Le’Go My Ego!

Despite the fact that I’m just four months shy of my 39th year, I have just begun my “path to love”. At times it seems both strange and frustrating to only now be on such a journey, but I try not to allow the idea of time to box me in. Better to have begun the journey, than to live a false life without really knowing, and experiencing, love in its purest form. Now, this “path to love” that I have started isn’t so much about finding an external source of love (a partner), but about falling in love with the Self (spirit) as it is referenced by Deepak Chopra. According to Chopra, the ego is at odds with the Self (spirit):

Ego is responsible for protecting your self-image; it creates the compartments where everything undesirable about you has been hidden. What blocks love is not the presence of these shadow energies but the division of the psyche that came about when your ego started building inner walls. Love is a flow, and walls keep the flow out (24).

If Chopra’s premise is true (that the ego battles with the Self), then my inability to experience love in its truest, most pure form, has been the result of my fated attempts at preserving my “fragile” ego—which in turn is the cause of my “emotional constipation”. That being said, it’s now time to “le’go my ego”!

As a self-proclaimed bibliophile, I started reading The Path To Love: Spiritual Strategies for Healing by best-selling author Deepak Chopra when a dear friend (Sunila) suggested I look into some of his videos on meditation. While in search of Chopra’s videos, I came across the before-mentioned book title and was immediately in awe of his prolific and profound words. Recently, while reading the chapter titled “The Spirit of Romance: Tender Courtship”, the following words from Chopra leveled me.

The exhilaration of falling in love is an escape from ego, its sense of threat, and its selfishness…the ego cannot do two things: it cannot abolish fear, since ego is founded on fear; and it cannot create love, since ego by definition shuts out love. The reason the ego and love are not compatible comes down to this: you cannot take your ego into the unknown, where love wants to lead. If you follow love, your life will become uncertain, and the ego craves certainty. You will have to surrender to another person, and the ego prizes its own will above anyone else’s. Love will make your feelings ambiguous, and the ego wants to feel the certainty of right and wrong. Many other experiences that cannot be comprehended by ego apply to love—a lover is confused, spontaneous, vulnerable, exposed, detached, carefree, wondrous, and ever new. Love’s journey would be terrifying if we didn’t have passion to give us courage—the blind courage of lovers, it is often called. It would be truer to call it the blind wisdom of lovers, because the ego’s certainty is an illusion. Uncertainty is the basis of life (115-116).

The ego is at war with the Self (spirit).

Fascinated by human behavior, I took my first psychology class as a sophomore at Denison University. I continued to take psychology classes and even considered a dual major in English and Psychology, but my love of literature and writing won out. A couple years after I had graduated with my B.A. the yearning for the field of psychology haunted me and I found myself in another institution of higher learning, Marshall University, simply taking psychology classes because of my curiosity with the subject matter. But let’s get back to this business of consciousness and the battle of the Self and ego.  In an effort to fully understand Chopra’s words, we must return to our notes from “Psychology 101” where many of us learned about the three parts of the human psyche, as defined by noted psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

Pen and Paper, Please: Time for Notes

First and foremost, in The Ego and ID, Sigmund Freud explains the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness—which are central to understanding his assessment of human personality (id, superego, and ego):

The term ‘conscious’ is to start with, a purely descriptive one, resting on a perception of the most direct and certain character. Experience shows, next, that a mental element (for instance, an idea) is not as a rule permanently conscious. On the contrary, a state of consciousness is characteristically very transitory; an idea that is conscious now is no longer so a moment later, although is can become so again under certain conditions that are easily brought about. We can say that it was latent, and by this we mean that it was capable of becoming conscious at any time. Or, if we say that it was unconscious, we are giving an equally correct description. Thus ‘unconscious’ in this sense of the word coincides with ‘latent and capable of becoming conscious’…we have two kinds of unconsciousness—that which is latent but capable of becoming conscious, and that which is repressed and not capable of becoming conscious in the ordinary way…That which is latent, and only unconscious in the descriptive and not in the dynamic sense, we call preconscious; the term unconscious we reserve for the dynamically unconscious repressed, so that we not have three terms, conscious (Cs), preconscious (Pcs), and unconscious (Ucs)… (Freud, 1927)

Yes, that is certainly a lot to ingest, but I am certain that Freud’s insights about human behavior, coupled with Chopra’s insights about love, will lead us to a better understanding of how many of us have blocked the flow of love in our lives.

