When my ex-husband and I made the decision as to who was going to stay in the house and who was going to move out, there really was not much of a decision to make. Because of my chemical sensitivities, it made the most sense for me to stay in the house that we’d spent thousands of dollars upgrading to make it safe enough for me to tolerate. It has electric appliances, has all hardwood and ceramic tile floors, and hasn’t had fragrance or chemicals used in it in 12+ years. Finding a house like that is a needle in a haystack, and finding another for me in our price range that meets my needs seemed like a very daunting task. My ex wanted to move to a new location to start over, and I really understood that feeling. I was jealous that he got to leave and I had to stay in the house where I’d felt like I’d been trapped for all of the years of my illness including the six that I was homebound.
As we began dividing possessions for him to take things with him, I asked if he would take the white dishes we had registered for as wedding presents. Ceramic dishes don’t usually need to be off-gassed, so this was something that I could get new and not have to worry about reacting to any chemicals on them. My ex agreed, and so I set forth in looking for new dishes. I knew I wanted Fiestaware, and I knew I wanted color. Lots of color. I told my kids that they could help pick out the new dishes I was going to buy. My older son jokingly told me he wanted orange plates with sharks on them. I told him I couldn’t help him with the sharks, but we could have orange for sure. He thought I’d gone crazy that I was letting him have his way with the dishes, but since orange was part of my plan, it was good by me! We now have Fiestaware in lapis, peacock, cobalt, plum, scarlet, tangerine, sunflower and shamrock. Our table is very festive!
For the first few years after my ex moved out, I could only do limited things to change up the house because my health was still struggling and my chemical sensitivities were still so strong. I rearranged furniture, hung some of my photographic artwork on the walls (which my ex didn’t like so I’d never had it up before), and did a few other little things to make the house feel different. It wasn’t as much as I wanted, but it was what I could do at the time.
This calendar year, my chemical sensitivities have lessened further. I finally hit the point where I could paint the interior of my house. I tested a few paints and determined that Dunn & Edwards’ Spartazero no-VOC paint was the easiest for me to tolerate. My daughter and I spent a few weeks debating colors of paint samples and finally settled on our choices. We bought paint, and as I have energy and time, my kids and I are slowly painting the house. We started with the downstairs bathroom and hallway, and the difference between white and peach paint was radical. All of us were so impressed with the difference. Today we started painting the laundry room a deep lavender. I find myself just standing there and staring at the newly painted walls in awe. I am amazed at how beautiful the color is.
So what does all of this have to do with jealousy? Yes, I was jealous of other people’s paint on their walls. But what I was really jealous of was the color in their lives. I felt like I was living my life all in white, just like my house had previously been. It was the safe choice. My life until a few years ago was the safe and logical choice, too. I was with a man whom I loved but who was not passionate about me. I hid from my metaphysical gifts. I didn’t explore things in the world but rather stayed within what were deemed safe margins. Now, I want color in my life. Not just my dishes and my walls, but my entire life. I am still rational and sensible, but I want to explore new ideas, new places, and new people. I want my life to be truly vibrant.
Sometimes examining the deeper roots of our jealousy can be very telling. It might seem like we are coveting someone else’s new sports car or their fancy house or their promotion, but perhaps there are deeper issues underneath the jealousy that we need to explore. Once we identify the true source of our jealousy, it becomes easier to work on the problem and create a situation in our own lives that helps us reduce our jealousy towards others.
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC