In recent months, I’ve had the realization that the fragility of my ego is at a notable high.
It started with feelings. Odd, unbidden, irrational feelings. Feelings of insecurity, of anxiety. Feelings that, in my life of privilege, I’d not before had much exposure to. I didn’t immediately recognize these feelings as being related to, or caused by, a fragile ego… at first I was confused as to their source/reason. I knew felt overly sensitive and needy, but I wasn’t entirely sure why. After a lot of talking with good friends, with myself, with Sharaun – it became apparent to me that this is an “ego” thing. Let me try to expand.
In 2018 we made a choice to change everything. I left my career of nineteen years, we moved into an RV and traveled the country for an entire year as a family. We homeschooled the kids. We explored. We breathed each other deeply every single day and night. In 2019 we moved across the country. We left old friends. I started a new job, an entirely different animal, something meant to fix all this. In 2020 we quarantined. Oh, and I started a business with a bunch of close friends. That business no longer exists. Thankfully, though, the friends still do. (That’s another thing I need to write about, but haven’t yet had the motivation.)
And while it wasn’t something which was obvious to me along the way, with the benefit of hindsight I can now plainly see a handful of events/developments in the last two-plus years which would have impact to ego (as well as the somewhat toxic notion of “male pride”):
- The old job had no lack of food & feeders for ego; the new job does not offer such sycophancy
- The business I started “failed” and I put dear friends in precarious situations
- The new job pays less and so our discretionary income is under new scrutiny
- Guilt over the feeling that I took the family away from social connections in California
Funny… the simple act of concentrating on capturing the above list clearly in words almost has my brain shouting, “No duh Dave!,” to me. So… while it’s still a developing line of thought, I am coming to understand that the “feelings” I am seeking to understand from above are most probably me experiencing the diminishing of the person my pride & ego had convinced me I was.
My theory, then, is that this unacknowledged feeling of loss has sent me subconsciously seeking to replace the sources of ego-food in my life; you know, to keep that bigger-than-the-real-me persona fed. Because of this, I have over-indexed on, become overly-reliant upon, a narrow set of sources for ego-food. This is not only unsustainable, but wholly unfair to the people who happen to be in that narrow set of sources. To me it is quite obvious that single-sourcing one’s sense of ego and pride, particularly through another human, is a recipe for a fragile ego.
Five paragraphs. That’s what this writing is so far. But man, it has been nearly two years since we left. Writing this, I realize that it has taken me these two years just to comprehend some of the change that’s happening – the change I wanted. And that’s just the dawning moment, the realization that you’re experiencing something.
So, I am experiencing some fragility of ego. Great. Eureka, even. What next? What I find, in retrospect, hilarious (and confirming), is that my first thought upon sussing this all out was, “OK great! I just need to find new sources of food for my ego and I’ll feel right again.” I mean, easy, right?
But how stupid is that? I had the desire to leave because I was chafing against certain pieces of my environment. I’m struggling for the right words here, but it’s almost like my ego was trying to fit a round me into a square hole. And I could feel that, subconsciously. Thing is, I don’t think it was a 180° situation… I mean there was enough of me in there, doing things I truly enjoyed, that the sharp corners just felt like the stuff I had to deal with to keep going.
Feed that? No. Starve that motherfucker out.
A good friend said real change doesn’t come for free. I feel like maybe that’s what I was thinking: Oh yeah, we left our friends and our home and our roots and careers and… and everything is totally breezy man, no big deal at all – 100% adjusted to those changes and thriving over here. But really that’s where I think I was… like that transition was just going to be an overnight thing. No thought of the fire that comes along with refinement.
I don’t know… maybe I am missing “the old life” more than I’ve been willing to admit even to myself? Maybe I’ve wanted to be the “strong one” in the move, and have been repressing any disappointment I have re: things I like less “now” than I did “then?” I also think a lot of this is tied-up in the various unpaid debts that we as a corporate collective consciousness incurred during the worst of the pandemic in 2020.
Done writing but not done by far. Feels good to work on yourself; to have time to think more than before; to feel a little more deeply.