Jealousy Feels A Lot Like Rejection

June 7, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone

"We all learn lessons in life. Some stick, some don't. I have always learned more from rejection and failure than from acceptance and success." -Henry Rollins

From a young age, I have learned that jealousy was a bad thing. People around me turned jealousy into something of a disease. And so, if you were ever having feelings of jealousy, it was like you were ill or "caught" something and needed to be clean.

I later learned that that is where shame comes from.

Shame doesn't come from jealousy, it comes from the refusal to accept the feeling. 

I also learned that instead of trying to rid yourself of jealousy, it is so much more healing to acknowledge it. To acknowledge it means to let yourself feel it, understand it, and then let it go.

After losing Elijah, the feeling of jealousy is different than it used to be.

Before, jealousy was: 

"They don't deserve it, they didn't work hard for it."

"He/she is just being a show off." 

"I wish I could look as good as her in that dress." 

"I don't want to be happy for them because I'm choosing not to."

Now, jealousy is more like: 

"Why her, not me?"

"He/she is soooo lucky (I'm not)." 

"It sucks that they get to do it, but I can't." 

"I don't know how to be happy for them because I'm hurting."

Pretty much, the "before" kind of jealousy is more like an ego-insecurity, whereas the "now" kind of jealousy is more like a victim-insecurity.

However, the grief experience after stillbirth turns feelings of jealousy into something so painful that jealousy isn't  just jealousy. Jealousy becomes more like rejection, and anger/hate isn't the most prominent feeling; there is a huge amount of sorrow and a sense of loss or being the "loser."

Losing Elijah wasn't just losing Elijah; I had lost everything. I lost seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. I lost every little moment with him. I lost a whole life with him.

When I hear of a pregnancy announcement, I hear the deafening silence of my womb with no baby. When I see a pregnant woman with a very pregnant belly, I see the pregnant belly that I was eagerly waiting to have. When I see tiny infants in baby wraps, car seats, strollers, in the arms of their new mommies and daddies, I see the emptiness and feel the aching pain of my arms.

In children of all ages, I see the memories and years that I have missed and were taken from me. 

It hurts to witness these kinds of moments and so the natural thing to do is to protect myself. It's kind of like when the sun hits your eyes; the first thing you do is flinch or squint and then shade your eyes.

Like the sun, the pain is too much for the naked eye.

Sometimes, protecting myself from the sun comes off looking as if I was cold and bitter, and maybe I was. Maybe I was being cruel, maybe I was raining on somebody else's parade. But behind that exterior, I was crying and dying inside and wanted someone to hug me.

A couple of days ago, I was trying to explain to my husband that I had felt so much like a loser. To him, he thought that I was describing something like a competition.


It is NO competition to get pregnant.

It is NO competition to have kids.

It is NO competition to be parents.

It is NO competition to have a family.

As a woman, the one thing that I was supposed to be good at was bearing, carrying, and birthing children. The one thing that I was born to do, I failed. What I wanted and prayed for felt like a tease and not only did I feel fooled, I felt rejected. I felt that I was rejected without being told a reason.

I felt that God had rejected me. 

And that is what I saw everywhere.

I saw the rejection of the life I should have had with Elijah, the failure to carry a pregnancy to term, and the rejection and failure to create a life.

I gave birth to a baby that died. Sometimes, there was beauty in it that I couldn't deny. Being a first time mom and birthing something so miraculous and perfect made me see and feel nothing, but love and awe. Then again, it is a paradox to give birth to death and it is horrifyingly unimaginable that no words could ever really describe the pain.

I felt like a loser simply because I had lost, not because it was a competition.

In the stillbirth, loss, and grieving world, the feeling of jealousy is tough and not necessarily something that I wanted to feel. It's hard to not be jealous of others who get to hold their babies and watch their babies grow.

It hurts to be looking from the outside and feel jealous, but because having babies and being new parents is an exciting time, the guilt and shame starts to build because I know all too well that I should be happy for them. It may be harder to admit this jealousy because, well, who really wants to admit that we are?

Because to admit jealousy means to admit vulnerability and insecurity. 

I told my husband that yes, I feel jealous. It is obvious that I feel this way and there is no denying it. But, it doesn't come from a sense of selfishness, it comes from the sorrows of life without Elijah and the life of being barren.

My jealousy isn't a disease.

My jealousy isn't ugly.

My jealousy is grief.

My jealousy is the truth of what it feels like to lose.

I wanted him to understand that even in the "ugliness" of jealousy, there is so much depth to it that needs to be explored and loved. It needs to be acknowledged.

I have never said this aloud and maybe I should, but I want to admit that:

I am jealous of those who get to experience motherhood that is untouched by loss. I am jealous of those who can easily become pregnant. I am jealous of those who do not know the pain of losing a baby. I am jealous of those who get to know their babies. And I am jealous of those who are living the life I have painfully prayed and longed for. 

But in no way am I ashamed for feeling so.

There are very few who will tell me that it is okay to feel what I feel.

And that is what I am doing here.

I am telling myself that it is okay. It is okay to feel jealous and rejected. It is okay to feel like a loser and a failure. However, feeling this way doesn't define who I truly am, nor does it make me less than anyone else; it doesn't make me a nasty or petty person.

It makes me a childless mother who is lovesick; a human with a heart that needs a lot of love.

I hope that if there are others feeling the same way, that they know that it is more than okay to experience jealousy after loss.

After all, the jealousy we feel comes from the love that has nowhere to go.

Must Read: 
 Read the full story about Elijah:
Elijah's Story: From Gender Reveal To A Spontaneous Delivery

Photo: maxpixel

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