HERE IS OUR PERMISSION SLIP: On Envy and Shame and Owning Our Potential

I recently had a giant realization about my life: The shame I was carrying around related to moments from my younger self was simply a giant splinter I needed to remove from my consciousness. And so, I did. This led to another giant realization: That splinter was the envy and resentment that I'd buried toward my own spouse, my person, my best friend and the father of my children. It was the elephant in the room for many years of our marriage, I just couldn't see it, because I was too ashamed to admit it, too focused on blame to see the truth. But now I know better. Screw those lies. A continuation of this previous post, I'm here to offer myself permission, and—by extension—anyone else that needs it to feel better, to grow, to release, to open up to love, to admit a hard truth to themselves or others.

Amber Ambrose is on the left, wearing a gray undershirt and red flannel shirt with black glasses. Lennie Ambrose is on the right, wearing a black t-shirt with tiny white ghosts and sunglasses. His beard is salt and pepper, his head is shaved. The background is a patio with trees.
L - Amber Ambrose, R - Lennie Ambrose, Even though we've been mostly happily married for almost two decades, I didn't realize the simmering, silent competition I secretly felt with my spouse was eating away at me, stealing my joy and preventing me from experiencing my own sovereignty.

Sometimes competition is obvious. Take the Astros for example. We know who we're trying to beat. It's out for all to see. And that's what makes it fun and exciting. It pushes the teams to do their best, to work hard, to work through setbacks, to dig down deep, to find their own sense of belonging within the team. It's the benefit of competition.


Sometimes competition is buried and repressed, and that's when it becomes toxic. Take the people closest to us, for example. We sometimes feel resentment and jealousy around them, but often we're conditioned to feel so shameful to have these *very natural* inclinations that we don't even give ourselves permission to admit it. And when it lives inside, buried deep, it manifests in all kinds of self-destructive ways. We like to joke about "frenemies" but buried resentment and envy is no joking matter. What we tell ourselves in these everyday thoughts is that we are not equal which causes us to believe it, which causes us to live it; when really, we're not living out our unique blueprint in comparison to someone who is. Hell, they might not even be "living their best life", we may have just built a whole world in our minds to justify this envy we project onto them.


When we do this, we allow the outside world to dictate our worth. We give in to the confusing messages that surround us. We give away our agency to something that does not have our best interests at heart. In doing so, we feel powerless and victimized. And all it creates is walls. Thick, ugly, terrible walls that damage our hearts. Too many walls will choke out a healthy heart just like plaque will build in our arteries and stop it from beating, little by little. It's dangerous because it is subtle, nuanced, repressed and silent. We give in. We give up. We let life happen to us. We allow blame to become our drug of choice.


But, what I've realized is that silent and repressed competition is actually a barrier for our own potential. It has almost nothing to do with the other person, place, thing, etc. We channel all of our deepest grief, rage, anger and frustration from the unexpressed beauty of our own souls and we use it as ammunition. We use it as a way to avoid the terrifying idea that we have incredible potential, but we'd need to take full responsibility for it if we allowed ourselves to admit it. We use it as a way to stay small, insignificant and sometimes alone. It is the worst kind of self-sabotage, because we have abandoned ourselves in the process.


We repress our desires in order to maintain the illusion that other people are luckier, more successful, more important, more efficient, cleaner, smarter, funnier, more attractive or a better parent because it is easier to believe this than to work on our own beliefs about what we are capable of.


So let's get to the deep shit. HERE IS OUR PERMISSION SLIP. Let's dig it out, look at it and realize, damn, I didn't know I thought that, but now that I do, I'm going to dig in a little further. Why do I believe this illusion? What am I afraid of accomplishing in my life? What about believing I am powerful has me feeling some kinda way? What is this person teaching me about my own power that I just haven't yet learned? And how can I use this to go forth and be awesome?


Because I am worthy of all the good things in my life. I am worthy of my own desires. I have always been worthy, it is simply that I have been telling myself a fictitious narrative, but now I'm ready for the truth. I'm ready. I'm worthy. And I'm tired of playing small. I'm no longer a victim of the bullshit I have internalized, because I'm summoning the courage to look at it and move past the shame. Once I look at it, I can feel that it isn't true and that it's holding me back. I no longer allow the illusion of my internal competition and jealousy to keep me from the wonderful things life wants to offer me. And life has a lot to offer me right now.


Companion post: Pulling Out The Splinter Of The World Lodged Deep Inside My Heart


Much of these realizations and essays were inspired from the work I've done thanks to The Artist's Way. Thank you, Julia Cameron, for your healing words and practices.

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