Committing Egocide…


I wrote this essay nearly three years ago.  My life has changed more in these three years than it had in the previous 40.  I have taken what I wrote hear to heart, with some weeks being better than others, and I truly feel like progress has been made.  It’s nice to look back at it a few years later, and know that some lessons can be learned, and some progress can be made — if only at a snail’s pace…
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Me, Myself, and Irony

I don’t like myself much.  I mean, I guess I do like the shape of my arms – some.  I like the amount of weight I can lift – a bit.  I like the way in which I can make my bike charge up a steep hill – at times.  That I can (occasionally) still turn a head in a restaurant is also nice, but those are what I do, not who I am.  Increasingly, I find myself lacking mental fitness; the kind of character that makes one a better component of the atom of humanity.

Who I really am is a guy who let his guard down years ago, and now lives comfortably well beneath his potential – because it’s easier this way.  I have taken my eyes off, and quit listening to the best role-model and the best friend I would ever have – me.  Early in life, I had promised myself that if I would follow my own advice, I would lead myself to a life most worthy.  I never intended to break away and become such a selfish asshole, but it has certainly unfolded that way – probably for you too.

Earning my way back, if ever so slowly...

Earning my way back, if ever so slowly…

Ego, Mego, And Wego

For much of my early adult life the person I admired above all others was actually me – or the me I was striving to become.  No hero I could choose to emulate would have as much to offer the world, I thought, as I would someday.  That’s okay, that’s okay, I laugh too when I think about it – now.  But I wasn’t laughing then, I was serious and I had a plan.  My best friend in those years was also me, and me kept me focused on the plan.

There were certainly people I had admired in my wide-eyed youth.  Most I admired for all the wrong reasons, and the heroes I chose never failed to let me down.  But for my high expectations of them, every role-model I had through my teen years fell as slowly as a leaf until the hero-tree eventually stood bare before me.  By my twenties, as each hero had faded into the realm of being only human, I began to understand that hero should be viewed as a personal destination, and not a view to another.  I would be a hero.

Role-models Vs. Roll-Models

It has not worked out quite the way I had envisioned.  One divorce, several broken relationships, countless shots of tequila, foul words uttered, temper tantrums thrown, optimism thwarted, failed business attempts, money earned and money squandered, good eating/bad eating, fitness and fatness, and millions of willful poor choices later, I have long since forgotten about the hero I was supposed to be.  I can now only explore who I am to become.  Allow me to introduce you to another fallen leaf from the hero tree; me, the hero within.

Sports radio host Jim Rome often says, speaking of wayward athletes,

“You are who you roll with.

Meaning, an individual reflects the image and character of who he spends time with; guilt by association, and often by osmosis – taking on lesser traits offered by the other(s).  And that’s where I have failed – I have been “rolling” with my inner-self for too long.

To coin a popular term from this era of social networking, I have decided to unfriend my inner Roy.  I release him because he does me more harm than good, tells me it’s okay to cheat at life, to back off, to slack, to let my guard down, and to put me/him first.  His weary act has grown tiresome and I just don’t want to roll with him anymore.

Can This Really Be Done?

I don’t know, I have never broken up with myself before. I am not in pursuit of a perfect life or being a perfect man.  I am only in pursuit of a change that will get me back on the hero path, not to be confused with the hero destination.  Though it is easy to conceive of and discuss change in this way, it will be something different to achieve that change.  Now primary in my psyche must be a complete divorce from the failed hero-me.

It has often been said that, character is what you do when nobody else is looking.  In a more useful sense I believe that, hero is when you decide to never take your eyes off yourself – 24/7.

Stroodle.  My beacon, my light, and my real hero.  I have learned so much about life by loving this friend!

Stroodle. My beacon, my light, and my real hero. I have learned so much about life by loving this friend!

In that ego-rooted early adult life I lived, I had often joked that the world would be much better off if there were three billion Roy Cohens, and three billion women to worship them.  Now I’m just seeking to create one good Roy, so that one young woman will forgive him.  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this wonderful collaboration of, The Weight.  Enjoy ….

26 responses

    • Karen: This will be a recurring comment in my replies but, I don’t care if it’s 80% or 20%, I just want to wake up each day and choose to be on the path, rather than being okay with it when I leave the path. That has been the larger issue. Perfection is not my quest. Striving for perfection is.

  1. In this book I read about Stopping Self-Sabatoge the author distinguishes between “self-esteem” and “self-confidence.” She says we gain self-confidence from our accomplishments. But self-esteem is something different. It’s knowing about the value we have simply because we exist — simply because we are here. It is knowing about our inherent worth. If accomplishments were what determined our worth, then all little babies would be worthless. We were born with this worthiness and we have it all our lives but we lose sight of it in the middle of our crazy world.

    I have been doing self-acceptance workouts. My self-acceptance muscles are weak and way out of practice. In fact, I’m not even sure they have ever been used. One of the hardest set of exercises in my self-acceptance plan is the one where I have to forgive myself for my past mistakes. Another hard one is where I hold myself back from evaluating and judging myself.

