I actually thought that I was over feeling jealous of things. I felt that in my early forties I have become wise enough and cool enough to be free from thinking that stuff matters. I have had stuff and lost stuff and I’m still here.
As a child, and coming from a very large family, I did learn to accept that jealousy would be a feature of life. Whether it was feeling jealous of the newest baby, or the sibling who had luckily worn away enough of the heel to be taken to Start-Right for new shoes, or of the only child down the road who had every accessory that Barbie or Sindy could be bent onto or into. I frequently wished I was someone else who lived somewhere else. Our childhood home – for which I now feel immense pride and longing – was a large, ramshackle and frequently untidy place where there were patches of woodchip you could get away with drawing upon and a back hall filled with heaps of un-pegged coats and plastic bags of single socks. I dreamed of living in an immaculately tidy Barratt Home with a 3 piece suite and Pierrot curtains that matched my duvet cover. In reality, aged 12, I moved onto the end of the landing and had my bed there.
As an adult I love talking about my childhood home now. It was unusual, quirky, full of life, child-centred and free from pressure to be perfect. I accept that we were different; other children at school called us ‘gypos’ when we wore jumble sale clothes and didn’t have the patent leather embroidered slip-ons I craved, but now I see that my parents were cool and we were the lucky ones.
So, I felt that being jealous of other people’s things was such an issue of childhood, one that I’ve moved away from. I’ve seen my husband almost slip from his life in the back of an ambulance after all – that kind of experience wakes you up to the non-ness of stuff.
How come then, that I’ve been wrestling with jealously this week?
It’s not about stuff. I know that I have everything that anyone else has and a thousand times more than most have. Even the very wealthy, the elite, those for whom I work every day – even then, when I see the Porsche Cayennes, hear of the swimming pools in the second-homes and holidays in Thailand – I think: I have a car (albeit a 1997 Honda Civic) I have a pool (albeit Lewes Leisure Centre) I have holidays (albeit camping in Wales). I have food, warmth, clothes, the healthy children I had hoped for and the community I love.
I am so over jealousy.
But yet, I have found myself feeling peed off that I have to work so damn hard to have it. I have imagined that my friends are all luckier than me. I have thought that they are all blessed with a far easier ride through the tunnel of time. With, perhaps, the possibility of not working. With the potential for a future where they can cut back, where they can enjoy their children and their holidays and their extensions. I have fallen into a jealousy trap this week and it’s a not a good place to hang out.
I know that it’s a choice. I can take a deep breath and choose to celebrate all I have and all I will have. I can celebrate all my friends have and feel nothing but happiness for others.
But it’s damn hard sometimes. I feel blooming unlucky. I feel like life has battered me a bit. I wonder why it’s happened to me. I wish I were the girl who had the patent shoes and the Barbie Caravan who’s now skiing at Easter with her fabulous family. I wish I wasn’t scratching about sorting the mortgage to buy the tiny flat so that I can move the kids for the 6th time in 5 years.
And I do love my friends – I do want all that’s good for them. And I do need to think about the uselessness of feeling blooming unlucky.
And I need to remember that I know nothing of what other people are dealing with. I could be as lucky as any and all of us.