Type Nine: Entering the Mystical Unifying Flow


 Type Nine in Recovery—The Peacemaker

 By Michael Naylor, M.Ed., CCS, LADC, CCPC

 Copyright 2017 Version 1



 The Healthy Type Nine: In the Mystical Unifying Flow


Marty, a lanky Type Nine addiction’s counselor, glides across the room, his presence so seamlessly interwoven and in-flow with the texture, depth, and the psychological energy of the space you hardly see him. He’s beside you, he’s in you, he flows past you, a graceful chameleonic force blending and unifying with what is. You think he’s barely there, he being so invisibly nimble and non-intrusive, but he is fully alive in the psychic waters of the room, extending his awareness into the vulnerable heart-space of the men at Mercy House rehab, touching them, feeling their energy, caring for them.

There is a gentleness to his gait, he emitting an enveloping wave of safety, extending unseen tendrils of support to those around him. And like the Type Eight, his presence gets inside you, seeps past your barriers, touches you, soothes and cools you, and welcomes you. A sea of silence surrounds him, a silence that has a quieting depth. He touches you lightly with his presence, calms you down, softens you, lets you know that you can just settle, it’s safe here, safe to settle, safe to be. Relax, really, it’s okay to relax. And then suddenly he looks up and gazes at you, smiles, sensing perhaps a disturbance in the force, an intuitive knowing, he glancing to see what he’s felt, his eyes lakes of stillness touching you with kindness and consideration. In a blink he takes you in, reads you, without intruding, without making you uncomfortable. He’s got the gift of touching your soul with such grace that nothing in you tightens or wants to withdraw in self-defense.

At Mercy House rehab he is a precious jewel. Sitting with a group of guys in very early recovery, all gnarled, grizzled, rough-edged, punchy, heart-torn and mangled, humiliated by life’s stupidities, edgy with paranoia and wired to fiercely defend against any suggestion of insult to their body or soul, the felt sense of Marty’s presence settles them down. He’s the landing gear for their inner turbulence, their fear-jangled bodies, their trust-no-one-rigidity, their soul-scarred disappointment and hardness. He’s the welcome mat, the salve, he emitting a softening psychic substance that beckons you to drop your hard stance, go easy, real easy. And it makes no difference where you’ve come from, the county jail, the streets, the homeless shelter, the state prison, the back woods of Maine, the hospital ER, an STD clinic, a mental institute—all are welcome here. Somehow this beautiful guy can hold the suffering of these men, hold it and not be broken by it, hold it with a magical non-attachment and tenderness such that it touches him but doesn’t bury him. And in holding their suffering with this gracious and light touch, not denying any of the heaviness or sharpness of their suffering, he teaches them by his example to viscerally walk easier and lighter in the belly of their suffering. Something softens, relaxes, let’s go in them. Whatever suffering they’ve come to identify themselves by, and all the psychological prison structures this suffering has created for them internally, well, their inner chains begin to loosen. It’s like a mysterious light begins to break through their conditioned beliefs that they are losers, irretrievable drug addicts, hopeless men, rejected and unwanted men, failures with no hope, forever mentally sick men, unredeemable criminal men, men of no value. Light starts to penetrate these negative self-identities such that something softer, deeper, truer starts to stir and form in them.

You see, he is a stealth ninja delivering the awesome power of unconditional love and kindness and acceptance, and you hang around Marty and you start to feel it in your bones, in your gut, in your hardened heart, that you are forgivable, lovable even, that you can redeem yourself, that you can make amends, that you can belong to this life. Such that slowly, slowly, persistently you begin, layer by layer, to let go of the chains of your past, or more clearly, you quietly relax and they begin to slide off you. One at a time. Easy does it…one at a time. This is what Marty embodies and teaches, this letting go, in the way he speaks with earthy kindness and directness to the men (picture the beloved Mr. Rogers), in the way he honors and holds space for men regardless of how they are showing up. Big space, breathing room, a landing strip, a welcome mat, slow down, land right here—this is what Marty creates and evokes. A messenger of indomitable, kind silence, the men are touched by his unshakeable penetrating calm.”

And this penetrating calm gets to your core, flows like soothing water into the tightened muscles flexed to clamp down suffering, flows and heals as it circulates in your being without stirring your defenses; just lands…touches and heals, touches and heals, coaxes you to part with your suffering saying, “Put it down, easy does it, let go…breathe…trust…nothing to prove here…relax…it’s safe.” You see, this capacity to encourage and entice men to relax, to let their guard down, without really saying it but mostly being it, emitting it, breathing it in from the center of his belly¸ this is what Marty does best. He’s like the Shiatsu practitioner who can sense which meridian in the body needs work and loosening, that when loosened allows a magical healing force to circulate in your body. Marty senses and feels your psychological meridians, knows how to apply right attention, pressure, and gentleness to those meridians, disarms you without intruding, while transmitting this message: you are welcome here. This is not registered in the thinking center, is not a verbal message designed to land there, but is transmitted through the heart center and the gut center. Your body feels it, your heart feels it…and your mind eventually signs on.

Soft spoken, what you see is what you get, no pretensions, no ego-strutting-counselor-flaunting-his-importance-or-needing-vanity-strokes such that you sense it in your soul that he’s right on your level—this is what disarms you, and allows you settle and feel safe. This guy meets you and holds space for you. There is a dignity in this that is so compelling and invites instant respect from war-torn, street-smart men who are used to being treated like disowned objects. Because of Marty’s hard-earned presence—meaning he’s transformed his inherited emotional suffering into a mountainous stillness and kindness—he sits right exactly where you are sitting, in the belly of the beast, energetically inhabiting your heart, your body, your frightened mind, your tangled confusions, not repulsed, not bailing out, not overwhelmed, but peacefully abiding in the very waters of your suffering. Hang around him long enough and you learn to calmly engage your insides, your reactivity, your heart wounds and heart insults, such that your fast-moving hypnotizing illusions and haunting fear-impressions that seal you off from reality start to slow…way…down…and you actually develop eyes to see them. And hey, let’s face it, unless you become a still presence in the middle of your own inner turbulence, nothing changes, nothing gets seen.

And with this comes the crown jewel. You begin to see yourself through Marty’s eyes of compassion and mercy. Suddenly it makes sense to extend tenderness to yourself, mercy to yourself, to relax your unrelenting self-punishment…to let love touch you. Marty’s presence—fluid, graceful and invisibly unrelenting—begins to tenderize you. And sometimes, because of his great kindness and gentleness, clients might think they can outwit Marty, that he’s an easy touch, but he has this ingenious way of righting your ill intentions, and without clamor or drama lets you know when it’s time for you to leave the rehab, you’re not ready for addiction recovery, perhaps another time, but go you must.

Clients get this. His intuitive wisdom often carries few words. But one day you sit there, aware that you do not want recovery or help, and rather than acting this out and blaming everyone for it, and leaving a dramatic emotional fire in your wake, you slowly go to your room, pack your stuff, and leave. Marty has unwittingly created a peace treaty with you, and storming out of the rehab would not honor this pact. You get that in your gut. With his slow, steady gaze, his slow steady capacity to breath peace into the room, his laid back, there’s-no-hurry, no-need-for-high-drama, we-can-get-what-we-need-by-slowing-down presence, he dials the inflamed suffering and despairing intensity these men carry in the core of their soul way down. It’s often miraculous what unfolds when he enters the room, with his laid back easy-going earthiness, a tall six foot one man, so quietly graceful—he such a major invitation to just be, just be, as you are.

So you relax and let yourself be, and suddenly you start activating an interest in what goes on inside you. Unexpectedly you start to notice inner perceptions that you care about—soul-signs of real awareness—such that you begin to connect with hundreds of unconscious choices that led you to and on your torturous path of addiction. And from this settling into the moment an unusual motivation begins to arise in you, you haven’t felt it for a long time, but yes, you recognize that you’d like to have a life, like to be connected to people, like to live a life that is steady, sturdy and supports you. That you have something to live for, that you are in fact, most welcome and even are needed on planet earth. You have a place and you can feel it. This is the medicine that Marty delivers and teaches. In your bones and belly and heart, you begin to feel it, to know it…the palpable sense that you do belong. As in, welcome home, my brother, as Marty, and Dominic, the brave Type Eight would say. Welcome home my brother.

And they mean it.

I watched him work with Rick-from-Boston, a burly tormented guy mired in loss, in depression, in hopelessness, nearly unable to function in any way. His alcoholism had further torpedoed an already unstable interior, like mixing gasoline with fire. But Marty, with his vast stillness and enduring patience, would hang with Rick and give him simple steps, over and over he’d recite them, as if there was no hurry, Rick, no hurry; here’s the simple steps. Go to meetings, ask for help, get a sponsor, show up. And Rick would remember, and then he’d forget. And back on the streets he’d go, a whirling dervish of chaotic agony, wandering in the despair of homelessness and alcoholic hopelessness, dead-eyed depression possessing him…and somehow, he’d make it back to rehab. Two legs and one arm in the grave, and there Marty would be, at the doorstep, while soul-hungry vultures sucked the last remaining blood of hope from big Bill’s soul, he so very close to becoming a lifeless stone of death.

And Marty would meet him like he’d been patiently waiting for him for a hundred years. Just hanging and waiting. No big deal, just waiting. And Rick, shocked numb from his last relapse, brain cooked and hard-boiled on confusion and turned to a scrambled mess, would listen to Marty with that 10% of him that he could still listen with, that tiny window of sanity in an otherwise torqued brain, and slowly Marty’s peace and enduring resilience got into Rick, into the pores of his heart, into the thought-stream of his mad thoughts, into the frozen musculature of his broken body. As Marty’s spirit seeped into Rick, slowly but surely he started to come on line, started to arise within himself, while Marty kept hanging next to him, one breath at a time, his still calmness touching the broken places in Rick, saying ‘No rush Rick, we’re just watching a sunrise here, just ease into this moment, and do one simple thing…one simple thing.’ And Rick, this big guy endowed with a wrestler’s body, who’d vanished into near invisibility such that he inhabited a sunken shell, disappearing into nothingness, seven years later is a peaceful rock of stillness and ease. Quietly he’s walked a thousand miles with Marty up the mountain of himself and found his soul, his sense of humor, his grateful heart, his dignity and his strength. Damn, it was amazing to watch. And Marty, his ceaseless stillness the antidote to Rick’s madness, is still humming along waiting for the next guy to help. No rush. The guy would come. He could feel it. He’d be there. He was ready. No river to push here. Quiet waiting was the magnet for the next lost and broken soul.

Type Nine in Addiction: Level 6 and Below

When the Type Nine slips down the ladder of addiction, his innate capacity to be a living well of kindness and support to others turns inward. Lou said it this way:

“When I dropped into addiction my only wish was to be left alone so I could drink. I existed in my own private bomb shelter. The lights were off and no one was home. I was a small flame of nothingness, and utterly invisible to myself and everyone else and that was fine with me. I was a ghost, and everything around me had a ghost-like quality, as if it had no substance, no weight to it, like everything was transparent and could be seen thru. Let me drink and die alone and don’t bother me, was my wish. Put me in front of the TV, deliver my beer every day at my doorstep, all is well. I neglected everything and everyone. I wouldn’t and couldn’t see any problems and instead dropped into a drunken blur where nothing could touch me, affect me, get my attention. If my stoic silence didn’t discourage you, if my lifeless-body-sitting-at-the-grave-sight-of-my-TV didn’t rivet you into hopelessness, if my dead-man-walking-I-am-a-corpse-not-a-human-being-laying-in-the-bowels-of-death didn’t cut you to the bone such that you’d look away in utter horror and disgust at my slow-motion-merciless-wasteful-angel-saddening death, my last-ditch rages would. Rare at they were. The time came when my family abandoned me, quit trying to get me into recovery, and I thought, ‘Finally, I’m left alone. No more people to contend with.’ The point being I was entirely shut off from my heart, from the innate love I had for my kids, from the shame of disappearing with one option left—drinking until I passed out till death. This I did every day. Family could see my dying soul and I could not. Did I really understand what I was doing? Absolutely not! My awareness consisted of a vague, fleeting, flicker of reality, fogged and blurry—everything had an indistinct, shape-shifting, undifferentiated sense to it. Nothing was real. I felt like a transparent nothingness. Occasionally I’d feel the suffering of waking up out of hangover but I was so exhausted from my drinking, so closed-down physically, emotionally, and mentally, I could barely feel it for long. So I drank to numb out. At one point I decided to kill myself. In the dead of winter I went into the Maine woods on land that I owned, took a ton of booze with me, drank with the intent to die. It was a week later I woke up in an AA meeting at a detox, listening to the voices of other late stage alcoholics like myself, and remember saying, “I’m Lou, I’m an alcoholic, and I want to get sober.” It was the first time I’d ever spoken these words and felt them. I don’t know how I got there and learned later that two hunters found me passed out in the freezing cold and brought me to detox. Don’t know where the wish to stay sober came from, but I’ve been sober now 9 years and realize how lucky I am to be alive. In that alcoholic fog, death seems like a form of sleep, a comfort to be sought. All I wanted to do was fall asleep.”


The Nine, whose gifts of supporting others, whose unconditional positive regard for the suffering of others is the hallmark of his humanity, slips away into the darkness of his soul when addiction takes him out. Hunkered down in the inner temple of his imagination, fantasy is his primary refuge. Unlike the Eight who when descending into addiction hell, becomes more explosive and volatile, the Nine gets more passive, more distant, more withdrawn, more wraith-like. It’s not unusual for the Nine to be literally carried into addiction recovery by loved ones because left to his own devices he will die quietly (Betty Ford is a great example) but imagining he’s resting. He’s got this dying thing mixed up with relaxing, taking a needed rest, just chilling out, while his lived life is one drink after another until he passes out. As in going, going…gone.

    First Twelve Weeks in Recovery—Helping the Nine

Devan sits in group day after day, so still and quiet you’d never know he was there. Second week in it dawns on me. I continually don’t ask Devan to share. It’s like he emits a strange force-field that actually makes him invisible. He’s there on the couch but you can’t really see him. Your eyes pass over him without questioning him, as if he’s a part of the furniture. His ability to emit zero-life-force-energy is remarkable. It’s as if he’s a Jedi Master who waves his hand and says, “Look away, counselor, I’m not here. No need to ask me any questions, move on. Ask the next guy. Look away, counselor.” I call him on it. “Devin, how to you manage to avoid getting asked to share? How do you do it?” A big, sun-splitting grin creeps across his face, eyes suddenly lighting up with recognition, he arising from his internal camouflaged bomb shelter for a brief minute. “I learned it in grade school,” he says. “I just knew how to get teachers to not see me, to move past me, to pass over me as I lie quiet as a mouse. I got pretty good at it.”

No kidding, I think. He skillfully emits a force-field that quietly delivers the message, “Don’t bother me. Don’t approach me.” And wildly enough he can morph into the color and contour of the couch so he’s virtually indistinguishable from it—he’s become a part of the furniture. And even trickier, he can shape-shift into the client that looks like he’s doing just fine. It’s amazing (unlike the Type Eight who’s a bull in a China shop). In fact, he’s the master of “I’m fine.” (In recovery-speak that means ‘I’m F—uped, insecure, emotional and neurotic!’) He’s lost his family, his kids are broken-hearted over him, he doesn’t have a job, and he’s over there on the corner of the couch looking as chill as anyone possibly could. (We say the Nine gives ‘good face.’)

