who don't care about the things listed, that doesn't stop others from bringing those kinds of topics up to you, does it? "When are you getting married/having babies?" is a question almost every single one of my female friends has heard, I am sure.

So here's the irrational side creeping in, I used to get a taste of poisonous bile in my throat every time someone posted their wedding/baby pictures. And that ever present whining voice in my head would creep in. "Why does SHEEEEEEE get to be married???? I'm SO much nicer than HEEEEEEER!" "I'm the one being RESPONSIBLE and WAAAAAAAAITING, why does SHEEEEEE get to be pregnant and have BAAAAABIES??? Aren't I more DESERVING????"

I'll let that sink in for a moment. As if my whether I deserved to be married/have babies/be happy is reflective of anyone else's experiences. As if my happiness is diminished by people who I do or do not like (which is irrelevant) being happy or having things I also want. Instead, why can't I see it as hope/motivation for myself? "If she can have a family, then I definitely can." "If he can graduate, there's no reason I can't." "If she can find someone to marry, so can I." Realize that every one of those people you're secretly hating for having everything you want has faced trials and obstacles just like you are right now. And the BIGGEST lesson I learned from getting over this ridiculous jealousy was that I only have one person to blame for not having the things I was so jealous of from everyone else's pictures and posts.


Granted, many of the things listed are a team effort and do depend on more than yourself to happen, however the biggest key factor in me being divorced/single/not married, childless, poor, in a crappy job, without a college degree, and with a gas guzzling money sink of a car was my poor choices. I made impulsive, poorly thought through decisions.

Almost all of these shitty situations I was in related directly back to one decision: I married a man who made me miserable. I'm not really sure how else it could have ended. X was an asshole, hands down, and I still place a lot of the blame on his shoulder's but let's get real. It takes two to get married. End of story! I made the decision to marry a man who regularly called me fat, who demeaned me in front of our friends, who scoffed at and made fun of my beliefs, who was a complete filthy slob. I can make all kinds of excuses for his manipulation and verbal/psychological abuse, but in the end, I'm a fully functioning human and made my own decisions. And when I didn't suddenly turn into the woman he assumed I always was, he left me. I made a poor decision and I was dealt the consequences.
Had I not been fucking around in Cincinnati with X, maybe I would have met a more suitable mate(maybe even Alan!) sooner and gotten on the right track sooner to be married to the right person and on my way to a degree & babies. If I hadn't dated him at all, I may have kept on to finish my degree sooner. But with X, there was always a reason why a job was more important right now than a degree. That was for later. Seeing as he didn't really believe in college degrees anyways, this shouldn't surprise anyone. And the job jumping and not really transferable skills I got at the only decent job I had while I was down there put me at a huge disadvantage when I was forced to move back here and find a job. And finally, my car was yet another unresearched, poorly thought out, impulse decision. I didn't do the research to find out how poor Estelle's gas mileage was, or even that she would end up requiring premium gas only. X had finally given in and said I needed a new car, and I had been lusting over Eclipses for quite some time and jumped on the chance to have one when we found one in our price range. And since my income/credit wasn't good enough on my own, I had to get X to cosign, and then was stuck sharing a loan with him for years after our divorce. Things were already on the rocks by the time we bought this car. But there's no way he'd leave me.... right?

So the longer this jealousy would swirl around in my stomach, the more I realized I only had myself to blame. I hung onto and stayed with a guy who was never going to give me what I wanted, and I knew that deep inside. All the things we want in life, whether its the domestic goals of marriage & a family, educational like completing any degree or certification, financial such as owning a car/house/business, or getting a better job, or something more personal, like improving a skill or hobby, are all within our reach. While we cannot control every aspect of our lives to guarantee we achieve these goals, I assure you that sitting around whining about why I, a pushy, bossy, "bitchy" woman, gets to have all the things I want is never going to get you the things you want. I don't actually  have everything I want, but I assure you the things I don't/never will have, that while I was working to obtain those things, I came upon opportunities for something even better or at least just as good. None of us will get everything we want. But you certainly won't get anything you want sitting around being jealous of everyone who is happy on your Facebook feed. Instead of being jealous, be hopeful. Be inspired. Be motivated. We're all in this together, reach out and ask for advice from those who have achieved your goals, you're not alone.

Photography by Diane Woodring.

1 comment:

  1. Forgiveness of ourselves and others is the true path to happiness. Great post Giselle, as long as soon as we recognize our mistakes, we are well on our way to not repeating them.