A Type Four: Recovering from One’s Patterns
I consider myself to be a Recovering Type Four. This means that through many hours of introspection, meditation practice, spiritual and psychological study and processes, being delivered into healing experiences from those who love and care for me, asking for and getting help from On High, hours and hours of support in reframing my particular imagination swamps, and through the kindness and care of so many loving friends and allies, that I ‘came to.’ That is, I arose out of the turbulent torrents of my inner life, and landed on a more stable and solid ground within myself. This is a miracle for which I am deeply grateful. Many times I felt that I would never arrive, that I was too late, that the connection I sought within and without would never, ever, ever occur.
But it did.
The list of helpers is long. The efforts they made to help me become more sane and reasonable and relaxed and joyful, were many. My encouragement to other Fours: if you can, don’t give up. Or if you must, just give up for a day. Find your way home. Exercise regularly to ground presence in the body. Learn to sense your body and its aliveness. Do yoga so that your body is supple and energized. Eat food that carries the life force. Laugh at yourself when you can. Be merciful to yourself for the many confounding and perplexing knots of misunderstanding that you find your consciousness strangled and tortured in. Be patient. Meditate and learn to quiet the mind, and to develop the ability to observe yourself. Don’t get angry or despondent over what you observe. The traps you discover within were not created by you. They were inherited, so although you are challenged to tame them, they are not your fault. You’ve done nothing wrong. When you were a little boy or little girl you didn’t decide to dawn the suit of the Type Four and to be confused, filled with longing, unable to name your longing, or be captured in the epic waves and storms of the Type Four. No, you just inherited these patterns. So if you can, learn to relax into your imperfections. You are art in progress and although it will seem that it is going to take forever to finally relax and be at ease in your own skin, to feel joy and the fulfillment of connecting with your life purpose and those who you are to journey with, every effort you make will draw you closer to what your heart seeks (As Gurdjieff said, no effort is ever wasted.). Get healthy guides to support you. Read Rumi to be reminded of all that is good, both the agony and the ecstasy. Listen close to Pema Chodron and learn the amazing art of unconditional friendliness towards your humanness. Study the Dalai Lama and Reverend Desmond Tutu and nurture joy, humor, and compassion for self and others (all of us travel blind until we don’t). Use the Enneagram as a map with its signs that point towards home, and signs that point towards hell. Don’t beat yourself up when you are gravitationally pulled towards hell yet again. And again. It will happen but as you gain eyes to see, this will shift. Slowly. Learn what must be done when you become tangled in the quicksand of your lightning-quick, tar-thick patterns. You will, eventually, become your own Jedi knight and master. It’s learnable, that’s the good news. And surround yourself with healthy people. Fact; You will be as healthy as the people and influences you place yourself under. And you will discover from time to time, that those whom you trust will fall into the mire of their own suffering or lightning-fast patterns, or no longer carry the presence they once did, and thus can no longer guide or lead you. Let them go. Pray for them. People rise and fall all the time. It’s called being human. And as you will realize: while you are working on transformation at a workshop or with a spiritual practice, your type-patterns are in the parking lot doing pushups and gulping down energy drinks and developing a new level of invisibility to challenge your complacency and your ego. (And to ensure you stay right-sized!) They are tough-as-hell opponents.
Remember too, as my teacher said to me–smiling of course–the farther along the spiritual path you travel, the more spiritual wisdom and experience you acquire, the better your BS will be when you are triggered. It will be so good that you too will be convinced of your great wisdom. Not to worry. This will happen. But…keep people close to you who can remind you when you’ve vanished into the fog-haze of your ego. This will cut your suffering in two! But fall you will, because it’s part of the learning and the training in humanness.
There is no linear formula or map that anyone can give you. (And remember, the Enneagram map is not the territory!) It’s four steps forward, three steps back, two steps to the side, three steps forward, nine steps to the side, ten steps down into an unseen hole, ten steps up and out…and on and on. (This is the result of God’s great sense of humor. I am certain of this!) You, through your efforts, must put together the path home to yourself. Although it is tempting to copy others, it won’t work. But you can try different methods and techniques to see what works for you. What works for another may not work for you. That’s okay. It’s just the way it is. And remember, only believe what you have proven as a fact for yourself. Don’t blithely believe because it reassures you at the moment. This would be called Idiot Wisdom. Challenge every idea! Discern what is true for you. This is your responsibility. Buddha, Gurdjieff, and others all emphasized this responsibility that each of us has to discover what is true for us.
Okay, you’ve got this. Time to go on a spree, to go whole-hog!
And speaking of loving companions let me introduce two forces of love who have transformed my heart, beloved Donna, my wife of 25 years, a deeply loving, sincere, and courageous Type Two. And Chloe, a peacemaking, balanced Type Nine, equally courageous, sincere, and compassionate. Between the two of them, I have hit a jackpot. To them, I owe my opening heart. Thank you!