His outer expression looks like he’s appropriately engaged, listening to others, exuding facial expressions that look like he’s paying attention (not overdoing it of course, that would draw attention, but not totally checked out either, right in between where he gains no notice), adeptly not reflecting anything that might draw ‘counselor attention’ to him. No, let’s keep the counselor skillfully chilled out too. You see, he cultivates an enticing ambiance around him that has everyone nodding along in ‘spiritual bypass’ mode when it comes to him, all feeling hypnotically at ease with his I’ve-charmed-you-into-relaxing-and-over-looking-me, presence. Yes, he’s gotten everyone to disassociate from him the way he disassociates from himself! Except, with a little awareness you see that he’s a little too nice based on the terror of his situation, and so accommodating even the angels are on red alert. But he gets away with it because he can emit a kind of soothing, honey-like psychic emotional substance that wordlessly says “I-support-you-counselor-dude, I’m your friend—no problem here—all is well in my private Death Valley, in my swamp of poisonous snakes, I’ve even charmed them into relaxing and sleeping, even the vultures are passing me by for better, juicer meat”—such that he numbs you with it.                       Well, it’s trickier that than…he can sooth you with his numbness. That’s his other Jedi gift: he emits that calming, hypnotic, sweet as sugar, sit-back-and-relax energy through his instinctive center and swear to god you get lulled to sleep and complacency, and you like it. He’s found your numbing button and he’s pressing it. (Of course, this is a gift of his instinctual intelligence wherein he’s learned to survive in traumatic situations and not draw dangerous attention or circumstance to him.) And next thing you know he’s left rehab, a wave of pleasantness coating your most recent perception of him so you didn’t notice the impending signs that he was leaving, that he’s slipping away. He was so likable, you think to yourself. In retrospect, like waking from a dream, it dawns on you that’s he’s been gone ever since he arrived in rehab as he’s hidden skillfully and seamlessly in your fast-asleep-perception, and only the next day do you barely notice he’s not in group. Where the hell did Devan go? Hey, did anyone see him leave?

And what drives Nine’s passion to stay hidden behind their invisibility cloak? Fear. Utter, vulnerable, raw, I could die if I’m seen, fear. If I’m seen, located in space, I will be annihilated, cut off from all that I love. Like the terror Sandra Bullock exuded in the role of an astronaut in Gravity, nearly cut loose from the mother ship and sent spasmodically out of control into deep space, nothing to hang on to but her lifeline as the terror of her impending death and end of contact with all she loved, family, children, home, hung in the balance. If that fear doesn’t freeze you with a bone-chilling wish to not be seen and to stay invisible, I don’t know what would. So I (the Nine speaking) lie low, below the surface of my life, a stone underneath the surface of the stream, life gliding over me, you not noticing me. In fact, I don’t notice me. I’m so good at hiding, you don’t notice me and I don’t notice me, so no disturbance occurs inside or outside me. I hide out, go for cover, trying not to be affected by anything because being noticed means losing all security, safety, and peace that I imagine I’m in possession of, regardless if it’s only my imagined, delusionary peace found between my ears. Which is it. It is…it is…it is!

Problem is, this ‘I-protect-myself-by-disappearing’ phenomena is the exact, precise thing that calls his addiction to him, wakes the slithering snake up, because in the fog of this dream undigested and unrecognized emotional disturbance located in his real, lived life, located in the interior of his being—fear, anger, shame, vulnerability, powerlessness—can only be held at bay outside of his awareness for just so long before it merges with the vampire force of his addiction, and wakes it up such that suddenly, out of the blue, three years sober, the Nine finds himself drinking himself to death not knowing how he picked up the booze in the dreary alcohol aisle of Shop N’ Save. How did that happen? I don’t even remember picking the bottle up! Truth is he was mesmerized watching a euphoric-recall video of his addiction life (all the good parts, that is) that crept into his mind-stream in the midst of his fog of numbness, and unwittingly seduced him, saying, “Time to drink, time to shoot up, then you’ll feel relaxed and at peace; then you will feel as if you are home.” As the Type Nine later describes it, “Entering my thought stream like an old friend, erasing all memory of the terror and horror that awaits, I sipped on the euphoric recall of past drinking and drugging experiences and down I went, into the forgotten abyss of my repetitious suffering. And weirdly it felt good to sink into annihilation, like dropping into the arms of an old friend. How can hopelessness feel good? How weird is that?” It is a song, a hypnotic movie, a videotape that is always willing to meet him, that seeks him out.                                                                                

So the work is cut out for the Nine, from the standpoint that he has been residing, hibernating, building a secret garden of pleasure and comfort in his imagination while his “lived life” where real family members have lost faith in him, where his children grieve deeply for him, where his contact with reality has been avoided by the next moment of shooting up with heroin or dousing his life force with other painkillers. Everything has been reversed. His real thoughts and real suffering that brought him into addiction treatment feel like ‘unreal’ thoughts, dreamlike thoughts having no substance or capacity to ‘touch’ him. His imaginary life where pleasurable scenes and euphoric recall images of all his fun moments drinking and drugging play like a nonstop movie in his imagination—these feel real to him. (An example of this dream world addiction is found in the movie Requiem for Dream, most especially in the role played by Ellen Burstyn. Her imagination becomes what she experiences as ‘real.’)

He has learned to fix his attention here on his imagined life, to mistake this fantasy safe-zone, imagination-world as the ‘real,’ where he is anesthetized from his life-suffering until he can’t avoid it. Take the drugs away, drugs that fuel the inflamed imagination-retreat he has unwittingly created for himself, and he is left with no defenses except his capacity to withdraw, to pull an invisibility cloak over himself, and simply hunker down in hiding mode. And in that moment he is gripped by terror, the terror that he is unprotected and could die, simply by being here. The terror that what he imagined as real is nothing but. It is at this perilous point of awareness—in the cradle of emptiness in new sobriety—seeing that he’s sunk into a snake infested world of illusion—recovery begins. From this tender and most vulnerable place, those around him must be his anchor of reality until he begins to make friends with reality. (Fours also struggle with this imagination disease.)

In the first weeks of recovery when discomfort arises, dragons of annihilation at every turn, his suffering will arise unedited. His defenses will not work. Either he cracks open into reality, or he dives back into familiar suffering. It will take a monumental effort for him to simply say out loud what he is experiencing, and to stay with the realizations (Surely this is difficult for everyone!). Remember, his internal survivor script is to do nothing that causes conflict or suffering for others, and nothing that allows him to be seen. And yet, here on this cliff of death where he dangles off the overhang, he must be seen, must be heard, cannot stay mute. Yet the Inner Critic voice will screech through his brain, “You are nobody special and you better keep it that way.” When he starts to speak up and tell his truth, his Inner-Critic-fire-breathing-dragon will blare, “Who do you think you are? You’re taking up the breathing space of others simply by being here. Shut up!” And often he will. Or, as Bill-from-Chicago would say, “When feelings arise I feel so incredibly tired I could fall asleep on the spot. All energy drains from my being. I instantly forget what I was feeling or thinking. I go blank.” His habit of retreating into non-reality awareness is a powerful magnet as is his habit of blurring all things of discomfort into unrecognizability. Feelings? What feelings? Marty says it this way:

“When I was in early recovery and you asked me what I was feeling I felt like I looked down into a deep well of foggy murkiness. I was upset, was feeling something, but the minute you asked me about it, it immediately became so indistinct and unclear, would fog up into a cloud of confusion, that mostly I’d say, ‘I have no idea.’ And I meant it. In actuality, I felt a vague formless discontent that if I rested in it too long, would suddenly ascend from this fog in the form of unnamed anxiety, like a snake slithering up my spine. I’d immediately shut down and slip into my delusion-space where comforting dreams could settle me down. Learning to feel inner distinctions around my feelings took a long damn time. My first task was to simply stay sober, keep showing up, and find someone to lean on, who could guide me, because I felt like I had no ground underneath me, and no inner sense of knowing what was real. My feelings and wants and needs, well, ask me about this and you’re asking me to speak a foreign language. I simply had to hang on with faith that at some point I’d come out of the fog. I didn’t realize I was in a fog until I started to get glimpses of real feelings. I needed my counselor, my recovery friends, to teach me to identify my feelings. Often they’d see and sense that I was sad and they’d note it for me, bringing my attention to my voice, saying, “You sound so sad. I hear it in your voice. Can you hear yourself as you speak?” Or bringing attention to my facial expression, they’d say, “Your eyes are moistening. You look sad. Can you feel sadness in your face, or your throat, or your chest? What do you notice?” I had to practice attuning to these details, sensing into them, inch my inch, allowing myself to open to what was going on inside me. It was extremely weird and difficult because I had so many buffers built in to keep my emotional experience on a very thin band of existence. No highs, no lows, just a gray zone that kept me safe, so I thought. Widening that band of feeling experience, well, I needed people to notice and teach me the language, teach me how to identify what was going on inside me. Slowly I learned to lean into the terror that I was going to be abandoned if I felt anything. Little by little I learned that it is safe to be here as I am, with the feelings I’m experiencing, with the desires I possess.                                                

                                                              Working with the Type Nine                                                                              

Very different from working with the Type Eight who has a quality of irrepressible, in your face, sometimes explosive presence, the Nine is in many regards, the opposite. While working with the Eight has much to do with sometimes restraining the Eight’s intensity, working with Nine has something to do with waking up their intensity, turning up their life-light, calling them out of hiding such that they begin to trust that contacting their innate aliveness will not destroy them, but empower them. The core message of the Nine’s Inner Critic warns them that if they are not peaceful, or the people around them are not at peace—meaning if they can’t fix the upsets and conflicts of others—then they are not lovable. Well, lovable is putting it mildly. As William, a Nine, reports in recovery:

“The moment I begin to arise and tell my emotional truth, or state my individual perspective, I was greeted by the terror of annihilation. Kind of like the annihilation Dave, in 2001: A Space Odyssey, experienced when jettisoned by the plucky, rebel-robot-computer Hal into space in a space capsule, experiencing the real annihilation of his existence, and captured in the last words of Dave saying, ‘Hal…Hal…Hal’ while Hal gleefully said nothing. This is not a quiet annihilation but one that speaks of losing everything and everyone I am connected with. It hits hard and quick, and what I do as a Nine is I back right off and accommodate those around me while I disappear under a cloud cover, and drop through the entrance to by rabbit hole where I am safe. Now you see me, now you don’t.”

So it’s important to understand the recovery needs of the Nine. The first is simply this: pressuring them to change locks the Nine into resistance (as in, change will destroy all my peaceful connections with those I love, back the ‘f’ off), a quality of stubbornness that may not be externally visible but is immovable and outstandingly effective (the Nine can become an invisible mountain in a heartbeat). It’s like trying to get the wind to change directions. Put pressure on the wind and your hands slide right through the substance, effecting nothing. Exert pressure on the Nine to change and your intentions and pressure pass right through them. The magic trick of the Nine is to pretend he’s going along with your good intentions and your oh-so-thoughtful-advice so that you’ll get off his back while digging his heels in protesting, “Hell no, I won’t go.” Encouraging and inviting the Nine out of hiding works far more effectively than pressure which means that there is an element of patience that you must be comfortable with to really help the Nine. Meaning you’ve got to get it out of your counselor-sponsor-thick-head that you know how quickly the Nine should be moving. You don’t! I repeat, you don’t.

Truth is, they have this funny thing they do wherein they move as slow as molasses, or as one Nine put it, “I move in slow-motion so as to stay invisible, where I’m safe.” And then, when you’re not looking, they burst forth and fly by you in the jettisoned flow of their personal transformation. So, the ultimate question is can you be patient enough to trust their chosen speed? Can you stay away from that addictive and compelling and very well intended AA recovery habit of saying things like, “This is an action program and you’re not taking any action. Speed this ship up or you will relapse.” Not useful, usually to anyone, but truly well-intended. The Nine yawns and externally agrees, and then hides out. Take the pressure off him, and he gets curious about coming forward. And hey, some folks, namely the Three, Seven, and Eight need to stop action, slow down, get still, don’t move at all. With a little observational skill one sees that each recovery slogan only fits some of the Types. One size does not fit all.

So, what do they need? Space, room to move, trust in their process, understanding that for the Nine, stepping into life, taking steps to assert or nurture themselves, feels as alien as learning Russian. They are hardwired to accommodate you, and to accommodate you some more. And buried down deep is a wish to have a life. Your job as a counselor or sponsor is to notice this, notice the signs of their meaningful preferences, point to it without expectation, simply reflect, as in “I really feel your wish to get connected with your kids.” Notice it and notice again, because as their real passion arises on their screen of perception, it will disappear as quickly, as if it was never there in the first place.” Or, “I notice that when you talk about your dreams or hopes, that you quickly change the subject and bring attention back to others in the room. What’s it like to talk about what you want? What were you feeling when you were talking about a dream to be a teacher? Where did you experience that in your body?”

Similar to this, mirror them, feel and name for them what they are feeling. “I noticed that when you spoke, I could feel anger. Did you feel it? I often experience it in my belly. Where did you notice it in your body? Some Nine’s report that when they feel anger they dissociate from it quickly, so quickly that many times they don’t notice they were actually experiencing anger. It’s like wind that slips thru their fingers. Is this true for you? Like right now, where did your anger just vanish too?” Be prepared and patient when they reply, “I don’t know. I don’t know where my feelings vanish to.” And keep gently and patiently noticing. When they finally get it, when they drop into the sensations of their feelings, watch for a revolution in their awareness.

I watch Dominic, the majestic Type Eight counselor, work with Frankie the Flower, a type Nine client. Dominic’s gift is to give a client a name that exposes their weakness and strength, and then uses it to point to their growth edge. Dominic sees that Frankie is terrified, that his backbone is shaky if not non-existent, and Dominic, being a protector of the weak, does what he does. He loves a guy out of hiding. So, one day in the middle of the group, his back to Frankie, he says, “Now let me tell you guys about Frankie the Flower from New Yawk,” Dominic’s Brooklyn twang sliding thru his words. “I saw him with his kids yesterday and what I noticed was just how much he loved them, just how much he revered them, just how passionately he cares about them. Oh my God, his eyes lit up like the New York sun, which is by far the coolest sun on the planet. Hey, I’m from Brooklyn and I know these things. And his kids, the look in their eyes—they adore him. They couldn’t take their eyes off him. Frankie over there looks really quiet but don’t you buy that shit for one second. With his kids, he cares for them from the belly of his soul. Here he’s got fire. Not wimpy fire, but here he’s got sizzle, passion, guts. He just doesn’t show it. His passion, if you notice closely, will be found in his gentleness. This is a quality we all need to cultivate, gentleness and kindness. And this too, is muscular, dudes, muscular gentleness and kindness,” Dominic says, his eyes hot with conviction. “And when he gets over his fear, he will touch all of you. His kindness will melt you down into a kinder version of yourself.”

Turning to Frankie the Flower and holding him in the force-field of his attention, well, Frankie is in tears. He’s been seen by the majestic Dominic who has named his inner world. He has touched the chords of his real and caring heart. With his impacting instinctual energy he has felt deep inside Frankie’s soul, and struck chords of truth. He continues. “And I can only imagine after the kids left from the visit, the heartbreak that cut thru him, that almost knocked him breathless. I saw this. He was sitting over in the corner with his head down, chest sunken, both grieving and raging at himself. See, Frankie is deeply sensitive, and he cares passionately about the people in his life, so much so that he can’t find words yet to convey his love and caring for them, and he’s way more alive than you might notice. But we’ve got to notice him and help him find words to call out these feelings so that he begins to name what is beautiful within him, so that he can see his gifts. See, when he gets really quiet, when he’s disappeared before your very eyes, when he is so quiet he dissolves into the couch, you know that some intense shit is going on, so we got to help him notice this, and coax him out. Right Frankie?”

And Frankie, looking up at Dominic, is a well of sadness, tears streaming down his cheeks. Dominic has seen and mirrored him in a way nobody ever has. Because of Dominic’s magnanimous words, Frankie now has a felt connection with a very real part of his soul that matters to him. He’s been handed a precious jewel: the compelling reason for getting sober and walking through all of the inconceivable, god awful discomfort of early recovery. Dominic’s words zapping his inner world, reaching in and touching the very real fabric of his heart—has touched the ‘real’ in him, and the real in him feels ‘good.’ Dominic called it out, named it, brought it into the room, resurrected the real in him so that Frankie is developing ‘eyes’ to sense and feel himself.

