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Recently I have felt a profound and fundamental change occur inside of me.
For the last two years I feel as though I have been involved in some fruitless pursuit for another partner. It was as if I thought I could just fit myself like a puzzle piece into someone else and “happily ever after” would be right around the corner.
All of this seemed to be happening unconsciously—sometimes with dating apps, sometimes with social situations, but always on. Every minute of every day.
Last week, I was at a shoot for a music video, and as I was sitting in the makeup chair, the makeup artist complimented me on my acting. She said she’d never have known that I had no experience doing anything like that before. I was filled with the same good feelings I get when people come up to me after a gig and tell me how good it was or when someone drops a $20 bill in my tip jar. And just like those occurrences, the good feeling lasts for about five minutes.
The ego is a hungry monster that is never satisfied.
This thought led me to the epiphany about my behaviors with women. Nothing I was doing was resulting in love because it was all rooted in ego—and where there is ego, there can be no love.
So, I set out to change everything I was doing. I began to crave enlightenment. I picked up Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now and began to read it very carefully. All the while, I stopped my mindless pursuit, I deleted my Plenty of Fish dating profile, and I allowed myself time for reflection.
Tolle explains that in our natural state, we are only one half of an energy polarity. Using the example of the heterosexual relationship, a man has a difficult time feeling a sense of wholeness without the balance of female energy and vice versa.
When we are able to become sexually connected, we have the opportunity to feel whole, and this feeling can be so intense that the rest of the world can sometimes fade into the background. This is something that typically happens in the beginning of a romantic relationship. Unfortunately, for many people, this is just a stage that will go by with the passage of a few months, and the inherent flaws of a match based primarily on chemical attraction will reveal itself.
For those who are not interested in enlightenment, this incessant pattern only brings an endless stream of euphoria and sadness, year after year, decade after decade. Everything seems to start so perfect—the walking on air, the physical connection, the newness, the romance. Little by little, things begin to degrade.
For some, it feels like they may have rushed into intimacy without really knowing the other person. For others, it appears that their partner purposely misled them to win their affection and then revealed their true natures once the end goal was accomplished.
Tolle explains that people do not do this with a sense of malice. They do it out of a sense of perceived necessity. To fill the aching emptiness inside, most people will say and do just about anything and—yes—they will believe themselves as it’s happening.
The erosion that begins to occur as time wears on is not the big change most people think it is. It is the same dysfunction that was there at the early part of the relationship, only instead of it manifesting as impetuous sex and an inability to think of anything else, it now appears as possessiveness, manipulation, unspoken resentment, and emotional distance or abuse.
The worst of these situations even result in violence. It is two different sides of the same coin—it’s just easier to see the dysfunction when the more unpleasant features are visible, and easier still to see it in your partner instead of yourself.
This sort of relationship will oscillate between the pleasurable aspects and the painful aspects for an unspecified length of time until the pain outweighs the pleasure to such a degree that one or both people resolve to end the union.
So, how can it be that two people who were supposed to be so in love, who spent years naked and vulnerable with each other, became such toxic enemies at the conclusion of a romantic tryst? Where, exactly, did the love go?
The answer is that it was never really love. Love in its purest form has no opposite. Love, Tolle explains, is love. It is eternal. It is without beginning and end. This thing many of us experience for most of our adult lives can best be described as attachment, addiction, or what some feel most comfortable with labeling codependent. These are all variations of the same phenomena, and it all originates in the ego.
The ego is the liar in our head that keeps tricking us into believing that happiness exists in the unattainable relationship, the emotionally distant lover, the car we can’t afford, and the money we kill ourselves trying to earn. It is, as I came to realize in that makeup chair, perpetually unsatisfied.
As far as I am concerned, I have embarked upon a spiritual journey that will include solitude, meditation, and more reading; however, there are easier and more palatable ways for anyone to learn to detach from ego, including:
1. Become mindful of your complaining. That voice in your head reminding you of how annoying that traffic jam is, how you’ll never get ahead financially, and how nothing you ever try to do works out—that’s ego. Keep your eye on that. When you learn to quiet that, your ego will slowly move from center stage.
2. Become grateful. Gratitude is the mortal enemy of ego. The more you can take the time to remind yourself of how fortunate you are to, say, live in a country where food and shelter is readily available, or how great it is to be connected to the world through your computer, the less you will have to contend with being possessed by ego.
3. Let go of the need to defend yourself. In certain situations, it is helpful to accept criticism without giving in to the need to explain your side of the story. Yes, this is a very difficult exercise, but it really helps to decrease the role of the ego. This could be something that happens at work, with an ex or current partner, or even an irate friend. As I mentioned, it’s not super easy but it is so worth trying.
When we finally detach ourselves from the ego, we can then know love. This, however, is no small feat and it is this very reason why many people will live out their entire lives without really experiencing love in its truest form.
Divorcing ourselves from ego isn’t impossible, though. It simply requires commitment.