My Ex is My Guru


I just got off the phone with my ex. Or, more accurately, she just hung up on me.

Now a phone call from my “baby mama” is never a pleasant experience, not by any stretch of the imagination. With all the lies, threats and accusations, there’s not a whole lot of actual communication that goes on. She mostly just yells over the top of everything I say. But more often than not, I am able to let it roll off my shoulders and stay Zen.

Today, not so much.

Today I’m gritting my teeth. Today I take the phone and hurl it across the room (toward the sofa, of course—I’m pissed-off, but not so much that I’m gonna destroy my phone). I feel a roiling in the pit of my stomach; a bitter emotional stew, the primary ingredients of which are frustration, anger, helplessness and hate.

Yeah, I said it. Hate.

The realization of it shocks me. I’m feeling hate right now. I didn’t even know I was capable of that.

In spiritual circles, even the more open-minded ones where we talk about “allowing all of our feelings,” hatred is still pretty taboo. No one talks about it, except of course when they are talking about terrorists, or racists, or religious fanatics. You know, “Them.” The other guys. The bad guys.

Well I’ve discovered hatred in me. And I’m allowing it. I’m accepting it. I’m sitting with it, listening to it, and seeing what it has to teach me…

You may not know it from looking at me, but I’m a “bad guy.”

I’m a bad guy because I walked out of a toxic relationship with the mother of my child. Or, as she puts it, “I abandoned her.” I’m a bad guy because I filed for full-custody as she bounced in and out of jail and rehab, and at least five different homes. “I took her child away from her.”

I have ceased to be a human being in her eyes. I have become an enemy, a villain, a scapegoat; the monster that “ruined her life.”

And as I sit with this hatred that I’m feeling, it becomes clear to me that I have done the exact same thing. I look at her and I see a face twisted with rage. I see a maelstrom of hurt, anger, addiction and violence; I see the pain and turmoil that it has caused my little boy.

What I often fail to see is a human being, a living soul, a child of the universe, just like me.

This is how racism happens. This is how rape happens. This is how hate crimes, gang violence and church bombings happen. As I look at this drama, this dance of pain between my ex and I, I can see the root and the seed of all war, terrorism, slavery and suffering.

There is no “them.” There are no bad guys. There’s just us. All of us together, living, loving and hurting as one. Learning and growing, slipping and falling, and finding our way back home.

Maybe my ex is my guru.

She’s not enlightened. She doesn’t wear monk’s robes or have a Sanskrit name—but nobody attacks my ego so effectively, so relentlessly. She doesn’t study the dharma or practice meditation—but she is a clear and perfect mirror for all of my anger, resentment and frustration.

She is showing me my attachments, my defenses, my illusions. She is teaching me to let go of my stories, my self-image. You know, stuff like I am wise, I am peaceful, I am “spiritual,” I am a good person, a good father, all that jazz.

Looking into the inner darkness takes me beyond good and bad, right and wrong; beyond the concept of self to the reality of Self. I Am That I Am.

My ex is my guru. So is my son, and my beloved. So are my friends and family, my neighbors, and all the people I work with, worship with, drink with, laugh with, talk with and cross paths with. As are the authors I have read, many long dead. And you, my readers and friends. And everyone who has touched my life in any way.

You have taught me. You have molded me. You are a part of me.

I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you. Please forgive me.

Thank you for being the doorway through which I come to know the whole spectrum of love, sadness, fear, ecstasy, and yes—even hate. My experience of human life would not be complete without you.

I love you.


~ Ben


22 thoughts on “My Ex is My Guru

  1. Ben, this is beautiful and so true. One of the best ways that I’ve learned through life to deal with hatred and all negativity towards others is to look at them as “gurus” of teaching, of personal transition and growth. Brave piece. Namaste.

    • Thank you Jen. I honestly try to see the divine in others, to remember that every moment is a dance with God. Some people make that pretty hard, lol!


  2. Great post. I’ve been there. Sometimes the people that hurt you are the ones who teach you the most. It takes a lot to get to that realization though.

  3. This was so powerful, and also one of the things I’ve been learning as well and that is about the darkness that resides within, right besides the light. There is something to learn from everything. Sending much love, peace, and light your way Ben! Big big hugs as well! 🙂

  4. To act with kindness in the face of blind, addicted, emotional molestation, is not honest. When people of import loss control of their functionality they must be treated with curt reality only. Any conversation that extends beyond the only thing that remains in common, the child’s well being, should be a conversation stopper. Those who are unconsciously driven should be handles with operand-conditioning. They must know that all communication ends when their emotions become out of hand or the topic strays from the child. Don’t hang in their hoping for the best and trying to be conciliatory. You are not communicating with yourself here she doesn’t understand cognitively what you are talking about.

  5. I have one of these gurus, too. Since he is actually a sociopath, I struggle, but I keep trying to learn the lessons he’s here to teach me. Our relationship was no accident and neither is the way things stand now. I know he’s doing me lots of favors, but I have difficulty staying focused upon them.

    Love & Light to us all.

  6. This was really great to read right now…I just found your blog from your recent post on EJ and I’m glad I did! I believe all the people in our lives, particularly those with whom we become entangled, are teaching us what we need to grow. It’s hard to accept, but if we can, life becomes so beautiful, raw and imperfect that it connects us more deeply to our true nature. I can’t wait to read more poems and essays on your blog.

  7. Wow. Great writing. And in total agreement of learning from ex’s, anger, etc. Also read your elephant journal piece on new moon / loneliness (it is referred under my elephant article 🙂 again, well written and enjoyed.

  8. if someone knows true love from within and without
    they finally see their shadows…if you run from them
    they getting longer, harder in the lessons…
    I went through life never hating, not allowing my kids to say it when they were little, I didn’t want to have a speckle of that energy anywhere near me, for I have been hated…feared… because I was worked for over 50 years…then I found my twinflame in this
    blissful unhappiness I had created…and as one feels that flame
    everything changes…you see clearer, feel more….
    and when betrayed, lied too…you finally taste the hate hate…
    you are so right on tasting it, it is a vile taste…neither sweet nor sour
    then as you drink and eat of it you realize if you see hate as an object or human, then you can reverse your thoughts, emotions and feel the love that person so desperately needs, but doesn’t know how to receive it…for fear is a powerful energy in its shields around them…

    a wonderful thought-thinking post you have shared with us…
    very wise….
    I hope you are well in your part of the world…
    and I wish for you all the best that is Yet to Be…
    Take Care….You Matter…

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