Going to Angkor Wat is an experience that gets extended with other temples in the relatively nearby area. This photo was taken at Ta Promh, a temple complex that didn’t get the care over the centuries that most of the temple sites enjoyed. As a result nature has reclaimed so much of the site and salvaging some of the site is a challenge.
When I saw these roots almost devouring the walls of the temple, I couldn’t help but think of the temple as the self. I think back of the time when I was so focused on others that the foundations of my self was eroding. I have to admit that I didn’t think of balance in my own life. I assumed that all I had to do was to put myself fully into parenting, being a marriage partner, teaching and coaching and a community member and all would be well. Each of these things I did was something worthy and honourable. Each of these things gave meaning to life and had value to myself as well as to others. So, how was my attention to these things having my self break down?
First, I believed that it was right to be unselfish, I actually still feel the same way. Only thing was in the past, I mistook the meaning of being selfish as taking time for my own mental health, my own psychic health. In most things, this actually caused me no end of problems. Whenever anyone asked what I wanted, I always would respond with figuring out what the person wanted so that I would choose correctly. If I dithered long enough, or simply returned the choice back to the other person, the correct decision would be made based on the wants of the others. Most times I had no opinion, no desires, just the desire to please, to be of use, to affirm the choices of others. But not always.
This was the key point, for each time I had an opinion or a desire and I would defer to another person, it ate at something deep within me. Over time, my opinion stopped being solicited and that added to my sense of unimportance. I taught those around me that my opinion wasn’t needed, that only their opinions and needs were of value. With balance falling further and further away, I became easily upset and as a result angry with myself for feeling upset as it was me being selfish.
Dreams warned me of the dangers of my eroding psychic foundations, but I ignored the warnings and worked harder than ever to fill my life with family, school, sports and service. With the foundations eroding, the control I had over shutting shadow out was evaporating. I became more and more irrational. It was only because of my training in counselling as a psychotherapist that I finally recognised what was happening and took a “time out” in order to bring balance back, to repair the foundations.