Now Dominic—Brooklyn Dom he calls himself—his eyes teary too (and it is such an honor to see a powerful man, filled with the granite of courage, so powerfully vulnerable at the same time), says, “Okay, enough of this soft shit. Next thing you know you’ll have me doing yoga and eating vegetables, and this ain’t happening in the near future. I eat steak. And I eat potatoes. That’s it, dudes!” he says, eyes full of playful fire. And turns to Frankie, “Just remember this, Frankie the Flower from New York, whose soul is as soft and lovely as a flower, I have your back. We have your back. You can come forward and be seen. We want you to shine your light here. It is time for you!” And dear Frankie, blown away by how he has been touched, says meekly, “Thank you,” and bows his head in humble thanks. This is what is called loving a guy into reality. And what follows over the next several weeks is that Frankie starts talking in group, starts telling his truth, starts to arise, discovers he has a belly-splitting, unexpected, sense of humor, while Dominic continues to turn the fire of truth up in him little by little, inch by inch, saying ‘Come forward my brother, you belong here.”

It is in these holy moments that I am fully aware of the power of love. This above all else is what calls men to sobriety—sheer love and kindness for the suffering of the others, naming it, seeing it, and calling it forth. Powerful.

                                         The Core Suffering and Dilemma of the Nine in Recovery

You see the Type Nine—the peacemaker, the easy-going, self-effacing type—sitting at an AA meeting, initially withdrawn and distant, but with a little time clean and sober, a sort of likable, relaxed, I-won’t-bother-you-character, emerges. Gentle, kind, unobtrusive. Not quick to speak, and not wanting attention. Quiet. Humble. Unassuming. Considerate. Shunning loud and abrasive sharing. Occasionally emitting a smile, sweet and tender. Yes, at his best, when he’s present, you’ve got your own Mr. Rogers in your meeting, and such a blessing this is to everyone. There are enough gruff, ill-mannered, self-indulgent, loud mouthed, ego-bragging recovering alcoholics to go around (well, that is the nature of addiction), and without the Nine cooling the waters you’re just in another bar except there’s no booze flowing, only egos that are not fuel-injected. Believe me, you can still be a complete drunk without picking up a drink, and the Nine is there to de-ego people.

Yet, with closer insight, one senses that a great deal is going on beneath the surface. One wonderful Nine said it this way: “I’m sitting in recovery group and it appears as if I’m listening. But actually, I’m often off in my imagination constructing a cozy hobbit hole where I am comfortable, stockpiling this inner refuge with all the stuff that makes me feel good. I’m remembering those good times, my favorite times, reliving the positive moments, the positive times with friends, lovers, family, taking in only the positive impressions of the past like a wonderful visual drink. All is well. No one knows this but myself. It’s what I do to avoid the more horrific feeling that at any moment this peace can come undone, a tidal wave of disorder can disrupt me and annihilate me. My ability to preoccupy myself with my imagination is the tool I use to keep my personal suffering at bay. There, everything is fine with my family and kids, nothing has been lost, there are no fights, my drinking hasn’t harmed anyone, there’s no crazy behavior that I can remember. All of this I magically edit without even thinking about it.”

There is also a vigilance, a watchfulness the Nine embodies, quietly, secretly checking to see if any unwanted intruders or circumstances are approaching. Although sometimes appearing sleepy and distant, this watchfulness does not subside. It’s like a cat resting sleepily, eyes closed, but completely wired and present to any sounds or stirrings around him. He’s so quiet you don’t even see him as he blends into the woodwork of other recovering souls in the room. It’s the Nine’s fundamental strategy to stay safe. I see the danger before I become victim to it. I shape-shift into a quiet stream of nothingness so even the air I breathe is not disturbed.

And one day, as soft as quiet wind on your face, you arrive and notice that the Type Nine has disappeared from meetings, left the playing field of recovery. The gentle presence gently left. He is hardly noticed. Where did he go? What happened? Later investigation will reveal these facts. “I forgot to show up for my counselor’s meeting. I made a list of recovery meetings that I was going to attend, but I forgot about them. I don’t know why. I was going to see my sponsor today but I spaced it out. And I completely forgot what happens when I drink. How’d that happen? It’s like the knowledge that would scare the shit out of regarding my drinking got deleted from my memory tracks.”

This sleepy forgetfulness is typical of the Nine in early recovery, and surprisingly typical in later recovery. The baseline sleeping pill of the Nine: “I just forget what is critical to my growth and development. I flow with the stream of things, hide or get lost in the waves of the moment where I am not detectable, to myself or others, such that fifteen years sober, I have not ruffled the waves, and in fact, cannot feel my own existence. It’s like I become a vacant lot inside myself. It is then that partners abandon me (in my imagination I thought we were fine), friends tire of me, my connections with others lose vitality because I can’t show up as a full-feeling, individual in the matrix of my own life. In fact, spouses and friends often want to shake me to see if I’m home, if I’ve got any juice, spine, aliveness, fire, or individual perspective. As in, Dude, do you ever get angry? Does anything move you? At year five, ten, fifteen of my recovery, when personal losses occur, when my unconscious strategy to avoid being disturbed actually causes the disturbance I wish to avoid—disruption and abandonment—my addiction slips quietly up my soul stream and takes me over. Maybe it’s done so from the very start of my recovery after breaking thru the chains of drug addiction, when overeating, shopping, indulging in fantasy dreams, finding comfort systems that fill in for my real existence become my bargaining tool for avoiding any further contact with my real and felt sense of myself.” (We know this happens with all the types, they stop one addiction and pick up another, almost instantly.)

One very present and spiritually-seasoned Nine put it this way: “Like all the types, I began my recovery by finally dipping into the real, allowing myself to feel both my internal and external disturbances. I learned I can handle this. I felt an initial aliveness that was liberating. And then I discovered that I found a new, improved ‘automatic pilot,’ a new pattern of survival that allows my newly awakened ‘real awareness’ to slip beneath the waves. A newly formed automatic pilot sneaks in, steps into the driver’s seat, and I fall back to sleep. I start to disappear from real engagement with others, while having a better act, a more functional act, that makes me look like I’m really engaging. As I cheerily proclaim how great recovery is, my inner life is reverting to its default… numbness and disconnection, the very suffering that I drank over. It’s so challenging to spot this habit, this mechanism of my ego-personality.

Remember this if you can (you can’t—forget about it—you need wise men around you to keep you awake!): every new awakening, stretching you into new openness and vulnerability and humility—which feels really good—is followed by a new, slippery version of “I’m sound asleep just wearing different clothes” mechanism, in which one unconsciously steps away from one’s new found aliveness (it’s hard to stay present to the next arising moment) while imagining one is still open and present. All the types do this. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. It’s human. We learned it as kids to survive. Just need to know this is what happens in recovery. Our well-honed survival habits don’t disappear because we’ve had a few months (or few years) of opening our hearts. These are the survival habits that are doing push-ups in the parking lot while we attend another recovery meeting. Now you look like a person in recovery, you say the right lines, you take the right ‘recovery’ actions but you’ve managed to find a new form of ‘showing good recovery face’ and unconsciously drop back into a newly anesthetized, numb-my-real-life mode. This pattern is insidious, and unless you know of its existence you will succumb, and so many do. In fact, this habit of falling back asleep is the real addiction one is challenged to navigate and master. This fundamental principle applies: You grow or you go.

Deep Wound/Relapse Pattern of the Type Nine—feeling disconnected from my felt-sense of peace with those I care for, I use my imagination to create a undisturbed imagined-peace. I disconnect from others imagining I’m connected. Key Commandment: To be loved and lovable and not banished into non-existence you must be at peace, and you must create peace for those around you. Deep Wish—to feel deeply connected with self and those around me, to trust life, to feel its warm embrace, to sense the deep peace that abides in me. He sees himself—as peaceful, easy going, unaffected by life, down to earth, able to soothe others. At Level 4 and below—I begin to disengage, to go along with the wishes of others, to feel particularly vulnerable to any kind of conflict, to lose contact with my inner stability and groundedness. Avoiding conflict begins to take my attention. I sink beneath the surface of life to avoid being affected by life. My Emotional Habit is sloth. In response to overwhelming fear I unconsciously numb myself, tune myself out, and stop sensing what I care about. In fact, I often feel exhausted when moving towards something I care about, or I simply lose the thread of my passion.  I unconsciously live on a thin band of emotional response to keep myself peaceful. My heart-light turns way down. My Mental Habit is Rumination or Daydreaming. I get addicted to the flow of thoughts, my imagination, chewing on things that don’t galvanize me or move in the direction of what I care about. I unconsciously avoid those thoughts that would move me to action, that would light up my very real curiosity, and get lost in the machinations of unimportant thoughts and considerations. Any thoughts that pertain specifically to my own arising and aliveness get lost in the sea of unimportant thougths. My Inner Critic tells me that I am nobody special, that I don’t deserve to take up the time and energy of others, that my job is to simply keep things peaceful for others, to not let on that I exist and have personal passions that matter to me. Stay unnoticed, then you are good and lovable…and safe!

A.H. Almass describes the very real power of the ego personality in these words:

The personality will do anything in its power to preserve its identity and uphold its domain. This tendency – or, let’s say, this need – is so deep, so entrenched, so completely the fabric of our identity, that only the person who has gone a long way toward establishing the essential life will be able to apprehend and appreciate this. This need is in our flesh, blood, bones even our atoms. The power of the personality is so great, so immense, so deep, so subtle that the person who contends with it for a long time will have to give it its due respect. Its power is awesome. Its subtlety is unimaginable. Its intelligence is limitless.” (from Giving the Personality Its Due Respect, by A.H. Almass)

Protective Mechanism of the Nine—You will not affect me nor will you see me

The Nine’s protective mechanism is to not let life affect him, intrude upon him, or disturb his inner peace by not paying attention to what is disturbing. When in conflict he thinks about comforting things, he distracts himself with thoughts and images that don’t activate or disturb him. It’s as if everything slides past him, rather than landing and registering inside him. His safety depends on his ability to avoid being affected by events and people that evoke conflict—the dreaded ‘C’ word—so he retreats to an inner world we call his Inner Sanctum, a kind of internal cathedral consisting of all the impressions of experiences he’s collected that have soothed him, settled him down, made him feel at ease, or gracefully numbed him out. Having a difficult time with his wife, well, he’s got an internal repository of positive memories about her from those times when they were doing well, an inner video library that he can select from, like pulling a DVD from the historic library of his mind, he can, when needed, experience the ‘good’ wife whenever he wants to. Never mind the grouchy one!

The wife on the outside, in real life, might be a first rate pain in the neck to him, but not to worry, he’s hanging out with his ‘inner’ wife and all is well. He so loves her, and hey, what conflicts are you talking about, we’re doing great, why would you possibly want to go to couples counseling, we’re good, he replies, while his ‘real’ wife glares at him, wanting contact with something real in him, wanting on some level to shake him awake. In fact, his real wife sometimes feels more imaginary to him than the one he’s constructed in his imagination. In place of his substance abuse he’s become addicted to his soothing imagination-impressions and now drinks them for solace. In time, after suffering many losses due this his habit of disappearing under stress, he will relapse for certain, as it is only a matter of time before real life cracks into his Inner Sanctum.

Tommy the T-bone—as counselor Dominic calls him—came to men’s group because his wife was demanding that he have one real, intimate conversation with her, or she was leaving him. This got his attention especially since this was his second marriage and he’d heard this ultimatum before. After nine months slip by in group, one of the men notices he hasn’t talked about this, or anything else of personal relevance, as in, “Tommy, what’s really going on in your life?” which Andrew, the gorilla-like Eight, asks, voice gruff, husky and piercing as in ’give me the straight talk and nothing less.’ You see Tony has that smooth-as-silk Nine skill of deflecting attention even with these experts of bullshit detection, so able to sit still as a stone and not be seen, his emotional house on fire but disassociated from while he hangs out in the basement of his awareness watching inner videos of The Waltons. In this case it took nine months for these guys to notice him. Not bad amongst men whose bullshit detectors are faster than a speeding bullet.

Tommy replies, “Everything is great. Everything, really, really great,” a smile gleaming from his face, he looking like a joyful, innocent nine-year-old, no ill-intention to be found anywhere (who could get angry with that face!) while his eyes flicker subtle signals of trepidation (Uh oh, this guy is coming after me.). Pressed on the validity of his everything-is-great-life, he gives up a few secrets, hoping this offering will be enough to stop further interrogation, saying gingerly, “Well, she did call me a racist pig last week, but I know she was having a bad day.” A perky, non-convincing smile flickers back at the men, while the jaws of eight men simultaneously drop to the floor. And Andrew the Eight, his instinctual radar registering a fantastic lie, says firmly, “Tommy, what the hell kind of Kool-Aid are you drinking, bro? Something laced with Valium? Geez Louise, she called you a racist pig. Dude, she is freaking furious with you. That’s a slam dunk that says don’t even think of getting close to me. Does she have to grab you by the ball-sack to get your attention? She’s asking for a response, insulting you to see if there is any life in you, and you sit there like white bread, smiling back at her? That’s what you do with us, bro, exactly the same! It’s a really subtle way of saying F.U. while smiling back at us. It’s maddening!”

Andrew the Eight takes a breath, aware he’s getting amped up, lie-detecting-fury rising in his spine and now entering his fists which he’s unconsciously clenched, furious that he’s been duped for nine months, lulled to sleep by Tommy’s excellent snake-charming trick. He continues. “So, if things are so-o-o-o great, when was the last time you had sex?” Tony searches his memory banks, the pressure of the Type Eight bearing down on him like a laser, and replies, “Well, it’s been a month. She’s been having a hard time and I’ve been trying to not upset her more,” he says, boy-like innocence flickering in his eyes again. Meaning…at home he’s walking on eggshells so he’s not pushing the sex agenda and deftly dodging this reality by imagining that his avoidance is an act of kindness and peace, that he doesn’t want to cause his wife further suffering—when in fact he is freaking terrified. Andrew, now up on the edge of his seat, his eyes black bullets of truth and intensity, is not buying it and quickly responds to Tony’s bullshit-deflect-the-question-I’m-just-being-a-peaceful-and-loving-guy ploy. “I can’t feel an ounce of truth coming from you. You know that, don’t you? You probably haven’t had sex for 6 months, right?” Tony, a flush of embarrassment filling his cheeks with bright crimson, looks down at the floor. Bingo! He’s been read and found out, and sputters to explain himself. Shame cuts the air, thick and sorrowful and heavy, the shame-knife hanging from his heart. This is exactly what he tries to avoid so desperately, this sense that he has created conflict and disturbed the inner peace. God forbid!

Still on it and ramping up with intensity at discovering something false, Andrew the Eight says, “Okay, man, you came here because your wife demanded you have an intimate conversation with her. Remember, that’s what you told us. How’s that going?” his question sharp and bristling with impatience. Tony ponders a minute, head down, hands in his lap, and then starts in, “Well, she got furious the other day and I left the house. I got in the car and began to drive, and as I drove, I had a conversation with her. She spoke, I spoke, she spoke, I spoke, and 30 minutes later we’d resolved it. We were friends again,” he says, his eyes full of redemptive hope. Andrew looks back at him, face coiled in a question mark. “So, where was she during this conversation?” Tony perks up, “Oh, she was at home.” Andrew’s eyes magnify and darken, a dragon of disbelief flaring inside him, and says, “Dude, that does not qualify as an intimate conversation. That’s you in your damn imagination dreaming you had a conversation and mistaking it for real. No wonder you haven’t been laid in 6 months. Do you see that?”

