The Enneagram, first impressions and thoughts

Well today Richard Rohr’s book on the Enneagram was delivered, but thanks to thewonders of technology, I have also acquired a kindle book on the subject which sets out the history and basic understanding of this process for understanding personality types, and I also downloaded an app on my iPad that has a self test in it to analyse what type or types I am.

I am not sure it is helpful but I took the test and my result is mainly 9 the Peacemaker, with large parts of 5 and 6 thrown in too.  So I am an instinctive type, not a thinker at all, who would have guessed?  And I am a peacemaker, well thatbegs many questions – personality is largely developed in our early years, so who or what was I trying to make peace with or for?

Any way it is early days in my new study, but as you may see this has the potential to unearth some heavy stuff.  I am also wondering how it will fit in with my search in to the mother wounds?

2017 looks to be shaping into an interesting year.

Another year begins

New Year’s Day!  Every year begins with this day, a day full of hope and expectation and for some headaches and regrets too. But why have we developed a tradition that things can be changed by how we approach each new year?  In my life I have now seen 60 of these days some I recall but most came in with a blaze and fizzled out before the end of January!  As I look back at those lost opportunities and failed resolutions, I ponder what do I want to do differently this year?

I do not have any blinding light insights, but I do have a sense of wanting to change!  It is not that I want to throw everything away and start off on some wild adventure, but rather I want to hold onto the good I have found, discard the dross (identifying this could be what this year is really about for me) and growing deeper and stronger in my faith, my understanding of myself and my relationships with those peoplewho are or will be significant in my life.

So as I face the new year ahead I have resolved to start by understanding an area of knowledge that I had previously rejected.  A dear friend of mine has pointed me back to it recently, it is the enneagram.  I rejected it previously because somehow it uses maths and logic to try to interpret what I feel is emotions and intangible inner stuff.  Also the majority of writing on this subjecttends to be very ‘Greek’ in its origins and has little basis in my faith.  But as John E points out in his Restoration of the Heart series we actually need both the psychology and the faith based healing to truly deeply heal ourselves.  So this year I need to learn something new from the psychology school of thought.

I have sent for Richard Rohr’s book on the subject and will start upon its arrival which Amazon tells me will be next week.

I will try to report my understanding here and maybe log somenew growing and deep healing.  I certainly hope so.

Mother wounds and disloyalty!

Last night was midwinter solstice and I was nearly blindsided and walked blindly into a serious mistake with my wife.

She was awake in the middle of the small hours of the morning and snuggled up to me and was fondling my chest and belly in what she felt was a seductive fashion, but to me it was simply irritating and keeping me awake. I told her that it was not doing anything for me! And she felt hurt and rejected and she let me know. Then a whole bunch of feminine logic followed with links being formed from this night to secretive behaviours which she felt showed that in some way I was not invested in our marriage.

I was awake then! 
I sensed a crisis in our marriage. She demanded a response, but I was silent which just infuriated her, I prayed desperately for help. Then I started to talk about how she sometimes raised feelings within me that felt like my mother controlling me as a young boy and it made me retreat.

This opened a number of doors to understand and led wonderfully to us finding communication again.

I explained that I think there are probably young parts of me which still feel controlled by ‘mothers’ and it is not really clear yet why that is. I said I feel like I missed a turn somewhere and I need to go back to find out where and why?

She asked if I felt abandonned like 5 year old Peter? I said no not really, but as I recalled that story a light shone on the point at which I had usually stopped and I watched as my mother gathered me to her chest and held on to me weeping and desperate. I saw this as the start of her ‘smothering’ behaviour and while I did not know it she clung to me from that day on.

My wife saw it though and asked, do you think your mother feared losing you?

I said I guess so and she always saw me as her baby. She asked, do you think she saw you as the one she could hold on to? (You may recall I am the youngest of three brothers)

I thought about my life growing up and spotted other times when Mum was late allowing me to grow into the next stage.

At 8 or 9 (My wife says this is a very formative age) Dad was away in Borneo and I was having to sleep in Mum’s bed! (I need to explore this one more but it feels significant, even though there are no memories of anything.)

At age 11 when moving to Exmouth and returning to school after being deployed in Singapore, I was still in shorts when all the others had long trousers.

