“The promptings, guilts, fixations, transgressions, woundings, cruelties, and rejections of childhood forced us to manuever through the world inside the automobile of a false self. Even though we, as children, initially stepped into the vehicle for protection and mobility, we gradually forgot our true essence which took refuge there. We lost touch with our souls and eventually grew so used to the vehicle, that we assumed we were the vehicle. It served a purpose in the beginning, it got us around, protected us, and set up an image around a story, one that would only define a journey based on perception. It seemed as though this was what life was all about. In a way it was. It had to be for us to undergo the real purpose of life: remembering, returning to and growing in our spiritual nature.” (Dr. Joseph Howell)
I really don’t know what I was thinking when I first met D. Maybe I wasn’t thinking at all, maybe I was just being my normal self and following my emotions which were all over the place. I’m good for that, copping-out of reason to follow after my heart. I’ve been doing that ever since I was a kid and believed it was part of my personality. Maybe his being 15 years younger coaxed my ego and made me feel like the 25-year-old I claim to be on the inside. All I know is that he represented a Ken doll, full of vitality, adventure and comfort when I was uncertain about my future. He seemed like an extension of my normal “jump in with both feet” mentality, so I went with what felt familiar. Now 4.5 years later and having lost myself in that relationship, I’m beginning to understand why I have made repeated bad dating choices. “Like a car, the ego provides a buffer between us and other entities. The automobile provides a certain horsepower or strength, and its make, model and color provide the image desired.” (Howell) My ego had served me well since childhood, protecting my damaged Bronco frame with a fresh coat of baby blue painted over all the rust spots so I could forge ahead at lightning speeds just to konk out from the refurbished engine under the hood.
My gumption always drove me forward in pursuit of happiness because I wanted the fairytale, a story of redemption that would cancel out my past pain. “Everyone has a life built on something. Those who are run by their ego’s are preoccupied with making their story full, complete, true and edifying to the ego’s sense of identity called ‘self.’ The story is usually about how their desires have been fulfilled. For some people, their story is about how their desires are not fulfilled and competition to gain what they have not is reinforced by culture. Our personality is shaped by have’s and have not’s. Personality is but a mask, a “social vehicle” in which we move among other masked people sheltered by its frame of coping mechanisms. Personality and its ego are not really our truest self. The unconscious ego passionately drives the person into whatever activity, role, accomplishment, acquisitions or relationship that will give the outward perception that the person is an identity with an ongoing story. The failure of the story to work out as hoped is the cause of misery and pain.”(Howell) I fashioned my journey of life around a personality that was fun, demanding, powerful, melancholy and ambitious, all without knowing why my heart ached for deep connection.
I knew I had what it took to help others tap into their destiny, I just needed them to catch my vision and partner with me so I could remain the catalyst. I had never met anyone before D who was willing to quit his job and move away from everything he had known to start a new life of ministry with me. Heck, I hadn’t met anyone willing to stop long enough to look in my direction, much less want what I had. But I failed to foresee the potential roller coaster we would be on due to my own pursuit of “the happy couple” image. I needed him to be dedicated to Christ if he was going to hop on board with what I envisioned as a long drive headed straight toward relationship bliss. It escaped my mind to question his devotion to faith and how we were going to avoid a winding road with pot holes before attaining true love. I built up fantasy as my premise to finding love that would heal my weakened heart that never connected to my parents when I was young. I guess I believed that he was going to rescue me from the sufferings of failed romances and put trust in God unlike all of the other fellows who failed to make good on their promises.
I believed that he wanted to know me and I craved to be known because my ego had me striving for acceptance. And he did a really good job of focusing on me, meeting my needs to be understood but expressing none of his own because he was so afraid of conflict. His ego convinced him that expression of anger or emotion could rock my boat, so to avoid confrontation and his own frustration, he fed my starving ego. He could describe me to anyone; our therapist, the waiter, the guy in the UPS store, just as long as we weren’t focusing on him and his emotions. I didn’t know how to put my finger on it, but I felt in the dark about his personality even though he was so attentive to me. It seems my personality squashed his in a way, and eventually he fell into appeasement. After so many years of him escaping deep conversations and my pulling over to stop and wait for him to talk, both of our engines quit and we found ourselves on two different roads.
