Posts Tagged ‘jealousy’

Jealousy

When did it begin, this tilt towards jealousy, looking over my shoulder at the one who’s doing better?

My mother told the story of how when I was three, toddling alongside her my baby sister in the pram, people stopped to admire this most beautiful baby, her dark curls and blue eyes and my mother came to feel sorry for the way they overlooked me.

A beautiful baby gurgling in a pram is hard to resist. A toddler walking alongside less prepossessing.

Did I first feel the sting of not being good enough then?

Did I first feel a pressure towards needing to be beautiful in order to be admired or did it come later with my mother’s insistence on my best features, my pearl shaped ear lobes and perfect eyebrows?

‘You take after our father,’ my sisters and brothers said and our younger sister after our mother.

We all knew our mother was a beauty. Her movie star photos in pride of place from the days before she and my father married. Slick movie star type images from the 1930s even during the war wars when professional photographers who occupied the streets of Amsterdam and set up shop on the main street tried to emulate the glamour of Hollywood and even the plainest of women could be made to look like Ava Gardner.

My mother did not need much help in this direction. Her natural appeal was enough and along with her success at making children, my mother considered her skin, her blue eyes and glossy black curls to be her greatest assets.

Even as they turned to grey and her face grew more sallow with age, once she stopped sunbaking for fear of cancer, my mother knew how to pout for the camera while I clinched my lips tight to stop the image of my crooked teeth taking centre place.

Was this where it all began?

And did it shift from the external image to internal attributes such as intelligence when I learned early on that I lacked the brains of my brothers, most of my brothers that is, with one or two exceptions, the brains of the men in the house especially my father who could speak in six languages and could understand the vagaries of physics and name all the chemicals one after the other.

My brother above me, the family genius, my sister below me the family beauty and I in the middle grappling with my mediocrity in a way that dogs me even today, especially when I find myself competing in my head with those others who excel at things that matter to me, at the writing of books and words on the page.

It does help anyone to compare themselves favourably or unfavourably to others and yet I fall into this trap of comparison too often and once inside must find a way of ridding my mind of the green pus of self-loathing that infects my mood.

Yoghurt and blogging are good for you

Nancy Devine has honoured me with a stylish blogger award, for which I am grateful.

Here follows my acceptance speech, which at Nancy’s request includes seven things you might not yet know about me:

1. I would spend all day blogging if I could and then feel terribly guilty for it. To me it would be like spending all day long in a coffee shop chatting with like minded friends about things that are of interest to us all. The occasional tense moment might arise, but most of the time we would travel into new areas of thought and occasionally retreat back into safe and familiar territory, always with the knowledge that there is so much more to learn out there.

2. The only way I can justify the hours each week I spend on blogging is to convince myself I do it for the writing practice. This then is an insult to my blogger friends, as if I do not appreciate our time together. Nothing could be further from the truth.

3. When I was little I wanted to have nine children just like my mother and at the same time, despite my reservations about the man who was my father, even then, I imagined I wanted to marry a man just like my father: a tall Dutchman with blue eyes and blond hair and a deep gravelly voice.

4. I have achieved none of these things. My husband is neither tall nor blond. He is fifth generation Australian and descended from convict stock and my children number four.

5. Over the past several months, in fact since I broke my leg last September, I have undertaken to eat a tub of yoghurt a day. I understand yoghurt is good for you in many ways and I now have the fantasy that it might help my bones.

6. One of my great pleasures is to escape into BBC period pieces, the Jane Austen variety. Their worlds seem so much slower than ours, so much more predictable, but I despise the class divisions and the gender divide in those days appalls me. I would not want to live in such an era. So why escape into it? I keep asking myself this question.

7. Despite my best efforts to be generous to others, I fear I have a jealous disposition. I am inclined to resent those who do better than me, particularly when it comes to writing. I suffer such pangs often within the blogosphere where there are so many wonderful writers.

I think it comes as a function of being sixth in line in a family of nine and always looking up to my smart brothers and sisters ahead of me. I could never imagine that I might be as smart as them. No amount of education, psychoanalysis or life experience seems to shake that view completely. I admire intellects that are accessible on the one hand and on the other I wish they were mine.

As for the bloggers to whom I would like to offer this stylish blogger award there are too many to list. Also, I’m aware that many who receive such awards find them onerous.

So I offer this reward as a mark of respect, not as a requirement that you follow through on any of the tasks assigned, the stuff about linking back to the award giver and listing seven things about yourself and passing the award onto five other bloggers.

All these things to me should be voluntary and no one should feel pressure to oblige. Nor should any of my blogger friends feel aggrieved to not be included here. I’d list you all if I could.

That said, I’d like to make the first two awards to Rumi and Rilke who cannot speak for themselves but can only respond via Ruth at Synch-ron-izing and Lorenzo at The Alchemist’s Pillow.

Thereafter I’d like to mention Christina Houen’s relatively new blog. Christina is a wonderful writer who presents views of life in Australia that to me represent something of the essence of being here in this country.

I suspect he would not want an award for all the usual requirements but I cannot go without mentioning the remarkable, Jim Murdoch of The Truth about Lies. His blog is a font of information for all people who read and write. His blog tends to be a series of reviews on a vast array of books.

Jim is a poet who writes beautifully about other people’s writing and occasionally talks about his own writing process.

And finally, though there are so many more I could list here, so many wonderful bloggers whom I have met over the past few years since I took up blogging more seriously, I’d like to mention both Blackland’s Angela Simeone, a young artist whose work, both in her art and her writing is haunting and powerful.

And secondly Lynn Behrendt who strikes me as a brilliant poet and a modest artist whose wonderful work deserves the highest praise and recognition.

Visit these people and you will come to find our more of what I blog for: intelligence, aesthetics, deep sensitivity and a light touch of humour.

These bloggers are all artists and wordsmiths in their own right, and I value the fresh insights they offer on life’s journey.

Finally, and I should not for I have already exceeded my quota, I mention Kass of The K…. is no longer silent, another poet and a wise and generous woman that many of you will already know.

I must stop now because a flood of associations leads me on to other names and other folks. I have met so many wonderful bloggers through my travels. How rich and wonderful is the blogosphere.

Thanks Nancy for prompting these thoughts and enabling me to introduce and boast about some of my blogger friends.