September 8 unravelled a piece of my life that put me into action mode. Fix it. Save it. Hold it. Tape it together. It’s ok now, as I write now on November 16. It was never my little family at risk. And, in the two or so months since I’ve realized it was always my little family at risk. Because, what happens to us when things get difficult can often bring out the worst of our coping mechanisms.
In the midst of responding, I also attended a (previously) planned trip to the Why Christian conference in Chicago with the 1 day Enneagram immersion added on to the front. Many of my colleagues are Enneagram nuts and I love a method of understanding human behavior. The day was intense, simply from the constant receiving of information about the 9 types of personalities of the system. My number was presented third of the day, a part of the gut triad. As Susanne Stabile began describing my number, I began to feel nauseous. Like, woah, what it happening sick to my stomach. (Remember, I’m part of the gut triad.) As she continued teaching, I thought to myself, I better keep listening to all the numbers so that I make sure to identify with the right one. So, if you know anything about the Enneagram, you probably know my number by this point in my reflection. I’m a 1, the perfectionist, the reformer. The one who hears the voices of negative self-thought and the obsessive-taunts of ‘should’ circling my head, all. the. time. The best image I’ve come up with is the bubbling pink slime from Ghostbusters that emanates negative energy and overwhelms all it touches.
Identifying my number, and the wealth of reflection about best practices and hopeful responses to who I am couldn’t have come at a better time. It feels an awful lot like discovering what it means to be a child of an alcoholic household. That was ground-breaking for me and only came about due to a trauma that catapulted me into counseling for the first time. Speaking of being a child of an alcoholic household (and all that entails), being a 1 connects with being the oldest ACOA in a family. And, the negative coping mechanisms are similar.
For the past two months, I’ve squashed my feelings and absorbed as much as I can to make sure others are ok. (FYI, I don’t hide my feelings well. But, I think I’m squashing them nonetheless.) That’s lead to me having a couple (strong) drinks every night at home in order to zone out of that deep hole and relax. I know that’s not the way to respond in a healthy way. And, I did it. I did it cause it’s easy, because it’s familiar and because I felt cornered by emotions and didn’t want to confront them. This self-defeating behavior feeds my negative stream of consciousness about myself. And the cycle is awful. The shame and self-directed anger is awful. And, so now I feel a little closer to understanding my dad, the alcoholic who drank in seclusion every night when he got home from a job that wasn’t his dream and held tight to his promise not to be the parent that he had. So, he hid. And drank. I often want to feel close to him as he’s been dead since 2001. This really wasn’t what I had in mind.
Back to the Enneagram. I’ve committed to a detox of all things that feed my shame cycle. So, no booze. No personal facebook. And I’m really beginning the reading of The Road Back to You. I intend on blogging my journey. Here we go.