Enneagram Type Four: The Abandoned Inner Child

Over the past few days, I’ve been reading more about the enneagram. Since I figured I’m probably a type Four, I read up on that type first in Helen Palmer’s book The Enneagram.

Let me say up front that Palmer doesn’t show pity for type Fours at all. We aren’t portrayed as the special snowflakes we often see ourselves as. That hurt, but in a good way.

First, Palmer describes the typical dilemma Fours face within themselves. Many remember abandonment or loss in childhood and are constantly focusing on regaining that which was lost. As a result, they constantly find themselves second-guessing themselves.

All Fours are prone to depression, though they may handle it in various ways. For example, some accept it fatalistically and succumb to despair. Others cope by constantly being on the move. That would be me, quite literally. Still others find a type of beauty in their sadness and convert it to melancholy.

When describing the typical Four’s family history, Palmer showed a bit more compassion towards us, but it was mostly through the quotes from type Four interviewees. One of them explained that she was an incubator baby and, while she was not literally abandoned, she did feel that way. Boom, that hit. I was an incubator baby too. Even though I was never literally abandoned – my parents aren’t divorced and I lived with them till age nineteen -, I often felt like I was only conditionally loved.

When I read up on core beliefs and schemas when I did schema-focused therapy back in 2013, I most clearly related to the abandonment/instability schema. I still do. I rarely felt safe with my parents and, after leaving the house at age nineteen, I moved from one temporary placement to another until I moved into long-term care in 2019.

Indeed, like the typical enneagram Four, I keep life at an arm’s length distance. I am always on the lookout for something that’s unavailable. Not really in relationships – I have been happily married since 2011 -, but in all other areas of life, certainly. I find myself constantly looking at another place to live, even though the staff and manager of my care facility have reassured me that I can stay here for as long as I want to. I think a core misconception I at least hold is that I can find happiness by chasing what’s unavailable. That’s not true, of course, but my abandoned inner child constantly looks to be rescued in all the wrong ways.

In the book The Enneagram Type 4, the author asks us how we’ve tried to rescue ourselves and how successful we’ve been. The underlying message is that we can’t and don’t need to rescue ourselves, since God is in control. God, will you please rescue me?

Joining in with the Hearth and Soul link party.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 24, 2021)

Hi everyone! After writing this afternoon’s quick post, I felt I really wanted to write another post today, so I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare on Saturday. I’m pretty sure I’ll have something else to share with you tomorrow. Either that or I can take the day off blogging for a change. Anyway, I just had my soft drink and chips for this evening, but there is no doubt still some left. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first, as usual, I’d make smalltalk about the weather. It’s mostly been sunny and dry, but windy and quite chilly. How is yours?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been struggling with foot pain when walking for a while now. I don’t know why, but it seems worse when I wear my AFO (ankle foot orthosis). The physical therapist – not my usual one, since she was off sick – came by yesterday. I can’t remember all that she said, but it came down to my having muscle tension in my feet or something. Massaging my foot before putting on the AFO may work. Other than that, she basically told me that the AFO takes some getting used to. I interpreted this to mean I just need to push through for a bit. That, I think, makes little sense, since I’ve had the AFO for at least a month, probably two, and was fine most of that time.

I was pretty frustrated and depressed when I could barely walk with the AFO on yesterday evening. I immediately catastrophized that I may as well get a wheelchair. Another possibility, and I know my staff don’t buy that one, is that I just need to lose weight. I do, but my staff don’t believe that’s causing my pain. Honestly, neither do I, as I’ve been a lot heavier in the past and then didn’t have issues with pain. My foot also does stand in a weird position when not forced into a 90-degree angle by my AFO. Well, I’m not wearing my AFO for now and we’ll see what will be next.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that on the walk without my AFO this evening, I heard a stork making that clattering sound storks do. We were near the neighborhood supermarket, so at first, my staff didn’t believe me and was convinced it was something else. Then she spotted a stork nest.

