Last September I had lunch with Mr. Jumpshot in Venice Beach after swimming with an Elephant Seal and losing my bikini bottom in the surf. It was an eventful day – all that happened before noon. Something very subtle but profound happened that day as well. I started to become conscious of my Ego.
Mr. Jumpshot is an Emmy award-winning writer. His mind is like a highly evolved version of Mouse Trap. Each stimulus that makes its way inside trips a mechanism that creates a thought, weaves a joke, expresses a realization, and then shows the absurdity of that realization in one simple sentence. After the laughter subsides, those in his presence are left to ponder, when all they expected to have to do was laugh. Some of them are pissed at the added work. I give thanks. If I were able to create holidays and have the whole world celebrate them, I would create a holiday in honor of Mr. Jumpshot’s brain.
He would prefer I honor his jump shot.
While I admire his brain, and the brains of so many other creative smarty-pants, the brain (or mind), is giving me a whole lot of push back these days. Just when I’m getting all OM-ey, it heads into hyper-overdrive. You’ve got to be better, work faster, hike longer, stick up for yourself more. You’re not good enough to manifest, you’re not capable.
Mr. Jumpshot said something to me during lunch that seemed out of place with the topic of the conversation in that moment. Of course, I can’t remember what we were talking about, but I remember this particular statement clearly, so I assumed it was a message meant just for me. He mentioned, in passing, how using the word ‘I’ too often when writing is narcissistic. The reader may be offended or turned-off.
Holy Nightmare – that is not something I want to do. I mean, that is not something to do. Or, …mean, that is not something to do.
The posts I wrote after that were worked over like a sumo wrestler giving a shiatsu massage to reduce the use of the word ‘I”. It felt like I was scrubbing out emotions, main characters in my story. But I was more concerned with eliminating any identification with a trait like narcissism. I was concerned with being judged. Wherever possible I removed the I.
Apparently I removed the ‘me’ as well.
About four months later I received an email from a reader who said that she felt like I had checked out on the blog. And then she said, “You’ve lost your voice.”
Mayday! Mayday! Woman overboard!
I busily went about summoning forth me. Looking for my voice everywhere. Where is it? How am I going to say what I need to to say? I mean, How will what needs to be said be said? Panic set in. This blog is keeping me upright. I don’t know how I’ll make it if I don’t have the kittens in my corner. I mean, Progress will be lost without the kittens!
I didn’t want to be viewed as an egomaniac. Out went the ‘I’ like bathwater, my emotions the baby. But in the last several months I’ve eased up on the need to squelch the ‘I’. I was spending so much time thinking about the I that I was afraid I’d create the very thing I was trying to avoid – an obsession with I, I, I.
Instead, I’m focused on neutralizing my Ego. And accepting the fact that writing about what I am experiencing requires me to be okay with the word ‘I’. I is not bad.
His Giant Mistake started out as a blog about the ways in which I am dealing with my husband’s infidelity and our divorce. As many of you have pointed out, it’s moved far beyond the initial massive undertaking. That near-death experience (without the whole near-death part) launched an excavation of my being, which has led to many epiphanies and discoveries, some uncomfortable and some beautiful.
I’ve taken on challenges that intimidate me, I’ve owned up to thoughts and feelings and bad habits that are deeply personal. I’ve risked being judged because to be honest was a much more pressing need, and I’ve trusted that you all know my intention is to heal and hopefully inspire others organically, through our interactions at HGM, to embrace the idea that we create our reality. It’s up to us to make it magical. And that we are loveable simply because we are alive. And that the actions of another do not define us.
Discovering infidelity and then moving through divorce can kick-off a time of great self-reflection. That’s been my theme since the Pocket Call. After nearly two years of focused efforts, a spiritual emergence is in play within me. I’m on a quest for enlightenment, apparently. I want to let go of ‘how things ought to be’ and embrace how life is unfolding in the present moment.
I want to do less thinking.
Stephen King once said, I write to find out what I’m thinking.
I write to find out how I feel.
At this moment I’m feeling like my Ego has overstayed its welcome.
Mr. Jumpshot’s comment stayed with me. I reflected on the simple snippet of grammar guidance so frequently one would think it was an undiscovered fragment that spilled out of the Burning Bush and into Moses’ hands. But I had no idea why I was so taken with his words.
Until today. Looming ahead of me during this entire journey was a showdown with my Ego.
