Prelude to Penetrating the Dark

The Enneagram as a Tool for Addiction Navigation
Michael Naylor, M.Ed, CCS, LADC, CCPC, ET
Enneagram Center for Transformation and Well-Being, Copyright 2022

We enter addiction recovery in a haze of suffering, guilt, agony, and shame. Like an out-of-control meteor, we come bursting through the doors, thrown onto the floor, the blood and guts of our confusion spilling every which way. It is not an easy or peaceful landing. And yet there is something that has called us here. An inner knowing. Something inside us knows, deep within, that something very special awaits us. We can’t hold onto this optimistic thought for too long as we’ve grown to doubt these whispers. And, the truth is, we can’t tell what is real and true within us, and what is absolute and utter delusion and pure nonsense. Yet still, if we listen, we know that something is calling us. We simply haven’t learned how to listen to it.

Amid our horrific encounters with our addiction, it has touched us, if only for a moment. A thin thread, an inner glow, an inner magnificence, has spoken to us out of the haze of our inner turmoil. Sometimes we’ve even used alcohol, coke, heroin, to get whispers of this inner calling and mysterious something. Often, we’ve gotten it confused with our narcissism, and arrogance, and envy, and greed, and shame, and a whole host of emotions and passions that are merely distorted versions of something very precise and true within us, and which we will discover is a whole lot more satisfying and wonderful than these mistaken distortions, and replacement experiences. And yes, we’ve grown to hate our distortions and our desperate attempts to find ourselves, but truth is, they are reflections of something real, that is true, that is spacious and magnificent within us; that is—they are reflections of our True Nature. And it is this, more than anything, that we wish to resurrect, to embody, to be. And we can, this is the glorious good news. Whatever price we have paid to arrive at sobriety, it is a price worth paying. You got here, to the rooms of recovery, and glory be! The angels celebrate you! Even though, at first glimpse, you feel you have fallen backward over an abyss of hopelessness into a vaster abyss of emptiness. Cheer up. This is how we all arrive. This is the good luck charm, the holy- yes-entry into loving-kindness. In time this emptiness that feels so dark and dire will be the container that holds your uncontainable joy, love, awe, mystery, presence, possibility, and compassion.

You have entered this path of addiction recovery to discover the precious inner magnificence that is you. It is your birthright. To return to this precious place within yourself you must possess the right knowledge for the path can sometimes be wily, slippery, and unpredictable, and not to the liking of your personality (that dear collection of emotional, physical, and mental habits you developed to protect yourself from suffering that now must be shed, layer by layer, to bring you home). Oh, the irony—that what has protected you from suffering throughout your life has morphed into your current prison, blocking your magnificence, joy, and capacities. It is now what you must surrender. Like letting go of your addiction, which has also served to protect you and imprison you, it can feel like saying goodbye to a good and committed friend. Welcome to the land of the strange. And yet, it is all for a purpose and one that has been magnificently designed for you.

A.H. Almass, a wonderful teacher, put it this way: “The problematic situations in your life are not chance or haphazard. They are specifically yours designed specifically by a part of you that loves you more than anything else. The part of you that loves you more than anything else has created roadblocks to lead you to yourself. Without something pricking you in the side saying ‘Look here! This way!’ you are not going to go in the right direction. “ (Diamond Heart Book 1 by Almass). It is so true.

And if you can, remember, the journey home is filled with mysterious turns, twists, and hidden trenches. The expedition can look and feel as though you are sailing on the ocean towards a lighthouse in the distance where you will discover your freedom and your heart’s desire, but as you sail you notice that sometimes, due to the winds, tides, unexpected waves, and unforeseen variables (sharks, sea-monsters), that you must travel to the side or even backward, in the opposite direction of your destination…for awhile. Addiction recovery is not direct and linear like our minds and ego would prefer. It will frequently show up in this fashion: You get sober and clean and feel wonderful. But by and by, you encounter unpredicted suffering that throws you to your hands and knees, kicks your ass to kingdom come, such that who you thought you were is utterly destroyed, piece by piece (so you think, it’s just the dissolution of what is false in you). In the wake of these tumultuous transitions, you are forced to grow, to develop humility, to ask for help, to reach more deeply into your soul, to deepen the Being that you are. That’s just how it goes in the wild, wild, west of spiritual recovery and transformation.

You see, Spirit, God, the Divine, Forces Seen, and Unseen, wants you to develop miraculous flexibility such that you can ride the waves of anything you encounter with grace, compassion, skill, and adventurousness. And, as you navigate these very real, soul-humbling storms of your journey, your magnificence, your well-being, arises—it always does—if you do not despair and turn back (which you will want to do). Here, words by Gurdjieff suffice: “When you can be happy regardless of your circumstances, your inner work is done.” So easy does it and don’t give up!

Be forewarned: on this journey, you will meet your Inner Saboteur (think of Voldemort), that part of you that wants you to give up, throw a tantrum, be broken with despair, and return to your familiar inner prison. This character, wise as he was at one time, knows no better. He will surround you when you are on the verge of your most amazing leaps forward into what is best and brightest in you, and whisper, with utter and unshakeable conviction: “If you go forward one more step, you will be destroyed, annihilated, shamed beyond belief, eaten alive by red fire ants. You are screwed, dude, screwed!” He will, without hesitation, say whatever particular thing that will shake the rafters of your being with terror (“No one will love you if you step forward and grow, embody your inherent gifts, or be happy!”) so that it appears that embracing your God-given magnificence is a form of suicide. Better to stick with your predictable suffering, he whispers, screams, pleads, threatens, and concludes. Or, he will put you to sleep on the spot so that you forget where you are going! He’s mighty tricky, to say the least.                                                                                                                                                              

Listen, your Inner Saboteur means well. On the journey, you must befriend him and continue forward when he whispers “Death is near. Stop all action.” This is just his way of saying you are close to what you care about. On the verge of experiencing what is wonderful about life on planet earth. Close to falling in love with others and yourself. Past that huge Minotaur that has appeared out of nowhere, and just beyond the fiery abyss that also has appears out of thin air. Expect it!

So, the facts: As you move towards your magnificence you will encounter anything and everything inside you that obscures and blocks your entry into the fullness of your Being. This will be uncomfortable, painful, challenging, confusing as hell, and often you will feel as though you’ve fallen back into a deep and frozen ravine. Your Inner Saboteur will whisper: See, I told you so. These dips into the frozen abyss are proceeded and followed by experiencing the preciousness, magnificence, and joyousness of your True Nature. So, back and forth you will go. Enjoy the ride. It will carry on for some time, and sitting comfortable and relieved at year ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five of your recovery from and through your addiction, you will be knocked from the seat of your complacency again only to face deeper, darker, more difficult inner demons…for a little while (not forever!). Because liberation always follows. As Almass said, that part of you that loves you more than anything will do whatever it takes to bring you home until everything that hinders you is digested and you can sit in the freedom and spaciousness of your soul. In other words, don’t be discouraged, at least not for very long.

Next important fact: knowing your Enneagram Type will assist you in greatly and specifically understanding the nature of many of these soul transitions and opportunities for growth and expansion. It is a map to your soul that if correctly understood, will assist you in more gracefully navigating these inner and intense encounters with your soul. When utilized skillfully you will gain ‘inner’ eyes to see in the dark of your unconscious patterns, those wily patterns that don’t want you to evolve. Hey, it doesn’t get any better than this! You have walked on to the path of the hero’s journey.

It is for this expressed purpose that I, with the inspiration of many friends, have written this book.

So let us begin!

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