No, neither my wife nor my ex-wife were like the female Ghost. But I have had a relationship like that: where a woman close to me was more interested in her image of me than to who I really was.
It is a strange form of selfishness, because it seems selfless. Someone wants the best for you, has a clear idea of what that is, and pursues it – with the goal of your own benefit. In the unseen male Ghost’s case, it furthered his career. Seems, at worst, bossy, but still benevolent. But, in truth, I think this is a far worse evil to visit upon a person than to just outright dislike him, or ignore him, or disapprove of his choices. The problem with the “I only want what’s best for you” approach is that it’s really just a projection of ego. It’s not love.
It is a trap parents fall into, particularly. I try not to slip into it with my own kids, and have (I think) reasonable goals for their futures… and when those don’t work out, I’ll still love and support them. So, I think we can maintain a healthy joy.
The female Ghost is so attached to her (now ex) husband that she cannot accept either her joy or his, without the continuation of their toxic relationship. I say “ex” because marriage ends at death, though she seems to not understand this, perhaps not realizing that she has died, or more likely being unwilling to accept that their relationship has ended, because it is how she has defined herself.
A Sign of the Times
This sort of thing seems less likely in the modern era, where a woman can have a career and have more of her own identity than a typical woman could in Lewis’ time. Still, the lesson of projected ego is valid. I am not my wife, my kids, my company, or even my church. I can love them and support them and pray the best for them, and if they fail, it does not mean I have failed. But that can be a very hard distinction to maintain, without a healthy ego of my own to fall back on.
Definition of Love
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, English Standard Version
It has been my experience that, for someone to not insist on his own way, he has to be confident – that is, to have some healthy self-love – or be self-hating and spineless. In the example of the Ghost and her husband, she was self-hating (I am nothing without my husband’s socially-validated success) and he was spineless (Yes, dear).
This is the part of Christ’s commandments that is usually overlooked.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
To love your neighbor as yourself, you have to love yourself. Now, in most situations, this is assumed. “Of course I love myself! I’m awesome!” But in truth, a lot of people do not love themselves. Love is an active verb, and it is clear that many, if not most, people act in ways that are not self-loving. When people abuse themselves through drugs, food, debt, wrong sex, cutting, or suicide, they are not loving themselves, and render themselves less capable of following either of these core commandments.
How can you love God if you hate yourself? How can you be grateful to your creator if you feel your very existence is misery?
Modern Day Example
Charlie Sheen acts happy, but I assure you, he is not. He has to keep that ego-bloated, drug-addled act going, for without that and the entourage that enables it, he will have to look in the mirror, and it will not be full of “Winning.” I hope, at that time, he and God can have a conversation. Not my God, or my religion-defined version of God – just God. That presence every living thing knows, with or without a church or all the baggage that can come with that (and which he would reject out of hand, regardless). That could be a fascinating transformation… or just validate a Messiah complex.
We’ll see. 🙂