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!