Living in the Age of Envy.

Joyfull

Transformation

Social media has created a world in which everyone seems ecstatic – apart from us. Is there any way for people to curb their resentment?


We live in the age of envy. Career envy, kitchen envy, children envy, food envy, upper arm envy, holiday envy. You name it, there’s an envy for it. Human beings have always felt what Aristotle defined in the fourth century BC as pain at the sight of another’s good fortune, stirred by “those who have what we ought to have”  (The Guardian)


 

Recently an acquaintance made the comment that they wished they could live my life. In this person’s eyes it seemed as if my life was perfect…great husband, happily married, beautiful house, dogs, horses, and creating art.
In the back of my mind I thought; Would you be willing to pay the price that I had to pay to get where I am now? Would you be willing to be emotionally and physically abused, raped, beaten and rejected, sworn at, hurt, accused and abused? And yet…take 10 + years and more to work through all that rejection and abuse to reach forgiveness and freedom?

None of us knows the story of the other. I used to (and sometimes still do), look at others and ask: Why them? Why not me?

We each live a life given to us and influenced by our circumstances. Some of us were blessed to be born with good parental guidance, some of us were born with nothing. Some of us were born broken in body and soul.

I do still feel unpleasant pangs of envy every now and then. Perhaps in part, it is because we do not know how to answer the question: “What would be good enough?”

We each were given a portion.

What I do with my portion is my choice. I can choose to continue to envy others, wish for their lives, for what they have. It will never be enough. Each one of us pays for our portion. We pay by allowing God to wash us of our past and renew our minds.
I also had to to do that. I had to face my own transgressions and reaction. The choices I made that hurt myself and other people.
I had to choose to renew my mind. To see the glass half full and not half empty.
I had to choose life.

‘I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’. – Deut 30:19

The black voice of death

The black voice in my mind...

People who are creative have more in common with people who are bipolar than they do with “normal” people, but the commonalities lie not so much in the mood disturbances as in idiosyncratic thinking patterns, enthusiasm and passion for their art, how easily they can produce new and strange ideas and connections.

The black voice behind the art…

The artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs.  It is a disease which arises from men not having sufficient power of expression to utter and get rid of the element of art in their being.  … the very great artists are able to be ordinary men—men like Shakespeare or Browning.  There are many real tragedies of the artistic temperament, tragedies of vanity or violence or fear.  But the great tragedy of the artistic temperament is that is cannot produce any art. 

Sometimes I feel like there are two voices in my head, The one that keeps telling me its hopeless. Nothing will ever come from this. Why do you keep trying? You’re useless, no one wants your work. You have no value.
It is a continual battle to keep going. To keep on fighting for my passion.
Generally, I can overcome the emotion and voice. It is a voice that has been with me all y life. The voice of the parent or authority figure that kept showing me that I have no value

I have no rights. 

I was wondering why I continually struggle with this issue of value? Logically and spiritually I understand the impact and point of view, but why is it still influencing my thought? I’ve also been reading “The Artists Way”

Part of the journey and task is to explore your inner voices. So, I decided to sit down and write down the specific words, and then try to associate each negative with a specific instance or situation. 

 

The effect of negative language on a child

Abusive and hurtful words that a parent or parents use affect all the areas of children’s lives. They grow up with feelings of ‘not being perfect’. They feel inadequate and blame themselves for being the cause of parent’s frequent reprimands and negative communication. They feel that they are constantly being watched with a critical lens. There is a feeling of being judged all the time.

These children grow up to be harsh on themselves. It can even make them demanding of others and set very high expectations for themselves as well as for others. They become sensitive about negative comments and there is a tremendous amount of guilt. Children with verbally abusive parents can even get into substance abuse or commit suicide.

What is childhood emotional neglect?

Childhood emotional neglect occurs when a child’s parent or parents fail to respond adequately to their child’s emotional needs. Emotional neglect is not necessarily childhood emotional abuse. Abuse is often intentional; it’s a purposeful choice to act in a way that is harmful. While emotional neglect can be an intentional or non-intentional disregard for a child’s feelings, it can also be a failure to act or notice a child’s emotional needs. Parents who emotionally neglect their children may still provide care and necessities. 

How does childhood neglect affect adults?

People who are emotionally neglected as children grow up to be adults who must deal with the consequences. Because their emotional needs weren’t validated as children, they may not know how to deal with their emotions when they occur.

The most common effects of childhood neglect in adulthood include:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • depression
  • emotional unavailability
  • the increasing likelihood for an eating disorder
  • shunning intimacy
  • feeling deeply, personally flawed
  • feeling empty
  • poor self-discipline
  • guilt and shame
  • anger and aggressive behaviours
  • difficulty trusting others or relying upon anyone else

These adults have never having learned the importance of their own emotions, and have difficulty identifying their own feelings.