Tony’s eyes fall again to the floor. He knows no better. Sober five years, people in recovery know him as a kind and decent man, which he is, he wouldn’t hurt a flea. What they are unaware of is just how often he lives in his Inner Sanctum, how he seamlessly and invisibly slips into this cave in the face of conflict, how he can put on a happy, puppy-dog face when he is terrified or god forbid angry, and how distant he is from real contact with folks in recovery. He can recite the lines, he can do the steps, he can be a dutiful recovering alcoholic and please his sponsor, he can sponsor other men and at the same time, can totally not be home. I repeat: Not…be…home. As one Nine put it, the lights are on but no one is home, and frankly I like it that way.

Andrew and the group members are visibly shocked at what they have witnessed, this vulnerable unveiling of Tony’s retreat pattern. With heart-filled compassion they ask how they can help him. Tony stands at a perilous ledge of transformation, with what feels like an alligator-filled-quarry waiting below him. His annihilation is certain. This is no opportunity but an encounter with death. He listens but can’t really reply, is so flustered, can’t find words—what were we talking about, I can’t remember—his mind fogged and details lost, the shame an iron hand tightening around his throat. Others sooth him, reminding him that this is an opportunity to see a pattern that keeps him closed off to others, that he is cared about, hang in there, man. At best, he mutters, “I just can’t express my anger. I feel so selfish when I do. I don’t want to upset anyone,” and his words trail off in a grief-hidden silence to some distant place of familiar despair. Group ends and Tony leaves the room, sheepish yet cheerful. Man, he can pull cheerful out of nowhere.

And…he never returns to group.

In his Nine fashion he’s delivered the message, quietly and silently: “Do not mess with me.” The downside of not allowing life or people to affect you is that no one gets inside you and gets to know you, nor can help you, not even yourself. One remains a sort of invisible person, a wraith or phantom. If one always appears easy-going as Tony did, has no feathers that ruffle, appears to glide seamlessly around and under events, then what is seen is a constructed vehicle of no-response-peaceful-nothingness. You stay invisible to avoid conflict and your invisibility causes conflict. People get affected by your non-presence and in fact, your non-presence ruffles feathers in ways you don’t plan for and surely don’t want! Not to mention the war you create inside yourself, resisting your anger and your wish to show up in the world.

In addiction recovery, this Nine style is an important hurdle to be overcome. Here’s what happens for the Nine: they sit at meetings, never complaining, or reacting, or sharing their particular truth, and people think the Nine is doing fine and doesn’t need help. Underlying all of this is a fundamental childhood message that rules this quiescent behavior: It’s not okay to be seen, or to stand out. Better to stay invisible and unseen. Better to go along with other’s wishes, desires, and commands than to cause upset or turmoil for anyone, or do anything that might disturb their peace, or bring attention to oneself. You don’t really matter. Your presence doesn’t matter. With this message etched deeply into the Nine’s psyche, the idea of asking for help is fierely dangerous. Better to appear to go along with others, to appear as if one is at peace with those around oneself, to appear as though you only need the slightest of help, if any. Appearing to be at ease with everything also fulfills the deeper desire of not being messed with or intruded upon. And why would anyone want to intrude on the Nine when they appear to be so peaceful and in agreement with those around him. No need for concern, all is well, better than well. They can be safely left alone and unattended to.

But what is the Type Nine feeling in early recovery? What’s on their insides? Many report a sense of deep anxiety, the sense that their comfortable world has dissolved and they are racing as fast and invisibly as they can to establish a new sense of inner stability, to feel as though they’ve got things back in place, that there is a routine to their life that is working, all the while projecting the image of being peaceful and at ease. And ironically, angry at those who are trying to get them to stop self-destructing, as in, “Why don’t they just leave me alone. I’m fine!” Talk about a high wire, balancing act. And yet here they are at AA or NA meeting or in a support group surrounded by grumpy, unpredictable recovering strangers who speak out, sometimes blunt as birth, sometimes crude and rough and threatening, mostly edgy and not peaceful, and the Nine is supposed to enter this dangerous chaos? Fat chance, dawg! More likely, instead of focusing on themselves and what they need to do to stay clean and sober, they are lying low not wanting to wake up a hornet’s nest in the room while they ruminate in their Inner Sanctum, dreaming about loved one’s at home, the son, the daughter, the girlfriend, the spouse. While their body is at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, they are with their family in their imagination, or chewing on comfortable thoughts like wouldn’t it be nice to drink as a diversion to feeling their anxiety.

It is a most difficult time. Discomfort crawling up and down their spine, their sense of safety and security severely threatened or destroyed, they put on the mask of “the calm one” while their insides freak out and the deep loss of disconnection with loved ones’ churns just outside the confines of their inner sanctum, trying to break into the delusion tunnel they are hiding themselves in. Internally they are a mess, a mess that does not want to reveal itself to self or other, that wants to reconstruct the peaceful façade immediately, both externally and internally. So, with survival instincts alive and well, nothing spontaneous is going to pour from them. No fast moves. They are working full-time to maintain a fabricated harmony. They are careful to stay in a low key, laid back, easy-does-it, just-out-of-sight framework so as to not wake up sleeping devils, even if those sleeping devils reside inside them and must be awakened for them to grow and survive. Stay calm, stay calm, make no waves, things will return to normal.

And yet they are sitting on a ready-to-erupt Mount Vesuvius, the peace that they have yearned for having come completely undone by their substance use. Their attempt at unifying with those they love via their imagination has utterly failed. In their mind they are running unity scripts, making plans, holding up the hope that they can return to their dissolved life and establish the unity they so long for without actually doing the recovery work—the 12 Steps, getting a sponsor or coach, letting themselves be seen, working with a therapist, uncovering internal dead bodies of suffering that they’ve numbed to sleep—and waking up their innate capacity and right to be here. In the midst of these scripts they can silently disappear from the room…quiet as a whisper.

                                               Suggestions for the Nine in Recovery

  1. You must learn to lean into conflict. Okay, let’s face it, this is last item on your Nine list of “Things I’d love to do in 2017.” As with all of your fellow traveling Nines, you’ve mistakenly learned to pursue your true self, which is the very stuff of well-being, through avoiding anything that disturbs you or increases the intensity of your experience, and eventually retreating via substances into your safe cave. Avoiding conflict gives you the feeling that you’ve spared yourself discomfort, but truth is, avoidance insures that your connection with your aliveness is stilted, and stilting your aliveness is the very thing that will unconsciously call your addiction to you, like a vampire ghost. You stay stilted and in a safe range of emotional response, and one day your addiction will slither right into that deadness unseen, and next thing you know you will magnetically drawn to your drug of choice, and enter an old hypnotic movie theater that only plays replays of All the Good Times I Had in Drug Oblivion—minus the suffering.
  2. You need the support of trusted friends to alert you to the very signs that indicate you are angry, or sad, or fearful. As many Nines say, “Trying to feel and locate my distinct feelings is like looking for a needle in a haystack. My feelings arise, and just as quickly disappear into some internal morass of fog.” Friends, sponsors, counselors can help you to begin to discern your feelings. Ask for help. Truth is, you’ve developed protective patterns that edit out your anger, edit out your right and need to have a voice, edit out any emotional responses that draw attention to you. In fact, you can speak angrily (your voice carries the anger, your body shows it clear as daylight) and not feel it. As in, “I’m not angry” while the rest of you growls like a fierce dog. Talk about disassociation. You need your friends to help you out of hiding, who teach you about the very camouflage you are hidden in, unbeknownst to yourself.
  3. Start by finding your anger. This is at the top of your list. It is not unusual for Nines to report that anger is simply not a feeling they have much familiarity with, as in, “I haven’t felt or expressed anger for the past 15 years. It’s just not there.” That’s because you are practiced at turning away from these feelings as a means of surviving in an alien and sometimes mean-spirited world. Or when you start to experience it, it vanishes from your awareness so quickly you hardly notice it. So where to start. Ah yes, with those you trust who you’ve invited to let you know when your external manifestations show signs of anger. As in, “Bill from Calais, your body is showing sure signs of rage. Do you notice that you are growling, dude, like a cornered animal? Do you notice you’re fists are clinched and your face is tense and hard? Can you sense this in your body?” Find these friends.S
  4. Notice your belief that you are responsible for the peace of others. This means becoming conscious of the message your Inner Critic is piping into your stream of consciousness twenty-four-seven: “You’re good (or lovable) if you are at peace and those around you are at peace. If people are uneasy or disturbed, you’re responsible for calming them down. If you’re not at peace, you are not lovable and could be banned to an Iceberg in Antarctica.” What an impossible order. But this happens all the time in recovery. The Nine comes into recovery, is so skillful and attuned to the upset of others, that he does what he does best. He doesn’t dig down into the circumstances and suffering that brought him into recovery, not at first, but goes on ‘automatic pilot’ and begins being the soothing force of peace for others. That’s his habit, to sense the state of others and bring down the volume and tension around him. Which is what we love about him. But, as one teacher said to me, unless you learn to be an expert in asking for help, you will not be healthy enough to give away your gifts. You must come first, in the beginning.
  5. Become particularly aware of how you unconsciously express your anger in passive-aggressive ways, such that you silently do things that irritate the hell out of people, and just can’t understand why they are enraged with you. I’m so peaceful, what is their problem. For instance, your spouse asks you to “Please pick up after yourself, you ever-loving slob” and you say, “Sure, hon, I got it.” And then, day after day, when confronted about the ever-growing mound of your clothes on the floor, with the kindest of hearts, and biggest puppy-dog eyes, you say, ‘I am so sorry. I’ll get to those straight away!’ And you don’t. These situations, if you inquire deeply within yourself, will show you where you might be holding onto some anger and deflecting it into stubborn-forgetfulness-I-hate-you-and-leaving-my-clothes-on-the-floor-works-best-to-piss-you-off.
  6. Become mindful of your repetitious thoughts and fantasies. This is no easy feat, but so necessary to your ability to arise and enter your life. Thoughts and fantasies come in a variety of ways, but most important here is to notice what your stream-of-consciousness-fantasy-life-is, and how this habitual fantasy activity distracts you from being present, destroying your ability to experience your lived-in-the-moment life. Your Inner Sanctum, your Secret Garden is a comfortably-disguised-burial-ground-for-your-soul which devours your attention seamlessly such that your aliveness and your soul gets buried there—yes, you are held up as a prisoner imagining you are free—sipping Pina Coladas with little attention-quotient left to actually feel and sense the experience of you. This is life as a ghost, in case you were wondering. Reality Check: Do you actually make real effort to put your fantasized life into real actions?
  7. Learn to sense your body. Because you are wired for having your attention stolen by your ruminating thoughts and your inner fantasy world, that is, your secret garden of cushy pleasantness where everything that instigates pleasure and calm is at the fingertips of your imagination, learning to sense your body and bring attention into your body is a survival skill that will actually free-up some of your ‘attention,’ pulling it away from the addiction-suck of your imagination machine. What’s this mean? Well, as you gain more attention and presence in your body you will actually start to more directly experience the living state of body—awake and alive or contracted and disassociating—and your feelings. You’ll begin to experience warning signs, and if particularly awake may say to yourself: “I’m disappearing from reality because it feels uncomfortable & unpredictable, yep, I can feel my body numbing as I begin to watch my pleasant inner video of Life’s Great and Beautiful in Here and This is Where I will Hide out for Eternity, or at Least Until the Storm Passes. Yes, it’s a long name for your inner video, so name your own. The point being that when you begin to feel the experience of your body numbing out and your mind going into bliss-mode-all-is-well-no-suffering-to-be-found-anywhere-in-my-universe you will have created enough awareness in yourself to be able to make a choice. While you feel the gravitational-siren-call to pull up the covers of your imagination and sleep, you can begin to choose to stay in reality and deal with life on life’s terms. Or you can ca-pluck yourself down into your favorite imagination river of peace and tranquility and numb out! But a choice will arise, and it’s great to have the choice. Recommendation: make it a practice to sense your body at least 10 minutes each morning, going thru each limb, hand, foot, trunk, face, mouth, jaw, eyes, just bringing attention to your body and noticing sensations arise of their own volition. Inhabit your body!
  8. Become aware of how your deeper wishes and desires arise and vanish like the wind. That is, begin to notice the wishes you have for self-expression or fulfillment, and how you have a built in ‘forgetter’ that makes it near impossible to remember what you have affection and desire for. As you begin to identify and lean into your passion (what you deeply care about), when registering it on your screen of perception a number of not-cheerful-traps await you. The first is the voice of your Inner Critic—the Balrog in Mines of Morea comes to mind—who will scream, threaten, and push you over the ledge of oblivion—whatever it takes, and says, “Who do you think you are for thinking you can do this? What gives you the right to do this? No one will care about what you do. It doesn’t even matter if you try. You are nobody special and should remain that way. Really, why bother?” Now if that doesn’t cheer you up such that you devote yourself to eating potato chips and watching reruns of Cheers or Seinfield until you die of escapism-gluttony, I don’t know what will.
  9. Become aware of your sloth! This symptom of your personality-machine-in-action often registers as ‘tiredness.’ You finally get excited about something, and it’s as if someone pulled the plug on your energy. Time for a nap. Time to withdraw. There you are in poppy fields with Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz falling fast asleep. This energy-suck is a trick of your Inner Critic—also known as The Big Snooze in the book You Are A Badass who, if he can’t discourage you by frontal attacks reminding you that you an idiot of the worst sort, simply drains your felt sense of energy and confidence out the backside of your soul. That is, he steals your will without ever raising his voice in insult. Observe the pattern: You start to get excited and take real action towards your chosen dream, followed by a strangely soothing loss of energy, or a mesmerizing loss of clarity about what you wanted. Everything gets blurry such that whatever direction you were feeling, is lost in the fog-scape of your mind and your parasitic-inertia. And, scarily it feels good to lose track, to drop into la-la land. You’ve just been drugged by your Inner Critic! Here’s where you need a coach to keep you on track.
  10. Notice when you experience compassion and understanding for those you are interacting with while curiously forgetting to include yourself. Here’s a habit that will hold you in a trance of confusion and shock forever. You begin to notice that you are so automatically wired towards sympathizing and empathizing with others that in crisis all of your attention goes to the inner state and outer circumstances of the ‘other’ such that any grounds you have for experiencing personal feelings related to the negative actions of another upon you—such as personal shame, blame, hurt, judgment or, god forbid, betrayal—swoosh!—disappear! It’s as if you are observing someone else in a movie going through your suffering. You’ve vanished into the thin air of your hermetically sealed inner-chamber labeled ‘disassociated feelings,’ or ‘things-that-aren’t-really-happening-to-me-even-though-it-appears-that-someone-with-my-name-is-going-thru-them.’ Example: Tommy B. discovers that his wife, Mary from Topeka, has begun an affair with a friend of his. In the midst of feeling hurt and betrayed, his personality mechanism gives him a spiritual bypass, and instead of saying something like, “I’m going to pluck the eyeballs from the head of my so-called friend, Roving Jack of Des Moines, and my erring wife (like a hearty Four might do, at least verbally), Tommy B. says, “Well, I can see why my wife had an affair. She’s been lonely. I’ve held her back, and of course, she’s got childhood issues that play into this. As for my friend, well, he too must have needed someone to quell his loneliness.” When asked if he’s angry he replies, “No, not really. Well maybe a little. I don’t know, I can’t feel the anger. Just seems like there were good reasons for why this happened. I feel bad for them. I can feel their pain.” This is called being pathologically nice. As in, I’m so conditioned to modify and shape-shift my anger and hurt into a plate of understanding-for-all, that I cannot and do not have permission to say “I am shocked to the bone, feel no empathy for anyone at this moment, am both hurt and enraged, and it’s not pretty inside. I think I want to kill something.” That is, the Nine’s direct experience of rage gets instantly lost in the role of Mr. Rogers-on-steroids soothing the waters around him ‘as if he wasn’t in the actual experience of being betrayed,’ as if he weren’t a participant.
  11. Attempt to work against your inertia that disconnects you from your passion. Choose one of your passions and notice how quickly is moves to the background of you awareness. Choose it. Name it. Decide you are going after it. Let a coach, friend or therapist know what your goal is, and create a clear set of steps for reaching it. Let’s say you’ve chosen to write a book. Create a start date. Write all of this down. Place it on a wall near your writing space. Begin. And watch. First day of writing goes well and you feel inspiration and flow. You think, “This is going to be easy.” Day two arrives, and the passion is gone. Or you can’t remember specifically what your goal was. Or you magically find yourself transported to the shopping mall to buy socks, underwear, blueberries, something! And you remember, oh yes, that writing project. Then five days roll by because the fog amnesia, the fog of anti-passion energy, owns you. Well, the good news is you’ve written it down somewhere. Find it. Start again. Then, start again. And, start again. That’s the drill.
  12. Keep your commitments visually available so that when the mind-drift of nothing-really-matters-it-feels-so-soothing-to-rest-in-this-nonmotivated-nothingness-that-I could-die-here-peacefully hits you at least remember to look on your wall-of-forsaken-passions to remind yourself before you totally sink into the slip-stream of my-passion-doesn’t-exist, it was only a passing thought, never mind. Believe me, it happens so magically that a year later you come to the surface and realize, oh, geez, something completely stole my attention and put my passion to sleep. This dynamic, if not handled, will lead you to the emptiness that calls your addiction to you like stampeding horses. It’s shocking to realize that it feels good to disconnect from the real expression of your passion and your dreams and that you must develop the will to work against this energy of death. Just saying.
  13. Lean away from your instinct to accommodate the wishes of others to keep the peace. This is the Wake-Up call for the Nine, as in “I say yes when I mean no. I say yes when I don’t know what I want. I agree pathologically, smile as if I agree, and don’t notice the wrenching feeling of self-abandonment in the pit of my stomach, or the volcanic rage simmering in my depths for self-abandoning me most of my life.” Dip your toes into the waters of conflict, slowly but surely. You will discover that you can tolerate it, and learn to navigate conflict skillfully, one inch at a time. Easy does it but do it!