“We have formulated the idea that in every individual there is a coherent organization of mental processes, which we will call his ego.” (Sigmund Freud)

 

Yes, Your Hand May Be Cramping; Suck It Up…More Notes (from Freud’s The Ego and The ID, 1927)

The Ego:

  • Includes consciousness
  • Situated nearest to the external world
  • Controls approaches to the external world; attempts to avoid negative societal consequences
  • Regulates constituent processes (decision-making component of our personality)
  • Goes to sleep at night; censors dreams
  • Represses (attempts to cut off certain trends in the mind—trends that stand in opposition to the ego)
  • Is also unconscious
  • Represents “reason” and “sanity”
  • Carries into action the wishes of the id
  • Operates from the “reality principle”

The Super-ego or Ego-ideal:

  • Less connected with consciousness; preconscious
  • Represents the internal world (of the id)
  • Mediator between the ego (rational) and id (impulsive)
  • Weighs values and morals
  • Controls id impulses
  • Works to “persuade” the ego to operate at a “higher” level of consciousness–moralistic

The Id:

  • Works on an unconscious level
  • Contains passions
  • Primitive
  • Instinctive
  • Impulsive and irrational
  • Seeks gratification
  • Operates on the “pleasure principle” (Freud, 1920)

Okay, now that we’ve taken our notes and have a more insightful understanding of Freud’s assessment of human behavior, here is one last piece of information—an illustration of these systems.

ego

Alas, let’s start to merge Freud’s ideas with those of Deepak Chopra. Let me remind you, Deepak Chopra insists that the ego is at war with the Self (spirit). Let me clarify the Self that Chopra speaks of. According to Vedic tradition, the Self is:

…not the everyday self with its thoughts, wishes, needs, and drives but a higher Self that is silent and eternal…In truth you are the Self, created from the same spirit that in infinite form is called God (12-14)

That being the premise we are working from, we have to understand what this ego is all about. According to Chopra, falling in love is about journeying into the unknown and that is a “scary” place for our rational mind (ego) to go. The unpredictable nature of love stands in contrast to the ego’s desire to reason and rationalize. The ego seeks to avoid pain and does so by weighing the id impulses against the superego’s understanding of societal values and morals. Love desires for us to surrender, but the ego cannot conceptualize surrender because it does not come across as “rational”. However, “Surrender is the door one must pass through to find passion” (Chopra, 1997).

As I reflect over my most recent experience with “love”, I have drawn the conclusion that it was neither pure nor true because it was tainted with an intrinsic need to protect my heart from the “unknown” variables associated with love. If I am to truly love, myself, and another spiritual being, I must relinquish my ego. While it supposedly serves to assist me in rationalizing the world around me, there are just some things that need not be rationalized—love for instance. Chopra notes that, “Getting to true love is a growth process, and the first requirement is to become aware of when you are not being true”. We are not being true to the Self (spirit) when we allow our ego to dominate our actions in the face of love. In an effort to maneuver through Chopra’s four phases of romance (featured below), I have decided to Le’Go My Ego!

  1. Attraction–choosing a person “to be smitten by”
  2. Infatuation—“the beloved becomes all-desirable and all-enveloping”
  3. Courtship—we are “wooed”
  4. Intimacy—“Through intimacy the union of two people begins to be played out in the real world rather than within an isolated psyche”

The patterns in my “love life” have shown that I tend to get so far as the Courtship phase and then the relationship begins to crumble. I am going to venture to say that the crumbling is a result of not being true/honest about my feelings and perceptions. When true Intimacy began to surface, my ego pumped the brakes and I became fearful of sharing my Self.  My vice is my inability to communicate from the deep recesses of my heart, and this has led to many an unsuccessful attempt at love. Knowing and acknowledging this now is freeing me to experience the love that I have longed for. It is clear to me that, “The courtship phase succeeds to the extent that a man and woman can dismantle their defenses; it fails to the extent that they build new defenses together” and “Even the most intoxicating romance will not be able to overcome a history that places ego needs much higher than those of relationship” (Chopra, 1997).

Chopra on Courtship

  1. It brings together two people’s perceptions
  2. Is a tender stage where lovers decide to pursue a new reality or return to the old
  3. Is about speaking your heart to another; sharing your spirit (Self)
  4. Is a shared birth; an opportunity to exchange our innocence
  5. Where a new path (into the unknown) is created together; a path with no past
  6. Allows trust to grow despite old wounds

I know in my heart of hearts that I want a man in my life who will stand with me through the good and the bad. I cannot love and respect a man who flees at the slightest sight of danger and/or discomfort. By nature, I am a fighter and the next man I allow myself to fall in love with must too be a fighter. After all, “If survival is paramount in a dangerous world, two are better at it than one” (Chopra, 1997).

