Pete, if I haven't mentioned, is really good at his job. When I worked with him I witnessed the wildest, most out of control kid calm down in the blink of an eye at just the sound of his voice. A few times when I struggled with my one to one he would come over and sooth her like some pied piper of children.
My opinion of his seemingly effortless way with children often sparked two responses in me. The first was one of admiration, inspiration. He was like the god of children to me, glowing from his pedestal of pure perfection. The other brought out feelings of jealousy, rage, resentment. How dare he be better than me at this! He's got to be good at everything and he has to take this away from me!
Classic splitting. Idealization and devaluation all in one. I brought up the issue with my therapist and we delved deeper into it, and discovered there was more to it. Old feelings, as she likes to say.
The idealization part of it is pretty easy to figure out. In my eyes, in times like these, he can do no wrong. It's nothing new. It's very much a BPD thing to have someone on a pedestal. However, there was more to the opposite end of the spectrum. The feelings of rage and jealousy touched upon my fear of rejection, and my self-confidence.
Growing up I literally thought the only thing I was better at than my sister was the fact I was thinner. A couple years ago she lost a significant amount of weight and I began to fear she would become thinner than me. There are very few things I am confident in; being good with kids is one of them. So if I perceive someone is better than me (in this case, Pete) then I am jealous and resent them because I believe they are trying to take the one thing I can do better than them.
Of course Pete's natural way with kids doesn't mean he's better than me or worse than me. It just means he's good at what he does, and instead of learning from him I devalue myself and forget all the times I calmed a kid down. Maybe not in the same way he did, but when the class' teacher was gone who did all the kids ask for all the time? Who did they go to? Me. When I had Pete come in to sit with Chicken Little she was upset that I was leaving her. So I am good at what I do.
Then there is the rejection. This I didn't understand at first because the situation didn't have anything to do with me. He wasn't rejecting me. Except in my subconscious I do feel rejected, simply because someone I care about is giving attention to someone else. The other part of it is, when he's comforting kids I probably am seeing it as paternal nurturing. The type of nurturing that was lost on me when my father emotionally abandoned me when he married the woman who emotionally abused me. So part of the jealousy I feel is actually jealousy towards the kids for getting that nurturing. He makes the kids feel safe and that's something I was deprived of growing up.
I am not only splitting (idealization/devaluation); but also fearing imaginary rejection, devaluing my own skills and self-worth, bringing up old feelings.
This is comforting because I can remind myself of this analyzing of thoughts when he's telling me a story and I feel that twinge of jealousy, or when my mind starts telling me things like "all the kids like him, you'll never be as good as him. He's better than you." Knowing that there is much more to my thoughts helps me move past them.
This is what talking about mental illness achieves. Deeper understanding of one's self.