Parting Words

So beloved Type Nine, you are on a journey of discovery. Let me end with these wise words of A.H. Almass:

“Your conflicts, all the difficult things, the problematic situations in your life are not chance or haphazard. They are actually yours. They are specifically yours, designed specifically for you by a part of you that loves you more than anything else. The part of you that loves you more than anything else has created roadblocks to lead you to yourself. You are not going to go in the right direction unless there is something pricking you in the side, telling you, “Look here! This way!” The part of you loves you so much that it doesn’t want you to lose the chance. It will go to extreme measures to wake you up, it will make you suffer greatly if you don’t listen. What else can it do? That is its purpose. How much suffering, how much difficulty it brings us is immaterial in relation to the fulfillment and satisfaction you will have when you actually struggle and see the fruits of the struggle.” (Diamond Heart Book One, p. 140.)

That said, I do believe you are ready to rock n’ roll your way down the aisle of recovery. Yes, there will be bumps, but they will be good bumps. And besides, although playing the most difficult game in town, you can rest assured that it is the one game truly worth playing. The benefits, well, you shall see. As one recovering man said, “You can’t even begin to imagine the gifts that will come from your labors because you’ve never thought of them or perceived them. So hang on thru the dark times, because every journey of endarkenment is followed by equal enlightenment.”


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The Dark Side of Recovery: Type Eight at Level 9

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A Perilous Type Eight Journey to Level 9

by Michael Naylor, M.Ed, CCS, CPCC, LADC

Copyright 2017 V.1


I had the deep pleasure of getting to know Allan in his fifteen year journey to be a sober and clean man. A tall, lanky, James Dean, good-looking, smart-as-God guy, who was intensely aware of the political misuse of power in this country, and angry as hell about it, and everything else on planet earth wherein power had been abused. He knew what was wrong with the world and his radar was fixated on injustice, a profound Type Eight passion. A white guy who had the charisma of Martin Luther King, and cynical with too much intelligence to support it, he represented the very real struggle of the Eight trying to get sober from addiction. Unable to contact his heart, having hardened it and sealed it over to survive as a kid, where life was a battleground and enemies everywhere he looked, it was him against the world. In his own way he figured you rejected him before you even met him, that you didn’t like him and thus wasn’t the least bit afraid of telling you (or any counselor) to your face just how full of bullshit you actually were, especially if you were wielding power stupidly, meanly, or arrogantly. This was not a popularity contest he was playing. The bottom line: he didn’t need you, didn’t like you in advance, and didn’t need your help. So don’t offer him some sappy, counselor-do-good-shit that only serves to feed your counselor-ego. Stay the frick away unless you’ve got something real to say. As in really real.

Like I said, he was hard-edged.                                                                                                            

He drew his gun fiercely, figuring he’d be rejected anyway, and why should he care about it. Fuck it, he was already rejected. He’d given up the delicacy and tenderness of his own heart years ago, and had shut down his emotional needs for others in service of being strong and protected, and simply surviving. He could stare holes through your head he was so damn intense and determined to take you on, to brush up against you, to inspire some realness in you, and ultimately to wake himself up. So, he’d provoke you, push you, press your Achilles heel by a lightning strike to your facade, or to whatever was fake in you. He smelled “the fake” the second he had contact with you, and was viscerally aggravated. And, if you could stand his withering assault you might, you might be worth his time.

Problem is, only few could stand his intensity. And try as he may at recovery, always the missing piece was that heart of his that was aching for freedom, but had been steel-walled into silence due to his many losses as a kid. Without his heart all that seemed to feed him was his rage, his discontent with planet earth, and a mind-numbing loneliness that masked as fury. He put it this way, “I can’t feel love. I don’t believe in love. It all sucks. And a Higher Power, well, if there’s a Higher Power he truly has fucked-up big time.” And yet at the same time this guy, so shut down, would go out of his way to help the most deprived and beaten down people in recovery, giving them rides to meetings, money when they were broke, yet he was so terribly divided in himself and unable to bridge the division.

If you could withstand his withering Type Eight appraisal of you, and not back down, but could listen and reflect and share some of your truth, he would like you and talk to you. He responded to compassion, as long as it wasn’t weak-kneed, too-sweet, scared compassion, or I-should-be-compassionate-because-I’m-trying-to-be-a-good-counselor, compassion. He’d spot the fake-good and self-congratulation pattern of a counselor an undo him in five seconds flat. He’d eat the fake-performed-compassion up in two bites and spit it back at you. And man, he would disrupt group, either inspiring full-blown truth-saying, or destroying the session in service of resurrecting something real. But in his gnarly soul you could sense that down deep, here was a guy with a huge heart that was smothering and locked in a defense structure, his psychological cage girded with thick steel bars that no one had quite tapped into, had the found the key, or knew the magic code that would finally set him free. His rage signaled just how bad he wanted it. In fact, it was his language (Good to know this as a counselor/sponsor: a raging Eight is a desperate Eight.)

But even then, what was so lovely and wonderful and even sweet about him, was his courage to tell his truth, even if it was hard-edged, messed-up truth. He didn’t know why he really didn’t want to live, but there it was. And yes it made sense to stay sober, but on the other hand, why? And truth is, unless he could really feel his heart and feel the sweetness in his own soul, unless that door to the kingdom of his soul opened, life was a continual bitter-sweet pill and happiness some kind of pussy-idea for wimps. (The challenge for the counselor: hold his feet to the fire of his vulnerability a little longer than his habit. Courageously endure his rebellion, not backing down when he turns his intensity up. Stay in the fire with him, unmoved, yet pointing to his heart!) He feverishly knew something was missing, but he’d be god-damned if he could figure it out. The recovery saying that “sometimes you can be too intelligent to get the program,” often spoke volumes of Allan. He was all too aware of the crazy, bonkers, power-driven, nazi-controlling shit that happened in recovery rooms, and the idea of connecting with God, well, he could cut that idea into microscopic analytic pieces, erasing any possibility or reason for God.

Even still he’d try everything people suggested that might wake him up, and help him break through the steel walls surrounding his heart, or the fixated ideas that reinforced the walls. In his own way he surrendered his will to these suggestions, hoping to connect with the Higher Will everyone talked about. He would go to AA meetings daily and work “the god-damn steps” even though they seemed bogus, gave him little to no relief, hey, he couldn’t feel God or his heart, so why was he praying to God? Who knew? You could see it, he wanted his freedom with all his being but the damn door just wouldn’t budge open. This tall sweet man, intelligent, passionate, rough and raw, gut-busting funny, handsome and fierce, after years at attempts to free himself, years of repeated relapse (friends would find him passed out in his apartment, a needle hanging from his arm) put a bullet through his beautiful head, Russian-roulette style, spinning the gun chamber he held, one bullet in it, (once a year he did this, just checking to see what his karma was) and click…bang…gone…he launched into another dimension! And the angels wept…and still do.

At his funeral, standing room only, he was honored for his courage and honesty. He’d touched many, like an Eight can do. You loved him or you hated him. And even when you hated him, you loved him because he’d touched you, jangled you, got your ‘juices flowing’, got you off your complacency and deadening lies. Called you out. He could sense the death in an individual and he’d place a torch to it to see if there was any juice left. And…amazingly…he inspired people to get sober even though he couldn’t do it. In many ways he championed men and women struggling to get sober, and laid down his life for them in the only way he could (Much like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino laying his life down for the neighbor kids next door, knowing that although he could not transform his miserable self, he could liberate them.). He told the truth in spades around how difficult and confusing it can be, a drunk and drug addict with capacities and intelligence screaming for release and still falling to the ground defeated—fucking-A defeated—while he created a huge swathe of compassion for those struggling with addiction. In his Eight-fashion he generated a mountain of mercy for everyone who struggled with getting sober and staying sober.

In every heart sitting at his funeral one truth stung deeply—he of all men should have made it. He deserved it, he’d earned it, his sincerity surpassed everyone. Yet something inside said no. These are the mysteries that keep us awake at night and silently grieving as we go about our day. They eat at you, haunt you, worm there way up into your awareness, screaming, Why, why did you let this big, beautiful guy, die? What sort of bloodless universe is this? WHY!!!

Like a restless street crowd on the verge of rioting, one person after another stood at the podium and paid him homage, hoping by their words to keep a piece of him alive.

The Type Eight in Addiction Recovery: The Lion Heart

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Type Eight in Recovery—The Lion-Hearted Challenger

By Michael Naylor, M.Ed, CCS, LADC, CCPC

International Enneagram Association Professional Teacher and Member


Copyright 2017, Version 1.0


                                                    The Heart and Soul of Type Eight                                                     

When men enter Mercy House rehab they meet Dominic, a tall, broad-shouldered, kick-your-ass-swaggering, confidant-as-God, pony-tailed Dominican. An addiction’s counselor with eighteen years clean from heroin, his fierce intensity and street-smart-bust-your-balls-courage greet you like a head-high fastball on the inside corner of the plate. Instantly you are brought to attention as if your life hung in the balance (Truth is, it does hang in the balance and he knows it.). His I-breathe-fire-presence and his penetrating, takes-no-shit-immediacy instantly cuts thru the protective shields and strategies that addicted men have learned to hide behind. Tough, often impenetrable shields forged in horrid suffering and childhood abuse, forged in the humiliation camps of American prisons, forged in so many furnaces of shame that it’s amazing these men walk upright and can still breathe—are Dominic’s target. His goal: to destroy your soul-killing armor thus giving you a taste of your authentic, passionate self, and your real freedom. To unhinge your defenses so potently that real strength emerges from your depths such that you remember what it feels like to be alive.

That’s it, nothing else, nothing less.

One thing is certain: he is not afraid of you and can read you to-the-bone. Men register immediately—like stepping into a fire—that whatever bullshit-tough-guy-act they’ve honed to scare the shit out of people, to keep them away, or to coerce them into doing what they want, he’s not buying it. The second he spots this charade he’s on you like “a fly on shit,” as he would say. He’ll stop you dead in your tracks, and with one glance will penetrate your tough-guy-act and pull the terror that drives this gangster-ego from your chest, and holding it in your face will declare with knife-sharp conviction, “Here, look at this, man. Look close at what’s running you. You’ll die with this shit in place. Get real with me, or don’t waste my time.”

And all of this is done without speaking a word. His visceral wisdom scorches your insides with fire-breathing, immediate, real-time truth. He lacerates you with his deep wish to wake you up from the coma you’ve been living it, constructing an ego in, preparing your death within. Your cathedral of tough-guy-cool-invincibility is a death trap, and he knows it!

This is his genius: he shatters facades with breathtaking precision. In a nose-to-nose encounter with Dominic, for a holy sacred instant, the addicted guy whose weight-lifted himself into a muscle-walled, pain-numbing fortress feels for the first time the real terror and hurt that slithers thru him like a devouring snake. It’s as if Dominic can reach into the core fear of a man, touch it, squeeze it, and electrify it into awareness. Zap!!! (Thing is, when Dominic zeroes in on you, he gets inside your viscera, your muscles, your veins, and enters your nervous system. You feel his presence inside you. And that alone unhinges a man’s defenses. You cannot hide from Dominic!)

On the heels of a Dominic-encounter a massive climate change will flood the addicted guy’s habitually hardened face and body. His eyes light up with recognition. He’s been freakin’ seen—unveiled and viscerally impacted—Dominic’s presence touching the depth of his vulnerability. Stunned, the unveiled guy is not certain whether to run for his life, or surrender to the dictates of this crazy-wisdom counselor. But this he cannot deny: his inner, oh-so-vulnerable-hurt-self, which his tough-guy-don’t-mess-with-me defenses are wired to protect, just got touched and oddly ‘welcomed into the room.’ Somehow this ninja counselor actually touched his soul and wordlessly said “You are welcome here, my brother.” Men instantly experience the sanity of softening their heart, as if he has whispered in Jedi fashion, “Your strength is in your vulnerability. Be it now.” Moments of possibility arise in the thought-stream of Dominic-touched men. “Maybe this crazy-wild counselor can help me. Maybe I’m not hopeless. Maybe someone sees me, gets me, and actually cares about me.” Welcome to the world of Dominic, the fierce Type Eight who mercilessly wakes you up by laser-cutting thru your tough hide, severing your attachment to your iron hard mask.

When you sit in his recovery groups you get it—he’s is the real deal. If you’re not interested in taking your recovery seriously, but just trying to get by on the bare minimum—to please the courts, your spouse or your probation officer—then out the door you go. Don’t even think you can fake it—he’ll feel the ‘fake’ the second he lays eyes on you. He’ll sense, smell, and taste your disguise in the core of his belly and his whole body will shudder. With lightning revulsion and speed he’ll respond—“Frank, what the hell are you doing in this room with men who actually give a shit about their recovery? You’re taking up a spot that another addicted, homeless man is begging to occupy, while you sit here wasting this opportunity! Get the hell out of here! Now!”

