A guy sitting next to me on the bus the other day kept looking over my shoulder to check out the book on my lap. When I stuffed it in my bag, he asked, “what are you reading?”
Slightly embarrassed, I told him, “it’s called, Love, an Inner Connection.”
“What’s it about?”
Self-help books and pseudo-spiritual tomes I’ve always considered hokey. Human beings are fantastically complicated, a lifetime isn’t long enough to discover all the nooks and crannies in one person’s psyche. Merge two of these creatures in a relationship and they’d need at least a couple centuries to figure one another out. For every self-help “rule” about relating, you’ll find a thousand situations that break it.
So, when a friend suggested Love, an Inner Connection, my first reaction was to gag. But since the book’s based in Jungian psychology and ancient Chinese philosophy, I gave it a whirl.
Here’s the gist: there’s the “essential” self and the ego. The essential self is our identity in its purest form, untouched by social conditioning. The ego is an insecure bully who concocts a social role and avoids challenging situations to keep the self from harm. When two people fall in love, their essential selves recognize each other and connect. In a real love connection, two people can manifest their essential selves, savor intimacy’s bliss and fulfill their lives’ purposes together.
But along comes the ego shouting things like, “you’re too ugly and stupid for someone to love,” or “yo, the last time this happened, your heart got trampled.” The beginning of love is always a battle between one or both partners’ egos and essential selves. Thus, the journey to love means silencing the ego, withdrawing when your partner’s ego is actin’ a fool and having the patience to endure the initial difficulties.
When I described the book to the guy on the bus, he nodded and said, “see, my problem is whenever love comes, I push it away.”
The fact that most of my acquaintances and even strangers on the bus (swear to God, it happened) are voicing romantic concern suggests lots of people are struggling.
Having allowed his “issues” to get the best of him, my friend Jay cheated on the girlfriend he’s crazy about and has been fighting ever since to get her back. My girl Diane caves into the whims of a guy she loves but who sucks at the teat of non-commitment like a baby to a pacifier. Jack’s in love for the first time but won’t make the changes that would allow a new person into his world. Irene drives away every man who shows affection because she won’t take the time to let feelings evolve. Everyone’s selfish, terrified egos are running amok.
Years back, a recently divorced guy I’d been dating admitted to some anxiety about the intensity of our fledgling romance. He wanted to keep seeing one another, but a small part of him was tempted to back out.
I went ape shit.
“Nooo,” I wailed. “It’s too soon to freak, you can’t do this, give it a chance.” And so on.
Dude disappeared. Shortly thereafter, I picked up Love, an Inner Connection. And by gum, the book changed my life.
Instead of pushing my own romantic agenda, what if I’d taken into consideration what the other person wanted? We like to think love is all about tying someone down and eliminating whatever in their life threatens our attachment to them – a busy social calendar, autonomous behaviors, emotional hang-ups. But love is about freedom. Someone chooses to love you and to be loved. You shouldn’t have to convince or force people to be with you. They should want to be with you. And if they need time to work through some stuff, well, you best chill.
Jay’s ego didn’t want him to admit his mistake, while his essential self was pining for the woman he betrayed. After he read Love, An Inner, he snubbed his ego and told the girl he missed her. She came back. Consequently, the book is making the rounds and guiding my friends to softer places in their souls.
It’s hard to be patient. Hard to put someone else’s needs on par with your own. Hard to know whether you’ve got a true love connection or whether you’re a fool.
But as I told my friend on the bus, if there’s one tried-and-tested rule about love, it’s that it’s worth the risk.
**Love, an Inner Connection is by Carol K. Anthony