At age 13 travelling to Penang when we stopped overnight, I slept in bed with Mum and Dad! Why?

I spoke of all these things and my wife felt included and we both saw how these things echo still in my behaviour. I said when my wife gets a controlling approach I retreat from her because all I hear is Mum and Mum had to be obeyed because she was always right and I extrapolated that to include all mothers!

I spoke of agreements then and we saw that this ‘Mother is always to be obeyed’ comment is an agreement, but I still need to find where and when I made that agreement.

I tried to review more of my life but felt ‘disloyal’ and I told my wife about that too. Disloyal to who? To Mum, or at least to the memory of her!

She understood that. I need to give myself permission to be angry at my Mum, somehow there is another agreement there!

And finally another thought this morning: following the sense that Mother was always right and had to be obeyed. I recall my Dad saying very firmly to ‘Do as your mother says’ and the threat was very apparent in his tone! This would have magnified the command and my undestanding as a young boy.

There is clearly a lot to explore here, and I sense a whole group of young lost boys awaiting their discovery from this, indeed I had a vision as I was waking of a dark basement with a small chink of light begining to break into it and I sensed the presence of a number of others in there.  I hope and pray that Jesus will guide me through all of this as He has before., it looks like Christmas could be far from peaceful at least internally.

Another piece of the puzzle

Today, after a long week in Hamburg with work, I was travelling home by plane and hadtime to listen to a few more parts of a set of recorded conference sessions, the conference is called Restoration of the Heart and is led by two well respected Christian leaders and counsellors – John Eldredge of Ransomed Heart and Dan Allender from the Allender Center.

The teaching in these sessions focuses on restoration and integration of the ‘lost’ parts, those split away parts that occur in our past due to some stressful or traumatic experience.  It is interesting that both John and Dan acknowledge that for many established clinicians and pastors working with disturbed people exhibiting what is now referred to as multiple personality, they do not recognise any real link to the trauma and certainly do not accept that there is healing available from Jesus, if handled in a sympathetic and guided manner.

What struck me as I listened to John speaking on the steps needed to integrate the ‘parts’ back into whole heartedness, was firstly that there is a need for reconcilliation between myself and the younger parts and maybe even between parts!  Also part of this reconcilliation needs to include giving and receiving forgiveness in both directions.  

As I listened and tried to apply what I was listening to, tears were welling up in my eyes and I knew something in my handling of the Lost Boys and their stories was unresolved.  I asked God, what is this about?  And he reminded me of a key word that had come up repeatedly for me over the past week or so.  The word is – misunderstood.  I am not going to explain the context of this word, but Jesus pointed out that each of my Lost Boys and a few in particular suffered from being misunderstood and he then said ‘and you have misunderstood their stories too!’ Wow!  

I paused and thought about what he said and it began to dawn on me that in my haste to learn their stories and to find a way to ‘deal’ with the issues, I had taken short cuts and that now my boys are feeling misunderstood all over again!

I have not yet had time to return to these young parts, but I have to find space and time to revisit them and listen better and gain proper understanding and see where Jesus is leading rather than rushing off to where I think he is leading.

It could be a long winter!  But at least I now have another piece in the puzzle.

Post Script edit:  

I was walking the dog this morning and enjoying the bright sunny, crisp winter morning and trying to get to speak with the Lost Boys and especially Pete7, who incidentally was only 6 when his part of the story unfurled.  I was hoping to try to gain understanding but he did not want to be helpful.  Then after I pleaded with him to tell me what ever he wanted to, i heard him say ‘what’s the point? You will not listen to it anyway, nobody listens to me!’

Wow, that message seemed to chime deep in my soul, and Jesus looked at me and said ‘It’s true you know, you never listen to what your own heart is saying, you just stuff it away and conform to the demands of whoever is ‘more important’ than you, whoever has the ultimate decision.  You never allow your voice to really be heard.  Why is that?’

I thought a while and Pete7 rose up and said, ‘ because others have already decided anyway, what is the point? ‘ And I felt agreement from so many of the other boys too.   

I sense a theme here, that so many of my Lost Boys feel unheard, not listened to, by me, by others by whoever but their hearts were simply not heard and as a consequence not ‘seen’, and over the years my answer has been to withdraw and keep it all to myself.  I still do it to this day.

