The Nasty Twinge of Jealousy
On the outside, I’ve got that giant smile on, ear to ear, probably even showing a little teeth here and there, as my friends tell me all about the latest vacation they just got back from. My smile is mostly genuine, I’m definitely happy for them. Trust me, I saw all the social media posts and it looks like they had a blast. Good for them (and I really do mean that). I’ll be honest though, while I’m happy for them, I’m also experiencing some other emotions. I think, ugh, it makes me feel awful to admit it, well I think I’m also a bit jealous of them. While my life is pretty good, and I know I have no reason to complain, I still sometimes get jealous of the things I can’t do.
Physical and financial limitations
It’s not something I like to confess, but, multiple sclerosis has put some limits on me. I really can’t go sit in the summer heat for a long time, not without my symptoms coming to the forefront. If I don’t get my infusion every 28 days, I don’t feel all that great. No matter what I do, I need to budget rest time because my body simply can’t be as active as I’d like.
Physical symptoms aside, my illness has had a significant impact on me financially, which may be one of the biggest ways it’s limited me. In short, while it doesn’t sound real motivating to say that my illness causes me some limitations, it’s the truth. Realistically, there are things I can’t do because of my illness. That doesn’t mean I’m not being positive enough, it just means that I’ve been at this long enough to understand the realities of my body and my life.
I don’t dwell on my limitations because I still have a good life. I’ve adapted to the body I have and work around its little problems and needs. I actually hate the word “limitation”. To me, it’s more of a “difference” than a limitation. The thing is, every once in a while, I’ll get reminded of how I’m different and how I can’t really do what other people are doing. Going away on a summer vacation is definitely one of those things that makes me feel my differences enough to make them feel like limitations. The same goes for other activities, like going to the beach on a hot summer day. Whether it’s social media or your friends talking about their adventures, reminders are everywhere. Those reminders can really make you feel like you're missing out.
Addressing the jealousy that MS causes
It sounds so awful, to me anyway, to say that I get jealous. Again, I am genuinely happy for folks, I am glad they can do the things they want. Sometimes I wish I could join them though. Occasionally, being unable to do something only makes me wish I could do it more. I have never in my life enjoyed the beach, all that sweating and sand. But now that it feels so off-limits, part of me is dying to go sit in the sun.
Other times, I miss things because they were part of my old life. Like traveling: I used to travel for work and vacations all the time. Not anymore though. Traveling takes a lot out of me (and again, is pricey). So when others partake in these things, I sometimes become a bit envious.
How do you handle these emotions?
My moments of jealousy rarely last long. I do my best to put the feelings aside as quickly as I can. As I’ve said, I do have things I enjoy about my life. I do believe there is always something to be happy about, something to look forward to. It's so important to find new interests if your disease starts taking from you. There is always something out there for you, you just have to find it.
Despite living a good life. I still sometimes get that twinge of jealousy and I feel bad about it. I think that’s kind of natural though. Whether you have a disease or not, as you go through life, you will have things you can no longer do. Things that you will miss. That’s just how life works. The key is to not let it consume you and to remember that you still have a lot of good in life, even if it doesn’t always seem like it.
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