I chose a career whose foundation is jealousy and rejection. As an actor, if you are any good, your peers will envy you, be jealous of your successes, and very often those feelings are manifest in dislike or even hate. No one admits to feeling jealous. I was a talented actor, had a beautiful singing voice, was pretty, and moved very well and with grace. I suffered my share of rejections, but usually when I really wanted a job I got it. I was very blessed. My peers were jealous of me. But I was used to being hated for my gifts. My mother was jealous of me all my life.
But it never occurred to me that my mother was jealous, especially when I was a kid. What did I have that she could possibly be jealous of? I just thought she hated me. And that made for a very contentious and complex relationship-one that was very unsatisfying for me. I don’t know what it was like for my mother, but I cannot imagine that it did anything but damage her even more than she already was, and her relationship with me couldn’t have been fun for her either. It was actually my best friend who, in our early twenties, suggested that my mother didn’t hate me but was jealous of me. I had to think about the suggestion for a very long time before I was able to admit that jealousy could have been at the root of the problems between my mother and me. But I remained perplexed. What did I have that anyone could have been jealous of?
That is not to say that I never felt jealous feelings towards anyone. I did. But never envy. I never wanted anything that someone else had, but I could feel jealous of their success. I never coveted. Well, that’s not entirely true. When I was very young I coveted my mother’s breasts. I suppose that’s normal and that Freud would have something to say about it. But I never wanted her life. I never wanted to be married or have children or do any of the things associated with the idea of “conventional normalcy”. I just wanted to be a working actor. At least that’s what I thought. But that’s another story.
Jealousy eats at your soul and can devour your humanity. It may not even affect the object of your jealousy at all. The only jealousy directed towards me that actually had an impact on me was that of my mother. The rest of it went largely unnoticed by me as it never occurred to me that anyone had any reason to be jealous of me. I never thought I was anything special, as much as others told me I was. But that’s another story too. As for jealousy-it is a green-eyed monster. And the monster is us.