And another thing I notice in the accusing words of young Pete7,  I have adopted the habit of not listening to ALL of what is said, I reach what I perceive as an understanding too early, before they (whoever they may be) have finished saying all they have to say, I need to stop doing that!

Signpost, not the destination!

Today I had another revelation, it is odd how my life works that way, I go for an age without hearing or seeing anything particularly spiritual, then after some powerful breakthrough it is like I am properly tuned in to Him again.

Anyway the revelation: I was reading a devotional about the abundent life and considering the friends I have who are struggling to make ends meet, let alone possessing the abundent life Jesus promissed and just wondering what it all means.

The author of the devotional looked at John 10:10 – the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy but I came that all may have life to the full

She looked at the word life which in greek is ‘zoe’.  And she explained that her research had found it to mean the spiritual well eing imparted by God to His followers.  It is not wealth and provision as we are so badly misinformed.

I then thought back over my life and the times I have tried to ‘help’ others to recieve the life they deserve, and I heard:

Your job is not to provide the ‘life’, your job is to point them to me!

As I have thought about this I can see a number of times I have got in the way of God’s purpose by trying to provide what only He can, my job is to be a signpost NOT the destination!

I am not a falure

Well this week has seen me discover another agreement that has permeated my life and affected me for most of my life, an agreement that is glaringly obvious now that I have identified it, but that I simply had not seen even during the times of healing that Papa has brought to me in the past years.

For me this just exemplifies the layers of healing that is required like peeling back an onion, once more.

Okay to the story behind this, for some time I have been struggling with my faith and with prayer and devotions.  My lifetook a knock a few years ago and I retreated into my safe and protected place, which has been my default defence mechanism for as long as I can remember.

But Papa is patient and persistent and the past months I have felt Him nudging at me and calling me to return to His presence.  If I am honest I had a trust issue with Him, I had followed where He led me before and the result had been a very scary and difficult issue in my life and I was blaming Him at least in part.  The truth is farmore complicated than this very simplistic description but that was where I was and Papa was calling to me, to come out and speak with Him.

Well I finally did venture into His presence again and as usual He was gracious and loving and I took up the discipline of devotions and tried to pray again.

During one of these prayer times this week I had the following experience and it has opened this whole new sense of healing:

For some time now I have felt Sarayu nudging me to revisit the Lost Boys and look deeper into their stories which of course is my story.

Today as I awoke and I prayed, I saw gathered the demons that are tormenting the life of my dear friend, Chaos and Fear and a cohort of lesser demons. I chose to join the battle and together with Pete32, Pete18 and Pete7 and some of my friends defensive parts, we advanced and defeated the demons. It seemed straight forward and natural.

At one point in the fight I was close to Pete32 and I looked him in the eyes and said, when this is done we need to talk some more and he nodded.

After it was done and we were sat around I raised it again, saying I need to revisit our story again and understand more of how you feel about it. 

We slipped away and I asked him, ‘Can we go back there to that hospital room that moment when we knew Sean was going to die, what were you feeling? Yes I remember the dread and the knot in our gut, but what is the answer to that question If I let Him in here …. what?’

‘What are you feeling Pete?’

There was a pause and then a strangled word – failure!

And there it was like a beacon in the night. That is it. The one thing I had missed again and again.

In all my life events that gave birth to the lost boys this was the agreement I had made and was living under – 

I am a failure!

And just as John E says, it is a lie! It is from the enemy and it is his doorway into my life.

I reject it, I break the agreement that I am a failure, I am a beloved son of God, I am resolute even in defeat, I am stronger because I failed, but I am NOT a failure, I am His work in progress, it is not yet over, it is not finished and I am not finished.

I then revisited each of the ‘boys’ and repeated the rejection of that agreement and spoke the words of affirmation over them too.

Finally I turned to the newest Lost Part of my heart, Pete56.

He sat quietly awaiting me and smiled as I approached holding something in his hand. I said to him ‘And you are not a failure either.’

‘Really?’ He asked, ‘then what do you make of the disaster I created? It was a recipe for failure. I either failed to help ‘her’ or I failed as husband to Sue’.

I said, ‘I did not say you had not failed, I said You are NOT a failure! You are not the end of that story, it is not over yet, life continues and Papa is still at work.’

