I am the mother of a bright, beautiful, friendly 15-year-old who I love very much. But in recent years, a pit of jealousy has started growing over just how talented and popular my daughter has become. I have spent much of my life feeling little more than average. I’m not ugly – but I’m not pretty. I’m not dumb – but I’m not what you would consider intelligent. I have some good friends – but popular is never a word someone would use to describe me.
My daughter, on the other hand, is spectacular. She has an enormous group of friends, all of whom fight spend time with her, she’s one of the highest achieving students in her class, and she has a confidence that most adults can only dream of.
I should be proud of all this, I know I should. But instead I’ve started resenting her for it – despising her even. And I find myself trying to put her down at every available opportunity. I know how silly this sounds. A grown woman being jealous of a 15 year old is crazy enough, but of her own daughter? But I can’t help thinking to myself: ‘What does she have that I don’t?’
Dear Jane, my daughter is prettier than me and smarter than me – and I hate her for it. Now, my jealousy is threatening to ruin our relationship
It feels as though she’s started to pick up on these feelings and she’s pushing me away. I can’t stand the idea that our relationship could be destroyed because of my jealousy, but I don’t know how to stop.
Please help before I lose my daughter.
From, Green With Envy
Dear Green With Envy,
Jealousy is a pretty monstrous emotional response to anything, especially when it’s to the myriad ways in which your extraordinary child is flourishing. That you have noticed these dastardly sentiments brewing within you and that you want to change is an enormously helpful awareness to have.
With awareness, we have choice. And your choice now is whether or not to take conscious and deliberate corrective and reparative action. As you know, the stakes are high and failing to make real changes will likely have dire consequences for you, for your daughter, and for the health of any future relationship you hope to have.
However well you think you have been hiding your jealousy, it seems quite clear that your daughter already senses it and is protecting herself the only way she knows how – by pushing you away.
International best-selling author offers sage advice on DailyMail.com readers’ most burning issues in her weekly Dear Jane agony aunt column
The fact that you recognize that your jealousy is a negative emotional response to your daughter’s successes, and the damage you are creating, is a wonderful start.
First, it’s useful to understand what jealousy is: it’s a form of anger or resentment toward someone for having something that you do not have, but want. Next, it’s helpful to understand the root causes of jealousy. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that this negative emotional response tends to stem from low self-esteem. The solutions to calming down those feelings are simple, but seldom easy. Your job is to start taking actions to build your sense of self-esteem. And with that, it will be very helpful for you to develop a gratitude practice.
I don’t know the circumstances of your childhood, but from the way you describe yourself – not pretty, not intelligent, not popular – I am guessing that you were not appreciated, loved or praised by the most important people in your life. My heart hurts for you, and I am sorry that you have gone through the traumas you have gone through. Finding compassion for yourself will go a long way toward helping you heal. Your daughter’s thriving is in many ways the result of all you have given her. Now, you need to shift your focus to loving, supporting and encouraging yourself.
A popular Cognitive Behavioral Therapy technique is to develop an abundance mentality. Focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t. You may not have the confidence your daughter has, but look at what you do have that brings you joy. Use your daughter as a teacher and role model; instead of being jealous, become curious. See if there is something you can learn from her.
Pour your energy into your own friendships, and you will be astonished at how much better they will become – and how many more you will find. Pursue interests and take classes that give you a sense of accomplishment. And, take stock, each and every day, of abundance of good things in your life, large and small, to be appreciative of, and grateful for.
It may take time, but doing these steps will not only help to banish the green-eyed monster from your home, but will help make for a far more contented and peaceful life.
My husband and I have been married for six years – and before that we dated for two years. Throughout our relationship, he’s had a pet cat who he loves almost as much as me. When we first met I wasn’t the biggest fan of the cat but over the years I’ve grown to love him almost as much as my husband does.
But the other week, when my husband was out of town for work, something horrible happened. I was in a rush to get out of the door for work and must have left the porch door open because Janie got out. I only realized this when I was backing out of the driveway and felt a bump. I jumped out of the car to see what I’d hit, thinking it was a fallen branch or even a squirrel. And there was Janie.
I was absolutely devastated. And then the panic set in. What would my husband think of me? For whatever reason I decided in the moment that the best thing to do would be to bury Janie and figure out what to tell my husband later. When he came home the next day, he immediately rushed to find her and was terrified when he couldn’t, asking where she was and what had happened.
The next thing I know, I’m telling him I have no idea, that she must have slipped out when he came in with his suitcase, and that she was surely just in the backyard.
It’s been almost a week now and I’m so deeply stuck in this lie that I don’t think I can ever tell him what’s really happened. I’ve helped him put up missing posters and I’ve phoned local shelters – all the while knowing that it’s a totally hopeless search.
Is this a secret I’m going to have to take to my grave?
From, Feline Horrified,
‘Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!’
Sir Walter Scott hit the proverbial nail on the head with that one. It is a bit of a fine old mess you’ve got yourself into and, as I see it, you’re damned if you do, and maybe more damned if you don’t.
If you get it off your chest and tell him the truth, there may be significant damage to your relationship. However, if you keep it to yourself, there’s also a significant price to pay as you are living with the weight of a secret and those burdens have a nasty habit of getting heavier and heavier, leading to nothing good or healthy.
The truth is that everyone has lied at some point or another. Whether it’s a little white lie, or a great big mess that one then compounds, the truth is that we are all human and all lie at some points in our lives. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t, but doing so tends to come with a cost.
Dear Jane’s Sunday Service
Life is much easier when we practice what some call rigorous honesty.
This is not just about being truthful, but about taking responsibility for the mistakes we make or the ways in which we hurt others, about living with integrity, and being truthful with ourselves as much as others.
An honest life is an authentic one, and the more we practice it, the better our relationships become.
In this tragic case, you running over your husband’s beloved cat was a terrible accident. And lying to cover up what actually happened is an understandable – though not laudable – panicked reaction under the stress of the circumstances.
In order to restore your integrity and have an authentic relationship with your husband, I think you have to come clean, and brace yourself for the consequences. Tell him in person. (You might want to have a trusted friend on standby in case you need support with the fallout.) Start by saying there is something you need to tell him, and that you are aware it will have an impact on your relationship. Explain that you can’t live with yourself unless you are honest.
By this time, he will doubtless know it is something to do with Janie. Tell him the truth. He’ll doubtless be upset by what you share, and may need some space to process it.
Let him react in whatever way he needs to, and assure him that you are committed to your marriage and to working to rebuild his trust, and then give him time to process. If you need comforting, turn to a friend. I hope this isn’t the end of your relationship, but I struggle to see your marriage thriving when it has this giant lie stuck in the middle of it.
The truth will free you, however hard it may be, and whatever your husband decides. The one thing I know is that this was a terrible accident, you didn’t mean to do this, and – hopefully – you will take a breath, do things differently in the future, and come through this mess with a stronger relationship than ever before.
Jane’s Sunday Service: Life is much easier when we practice what some call rigorous honesty. This is not just about being truthful, but about taking responsibility for the mistakes we make or the ways in which we hurt others, about living with integrity, and being truthful with ourselves as much as others. An honest life is an authentic one, and the more we practice it, the better our relationships become.