Under the Surface
I guess you could say I’ve been picking away at the iceberg for years. For most of my life, everything looked great for the “me” that lives above the surface - controlled, strong, powerful, confident, charismatic. But the part of me that lived under the social “water line” was a hot mess. Even though people gravitated toward me (some would even say I had a following) I was profoundly lonely. The tip of my iceberg created distance. People were intimidated by me. I could not figure out why so many people experienced my passion as anger, my bent toward justice as preachy or my confidence as arrogance. Something was off kilter. Like, a lot off.
Underneath all of my swagger and certainty I felt unseen and misunderstood.
What was everyone’s problem? If everyone liked me so much why did no one want to just hang out, or invite me to dinner? Why were friends so hard to make? People wanted to be around me, I knew that. They felt good around me - at least most of the time. And yet…
I don’t remember the exact day I took my first Enneagram assessment but I remember that it was like putting an ice pick in my hand. And for nearly twenty years I have been using it as the tool to chip away at all of the pretense, social convention, and masquerading of the previous 30+ years. I’ve learned why I do the things I do, how I respond to stress, what my real super power is, what makes me a great leader - and a poor one. It has been an amazing support in my intimate relationships and it constantly invites me to a deeper and deeper knowledge about who I was really created to be in the world. It has encouraged me to dive deeper, below the water line, to discover the real me.
Here are some of the things I learned were lurking just under my water line...
I show up big in a room - really big - partly because I have a deep fear of being annihilated. So afraid, that I will go to great lengths to avoid showing my underbelly (or what you might call vulnerability, but I hate that word). My passion is often experienced by others as anger. In reality, few people have actually seen me angry, which is saying something about how comfortable that emotion is for me. I don’t have time for surface relationships or really even for idle chatter. I crave intensity, in all things. And I always root for the underdog. My worldview demands justice. I am an amazing advocate, protector, and God knows I am not afraid of a challenge. Truth be told, I like a good fight. I respect people who go toe-to-toe with me and find it unpalatable when people want to give me their personal power. My perfect world is one where everyone owns their personal power and justice hums like a lullaby under human interaction.
If you know me, you’re probably thinking, “duh”. But I was not aware of most of these things twenty years ago - or in some cases ten years ago. Everyone of these insights was buried under frozen layers of pain, striving, shame, fear, and my need to move up and against the world. So, what’s the big deal? Imagine moving through the world unaware of these things like I was.
Imagine the pain I was capable of causing..
Imagine the loneliness and confusion that ensued because it felt like no one understood me.
Imagine the arrogance that erupted when other people didn’t share my sense of righteous outrage at an unjust situation.
Imagine the confusion when so many people wanted to be around me but no one felt close.
Now… imagine how much freedom I have found knowing these things about myself.
Imagine the depth of my relationships once I stopped protecting and started opening.
All these movements and so many more were made possible by the Enneagram. It has changed my life. I wonder what it might do for you.