The third installment of the 7 Spins on 7 Sins guest blog series features the sin of Envy. Envy is known as the most joyless of the seven sins. Envy is counting other people's blessings. It's the tendency to be saddened by another's good as if that good was an affront to our superiority. Charity and humility are often antidotes to envy. I want to thank Olivia (Liv) Pennelle for her honesty, vulnerability and positivity in tackling this sin of Envy. I certainly could relate to so much of what she offers. Thank you so much Liv! - PS
I approached steps six and seven with the same vigor as all the previous steps. I was fastidious. My thirst for the process of uncovering, discovering and discarding was insatiable. I read Drop the Rock, The Steps We Took, The Big Book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, It Works How and Why and basically every piece of recovery literature and recording I could get my hands on. I couldn't get enough. This early work stood me in good stead, and I’m now over four-and-a-half years in recovery.
I feel, amongst others, that steps six and seven are the forgotten steps, covered in just two paragraphs in The Big Book. Conversely, the NA workbook lengthens the process to the same amount of work as a step four! Whilst thorough, it felt a little excessive—particularly for someone with a propensity to obsess. That is why I loved Drop the Rock—it provided the context that was missing, for me, in literature. What stood out most was this quote:
“In this place they call life, the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.”
I love that. So much so, that I wrote it on my bathroom mirror. I still find that to be true today, when I practice it.
When I reviewed my defects of character—which I did with a 20-page defect and 7 deadly sins working table, typed up—I was acutely aware of my defects. Did someone say obsessive? What became most apparent was my inability to communicate and speak my truth. This is where my addiction stems from. That resulted in an inordinate amount of anger and resentment. I thought they were my greatest defects. After all, I had listed over 100 resentments on my first inventory!
Envy, however, had never (or so I thought) been an issue for me. I bundled it together with jealousy. In my eyes, both were futile emotions and feelings.
Then more was revealed, as they say. Oh how I love it how that happens! And my next round of step work, I went through the working guide of Narcotics Anonymous. My word, was more revealed. I wrote over 120 pages. What I discovered is that I suffer from all of the deadly sins, including envy. Which is defined as:
noun: envy; plural noun: envies
a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck. "she felt a twinge of envy for the people on board"
My feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness that result in low self-esteem, manifest in feelings of envy. Specifically, comparison. More so than ever when I am at home, in the family unit. I compare myself like there is no other way to interact. I come from a family of doctors and high achievers. They are all highly functioning, married, outwardly successful, financially stable, have families of their own. And I, in my unfair appraisal of myself, judge that I am less than because I am not, and do not possess, those things. Yes, I am rich emotionally and spiritually, but I am not yet financially free, due to the tens of thousands of pounds of debt my recovery cost me. And I don’t have a dream job and I don’t earn six figures. I don’t own my house, I am not married and I don’t have the financial freedom to pick up a check when out for dinner. I sometimes feel like a child.
When I take that recovery space—that precious place between thoughts and actions—I know this to be untrue. Here is the evidence to the contrary: I have spent four-and-a-half years clearing the debt and am now in the black; I have plans afoot to quit my job and move to the U.S in December; I have created, designed and produced a website that communicates my passion to the world; I have retrained as a nutrition coach; I have lost fifty pounds; I have emotional and mental freedom; I have become a writer and get paid for that; I have developed an online presence within a wonderful recovery community, with people who love me and do not look at me in that negative way. And most importantly, I have developed my own sense of worth. But this is something I have to keep reminding myself of. With time, and continuous work, that precious recovery space broadens, and I react less. I am becoming more aligned to the real truth, but this shit takes time. And every time I go home, the green eyed monster rears its ugly head.
So the work I undertake is to continue to speak my truth and in doing so, I shine a light on that monster and its starts to wither away. I am worthy. I am so fucking worthy—with or without material possessions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Writer, blogger, nutrition and recovery advocate, Olivia Pennelle (Liv), is in long-term recovery. Liv passionately believes in a fluid and holistic approach to recovery. Her popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen is a resource for nutrition and recovery. In her probing interviews, she gives a unique insight into the lives of prominent figures in recovery. Liv is qualified nutrition coach, has lost nearly 50 pounds and shares her delicious recipes. She also gives a very raw account of her own journey in recovery and weight loss. For Liv, the kitchen represents the heart of the home: to eat, share, and love.