I don’t usually quote outside sources. But I am going to here, because this is good. This is fucking brilliant. Please read this. And then when you are through, read it again. And then we can talk…ok? go…
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.
I didn’t write last night. I thought about it. A lot of the day, actually. About what my writing would be about. What I wanted to say this time around and how I was thinking of saying it.
And then I got home and my house was full. Of my kids. And their friends. And my dog. And my life and I forgot. Completely. I absolutely completely forgot to write and didn’t think of it again until I was sitting on the couch this morning with my beautiful and smart and amazing and incredible Doberman puppy, who is getting SO big.
I didn’t wake up and have my first thought be that I forgot to write last night. Nope. I woke and got my dog and went for a walk – avoiding a few early morning coyotes that I didn’t know were there at first – and read my phone and talked to my boy –one of the many of my kids who is home.
I then, as I was sitting there on the couch, with my dog and my boy and my early morning thoughts the writing thought popped in. There is was … oh shit, I forgot to write my Sunday night writing.
And then I got to thinking about this. About this writing that I do each week and how I have made a commitment to writing this way. And, in turn, to those of you who read my writing. In a sense, you’ve made a commitment to me, too. By tuning in each week to share in my thoughts and offer up your own.
But sometimes, those commitments we make, they need to shift a bit. Because the moments that we are in are too great and too sweet and too good to pull away from even thought we have said that we would do something at that exact moment.
This is not to say that we should not honor our commitments to each other. Those promises I make and rituals I keep, this writing that I do each week, these things are really important and should be honored and nurtured and stuck to.
But that does not mean that these things that we are bound to do – in a good way – cannot be modified and adapted to fit what is happening right now.
And so this Sunday night writing on this, a lovely Monday morning, is just that. It is my Sunday night writing modified to fit into the circumstances that came about at that exact time when I would normally have been writing it.
This Sunday night writing here on this Monday morning means that I was able to be in that sweet moment of sitting with my family in that way that comes on spontaneously and is all too rare these days as my babies are now adults like me.
This Sunday night writing coming to you on this beautiful Monday morning means that I still get to live my life. To be in the moment. To go with the flow. To change things up. To not miss things that may only come once in a while now. To adapt and grow and laugh and love. And to still honor my commitment – to give of myself and to share.
The hardest thing for me, when I am faced with challenges, is that my mind runs ahead of my life.
I am not good at letting things unfold. I am not good at going with the flow, at sitting in the space that is what is. I want to make it right, right now. And because I can't, my mind gets wrapped up and tangled and then stuck in the tangles in a way that twists and turns around and around and around again.
It is as though I am on a very complex Mobius strip. Not those beautifully simple ones but a tangle of ribbon that turns in on itself in knots with no end. Just an over and over again path of obsession and despair and worry and sadness. And fear.
I try to disengage, with the skills I have learned over this lifetime I have lived. And perhaps the lifetimes I have lived before this, too. For these skills that I have, this knowledge and the wisdom that I bring forth this time, it has come with me into this life from other lives that I have lived. This is a truth. And so I am a wealth of information. I have smarts. And skills.
And I try and disengage from the obsessive attempt to control what is, by using all these tools. All this knowledge and smarts and wisdom. But even while I do this in one part of my head, there is this other part of me that continues the cycle. It is like I am split in two. Or more. More than two. Split into many pieces that are not quite integrated and so while parts of me are grounding in my wisdom - in the things I know are true - other parts are spinning along this tangled mess of perseveration.
One of the things that I have always wished for is peace. Peacefulness. A calm mind but more. An ability to be ok in every moment. And especially in these moments. An ability to let be what is. When I am on my Mobius strip ride I realize I have obviously not mastered this
And so the journey continues.
I recently retired. Well, not so recently. Last August to be exact. So not quite a year ago, but not just last week either. It is a wonderful thing. And I have no idea what my future brings. What my plan is. I actually don't have a plan. Truly. And I don't even think about having a plan. Well, that’s not exactly true. I do think about the fact that I don’t have a plan and how that is so not what we, as a society, prefer to see. And then I get a little pissed about that even though it’s all usually just a dialog going on in my own head. And then I resolve the conflict and go back to my no plan and all is good.
