I think the first time felt the true pang of jealousy was in high school. I’ve no doubt I’d felt it before, but the burn of real jealousy takes a desire so powerful that it overwhelms the senses. To be clear this isn’t envy, which is far different when you examine what they both are. Jealousy requires there be something in the way of you getting what you want. That middle party is what beings require to focus their envy into the white-hot substance which has driven humanity to start wars, kill fellow humans, and rage against the perceived privilege they are being denied.

That’s what blossomed in my mind when a high school crush passed me over for another man. I can still remember the taste in my mouth. The well-spring of hate and anger inside my heart. It should have been me. Of course he was older, with a car, which placed him at a significant advantage in the materialistic teenage world I lived in. The school espoused all sorts of platitudes about how their students’ focus was supposed to be on the Lord, but at the base level teenagers acted no different than their public school counterparts. It was a world of haves and have nots, which placed me squarely in the latter group. Worse yet this man – as he was already in his twenties – was beyond the fiefdom battles of school versus school that played out. He had what I wanted and the hate I felt for him was something like I’ve never felt again.

Jealousy is a destructive power, make no mistake about it. It creeps in during the dark times before you sleep, catapulting your mind to focus on what you perceive you deserve. The truth is – I never deserved her – because that’s not the way life works. She had the right to make her own choices, and even when I begged her during our senior year not to leave school, she went anyway. They got married years later and are living a wonderful life with a great family, which is a perfect example of why it’s important to recognize that he didn’t have something I deserved, but at the time my teenage brain didn’t see it that way.

The great part about this emotion is that when it is used correctly and carefully, jealousy can be turned into an advantage. Today I’m beginning that process for something which has gotten (and will continue to get in the way if I allow it) between me and my family. I no longer wonder who the enemy is to my long term plans, I know it all to well. This means another change for me as life rolls on, but it is a change with some significant upsides. I have become jealous of the time it steals from my family, and in truth, from me. It crept back in years ago, when my brain was busy rationalizing its reemergence, and now it has to go.

I choose today to focus my will and intent on winning that which is so rightfully mine – as many days, hours, and minutes as I can get with those I love.