Before you wish for the other side of the fence, admire the magic you’ve cultivated in your own backyard. Overcoming jealousy is all about perspective.
You take a look at your overgrown lawn and you realize it’s not the lawn you wanted. What you wanted was well-manicured, beautiful, fertile and green.
With a deep, disappointed sigh, you turn around and see your neighbor’s car, husband, job and friends. Your eyes widen in wonder and you think to yourself, “That’s what I want, that’s what I should have.” Then a bitter taste settles in your mouth and you think “Why does she get to have that ‘lawn’ and I don’t?”
Jealousy has discovered a new friend and it now has a firm grip on you.
I began my career, and quickly made several “work friends.” We would go out for the occasional dinner together and discuss work or what we were going to do for the weekend, or what we had done the previous weekend. One woman always spoke about all the fun, exciting things she and her husband would do over the weekend. They would go wine tasting or go on some weekend getaway. She always made it sound fun and romantic.
If you walked into her office, she always had flowers from him and her office was decorated with photos of herself and her husband, always smiling and always holding each other tightly. As far as I knew, every single woman in the office was envious of her. I vividly recall every other woman in the office at some point, expressing their envy of her. I don’t remember feeling jealous, nor did I want to take it from her, and I certainly didn’t want her to not have it. I’m not the type of person to ask “Why her and not me?” I do remember wishing that I had the same thing. A happy, wonderful, close relationship with a wonderful partner. Well, who wouldn’t want that, a beautiful relationship of true love and happiness with someone is what most of us want in our lives.
One day we were sitting around the table, eating, laughing and talking. The woman sat there and though she smiled, she didn’t say very much. It was so out of character for her. She was always nice, friendly, and smiling. After a nice dinner, we all said our goodbyes and walked to our cars. As I was unlocking my car door, I heard my name and when I turned around, she was standing in front of me, her eyes welling up with tears. I asked her if she was okay and she responded a simple “yes.” We stood in silence for a brief, awkward moment. Tears began to stream down her face and she asked me if I could talk for a moment and I responded, “Of course, are you okay?” It always seems a senseless question when someone is crying or emotional, but it’s the easiest way to get the conversation started.
She began to tell me that her husband had been cheating on her. I was completely shocked! I think my jaw dropped open and I couldn’t tell if I had closed it quickly enough. She continued on about how unhappy she was and how she didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I tried to absorb and understand not only what she was saying at that moment, but everything she had said previously. I remembered the happy photos and the vacations. It all seemed so wonderful.
How was what I was hearing now a part of everything I’d heard previously? I finally heard myself speak, “But, you seem so happy, he sends you flowers and always dotes on you when we have office parties, and…” She interrupted me before I could continue and told me that he does those things because he is always cheating and they were all gifts of apology.
She continued on, telling me that after every apology, he continued to cheat. I felt painfully sad for her. I was convinced they had the perfect relationship. I tried consoling her by telling her she had choices, and they were for her to make, based on what she wanted. She sincerely believed that she didn’t have choices, because she was a big part of the facade. She didn’t want people to see what was really happening for fear of what they would think of her. I continued to try and reassure her about her choices, letting her know that she did have them.
I don’t know why she chose me to unburden her pain to, but it is what I do.
You see, when I looked at their relationship from the other side of the fence, I saw something I wanted. That green, well-manicured, beautiful, fertile lawn. I didn’t know what was really happening that made the lawn appear that way. I didn’t know the pain and hardship one person was enduring to create that appearance. However, once I was on that side of the fence, it didn’t seem as green and beautiful.
The grass isn’t always greener. Jealousy of someone else’s lawn is a waste of thought, energy, and desire because we don’t really know what’s behind the lawn. We don’t always know how the grass got the way it did.
What we can do is manicure our own lawn, so it is the way we want it to look, where we want to live, where we want to rest and be safe, and where we want to love. We can fertilize it with hard work, understanding, mutual respect, honest and pure intentions filled with love. We can water it with compassion, patience, caring, and open communication so it continues to be bright and beautiful.
All of our lawns take work. The work that you want to put in is the work that will ensure your happiness and your continued want of living there.
Written by Monica Ortiz
This article was originally published on Care2.
[image: via jenny downing on flickr]