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Ego, pain and identity

Yesterday I meditated a bit on my relationship with the feminine. I realized that I am addicted to feeling anguish. When I see a girl I am attracted to, the predominant emotion is not love or lust – it is anguish. Even before I try getting with a girl, I already feel anguish over a love I can never have. So I asked myself whether – given the choice – I would choose to be in an actual loving relationship that feels good and rewarding or feel anguish over a relationship I desperately and vainly pursued. To my surprise, I realized I would choose the second. I can not imagine having a mutual loving relationship without at the same time being constantly terrified of losing it. I have made myself an identity out of my pain.

The funny thing about unconscious ways of thinking is that they tend to fade when you make them conscious. So I awoke today and had this weird feeling of unease, of dread. Felt like I was not myself, somehow not in control. I felt like I was not aware, yet I was aware of everything. I walked past a few girls and felt the usual need for some kind of approval, like a smile. That usually does not happen, so this feeling of inferiority overtakes me – only that it does not today. I feel it, yet it does not hijack my thoughts. It is just there. And that scares me. Or does it scare my ego?

Yeah, I realized I was not my usual self. I used to feel like myself when I had this feeling of tension and slight pain in my upper back and in my head. When I felt weird, I just used to focus on that pain and it made me feel like myself. Today, there was again this voice that told me to focus on this pain to be myself, to look at the world and the moment through the eyes of that pain and through my head. Only that I recognized it as a voice that I did not feel any need to obey to. It was like that which I used to think was me was now suddenly separate and a bit like an external voice.

It still felt like me-ness, only that I was aware that this feeling of me-ness was not me.

I felt a very strong resistance to this weird form of awareness. Suddenly, my identity was gone. The whole point of my past life seemed to be to obsess about not getting any from women and feeling bad about it. Or it used to be about trying to prove myself to others. So I was walking the street and I still had these thoughts; but something was different. I was not identified with these thoughts. And these thoughts kept whispering into my ear: Come, you know this is you. Come back to overthinking and obsessing about this stuff. It will give you purpose, meaning, something to be angry at, something to aim for. But I just felt no need to do that. I just observed it. And as I said, it scared me. I pointed my inner eye to where I used to think is me. It felt familiar, but it no longer felt like me that much. And this fear was – I think it was the fear of this part of me to die. Yes, fear of death. Fear of losing who I am used to be and becoming something entirely different. Yes, dying.

What point is there, what meaning is there, without that pain? Is that even me? A weird and unfamiliar new me is lurking underneath, much deeper, much calmer, much stronger. But the old me looks at this new me and sees danger, threat. The strength of the new me and its awareness feels like an an attack to the old me.

And the old me screams: You can not just be that. You can not just not feel anguish and pain about girls. What arrogance of you to want to be this confident. What will the others think when you no longer feel obliged to please and suck up to them? What will they think if you no longer feel guilty for your existence? It is the only reason they let you live!

And the new me just looks at the old me; without protest, but with calm and – as it seems to the old me – malevolent gaze. Only that it is not malevolent. It is neither benevolent. It just is. It just observes. But the old me does not want to be observed.

Yeah, I figure enlightenment is still some way ahead. But then, who cares? I made enlightenment into some goal for my ego. I thought that when I become enlightened, I will finally get all the girls and respect and I will not care. But my ego did not realize the prize it would have to pay for that goal. It thought that it could achieve not caring by pretending not to care, whilst still craving all that validation underneath. But that is not how it works. It will actually have to die, this craving and this pain. Sooner or later. And who will I be then? I have no idea. There are no words for it. I will just be, I guess. And the ego that wanted the enlightenment to achieve its goals – will no longer be there to witness it.

