I have found myself in an ebb. The polar opposite of “flow.” And I must admit, the pendulum affixed to the Hermetic Principle of Rhythm is a bit hypnotic when you come to embrace it. And while the flow was pretty solid and lasted a few days, I have released what I can only describe as a mourning for the flow. Released trying to hold onto the tattered edges of the previous flow and come to accept its fateful return. So I am using this ebb to prepare for an even better and higher flow. How? Well, I figured I’d relax a bit and take a leisurely stroll through the persona, my persona, and my ex. Which in a weird way has resulted in a musical. See…being an over thinker doesn’t mean we don’t know how to have a good time.
Way Down We Go
Such a great song to infuse this ebb with some feeling. The idea of the persona is deeper than we realize, because it has nothing to do with who we think we are. It has everything to do with understanding that who we portray ourselves to be isn’t who we actually are. And I think this is even more important with the advent of social media. But before I go too far, I’ll let Jung explain the archetype of The Persona.
This actually reminds me of Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” album cover and title track (give the lyrics a listen). It’s straight out of Carl Jung’s archetype of The Persona.
Essentially we can safely say that we rarely experience someone as they truly are. Ourselves included. Because at some point we all know what mask to pull out for a given scenario. We are who we need to be in every given moment. And it’s rarely a true, honest representation of who we actually are, way down deep.
In a way, Jung prophesied the fallout from social media when he said “becoming too closely identified with this archetype can lead people to lose sight of their true selves.” Because not only do we truly not know someone through their social media filters, it’s painfully obvious that people are losing their true selves to their social media archetypes.
And so I’m left to wonder if people will realize their loss of self awareness. Because at this point, the only way to get it back is to want it back. Because that particular “want” is indicative of a deep understanding of the growing darkness which must be reconciled. Only then can we retreat inward, face our shadows, become wiser, and begin again. It’s the classic Hero’s Journey.
Persona & My Ex
Talk about persona non grata. The more I make the most of this ebb, the more I think about how I interacted with my twin flame in the end. Invariably I see myself ripping off my most favored persona, throwing it to the ground making sure it shattered into a million pieces, only to take out the more aggressive one. Just the thought of it is making this ebb a bit more agitating than I had wanted. But I suppose I need to work through this.
I would often say that he brought out the worst in me. I allowed it, but at the time I suppose I truly felt that if I were to survive his constant barrage of bullshit, and (in a very unhealthy way) earn his favor, I had to pull out (and dust off) a stronger mask. But that mask isn’t me. Well, at least it hasn’t been me for many years. I’m sure he thinks it is. And it’s my fault for proving him right.
The Backwards Try
I told him so many times that his mismatched words and actions were hurting me, hurting my affections for him, but I was still willing to give him the chance to fix things. In the end, he never seemed to care what he did to me, but cared about everyone else. Even the people who were very clearly using him for their own selfish gain. So I suppose the old, “let me tell you exactly what I think of you and your bullshit” persona was my way of showing him just how much he was hurting me.
Instead of just leaving him to his own dysfunction, in some weird, twisted way I thought a riddle would help him see the parallels between my harsh words and his harsh actions. And maybe then he’d want to stop hurting me and make a change to being a man of his word. As he always said he was. But if I’m being totally objective I’d have to say that, like a child, I (subconsciously…and perhaps slightly consciously) wanted to hurt him back.
In the End…
I know it’s a very backward attempt at resolution, but I’m pretty happy that I can recognize it. Because that means I can work to fix it. I can’t deny that it felt really good to speak my piece after 5 YEARS of receiving his ambivalence and half-truths. And even though I never lied or even embellished, I was brutally honest. While these weren’t my proudest moments, in the end it didn’t matter what I said or did. If I was supportive, he took advantage. If I was brutally honest, I was just not understanding of his plight and being mean to him. It was all about him and while he still doesn’t care how his actions broke my heart. I’m finally getting close to the part where I don’t either.
Whew. This part of the ebb has been a bit cathartic. But while I’ve told my truth, I’m not sure it really matters in the end. Because if I put all of my personas aside, who would I find is actually me?
I use so many personas, and I’m really good at it. Which is probably why I was so good at sales. I could be whoever I needed to be in a given moment. Why? Because I had been doing this since childhood. A little codependent in the making, ever unsure if who I truly was would be rewarded or rejected.
So who is the “me” behind all of these personas? The person who isn’t looking for acceptance and approval of others? I’d have to say that my true self is simply that of the observer. Wanting to let the energy and experience of a scene wash over me rather than interact with it. The truth is, I’d prefer to observe people and figure them out rather than having to actually interact with them. Because it’s entertaining and infinitely more satisfying than being subjected to the persona they put on. After all, I find that scenarios often attract similar versions of the same persona anyway, and small talk with that level of repetition is just exhausting. No wonder things never seem genuine to me.
Persona & Relationships
Now that I’m steeping nicely in this ebb something hit me. The persona is where relationships begin. Which means it’s also where they begin to go awry. We meet someone under a certain set of circumstances, be them in person or online. No matter the scenario, there are a series of acceptable norms to which we adhere if we are to achieve some positive/desired outcome. And so, we wind up embracing the portrayal of a persona as a factual representation of an individual. Disregarding the inherent persona the scenario demands. Which is exactly where we begin to fit a persona, or as Billy Joel calls it a “stranger,” into our vision for a perfect relationship.
So how do we begin to approach our relationships in a manner which will result in less disappointment? As with everything, it all start with awareness. Give yourself permission to enjoy the high without looking too far into your future. Let yourself feel good for as long as it lasts. But know that you’re on a high. Don’t start plugging this person into your vision of the perfect life just yet. Take as much time as you need to know this person, and not just the persona they put on one day.
This may not be the perfect answer, but it’s a much better start than the alternative.
I have found that any given day is a day of countless ebbs and flows. Where an ebb is present, something else is flowing. And just like the Path of Enlightenment, what you see ebbing and/or flowing depends on where you focus.
But as I evolve through each day I’m beginning to realize that while a cultivated social persona means very little, there is a mask that is important. It is the ongoing sculpting of a mask which represents the honest aspects of ourselves. One which bravely displays the elements of the shadow we hope it hides.