Stork

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been reading a lot lately. Some of it involves me exploring the enneagram and other personality-related topics. I’ve also been reading a little on attachment styles and trauma. However, I’m also reading for enjoyment. I am currently reading the foster care memoir A Sister’s Shame by Maggie Hartley.

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that I’ve been writing a lot again. Of course, I’m still blogging everyday, but I’ve also picked up my journaling app, Day One, again, and am aiming to write at least a few sentences each day.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I’m finally able to benefit fully from the YouVersion Bible App and Bible.com. I discovered the note-taking feature yesterday. Today, I finally downloaded the Common English Bible translation. This translation’s publishers require a valid E-mail address and I had initially signed up with my Apple ID and a hidden E-mail address. I thought it should be easy to add my actual E-mail address to the app, but not so. Turned out I also had an account, a different one, with my actual E-mail address. Thankfully, I was able to sort it out. I’m fully enjoying my Bible reading again.

What’s going on in your life?

Starting to Explore the Enneagram

A few days ago, I read on another blogger’s post about the enneagram and suddenly got interested in exploring it. At first, I thought it may be against Christian values, so I shouldn’t be exploring it if I’m serious about being a Christian. Then I checked out some books on it anyway and discovered that several actually look at the enneagram from a traditional Christian perspective.

I first got Helen Palmer’s book The Enneagram, which explained the basics of how the enneagram works. I honestly had no idea at first. I mean, I saw it as just another personality typology just like the MBTI and had little idea that the points are actually connected in several mathematical ways.

I took an enneagram test and it showed I’m a Four with a strong Five wing. I’m still undecided whether that’s correct or I’m really a Five with a strong Four wing. After all, I really do feel deeply (which is consistent with type Four), but I don’t easily verbalize my emotions.

I got a book off Bookshare called The Enneagram Type 4 by Beth McCord. This book is rooted in the Christian faith and the enneagram alike. The first chapter explores faith and the enneagram from a type Four perspective. It starts out by giving an overview of the type.

In the first part, Fours are described as having a deep and rich emotional life. My gut response was: that may be me, but is it truly me or is it what I want to be? Then the explanation goes on to talk about how Fours see themselves as somehow apart from the rest of humanity. They often feel that they’re missing something that everyone else has. Wowah, that’s so me! When I read on, I got a flashback of my father telling my psychiatrist shortly after my admission to the psych hospital, that I just want to be different. Maybe he’s right in some way.

Fours also long for the ideal life and are constantly seeking to change their circumstances and themselves to try to find that “missing piece”. Wow. I read somewhere that most Fours keep the door even in a committed relationship ajar, always keeping the possibility open that their truer love will come by at some point. I don’t do this with my marriage, but I certainly do this with my living situation.

At the end of the chapter, there are some questions for reflection. One of them is about rescuing yourself or bringing about change on your own. How have you attempted to rescue yourself?

Well, for me, I’ve constantly been on the lookout for a better living situation. Even just yesterday, for no apparent reason, I started looking at another care agency’s website to see if I might fit better into one of their homes.

I feel constantly insecure because of my childhood trauma. Then again, maybe I’m also hopelessly looking for an ideal that doesn’t exist.

A thought that has been on my mind for a while now, is what one of my fellow patients at the locked unit told me back in 2007: I need to work on me, not on circumstances. This ran totally counter to my admission’s objective, which was to find a suitable living facility for me. However, now, over thirteen years later, it’s truer than ever. I am in the best possible living situation already and there’s no perfect place. Besides, I always take me to whatever place I go.

The last question for reflection is how realizing you belong to Christ helps you? It is still hard for me to truly surrender to belonging in Christ, so I’m not 100% sure how to respond. However, when I can get myself to understand that I truly am God’s beloved child and belong to Christ, it will radically transform my life. I no longer need to be on the lookout for the perfect life, since I’m made whole through Jesus.