The Ego likely presents itself in different ways for each of us. For me, mine loves to judge others who are less evolved. See?! Before the Pocket Call I’d latch onto a grievance and run it like Secretariat. But this race had no finish line. Customer service was a favorite playground for me. I literally took it personally if I wasn’t thanked or if someone didn’t greet me when I approached the counter to pay for something. If I had an issue that required me to call a customer service number I began disliking them before I got beyond 1-800. They were them. I was the one wronged. And they better make it right. Because I am all they should care about. I am the customer. I assumed it was going to be an aggressive interaction before it took place.
And so it was.
In the last two years I’ve matured. It comes as no surprise that people go out of their way to help me these days. For instance, I recently booked a trip to Las Vegas to attend the wedding of the son of Barbie with Brains. Somehow I booked the trip backwards. Instead of flying to Vegas and then back to San Francisco, I was flying from Vegas to San Francisco and back. I called the airline and explained the situation, expressed that somehow I flipped the cities, but I needed to change it. And I couldn’t afford to pay a penalty.
Is there anything you can do? I would really appreciate it.
When she put me on hold I said this,
She’s going to talk to her Supervisor who is going to say, You may fix it for her.
She came back on the line and said, My Supervisor said I can change the flights this time without a fee, but make sure it doesn’t happen again. Okay, sweetie? Then she rebooked my flights, and we had an entertaining conversation about attending weddings, missing flights, and before I knew it, she talked me into leaving 6 hours later so I could go for a hike in the desert and save 35.00 dollars on the fare. She went over, above and beyond what the manual dictates.
Reorienting myself away from a me versus them to an US results in everyone getting their needs met. She felt so good and light by being able to help me and I expressed deep gratitude. Excellent vibes all the way around.
The Pocket Call and its fallout has humbled me. I used the phrase ‘near-death experience’ before somewhat in jest, but the changes in me brought on by the discovery of The Genius’ affair are probably somewhat similar to those who have a NDE. In addition to being humble and grateful, I’m more gentle, more open, more affectionate, more appreciative of those who share this planet with me. I don’t take things for granted. I treat myself with more respect and love myself. I’m compassionate. Even when it comes to The Genius and The Happy Dance Chick.
That’s a huge shift from a Type A chick plowing through life untethered, confused, dissatisfied, often unhappy, not grateful, impatient and judgmental, right?
Yet with all that growth and maturation, I still find myself running pretend conversations in my head with The Genius, and worse, doubting my abilities to support myself and the dudes, create a career out of my writing, and live in the 3D without taking on the stress and emotions (energies) of the planet as my own, leading me to be unexplainably anxious.
In the past two weeks I’ve done something I haven’t done during the last two years – I’ve been exploring the teachings of spiritual masters, if you will. (I don’t really have the lingo down.) Before this time I made a conscious decision to turn inward for my guidance. To work out my intuition and find my own way. And to rely on the wisdom of the kittens. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by a lot of conversations I couldn’t comprehend and then become disappointed in myself when I failed to implement the teachings. (Say it with me – EGO AT WORK!)
Then Liberation Day – July 4th. I craved guidance and was led to Eckhart Tolle and Wayne Dyer. I listened to talks about manifesting abundance and creating a collaborative relationship between my spiritual body and my human body (stick with me – I promise to not start speaking in tongues). I’ve accepted that a daily meditation practice is essential as I commit to living a compassionate and spiritual life in the 3D. And now I am realizing that my mind is the last great inhibitor left.
Nothing else can stand in my way but my own egghead.
Eckhart Tolle said this: Facts are neutral. The Ego likes to make things right or wrong.
As you’ve no doubt noticed, I like to make things all about right and wrong. Everything from wondering if the lifeguard thinks my stroke is wrong to how The Genius thinks he’s always right. There’s a right way to cook garlic and a wrong way. I can’t do it because I don’t know how to do it the right way, so I’m sure to do it the wrong way.
Fear of failure is fearing doing something wrong. And being judged for it. The Ego is the one that judges. The Ego finds fault. The Ego likes to create separation. Me. Them. The heart doesn’t complain about others, The Ego does.
The Ego likes to gossip. It’s the way it rises above others. It finds it interesting. The Ego wants to talk about the popcorn and how it’s too salty or too buttery or too stale. It thinks the popcorn is interesting, while I want to want to watch the movie. As Eckhart Tolle says, Interesting is of the mind.
Awe inspiring is of the heart. Our lives, the lives we are creating, the scripts we have written and edited and are now seeing acted out on the big screen, are awe-inspiring.
The popcorn is a distraction.
