The Habit of Self-Loathing
In the past couple of years, this mind has faced itself like it never had before. This is an aspect of becoming conscious to Truth. It lights up every corner of the mind, revealing what had been hidden, and what had been hiding It. This has meant seeing a lot of dark and ugly beliefs, most of which I’d seen over the years. Some I thought were gone, but seemed to review. A few surprised me. I did not have to do anything with most of them but feel them and see them and realize they were no longer really there. These were the shadows of the ego (personal thought system) that had gone. I learned, through this long, uncomfortable retrospective, exactly what the ego was and what it taught me about me (lies). While the actual beliefs went with the ego, some habits and postures instilled by it are still unraveling.
One of these beliefs was revealed in a deep discomfort with myself that had been with me for the past several years, perhaps since the ego fell away in 2014. Having not realized the ego was gone, I felt a lot of discomfort that I did not understand in that time, and it was hard to discern one form of discomfort from another. Mostly I was aware of a kind of emptiness; a barren quality within. It was not wholly barren, because I was also aware of Truth, and I figured the cause of the discomfort was something I’d understand in time. And I was correct. That particular discomfort fell away a few months ago, leaving the discomfort with myself standing out on its own.
Everything I felt and saw came up in its own time. There seemed to be an order to this review. This shifted or fell away and that was revealed. In the meantime, I would catch glimpses of what was not yet fully revealed. The source of the discomfort with myself had been popping up now and then in the past year with a feeling and thought as though from a puny voice: “I didn’t think I’d come along.” Something in me thought it would fall away in this process and it didn’t and it was dismayed. It wanted to go.
There were other feelings and thoughts, too, like flashes of acute dislike of myself and spasms of despair that passed quickly. Eventually it all came together and can be labeled “self-loathing”. I discovered that in ego-identification I not only hated Myself (the Awareness of Truth in my mind), but I hated the self I made in ego-identification. This was not news to me. I’d read this in A Course in Miracles years ago. It made logical sense to me, given what the ego is, and I’d seen it at work in this mind. But it had never arisen spontaneously in my direct experience before. All the disguises and obfuscations and misdirections were gone and I felt this to be true.
There’s no escaping self-loathing in the ego. This is its heart and I saw and felt how I’d taken it on for myself. That puny voice didn’t want to survive this process because it was so filled with hatred for itself. In other words—that was me! Or something that I once thought was me. I was only able to face it because it had grown small enough for me to tolerate looking at it.
Which brings me to another interesting experience: I have been even more surprised by how much of what I have felt was “me” has not fallen away. ACIM points out that the Holy Spirit (Awareness of Truth in your mind) will keep what’s useful, discard what is not, and transform what can be made useful. Far, far less has been discarded or transformed than I expected. I truly thought so much of what I felt as “me” would fall away with the ego and I would feel so radically different that it would be, well, a completely new experience of myself. I don’t know how to characterize how I expected to be, because I don’t think I formed any clear idea. But clearly I didn’t expect to feel so like I had always felt.
“You are His manifestation in this world.” (C-6.5)
I had to see this self-loathing, because my “two selves” are merging: The Awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit) is manifesting through this person and I had loathed both. No wonder I was uncomfortable! Out of habit I loathed what I had been and to What I was returning. Often I tell students to get in touch with their sense “I exist”. This, I say, is Eternal. Everything else falls away. I had conflated much more of me with the ego than I knew. In fact, because so much of “me” is still here that I didn’t see for a long time that the ego was gone. And even when I was pretty darn certain it was, I’d have spells of doubt because of this. But over and over again I found it truly gone and came to see that what was left was never the ego or had been transformed and made helpful.
In ego-identification I unconsciously loathed the Awareness of Truth in me because it threatened the ego. I unconsciously loathed What I am not knowing It is What I am. And I loathed the limitations of the self because I felt it limited me. But the self never limited me. I was limited because I believed the ego when it told me that the self was me.
“Do not despair, then, because of limitations. It is your function to escape from them, but not to be without them.” (M-26.4)
So now I know the Awareness of Truth as Myself and do not loathe It as It does not threaten me without the ego. And I still experience a self, but I do not identify with it, so I do not feel limited by it, and I have no reason to loathe it.