Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jealousy: that green bastard

 Jealousy. Not to be misinterpreted as greed.

I don't long for others riches. I no longer look at a pick-thin anorexic and wish I looked like her. I'm not coveting someone's iPhone, or wishing I had an Escalade, or a beach house in the Barbados. Nah, it's none of that.

I'm jealous. Of someone else. Of her seemingly perfect life.

More specifically, I'm jealous of someone else's goodness. Her perfection.

I see her every Sunday at church. She's about my age, and in many ways we are the same: we're both young, are newlyweds, and we both had our babies a few months apart.

But while I struggle to make it at all to church, let alone on time, she's there. Happy. Composed. Her perfect child is sitting next to her in ironed, clean clothes, with no traces of breakfast left on her face.

And then I come staggering in. Cade's half falling off my hip, his hair looks similar to oh, I don't know, a white afro, and while at least he's in slacks and a button-down shirt, it's un-tucked, a little messy, and he's usually got snot and/or food all over his face.

She smiles at me. Of course she does. She's perfect, and that perfection includes kindness and acceptance of everyone. I smile back, simultaneously both hoping her kid will have a blowout all over her perfect ensemble, and needing her approval of me. I want to hate her, because she is everything I wish I were; but I can't, because she's too sweet. Her eyes, so warm.
She's me. Just a better version.

I try to forget all this as the opening hymn begins. But I slyly look over to her pew, I can't help it. I'm obsessed or something. Her little girl is giving glowing smiles to all those around, daintily eating fruit snacks and taking on the role of Most Popular Baby At Church with grace and poise. A nice older woman in the pew in front of me turns around, smiles at Cade. He glares, then promptly belts out an embarrasingly loud "NO!" that (unfortunately) echos throughout the entire chapel. The nice lady blinks, and tries to keep her smile (but fails a wee bit) as she turns back around.

She never has to leave the meeting because her baby is crying or throwing a tantrum. I, on the other hand, finally opt to take Cade out after he won't stop screaming "JESUS!" loud enough for the entire congregation to hear. His utter lack of reverence makes it sound more like a curse word, and I cringe as I rush him out.

The meeting's over. She walks up to me. Smiles. She's so pretty, so thin. So perfect, in and out. "Hi Brie, how are you?"

"Oh, I'm fine." I offer her a wilted smile and try to pick up all the Cheerios Cade's left all over the floor.

"Do you maybe want to come to a Young Mommy Club? I could come pick you up every week. It'd be great. It's really a lot of fun!"

We both look on as Cade socks a good one to Most Popular Baby, but she pretends not to notice. She really is that perfect.

"Yeah, that'd be great. Call me."

As I gather my things to leave church, I'm muttering to myself. This woman has time to even organize a mommy group? Damn. Is she real? Is she like a Stepford Wife or something? Maybe she's made of plastic, this may be entirely possible. Or really thin, hard metal with skin stretched tight over it.

Robot or not, I still wish I were her.
And I hate that.
I wish I were comfortable in my imperfect, blotched in places, stretch-marked, scarred skin.
Imperfect is beautiful, imperfect is beautiful, imperfect is beautiful...

This is my new mantra.


Emily said...

Oh, Brie... don't you realize you ARE beautiful? I wish I looked like you. I wish I had your family. And you're beautiful on the inside, too. You are a wonderful, caring, sweet and considerate person. I understand, though, the jealousy of others who you believe are "perfect". I have the same jealousy towards other people, people I don't even know! Much love and hugs, Emily

brookielou said...

I feel like you posted this blog JUST FOR ME!! This is how I've felt ever since I had kids. But, on a better note, I am going to stop comparing myself to everyone else. I actually talked about that in therapy today. This guy is kickin' my butt.
I love that blog, I feel like every word you wrote is exactly what I would have wrote. Except for the ending...if she asked me to come to the "special mommy group" I would have said hell no biotch!

alana said...

okay brooke is hilarious! can we all go to dinner together sometime? and brie darling, isn't it interesting that you write the exact post that so many of us wish to write about ourselves when we compare to you? feelings of longing, inadaquacy, and frustration aren't something to feel guilty about. they're part of our nature, and although with practice and diligence they can be overcome, it takes time, so don't go beating yourself up about it. she's not perfect and you know that. we both know she hasn't had to face many of the struggles that you have, you have come so far, and are trying to do the best that you can every single day. babe- thats ALL that matters!!! i love you to the moon and back and think you are amazing- don't forget it!!!!

Kate said...

First of all, and I know I've said this before, but I LOVE your writing.
Second of all, if it makes you feel any better, I wish I were YOU. Yes, YOU, not her, YOU. You are everything I'm NOT....and it's amazing to me that you want to be someone else when I so want to be you. Weird how that works, eh?
Also, it sounds like that baby aint real...I mean, what kind of kid doesn't make a scene in church?

brydelle said...

