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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Green Monster

Sorry, this isn't a recipe for spinach smoothies.

I'm talking about envy, the kind of green monster that rears it's ugly head for all of us from time to time.

Just for the record, it is different than jealousy. Jealousy involves fear of losing something you have (a boyfriend, etc.) while envy is about wanting what someone else has.

I admit I have been feeling envy lately. It's never a good feeling, in fact, it's downright sucky and invokes feelings of shame and embarrassment. After all, it's one of the deadly sins, right?

My life is pretty good. Great, actually. I have almost everything I have ever wanted. I am healthy and fit, I have a wonderful husband, two beautiful daughters, supportive friends and family, a lovely home, a car and...almost a career I love (I just gotta graduate, establish myself as a therapist and actually start MAKING MONEY from my counselling!).

Still, every now and again something triggers envy for me and it's rarely logical or rational. I always wanted 2 kids. I always hoped I'd have 2 girls. So I got exactly what I wanted. I'm done childbearing, my family is complete.

But after going through what I went through to get this family, I sometimes feel envious and resentful when I hear about friends or acquiantances who have never had a miscarriage and effortlessly become pregnant the minute they decide they want another child. I feel like they sail through life (or at least the childbearing/pregnancy aspect of life) with an innocence and naivete that anyone who has ever lost a pregnancy or experienced infertility will never have.

Because of my miscarriage, my two pregnancies were tense and anxiety filled. I rented a dopplar during both and would check for the babies' heart beats anytime I felt nervous, which was often. I would cry before every ultrasound, expecting the worst.

Do I want others to go experience this pain? No, not at all.

While thinking about it all this week I realized that envy is not usually about the other person you are envying at all. It is about oneself.

For me, envy comes from self-hatred and insecurity. When I had a miscarriage I thought it was a sign of my failings, of my inferiority to others. I was defective. Women often have this reaction to miscarriage.

Whenever I see another woman side-step this experience, it makes me wonder again, "Why me, is there really something wrong with me?"

The funny thing is, it is not like I ever think of another woman who has had a miscarriage as being "defective" or "less-than". I only seem to apply this reasoning to myself.

I know from the cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) I did last year that I hold a lot of negative self-beliefs. I have worked through a lot of them, but as the psychologist I worked with reminded me, I have been thinking this way my whole life, so it is very difficult to change such long-established patterns.

I had an interesting revelation in yoga this week too. Having negative memories of power/ashtanga yoga from when I did it in my 20s, I have avoided it until this year. I have now rediscovered power yoga and I LOVE IT.

I remember it being too difficult and competitive. I would go with hopes of finding some inner peace and leave feeling frustrated, defeated and filled with self-loathing.

Now I love every minute. Why, I wondered, does it feel so different now?

Then it struck me: I have much more inner peace now, before I even enter the room.

Back then I would come to class having already punished my body by teaching 3 back-to-back spinning classes and having not eaten enough. I would try to push my body through the gruelling routine while negatively evaluating every bump and bulge on my body in the mirror and comparing myself to every other woman in the room (finding them all thinner, prettier and more adept at turning themselves into pretzels).

Now I come to power yoga full of energy, well nourished and focused on nothing else except enjoying the hour. I don't look at myself in the mirror and I don't pay attention to anyone else in the room. I accept my body's limitations and feel grateful for what it can do.

I have my good and bad days, of course. I will still compare myself to others, as we all sometimes do, and see myself coming up wanting. But I have also made great strides over the past decade. I was such a mess in my 20s and I am so much happier now in my 30s. Research shows that women do usually get happier as they age and I believe it.

Maybe by the time I am in my 50s I will have overcome all of this self-loathing and insecurity. Or not. But I'm still okay. No, I'm better than okay. I'm great!

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