I’m referring to envy.
Much like last week’s post, it’s an emotion I struggled with throughout Aidan’s life and one I wasn’t really proud to admit (sometimes even to myself).
Over the years I found myself envious of friends whose children were reaching milestones I could never dream of for Aidan, envious of newlyweds who were excited to see what their future would hold, envious of healthy pregnant women who were oblivious of to the dangers of pregnancy, envious of those with money who weren’t reliant on charities and government handouts – you name it, I felt it.
Sometimes my feelings of envy would gnaw away at me, other times it was all-consuming.
Scottish writer and broadcaster, Richard Holloway, describes envy as the meanest sin in the book, “an empty and desolating experience from beginning to end.” For me, it was certainly a lonely and horrible feeling.
The worst part was that I knew I was feeling envious and yet I couldn’t stop it. There were times when I could rejoice in other people’s good fortunes and other times when I found it near impossible. It was so indiscriminate and I’m not always sure I did a good job of hiding it.
As Holloways says, “since envy is a sin between friends or equals, another of its symptoms is hypocrisy, acting pleasure in another’s good fortune when you actually feel gut-clenching pain.
“It shows in the tightness of your smile and the shadow behind your eyes as you dredge up your congratulations from a well of bitterness.”
If I had let it, envy would have destroyed my relationships with family and friends. So I fought it. Sometimes on a daily basis. I fought it hard because I wasn’t going to let it win.
Fortunately, Anthony was an amazing sounding board. I could share with him how I was feeling and he would assure me I was not a wicked witch. I may have been justified in my feelings (after all it’s only human to desire something someone else has) but I knew enough to know it wasn’t acceptable.
Throughout my life, I have seen envy eat people up, turning them bitter and angry. I was determined I wasn’t going to be that person. No doubt, as I see other people’s children grow older, I will continue to feel pangs of envy but one thing is certain, I will never give up the fight against it.