ich-besetzung (ego cathexis)

I got a call from a dear friend this morning.  She was upset, and spoke about a lonely Thanksgiving as her kids were not around to share the holiday with her. I felt her concern and I understood what it is like to feel that desperate sense of lack that accompanies the missing of something that we want so very badly to happen in our lives.

I was fortunate this year to have the full compliment of my family with me for the holiday.  That fact alone, however, does not eliminate the feeling of lack.  As I awoke this morning and the deep grey New England rain was covering everything in a blanket of damp, cold and colorless images, I was aware that I had grown a new dependency in my life.  Like all the other dependencies that I have had to cope with, this one felt warm and seemed to be providing my needs nicely.  But, I was also aware that like all other dependencies in the past, it too had the possibility of de compensating  into a vast sea of emptiness, characterized by fear, worry and a generalized feeling of low-level depression.

I hate that phrase, “low-level depression.”  It makes it seem like a perpetual fever that just will not quit. Like when the fever is not high enough to keep me in bed, but low enough so that I have to work feeling miserable…We have all been there, so I am pretty sure this description will not feel new.   Be that as it may, returning to the new dependency–I have grown throughly dependent on a circle of friends.  I find myself double thinking everything I am wanting and even much of how I am thinking and that doubt seems permanently lodged and the only thing that resolves it is a nod of approval from this circle of friends. two-thirds of the way through my life and suddenly I can’t tie my shoe without wondering if there is a more spiritually fit way to do this.

Having trained as a psychoanalyst has had it disadvantages, the least of which is not that i was educated to feel that i needed to depend on my healthy, well analyzed ego for the right and the next right answer to everything.  Well, that wonderful little formula breaks down at exactly the time in life when one is in crisis.  This wonderfully analyzed ego is worth shit when a situation comes along that requires the self to regress in service of the ego.  “In service of the ego,” what in god’s name is that.  Just when you need it most, the ego decides to return in time to an infantile stage of development. And, suddenly, you can no longer tie your shoe without a consultation that runs roughly one-hundred and fifty bucks an hour. Or, as I have been discovering recently, I need to be reminded by someone who is Not-Me that as recent as yesterday i had figured out a way to live that was very much in concert with nature, the universe, and my dog.

So, why do I need to be reminded?  From what i have been able to tell thus-far, I need to be reminded because when a circumstance happens that momentarily blocks my view of the sun, I can not remember where the light was coming from. If you were to step down, using a long ladder, and you were to descend into a deep well; the further down you went the smaller the circle of light at the top would become, until it was a pin-hole of light followed by utter and total darkness.  The dark light of the soul is despair.  That mood of discouraging conditions that is characterized by having no hope.  The darkness of hopelessness is despair.

Even the smallest pin-hole of light prevents despair, but once you pass that point in the down ward move just beyond where all light fails, you can not see your way out of emotional, mental, nor spiritual darkness.

The reason that I need my spiritually fit friends is because they are not in the pit or the well, with me at the same time.  So, they can still see the light even though, it is failing to reveal itself to me.  I think what I am discovering is that in the process of becoming spiritually fit the most important dimension is to surround ourselves with other people making the same spiritual journey.  They will hold our hands and they will think for us at moments when we have forgotten that we knew the way out.  While my ego is regressing for some reason that it finds very important, my friends who are accompanying me on this journey through inter-being will guide me up the ladder until, I can once again see the light.

My newest dependency is to my dear circle of people willing to guide me when I lose sight, and in exchange, i am willing to guide them when they lose sight.  We are forming a village, a community with a common mission.  Finally, were I to discover in the future that this dependency on my circle was becoming an addiction, well, all that I would really need to do would be to find a new twelve step program, perhaps, Triple AAA, Addiction to Addictions Anonymous.

6 comments on “ich-besetzung (ego cathexis)

  1. Colleen says:

    Hello my friend ~

    I just read your most recent blog entries. I totally agree with the importance of surrounding ourselves with other people making the same spiritual journey. In this journey I so appreciate the light that others hold up for me to see through the darker passages.

    I am wondering about the phrase “spiritually fit” … is this a goal? What does spiritually fit look like?

    Spiritually fit reminds me of our culture’s obsession with having the perfect body that doesn’t age. Does spiritually fit mean we will not suffer? That we will not face demons? Can we allow space in our life for feeling vulnerable? For our tendency to ricochet between extremes – from laughter to fear? Can we create room for the stark awareness we face with the impermanence of our once youthful bodies? For the grieving of relationships that aren’t perfect? Or does that make us spiritually unfit? Can we make room for all these things but not cling too tightly to them … Can we also make room for emphasizing LIVING right along side the undeniable fact that we are also in the process of dying? Samasara (suffering) and Nirvana (enlightenment) are not two but one.

    Do my ramblings make any sense?


    The Guest House, by Rumi

    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.

    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    as an unexpected visitor.

    Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still, treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out
    for some new delight.

    The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
    meet them at the door laughing,
    and invite them in.

    Be grateful for whoever comes,
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.

    ~ Rumi ~

  2. al dussault says:

    oh my colleen–if these are ramblings they are ramblings of an example of what i would mean by spiritually fit….your descriptions of life, from laughter to fear right to the
    undeniable fact, as you say of suffering to enlightenment…
    your ramblings are the very center of what i imagine fitness to be…not a perfection as I have heard from many people, but rather as an inclination, a movement toward remembered wellness when we are down and reliance on friends and the circle when we can not quite remember what it is to feel right.
    I am so glad to be reminded in this way…that the term can almost imply that you can purchase it at the nearest fitness club–or from a cruise in the Bahamas while the speakers charge $7000 + air fare….
    I spent the evening with some close friends and we scripted our plans, our desires and we supported each other in our desires to see each other approaching our lives
    in such a way as to position ourselves to not sabotage our talents…..
    I so much enjoy your ramblings…

  3. jessica hagen says:

    Meta-addiction, inc.?

  4. Tracy says:

    Thank you Al and Colleen. When I am under my blankets and need a reprieve from entertaining “guests” of world ignorance, frustration, despair, et al, it is comforting to remember that I most likely am not the only human who is in the cave of “enough! life – leave me alone.” Just feeling that I am connected to others in the darkness is enough to send a sliver of light into my psyche that prompts acceptance of this wacko trip. Namaste.

    • aldussault says:

      thank you for writing–the world in my cave is such a different world than the world from which I create…
      isolation was my comfort blanket before creativity and spirituality became so…..al d

  5. Bill says:

    In order to call upon friends or those that would help during these journeys into the abyss…we would need to be able to think clearly. Just the act of asking would take an action that a regressed ego would not permit.

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