Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Things I Learned This Spring

Cooper Mountain Nature Park

Linking up with Emily Freeman to share what I've learned this spring.

I'm learning, apparently, to ban perfectionism by keeping things short. (I mean, less than 2000 words is short, right?!) This is the furthest thing from an exhaustive list of what I've learned recently. I could probably write every day for a month on what I've been learning! And I'll tell myself that I will write that series, so I don't feel as bad about leaving things out. It's a useful and pretty lie, it is.

Here are two. Two things I've learned. Well, two categories. Two category iceberg tips.

1. The Enneagram. Mostly when I'd heard about the Enneagram, up until this spring, I'd kind of been like, meh, I like the personality systems I already have, thanks. Don't need another one. I'd heard that Myers-Briggs highlights strengths whereas the Enneagram focuses on motivations, but when you include cognitive steps in your Myers-Briggs you can start to get a bit deeper than just behavior and preferences, too. So meh.

But there were things here and there that intrigued me, and when a podcast episode about it was linked to by a favorite blogger, I wanted to know what they were talking about. That wasn't enough, though. The final push came from listening to a hope*writers interview with Ian Cron, one of the authors of a recent book on the Enneagram called The Road Back to You.

Anyway, I read the book and listened to some episodes of the podcast, and after some confusion which is fascinating to talk about but I won't get into here, decided that I'm almost certainly a Nine, or the Peacemaker. Which has had all sorts of interesting ramifications this spring, which is why I open with it.

I've also learned that I'm not particularly fond of some of the other Enneagram resources out there. One of them in particular is... sometimes helpful, but kind of a mixed bag, to me? As far as I can tell, compared to Cron and Stabile, they seem more convinced that they are completely RIGHT, that this is EXACTLY how ALL Nines are, in one form or another; while at the same time describing me with less accuracy. Sometimes it's just the abstractness of their statements, it can take a moment to see how a vague principle plays out in your own particular life, possibly a little differently than others of your type. But sometimes I think they're just off. And I don't think I'm only saying that because I'm a Nine who dislikes facing unpleasantness and won't admit my weaknesses. Frankly, if it were only that, I don't think I ever would have decided I'm a Nine at all. The chapter on Nines in The Road Back to You and one particular episode interviewing a Nine made me cry more than any other Enneagram material has, so.

And while I think I desire authenticity almost as much as I desire peace, in the end I don't think I'm actually a Four. And not being a Four, I'd be lying if I said crying over my type is a completely pleasant experience! I don't know, maybe even a Four would be lying about that, too. Probably. Not completely sure, since I'm not one. ANYWHO.

I've learned that trying to put what you've learned about your Enneagram type into practice, to let it help you on the road to growth, is rather a tricky thing. For example, I'm a stay-at-home mom and I have small children at home. Also I'm pregnant. (Worst blog announcement ever. In fairness, I think most people in my in-person life know by now, as well as some people who only ever see me on Twitter or Facebook.) And was having some chronic illness issues before the pregnancy. My to-do list is huge and overwhelming. How much of that is because I avoid and put off things that might involve any kind of conflict (even internal), and how much is just the nature of the beast? When I talk about why I haven't been blogging much, how many things are excuses and how many are reasons? Trust me, I have some really good reasons right now. But.

And so then there's the tricky business of not only trying to stop avoiding things and putting them off, but also trying to... actually face limitations, as well. D'oh. I can act and do things, but I cannot do ALL THE THINGS. Sad face.

And, being a Nine, I really really do wish someone would hand me all the answers on a silver platter. That would be lovely, thank you. I could do what someone else says! And not have to listen to my own desires, my own anger and passion and what I'm designed for. Ouch.

So that's the Enneagram. What else have I learned this spring?