‘You are His beloved son, you are Faramir, Prince of Ithilien! It is not over until He says so! You are needed.’

‘Now let go of that’, and I pointed to his hand.

He looked down at his clenched fist and smiled then slowly opened it and let a bright piece of metal slip through his fingers. It landed on the floor and shattered.

And for the first time in a long time I felt lighter. Almost weightless.

And now in obedience to Sarayu’s prompting I am sharing this here, I am not even sure anyone is still following this blog, but I am following promptings again now and so here it is.

A year of renewal?

On Tuesday 20 September 2016, at 01.40, my second Grandson was born to my second daughter.  It has been a long and at times difficult pregnancy but now little George has arrived and all the discomfort and anxieties have been forgotten and a new life, for him and for his parents has begun.

And onceagain I find myself in pensive mood, wondering what all of this change, this renewal means to or for me?  It is really a rhetorical question but there is also a part of methat is wondering – what am I supposed to be doing in this fast changing world full of technology and peoplewrapped up in theirgadgets morethan each other?  How exactly do I fit in? And where, and with whom?

Please do not misunderstand me, I am not despondent or despairing, neither am I particularly morbid, although I would be lying if I said that George’s birth just like Dylan’s has not brought back memories of our Son Sean and some of the questions I had then are still very raw.  But I guess I am now officially at that age when a man takes stock and tries to make some sense of his life and tries to define what is really important and how does he want to spend the next season of life.

One thing I know is that time really is short and precious and wasting it is NOT high on my priorities!

Turning 60, what does it mean to me?

This year, 2016, is my 60th year, on the 14th of August this year I reached the landmark age of 60 years old.

I recognise that other people I have known and do know, have reached landmark years at an earlier age, for Sue it was 40, but for me 60 has turned out to be that time when I look around and ask the heavy questions like: what is it all about? What have I achieved? What do I have left to do? And have I left anything behind as a legacy?

So I have got very reflective these past months and I have decided to try to capture some of those thoughts here, not really to share them with any readers that may still be following this long defunct attempt at blogging but rather because I need somewhere to write and I feel that in making this at least partially public I will try to keep it balanced.  So here goes.

Yesterday, I was a Facebook user, I had been on Facebook for well over 10 years and I had a list of ‘friends’ all around the world.  Yet as I reviewed what I read and what I posted I felt like Solomon as he wrote that famous passage ‘vanity, vanity all is vanity!’  As I said above I turned 60 on 14 August and it has been my experience that your ‘friends’ send birthday greetings, but not one of my ‘friends’ did.  Now that could be due to some privacy setting I made which did not send them a reminder and I am not blaming any of them, but what it showed me is that if a ‘friend’ does not know your birthday and your age, and has to rely upon social media software to remind them of it, then in truth they are not really friends.  So today I am no longer a Facebook user, because I see it for what it is, it is a sham and a counterfeit for friendship.

I have enjoyed some wonderful chats with folks on the other side of the world through Facebook, and it has been fascinating to watch what catches other people’s imaginations and attention but the truth is there are no friendships built or maintained in Facebook.  The adage is true, you make time for what is important to you.  And I have decided that Facebook is simply not important to me any more and I am reclaiming the time I was spending there.

There are a few people (and one in particular) who I shall miss there, but I hope that I shall find a more relational way to keep in touch with them and indeed I am hopeful that some may come here.

We live in a world of social media, yet what do we really get from it?  I watch my children and other people gazing into a phone screen or tablet and wonder what is it that keeps their attention so much of the time?  Then I stop and consider my own life, I too spend hours gazing at a lighted screen, and for what?  Yes I read the news, but then I am simply experiencing what someone else has decided is important to me!  I read emails and some of them really are important to me, but a lot is just marketing or advertising and I certainly do not need to be tied to emails.  Messaging is perhaps a more intimate and relational interaction in that it is at least in real time and there is a real flesh and blood friend on the other end, so I will keep those channels open for future use. But the rest I plan to do without.

Over the past few months I have looked back at times when an ‘online community’ has been really important in my journey and those times have been associated with some sort of Forum community, and I still see the benefit of those indeed I miss my time spent in Ransomed Heart Forums which was sadly closed down.  I even spent some time exploring setting up and hosting a replacement for that Forum, but then I felt God say ‘The time for that is past, it is gone, let it go’, so I will just have to miss the interactions that were there, but I hope some of the folks I knew from there will be a part of my journey going forward too.

