VII. The Needless Sacrifice, P 9
9 Suffering and sacrifice are the gifts with which the ego would “bless” all unions. And those who are united at its altar accept suffering and sacrifice as the price of union. In their angry alliances, born of the fear of loneliness and yet dedicated to the continuance of loneliness, each seeks relief from guilt by increasing it in the other. For each believes that this decreases guilt in him. The other seems always to be attacking and wounding him, perhaps in little ways, perhaps “unconsciously,” yet never without demand of sacrifice. The fury of those joined at the ego’s altar far exceeds your awareness of it. For what the ego really wants you do not realize.
What a stark picture Jesus paints of our special relationships. As I read these words, I could see how they are true as I remembered my previous marriage. At the time, it seemed that we had a mixed bag of good and bad with the bad slowly becoming the norm. But there was also love and kindness in the relationship and many good things.
Still, I can see now that it was never a purely loving relationship. It was built on the fear of loneliness and yet we did things to each other that kept us from truly joining and thus relieving the loneliness.
We were not deliberately unkind or cruel to each other; it was more that we wounded each other out of thoughtlessness and defensiveness. We threw guilt at each other without even realizing it and later in the marriage we more deliberately sought to make the other guilty. And, oh, how we demanded sacrifice of each other.
What I did not understand about the dynamic is that it was driven by the need to off-load all that unconscious guilt in my mind. I was making him guilty so as to decrease the guilt in my own mind. I didn’t see that at all, but understanding it now, it makes perfect sense. It is simply what the ego mind does, and particularly at the end of the marriage, I was operating from my ego mind more than from my holy mind.
My entire life has been one of entering into special relationships for the purpose of using others to relieve my loneliness and my guilt, generally at their expense. But since I began to study A Course in Miracles, it has also been one in which I have allowed those relationships to be transformed by the Holy Spirit.
It has been a slow, sometimes painful process, but I feel like I have accomplished much. Now I that I am aware of the ego use of relationships, I catch these beliefs so much faster and I know what to do with them. I give them to the Holy Spirit to be undone. My relationships are becoming truly loving. They are not without the ego’s influence, but they are closer to being the holy relationships we are meant to have.