This weekend, I experienced something utterly alien to me to this point in my life- the ego as a super entity. I have met many people who are completely controlled by their egos, but this was the first time I have encountered someone, face to face, whose ego had actually outgrown the building we were in.
On returning home from a wonderful time at the beach with the kids, we arrived in the driveway to my next door neighbor sitting in his car with a woman I had never seen before. Once we got out of the car, my neighbor came over to us asking to speak in private. This was odd, as we talk all the time (he gave us our Ali cat). It turned out the woman in the car was one of the residents of the apartment building our friend lives in, adjacent to our building. He told us that she had come to him looking for help after having been quite severely beaten by her boyfriend. To make matters worse, the boyfriend was sitting in a car just up the street, waiting for her to make an appearance. My friend felt overwhelmed and needed backup. I told him to go back to his car and tell this woman she needed to go inside and call the police.
Over the years, I have learned to stay the hell out of domestic issues unless there is no way out. They are messy and convoluted and have no end in sight, primarily because those involved have not yet decided that now is the time to end it. After my neighbor went to the car to tell the woman to call the police, and various other tedious events, I got to see this woman. She was really a child- 19, a foreign student at the local college, living alone in an apartment for the first time in her life in a country whose language and customs are not her own. Her ears were bruised and swollen, her nose and eyes were blackened, her lower lip was cut internally and her right foot had been stomped on and had bruises in the shape of her attacker's shoe. This was not a walk away situation.
I will spare you the details. The gist of it is, I spent an hour with this girl as she repeatedly became hysterical and out of control at the thought of calling the police. "He is sorry!", "He is a good person!", "I love him!"... all of the usual things that come from these sad situations. What was so striking about this was that there was so little of 'her'. Everything we experienced of her, from her voice to the posture of her standing, was an ego so destructive, so insane and twisted and in control, so huge it took over all the breathing space in the entire building. Every single person in the building was held hostage to her screams and tantrums and pleading. I could feel everyone holding their collective breath, waiting to exhale.
Ultimately, we called the police despite her protests. It was so obvious that she was utterly out of control and that this had turned into a situation that could not be dealt with in any other way. It no longer mattered if she would loose trust in all of the people involved, her ego was twisting her in knots and was now reaching out to infect everyone around- one minute lashing out in anger and indignation, the next clinging to us begging us to understand and help.
Today, I took refuge in my labyrinth walk. I used my time to meditate on acceptance and to simply rid myself of the dreadful, heavy, desperate, violent energy she had left on all of us. In that time, I knew there was nothing to do but wait for this horrid story to play out. Most likely with this girl in the hospital, because her ego will keep her from leaving- it will plant stories of self-loathing and fear and destruction until there is nothing but walls of cold, slimy terror around her, and hopefully, everyone she touches.
How many people go through this everyday? How many people do they drag into their circle of loathing and distortion? How much of this world's dysfunction is due to these out of control egos and their viral replication?
Perhaps instead of running to the store for Tamiflu, we should all be running to the Ashram for some meditation instruction!