"So tell me, what is your greatest struggle this week?"
I was halfway through my monologue about the loss of control when I stopped myself mid-stream.
"No. It's not that," I admitted. "I'm really struggling with jealousy."
* * *
This won't be my proudest post. I'll just admit that upfront. But my point is to paint and accurate portrayal of the life of someone in the thick of cancer, and I have to believe I'm not the only one to face this. Its unattractive and painful to admit to, but its real and its true, so I'm offering it up. In all of its ugly honesty.
* * *
Jealousy seems to ooze out of me at a constant rate of speed lately. No matter where I turn to try to ease the feeling, I find it pops up again - another trigger bringing it to the surface. I'm starting to wonder if it wouldn't be best to shut myself off from the world to keep it at bay, but that seems like an unrealistic solution.
I am jealous of people in relationships and marriages. People who live with the comfort of companionship. Of a partner. At church today, the sermon was on marriage and how to have a healthy one. If I hadn't been slotted to serve on the prayer team I would have walked out. Instead I sat in my quiet, dark corner silently crying. Jealous of everyone to whom the sermon applied. Wondering if it would ever apply to me. Doubting it ever could given the current state of affairs.
I am jealous of people with children - families. This is exacerbated nearly every time I venture out in public. Just this week a man in Home Depot asked me if I was expecting twins. I was only four days out from my last drain. It was all I could do not to start sobbing at the paint counter, and by the time I got to the car it was all over. The constant reminder that I look pregnant but never will be is getting to be too much. Anytime I see a woman who is actually pregnant or a family with a small child its nearly impossible to keep the jealousy at bay.
I am jealous of people's health. Of the fact that they can live normal lives. They can go to work, to yoga, to concerts. They can make plans and keep them. They can see friends without worrying about getting sick, and I'm pretty sure most don't have boxes of syringes lining their counters. Everyday Facebook and Instagram flash photo after photo of healthy people over my computer screen. And I wish I were them. The jealousy rages.
And - worst of all lately - I am jealous of people's bodies. Its petty, yes, but I hate the way I look. I avoid mirrors and shop windows and anything reflective, to be honest. I am late getting anywhere because it takes extra long to convince myself to step out of the door. I wish it wasn't this way - that I could rock the bald head and the scars and the belly without batting an eye, but the honest truth is that I cant. Despite how much I may want to. All I want is my normal body back. And I am intensely jealous that others have that. Everyone tells me I look beautiful this way, but I just don't see it. I wish I did. I am starting to fear I never will.
I never thought myself a jealous person.
I was wrong.
* * *
The months before my diagnosis were some of the happiest of my life. In fact, when I told my therapist about the cancer she said, "what makes me so mad is that I felt like you were finally getting to a really good place - and you had fought hard to get to that place. And now you have this."
She put words to the feelings I couldn't vocalize in the early days.
Because I had fought a hard battle to get to that place. Especially in the eighteen months immediately prior. I had dug in and cleaned out and examined and broke down and rebuilt.
And then I closed my eyes for surgery and when I opened them, it had all begun to crumble around me.
I am jealous of everyone who has never had the rug pulled out. And of the people who have only had to endure it once. Or twice.
* * *
I judge myself harshly for many things, but particularly for feeling emotions like anger and jealousy. Because in my mind, those feelings exclude completely things like love and gratitude and faith - things I hope embody my heart. I am, if nothing else, grateful. Even in this space, I am grateful for so many things. And I know when I look back one day, that gratitude will be multiplied tenfold or more. I fear that gratitude being eclipsed by anger and jealousy.
My trauma coach recently made me look how incredibly dualistic this thinking is. These feelings and values are not either or. They can coexist.
"You can be angry and jealous and still vibrate love, gratitude, and faith," she told me.
But can I?
* * *
All the people who know better tell me this is a normal way to feel. That recognizing it opens the door for me and God to hash it all out, for us to work through these things in a deeper way. I wonder if this is true. And at the same time I'm sure it is.
All this jealousy has darkened my depression further in recent days. It thick and slow and suffocating. Heavy.
But even in that heaviness, God remains. He's standing here next to me, holding the candle that keeps the light from going out. As the jealousy rages and I wonder why things are the way they are, I can feel Him at my core - feel Him there holding the lantern that will continue to light the way forward. To the place where the jealousy will be a memory.