It read like a horror movie, the story of how Stephanie Se-Ember Terungwa a young wife and mother of one was killed by her friend Jennifer. April 14th 2022 dawned like any other day for Stephanie a serving Corp member, as she dropped off her seventeen month old son in crèche and stopped by at Jennifer’s place on her way to her Community Development Service (CDS) in the FCT Abuja. What she didn’t know was that it was going to be her last day on earth and that she would not be alive to see the dusk of the day. When she didn’t show up at her CDS and also at her sons school later in the day she was declared missing and days later her body was discovered in the bush disfigured and battered, identifiable by the Corp uniform she was wearing.
Investigations revealed that she had indeed stopped by at Jennifer’s to pick up a phone but was not seen alive after then. Jennifer was arrested and then came the gory details of how Stephanie her supposed friend died in her hands. Motive – Edward! Jennifer’s husband and the father of her child. Apparently, Edward who introduced both ladies to one another, had been Jennifer’s lover unknown to Stephanie. As at now, Edwards’s involvement in the murder is still yet unclear but what is clear is that Jennifer who was incensed at being abandoned by Edward who had clearly moved on and had the guts to introduce her to his wife, had hatched a plan with her accomplices to abduct and kill Stephanie so as to have Edward all to herself.
Killings such as that of Stephanie are known as crimes of passion. Though it is believed that crimes of passion relate mainly to non -premeditated Murder, the Cambridge dictionary defines crimes of passion as a crime committed because of very strong emotional feelings especially in connection with a sexual relationship. In Stephanie’s case, the emotions behind her death were those of envy and jealousy on the part of her killer.
Jealousy is defined as the unpleasant emotion of losing something or someone we have to another person whilst envy refers to wishing we had something that another person has and resenting them for it. Jennifer’s motive as stated by her, she wanted Edward all to herself, raises the assumption, that although Edward had married Stephanie he kept a romantic relationship with Jennifer that she couldn’t bear to loose completely. In Jennifer’s warped mind, Stephanie had not only taken what she thought was hers by marrying Edward, she may have also been responsible for her not having access to him if they had remained lovers and she resented Stephanie for having both the man and the family she thought was hers.
Jealousy and envy are majorly negative emotions and they are feelings that we all feel from day to day especially in today’s world where Social media particularly Instagram , Facebook, YouTube, TikTok etc has made us able to view from the outside the going-ons in the lives of other people. Each day we inundated with videos and posts of people doing things we can only dream about, wearing and displaying things we would love to own and possess and like so may others I have felt the breath of the green eyed monster as he hunched on my shoulder whispering “you deserve it,” “you only live once,” “they are not better than you,” “they are living your life if not for…..” “they don’t deserve so much,” “they must be doing something illegal to have all of these” and “Life is unfair.” Accompanying these thoughts is a sense of failure of one’s achievement and low self esteem followed closely by feelings of resentment against those we think have a better deal from life than us.
It doesn’t matter that we know that some are faking it till they make it or that people only post or present their best side on social media, at the moment we view their posts, their fake looks more real and better than our situation and slowly but surely jealousy and envy make their mark on our souls.
Can Jealousy and Envy be ‘Healthy’?
I believe that to some little degree, jealousy is healthy. After all, God is said to be a jealous God and jealousy can also be defined as being vigilant in guarding one’s possession. A lot of people equate jealousy with being protective about and showing regard for their relationships and so a bit of jealousy can be healthy. On the other hand, Envy is not seen in a good light because most often it carries with it resentment which embitters the soul although on its own it can act as motivation to become or have what the other person is or has.
The problem as it often is with negative emotions, is when the emotions turn psychotic and pathological , control the actions and behavior of the person harboring them and graduate from imps to monsters that unleash evil in their wake. Jealousy and envy both have the capacity and capability to destroy the very thing they covert and It is my opinion that the love for and of another person doesn’t require jealousy to prove it or protect it.
The truth is that Jealousy and Envy are fed by our insecurities and low self esteem because it is a fact that there will always be someone who will have more than we do, whose story and life reads like a fairy tale and the way we look at ourselves and our achievements go a long way in helping us manage our emotions and expectations. Dr. Sam Vaknin, an expert on narcissism describes pathological envy as “…a compounded emotion. It is brought on by the realisation of some lack, deficiency or inadequacy in oneself. It is the result of unfavourably comparing oneself to others – to their success, their reputation, their possessions, their luck, and their qualities. It is misery and humiliation and impotent rage and a torturous, slippery path to nowhere. The effort to break the padded walls of this self-visited purgatory often leads to attacks on the perceived source of frustration.”
The key to stifling these emotions that rise within us from time to time as we look at the public lives of others is contentment. Contentment to me is the art of being satisfied and appreciative of wherever one is and at whatever time . To be content is to be at peace with what we have , who we are and what we have achieved. As Anthony Dasuki Atata aptly described the contented people he has come across with on his Facebook wall
“ They are not moved to join the race to keep up with the Joneses. They do not chase clout. They are mostly confident and loyal with little possibility of being vulnerable to blackmail. They are yet ambitious. They remain consistent with their ideals. They hardly waver even at the threat of social exclusion. They do not want to BELONG or impress.They do not display envy.”
I believe that more and more we need to practice the art of being content and we can only be so when we come to the realization that:
A. We cannot be like everyone.
B. We cannot have everything we want.
C. There will always be people more fortunate and less fortunate than us.
D. More things don’t make us happier.
E. Life is made up of the little things.
F. We cannot control everything .
The art of contention is the art of gratitude and appreciation of life and all that it has given to us and brought our way. In today’s world where we are daily bombarded with having more and being more we must learn the art of being happy with who we are and what we have. As we can see in so many stories of greed and covetousness all around us, Jealousy and envy take a toll on our health and minds and they are the fastest ways to destroy our relationships and the things we desire the most. So today enjoy your journey in life, revel in where you are at, love who you have become and are becoming and be filled with gratitude for all that is yours.
Philippians 4:11 I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.