Now…I’m definitely one of these adults. Apart from emotional neglect I also suffered from severe sexual and emotional abuse. (But that is a story for another time). In order to help myself, (and others), I have been using this Emotional Chart to identify what is going on inside my heart. 

Sometimes I despair, and I wish God was a Fairy God-mother with a magic wand. Just magicking it all away. But unfortunately, He doesn’t. He leads us into deeper waters so that we can learn to trust Him in the Storm.

Life isn’t perfect.

This is my Story: Part 3.

I’m trying to answer the age old question of: Why did you paint this?

Life isn’t perfect.

I remember Robben Island.

I was about three or four years old when we moved there. I still remember traveling there by boat for the first time. It was storming with massive waves coming over the front of the boat. All our furniture was lashed below decks with ropes to the central pillars to keep it from sliding around. My mother was up top busy getting seasick.

My dad worked as a lawyer in the office. He was required to also do warden rounds as part of his duty in his uniform of long socks, shorts and a shirt.

The government was very good at looking after their own. Inexpensive housing and labor were provided. Each compound was like a little border town with its own unique feel, and I started my school career as a five year old on Robben Island.

Blaming others

I’ve seen in my own life that fear leads to control. What we do not understand, we have to control.

The tendency to blame others can be traced to my early childhood. No matter how much people love us, our parents, family, friends and spouses, we are all broken. We hurt each other unintentionally. Even a well-meaning joke can hurt others.

We do need to look at situations and recognized that others might have had an impact. It is not wrong to be realistic about personal relationships. But we cannot live full lives and develop into adult and content humans playing the blame game.
I can choose to play the blame game, or I can take responsibility for managing my behavior. If I had continued to blame others, I would not now be able to paint what I do. My art used to be full of anger and screams, shouting out at the world: ‘I hate you all! I do not trust any of you.’
All that happened is that I ended up isolating myself behind a wall of control and efficiency.

The wrong choices I made are MY choices. I no longer blame others for my wrong choices. 

I cannot control how others treat me. But I can choose how to respond to others. 

Life isn’t perfect.

Life is all about making mistakes. It’s only through getting things wrong that we learn how to do them right.

 

  1. We can explain things more quickly and easily by attributing them to others.
  2. Shifting the blame onto someone else is a subtle way to attack them.
  3. Shifting the blame directly onto someone or something else is the perfect way to avoid having to reflect on my behavior or delve deeply into my own psyche.
  4. it’s easier to tell a lie than it is to deal with the consequences of the truth.
  5. Blaming other people can provide me with an excuse to act in a hurtful manner.

Storms of Anger

I am Brave but I Bleed.

This is my Story: Part 2.

I’m trying to answer the age old question of: Why did you paint this? 

Storms of anger.

All my physical needs were met, but no spiritual or emotional needs.

I grew up in a lake of bitterness and despair, with waves of resentment and storms of anger.

Learned early on that I had to be strong and courageous as no one else was going to protect me. No one would stand up and ransom me. I had to be brave

Much later in life, I learned that each person’s name has a meaning. We are not named randomly. Every person’s name describes their calling.

For example, Robert means, Bright Fame. Gary means Bold Spear. Niel means, Champion or cloud, and my name meant…

Leonie, lioness and little girl with a brave and courageous heart.

My mother also came from a dysfunctional  background.

Her father was a violent alcoholic. She grew up being given too much responsibility at a very young age. At the age of six, she stood on a chair, in front of a cole-stove cooking breakfast for her younger siblings.

She also had a very bad stutter and because of the stutter, she was sent to a special school. She did not have the opportunity to finish school but had to go work to support her family. (She was also a brave girl)

At this point, my grandmother had already divorced her first husband due to his violence and drinking.

Take into account that this was during the depression, and a single divorced woman was an outcast. My mother felt responsible for her family, giving her whole income to my grandmother to help feed the rest of the family. At this point, she was staying with her family in Parrow, a suburb in Cape Town, and working as a nurse at Tygerberg Hospital, also in Belville.

When we have alcoholic parents, we became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfil our sick abandonment needs.

The Laundry List.

14 Traits of an Adult Child.

  1. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
  2. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
  3. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
  4. We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
  5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
  6. We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
  7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
  8. We became addicted to excitement.
  9. We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue.”
  10. We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial).
  11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
  12. We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
  13. Alcoholism* is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics** and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
  14. Para-alcoholics** are reactors rather than actors.

Adultchildren.org

X