Jealousy is an emotion we all feel. It’s defined as feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages. We might experience jealousy over another’s home or the car they drive. Maybe their career or relationships cause feelings of envy. The emotion has always felt complex. My feelings of jealousy include many things, which cause envy in us all. However, in my case there has been a far deeper point of contention. I’ve found myself dealing with emotions of jealousy surrounding cerebral palsy. Questions arise inside over the reasons I’m forced to struggle with the disability. Walking passed people each day whom don’t appear to face physical limitations. They likely face other challenges, hidden from the naked eye. Many time it’s left me wishing I could hide cerebral palsy from the view of others. The emotion flowing through my thoughts, fantasizing about how much easier things might be if I could hide CP. However, there are always two sides on every coin, a couple ways of looking at any subject. The topic of jealousy is no different. For all the negative, heart wrenching feelings jealousy can bring, it can also drive us to view things from behind a different prism. The emotions we tend to struggle with are also opportunities to gain wisdom and strength. Jealousy turns into a catalyst for better understanding my relation to the world through cerebral palsy.
One of the most frustrating thoughts about cerebral palsy is why? Why is the disability something challenging my every day? When the story of my birth comes up, feelings of confusion often trail. I was stuck and left without oxygen for just a second or two, before I began moving again. It sure doesn’t seem like a particularly long time. But, when thinking about the flow of oxygen any amount of time without can be crucial. At times, I think what could have been if I were stuck longer. The event could have resulted in life being more difficult. If there hadn’t been a lack of oxygen, it would mean a life without cerebral palsy. Jealousy would probably still be a part of each day, but perhaps the emotion would feel quite different. It sure would help to be less concerned with physical activities.
Feelings of jealousy probably creep into my psyche at different times. It doesn’t often occur, that I find myself jealous of someone’s house, job, or car. My feelings often come about for different reasons. The emotions of envy often take place over someone’s ability to press buttons on an everyday keypad without struggle. Holding a cup with hot coffee inside and appearing unconcerned with the possibility of a spill. Having an unaffected gait or being able to speak clearly. Sometimes I find myself watching in marvel as people complete simple physical tasks. It can feel astounding to watch the barista make a cup of coffee and the bar tender mix drinks. Those are a couple tasks I will never have the ability to perform. Even watching a friend quickly tie their shoes without needing to look can leave me speechless. Knowing it takes extra time and concentration to get my shoes secured. All these natural activities happening around me can bring frustration.
Jealousy can bring on feelings of loneliness. When looking around to notice others working their way through the day with physical ease. Simply moving around the grocery store can bring on anxiety. It concerns me when reaching for an item, will I pull more off the shelf than simply the box I’m targeting? Will I be able to grab the bags securely from the cashier after being checked out? The more physical movement required in any situation, the more difficult the scenario becomes. Checking out at the grocery store is a great example. It requires placing items on the conveyer belt, paying the cashier, taking the receipt, and grabbing plastic bags full of groceries, hoping I clutch the correct two handles of each bag. The process feels full of pressure, as I’m also seemingly asked to perform these tasks in a confined space, within a short amount of time. The circumstance is one of many throughout life, when some assistance would make things easier and more comfortable, but the trouble of asking doesn’t feel necessary. The circumstance can be gotten through. However, for those few minutes it feels isolating because I’m different. Things seem like they would be simpler without the concerns cerebral palsy brings about.
There are other sides to the emotions of jealousy. The feelings can be turned into something positive. Making jealousy a motivational sentiment instead of the negative ache. It leads me to improve the situations I can. Much of the jealousy inside has been physical. Dreaming of moving similarly to those I notice throughout the day. One of the ways is improving the strength of my body. Cerebral palsy may never allow my motor skills to function as smooth or fluid, but it doesn’t mean those movements can’t improve. Exercise provides more control over my muscles and more stability for overall movement. It makes functioning inside this world a little easier. The knowledge of making an effort to improve those circumstances bringing about jealousy, only helps alleviate the negative emotion. Sometimes the jealousy of those around you, can help motivate improvement inside.
Part of the journey with cerebral palsy is about acceptance. It helps move passed the feelings of jealousy. I don’t think acceptance has been achieved to this point, but hopefully I continued toward the goal. The challenges of cerebral palsy cannot be changed and even though emotions of jealousy aren’t helpful, they do persist. It may be human nature to deal with envy sometimes as part of our experience. But, when those emotions turn experiences negative, they seem to do harm. Learning to transform feelings of jealousy into something positive hasn’t been easy. The feelings CP brings about have probably been more challenging than the actual physical limitations. The journey to find peace and acceptance with cerebral palsy turns those negative sentiments into positive fuel. There isn’t any way to understand where this journey will lead. For now, it seems fruitful to attempt turning negative emotions into positive reinforcement. Who knows what the future holds, but it seems to be headed in a good direction.