It is painful to not know how he is now, and to accept that my story of “happily ever after” could not be the definition of either one of us. I have to dismiss my ego and acknowledge that no story or personal journey, can actually replace an individuals soul. I find myself praying, God, does he think about me even though he is with her? Why can’t I see other guys without comparing them to him? I still hope silently, deeply that he will one day stand on my door step and ask to come back. I have even contemplated staying right here so that I can be found again, when all I ever really wanted was for him to be my soul mate while he was here. All that my pleasing ego prompted me to do, left me exhausted, and him avoidant. Even though I broke the cycle and stopped the car from driving forward, I still wanted him to turn around and make sure I was ok like he used to. But all along he believed that my emotions overshadowed his, and learning that I exasperated him makes me want to trade in this beaten down locomotive for a shiny new Lexus like the one I was sitting in the day he and I met.
But how is she ok with carrying all that cargo he brings? Are they working because she doesn’t demand that he lives substance free? Does that feel more like true love to him because she accepts his drug use? Isn’t it ok for me to have wanted more? To have wanted someone I could grow deeper with, drive up the curvaceous mountainside and not fear falling off the edge? Will I be remembered as the demanding control freak my personality slid into? Could I be seen as the deep connector I truly am, longing for intimacy on a conscious level? I just wanted a relationship that could resist the wind meant to blow us off course.
I don’t even know how I could ever start seeing someone else and not worry about what they are doing when I’m not in their presence. I feel so hypervigilant that nothing in me desires for a man who has to keep his expression under wraps, has little to say, gives one word answers, goes along with my suggestions, has hobbies that lure him away from reality or past addictions that get re-lived when stress surmounts. I’m just not ready or able to invest in another potential sleuthing situation where I can’t trust what a guy says or does. Id rather be alone forever and remain sad that D is gone. Something about my ego needs to hold onto this sob story because it is bigger than just another break-up, it’s my break up.
And that is what I’m learning about my ego type, the false personality I present because I learned how to drive my car as a child and navigate through emotional pain. I need a story of suffering because I relate to sadness so well. I crave companionship but have always bent over backwards for it, often becoming resentful and lonely. Somehow with his repeat of relocation to start over with someone new I feel betrayed, jipped, a has-been. My 4×4 feels stuck in the mud, feeling insignificant and unable to accept that I’ve been replaced. He just used me as the vehicle of opportunity because I was willing to have company. I’ve always invited anyone along for the ride just to enhance what I had planned anyway. But as usual, my ambition weighed down the agenda of his direction and I found my heart took a back seat to where he wanted us to go.
My facade didn’t protect me, my hopes of living faithfully with someone younger, turned out to be the roof of familiar, lonely coping mechanisms. I was living a level of denial but holding fast to the potential of our being that fantasy couple who impacts the world. With all of the side streets presenting themselves and my having to search the countryside just to catch up, I was loosing myself and dismissing that he had already ventured far away in mind. I know better than to assume he is a brand new man because he is now remote with her, but that is exactly what my wounded ego expects, an alternate sad saga for me to focus on.
I am sad over the memories that still surround me here. In many ways I want him to remain who he was here so I can re-create scenarios according to my ego’s storytelling ability. Even in his absence I still see him in my mind’s eye everyday helping me lay out my clothes for the next day or watch him draw near and whisper how much he loves my smell. I can close my eyes and be there one more time. I can still believe that we could have it all again. Then my mind awakens and I slowly ground myself. I feel my feet and move my toes, feel my limbs and hands and focus on the pace of my breath, and I pause before letting go of him once more.
What premise was I building everything upon that betrayed me so? The answer lies in the self discovery of who I thought I was and the ultimate uncovering of the fact that I was not actually my ego and my story at all. The search reveals that the ego self (facade) was the one who betrayed me. It was this false self that did not give me a way to reach fulfillment or to endure pain and losses of life because the walls that encased my little car as a child, remained in tact for too long. The ego personality type was not really my true identity after all. I am not defined by my story, no matter how straight forward or rocky it was. Nearly everything was based on a false identity. (paraphrased, Howell)
These books take you into the depths of understanding your true essence, who God created you to be in the womb. “Becoming Conscious” by Joseph Howell goes beyond the 9 personality types and integrates ego to best explain the changes we can make in our characteristics once healing is experienced. The following tree represents the journey we take in personality development and morphing into who we really are.