“The real question is can you love the real me…Not that image you had of me, but who I really am”-Christine Feehan
This is my soul’s question. It arrests me every moment of every day. I’m asking this question in one way or another with each glance and conversation. I’ve been asking it for decades, and still feel as though I’m waiting for an answer. Truth is, as desperately as I want to know, I’m also terrified of letting people get close enough to tell me. Can I share an even deeper truth? The first person I’m asking this question of, is me.
If you’ve read Coming Back to You, you likely recognize the quote above from the chapter on Enneagram type 3. I was first introduced to the enneagram about three years ago by a friend of mine. He invited our cohort to take the official test as a group bonding exercise, so I took some time and responded to all 144 questions. Having enjoyed the Meyers-Briggs assessment, I was curious about what this new-fangled test would tell me. I answered the final question and tabulated my results, but rather than a sense of relief and intrigue, I felt disappointment.
The results weren’t definitive. They gave me three different types that could be my primary type. It was descriptive to a fault, and wholly unsatisfactory. I wanted the enneagram to explain me, and it left me with more questions than answers. In all honesty, the actual problem is that I wanted to be seen, so that I could see myself. The enneagram didn’t so much as clear away the smoke, but rather tried to show me how much smoke was clouding my view. So naturally I ignored it.
As with most other things in my life, the more popular it became, the more indifferent I was about it. At least publically. Privately, I read articles, took quizzes, and poured over type descriptions ad naseum still desperate to find myself. Last week I retook the test, revisited Coming Back to You, and discussed my thoughts with those who know me best. In doing so, I’ve learned some truths that extend far deeper than my type or wing.
- I feet lost because in my quest for survival, I have learned to become anything to anyone at any moment. While my cameleon skills kept me alive at one point, they are no longer helping me.
- I want to be stripped of the insecurities and self-doubt that have made me a people pleaser. Free from the shame and inadequacy that drive me to “save” other people. Liberated from the deep loneliness that makes me seek constant attention.
- I worry that once I stop performing, pleasing and saving, no one will love me. I’ve tested every relationship with this in mind and eventually they all fail. What I know now is that every time, I was the one failing, not them. What I was seeing in each of these relationships wasn’t always that they couldn’t love me, but that I couldn’t love myself.
So my work is to see myself as I am. That means naming the false narratives I’m holding, so that I can discover my deepest truth. It means pulling back the curtain and inviting people to know the vulnerable man within. It means seeing myself and receiving the love that has always been available to me.
The journey back to me often feels like a transatlantic flight on spirit airlines, but I don’t regret making the trip. On my best days, I see more of myself and love the man in the mirror. On my worst days, I’m still blind to my true intentions and the narratives that shape them. Regardless of which this is, I know that the answer to the question of my soul is first offered within. That’s where I’ll find myself and from there I can welcome others.
What is your soul’s burning question?