A bit of it is fine, as long as it doesn’t take you over. I reserve my strong envy for people with strong dieting willpower, who are enthusiastic about putting up with physical discomfort so as to become fit, and for those who have used their intelligence to do worthwhile things with their lives. I’m so glad I grew out of envying people who were better off than I was, had prettier dolls and bedrooms, and lots of new clothes (and the latest Beatles records!)
There’s also the harmless envy of other living creatures that makes your imagination work – of the cat that gets away with sleeping by a fireside all day and whose looks alone usually ensure its survival among humans; the bird that can hover on a thermal as it captures the view below; the exhuberance of a dolphin that can streak through the water, diving in and out; the dog whose affections are so black and white and uncomplicated; the horse that can travel at speed, not with the intention of catching a meal or escaping pursuit, but just for the sheer exhilaration of it.
Anger yes, temper no. I stuttered a lot as a child – I still do sometimes - and learned that you can’t lose your temper in an articulate manner when you know there’s a word coming up ahead you’re going to get stuck on. In addition, my older sister unintentionally forced me to abandon temper as a way of getting what I wanted or letting off steam - she usually managed to make me feel very small if I lost my temper, by use of the method I now know is a classic one used by children – spite: to respond to criticism by counter-criticising twice as hard. It was very bad for self-esteem.
But now I’ve discovered that I have the capacity to feel a great depth of anger towards people who have hurt me badly and refuse to discuss it rationally. To digress briefly from pathos to bathos, perhaps I’ve learned this from watching the ideal world of TV soaps where these things are resolved! However, whereas in soaps characters are forced to talk through whatever it is, my own (relatively recently acquired) coping mechanism is a strong determination to avoid people, situations and jobs that make me angry or unhappy. I ought to add a footnote here that I have not had children, but would like to believe that they would have been an important exception to this attitude.
The most difficult to discuss. Dignity is immensely important to me, as I would discover every time I had my heart broken. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself because I needed to feel that I was better than the person who was hurting me. And yet when I was made redundant in 2007 after 19 years with the same company, it affected me in a way that left no room for dignity, and I felt cast out of a trade I genuinely loved, which was the agricultural industry.
When you’re overweight it’s a wobbly knife edge you walk on if you tend towards self-consciousness, and if in addition you want to keep your dignity as well. You end up being forced into using your sense of humour as a way of getting there before anybody else does. British comedienne Jo Brand uses this method to great effect.
On the other hand one of my pet hates is when people are unable through pride or simply lack of guts to look at you in the eye, and apologise with meaning, or don’t know the significance of the word ‘humility’. Add to the list those who feel themselves to be superior because of position, money, status, qualifications, and so on. Sexism, racism, elitism and bigotry all come from misplaced pride, and I frequently seethe with inward rage when I see them in action.
Last but not least: Lust
There are many adjectives with which I could describe what this one is for me, most of them positive, but deadly ain’t one of ‘em. I would like to think that it’s meant as a deadly sin only when it provokes crime or elicits behaviour which harms another person. It’s one of those physical pleasures which help us get through life. I'd like to explore the general topic of how overweight people view physical pleasure generally in a future post.
Except lying. Where do you put it? With all of them perhaps. Thinking in the context of this blog, don’t say – as I could not – that you haven’t lied so that people don’t know how much you’ve been eating, or what treat you’ve hidden somewhere, or that you’re too proud to admit defeat, or because the truth would make your anger collapse like a pack of cards, or to hide the slothful fact that you simply can’t be bothered…
Nuff said I think.