It’s heady stuff, if heady is the right word to use in this context.
I haven’t digested it all, for sure. But I know that freeing myself from my Ego will free me of all this thinking that goes on in my brain, which drowns out the song in my heart. I can’t hear the music if I’m focused on being judged for using the word I. Or if I’m judging myself minute by minute.
The ‘I’ is not the problem, The Ego, however, is an issue.
My heart has been open and ready for my full time residency for awhile now. All it takes is surrendering. Being less focused on thoughts and more focused on compassion, freeing me to do the very next thing that needs to be done without pre-judging it and post-judging it and judging myself. Even though I feel centered and grounded, and proud of my accomplishments over these past several weeks, I still can hear the white noise of The Ego running non-stop in my brain.
It has to stop. Now.
As with being vulnerable, surrendering can have a weak or negative connotation associated with it. But when I say it to myself now I smile. And I sigh with relief.
I’m ready to surrender. To release my Ego. Judging others or myself is pointless. And harmful to me. Stress and anxiety are illusions. Problems that The Ego creates so it can rub its hands together and start solving away, but not before creating another problem to take its place. Restricting me to, That’s interesting or that’s frightening instead of That’s Awe-inspiring.
‘When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.’ So said the great philosopher, Lao Tzu.
I’m shining a light on The Ego, illuminating the grip it has on me. The wise ones say that when you recognize it’s there it ceases to exist. I’ll let you know if they’re right.
PS: I posted some pics on Facebook of Mt. Tamalpais that really need to be seen. If you like them feel free to like the page. It’s a place where we get to play in real time. The last of the queued comments will be posted this weekend. Apologies for the delay. They’ve all been read and are appreciated. The Dudes have my undivided attention now that summer is here, so I’m adjusting my schedule accordingly. Thanks for your patience.
Cleo, this post is golden. So many lessons, so much wisdom. While I was reading the part about customer service, BEFORE I read your mention of Wayne Dyer, I thought of his book “Your Erroneous Zones”. I was a fan of Dr. Dyer’s back in my early 20′s (thirty years ago. Gulp!). This was before he became so spiritual, when his books dealt with the nuts and bolts of living in our world. The chapter I recalled was entitled “The Clerk is a Jerk”. It illustrated how you cannot let an encounter with a surly person effect how you feel about yourself. There are great lessons in his first three books, “Your Erroneous Zones”, “Pulling Your Own Strings” and “The Sky’s the Limit”. I recommended them highly to you and all of the kittens.
I am a recovering Catholic, and have cast around for years in search of a religion that made sense to me. What I found so distasteful about all of them was the EGO. And what I realized, for me, is that god is nothing more than ego. The belief that some being is up “there”, watching over me, giving me a leg up but ignoring someone else’s needs – well, that’s where religion and me parted ways. And, sadly, that’s where god, and Budda and Vishnu and Allah and I parted ways. It was a struggle, but I am now an “evangelical” atheist. I know this is impossible for some to grasp, but I am a better human being because I don’t feel I have god on my side. I’m responsible for forgiving myself when I transgress, and it’s my choice to forgive those who transgress against me. I know this is a bit off topic, but I’ve come to realize this: Scratch a cheater, an affair partner, friends who knew what was going on and did nothing to help, a corporate raider, a scam artist and you’ll find a “good” Christian. To so many, god releases them from the responsibility of their vile actions and then they ask him for forgiveness when they’re caught. He’s a get-out-of-jail free card. That is pure ego.
I know that I’m a tiny speck in the massive, beautiful world and I know that my thoughts and actions are mine alone. Not Satan’s, not god’s. I know in a very small way that what I think and do has the Butterfly Effect. And I know that I can’t just sit in a pew and be absolved of my sins. And that? Is the opposite of ego.
Thank you for your kind words, S. While writing this post I felt as if I didn’t really understand what I was writing – so I’m glad you did!
You raise some fascinating points as well. When someone shows off their religious affiliation but breaks all the rules, it serves to show that the rules and constructs of that religion aren’t accomplishing their intended goals, right?
I respect everyone’s freedom to embrace spirituality in a way that feels good for them. It’s a very personal, deeply personal choice. If each soul is in various stages of growth (some are younger, still developing and others are more mature with more experience) then it seems that we would all make various choices about how we integrate religion or spirituality into our human lives. We would all have different needs.
Writing this post has made me aware of how labeling things creates chaos in my mind – it sets a full plate of food in front of my Ego. I always tell my Mom, until I die I won’t have all the answers. So I’m going to follow my intuition. If something doesn’t feel right than it’s not for me. Not this time around anyway.
