I see you. You matter.
In a medieval love story told by Chaucer, two young lovers, forbidden each other because of war and politics, catch each other's gaze from afar--and that gaze seems to be the beginning of their love story.
We love to look into each other's eyes; it is powerful.
But gazing is not always simple, loving, and mutual; it is sometime pandering, destructive, unequal. And there is an ugly power in "the male gaze"--a toxic form of machismo that focuses on bodies and body parts as objects to be owned through a lens of possessive looking.
Aggressive looking is, in fact, probably the OG bullying behavior. It is often aimed at someone who is about to get popped.
Looking changes reality
So--looking is not passive. It changes things--and those changes are measurable. They have a name: the observer effect, which simply means that very act of watching something changes it.
Even in Chaucer's story, the lovers themselves are gazed at, noticed, watched. Betrayal and tragedy unfold.
When we are looked at, we are vulnerable. And at the Enneagram 9-point, our bodies respond to that vulnerability by disappearing from view.
If we are not seen (even better, if we are not
If you can't see me, I literally don't matter.
At the 9-point, we become like Emerson's transparent eyeballs--where we see but are not seen. Our experience is a transcendent merging between our individual self and all that is.
We cease to exist as separate from the whole.
Making yourself "not matter" seems at first like the ultimate act of accommodating--but it actually more complex than that. The 9's self-erasing is rooted in the driving need for autonomy that 9's share with 8's and 1's (the other points in the Enneagram's body triad.)
(The body triad, by the way, is associated with the brain stem and is concerned with the body's instinctual need to exist, to have form--literally to be matter.)
And this makes sense, even though it also drives us crazy. If we are not seen--even better, if we are not seeable--then we cannot be threatened or changed by anyone but us.
Mothers especially are sort of pushed into the 9-point of inwardly apologizing for taking up space. For being matter. For mattering.
But the word mother comes from mater
Making mothers "not matter" is incredibly ironic because our English word mother comes the Latin word mater.
This truth is so powerful that we cannot bear it.
Virginia Wolf's Angel of the House is a 9-spirit at an unhealthy Level of Development. She "kindly" insists that we 9s, we women, we mothers, we others, we make ourselves not matter.
But we are matter.
And what does it mean to matter?
What does it mean to matter?
To know that we are matter?
To know that we are body, that bodies exist in space and time, that showing up in our lives means being vulnerable enough to be seen?
These are the most important, meaningful, and sometimes most difficult questions to address directly. So the invitation is to address them playfully and with curiosity, either in the comments below or in a workshop or or coaching session with me.
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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.