Sunday, May 3, 2015

Like a Flower...

The following interchange with a reader who's an Enneagram style Five tells a story. Read it and note how she opens up (and gives permission).... 

Dear Mary: I'm an Enneagram Five, and lead a pretty full life doing social work, but I'm 50 and have never been in love with anyone. Looking at myself objectively, it seems a tiny bit sad, but not enough to do anything concrete about it. I hate the idea of sifting through many people, and maybe some will be compatible. It wears me out just thinking about listening to all those people, so I convince myself it's better to be alone, unless someone compatible just happens to cross my path. Thank you for the service you provide to those seeking more knowledge. Will anyone else see this note?

Dear Reader: I understand how satisfying life can be when work is interesting. However, you do imply that a relationship might be worthwhile ("I convince myself it's better to be alone"), if you could find someone without "sifting," or perhaps if listening were not so exhausting for you.You asked, "Will anyone else see this note?" Not if you don't want them to.I'm reading a fascinating novel by Irvin Yalom, When Nietzsche Wept. I believe Neitzsche as described by Yalom was an Enneagram Five. Perhaps if you read Yalom's book you might find something interesting that applies to you. 

Dear Mary: Thank you for recommending the book; I'll read it... I thought a secretary or helper might respond and only on a public web page. I even tear up my journals promptly because I can't bear the thought that someone might read my innermost thoughts, so yes, I'd like my notes to be private. I interact with so many people each day, my time alone is pretty much a gift. I believe I would interact well with anyone who knows the Enneagram and is healthy in whatever style they happen to be, but I don't know a soul who has done more than read one book about it or just glanced at the subject. Are there any Enneagram students in my area? Thank you immensely for your time.

Dear Reader: I'm sending you information about the closest chapter of the International Enneagram Association (IEA). There's a page at the IEA web site with news about regional chapters that may be a source of information for you. I recommend joining the IEA if you haven't already. Even if you're not a "joiner" it's a way to gather useful information. Also, I hope you'll attend the annual Enneagram conference.By the way, I give my time freely, and not totally without self-interest. Often these inquiries lead to an article, which supports my writing. Even when someone like you asks that nothing be published, I always learn something from the interaction; so this interaction is a resource for me, too. For example, in thinking about how to respond to you, and re-reading When Nietzsche Wept in that light, I noticed Nietzsche as described by Yalom is very sensitive to weather changes, and very sensitive to touch.This led me to remember a wonderful book (and tape), Oliver Sacks' An Anthropologist on Mars. One of his stories is about Temple Grandin, an adult woman with autism who created a sling to comfort and carry cattle. She then got the idea to create her own "squeeze machine" because from early childhood she longed to be touched but couldn't tolerate it. She lies in her sling daily, with controls that allow her to create as much or as little pressure as she wishes. A wonderful metaphor. 

Dear Mary: If others can learn from anything I might share, feel free to go ahead and publish any of my comments. I'm evolving and I know one of the greatest things we can do is share with one another. I trust you and will make every effort to attend the conference. Thanks for all your information; know that I will use it. About the touch issue. I love being held and always longed for that as a child, but being from a large family, my parents didn't have a lot of individual time for me, though we each felt completely loved by them and by each other. My relationships seem to be those in which I give much of myself, but only about three or four people are capable of giving to me in the manner I prefer to receive. A therapist held me perfectly only three times over a period of about a year and a half, and that memory sustains me anytime I need to be reminded of what it might be like if our creator could be here in person, to allow me to feel his/her love and my connection to what we are other than just being a part of this world. I'm hugged often by children and friends, but I can never bring myself to ask anyone to hold me. If there is anything you ever want to ask me, feel free; and you may use it in any way you deem beneficial. I've seen the benefits of your sharing.