You’re craving chocolate. You just need that fix. Luscious, tasty, satisfying chocolate.
Then your friend walks over, nibbling on a chocolate bar. At first you don’t notice, then you smell it. “Wait…is that chocolate?” you ask.
“Yup. Don’t you just love chocolate? It just makes your day”
“I do. I do love chocolate.” You say “In fact, I’m really craving chocolate” you hint, hoping she will over you some.
Your friend doesn’t offer you any. Now she just makes a show of eating her chocolate bar in front of you. Taking big bites, savouring the chocolate as it melts in her mouth. It is excruciating. You just want to rip the chocolate bar out of her hands and warm, fuzzy feelings you normally have when you hang out with your friend are being tainted by tinges of resentment. How come she gets chocolate and I don’t? Don’t I also deserve chocolate? She knows I’m craving chocolate so why does she keep eating it right in front of me.
Then your friend starts to complain. “This chocolate is kind of bitter. I wish I had some creamy milk chocolate instead. That goes down easier.” Her chocolate is the 90% cocoa type. You can see what she means that it’s bitter. You also prefer milk chocolate. But after waiting so long for your chocolate fix, at this point you would be happy with ANY chocolate. Bitter chocolate would still satisfy your cravings. You understand where she’s coming from with the preference for a smoother, gentler, chocolate, but at the same time, she’s lucky to have any chocolate at all. Why doesn’t she understand that?
“Man, now I’ve eaten so much of this bitter chocolate that it’s giving me a stomach ache” she gripes.
“Ow, man this hurts, I should have slowed down with my chocolate eating”.
You can see that she is uncomfortable. You don’t deny that she visibly has a stomach ache. You feel bad that your sympathy for your friend is overpowered by a more catty thought – You had all that chocolate, and you know I want some and I don’t have any, and now you are complaining about a stomach ache?.
No, you tell yourself. Take that back. You should support your friend. Get her some Pepto-Bismol or something. Nobody likes having stomach aches. Be nice you tell yourself. You feel bad for having all these spiteful thoughts. You wonder if she can tell that underneath your supportive exterior, your mind is hurling her with vindictive jabs.
You think that you are being supportive on this surface, listening to her complaints, chiming in with mmmhmm, yeah that’s rough once in a while when the stomach ache gets especially bad. Yet you don’t feel supportive. You feel bad that you feel the way you do. If you weren’t craving chocolate, this wouldn’t be an issue. Then you could give your friend your unreserved love and support without the pangs of jealousy. Then you could just be her cheerleader as she complains about bitter chocolate and stomach aches. Instead, this friendship is now making you feel uneasy. It is stirring up emotions you didn’t know were there. You need distance from your friend and her chocolate covered complaints.
It feels like you will never get your chocolate bar. Like you’ll be stuck with these cravings forever as friend after friend devours chocolate bar after chocolate bar. As friend after friend complain about the bitterness of their chocolate bars. But you do know that it’s not a zero sum game. Intellectually at least, you understand this. Just because your friends have chocolate doesn’t mean they are taking chocolate away from you. There is enough chocolate to go around, in theory at least. You just have to wait your turn. And so you wait. And you wait. And you hope that your corner store isn’t sold out of chocolate bars.