Regardless of the spiritual path we choose, personal responsibility is crucial. Pointing fingers stunts growth. It’s liberating to own faults and acknowledge wrongs. So freeing. I love how you challenge yourself to be responsible. And loving.
Thank you, S. Stay close…
Best. Post. Ever.
C – This is amazing stuff here. Awareness is definitely key in changing/shifting/making progress. I’ve found, these past few months, that while I still slip back to negative/judgmental/controlling thoughts or words, that I immediately realize I’ve done it, and make a conscious effort to breathe, step back and let it go.
And re: ‘When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.’ So said the great philosopher, Lao Tzu.”, YES! How true is that beautiful and simple statement? Love!
So exciting that you’re headed to my home away from home for the wedding. Fingers crossed that I’ll be there at the same time and we finally get to hike (or drink) together!
Thank you for your kind words, N. And the invitation for a hike and an adult beverage! Just because I stopped drinking wine doesn’t mean I won’t indulge for a special occasion.
Awareness. When we realize that we are running a negative thought then it becomes a behavior pattern and not the Ego, according to those who have a solid grip on what all this stuff means. A behavior pattern is manageable. The Ego takes over.
Tzu’s statement is all about labeling, for me. I’m working on not labeling – it is unreal how I attach labels to EVERYTHING! This is a fascinating journey, N. Not at all what I expected. I’m totally going with it – not holding back. I don’t have to. I have all of you to catch me if I fall hard. I’m so grateful. Thank you.
Cleo, getting over your ego is another way of just getting out of your own way. So much could be and can be accomplished if we didn’t hold ourselves back. I would also like to point out (oh not the dreaded “I”) considering this blog is your evolving memoir and you encourage and support others in your own and their betterment it is far from being narcissistic.
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your words of support.
Simple and 100% accurate: “…getting over your ego is another way of just getting out of your own way. So much could be and can be accomplished if we didn’t hold ourselves back.” It’s a lot easier walking without all those tentacles attached to my back.
You rock, B.
Melissa Iossifov says
Cleo: Now it all makes sense. At some point something changed with your writing style. For me, the end result was occasional confusion and not being sure of what you were trying to say If we’re reading here, it’s because we’re interested in YOU, so use of the word ” I” is not going to be perceived as narcissistic or off-putting. No offense to Mr. Emmy Winner, but please don’t let anyone’s comments, no matter how well intentioned, make you change something as foundational as your writing style aka your voice.
Thank you for taking the time to comment. Could it have been you who sent me that note? No offense to Mr. Jumpshot – he actually taught me a very important lesson. My Ego took his words – that weren’t directed at me, he’s never read my blog – and ran with them. The Ego said: You use the word I. That means you may be viewed as a narcissist. Your voice doesn’t ‘matter…..only how you are perceived.
I tossed away my true self and embraced the misguided directives of the Ego. Never again, M! And let me state for the HGM record, disengaging the Ego is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Ever. BUt I’m NOT giving up.
Thank you for sticking with me as I bob and weave my way through life. I am so grateful.
Cleo, I too had noticed your writing style had changed. I thought maybe you were losing interest in HGM while navigating your life, but now I see what the real deal was. So glad you’re back! And better than ever, I might add. Keep it up, keep all those “I”s coming, and I wish you luck on dropping the ego. It’s hard and daunting, I’m sure. But you’ll do it, as you always seem to accomplish what you set your mind to.
Never! Losing interest is not one of the choices. HGM and my goals for how my words and those of the kittens can make a positive impact on infidelity are my primary focus. I am acutely aware of the opportunity I have to help those affected by infidelity and will not squander it.
I fell for the guidance of my Ego. Never a good course of action!
Thank you for hanging in there with me as I bob and weave. Thank you also for the kind words. Typing with one hand around the neck of my Ego…
I’m sure Mr. Jumpshot-With-An-Emmy’s advice is sound and can be applied to many writing genre. However, since the start, this blog has told your story – specifically your story of betrayal and how you’ve chosen – are choosing – to work through with it. I cannot understand how such a personal narrative could be told without injecting it with a healthy dose of “YOU”. Would the style need to adapt for a different format, like a book/memoir? Probably. But that’s what editing is for, and that can happen once you have a completed manuscript!! I feel like you have consistently tried to capture/share your authentic self and you’d do yourself a disservice if you were to veer off the path at this stage. Stay true to yourself – you are your best source material.
