Eckhart Tolle writes: What is conventionally called “love” is an ego strategy to avoid surrender. You are looking to someone to give you that which can only come to you in the state of surrender. The ego uses that person as a substitute to avoid having to surrender. The Spanish language is the most honest in this respect. It uses the same verb, te quiero, for “I love you” and “I want you.” To the ego, loving and wanting are the same, whereas true love has no wanting in it, no desire to possess or for your partner to change. The ego singles someone out and makes them special. It uses that person to cover up the constant underlying feeling of discontent, of “not enough,” of anger and hate, which are closely related. These are facets of an underlying deep seated feeling in human beings that is inseparable from the egoic state.
When the ego singles something out and says “I love” this or that, it’s an unconscious attempt to cover up or remove the deep-seated feelings that always accompany the ego: the discontent, the unhappiness, the sense of insufficiency that is so familiar. For a little while, the illusion actually works. Then inevitably, at some point, the person you singled out, or made special in your eyes, fails to function as a cover up for your pain, hate, discontent or unhappiness which all have their origin in that sense of insufficiency and incompleteness. Then, out comes the feeling that was covered up, and it gets projected onto the person that had been singled out and made special - who you thought would ultimately “save you.” Suddenly love turns to hate. The ego doesn’t realize that the hatred is a projection of the universal pain that you feel inside. The ego believes that this person is causing the pain. It doesn’t realize that the pain is the universal feeling of not being connected with the deeper level of your being - not being at one with yourself.
The object of love is interchangeable, as interchangeable as the object of egoic wanting. Some people go through many relationships. They fall in love and out of love many times. They love a person for a while until it doesn’t work anymore, because no person can permanently cover up that pain.
Pretty amazing stuff, right!?
So, a bit ago I read a writing on codependency. And as I read this all I kept thinking about was that this writing was speaking to our ego. And though I couldn’t get my hands around exactly what I wanted to say, I knew I wanted to write about this, too.
And so I did a bit of googling: Codependency and the ego. Ego and addiction. Love and codependency. And I also went to my go-to authors: Elizabeth Lessor, Eckhart Tolle (so lovingly quoted above). And to my own writing: Own Your Shit.
And finally what I wanted to say started to come together. But it is complicated. There are a lot of layers here. Plus there is a language conflict going on because the negative words of codependency are the positive language of many relationships.
Just look at the words we use to describe our relationships. Language that implies dependency to such an extent that – if we were just to look at the language that we use – it would be easy to judge even the healthiest relationships as living soundly and squarely into the center of the codependent bucket. He is mine. She owns me. I could not live a day without Him. I miss Him all the time. She craves me. I am his drug. Her addiction. His lifeline.
Words of endearment or words of concern? And then I got it. An epiphany. That aha moment when it all becomes clear. You see, it truly depends on where these words first form.
Because I believe that when these complicated words that I list above stem from our minds, well, we are in for a bit of a problem. But when we love each other with our hearts, these concerning words become what we mean them to be – words of endearment. So our goal – what we all truly strive for – is to live in our hearts as we live in each other’s world. Our egos, yes they raise their stormy little heads from time to time, but hopefully we recognize this and so they are not usually involved.
When we say that we want to be in relationships with people who fulfill us, that does not mean they are supposed to fill us up. This is the distinction. This is where codependency roots. Right here, in our empty spaces.
And as we suck each other into our empty spaces, we begin to feel responsible for each other’s happiness, which isn't fair and creates so much pressure between ourselves and those we are in relationships with. This toxic pressure, it goes both ways – from me to you and back again. This need, it is deep within us. In fact, it is not really about each other at all. This toxic pressure, it is internal.
And it is ready to explode.
Eckhart Tolle writes: Love is a state of Being. Your love is not outside; it is deep within you. You can never lose it, and it cannot leave you. It is not dependent on some other body, some external form.
But we think it is. Or rather, our ego thinks it is. That this love, it will go away. That we can lose it. That it is fleeting. And so fear appears and settles in and coats us with fog. And when we cannot see clearly is when our ego thrives. Thank goodness, she says. It is my turn now. And she grabs onto someone and convinces us that we need them. More and more of them and that we have to pin them down and we suffocate them so they cannot escape. But they do. Every time. Because they are outside ourselves. Because it is not real.
In my piece, Own Your Shit, I wrote: It is no one’s responsibility to make another person happy. Or to fill up their empty spaces. Yes, I love my kids and they fill me with joy. And my husband is a wonderful man. And I have deep, good friends and a very full, really lovely life. And yes, I am happy in these relationships that I have. But being happy is the blessing, not the purpose, of these relationships. And my responsibility to these relationships is to take care of them. By practicing self-care. And practicing self-love. By not needing input from others but rather meeting others in my life as a full, complete, person. Again, not easy. But I have learned to feel the difference – when I am engaging because I want to give to a relationship and when I am engaging because I am looking to get something from it. The latter does not feel good at all.
Eckhart Tolle says it like this: Only surrender can give you what you were looking for in the object of your love. The ego says surrender is not necessary because I love this person. It’s an unconscious process of course. The moment you accept completely what is, something inside you emerges that had been covered up by egoic wanting. It is an innate, indwelling peace, stillness, aliveness. It is the unconditioned, who you are in your essence. It is what you had been looking for in the love object. It is yourself.