So I tried. I really did.
And everyone applauded me.
Everyone except my furious, scared-to-death daughter. Every time I got strong enough to spark, she attacked me with every bit of rejection-laced fury that her tough little body and tongue could hurl out at me.
And I knew in a vague and fuzzy kind of way that my daughter needed me to expand my dang consciousness.
I'm just so tired, said the echo of my patterns.
But by now it was just the two of us in the house, and my inner sanctum was wearing thin. My daughter felt rejected, exposed, unsafe.
My daughter will not become a thug.
Here are the words that I read and reread, fiercely determined to keep myself from falling back into stupor: Eights become more aggressive and belligerent, demanding that their energy be met. Nines respond by not responding: they go on emotional strike.
I kept finding the will to stop the bullying as it arose.
No. This will not happen. My daughter will not become a thug.
Seeing how destructive type-patterns might play out in my daughter’s life gave me the courage to stand and bear and confront her torrents of anger.
The paradoxical nature of living unstuck was playing itself out in me.
It was terrifying. It took every bit of strength and will and goodness and determination inside me. And it still would not have happened except that I loved my daughter with a fierceness beyond words, and her well-being mattered way more than my own false sense of who I was and what I was capable of doing.
Here's the short-course version of what I did:
And then – more lasting shifts.
Here is a big one.
I was at a dance. My daugher was with me because she was still just barely too young to stay by herself. She wanted to leave, and she was snapping at me, desperate to get me to do what she wanted.
But I was not about to leave. Dancing was bringing me back to life. She had her phone and some books, but this was not what she wanted. So she was being rude and obnoxious, snarling at me in front of my friends and fellow dancers.
Finally, I snarled back: “We are not going. And I am not going to speak to you until the end of the dance. You are being incredibly disrespectful.”
She fled in a controlled rage and stood in the doorway. A dancer I don’t know very well began to upbraid me for basic bad parenting. I looked him in the eye and told him he had no idea what he was talking about. He left, and I looked for my daughter, still in the doorway, still across the room from me. She was in full-out the protection mode: arms crossed, face a mask of toughness, body armored in her own energetic force-field.
I caught her eye. So bundled and tight, such a thick shell.
She saw me soften, saw me almost rise to approach her, to speak to her, to tell her how much I loved her.
Almost imperceptibly, she shook her head.
Don’t. You. dare. Talk to me.
So I sat down.
She needed to trust me. I had said I would not talk to her till the end of the dance, and I had darn well better follow through. Trust is a big one for 8s.
And by now I knew it.
So, as I said, I sat down.
And I saw my daughter relax across the room, where she stayed in the doorway until the dance was over. Then and only then, she approached and cheerfully helped me pack away my things.
I treated her during that time in ways that would’ve killed me if I were that age and in her shoes.
But her core fear (of being controlled) is very different from my core fear (of loss and separation).
And once I understood both my core fear and hers, I was able to act more skillfully, even though it meant dipping my toes into waters that felt me as if they would annihilate me.
This is why I said that the Enneagram gave me back my daughter.
(Who, by the way, is amazing.)
And maybe my son.
The jury is still out on that one. My son was in a Russian orphanage before my former husband and I adopted him at the age of 8. His life was not at all supported in any normal way. On the Enneagram, he’s a 4, which means all kinds of ambivalence around both the nurturing and the protective elements of relationship.
My part in making it probable to have an adult relationship with my son stands not entirely, but in a good amount, from the myriad forms of consciousness work that I’ve done, especially with the Enneagram, and from both of us understanding that even though my 9 patterns and his 4 patterns may want to run the show, we are free in any moment we choose not the patterned response to life, but life itself, as it emerges.
Lynnea (her Ph.D. being in English) shares her training and wisdom here, to help her gentle readers live freely and fully in the unfolding present.