You know what Lindsey, F-you!
You don't know the pain I've been through!
You've never experienced anything like I have!
You sit there with your perfect self and your perfect life, but what do you know about pain, real pain?!?!
I bet no one in the world can understand what I feel!!!
You know what, Dear Loved One, you don't know me...
You know how I know this...?
Because I am only starting to know myself.
You are right. I don't know your pain. I've only known my own pain. And I've known her buddies - shame, feelings of worthlessness and depression - pretty intimately too.
If you are waiting around for someone to tell you that your particular brand of pain is the worst pain that has ever been felt in the history of the Universe, or even the worst pain you will ever experience in this life time, before you begin your work of Transformation, then you will be waiting for a very long time.
Let me tell you a story.
Early in my relationship, when it became apparent that I would be staying in Australia, my dance career came to an abrupt halt. There were of course opportunities to perform in Australia, but not on the same scale as I had imagined for myself in Europe or the U.S..
I used to love telling this story. The great romantic love story of how I gave up everything I had ever dreamed of for my Sweetie. I had thrown caution to the wind and sacrificed everything for love. But then, quite under the radar, the story began to change.
Suddenly it was a story about how Lindsey always had to make sacrifices to maintain our relationship. How all of Lindsey's feelings - anger, resentment, frustration - were justifiable because she had given up so much. How she was so misunderstood and under appreciated. How her pain was unique to his, and how he would never understand because he had not lost as much.
During this time I remember questioning if I even loved him. Suddenly the great romantic love story looked drab and worn. I caught myself feeling envious of the life I "could have had."
Despite the time that has passed, I still remember wishing that my Sweetie would just agree with me. I wanted him to say any collection of the following sentences:
1) "You are right, you gave up so much to keep us together."
2) "I wish I could understand how sad you feel."
3) "What can I do to make you happy?"
4) "Yes, your feelings of regret, sadness and anger are justified."
5) "Don't worry, I'll make it up to you."
Wow... writing this, and reading it now... Wow. I'm sure you can see it too, right?
I essentially wanted him to say:
"Lindsey, what you gave up, is greater than what you have."
[Insert: dramatic pause]
Thankfully, that's not what he said. What he said, precisely true to character, was "GO!" In fact, his exact words were, "Go, we don't need you here sad and miserable."
Now Mom, (I know you read my blog) what he meant by go, in this case, was go pursue your greatest hopes and dreams. He didn't mean leave him and the kids and move back to Pittsburgh with you and Dad.
What my Sweetie gave me in those few brief words was the greatest gift of all. He gave me the permission to pull my head out of my own a**.
You see, I was the one stuck in my pain story. And at some point, I decided that I wanted everyone around me to either join me in my pain story, or affirm that my pain story was special in some way.
I enjoyed my pain story. It was a great way to mask all manner of emotions I never used to allow myself to feel - feelings of unworthiness, fear, shame -. My pain story kept me safe, and I used it like a weapon to keep people indebted to me and/or interested in me. At the very least it always gave me something to talk about... But here's what gets missed when we are playing our pain story on repeat from morning to night, all the good.
In the midst of looping my pain story here's what happened in real time:
Opened my own health club, Black Dove
Study and degrees
Birth of our son
Launched second company, Phenomenal Woman Fitness
Birth of our daughter
Moved back to U.S.
You know, Dear One, just like your pain may not look like mine, neither may your good. And that's okay. Either way, the work is the same. The process of transformation is learning to embrace the positives and negatives equally. Just as I had to embrace my pain story before I could return to my love story, so must we all if we hope to transform.
If sorting through your pain story (which can often present as melancholy, depression, and addiction has been an ongoing struggle for you) then let us return to my Simple Guide To The Enneagram: A Practical Guide To Getting Out of Boxes, and learn about the Type 4, The Romantic.
Lindsey's Simple Guide To The Enneagram
A Practical Guide To Getting Out of Boxes
Introduction to Type 4: The Romantic
Early on in life the Little Romantic learned that the best way to get attention and love was to be bigger, better or different. Fearful of being without personal significance or identity the Little Romantic learns to indulge in the self, they enhance those attributes that make them standout, including but not limited to, dress, artistic abilities, emotional depth, enhanced language skills.
The Romantic, more than any other type in the Enneagram, wants to be themselves, but may never develop a true sense of just who or what that is. Instead, a fear of being mediocre or just like everyone else may take over and keep the Romantic from allowing feelings of peace and happiness in.
If you are a Romantic, or know a Romantic, you might describe someone who is passionate, artistic, creative, and dramatic. But you might also describe someone who is prone to melancholy, depression, negative comparisons and envy of what they perceive others to have.
So how does this get in the way of transformation?
1) I believe my 'pain story' is what makes me interesting.
2) As soon as I start to feel happy or content I sabotage it. It's not okay to be too functional or too happy. Then I will be insignificant.
3) I fall in love hard. But it tends to fizzle out as soon as I get close to the person.
4) I am never satisfied with my artistic creations. I cannot communicate everything I think and feel.
5) No one truly understands me or listens to me. I feel isolated and alone.
6) I always tend to identify with whatever group I am. I will alter my dress and beliefs to fit in.
7) I feel every emotion at 110%. I cannot turn them on and off like a switch. Some people call this dramatic but that's just how I've always been.
8) When I get in arguments with my partner or family they tell me to be practical, or rational, or to detach from my emotions. Without my emotions I do not know who or what I am.
9) I have difficulty seeing the positives around me. My attention goes toward the negative.
It can be challenging to start your path toward transformation when you believe that you are what you think and feel.
You are not.
You, the real you, exists before thought, feeling and action. You know the truth in this. You have felt it. You have experienced it. You've just been too afraid to own it.
You are seen for who you are, Dear One.
Have the courage to be yourself, Dear One.
Stop trying to impress me, or captivate me, or dazzle me. Just sit here with me in silence knowing that you are enough. You, just as you are, are significant and important to me.
You are significant and important to me.
And, I love you.
You are significant and important to me.
And, I love you.
Shhhhhh, Dear One. Can you just sit here silently for once receiving this love...!
Now get to work figuring out who you are and what you want, without your groups, labels, friends, distinctions, and then write and tell me about it here, firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Week, Type 5: The Observer
Lindsey T. H. Jackson