The whole thing is very Zen of me, which makes me laugh since I am so not Zen. But in this no plan state that I am in, I obviously am Zen-like because each day is just that day. No plan. Yes, I have some commitments and appointments. And I have a puppy and she takes up most of every day these days. And my kids are coming home. One is home already and two more are following soon. So each day has commitments. But each day also just unfolds. As that day. And I don't think in that day about what happens in the future. What my plan is. I truly don't have one.
It feels wonderful.
Now this does not mean that there may not be something sometime. That I may not wake up one morning and begin something new that will take me in a different direction than just being each day. But I am not storing up my energy and regrouping to get ready for that opportunity. I am not consciously preparing myself for anything. I am not gearing up, because there is no plan to gear up for.
The world does not like this. Sometimes, that inner dialog is actually a real conversation. It goes something like this:
I meet someone new and, because we have just met, they ask me what I do. I am retired, I say. And they ask me what my plan is. Second question out of their mouth. And when I say that I have no plan, that I am just enjoying my days each day as they come, they say they understand how important it is to take some time for myself before I decide what I am going to do with this new stage of my life.
What I am going to do with my life. As if just being in my life each day is not enough. Is not doing anything.
When people are just being – day to day just walking through each moment without a goal - when they sit for long periods, when they don’t have a list of things they wish to accomplish, our society sees them as idle. Or lazy. Or unfocused. Not driven. Not striving to be better. And so, because others don't want to think these things about each other, they need to come up with some justification for just being. And so insert the "resting, recharging until that next thing" into the equation. It makes them feel more comfortable.
Because I think that we have conditioned ourselves to believe that if we don't have these goals, if we are not striving for something, then we are not contributing members of the community. Because our accomplishments are how we define each other. Our successes are our worth. Our jobs and careers are who we are.
I want to change that. Start asking others what they feel, who they love, and how they think. Because I believe that this is who we are. You and I and all the people in our lives. We are all many things. We are a great friend or a kind sister. We are a lover of animals and deep thinkers. We are funny and smart and cynical and depressed and lonely and full of joy and filled with sadness. We are readers and writers and passionate about films and motorcycles and cars. We love to travel or hate to leave home. We are our passions and our struggles.
Now, I do believe that we incorporate who we are into what we do. My last career (I suffered from career ADD) was as a mediator and my gifts - my compassion and my fairness and my ability to see the big picture and translate complex ideas into easy to understand phrases - these served my vocation. But being a mediator was not who I was, it was what I did. I am a compassionate, fair and clear person who did mediation.
I think that distinction is important. Because then we don't need to label ourselves, we can just be ourselves. And then we don't need to label another to see their worth, either. We can all just be comfortable being present in each moment, as who we are in each moment. And that will be enough.
And I think that would be a beautiful thing.
There was a stillness in this room.
Long ago, when you were new.
The hum of a florescent somewhere out there.
But not in here with you.
I held you.
Close. And felt your breath.
It was small like you. And sweet.
I held the promise of your lifetime.
And I wished the promise of fulfillment.
You will have all these things.
For this I knew was true.
And I whispered into you.
Just a small word.
More just a sound really
More just my breath really.
I whispered into you my promise.
For I would give you all these things.
This I promised you.
Long ago, when you were new.
And now there is, again, a stillness.
And a hum this time of footlights.
Stage lights. Bright lights.
The light in your eyes.
And I see that you are new.
Again. But separate now.
I hold you.
Close. For just a time.
And feel your heart.
It is strong like you. And brave.
And you now hold the promise of your lifetime.
And can see the promise of fulfillment.
You will have all these things.
For this you know is true.
And I whisper into you.
Just a small word.
More just a sound really.
More just my breath really.
I whisper into you my blessing.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.