A time of introspection

I had forgotten how helpful a time of introspection can be, in fact I have missed it.
Since starting on the journey to review my more adult life journey through the time since I married Sue, I have rediscovered the art of pausing to listen to my heart and what is going on inside.
I have to say that there are some things I glimpse that I am not ready or willing to explore deeper yet, but I am rediscovering just how patient and gentle Sarayu can be too. Patient in bringing to the surface things that really need to be addressed, gentle at reminding me of things she said before and lessons I had forgotten.
Lessons like trust, faith, and hope.
Recently she reminded me of a life verse that I have ignored these past few years: Is 31:10 those who hope in the Lord will rise up on wings like eagles!
I know that is a paraphrase but that is the way I remember it, rising up like an eagle! I even have a painting based upon that verse on my dining room wall, yet I have chosen not to look at it.
So asking the next question- why?
Hmmmm that is not so simple to answer. I got hurt, hurt by a situation that I thought was God’s will and that I thought I was following in faith and hope. But it did not work out how I had expected. And I and people very close to my heart were hurt. And I blamed God. And the enemy rushed in and told me I cannot trust Him! And I agreed!
I want to say here and now that even though I do not understand what went wrong or why, I was wrong to agree with the enemy, it was not God’s fault, and I can trust Him and I am learning again to trust Him more and more, step by step!
And so as I sit on the threshold of a new year, I resolve to trust Him more each day, and to have faith that He will work things out for good and that He will restore all that has been lost. I will live in faith and hope and trust Him to direct my steps and the steps of others to bring about His eternal purposes.
I apologise for the cryptic nature of this post, but some things cannot be openly discussed even in here.

The Enemy hates people to be happy!

Well I left you all wondering (well at least one of you) what happened to
Sue on the night of the birth of our first born child, and now I will relate the tale.
As I said Eleanor’s birth left me feeling like I was walking about 18 inches above ground, Sue on the other hand was tired, bruised, and in need of a good rest. Thankfully the nurses took Eleanor and cared for her and ushered me off home too.
I arrived home and made a few telephone calls (this was before we owned cell phones) to anxious parents and other relatives and then after celebrating the birth of my daughter I went to sleep.
I was wakened early in the morning following by the telephone.
The voice of our Doctor greeted me saying “there is nothing to worry about but your wife is shortly going into surgery.”
I asked why? And was informed that she had been bleeding throughout the night and had to have the op to drain out the blood and repair the vein that had been damaged in the birth.
He sounded embarrassed and well he should have as he had been the attending physician!
He said it will not take long and he would call me when she was out of surgery.
I hung up, I was stunned! I was also deflated!
The joy at the wonder of the new life in my hands was forgotten as I faced the very real possibility of being a single parent father!
I waited! And I waited and ……
Well eventually I would wait no more and called the hospital to be told that Sue was just coming out of the op and was fine and would recover enough for visitors this afternoon.
This was possibly my first experience of hospitals and I have to say it was not a pleasant one and even now it leaves me feeling anxious, anyway I spent an anxious morning tidying the house and shopping for gifts for Sue and Eleanor and at noon arrived at the hospital.
I walked onto the ward to be told that in view of my wife’s condition she was now in a side ward! I wondered at that but was led into a private room to find Sue in bed looking very pale and weak and looking at Eleanor who was in a bassinette beside the bed.
It was good to see her alive, I can tell you!
She told me the gory details of what had happened and then showed me her wound. Well her entire nether region was a multi colored bruise! Apparently a vein had been left unstitched and had bled out into her body all night. And when she complained that she felt unwell a nurse had told her, of course dear you just had a baby, go to sleep.
In the morning when the same nurse came to check on her the bed as Crimson and she turned and ran for the panic button!
Then the might of the health service rolled into action and a different obstetrician was called in to operate upon her to repair the damage.
We did not see our Doctor again that week, I guess he was somewhat embarrassed. If I knew then what I know now, I would have sued.

Any way suffice to say that Sue took many months to recover from that event and the early months of Eleanor’s life were very stressful indeed, but that is the next installment.