There are times when I have glimpses of my former life. Life in survival mode. Working 7 days a week. This usually happens on Fridays. I’m off work and doing the routine of cleaning and grocery shopping. A thought often crosses my mind, “I need to get all this done today!” Because back then, I thought that I had to get everything done on Fridays. The tiny sliver of time that I had during the week to clean and run errands. Then I remember, no, I don’t. I have all weekend. And if it doesn’t get done, it’s ok.
That’s not the only glimpse that I have. Sometimes I find myself getting jealous of other people.
Hey, perfection doesn’t exist, remember?
In my former life, I was constantly jealous. “They don’t have any debt, she doesn’t have to work two jobs, she has a real career, she is so good with her kids, they have a bigger house, they get to have fun on the weekends.” Ugh, I hate writing that. I hate exposing that ugly underbelly of who I used to be.
I would look at other people’s lives and make assumptions. I assumed their life was better than mine because they had a different set of circumstances.
I knew better. I knew that I was only catching a small piece of their lives. And that behind the curtain was probably a different world. They may have their own ugly underbelly.
Last summer, I began to change my attitude. I had tried on positive thinking and gratitude before but it never seemed to stick. Jealousy was always the undercurrent. Last summer was different.
One day, I figured it out. I wrote it down. I looked at it a couple of days ago, and the words still ring true.
“I called it jealousy but suspected that wasn’t really the issue.” Of course it wasn’t. Deep down, I knew better. I was only looking at stuff here, not substance.
“I realized the real feeling is fear.” Sheesh. We’ve been here before, haven’t we folks? Reading about how my fear has taken over.
“Fear that my work circumstances won’t change, and I will be stuck working all the time, permanently.” This may seem trivial but was (and still is) incredibly powerful. My jealousy was really fear. The life that others were leading, the jobs they had, the stuff they had. None of this mattered. This was about me.
I get it, people have much worse circumstances than working all the time. And I was grateful that I was employed. But this changed me. I felt lonely and bitter. Again, those feelings were really about fear. I was scared. I thought, “This is it for me. My life will be defined by this. I won’t have time to be the person I want to be because I will be consumed by work.”
For whatever reason, last summer, things started to click. The positive attitude, the gratitude was sincere this time. I started to have faith. Faith that there were bigger and better things for my life. I didn’t know what that looked like, but it was there. And when I started to feel jealous, I named it “fear” and I was able to tackle it.
When our attitude changes, our world changes. Mine started to change. Finally.
These days, when that ugly feeling rears its head (because again, perfection does not exist), I call it by its name, “fear.”
And I can face it. I face it with faith.
I am grateful for my new life. Lazy Sunday afternoons were not part of the old life. They are treasured moments, these days.