Sorry if this was inarticulate!
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for sharing with me your feedback. Not at all inarticulate, I might add!
“I”-gate is a huge eye-opener to how stealthy the Ego can be. Discernment is up next on the list of traits to develop. This is a dual world, not everything is as it seems. I’ve always had a challenging time seeing the motivations of others, and even with a well-developed sense of intuition I can be fooled. By myself, too! Another lesson delivered innocently by a friend. Love those…lessons and friends.
I’m fully present, m’lady. And am so grateful to have a place where I can be authentic, pretty or not, and know I will be supported. I am here to offer that support right back. This is a safe zone for unconditional love and laughter. Thank you for being a part of it.
kudos, lady… those are good words and good gurus. pema chodron (especially on audio) is vital in my ‘long arduous peeling the onion layers’ commitment to self. keep on one-momenting-at-a-time, lovely (I’ll keep at it, too) xoxlsl
ps. I drove right by that music festival last weekend and was so tempted to go in (now I know why)
Oh, had you we might have met at the booth for Heidrun Meadery! You must. Taste. SO good. I’m still savoring the flowery bubbles. I think I’ll have to volunteer to give tastings so I occasionally have one myself.
It’s fascinating to follow the rhythm that has been playing beneath my feet – from not partaking of wisdom from teachers to recognizing the readiness and desire and following it. I’ve sampled what I need for this leg of the journey and will check out Pema Chodrun as I sense it’s necessary. Paying attention to the temptations…as should you!
Next year, my dear. Thank you for the kind words. I’m so grateful to have you here.
I love Tolle’s quote about facts being neutral and our Ego judging them as right or wrong. I understand the need to silence these judgments in most situations.
However, I’m curious if you’ve applied this thought-process to your ex’s infidelity? Having survived my ex husband’s infidelity and the divorce process, my ego is screaming “cheating is wrong!” I can’t wrap my brain around seeing his poor choices as neutral facts. Any insights?
HGM has resonated so much with my own journey. I wish I knew of it last summer when life was imploding, but perhaps finding it a few months ago was the “right” time.
Thank you for your patience. Apologies for the delay in posting your comment and your thought-provoking question. I would have replied sooner if I wasn’t so busy wrestling my Ego!
I applied his teachings unknowingly when I accepted that I created my reality for specific purposes. I’m not sure of exactly when this happened, but I know I wrote about it. Believing that removed the He did this to me! aspect of his adultery. In fact, he did it to himself.
Tolle also mentions the need for practicality, as we are on the planet in human form. Practically speaking, infidelity, betrayal and deceit are wrong! I don’t want to be betrayed again, and I believe that I won’t because of the choices I’ve made since the Pocket Call. I don’t see The Genius’ betrayal of me as a neutral fact, but rather as something that happened in my past. It doesn’t drive me as a soul, but it is part of my history. I don’t let it run me, send me down a bleak rabbit hole or cause me to alter how I am naturally inclined to be, to live. I took the emotional charge out of his betrayal, so in that sense I suppose I neutralized it. For my purposes. That doesn’t make betrayal and deceit or any other moral failing neutral. But those who experience them can neutralize the experience, after processing the pain.
Those who commit adultery or betray someone will need to answer to themselves, to their soul. The Genius doesn’t need to answer to me. And, quite frankly, I’m not interested in how he handles the consequences of his choices.
It’s only been about 6 weeks since I’ve started listening to Eckhart Tolle. As I’ve pondered some of his talks I’ve come to realize that removing the Ego is essential to being able to embrace his teachings in a way that doesn’t compromise his intentions. I need to speak out about infidelity. Not to show The Genius or say, Look at how well I handled it!, but to take the mystique and allure out of extramarital affairs so that they are not used as a panacea, voiding the opportunity for tremendous soul growth. In order to do that I have to have opinions. I can’t just stand there and say, Well, so what! It’s just a fact. You’ve been cheated on!
I always felt that The Genius and I could have had a magical relationship. One day we could have flipped through a book of our memories and felt such pride at the choices we made and the growth that resulted. Neither of us were perfect. But he chose to torpedo that opportunity by having an affair. I am able to look back at a memory book that has only me and the dudes in it and feel extremely proud of my choices.
I can’t speak for The Genius. And there’s no competition between us.
After the pain is processed, his betrayal of me is just a fact. But that doesn’t make betrayal okay.
I hope that is insightful. Thank you for causing me to pause and ponder and for being here.