Men skilled and expertly practiced at performing the-attentive-client-act, adept at shape-shaping into fake-attention-mode, will unravel and fumble for words when Dominic laser-beams their insincerity. (And in the midst of hating Dominic for calling them out comes a piercing counter-intuitive realization that will bring them back to recovery: “This guy truly cares enough to call me on my bullshit!”) He says it straight up—to sit in his group and fake it is the biggest disrespect, not only to him, but to the other men in the group who want to resurrect their lives—and he will have none of it. And all of this, the big aliveness and fierce realness of Dominic, WAKES EVERYBODY UP. His force field enters the soles of your feet and burns up your spine into your chest. Your arms tingle, your belly buzzes with instinctual energy. You see it clearly as men walk taller after his groups, a new vibrancy and dignity in their gait. With eyes wide awake, heads held high, shame, like bricks, are left in the counseling room. Broken men are coming alive, shedding ancient skins that have withheld their presence from the world. And Dominic, the ferocious guardian at the gate of self-respect and honor, has made the deep impact he cherishes, and adores. His Type Eight compassion—fierce, hot, passionate, in your face (not gooey, soft-soaped, new age, everything-is-nice, compassion)—sears their hearts open and invites them in, whole hog, challenging them to pay the postage in advance, as Mr. Gurdjieff would say. Meaning—give this recovery process 100% or go on your way. Go whole hog or not at all!

If he sees you’re in the game, that you mean business, he will go the distance with you. He will chant, cheer, prod, push you off the ledge of your limitations, entice, challenge, scare, humiliate and shock you…whatever it takes to lift you back on your feet, to help you find and feel and know your innate potential, strength, capacity and self-respect. His wish: that you stand tall and bow to no one, that you let go of whatever shame you carry so that you sense your dignity and honor resurrecting in the marrow of your bones. Not like some sweet sounding hallmark card of good cheer, but we’re talking ‘street’ dignity such that you grasp it in your gut—and in your balls—what it means to be a powerful, noble man. A real man. A right-sized, courageous man. Not a fake one filled with the veneer of ego, bravado and self-centeredness, or one hiding shame behind a wall of hardness or mean-guy-cool, or fake smooth, I’ve-got-it-all-together phoniness, or even fake compassion. A man that contributes to and serves his brothers and sisters, who is courageously dedicated to his personal and spiritual growth, to the care and well-being of his family, and to the growth of his community—a real man’s man. He says it loud and clear, “If you men want to get sober and stay sober, you’ve got to develop ‘testicular fortitude. That means you rise up, you take care of your sobriety, you do what you need to do, and you help your brother in this rehab. If you disrespect your brother, if you fail to have his back, you will not succeed in recovery. You notice when he needs help and you give it, generously, because you make a difference, you count, he is your brother, and you need each other.”

The fire of heroic love burns through him, his eyes lights of passion, his voice thundering—lion-hearted, he emanating the clarion call of A Band of Brothers—igniting purpose and real hope in men who have lost their jobs, homes, families, cars, and are stripped down to nothing. In every breath, word, body movement, and facial expression he delivers the Type Eight juice: It is your job to stand up, claim your power, clean up your act, and meet your challenges head-on. You harness real soul-power by taking responsible action. You awaken your authentic power when you give back to others. Selfishness will kill you. Bravado destroys your real will. Power and heart combined, the only game in town. You crawl before no one—no one! When you empower the weak, you anchor real power, sustainable power—that’s the doorway to your addiction liberation.

Because of Dominic’s unshakeable passion and ballsy boldness, men flock to his groups to be touched by his instinctive, live-wired energy, his confidence and commitment, his cocky dignity, and his no-holds-barred, irreverent, bawdy humor. Standing room only. Men hunger for his contact, his Type Eight caring shaking them to the core of their being—zing, blam! He’s an instigator of rough-edged compassion and truth, and inspires an uncanny brotherhood amongst the men. (He wakes up their organic humanity.) He reminds these men whose souls have been squashed as kids, who had no moms or dads; who walked the streets at age ten, no one concerned where they were, starkly alone; men physically abused by mom, dad, cops, uncles, addicts, gangs; men caught up in the horror of poverty and poverty-discrimination and locked into the legal system before they could barely sense what they were about—of their innate dignity and value.

He challenges the men of Mercy House to embrace their honor, meaning dropping sabotaging behavior, be it thievery, belittling and bullying others, acting tough and hiding your big heart, and literally anything that disrespects another or oneself. And respect is everything, the high card. He models brave, gutsy, feisty respect and kindness (I am reminded of Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino, and how his rough, ruthless affection for Pran, the young neighbor boy, moved, prodded, humiliated him out of his self-pity and towards self-reliance). He zeroes in on your Achilles Heel, names it, unmasks it, challenges you with it, and parades it around the room so you see what you’ve been running from. So you surrender it, affirming to self and others, “I will not indulge this part of myself anymore. I am done with it!”

With eyes filled with steely realness and fierce compassion he begins his groups, “What handsome and beautiful men sit before me. It is truly and honor to be in the company of such men. Let us discover what is real and true in each of you, and carry that light into the world,” and looks at each one, holding their gaze. This big, bawdy, rough-neck, kick-ass guy infuses dignity into every man sitting in rapt attention, waiting for his next brassy invocation of truth, dignity, and empowerment. He will not fail them.

Side by side his fiery incantations are tender moments. One feels his heart, his depth, often when he talks about his beloved daughter, or his pops or moms. The dude is old-school Dominican, family comes first, a brotherhood-instigator-of-team-effort, stalker of poverty, racism, injustice and oppression of the disenfranchised, and fierce as a wild bull. Tommy G, the ‘G-man’ he called him (every guy he counsels gets a personal nickname, Karma Dog Frank, Eddy with a Twitch, Too Fast Pete, Boston Max, Belly Boy Joe, Slider Sam, Rocket Man Marvin, Trembling Ted, Skinny Cat Frank, Rhino Rabbit Mike), was a client he’d snatched from the bloody maw of heroin addiction. A sweet, twenty-six-year-old with six months sober, the sun rising in his soul at fever pitch, who graduated from Mercy House treatment center to the thunderous applause of his fellow-travelers. Three months later the black sun of his addiction spun thru him. Tommy G., the G-man, is found dead, soul-sucked by a heroin overdose, a frozen stone of despair. “Overdosed and dead in a f-ing snowbank,” Dominic says, shaking his head in sorrow. Dominic wept for several days, his heart blasted wide-open, his boisterous spirit mired in volcanic grief. I sat with Dominic, tears streaming down his cheeks, he unable to speak, his towering soul immersed in sorrow. Yet days later, back in the saddle, his fierce message echoing from the group room, “Recovery is serious shit, men. You fuck with this and you die. But you can succeed. You have the strength and testicular fortitude for this. Now let’s get to work!” he declares, a fire-breathing dragon injecting his commitment and courage into the souls of each of these men.

Dominic’s a Gandalf, a Gladiator, a crazy-smart Ninja, and a big-hearted Hagrid, wired to destroy the Voldemort-trance that tells a man he is worthless, powerless, doomed to certain death. Men are magnetically drawn to him and his powerful, red-hot, Type Eight heart. And who wouldn’t show up to listen to a man who embodies live-wired potency, who stirs and ignites one’s dignity and self-worth, who’s unwavering in his commitment to inspire you, shock you, or scare you awake if need be, who is unafraid to tell-it-like-it-is, blunt as birth. Who, himself, escaped the jaws of death and outfoxed one of the biggest killers of abused and addicted young men today—the vampire of the heroin addiction. (He would say he was loved back to life by a fierce counselor who would endure his detoxing ranting! “Fuck you, motherfucker, fuck you!” was his mantra in the midst of a seven day heroin withdrawal, while this ‘counselor-dude,’ as he puts it, stood at his bedside enduring Dominic’s ravings, waiting, waiting, waiting for the storm to pass.). He knows the needles, the losses, the withdrawals, the sleepless nights, the dead friends, the overdosing, the aching muscles, the street-fights, the racial discrimination, the stab wounds, the-out-of-this-world suffering.

Bottom line: He walks his talk. He knows his shit. And his message is simple: You can resurrect your life. You can overcome your circumstances. You have a right to be alive, to rise up, to inhabit your life! Your job? Give me everything you got! Otherwise, as the saying goes, I will devour your half-heartedness. So, my brother, let’s get to work.

He means it. Completely and utterly.

Type Eight in Addiction: Levels 6 and Below

Under the power of addiction, the healthy, powerful Eight energies morph into harsh, self-destructive forces. All of the Eight’s attention begins to center around self-protection, being on guard and at war with life, holding power over others, defending themselves when no defense is needed, and bragging and bolstering himself while threatening and demanding that others respect him and his ego plans. Pumped  up with vanity and self-importance, in 12 Step terms, he’s lost contact with his right size. He’s moved from inhabiting a magnanimous heart to one that is hardened and rock-like. Instead of using his power to empower, protect and strengthen others, the addicted Eight uses his power and confidence to scare people, to make them toe the line of his will, to render them weak and vulnerable, to manipulate their weakness. From a force of inspiration to a force of destruction, addiction turns him upside down (as it does with each type, their gifts turned into weapons).

Deeply but unconsciously sensing he has lost what he loves, he toughens himself, over-expresses his power, intimidates people, rages and pumps up his intensity and steamrollers life. “It’s my will, or get the hell out of the way! If I need to hurt you, I will! If my willfulness harms you or scares you, well too bad for you! I don’t have time for weaklings and sissies! Step aside or get behind me.” Brusque, mean-spirited, impatient, at his worst he preys on the weak, using them for sport or as pawns in his game. His beautiful capacity to respect others has turned south. His broken heart turns into an outraged, raging heart. His motto: Never show weakness. Take control of everything or you will be hurt. Life is a battlefield. Strike before you are struck. Trust no one and need no one.

Billy J. put it this way. “When I was drinking, I looked for fights. I liked hurting people. I liked being in a fight. I had all this rage churning in me, and I was angry at everyone. I didn’t care if I got my ass kicked. Rage was my drug and numbed anything that could hurt me, physical or emotional. I got high on it, drank it in, and inflamed it! I hoped you’d challenge me so I could take you on. I’d step over boundaries and get in fights that had nothing to do with me. Crazy shit, I know. But being tough, scaring people, made me feel powerful because deep down, I felt horribly lonely and hurt and didn’t know what to do about it. In fact, fighting, raging, and intimidating was about the only thing that made me feel good. It gave me the juice, the intensity I loved! The minute loneliness or sadness started to touch me, I’d turn it to rage.” (The book Mother California is an amazing memoir by a Type Eight who worked through many layers of rage to finally connect with his big heart while serving a life sentence for murder—truly an amazing recovery.)

When the Eight arrives in recovery, he arrives as the street-fighter who’s been slam-dunked to his knees. He’s gotten up over and over again, determined to not be beaten by his addiction, determined that he can outlast it, that he can control it, that he will win. He does not surrender easily and can take self-abuse like no other. As he’s lost friends, jobs, and his health, he’s pushed harder, gotten more aggressive, until something has finally felled him. Maybe he’s ended up in jail for too many assaults, or too many OUIs, or domestic violence charges. Maybe he’s cut bait on his last job due to reckless or ruthless behavior and is now without money or a work history to land a decent job. Or, as he’s continued to drop down into the rat hole of addiction perhaps he’s withdrawn, finally run out of fight, bravado, or egocentric gusto, and has hid away in a hotel room, not wanting contact with people, and drinking to end his life. If he’s lucky, grace has interceded and he now sits behind bars or at a treatment center. Worst-case scenario is Billy Frank, a hulking 40-year-old dad who stares back at me at a detox in earth-smacking shock. “I don’t know how it happened, but I was driving down the road and somehow I swerved and killed an eleven-year-old girl. I swear I only had a couple of drinks.” He pauses, an icy chill slicing thru the room, my heart clenching with sorrow. “I have two daughters myself,” he says, as his eyes pool with tormented sadness, the specter of a five-to-ten year jail sentence and life without his daughters, squeezing him like a vice grip. I stare back into his grief-stricken eyes, inky dark caverns of remorse wordlessly emanating.

One way or another the Eight has crash-landed hard. In the rubble of his fall new perceptions grip his awareness: he cannot plow through life uncontrolled, an angry bull in a China shop driven by rage that fuels his ego-will and his sense of false power. His big shot, I-don’t-need-anyone act has given him nothing but suffering. This message rings like a huge Zen gong: “I am out of control. I cannot will myself to stop. I need help. I cannot do this alone.” Simultaneously his inner critic chants, “You are such a loser, asking for help. If you were strong you would simply control your drinking. You’re a wimp, a sissy, a pussy. Prove you can drink like a man!”

But reality is a bloody knife. He knows what follows when he picks up a drink or drug—repetitious scenes of anger, attack, failure and remorse; fights with friends, with loved ones, with strangers; rages over not getting his way, or rants over not feeling respected or honored; anger fits at colleagues and co-workers over their incompetence, all the while he unable to perform at his best. He could swagger but he could not deliver. Repeatedly he vowed that things would be different, he’d control his drinking. Temporarily stoked on bravado and false confidence, he’d pick up a drink or drug, and dissolve once again into the maelstrom of repetitious horror. At the doorway of help, the path behind him is ablaze with horror stories that would curl your toes.

The Doorway Home: The Path of Surrender

At AA meetings he begins to hear the broken stories of other men, men who have sat where he sits, who have learned one primary lesson: Recovering from addiction is never a solo journey. Never. Ever. It’s a team journey. (Gurdjieff’s words, in In Search of the Miraculous, ring loud and clear here: “Doing spiritual work alone is not difficult, it is impossible.”) If a man takes on his addiction alone he will be beaten. Addiction is a subtle, fast and compelling force within the psyche of a man, riding so close to his awareness that its influence, its conjuring, its hypnotic force slips into the thought-and-feeling-stream of a man and ‘thinks for him.’ His addiction ‘becomes him and possesses him,’ speaks thru and for him, tells him he is fine, that his drinking and drugging is not a problem, that the real problem are the people, places and things that irritate him and impose suffering upon him.

This voice’ will lead him to his death.

This voice, his ‘addiction identity,’ is compelling, visceral and resides in his cells, his heart and his head (that is, it inhabits all Three Centers like a stealth virus). It feels real, unmistakably real. He cannot outwit it, out-think it, or tame it. Shockingly when he tries to take on ‘the voice of his addiction’ he discovers over and over again that it is quicker, smarter, and more agile than he. The rationalizations and denials that appear in his consciousness are brilliant and indefensible. They steal and disfigure his accurate perception of reality, and tell the man that he is in control, there are no worries here. It runs ‘euphoric recall’ movies through his brain that remind him of what is great about his addiction, deleting the heart-breaking scenes of his self-destruction. And most especially it tells him with utter conviction that he is a victim of circumstance and not responsible for the suffering he is experiencing, or the suffering others accuse him of causing. All of which magnetically lead him back to drinking and drugging.

A new strategy is required: Surrender.

Surrender for the Eight means humbly admitting defeat, that his addiction owns and possesses him, and beats him at every turn. Surrender means letting others in recovery be the eyes he sees with, the voices he listens to, as least for now. Surrender means not fighting against this addictive force but getting wise like a fox such that he knows how his addiction speaks to him, tempts him, taunts him, shames him, steals his attention and will, and seamlessly enters his thought and feeling stream—and possesses him. Surrender means reaching out for help and not doing recovery alone. It means understanding that picking up one drink/drug wakes the beast up, wakes the internal voice of saboteur up who chants, “Drinking is not a problem. It’s other people, places and things that are the problem. You can drink. You’re strong enough to control it.”

Surrender means that he solves the dilemma of his addiction not through will and force, and pushing against his addiction, but through understanding, awareness and compassionate self-observation (and developing ‘inner eyes’ to see with). It means surrendering to his very real vulnerability, and learning that true strength comes from being in touch with one’s weakness, in reaching out for real and skilled help, rather than shutting down with false strength and big bravado. Surrender means he accepts that he is a human being with limited power—he is not God nor the boss of the universe!—and that with the help of others he can get sober, can outwit his addiction, and can neutralize its force in his life. He must put his weapons down—his beliefs that life is a battleground in which he must fight; that only by pushing and protecting his agenda will his needs be met—and his conviction that he doesn’t need, or cannot depend on others to help him.