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“Let’s Do Brunch” from The Misadventures of Sister Girl

Really?

Joker, don’t act like you don’t know what you’re working with.

 

What time are you having me over for lunch/brunch?

Excuse me?

 

I’ll be over around 1:30 unless you have any objections.

Sure I had objections.  Your Honor, I have objections.  Hell, I had a variety of objections.  But I was unable to express any of them.  For reasons unbeknownst to me I didn’t curtail what I knew in my gut to be disastrous.  I was flirting with the devil and it excited me, ignited me, and invigorated me.  Hell, it turned me on.  That, and the little (mad bad, wrong choice of words) stunt he pulled with the picture. Why couldn’t I be honest enough to stop him from coming over?  Why wasn’t my rational mind resisting what it knew to be danger (danger Will Robinson)? 

Address please

14382 Cypress View Lane

Apartment 107

 

Hit me up if there is something you need me to pick up. 

K

 

I put down my phone and ran around my apartment like a mad woman.  My apartment looked like the aftermath of a tsunami disaster area.  A ridiculously busy week at work had left me with little time to tidy up my place.  I couldn’t let Davis see my spot looking like this.  I had three hours to cook, clean, and appear presentable.  Hold up!  Why am I worried about impressing a man that I’ve known for years?  Why am I getting bent out of shape when I know him—well, know/knew of him?  At any rate, I spent the next two hours cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, dusting furniture, mopping, and picking up a week’s worth of clothes from nearly every square inch of my apartment.  With only an hour to go I rushed to the store for fresh fruit, a couple bottles of wine (my stash was low), a bottle of champagne, and orange juice.  I needed something to calm my nerves and a date with one of my battery-operated toys wasn’t going to fit into my already tight schedule.   Nevertheless, I somehow managed to get things together just before Davis arrived—late (thank goodness). 

A strong rap on the door pulled me from the nearby kitchen.  I stood on my tippy-toes to catch a glimpse of him through the peephole.  If he was looking raggedy I could pretend not to be home and hopefully dodge a bullet.  Fat chance.  Did he look that good in high school? 

“Hello sir,” I said as I pulled the door toward me.  No, he definitely didn’t look that good in high school.  He stepped into the small foyer and enveloped me in a hug—no, an embrace.  The warmth of his body ignited a small fire down below.  He stepped back and sized me up and down.

“The years have been kind to you.  You look good.”

“Thank you.  You seem to be aging like a fine wine,” I said with the back end of my statement drawing a smile on my face.  With that, he turned around taking in the atmosphere.  Was his butt that tight back in the day?  “Please have a seat on the sofa.  Help yourself to the fruit.  Would you like a mimosa?” 

“Yes, please.  Let me guess–your goal is to get me tipsy so that you can take advantage of me.  Right?”  He asked with a laugh. 

“You got jokes.  I’m not sure how to take advantage of the willing,” I counted as I walked back into the kitchen. 

“Let’s get this straight right now,” he began. 

I looked at him sitting there.  As he opened his mouth to deposit a strawberry I noticed that the goatee on his dark-chocolate face was newly trimmed.  Time had been on his side.  He had assuredly aged, but it was a mature look that fit him well.  And the muscles I detected (from our recent embrace) under his shirt were certainly saying my name as he then lifted his wine glass from the coffee table.  Yep, he’s going to get it.  

Manhood MMS

Author’s Note:  What follows is the first installment of what will be a weekly fiction piece I’ve chosen to title The Misadventures of Sister Girl.  Truth be told, I haven’t dabbled in writing fiction since my senior writing project at Denison University (’98).  But one of my current students inspired me to “pick up my pen” and write.  So here I am, returning to my first love: fiction.  I am not completely certain how Sister Girl’s story will unfold, but I am definitely having a great time developing characters, conflict(s), and dialogue.  I hope you enjoy this piece and those that follow.  If you have suggestions for plot development or anything else, please drop me a line.  And, as always, happy reading!

from The Misadventures of Sister Girl: “Manhood MMS”

You Sleep?

The next morning I awoke to the image of his manhood staring me in my face–literally.  If I’d acknowledged that as I sign, I may not be in my current predicament.  The joker who sent me a pic of his manhood doesn’t call me; he texts me and calls it “talking”.  He’s delusional.  And so am I for that matter—at least to a degree.

