Typing someone is not as easy as simply asking whether they relate to anger, fear or shame – and taking their answer at face value. Enneagram unveils the lies that we tell ourselves. The ego protects us from vulnerability and chaos, and hides its patterns to protect itself. Some people will recognize the central issue at their core or some distorted version of it; others will not.
If you asked me a few years ago, I would have said I have no shame – that I’m relatively shameless compared to most people I know. It’s impossible to embarrass me and I do what I want: nude photos, shiny displays of my inner world, passionate sex. I’m open and honest about my dark history and deep desires; my body is a canvas upon which I display my inner world. Beyond that, I’ve always been open about my flaws, and never felt a need to pretend I was perfect. Shameless, right?
I also would have said I’m resilient: I process trauma, loss and heartache so deeply and honestly that I attain catharsis. Along the way, I turn that suffering to my advantage: anything from my wildest desires to my deepest pain provides an artistic landscape. At my worst, I would write in my diary that romantic interests were art fodder.
I was a singer – my voice was my beauty, passion, identity – until an illness destroyed my vocal cords and left me speaking in a whisper permanently. It’s no coincidence that in the years following, my image was more impressive and seductive than ever.
On the flip side, I was utterly alone: I needed to process my feelings on a constant basis. Obsessions with men took over my world and I felt consumed by them. I could not possibly reveal my desire without getting rejected, but I wrote novels and albums baring my soul naked. Though I suffered for years over these men, I eventually presented my feelings in the form of art: only there could I possibly display the full magnitude of my emotions. This released me from their clutches: the men could turn me down, now that I had processed my deep feelings – I didn’t need them. One of my songs ended with the lyric:
If you don’t miss me, maybe it’s better
To keep you inside me, and love the memory
If I could want you, and I could love you, but never need you
I’d be your freedom, you’d be my freedom
I did not believe my enneagram fixation was in the shame center, as I convinced myself I had no shame – and when I did, with my obsessions, I faced it in my art and then revealed everything. But why did I make myself into an art piece? Why did I hide my desire and then obsess over some dramatic way to ‘bare my soul?’ This is what I had to dig into in order to see the shame – that it wasn’t enough for me to “just be” and “just feel” – instead, I was driven to embody my inner world and deliver my shameful desires in the form of a display. This is the “Hide/Reveal” of Type Four.
In recognizing my shame, I also saw that I was hurting people and causing the very rejections that I so feared. This helped me state my feelings, simply as they are – which allowed me to find love. Since I am no longer choking on unspoken feelings, I am not overflowing with artistic frenzies. Instead, I fulfill deeper dreams by focusing on long term projects and visions.