Getting Over "My" Self

Recently I had a birthday. The way I like to spend my birthday is as a usual day followed by a quiet dinner out at a restaurant of my choice with my partner, Courtney. My family drops off my presents during the day if they have not already given them to me before. On or before my birthday Courtney and I go out and get my present from her, which is usually something I have chosen. That’s it.

This year we have a roommate. One of Dean’s favorite forms of entertainment is to go out to dinner and he especially likes to gather up a group to go with him. His funds have been low for a while, and will be for a while more, so for now he does not get to indulge his passion for eating out. So I invited him to join Courtney and I. The week before my birthday Dean started suggesting people to invite along, starting with his best friend, Jack, and moving on to my family. I am not social at all; I am a loner who, if there have to be people, prefer them one or two at a time. Going out in groups is not my thing. I told him I just wanted it to be the three of us. He said, “Oh yeah, that’s right, it’s your birthday, you don’t want a bunch of people there.”

Two days before my birthday Dean mentioned that Jack said he could come and he wanted to know at what time Jack should meet us. I was surprised but I didn’t say anything because it seemed to me the deed was done. Now, I have nothing against Jack, he’s a great guy. But he is Dean and Courtney’s friend and they all have the same overriding addiction to online role-playing games, which I find meaningless and excruciatingly boring. Going out to dinner was supposed to be about my birthday, but now it seemed like it was Dean going out with his friends. Moreover, when I invite people out to dinner my invitation implies I’m the one paying. Dean just added to my bill.

I was angry but felt trapped. It would be too awkward to uninvite Jack. I kicked myself for not doing what I really wanted in the first place – to go out alone with Courtney – in an effort to be “nice”. I know better than to be “nice”. I resolved that in the future when I wanted to go out with Courtney alone I would. Courtney, who was a little peeved herself, agreed. I also determined that the next time Dean added guests to my invitation I would explain my feelings to him.

But this wasn’t enough. “My” day was ruined. I didn’t even want to go out to dinner anymore. Clearly, I was still bothered. I thought that maybe I needed to tell Dean about my displeasure before it all unfolded and maybe even change the plans to suit my needs. But this niggled at me. This “my” day, this “my” needs -- where was I coming from but ego?

When I realized that I was coming from ego I laughed and my irritation lifted. I returned to a place of detachment and was once again looking forward to going out to dinner. Now I could enjoy the food in peace while they blathered on about their game. I prefer to be left alone anyway so it was funny that I had been bothered at all that their attention would be elsewhere. It’s typical of the ego to be so inconsistent and contradictory. That’s why I know better than to live in “my” arbitrary needs. Always, always, always “my” is the problem. Yes, I still need to talk to Dean about not adding people to events I’m hosting. Yes, the next time I want to go out with Courtney alone I will. Lessons learned. But I don’t have to insist that I have things “my” way to be at peace. The only way to peace is to let go of “my”.

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Comments

Anonymous said…
This one really "hit home" for me. Thanks for being so upfront with your feelings about such a personal, intimate experience. It's not easy to be so straightforward about one's feelings, especially when we are feeling vulnerable.

Peace, blessings, and Happy Birthday, Liz!!

--Greg in Chicago

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