    • Thank you for the link. Not sure I will read the book, because it sounds like so many others in that vein. I will say this; the theme of this and similar books is rooted in common sense and intuition — it’s just that we work so damned hard to put up road blocks between ego, our common sense & intuition. I think tearing down those road block is the function of the worthy baby inside all of us.

  2. It seems to me that one of the laws of life is that at some point we will lose our way!If this hasn’t happened to one yet, due to the protection of youth, or by grace, it will. How we deal with it will reveal one to oneself. I know that you will find your way again, Roy, because that is what you are.

  3. We can all be so hard on ourselves sometimes, including you. :)

    That being said, have you thought about all of the wonderful experiences you have had because you let go of the quest for perfection for a little while?

    I can tell you that the perfectionist Roy probably would have never befriended this girl.

    Some trivia for ya… Did you know that Bob Seger comes up my way often? I believe he is originally from Beaver Island. He frequents the bars up there and here in Charlevoix. I know quite a few people that have run into him and had a few beers and interesting conversation with the one and only…

    • You know Bobbie, I always like to say, “If I’m not hard on myself, who will be…?” On partly kidding there.

      Don’t get me wrong, I would not trade one day or one mistake in my life — not one. Just want to cut down on the willful mistakes, that the days have more depth.

      Would kill KILL to have a beer with Bob Seger in a Northern Michigan bar. One of my all time faves…

  4. Roy, you have outdone yourself.. lay it bare… I have no doubt based on the Roy I know, you will conquer & become a hero when nobody else is looking, molding the two… I personally think you are amazing!

    Unlike you, I never thought good of myself.. there was always something wrong so I can’t relate to feeling like that about myself. My battle was & still is feeling good about myself outside of the fitness aspect of it…

    One of your readers wrote: have been doing self-acceptance workouts. My self-acceptance muscles are weak and way out of practice. In fact, I’m not even sure they have ever been used. One of the hardest set of exercises in my self-acceptance plan is the one where I have to forgive myself for my past mistakes.

    I totally get that BUT also I just need to keep trying to “like me”… always a work in progress.

    Roy, thx so much for a very revealing, open, honest & very thought provoking post!

    • Jody: I have never lived a day in anyone else’s head, so I am not sure what goes on in yours. From the outside looking in, I think you undervalue yourself beyond the gym.

      The lesson learned here for me is one of complacency. That, I liked myself so much, I allowed myself to get away with more and more — to a point where I no longer liked myself. That’s why I have to keep my eye on myself more ;-)

  5. Roy,
    These words really have resonated with me today. I think it’s that idea that I’m not the hero I saw myself as being in my youth.

    Perhaps it’s all part of the journey – and our own deeper discovery into who we are…

    At least, I like to think so. That this life, the way it’s played out so far – there is good that can come from it all…for all of us.

    You shine, Roy. And it’s because you are willing to put it all out there…

  6. This was really a raw post Roy, and I admire you for just laying it all out there. I have never been my own hero and had a lot of self-loathing, especially during my obese years. It’s such a complex thing to have enough faith and belief in yourself to achieve what you are capable of and at the same time having compassion on yourself for what you have not accomplished. I still struggle with this and may always.

  7. Much of what you say here makes me wanna make this required reading for my teenagers. I used to hate what I was – the old me that I wasn’t anymore, but somehow haunted me as a reminder that I was somehow still connected to that former self and would never be any better because of it. But NO! That’s not me. I broke up with my past about 1.5 years ago and the allowed lurking memories of that old self to die. And now finally, I am truly living, and enjoying my life, and looking forward to what lies ahead. Go Roy!

  8. Geez Roy! Are you in my head? I can not tell you how glad I am to have found your blog. The honesty and inner struggle resonates deep. It is this struggle that keeps me from optimum self. That and my ‘roll with’ peeps aren’t the best to see me through.

    Thinking of heading back to the camper in Florida to step-back/away for awhile and regroup. Some say I spend way to much time alone as it is, but to hell with them! That is how I gain strength.

    Others tend to suck the life out of me, which means I got to find new people, which means hurting feelings.

    “Like a Rock” hits hard at this point: brought tears to listen to this now and had to push stop.

    Onward with taking control!

    • Lisa: There are those days of the week when I DON’T think about faking my death and moving to Key West, and then there are those days that end with the letter “Y”.

      Though I often question the values of those I roll with, they are my friends and I will never let them go. That said, I have done a poor job with the “shields” which keep out the bad.

      I remember once listening to Like A Rock — I was maybe 25, and I had just been released. I remember very clearly thinking, “That’s never gonna be me…” Whatta douche I was.

  9. The best lessons are learned at a snail’s pace…and they are learned over and over again!

    I don’t know if it’s possible, or even wise, to completely unfriend/break-up-with oneself. Rather I believe that noticing and acknowledging the shadow self, and maybe even showing it some compassion, tends to make it disappear (at least for a while). There’s a fantastic quote that goes like this: “Evil is like a shadow – it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.” – Shakti Gawain

    Not implying any evilness on your part, of course!! ;-)

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