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  • I had an experience like that.
    This is what the counselor said:
    One’s self does not consist of a single voice, but a number of voices which represent different aspects of one’s personality. There should be one, overarching ‘metavoice’ to rule them all. This one should question the veracity of what each voice is saying and tell them to get back in their box if they’re talking shite.
    With me, one voice had taken over. I call it The Monster. It was the voice telling me that life would never get any better, that I would die old and miserable wondering what it was all for. I wrote a post about it here:
    I had to train my metavoice to question what The Monster was saying. The inner conversation looked like this. In fact, now that I think about it, it wasn’t an inner conversation. I actually wrote it down.
    Monster: Your life will never get any better.
    Meta: How can you be sure?
    Monster: Well, has it ever gotten better?
    Meta: Yes, I’ve had a few good times along the way.
    Monster: But they were few, right? Mostly you’ve been miserable and that’s how it’s going to stay.
    Meta: The future is unknown. Maybe life will be terrible. Maybe good. Maybe a bit of both.
    And so on like that.
    The counselor called The Monster ‘Scared Nikolai’ because it was the part of me that feared the future and wanted to avoid it altogether. I considered it The Monster because it tried to kill me.
    As in your case, The Monster put up a fight. I told my counselor, he’s scared because now I’m trying to kill him. He’s fighting for his life. And . . . he’s part of me, I don’t want to kill him. The counselor agreed. She said, he’s taken over and needs to be put back in proportion. A fear of the future is an important voice because without it we would do stupid stuff and end up in prison.
    The Monster is still there, in my head. I’m not so afraid of it now. I let it have its say and I weigh it up. Usually I’m not convinced.
    Extremely long story short, don’t kill your demons. Just keep them on a tight leash.

    • Great analogy, great story. I think I have a monster on my own therd, as that dialogue seems very familiar. I am starting to do that questioning sometimes, it is cool. As for killing it, I think the mezning of the term kill, in this case, is to incorporate it into the self – as it is a part ov the self that had been split off from the whole and wants to be loved.

  • John-W

    I would like to ask a question. I.e. I want to report an experience of mine, and I´m curious what others might experience when doing that:
    I had a pretty damn awkward moment: I brought it over myself to go to a beauty and ask her for a date. The moment she agreed, I became aware that I didn´t really want her.

    Also, what do I mean by “to want a girl” : it refers to something more subtle, something like vibes, or simply “chemistry” which actually IS chemistry as it´s about pheromones or whatever substances are used for communication: do I like her smell ! Would I probably like how she tastes. Interestingly, that hardly goes parallel with looks ! I may gasp for a girl because of her look but as soon as I ask myself, how would I interact with her, would I really like to be close to her, the answer is usually “no”.

    So by that method, I completely ended this pattern of gasping for girls ! I´m now totally relaxed. I check if there´s chemistry (I claim that one can guess that, it´s knowledge that is simply clear). And if so, I´m all the same relaxed, as when there is chemistry, it´s a home match anyways. I greatly enjoy hot-looking girls but I don´t feel any pressure because of it. Also, I would never reject a hottie if she wanted me (it counts then as a nice encounter, just not something “deep and meaningful” ;-) ). But I don´t feel under pressure to try something and fear to fail.

    So I´m curious if such an approach works for others, too? That´s why I take liberty to write this posting.

    • Sounds very nice. I think I had a few similar experiences, but I tend to be blinded by lust. You are definitely on to something there. Attracting only that which you really want and what wants you. Thanks for sharing. :)

      • John-W

        Thanks for your answer.
        You know, while at it…comes to my mind, you often write about “enlightened”. One of the most helpful advices re meditation that I came across was the simple mention “you are nurtured”. Because it says that I don´t have to DO something. Things are already good. And if you feel the hara, you´ll find that it´s true. The Ki flows and nurtures you. I also came to think that that´s the very point of that Buddha enlightenment story: it was the moment when he gave up: i.e. when he did NOT DO anymore ! I.e. when he “was”, when he went into the state of “being”.
        The really tricky thing is: DOING actually prevents the state of flow ! So all active effort actually moves you away from the desired state. That´s probably one of the meanest paradoxes :-D ; because as long as one thinks that one has to DO something, one will not arrive at the desired state. This conundrum took Buddha years to come to terms with; although the solution couldn´t be any easier: simply to do nothing :-D .
        It´s liberating. I don´t have to do anything anymore. Things are already well, as evidenced when feeling the belly (hara): it feels good (again, interested in what others, you, experience with this idea, if it´s possibly useful).

        • Does not work that well for me, but the thing about not doing sounds good.