Poem, Alter Ego by Mark Tulin

That gnawing part of me
feels like a separate person,
an alter ego
that I can’t control.

He’s a friend who motivates
one day.
An enemy who causes guilt and anxiety,
the next.

I know he’s only trying to help,
defend my integrity,
make me strong in the eyes of the others,
but he takes a lot out of me—
peace and serenity.

He makes my mind ache
from those needless thoughts
and fruitless conflicts
that he drags me through.

All that fighting and competing
seem like such a waste of time.
So what if someone butts ahead of me?
Who cares if my coworker gets the promotion
I desired?

It should be, Good for them!
I should say, I’m so happy that you got
what you’ve been striving for.
Not, the minute they turn their back,
I can’t wait to get revenge.


I am an author, poet, humorist, and short story writer from Palm Springs, California. I write about various topics, from my early childhood in Philadelphia to my years as a family therapist and finally to my soul-searching in California. These are poetic narratives that may have humorous or serious content or both. Either way, I hope my poetry and stories resonate with you.

13 comments on “Poem, Alter Ego by Mark Tulin

  1. I love this one, definitely relate to it a lot.

  2. Wow, this one is sooo beautiful.

  3. Well, we are all socialized to constantly compete. From pretty much birth, we are taught to win, be better, stronger, and to recognize that there is a winner and the rest are 2nd placers or losers. Bad way to be conditioned/brainwashed. We don’t teach cooperation, and peace, or confidence. We don’t teach how to just be. We are always competing, winning, and wanting. We are purposely set against each other in so many ways. The prettiest, strongest, fastest, brightest, etc. Nightmare, that ruins a lot of lives. We need to teach peace and joy, cooperation and get rid of competition that NEVER ends. You’re just feeling the way you’ve been taught to feel. It’s good that you recognize it, so you can try and reprogram yourself, if you want to do that. If you do, you will forge a new path, that will bring you somewhere new, because you won’t be food for the media or bosses who want to chew you up. That’s what I think. When you leave the pack, you can also become dangerous because you are no longer controlled by the status quo. That’s the way I see it.

    • Yes, wouldn’t it be nice if we were taught cooperation, peace, and confidence. My personal focus is trying to be aware of when my ego is activated and not give in or react. Eckhart Tolle’s books have helped with that. I still have a way to go but at least I’m being mindful when it does happen. Thanks, hitandrun, for your excellent input. Much peace, Mark

  4. Alter ego’s are often our conscience!

    • Yes, you’re right Malcolm. I’m using it in a different way. More like our ego and not so much as a moral advisor. The way Eckhart Tolle describes the ego in his books and how it often gets us in trouble. Mark

  5. This was really good and when you get a handle on him let me know how you did it. Great read MFT 👍🏻

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