My apologies.  I should introduce myself.  My name is Olivia, Olivia Washington.  Most of my friends call me Liv however.  Liv—the irony.  I’m a living, breathing, walking, talking irony.  I’ll let you keep reading to determine if my irony is situational or dramatic.  Live.  I suppose you could call what I do live.  I like to think that I live to the beat of my own drum.  I’m not much concerned with how others view me—at least that hasn’t been the case as of late.  I make attempts to live my life in a way that pleases me.  And then there are those moments when I seem to just be existing—accepting the crumbs from the Master’s table instead of demanding a full plate.  And therein lies my dilemma.  My mother probably wouldn’t approve of the myriad of things I’ve seen and done, but I’m living for me and not her.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my mother.  She is the strongest woman I know.  Really.  Any woman who can stand tall after her husband of twenty years walks out on her is a lioness.  She is my SHERO!  But she is old school and I’m what you might call new school.  But enough about that.  Let’s get back to this business of texting and the manhood MMS.

Like I said, I should have acknowledged that MMS as a sign.  No, it wasn’t a sign that the stars had aligned and I had found my sexual equal.  It was a red, hot, shiny STOP sign!  But I wasn’t thinking stop when I saw it.  I was thinking . . . yes, you know damn well what I was thinking.  Any virile single woman with half a brain was thinking what I was thinking.  Yep, that’s exactly what I was thinking.  And the look on my face said it all.  It’s a good thing no one was around to see me lick my lips, bite down on my lower lip, and shake my head from side to side.  Because that is exactly what I did.  What I needed was for someone to shake the shit out of me—not literally—but figuratively shake some sense into/out of me because after I looked at that image long enough I had lost all sense of reality.  And I’m pretty sure you know exactly what transpired after I took a long (pun intended) look at his manhood—yes, that’s exactly what happened.  But before we get to that, I’ve got to tell you how this Joker, Mr. Manhood (Davis Reed), and I came to be acquainted.

Davis and I grew up orbiting each others social satellites.  It just so happens that we grew up in the same small town, but never had the pleasure of being anything other than acquaintances in our younger days.  I dated friends of his which only allowed us to come into contact for instances of small talk over the years.  But it wasn’t until we found out that we lived in the same city, over 2,000 miles from home, that our paths crossed again—nearly fifteen years later.

Despite the fact that I believe social media platforms (one in particular) are the spawn of Satan, one in particular has at times been beneficial for communicative purposes.  In the case of my reconnecting with Davis Reed, this one platform had a redemptive moment.

Davis Reed:                                                         6/16, 10:22pm

How have you been Liv?

Liv Washington:                                               6/16, 10:23pm

I could complain, but I won’t right now.

Davis Reed:                                                       6/16, 10:26pm

True dat.  So when are we gonna finally hang out?

Liv Washington:                                              6/16, 10:31pm

IDK.  Call me sometime and we’ll figure it out.  555-555-5555

Davis Reed:                                                               6/16, 10:33pm

I will.  Thanks.  BTW, here is my number 111-111-1111

I figured we would do our regular song and dance and I wouldn’t hear from him until he caught me online again.  I’m really not sure why I gave him my number anyway.  I had no intention of seeing him.  After all, he and his buddies had probably already talked “shop” about my high school misadventures, and that was reason enough for me to evade him to infinity.  But I underestimated Davis.  I had hoped he’d forget about me and my phone number.  He didn’t.

Liv, why haven’t I seen you yet?

Sorry Charlie!

I suck at keeping in touch—

among other things.  LOL

I shouldn’t have gone there.  But I’m a work in progress.  Living at an emotional low during the transmission of his text, I was in need of some attention, any attention.  I baited him, just like he would later bait me with that Manhood MMS.

I’m waiting.

How can I make it up to you Mr. Reed?

Meet me for lunch.

Okay.  Pick a day.

Now.

But it’s not lunchtime.

It’s ten at night.

It’s lunch somewhere.

LOL.  Good point.

I’m already in my pajamas though.

Perfect.

Ha!

You’re cute.

I know.

Yes.

We’ve already established that.

Seriously though.  How about tomorrow?

I suppose I can wait another day.

You’ve only blown me off for the past four years.

 

I haven’t begun to blow you off; I can show you better than I can tell you. 

Ouch!  That hurt.

You throwing jabs already?

Not fair.

My bad.  I heard you liked it rough.

What does he know?  What has he heard from his buddies?

 

Really?

I don’t know where your “intelligence” is coming from,

but that is only partially true.

LOL

LMAO.

You ain’t changed a bit.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

The texting back and forth persisted well into the night.  Not once did he take the initiative to call, but I didn’t press the issue either.  I kept right on texting . . . until I fell asleep.

You sleep?

The next morning . . .

Does President Obama know about your WMD?

LOL

LMAO.  Umm . . . no.

Just saying.

That’s a nice piece of equipment you’re working with.