2. Grief, waiting, and fatigue. Well, in keeping with the weightier themes of this post, I'm starting to learn more about grief again. I'm not going to get into the personal details here -- this story belongs to my family, not just to me -- if you want to know more you can contact me to ask for access to the Caring Bridge site I set up. It's mixed-up, ambiguous grief, because there's joy, too. I'm pregnant with a high-risk baby, but I'm not talking about Cholestasis this time. (High-risk link goes to Cholestasis frustrations because some of them apply to other conditions, and that post lays them out nicely.) It's more, on top of that. (Presumably, I haven't developed Cholestasis yet this time, though I likely will.) It's extremely rare, and it has ramifications for after the baby is born. We don't know the full extent yet, but she'll definitely have some special physical needs to take care of. Best-case scenario, I think, only yearly testing after initial tests. We can hope and pray.

So I'm learning some things (again) about grief, waiting, and fatigue. I mention grief because, well, it is. See also this: "Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior." -The Grief Recovery Handbook

I started reading Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What's Right in Front of Me, and I've started thinking about designing an experiment to help me face my actual life. Again, I find learning to be a healthy Nine tricky. To say the least. What it looks like to face stress, but not get overwhelmed and shut down, to live my everyday life and go on taking care of my children like things are normal, which in some ways they are, but they're not.

I'm learning that even when I think and feel like I've dealt with stuff and processed it, my threshold is lower, and I easily feel overwhelmed by the tiny things. It's the oddest feeling, because it really does feel like I want to run away from life because I can't figure out what's for dinner, not because of anything about this pregnancy. But hmm.

I'm learning about control, active engagement, and not wrapping things up in pretty bows... but also doing what I can. Here's a bit from my journal the other day:

If I could just control more, if I could just do more, I'd be more satisfied that I'm doing the right things right now, doing the best I can. Even if things are hard with waiting to hear about [Baby with no codename yet], and worries about money, and trying to get [Gracie] hopefully into kindergarten [instead of preschool, or nothing]... and the stresses that go into getting her ready for that if they'll take her, and applying, and applying for financial aid, and volunteering, and then more medical stuff with [Baby], and talking to... about how to mitigate our medical costs... and on and on, at least if I'm doing the best I humanly can, at least if I'm doing all the right things, I won't have that worry on top of the rest? Something like that? 
Huh. So... I could definitely see this being a pattern. I take external worries, and I internalize them, huh? If only I were perfect, things would be better. Huh. I mean, it's true, it's not your circumstances, it's how you react to them, right? I just... want myself to react to them in a completely perfect and superhuman way, realistically speaking. That's all. I want to DO things completely right and by some mythical book, and then everything will be okay. It might hurt, but it will be okay. In the end. 
Well crap. That's a harder answer to deal with then just trying to come up with the perfect schedule, and the perfect way for a Nine to handle stress and deal with a waiting season. I don't like it. 
God, I cast this on You. I can't deal. I can't... do this. I can't react perfectly. I can't control it all, and make everything okay. I can't even seem to keep from creating new problems, by the ways I imperfectly deal with (or avoid) the old problems. 
I do need to face my actual life, there's that. But there's no perfect answers, no neat and tidy solutions, no everything wrapped up in a box with a bow. I just have to keep making it up as I go along, I guess? Well crap. 
That said, while the desire to control things is sneaky and insidious and I've been seeing it around more and more, I've also said before that it isn't this 100% bad thing. Like, it's good to do what we can, what's in our power to do. It's good, looking at the above, to try to do the right thing! To try to live a life sanctified and dedicated to God, holy. To do what is in my power -- my control. 
And maybe if things like schedules and routines help with that, to use them. And what is it they say? That a Nine without a schedule and routine will succumb to inertia and accomplish almost nothing? So it's good to try to work on this stuff. It's just... not the answer to life, the universe, and everything. 
God, help me. Help me to walk this line. To give it all into Your hands and trust You, but to do what I can. Do what You've called me to.
This is my prayer for you, too, friends. I know I'm hardly the only who struggles with one side or the other of anxiety and controlling or passive checking out. Or both.

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen. -The Book of Common Prayer
What about you? What have you been learning in this last season?


K Ann Guinn said...

Hello Marcy. I'm visiting you from Emily's link-up and have enjoyed reading your post. Good for you for continuing to learn and grow, and for sharing your insights with others. I find the personality tests quite fascinating myself, and hope to try some different ones in the future. Have a good day!

Marcy said...

Thank you!