This is the path of transformation for the Eight who is addictively driven to assert his will, and wired to defend himself against impending, imaginary suffering. His motto “Nobody controls me. I’m in charge of me,” must and will be mercilessly destroyed. Perhaps this is the gift of his addiction.

First Twelve Weeks in RecoveryHelping the Eight

The Eight in residential treatment is a ‘big’ force. Their gift to recovery groups is their capacity to tell it like it is—blunt as birth and in-the-real. If you are a counselor who wants to be the ‘big force,’ the ‘top dog,’ or who wants ‘nice’ and ‘cooperative’ clients that make you feel like you are doing your job well (that is, they massage your counselor ego), or who is offended when someone challenges you and unveils your Achilles heel and see’s your shadow with laser clarity, the Eight will be your nemesis, the warlord, the one you wish you could just ‘squash.’ Don’t try, because he’s already been squashed and injured deeply and is more than willing to fight that battle again, to go toe-to-toe with you, just to register his deep protest at losing contact with his vitality and aliveness in the first place. In his opinion he’s got nothing left to lose, so let’s go for it. More than anything he needs you to see through his fiery veils into his big heart, to create room for him to embody his true strength, to assist him in wielding his passionate response to life skillfully (cause it won’t look pretty in the beginning). That’s the magic. Nothing to eliminate here.

When he begins to trust that he has room for his ‘bigness’ he will naturally begin to show his tender side, a little bit at a time. He just needs room, big room, for all of that. And when his protective walls weaken, be prepared for a waterfall. As grief and vulnerability open in him, his bigness takes on a new quality, because infused with his tenderness it expands, is more fluent and flexible, and the beauty of who he truly is shines through. This is the blessing of waiting out his firestorms. (And as always, there is this recovery principle: four steps forward, three steps back. When his heart unveils, his sadness thundering through, a recoil will follow as his life-long belief that ‘being vulnerable is wimpy and unsafe’ will scream like a cyclone through his being. And then, once again, he will need to be coaxed out of hiding.)

In groups he will need your help in learning when he uses too much force and intensity in his speaking, in his posturing, and his actions. When he expands and fills the room with his presence, he will not notice it. With tenacity, kindness, and clarity you must mirror him, help him to begin to sense how his energy pushes others away, or intimidates them. Courageously, in the midst of his firestorms, you must become a still and penetrating light that reflects himself to himself in real time—so that he sees, senses, feels it—there I am, bigger than big, louder than load, posturing aggression—such that a gap occurs between his instinct to protectively enlarge, and his impulse to charge. Slowly he will learn intelligent restraint, no longer a puppet on the strings of his passion to intensify himself and wield aggressive control over those around him. He’ll get ‘gut’ smart, that is, intuitively able to sense right action amidst all of his instinctual passion.

Be prepared: in the first twelve weeks of recovery the Eight will be full-fledged defense mode, unaware that what he is protecting is a very delicate soft spot in the center of his heart. He will unwittingly project a force field that is palpable and sends an intimidating message, “Do not enter my personal space unless I have given you full permission. Or better yet, make my day, and intrude. Then I can give full weight to my suppressed shame and disappointment by kicking the be-jesus out of you. It would be my pleasure.”

Mired in suspicion, certain that you don’t want him around, feeling rejected and not wanted from the get-go, and able to stuff this suffering into the backwater of his heart, suspicion and scorn for the weakness of others stands paramount in his mind. The idea that he needs the help of others, that he must ask for help to recover (“Are you out of your f-ing mind?” Allan D. says), is the living hell he’s worked to avoid all his life. And yet here he is. “At a god damn rehab!” as Billy G. would say, brought to his knees countless times, his Inner Critic brutalizing him with “You are a wimp. You are a sissy. Needing help, what a pussy!” And it is this screaming voice—his Inner Critic—that calls him back to a drink or drug, where real men live, where tough men navigate life and have no needs for help, love, or compassion. Any hint of this noxious, weak-kneed ‘stuff’ touching him and the Inner Critic arises like the Balrog in the Mines of Moria, proclaiming, “You will be killed if you let your guard down, if you make yourself vulnerable, you will be f-ing destroyed. Is that what you want?” Life has taught him this lesson: He must breathe fire to protect himself.

Working with the Eight: the Type Eight is often unaware of how his intense presence affects others. He frequently has an underlying belief that you should be able to handle whatever he puts out, or you’re a wimp and not worth his time. That said, he actually doesn’t get how he easily intimidates others, thus making it difficult for others to trust him or get close to him. Courageously mirror for him just how he shows up, how he viscerally affects others, intimidates or scares them, perhaps noting when he speaks too loudly, or takes on a body posture that says, “I am going to kick your ass,” without even realizing it. Courageously see and be with him.

Shawn, a burly, five-foot-eight, fire-hydrant of a guy, muscles rippling from head to toe, for several days in groups declares boldly and loudly, “This feelings stuff is entire bullshit. What good is this? How can I trust any of you when you are all faking it, all doing that fake-sweet-stuff-sharing? I don’t believe you and I surely don’t need it!” Very slowly his sorrow begins to emerge. As he sees that it’s safe to share, that no one will attack him when he is vulnerable, and as he witnesses the powerhouse counselor, Dominic, ferocious and tender at the same time, something breaks inside him. In a spontaneous outpouring he speaks of times as a boy, when six years old, he placed himself between his towering, raging, alcoholic, step-father, and his mother, to protect her. His anger-inflamed step-father grabbed him by the hair on his head and drove him into the refrigerator, beat his small body blue, threw him the floor, as his mother huddled in horror. Arising from a heap of shame, he interceded again, a fierce little guy, trying to protect his mom, and again was beaten down. In belly wrenching gasps the ensuing story unfolds…he swimming in a sea of sadness…through repeated scenes of violence he guides us…he failing as a protector, being forced to survive in an emotional war-zone…and slowly, but surely, becoming that raging step-father. “What the fuck! How could I let this happen?!” he says. Like a stiletto the realization pierces him—he’s become what he hated, what he vowed to never be. His rage turned towards those he swore he would protect. Tears and more tears erupt as he speaks, a fierce, unforgiving sadness pouring out of him.

Then, slowly, slowly, from the tortured well of his grief a kid with a big, sweet heart arises in the room, with glowing-blue, child-eyes peering back at us. He speaks and cries at the same time, expressing regret over lost opportunities, dropping his shield, grieving, and deeply tender. A remorseful outpouring ensues: He has failed with everyone he has cared about. He has used the best of himself to protect himself and push everyone away, treated them like objects, thought only of his next need or pleasure or relief. Puffed himself up to hide his fear. A scared boy became a bully. His heart bleeds soul-tearing truths, nothing minimized, each brazenly-real revelation dropped into the room with a chilling thud. The group is riveted into a stunning, reverential silence by the boldness of his raw truth. From the soft, now open-space of his heart comes these final words: “No one wanted me. Fucking A, how can you give this kind of message to a kid!” he exclaims, the horror of his abandonment piercing everyone in the group.

The room has become a sea of tears. This Eight has opened the door of vulnerability to everyone with his courageous sharing. The effects ripple outward as the best of the men is called forth—in their big-hearted hugs, in their loving and tender glances, and in their compassionate and brotherly words.

Shawn has leaped into uncharted territory, unaware that this raw sadness was waiting for him. Matching his heroic vulnerability are the attacks of his vengeful Inner Critic, who now bears down on him—“You should have been strong. You failed in your duty to protect. You are a bad person.” It is here that the Eight can succumb to self-hatred. Having exposed his vulnerability, the key to dissolving his addiction, and humbly acknowledging his errors, he can easily turn his anger and rage onto self as an act of chastisement. If the Eight fails to keep this door of vulnerability open he may stay sober for a while but can unwittingly embody the hard-style, no-love-or-compassion approach that some wounded AA members succumb to. They become what is termed a ‘dry-drunk’ in which principles of the program are used against self or those they sponsor, punishment and shaming the weapons used to inspire healing from addiction. In essence, they become their Inner Critic and dine on the wine of negativity. It rarely works for long, and when it does, the cost is off-the-walls-high. What good is it to gain sobriety and simultaneously live on the juice of judgment and criticism of self and others? What good is it to gain sobriety, yet be unable to establish loving, tender relationships with your children or partner because you can’t let your guard down?  (See Thank You for Sharing, a Netflix movie, to get an example of this kind of recovery wherein the star-recovery-person functions well and is acclaimed at meetings, but cannot create intimacy with his own son.)

Nevertheless, something has touched Shawn, something that was clarifying and healing. And it is by touching this inner quality of being—where true vulnerability lives—that the Eight begins to open up to real joy, happiness, and heartfelt connection with others. In the space of this vulnerability he must learn to land and settle, very gradually, to liberate himself from the tyrant of addiction, and his Type Eight, reactive patterns that fuel it.


Advice for the Counselor Working with the Type Eight

Etch this in your memory banks like a neon sign: THERE WILL BE A TEST OF WILLS. In working with a type Eight in group, if you are unable to be honest about your limitations without becoming a withering flower, if you are unable to be challenged at the core of your being without resorting to hiding behind the smooth-as-silk, I-have-no-real-flaws, you-are-the-messed-up-client, counselor mask, your goose is cooked. As in, game over! The Eight in group is nothing less than a dragon-slayer, wired viscerally to revealing who, exactly, is telling the raw truth, including you, the counselor. If sitting before him is a counselor who is unaware of himself and is caught unwittingly in an ego-inflation-story of being the-compassionate-counselor here to bring compassion to suffering souls, while ever so subtly giving the message, “I’m not messed up like the rest of you,” be forewarned. The Eight will feel this arrogance and delusion in the core of his soul and rage will ensue. If the counselor is asleep to their own personal negativity, and performing counselor-kindness-and-compassion when real compassion has not been plumbed, suffered through, and earned, the Eight will instinctively unmask him. Nothing brings the dragon-fire of the Eight out like false pretensions.

You may know all the compassion-lines on how-to-be-empathic, but if they do not match your real, lived, personal suffering and hard-earned-in-the-soul transformation, then you are a fraud, not the real thing, and the Eight smells it five miles away. Unless of course you possess that rare, courageous humility and inner strength in which you can say in word or action, “I am limited. I cannot begin to say I understand your suffering. But I am willing to learn. Teach me.” This humble admittance of your limitations and your truth, without backing down, without collapsing into a puddle of shame, without taking personal insult from the affront of the Eight and attacking, gains their respect big time. The Eight is an expert in ‘what cannot be trusted.’ Compassion without depth, meat, flesh and bones experience, and earned in the fires of life-wounding is not real, is fake, and cannot be trusted. He knows this because in his soul he carries the shock marks of betrayal emblazoned in his viscera, with this clarion call powerfully echoing from his depths: “This will not happen again. Not on my watch. I will not be betrayed again. Ever!”

The point being—the Eight in group is a troublemaker-rebel, who in the presence of others who are sincere in their efforts to grow, in the company of counselors who’ve done their inner work and can withstand having their ‘shit’ exposed without going into freak-out mode, and who do not lose contact with their inner strength and integrity while under the withering scrutiny of the Eight, will inspire the Eight to listen and embody what is real within themselves. That’s the ticket home! If the Eight’s intensity and sharp-edged probing sends you spinning, you cannot be trusted. But if you are emotionally solid, aware and flexible, he will relax and begin to reveal himself. Meaning—if you can handle the Eight’s ‘heat,’ you create an opening for the Eight to handle his personal heat, i.e., his suffering and hurt. Not easy work, to say the least. Because the Eight’s intensity is primed to whirl thru you looking for the unreal and the hidden, testing your limits and boundaries, testing the fabric of your being for real mettle, and above all else, protecting him or herself.

You will love him and you will hate him. And if you are sturdy within yourself, you will admire him. The endgame: the Eight, as he relaxes and let’s his vulnerability be seen, will lead the pack to higher ground. Men unite under his banner. In group as he relaxes his defenses, he becomes the force of thunder who calls a spade of spade exhibiting ruthless compassion, who having surrendered to the necessity of recovery and his need to receive help, plays full out, passionate to embody change and to carry others under his wing. He becomes a warrior of healing. But be forewarned: unless his self-hatred habit is softened, unless he is mirrored and shown the ways he turns against himself right on the heels of a deeply vulnerable sharing, he will undo his best efforts. Repeatedly. Too quickly he takes the hammer to himself. True, he can drive himself to be sober for a period of time, but unless he begins to soften his self-attack it is only a matter of time before he reinstitutes the very same suffering that he’s trying to heal within him. He will unwittingly create the rejection-suffering that has driven his addiction. (Take note of this: This is the trap of ‘all the types’ that after achieving a period of initial sobriety and liberation from their habits of suffering, thru the vehicle of their Inner Critic and their ego self, their type patterns re-assert in new and often unrecognizable form. Then, unwittingly they recreate precisely what they are wishing to transform, while imagining they are making spiritual progress. And then…they relapse. Be forewarned: the ego is very tricky and adaptive, always ready to shapeshift and renew its efforts. As they say, while you’re in a meeting getting recovery, your ego self is in the parking lot doing pushups, waiting for you!)


                    The Core Suffering and Dilemma of the Eight in recovery                                                

The Eight enters recovery feeling that at a core level, no one wants him or cares for him (this will be a key issue he will transform at deeper levels throughout his recovery). Instinctively he feels that people cannot be trusted or allowed to get close to him. He has learned to defend his heart against rejection by hardening his sensitivity, and intensifying his energy so he is bigger, tougher, and intimidating. Thus he overrides his suffering through his capacity to generate internal intensity by pushing harder against life, by his confrontations with others, by getting louder and more in your face, making everything he experiences more powerful. In his attempt to feel strong he unwittingly turns people into objects and becomes intolerant of any responses that smack of weakness or emotional vulnerability. He has come to believe that if he opens his strong heart he will be violated deeply. When afraid or hurt he protects himself with his rage or over-assertion.


Deep Wound/Relapse Pattern of the Type Eight—feeling disconnected from his true strength and innocence which he compensates for with rage and intensity. Key Commandment—You must be in control and in charge or others will hurt you and take advantage of you. Deep Wish—to be strong, in deep contact with his heart, to embrace life with power and aliveness. To reconnect with his innocence. He sees himselfas powerful, strong, real, alive, passionate, decisive and capable. At Level 4 and below—he falls prey to the Emotional Habit of Lust in which he compensates for his broken heart by being intense, aggressive, habitually getting too expansive, and using too much force. Add to this his Mental Habit of Objectification in which he sees people as objects without feelings to be utilized and pushed around for his purposes, to do his will. His Inner Critic tells him that he is good and lovable when he’s in charge of whatever situation he finds himself in, if he isn’t affected by those around him, and stays self-reliant at all costs. He must be the protector and boss.

His relapse triggers (his Achilles heel) are his addiction to intensity and rage, and his inability to allow himself to be emotionally tender and vulnerable. At the average levels of health and below his gut response to perceived threats is unrestrained anger and assertion, forceful and quick. As in, “Get the hell out of my way. This is war. Don’t mess with me or I’ll hurt you, now!” But here’s the deal. When the Type Eight is unaware of himself and his defensive personality patterns (that he’s amplifying his intensity and his use of power while unable to sense that he feels hurt or rejected—L5 and down) he will be prone to attacking and confronting the environment, people, groups, etc., when they aren’t really attacking or threatening him in the least, while feeling certain that they are (This is called a sincere delusion). If he stays unconscious to this internal response pattern, he will feel justified in attacking whenever he senses a threat, real or imagined (Level 5-8 dynamics). Ironically, by his aggression he will create the betrayal by others that he fears, which he will use to further justify his aggression. This is the Eight’s treadmill of repetitious and unnecessary suffering.

