InnerNet Weekly: Letter on the Kitchen Table

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InnerNet Weekly: Inspirations from ServiceSpace.org
Letter on the Kitchen Table
by John Ptacek

[Listen to Audio!]

tow2.jpgDear Ego,

I’m breaking up with you. No more circular discussions, no more eleventh hour recriminations. We’re through.

This is not an emotional decision. Actually, it doesn’t feel like a decision at all. We’ve been drifting apart for some time now, and more than anything I’m just acknowledging the distance between us. Whatever kept us together just isn’t there anymore.

It won’t do you any good to turn on the charm. Don’t bother trying to fill my head with thoughts about how great we are together or how lost I’ll be without you. You no longer have that kind of power over me. I see right through you now. I look, and there’s nothing there.

It took me a long time to figure you out. Like so many unhappy couples I know, we drifted into our own little world and for the longest time I mistook it for reality. If you asked me to pinpoint the day this shift occurred, I couldn’t, because it happened so long ago. But I vaguely remember what life was like before I met you. Actually, it’s more a feeling than a memory, a feeling of freedom. Not an “I-have-a-whole-weekend-in-front-of-me-with-no-plans” kind of freedom, but something different altogether. It’s more a sense of spaciousness, the kind children must feel before their heads become filled with worldly nonsense, before their sense of wonder contracts, before they begin to imitate the behavior of the troubled souls around them.

I can feel that sense of spaciousness right now when I close my eyes and forget that I have a body. It’s like I’m not even a person anymore, I’m just this space that goes on forever.

I don’t expect any of this makes sense to you. It never has before. You always have to define things, slot them into categories. But this isn’t something that is easily explained. It’s beyond words– I know, I know, you hate it when I talk like this, when I challenge your rigid view of things. You slip into this really pouty silence.

In the old days I misinterpreted that silence. I felt wrong, even a little crazy, for expressing myself. Now that silence tells me something totally different. It tells me that I threaten you. And it tells me something else, something really important. It tells me that I’m capable of living on my own. When your voice dies away, my voice appears. It’s just there. It’s probably been there the whole the time, but you were always drowning it out. It’s a clear voice. And strong. I’m going to be just fine without you.

My friends think I’m crazy. They wonder what I’m going to do without you. They’ve seen what happens when we’re together, the crazy highs and lows, the bizarre behavior, but they still question my decision. This really throws me until I remind myself what it was like to live in an unhealthy relationship. The worst part is you don’t think it’s unhealthy. You’re convinced that it’s perfectly okay to be miserable all the time. Month after month, year after year, you think – it’ll get better. We’ll work this out. But it doesn’t get better. It can’t. Sick relationships like ours don’t get better, they just get sicker.

It’s a small world and no doubt we’ll be running into each other a bunch. I guess it’s more like “see you around” than it is “goodbye”. As long as we maintain a proper distance, we’ll be fine. I need to be far enough away from you to hear my own voice. I actually wouldn’t mind your company once in a while, like when I’m fixing the sink or packing for a trip. We’ve always gotten along pretty well in those situations. But this time around, you’ll need an invitation. You can’t just come barging in. You don’t live here anymore.

Please pack up your stuff and leave your key on the table. When I come home later, all I want to hear is the sound of you being gone. I’m going to lose myself in the spacious silence, forget where I begin and end. You said something to me once. You said I’d be nothing without you. Remember? Well, I want to end this on a positive note by telling you that you were right. Without you, I am nothing. Nothing at all. If it weren’t for all the hell I went through because of you, I’d have never arrived at that momentous conclusion. So thank you, even if you have no clue about what I just said.

Love always,

John Ptacek

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Letter on the Kitchen Table
What does telling your ego that it can only be in your life by invitation mean to you? Can you share an experience where you were aware of your ego coming in uninvited and were able to ask it to stand down? How can we cultivate ourselves to be able to see ourselves separately from our ego?
david doane wrote: I like the redirection of your questions in response to this piece. Thank you. There was a time, really not very long ago, that I wasn’t aware that my ego was separate from me or…
Amit wrote: So many times I have broken up with ego like our friend John here, but every time I do, I feel insecure and I "miss her" and end up getting back together. And what exactly am I missing…
Chris Wheaton wrote: My ego is my "childish thing" that constantly needs to be "put away". She developed around the age of 8 and has the attitude of ‘I want what I want and I want it now!…
Conrad P. Pritscher wrote: John Ptacek is outstanding. Unfortunately I am not aware of my ego coming in uninvited when I was able to ask it to stand down. After meditating for a number of years, this awareness…
madhur wrote: Wonderful, I am with you completely. Ego would not go away so soon, it would keep coming back and there may be times it is able to make a fool of us. Yeah but as soon as the realization comes, sa…
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