A Guest Post: Jealousy

I’ve rather jealously guarded my platform on this blog and have eschewed opportunities to share a guest post for a while. But when a dear friend and I were talking about jealousy the other day, I knew I had to make an adjustment. She just articulated the issue so very well and we had such a kismet meeting of the minds that I knew instantly how important it would be to share her words. I’ve dealt with the same or similar emotions at various points throughout the time I’ve been living with Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) and I’m pretty sure others have as well.

Without further ado, here’s Silke’s words about Jealousy:

It’s been a great day of skiing. A little careful, because I don’t want to bust the expanders, but I’m happy that we delayed the reconstruction until after the end of ski season. I’m under the shower, warming up. My thoughts wander to my mortality. I have cancer. It’s still hard to grasp. What will happen after I die? My man will be miserable alone, but he should be able to find somebody else. I want him to be happy. He can take her up here, go skiing with her. Then she’ll sleep in my bed. She’ll take a shower in my shower. The shower that we built together. In the house we built together. And with that I unravel into a crying mess on the floor of the shower. 

Fast forward a good 6 years. I received my metastatic diagnosis last year. Like six years ago he stood by me. Tried to get me out of my anxiety attacks. Told me that we won’t let that destroy what’s left of our lives together. Planned all these trips. None of that happened because of Covid-19, of course, but that’s an entirely different story. This story is about jealousy. 

A few years back I read “When Breath Becomes Air”. What astonished me the most was that he wanted his wife to remarry. Not just “yeah I want her to be happy”, but a wholehearted endorsement of her future happy life with a new partner. It made me think a lot about partnerships and expectations and what happens when one leaves so much earlier than the other. Both my grandmothers died long before I was born, and both my grandfathers moved on. One of them because he had lost a leg during the war, and needed somebody to care for him, so he married his wife’s cousin. 

In the middle of this metastatic mess, I talked about being suicidal with my man. When I told him that it’ll likely get really bad, he said that he didn’t marry me just for the good times, but that it was for good and bad times, and that he’d be there for me. And I think that was when the last bit of jealousy of any potential new loves left me. 

I’m still jealous. I’m jealous of those who don’t have to swallow handfuls of pills every day. I’m jealous of those who will be able to live out their lives. I’m jealous of those who will never learn the meaning of scanxiety. I’m jealous of those who will just keel over and die, and not go through the long agony of living while dying, with ever-worsening side effects. But I’m not jealous of his future partners anymore. I want him to have the life that we wanted to have together, to get old with somebody who loves him, even when he’s unshaven and has a hangover because the wine just tasted too good the night before. I want him to be happy, because he is doing his best to make me happy right now. Please let me overcome the jealousy of others as well. It’ll be hard, and I hope I can do it. Because it’s not their fault.

Thank you, Silke, for your honesty and vulnerability and courage in sharing these personal ruminations. I’ll pass along your comments to her, so please let Silke know how much you appreciated her post.