Jealousy on Trial

ImageI had a dream. I was seated at the defendant’s table in an old-fashioned courtroom. My attorney, a soft round woman, held my hand beneath the table. I could feel she believed in me.

Jealousy was suing me. Jealousy was on the stand and was bright red, like the devil card in the Visconti Sforza tarot deck. He was enraged. He was telling his lawyer, who was questioning him, how much money he’d GIVEN me over the years, and how I would play by his rules or else. Or rather that I wasn’t playing by his rules, and that was why he was suing.  He’d given me the money because as an artist and writer, sometimes I’d gotten into financial difficulties. Jealousy had helped me out.

I thought the money was gifted to me out of love, I told my attorney when it was my turn to be questioned. I didn’t know it had so many strings attached. The attorney asks me about the work I do, and how I help people. She wants to show that yes, I’m an artist and writer, but I spend hours helping other people find their soul’s path. I spend years assisting other people in their writing. I’m paying it forward. I’m a good person, she tries to convey to the jury.

Jealousy blows red in the face, righteously angry, bitter, hard as peanut brittle.

I know this trial is an archetypal one. It isn’t just about me. I know in the dream that it refers to a lot of artists I know, and the consequences of choosing to follow our soul’s calling. So many people can be jealous. So many people react negatively to our passion. It frightens us, bows us down, keeps us small. We don’t want to hurt people; she just want to sing our soul. But this finding of ourselves is a fragile undertaking. Others offer you things. You accept. Sometimes it’s not free.

Jealousy is back on the stand. When is it MY turn, Jealousy rages. Okay, okay, I’ll let her be an artist, but she will suffer the consequences. By this I know he means his rage, his neglect, his manipulation. He will extract his bit of flesh.

My attorney whispers in my ear: He thinks it’s your fault that he’s not doing what he loves. It is his fear that stops him, and he cannot abide taking responsibility, so he must blame someone. Her hand squeezes mine beneath the table.

I awaken before the trial ends.

If you’re an artist or writer or creative of any kind, you’ve probably faced the jealousy of friends or family. Jealousy takes many forms: angry inexplicable outbursts , neglect, cold shoulders, false praise, manipulation. Often times the jealous person doesn’t even know they’re jealous. They feel this anger they can’t put their fingers on, and it bursts outward toward you.

Two things: first, know that the most profound grief can come from NOT practicing what you love. Behind Jealousy is grief, split open, heart-breaking, grief. I’ve been there; I know. Second, who are YOU jealous of? Turn the tables around and explore your own jealousy. Look at who triggers your rage: Someone who’s already published several novels? People making a living doing what they love?

Own your own Jealousy. Own your own grief. Shift YOUR sadness first, and then see if all the projected rage doesn’t just disappear in a puff of smoke.

The Art of Storytelling is a coaching service for writers,


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