Monday, November 27, 2006

Reclaiming My Self

My college girlfriend (who was sometimes much wiser than either of us gave her credit for) once said she felt like a single spoke in the wheel that was then my life. She understood that I had many interests and that she couldn't be a part of all of them.

Over the years I let far too many of those interests drop away. This happened the most when I quit drinking many years ago. As part of that process, I imposed a strict discipline on my life that has held until the last six months or so. The result of that discipline was that I let even more things fall away that had once been important to me. It felt necessary to focus my life on a few areas and to eliminate anything connected to the time in my life when I drank.

As I just indicated, that has been changing. I spent the majority of this holiday weekend breaking down the structure that has been so crucial to defining who I am the past several years. In reality, this process has been underway for months. As a result, whole areas of my life -- of my personality -- are opening again to me, parts that had seemed lost forever.

It's been a challenging process and it has only just started. There is a lot of work to do.

While I was experiencing growth over the past few years, I was all about the transcending and not so much about the including. This has left me unbalanced in many ways, but more importantly it has left me without the foundation of work and experience that helped form the person I have become.

Part of me has fought this process because, as a Buddhist, I'm "supposed" to be all about transcending the self and breaking down the ego. But this is faulty logic. We cannot transcend selves that are broken or incomplete -- the damaged or wounded or incomplete areas will sabotage us at some point in the future. This is the lesson I have taken from the abusive guru stuff I have blogged about recently (here and here).

However, as I begin to reclaim disowned parts of myself -- not necessarily subpersonalities, but aspects of my personality -- I am beginning to feel more whole. And at the same time, there is less solidity to my self-concept. I'm not sure if that makes any sense to anyone but me, but it works.

Let me return to the wheel image. As I feel more and more spokes in the wheel, the hub becomes smaller and smaller -- with the hub being my "self" and the spokes being subpersonalities, interests, and personality traits. Maybe someday the hub will be reduced to the pure emptiness that is my original face. Or maybe it will take many more lifetimes.

Either way, I find this new process exciting. I have to admit that it would never happen to the degree it is now if I was still in an intimate relationship -- the chaos and flux would be too much for any partner to hang around for. It would be unfair to subject someone to this -- it certainly isn't easy for me, either. Some days it feels totally out of control and that I am coming unglued. Those are probably the days I am fighting the process.

I don't know how this will play itself in my daily life. It's been easier to do this on what has mostly been an extended weekend. I guess the coming days will either be tough or they won't.

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