Le Super-Ego

Daily Prompt Shoulda Woulda Coulda Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t.

“eh Maertha? Your super-ego? Eet is very strong in you.”

“What’s a super-ego?”

“It’s the parent voice. In you, ze parent voice is very strong.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“Eet doesn’t matter. It is ze way it is.”

Ah France. My wonderful (and French) therapist, helping me deal with separating from my alcoholic brother.

“Ze problem is your super-ego, eet tell you, ‘take care of your brother.’ Eet does not say, ‘take care of yourself’. We need to wake up your ego a little bit so you feel OK about taking care of Maertha. If you don’t, who will, no?”

Lots of people spit out the cliché, “There are no shoulds in life.” That’s just not true. There are MANY shoulds and they’re good things. When I hear one hammering at me, I usually pay attention, because, yes; my super-ego IS strong and often right. “You should exercise. You will be able to walk better. You’ll look better and feel better.” I don’t argue. I just do it.

My super-ego is formidable for a good reason — I had to raise myself. This brought my parent self to the top of the power struggle between it and the id and the ego. There’s a downside to it, but the upside, in my life, is that I’m here. I’m comparatively sane and successful, and I haven’t completely fucked up my life. There’s a downside to a giant super-ego, but for the most part I’m grateful for it. It’s a giant EGO that tries to control other people. I giant super-ego is concerned with SELF-control, and godnose I need it. I’m a temperamental person.

My brother, on the other hand, tried to force our absent parents into do a job they couldn’t/wouldn’t and probably shouldn’t have taken on by remaining an infant. “You MUST care for me. It’s YOUR job.” That’s somewhat charming in a five year old. In a fifty-five year old it’s a death sentence.

So… There is not much I know I should do that I don’t do. If I don’t do something I should do (like replace my garage) it’s because for concrete reasons I can’t. That’s why I don’t understand people who feel “guilty” for eating ice cream when they’re on a diet. I don’t understand people who say, “I shouldn’t but you only live once.” I think those people should develop the cojones to say, “I want ice cream.” It’s ice cream, not a moral issue, right? I think they should shut up and enjoy it. 🙂


5 thoughts on “Le Super-Ego

  1. I think you get so used to looking after yourself that you no longer really notice that you do it. I left home for another country quite young and then it was I, my and myself – no question of should I, or could I, I just did it. I never thought of it as being a super ego, it was just I, me and myself going through life.

    • I agree. I haven’t met you in real life yet, but I have the sense that you’re a very balanced person. I wasn’t (I’m a lot better now). My super-ego was standing in the way of my looking out for myself. I was working four jobs, one of them was supporting my brother. I was exhausted and depressed and overwhelmed and it wasn’t helping my brother at all. I couldn’t see that because my “job” was taking care of my brother. It was what my super-ego was telling me I SHOULD do — a responsibility I took on as a child. I should have been taking care of myself. It was a strange realization but once I got it, I acted. It was very hard living with the action I took, but I got help.

  2. Well put. I get really tired of people acting like the biggest sin in their world-view is eating a piece of chocolate. If that really IS the worst thing they’ve done, they have had a very dull life.

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