Grendel’s Mom and her axe

“I fight authority and authority always wins…” John Cougar Mellencamp
“Christina, bring me the axe.” Mommie Dearest

Jealousy is a powerful poison. Like cobra venom or shellfish iodine, it has the power to make your membranes swell and simmer. It enters the bloodstream, works its way through your body to your vulnerable brain. There it reacts with so many other catalysts, both chemical and abstract: hormones, insecurities, serotonin, adrenalin, traumas. Before you know it, you are fabricating slanders about an unwitting victim or you’re crouched in front of a computer screen chomping your way through handfuls of Oriental rice crackers as you grind your bitter axe. Jealousy has tainted my life more than once.

I am a jealous person. I envy fellow writers, especially those thirtysomething hipster media darlings with the fabulous book deals. I stare at their photos, their purposefully messy hair, their vintage Adidas sneaks, and I want what they have. I envy people with money. I wish my daddy had bought me a new car or paid for a trip to Europe as a graduation present. I wish I could feel fine spending money on electronics or music. I even envy other bloggers, especially the vapid ones who aren’t being censored by their employers, the ones who ramble about their petty little lives while my spiritual reflections and post-feminist editorials are now pages in a binder. I cannot deny how quickly I become jealous of others, covet what I don’t have, dismiss what I do.

Is that what happened to my mysterious assailant? Do they feel enraged by me for reasons only they understand? Did they wake up one morning transformed into a raging monster, no longer driven by genuine compassion and altruism but motivated by insecurity and jealousy? What makes one person attack another so viciously with words? Accusations and ultimatums. The ruination of a person’s good name. Half-truths and misrepresentations. What did I do, through my writing and my actions, to deserve their loathing?

When I was young, I told lies about someone I respected and even loved. He never forgave me. But I am willing to forgive. This person may have succeeded in shutting down my voice temporarily but they won’t affect my character. I survived jealousy’s effects in the past. Now my future, both literal and figurative, depends on my ability to remain immune.

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