I think one of the reasons I have suffered a lot in my life is that I never got to form a solid, firm ego that had strong boundaries. It could be also one of the things that makes me extra kind and compassionate to others suffering, trials and tribulations though because my ego is porous at times and other’s feelings and pain can bleed in. However that kind, soft side can rapidly disappear if and when I wake up to the fact I have been hurt or invalidated in some way or got hoodwinked, confused or sent off the scent by someone’s gaslighting or projection. Then, Oh God, just watch me blow, possibly not at you but deep inside the privacy of my own home where I feel safe and know I won’t be exiled again for feeling and expressing anger.
Often its not until well after an incident has passed that I wake up to what was going on. If I sensed someone may be hurt or threatened by something I say or do I try to dumb it down, at least after they try to tell me what a difficult person I am for daring to get angry or say that or even raise the subject but when I look at it rationally I often haven’t done anything wrong, I wasn’t being unkind, only truthful and I wasn’t intending to hurt you, but just be real and be me. After too many incidents I can learn to hide or to run or to stop making contact with the world which just seems to have proved too difficult.
I woke up the other morning strung between two worlds in my body because I finally saw at depth how terrified I am to express anger and how little skill I had to do so in the past and often the anger becomes large because I have ignored or lied to myself about my feelings or needs or perceptions and failed over time to honour my boundaries.
I didn’t get to see healthy conflict resolution or self assertion mirrored at home or in my schooling and I think learned to fear my own and other’s anger not realising that righteous anger actually comes from a healthy ego with boundaries trying to say “this is not right, I am hurting, I don’t like it, please do not do it again!” I also did not really learn that it was okay to have needs and express them and trust that they could be met, responded to or fulfilled. Over time the recognition of this kind of deep loss can leave one feeling suicidal or very deeply depressed.
In my last relationship the issues of anger, boundaries and anguish over unmet needs reached a critical watershed. When my ex partner and I finally broke up he sent me a very nasty email in which he called me a lot of names. At the time he was really angry and if I was more in touch with the fact that core wounds were being triggered I could have chosen not to react to such unkind words. I didn’t though. Instead I, in turn, got angry and gave him an almighty blast for calling me names. It wasn’t really anger just at me he was expressing but anger at both his mother and his sisters who let him down really bad in childhood. That said he was hurting about something I had done and I did not see deeper, past his anger into the hurt. It was a mistake. Since at that point I had finally made a choice for me that he didn’t like I got a ‘serve’ and was then dumped when he felt upset. Game over!
Though at the end he wanted to blame me for most of what went wrong as I look back we both lacked emotional awareness. He was more defended against sadness of the past and so could only be angry. When I met him I was deep in grief and trying to find a way forward and heal after so many losses. I found it easy to be sad but difficult to be both self assertive and express my past fear, anger and frustration well. Phew. It has taken me over 5 years to work that out and to shift the inner critic’s hammering of me which he played a part in sealing in place inside me! I didn’t really know how to have a strong ego and use it to direct and find a path forward. In many ways I surrendered my power.
I was reading yesterday how much ego can be denigrated once we get onto a spiritual path. But a spiritual path that denigrates the need for an ego and focuses only on love and light is really a path of ‘spiritual bypass’. We need a healthy ego and the anger that goes with it in order to realise certain things that offend or are not good or healthy for our spirit. We need it to say a categorical ‘NO’ at times. We need it for self respect, self protection and self care. We need it in order to find forward direction and a life outside things that may want to keep us separate from our own heart and spirit’s calling
In my own life I see how much my conditioning comes from a mother who never got to have a healthy ego of her own. The loss of her father at a very young age and emotional abandonment by her own Mum left her at the mercy of her inner world and the cruelty of Nuns at her convent school. She never got to believe she was worth much. They pulled her out of classes to clean the chapel and their rooms. She went home to an empty house after school and got herself ready for school in the morning as her mother had to leave at 5 am to go to clean offices. They were very poor following her father’s death from war injuries.
She has told me of how lonely it was. How she would sit on the front step and watch the neighbouring children play. She once said to me “I learned not to cry as there was no one there to dry my tear.” I don’t think she was ever hugged. Considering all she went through I see now how well my Mum actually did do in raising us. But at the same time there were serious deficits that plagued us and we also learned early on that acceptance relied on being good, staying clean, presenting a polished surface, working hard and staying out of ‘trouble’. An enormous amount of valid life energy was repressed by such conditioning and was, as I see the genesis of my two older sister’s so called ‘manic’ episodes. Were they really sick or just trying to let something gone unconscious out?
Just yesterday when Mum and I were crying over my older sister who is now dead. Mum said to me “she was such a happy child, so full of life”. In the end she was bedridden after her own emotional abandonment following the cerebral bleed which came when she pushed herself to achieve so hard and in the wrong way. “But Jude wouldn’t want us to be sad,” Mum said. “She was a great one for looking forward.” I told my Mum how I know Jude is still here with us in our hearts and also looking over us. I had a very strange incident with a cockatoo that came knocking on my bedroom door over the weekend, and it has the energy of my older sister. I just looked at me and asked me to come outside into the sunshine and then later flew into the house and perched on my French chest knocking off a present that my sister’s eldest son’s wife gave me on their last visit last August.
Anyway I seem to have digressed or woven in a new thread here. What I wanted to get to was how I see that often Mum would tell us that we needed to take a back seat to someone or something, that we must not rock the boat, that we needed to go along or suffer it through or not make a noise when really we needed to do the VERY OPPOSITE! “Don’t look at it like that, look at it like this”. But Mum I just feel the way I do and that is okay. But for so long it didn’t feel okay.
My older sister flip flopped between the two ways of being. “Be kind and be nicer” versus “scream the house down because you are in pain at not being able to get what you really wanted or needed and had to sacrifice it to be ‘nice’ “. I know in later life she would often tell me to hold a firm boundary and not allow Mum to talk me out of something I wanted or needed if it felt right. That is not to say that at times Mum has not supported me in ways that I needed, as she has. At time she takes on too much of our feelings and oversupported us when really we may have been better to stand alone.
What I am now see though is that a healthy ego and boundaries are so very, very important on the path of recovery We need to go on the long journey to recover our own mind and heart, thoughts, feelings, perception, meaning and take on life, for if we are robbed of this, our very spirit is robbed. There is a time when we need to scream the house down if that is the only thing that will get the predators to back off. For without our genuine ego voice we are lost, in deep dark desert wilderness from which it becomes increasingly impossible to find our way back home.