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Where My 'Green Monster' of Envy Lies as Someone With Chronic Illness

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In my last article I spoke about the anxiety and the depression many of us with chronic illness face. This time I want to speak about the Great Green Monster that resides in us all. Envy. When I think of what it means to be jealous or envious, I can honestly say I don’t think of material things. I definitely can admire the beauty in shoes, purses, jewelry, home decor or whatever the case may be, but never to the extent of jonesing for their stuff. It’s not that I am above feeling jealous. If anything, I can admit that I struggle with my version of envy.

Growing up, I wasn’t privileged with middle-class ideals or freedoms. I had no idea we were poor until high school. I assumed everyone had to work and was like us. If anything, my friends who were in the middle-class bracket, I thought that’s what being rich was. We had no central heat or an AC. We had a wood stove, windows and fans. We didn’t have tiled floors, we had old wooden floors with gaping holes by the door and you had to watch your step. We didn’t have a TV in every room. We had one TV with four channels, which our dad mostly watched news on. I never had the latest fashions. I had hand-me-downs that were my brothers’, and for me, it was exciting to go to the thrift store. Shoes only came once a year. Christmas, I may have gotten two toys. And I was the “spoiled” one. You get the picture. It wasn’t perfect. But you know what? I had a very happy childhood. I don’t feel sorry for it. In fact, I love that it has such an influence on me. I grew up wild and free. I played in the trees and creeks, I relished in the mud. I spent much of my time outdoors with friends. We grew up on the water, my siblings and I making crabpots, them doing most of the work. My brothers crabbed. My father retired, and mom taking care of all of us. Much of what they did was to help support our family,  but we were fed, happy and loved.

I can honestly say my parents loved me. I wished everyone could feel the love my parents had for me, and I for them. Same goes for my sibling. We differ in many ways, we have all fought, but we know without a shadow of a doubt we love each other, even from afar. My mother used to tell us growing up, “If poverty was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us.” It is something that has always stood out for me. My father growing up in the great depression, was very much against wearing brand logos. He viewed it as paying a company to do free advertising for the company. The companies should be paying us to advertise. If it didn’t have a direct purpose, it was wasteful.

Growing up with so little, one would think I have a hole the size of the moon that needs to be filled with things. Quite the opposite. I have a distaste capitalism and consumerism and an absolute love for independence.

So what do I envy if not always worldly things? Where my green monster lies is in the health of my family, friends and people around me. During my less than gracious moments I often cry about how unfair the world is, how I wish I could have the ability to be worried about normal things. It’s hard for me to relate to my peers. Mostly because sometimes their problems seem so trivial to me. I do my best not to come across as rude or arrogant. I find so much of small complaints to be a luxury. And I start wishing my problems were but as small as theirs.

I’m envious of everyone who can wash dishes in 10 minutes and who doesn’t need a two-hour nap afterwards. I’m envious of moms who can play with children at the park. I’m envious of anyone healthy enough to have never had to have surgery, countless doctor visits, ER trips and the like. I’m envious of anyone who has dreams and has the energy for those dreams. I have so many creative ideas, but alas, not the health to really devote the time I wish I had. I’m envious they can enjoy a jog without collapsing or tearing something. I’m envious they are not in pain, yet I am in constant pain. I’m envious their migraines may last a day or two where mine has lasted for over 10 years. I’m envious of the ability to commit to an event or outing without backing out last minute because I was in the the ER the night before.

While logically I know everyone has their own fair share of problems, I can’t help but imagine how smooth life would be without all my health issues. I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to finish anything I started without interruptions of my health to wear me down, be it school, work, art, cooking or events. These issues are my normal, and I wish they weren’t. How nice it would be to live without pain, worry of my heart failing or something silly causing me to have another PE or DVT.

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Photo via AntonioGuillem on Getty Images

Originally published: January 17, 2018
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