The commercials have started airing to remind us all to get the perfect gift for some of the hardest working people on earth; mothers. I will assume I don’t have to go into exactly why Mother’s Day tends to be difficult for us women who are childfree whether by choice, chance or circumstance. And, rest assured, you are safe to assume I have a post scheduled for Mother’s Day anyway ;).

As a woman who can’t have children, seeing these commercials or hearing my loved one’s Mother’s Day plans is some of the, thankfully few and far between, times I feel my jealously come up. Admittedly, it is scary and difficult to even type that sentence…

Throughout my work of recovery I have come to understand jealously a little differently. It first started at the Emerging Women conference last October in Boulder when I saw an interview with Tami Simon and Alanis Morissette. Tami interviewed Alanis about the book she is writing and about her work with Relationships First. One of the points she spoke about was what she thinks the difference between jealousy and envy is. She said that jealousy is about connection; that when we are jealous of someone or something it is about self improvement, we want it too. But when we are envious of something we not only want it for ourselves but we want to take it away from the other person, making it not about connection but disconnection. She used a really simple example of her hair. She said something to the effect that she knew many of us in the audience were jealous of how great her hair looked (it was the shiniest most beautiful head of hair I’ve ever seen). She said that some of us were probably jealous of it (for me, she was completely saw my green accurately). She said we just wanted some of the hair gods to shine on us too. So her suggestion was to go out and buy the pomade she used to make it look that gorgeous. She then explained that if we were envious of her hair it would be more about chopping it off her head for ourselves so that not even she could have the luxury of this beautiful mane.

This definition makes sense to me. And, by this definition, I am jealous that the majority of women get to be mothers and I don’t, but I am not envious. I am sure of this because it is one of the best parts of my life, and of my recovery, to see my loved ones be mothers.

And yet, I will admit feeling this jealousy doesn’t necessarily feel good either. Through my recovery I have found that there are times I need to allow myself to feel sorry for myself, to feel that jealousy. To ask the impossible questions of why didn’t I get to be a mom? Why does she? To feel that jealousy consume me, especially around the holidays or the first days of school or any other popular put your kids on your social media wall day. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing these pictures and posts and it isn’t uncommon that I am showing your adorable children to my friends and family but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that when I only have dog pictures to post, even though they are literally the cutest pups ever, my green eyed jealousy monster definitely rears it’s ugly head.

But if I allow these thoughts and feelings to overtake my light my recovery suffers. For me the only way through this jealousy, to embrace and truly own it, has been through celebrating. I didn’t know I was celebrating until a client of mine told me about one of her church small groups where they talked about celebrating as the cure to jealousy.

That’s exactly what I do, I cure my jealousy through celebrating the very things I so badly want for myself in others. I surround myself with my chosen children because through this celebration my jealousy wanes. I ask to be as involved as possible in my friends’ parenting and in their childrens’ lives because through this celebration my jealousy loses some of it’s negative power.

This concept is not easy, but it is very simple.

And, for me, it works. Celebrating through my jealousy provides me with what life is all about, connection. Sitting in jealousy doesn’t feel good and celebrating others’ happy feels pretty amazing, simple but not an easy choice but a choice nonetheless. Besides, I know that my mom friends can sometimes have some jealousy of what my childfree life provides me.

If we aren’t careful we can all get tripped up on wanting what we don’t have and staying stuck in jealousy. And while, I will always suffer the lifelong losses and costs of infertility and my childfree life, I am also learning that I have some amazing things to be thankful for only because of this very bittersweet journey I have been on.

I don’t want to be angry or envious, so I will allow myself to sit with jealousy but just for a bit. Then I will take that breath, find my gratitude and celebrate through to embrace it because only then do I honor my ever upward.

24 thoughts on “Celebrating To Embrace Jealousy

  1. Karen Lanser says:

    As always, Justine, I am touched by your achingly tender share … and … I am holding less judgement around that part of me that is also jealous of that which I do not have. Thank you again … Karen

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    1. Karen, Thank you so much for these words, they cut right to my heart and soul <3. And I'm so glad you found my words helpful.

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  2. Justine, love this post. I have been practicing this very thing myself. Whenever I feel that pang of jealousy and feel like I want to pull away, I do the opposite and celebrate that person (or situation) or figure how I can support that person (and kind of be part of their world instead of staying disconnected in mine). Reminds me of something I just saw on FB: “I’m not interested in competing with anyone; I hope we all make it.”
    Sending love to you my daring friend!
    Sabrina

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    1. Sabrina, thank you so much for your words! This is such a difficult but important concept for us all I think. And I love that FB quote! Glad you saw some of yourself in this post, please feel free to share. Thanks again my friend, I love and miss you so!

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    2. Great post Justine…and great idea to help process and not disconnect Sabrina! I also tend to disconnect when I’m hurting, sometimes just by walking away – which leaves friends wondering why I’m so rude. It’s a difficult challenge, to celebrate them, but what a change in mindset!

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  3. Awesome post – thank you for this insightful analysis of the (very important) distinction between jealousy and envy. It is hard to admit jealousy and you have done a very compassionate job of recounting your experience with it around Mother’s Day. I am sorry for the sadness and jealousy Mother’s Day ads and other reminders bring you and send a warm hug your way.

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    1. Thank you is much! ❤

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  4. Catherine says:

    I much prefer your approach over the guilt. Just sit with it then move forward. Very wise. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Catherine! It was definitely a combination of several things I’ve learned and figured out over the last couple of years of recovery. But it is helping so much!

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  5. Janine says:

    You are such a good role model and inspiration to all. ❤

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  6. Elisha says:

    Yes we must celebrate! The bible says to Rejoice when other rejoice! Thank you so much for sharing this with me!

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    1. Thank you! Justine

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  7. rikkileetie says:

    Speaks right to my heart!! I hope you don’t mind, but I would love to quote you in a blog post about this on my page! So relatable. I love your posts 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much! Of course, please just quote with a link back to Ever Upward. Thank you, I really appreciate your read, comment and pingback!

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  8. You are totally right. It gave me a different outlook on learning to turn my jealousy around to be something positive. Perhaps it a necessary thing for us to do in order to heal…

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    1. Oh I am so glad! It has been necessary for me at least…

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