Brie, I do not know this woman, but I have known tons of women like her, and I've got two things to say:
First, if there's anything I've learned about people it is that, regardless of how awesome they seem, they are always on the brink of falling apart. It's just, you know, life. She's probably got some disorder where she focuses on appearance way too much. Or not. But either way, I know she has tons of problems. She just hides them better than the rest of us train wrecks.
Second, I would never, in ten thousand, nay, one hundred thousand-nay, if time itself ran out, trade you for her. You are an amazing person, made even better because you are gorgeous when you fall apart, because you are kind when you're a mess. If she's so perfect, great for her. But let's see how much she can make me laugh when I'm hurting even though she's hurting worse.
You are gorgeous, and I know that this isn't much of a compensation, but I love you because you are imperfect.

alana said...

ps...speaking of embracing imperfection, check out "imperfection" by saving jane. it might suit your mood of the moment... i love it! ciao bella!

sav said...

Oh sweetie, I don't even know what to say. I would like to start out by saying that what everyone else said is exactly what I'm thinking :) Now I will attempt to put it in my own crazy words.

Dear, you are amazing. You have overcome many things that more than 1/2 of this world didn't have to. You have an amazing family, and the fact that Cade yelled "No!" and "Jesus!" and spilt his Cheerios all over the place are what makes him Cade. That's his personality and even though it may drive you nuts at that moment, that is the exact reason why you love him as much as you do. He's normal, and that's awesome!!

Back to know it was coming didn't you? :) Brie, the fact that you aren't absolutely perfect is the reason why I love you so much. However, you are by far the closest thing to perfect that I have ever seen. You know just what to say when I'm down, and you know how to make me laugh and smile. That girl probably has rehearsed lines, and her kindness probably took some practice whereas you are naturally the most loving person ever.

I love you! I hope that you had a good day :) Miss you and see you in a few months.

Bowles Family said...

Brie, I have no idea who you're talking about in that ward, but it could be any number of people. I often wonder if anyone ever feels that way about me and i hope not because I have so many problems and struggles and am on the brink of tears so many times when i have a smile on my face that I hope I dont cause anyone else to feel remotely inadequate. I love your ending mantra, but does that mean it's fine to come home, break down and cry and release some of that comparison tension then feel better and move on? of course.

KC Elaine said...

funny thing is, I always thought you were perfect. I think you're better than you imagine, Brie.

heather said... said so much. I read this post when you first put it up, but I couldn't respond right away due to feeling so many things at once. Like so many of the others have mentioned, I too feel so inadequate....not just at my job or in my relationships, but in LIFE. What you said really hit home and made me think not only about you, but myself as well. Again, like someone said, it's your imperfection that is so great. It's what makes each one of us unique and special. Imperfections aren't necessarily bad. Society likes us to think that, but they actually make this world a more interesting, fun, and special place to least for this life-time! I value your imperfections. If you were perfect I most likely wouldn't even look your way.....mainly b/c there's not a single person who IS perfect and I'd just think they were such a faker. And fakers piss me off. You are so incredible just as you are. Back in the day when I was a missionary in India, I asked myself a question that I'll ask you. If God's only "plan" for you to live out on this earth was to just simply "be" husband, no family, no great job,(fill in the blank _________)no other great "mission" except to sit and "be"....would that be enough? Would you feel pride in that plan? I know it doesn't directly relate to what you may be feeling, but I think in some ways it's something worthy of thought.

And on a side note.....I've never seen a perfect baby or toddler in sacrament. Never. Maybe you're in some super weird ward, but seriously, every ward I've been in the kids are screaming and crying and hollering so loudly I can barely make sense of what the speaker is saying, let alone listen to my own thoughts! So, rest assured, Cade is NORMAL. Like you, he's an incredible human being with normal human tendencies.

Brandon said...

Brie, please don't ever turn into that woman!!! I will get so bored. I will have no one to make me laugh because there will be no one to say the cutest things. What would I do in my life if my wife didn't randomly yell at me or out of nowhere try to kick or hit me right on the sweet spot? Boring!!!!! If you ever stop being you I will go manarexic that same night. DO NOT DO IT!!! I want you to get crazy, make me crazy too. Anything less is weird. Oh, but maybe go a little easier on my boys, if you think you can swing that. Let me know. Much love.

ania said...

Hi there, Brie.

When I read this post, I thought of a cartoon posted on someone else's site.

(I promise that this comment is relevant, hang in there.)

The writer at Can of Worms (a recent 'Blog of Note' is in Iraq, just....helping) started an organization called 'Buy Shoes. Save Lives', which sells shoes that are a sort of local artistry. The shoes are called 'klash', and are sold to pay for heart surgeries for kiddos over that way. The incidence of heart disease is very high.

In case you're worried about clicking links from unknown commentors, this is the text of the cute little cartoon:

Girl 1: Oh my [....], I so love your shoes!
Girl 2: Oh, I so love yours! Where'd you get 'em?

Girl 1: Oh, like, the mall. They cost, like, $120. You?
Girl 2: Iraq. For $100. And they fund heart surgeries.

Girl 1: For real....?

Girl 1: [....]Even your MATERIALISM is better than mine!

It's cute, I think you'll like it, as well as the rest of his posts.

Can of Worms blog

Also, I've read all the way up through your to your current posts, and have so much respect for the hard work that you're doing towards wellness, joy and peace.

Take care....