Welcome to the final Free to Spiel guest feature scheduled for a little while, written by the lovely Saoirse (who also wrote a piece about intergenerational trauma last week – click here to read it!). This time, Saoirse has written all about her experiences of love, friendship, jealousy and envy.
No matter whether you’re in a relationship or not, or if you’re looking for love or embracing the single life, this guest feature is 100% one to read!
“It was like my inner child had met hers“
Back in 2015, I moved to London and started a graduate programme in audit.
It was during my first week there that I met one of my best friends, at one of the many after-work drinks events. We were both involved in separate conversations when she overheard me mention to someone that I had just come out of a long-term relationship. She promptly turned around and grabbed me, exclaiming that she had also just come out of a long-term relationship.
We quickly became best friends – similar to children at school: sitting beside one another in accounting class (the bane of life), stealing her stationery, and writing one another notes. It was like my inner child had met hers; we met, shook hands and decided we were going to be firm friends. There was no going back from there.
Our stories were quite similar. Both of us had just come out of the only relationships we had experienced in life, which had started back at school. We also wanted the same ultimate end goal and held the belief that if it all worked out with our respective childhood sweethearts, then it was meant to be.
We were soon inseparable, enjoying weekend activity days that involved running around London doing anything and everything. We were always laughing, and it soon became strange if we went a day without messaging or talking in some capacity.
We entered single life together, making the same mistakes – although at this time in life I definitely took this lifestyle to a more extreme level. I was not one to dabble with only a toe dipped in, but rather adopt a ‘go big or go home’ attitude and later regret it with subsequent mental torture; something I gladly own now for all it taught me.
Then it all changed.
“I was both over the moon for her and grieving for myself“
Aligned for our friendship to-date, our stories took two separate paths. She found her way back to her childhood sweetheart (and still today they are without a doubt my favourite couple), whilst I found myself to be lost. The more lost I felt, the more a conditioned wound of abandonment grew.
As it is with most new relationships, they spent more time together, and talking every day stopped being the norm for us. I was both over the moon for her and grieving for myself, which is where the envy began to fester.
Fester is a great word.
However, rather than becoming curious about this sense of envy, I bottled and shoved it down. As with everything that gets bottled down, it just continued festering (great word).
I did not focus on the wound that was there, and I did not focus on the fact that I was operating from a place of scarcity – in the sense that she had something, whilst I did not.
Richard Smith has published Envy Theory and Research, a comprehensive study of the theoretical and empirical work on Envy. He views envy as a disconnect from one’s own possessions, as well as a resentment of those who appear to have what we want. Essentially it builds a scarcity mindset. We start constantly looking at what others have and questioning why we can’t have it too. Without becoming curious about the emotion, it continued to show up, and I made my choices based on that mindset.
I chose to go back to my previous relationship time and time again, even though each time it sang louder that we were not meant to be together and how toxic it was becoming. Every time we did break up, I was heavy drinking and partying, attaching myself to any boy that showed an interest.
This was all without questioning what I actually wanted.
My friend was one of the few people who came forth to question my choices at the time. Our friendship frayed as a result. I wasn’t able to confront what I was doing, even though I knew in my body that the choices I was making were inflicting hurt.
We started to no longer be aligned, despite having the exact same story to begin with. What actually caused this misalignment was the two of us having two different mindsets: I lived in a lack mindset, and she lived in an abundant mindset (PS. don’t worry, it is a happy ending; she’s s never getting rid of me).
“Whilst unaware of it, [women] are competing for limited resources“
Jealousy and envy are similar emotions but vary slightly in psychology. Jealousy usually involves a third party as a rival, whilst envy views someone else as having what you want.
There has been a wider breadth of research that focuses on jealousy within relationships versus envy in the collective society, and it is in my opinion that the female collective is one area we need to look at most; there is an abundance of intergenerational trauma.
For years, females have been positioned to see acquiring a husband as a scarcity of competition. Then, when we eventually moved into the workforce the same thing occurred, with females poised against one another due to there being a limited number of high-powered roles. The beauty and fashion industry also uses this in their marketing campaigns: ‘Successful women choose X brand’.
With the categorisation of two types of women pitted against each other, how could jealousy not develop?
Evolutionary psychologists refer to this competition as the process of natural selection. Whilst unaware of it, we are competing for limited resources – with natural selection and our biological evolution focusing our genetics on reproduction and hierarchy status (S.E. Hill and D.M. Buss, 2008).
“…the more we deny the shadow, the more it grows”
Envy still shows up in my life, but from different angles now.
Such is the journey; we might heal one area, but it can then present itself somewhere else. Mine now shows up in other women who have chosen to move into the psychology realm. Daniella Moyles is someone who I admire and is a role model of mine, but at times I will openly admit that it can take the ego/shadow form of envy.
One such time was with her book ‘Jump’. In March, I had begun to collect and piece together ‘Wise Words and Bad Life Choices’ blog posts and chapter ideas…and then she released the book. My shadow saw this as ‘she’s so ahead of me’ and ‘she can achieve these things due to her established following’.
However, the difference now is that as well as questioning it, I shine a bright light on the feeling that arises and break it down. (Also, I really recommend Jump; it’s a truly fantastic book, particularly if you’re an Irish girl in your 20s/30s).
The women I admire, which my shadow might pop over and say hello to in terms of envy, have helped me re-frame my mindset to one of abundance. They are not people with something I haven’t got, but rather strengthen my subconscious belief that it is possible to receive what I want.
Society, the media and consumerism are all poised towards highlighting what you do not have, in the hopes that you will turn to buying and consuming to fill the void of validation. Instead, try focusing on finding your values. What actually matters to you? Question where the envy comes from. Is this something I want, or have I been conditioned to feel scarce if I don’t have it?
If it aligns, then change your mindset and allow those who have achieved what you want to be your impetus for improvement. We can simultaneously be happy for our best friends who enter new relationships whilst also grieving what once was, and that is okay. But make sure to let their relationships help us grow towards the love that we want. We can put out a similar offering to the world that others have – after all, we are all inherently different and so it is never going to be the exact same. There is a shadow with all light.
The sun rising causes shadows to fall across the land. The moon and the sea, both come hand in hand; however, the more we deny the shadow, the more it grows. Shine that light directly on the shame and it will reduce. Be vulnerable with yourself and others as to where it comes from, as it is there that the shame will not survive and instead, will become something beautiful.
Brené Brown is correct in Daring Greatly, in saying that in order to dare and achieve what you want, you have to be willing to look shame in the eyes and conquer it with vulnerability.
On a final happy note. In writing this, it has made me ponder that I met my friend when we were both thinking it is meant to be if it all works out in the end with the childhood loves. My initial focus did not work out. The thing I am most proud and happy about, however, is that we made it through to the other side, and I know that we are meant to be friends no matter how often we see/speak to each other.
In fact, in the last two years, we have only seen each other twice, and each time it is like no time has passed at all, which is one of the truest measures of friendship. This comes from knowing that I have love and abundance, no matter what others might have that I have not achieved as of yet.
Thank you Saoirse, for sharing your story! Readers can connect with the author via Instagram.
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