Unless he opens up and lets himself become vulnerable, he will live habitually in the belief that people are out to harm him, rip him off or violate his independence, and will habitually prepare himself for these anticipated battles by hardening himself in advance (and deadening his vulnerability). He will snap into assertive action when he feels an attack is coming or happening. In effect, he becomes an attack-waiting-to-happen and will experience life through the tiny window of “Life is a battle that I must defend myself against.” The more unconscious he is (L5 and below), the more he will be an attack-dog simply waiting to be betrayed. He will make himself big and large and formidable, while not noticing or realizing when he has used too much power, or has truly harmed someone by his actions. His hard-edged insensitivity will give him the illusion of being in control and invulnerable, and will set him up for loneliness (a core relapse trigger for the Eight) while he simultaneously denies and deadens his need for satisfying, emotional contact with others. Which, ironically, will enrage him (while he is remains clueless to why he is enraged). And all of this wakes up his addiction, calls it to him like a slathering, blood thirsty dog. Although he unconsciously fears going dead, losing his power, and being lifeless, his very actions create what he fears—emotional and instinctual deadness. In like manner he will create the very rejection by others that he fears through his aggressiveness. Addiction relapse will edge closer, as will misery. Enraged at the world, his addiction will swallow him whole. He will drink ‘at the world.’

This is core identity that runs the addicted Eight: I am the strong one who must be formidable and always in charge (Why? Who says so?). I can show no weakness. I can’t feel weak. I can’t feel hurt. I must harden my heart. I can’t feel my need for people or my need to be nurtured. I can’t soften and feel my sweetness. I must assert my independence. If I need people, then I’m a failure.

Welcome to the prison system of the Eight in addiction recovery. If he is ever to achieve a happy and satisfying sobriety, he will and must make a jail-break from this heart-closed, ruthless, internal system. He must recognize the unconscious pride he’s developed in actually maintaining this prison system, the pride he’s developed in believing he has no needs, and his notion that being emotionally shut down equates with strength! Not an easy task, but certainly doable.


 Protective Mechanism of the Eight: I’m in Charge—You Will Not Mess With Me                                                   

The Eight defends himself against being rejected or hurt by instinctively creating a protective barrier around him, actually, an impenetrable shell which he mistakes as ‘power.’ He exudes an intense force-field that unwittingly says, “Touch this force field without welcome and all hell could break lose.” This “push away” energy is often visually evident in his posture, his gait, his intense glance, and his voice. You get the message clearly—“You will not bully me, coerce me, or hurt me. It’s not going to happen. Tread unwelcome and I might need to bully you or hurt you. This is familiar territory so don’t even test me. I like to be challenged, and am not likely to back down.” He is often addictively committed to holding this boundary—nothing gets to me, nothing!—while insisting that others respect him whether he’s earned it or not (the healthier Eight does the opposite).

Eights have a tremendous sensitivity—a blaring instinctual radar—to anyone intruding on their boundaries, be it moving too close without a welcome, invading their personal territory by looking at them for too long, or holding concealed, ill-intent for the Eight (the Eight feels this in his gut.). As one Eight in early recovery put it, “If someone looks at me in the eye for more than two seconds without my permission, that’s a challenge and I can’t allow it.  I feel disrespected and I will confront the individual.”

In the beginning of recovery they know no other way than to be in attack mode, to show no weakness or vulnerability, and to stand up to any one they feel threatened or disrespected by. Not the easiest position to be in to receive or invite help. And getting help, well, this violates their fundamental code of survival: Never put yourself in the horrendous position of actually needing help, let alone ask for it! They face their own private Idaho when walking through the doors of recovery: They must do what they are certain will destroy them—ask for help. So caught between the reflex of protecting themselves and being the strong one, and asking for help to stay sober, they more easily take on the role of protector, or attacking defender of others in recovery, before they’ve gotten the real help they need.

Here’s how one Eight took care of himself in early recovery: Martin, a 35-year-old, Type Eight guy, three months into sobriety, raises his hand to speak at a men’s AA meeting. He begins, as he often does, with, “I’m Martin, and this is the last place on earth I’d ever want to be, so let me be clear with all of you. You’re all a bunch of pussies and assholes, and I don’t like any of you. So go fuck yourself. I could care less if you like me. I don’t need your friendship and I don’t want it. I can’t bear to be around such a bunch of wimps. And just get this straight, I am not following your stupid rules. Like who invented the idea that you don’t have sex for a year? That is completely messed up. Hey, you might not be able to get it up, but I can. If I can get laid, then good for me. If you can’t, too bad for you. I am definitely not buying into this pansy-ass shit. If you guys don’t have a cock, then screw you. I do. I plan to use mine. I got sober so I could have sex as often as possible, not to take a damn year off. Easy for most of you I suppose, because by the looks of you guys, you probably couldn’t get laid if you tried. And if you need to drink over what I say, then go for it. So are we clear?” he says, a Type Eight, fuck-all-of-you-expression vibrant in his tone of voice. The shock of stunned quiet permeates the room. No one moves a muscle. Then, taking a deep breath, he says, “I’m Martin and I’m a fucking drunk and I need to be here, but I don’t like it. Okay. There, I feel better.”

That said, and five years sober, Martin laughs at himself. He’s been a hard hitter from the start, tough and combative, but today will fight for any man trying to get sober, while clearly stating what he does or doesn’t believe. Fiercely he proclaims, “Don’t let God drive you from these rooms. Don’t let anyone’s opinions about how to work a recovery program drive you from these rooms. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t believe in everything AA says, but I don’t need to believe. Today I have faith. I take what I need and leave the rest. I don’t know who or what God is, and I don’t need to,” he states, his vibrant truthfulness vibrating through everyone. And like all the types, he has room for growth. He says, “It’s taken me quite a while to trust that it’s okay for me to ask for help. But I do it for only one reason. You told me that if I didn’t ask for help, if I didn’t use a sponsor, I would drink. So I do it. I don’t like it, but I’ve gotten better at it. I do wait too long to reach out, but it’s a growth curve. I show up for meetings daily. And I pray because you told me to pray to a Higher Power. I don’t know what I’m praying to, I don’t like praying, I don’t believe in praying, but I know that I’m sober today, and I trust what you tell me to do.”

This trust took time. What supported him was his sponsor and fellow AA members, willing to sit with him through his storms, his raging, his don’t-mess-with-me-behavior till he saw that no one was leaving him, that people could handle him, could handle his anger whether expressed healthily or not, till he settled down, landed, and became willing to be vulnerable. And then he softened, in the powerful way a Type Eight softens—like a skilled martial artist blending strength and tenderness simultaneously!

The Spiritual Journey of the Eight—Taking Back One’s Will

The Eight’s journey through recovery will be a continual relearning of the precious lesson of ‘surrender.’ Once sober, once both feet are landed back on the ground and he no longer taken by his addiction, as soon as he can, he will, as is said in recovery circles, ‘take back his will.’ Borrowing from a recovery analogy, while he’s at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, his Type Eight personality habits (and his addiction) are out in the parking lot, doing push-ups and strategizing ways to more invisibly inhabit him. Everyone in recovery knows this stark lesson: just when you think you’ve extricated an unwanted personality habit (these are sometimes named ‘personality defects’ but I choose to call them ‘personality defenses’)—presto! The habit is back and riding comfortably in the driver’s seat! From somewhere in the depths of your being it reconstituted itself and before you can say ‘I’m liberated from my suffering,’ it’s in charge again! And—the god’s be damned—it arrives in a new disguise! Welcome to lessons of real-time humility. Very hard to get too big for your britches when your patterns have their way with you…once again…once again…once again.

For the Eight, the patterns of asserting oneself to protect oneself and shutting down one’s vulnerability are hardwired deep into his being. His walk into the rooms of AA will give birth to his freedom from addiction. But now the long and prosperous journey begins of undoing all the ways his personality structure is configured to harden his heart, to shut down the tender capacity of his soul, to keep people at a safe distance, and to survive amongst others as the strong one who protects his chosen allies, or intimidates his enemies. This is his deeper addiction—his addiction to intensity, force and control. Slowly but surely as a sober man he will see how these patterns continually and relentlessly assert through him till he realizes they have a life of their own within him, just like his substance abuse controlled him. He will experience emotional relapse over and over again until Step One looks like this: Came to believe and clearly perceive that I am powerless over my personality patterns. They are often quicker and faster than me.

At deeper and deeper levels, year five, year ten, year fifteen, year twenty in recovery he will need to relearn the deeper meaning of surrender, and how he is imprisoned by his addiction to intensity and control (“pacing he cage” of his ego as Bruce Cockburn wrote). Like peeling the skin off an onion, he will slowly but surely move towards real freedom. Meaning this: surrender is not a one-shot event. As he witnesses his personality in action, and as he learns to resist its dictates, slowly but surely he will feel the heartbreak and rejection that drove him to relying on his intensity and forcefulness. Courageously he will allow himself to feel and surrender to this. In so doing he will deepen his capacity to feel the real strength, realness, and aliveness that he truly loves, and the capacity to connect with his spacious and big heart. Then his powerful actions will be in service of love, instead of being driven by love of power. It’s a long slow journey through the labyrinth of one’s learned defenses. One can take heart that everyone moves slowly, and that baby steps are powerful!

What Helps the Eight to Stay Clean and Sober                                                          

1. Notice how you get taken by your need for intensity. At your best you want to feel strong, safe, self-reliant, passionate, alive and real. Your task is to notice when these healthy drives turn to forcefulness, intimidation, expansiveness, and control of others when you are feeling rejected, scared and unwanted. You are hard-wired to this habit of getting bigger, louder, fiercer and more aggressive when feeling rejected or threatened. When hurt, you harden. It’s automatic. This well-honed habit will wake up your addiction, and will insure that you have little satisfying emotional contact with reality. You will be unable to feel what you need, and alcohol will gladly be the replacement for soulful experiences with life. You must learn to sense your body in order to catch the early warning signs of arising mechanical aggression.

2. Enlist the support of another to help you become aware of when you are too loud, too aggressive, and too forceful. It takes time to learn to observe your personality-in-action, so in the beginning allow a trusted friend (sponsor, therapist, coach) to be a mirror for you. It takes many humbling moments of self-reflection to become conscious of the ways your personality habit has taken charge, observing that you’ve gotten too big and inflated to actually communicate in a way that really works. Begin to see that you like the intensity and flush of power that comes with it—it’s exciting and oh-so-stimulating, the adrenaline rush of amped up energy, the rush of power that deadens vulnerability and feeling of weakness, the inflated sense of self-importance, hey, damn, it’s juicy! Learning to withdraw your identification from this adrenaline rush is big work because it’s so blinding, fast, and so intoxicating you hardly notice you are engulfed in it. The dead bodies in your wake are sometimes your only clue that you’ve come off the rails.

3. Learn to be aware of your immediate impact on others. When caught up in the juicy and adrenalized energy of intensity, all four cylinders firing, you cannot feel how you’ve hurt, scared, intimidated or insulted another. These sensitivities seal over in your awareness. Start to notice the telltale signs that you’re ‘hitting too hard, too loud, too much!’ You will see it in the body posture of someone you’re interacting with as they shrivel away from you because you’ve scared them, they trying to stay beneath your radar and save their life. You’ll see the look of shock or intimidation on their face, their sudden silence and downward glance. You must consciously learn to ‘hear’ your volume level (Just how loud are you? Ask your friends, they will tell you! Instruct them to give you the sign: thumbs down.) Listen to your tone of voice and be conscious of its nuances. Is your voice threatening, commanding, pushy, angry? Notice how are you holding your body? Is your chest puffed out, are you intimidating others through your physicality, pressing too close to them, coming at them? Do you notice that individuals are freely expressing their opinions around you, or are they flying under the radar of ‘you,’ holding back their opinions to avoid igniting a dragon, i.e. you! Notice this! Your recovery counts of this.

4. Forewarn your loved ones, friends, and business associates. One Eight in recovery said, “I let those who work for me know in advance, that at times I will come across as threatening, scary and intimidating, and I won’t realize it. I invite them to let me know when this happens, to please bring it to my attention, because many times I am clueless about how I come across. I think I’m communicating in a calm manner and later am told that my voice was raised, that I sounded very angry, like I was going to hit someone. I was shocked to hear this, and sadly, I hear it more often than I would like, but this is my growing edge. I have to be honest…part of me likes overusing my power. It makes me feel in control and strong.” The point being, invite those you care about to call you on your stuff, to tell you when you’ve puffed up too big, even if it means coming up with a hand signal that says, “Too loud. Too harsh. Too scary. Stifle thyself” And when they hold you accountable, take a breath, listen, don’t fight back, don’t defend, become receptive to hearing them.

5. Inhabit Your Body. Your growing edge is in learning to sense your emotions and the emotions of others. One fast doorway to empathy begins by learning to sense your body (via body scan meditation, etc.), learning to inhabit it such that when you begin to harden yourself, to ramp up your energy, or when taken by the rush of intensity, you’ll feel it in your body. Your body becomes the alarm system, the wake-up call for your intensity. The more often you actually keep contact with your body (we call this ‘being present in the body’), the more often you will sense your internal shifts—contracting and intensifying physically when angered or hurt, feeling your body toughen and enlarge under stress—and the better chance you can practice conscious restraint when triggered. Just being conscious of your body’s response when triggered will slow down your addiction to intensity, and your tendency to plow forward full bore.

6.Train your capacity for empathy. As an Eight, noticing that you cannot feel or sense the suffering or feelings of others, that the tender spot in your heart has disappeared, is a growing edge for you. Learning to put yourself in another’s position so as to realize their difficulties is a powerful exercise for developing heart-felt empathy (Gurdjieff, a magnificent Type Eight, called this ‘external considering’). Begin to take time to actually visualize and imagine what it is like to live in the skin of another. Become them in your imagination, inhabit their body, heart and thoughts. That is, you become that person that you dislike, or criticize, or hate, or distain because they are acting weak and powerless. You sense their suffering. And then, becoming this person, imagine you are looking out at yourself through their eyes. What do you see? This active visualization of considering others, sensing what drives them and affects them (which Twos are pros at), will begin to wake up your ability to feel empathy, and to notice when you are hardening yourself, hurting others and hurting yourself.

7. Be aware when the sensitive vulnerability of others triggers you. Notice when you experience revulsion when others appear to you as too sensitive, vulnerable, weak, soft or unable to embody their strength and power. Most often their behavior bothers you because they are expressing vulnerability to emotional states you’ve had to ban and deny to survive as a mighty Eight (surely your childhood was a crucible for these patterns). In these moments take time to sense your heart and see if feelings of sadness, neediness, or emotional vulnerability are being triggered inside you, and if you can, breathe into the tenderness you are resisting (or breathe into the resistance you feel). Trust me, you will not lose your ability to be strong and protective if you give way to these feelings. Nor will you become a mush of weakness and inability to function. No, you’ll still keep all your gifts, but you’ll add your heart to the mix.

8.  Learn to modulate your confrontation skills. One of your precious gifts is the ability to call out the demons and devils in the room (AA meetings, group therapy meetings, conversations with friends) and confront them in a singular triumphant declaration of truth—nothing sugar-coated—a dagger of truth cutting thru the darkness lighting up the whole room (and destroys innocent bystanders at times!). This gift of delivering naked, lie-dissolving truth and waylaying all ego activity in an AA meeting is remarkable but the problem lies in the precision of the delivery. You easily cut to the chase with abandon while everyone shivers and awakens from the encounter with your intensity, and when used well, this is an astounding gift. Everyone feels more real from the inside out. You are wired to believe that the more intense you become (as in confronting your addiction, yourself and the neurotic behavior of others with a steel-penetrating laser of realness) the more effective you are. But more intensity isn’t better when others around you have withered like flowers onto the floor. Then you’ve missed the mark. In service of truth you’ve destroyed the receiver. In fact, you will discover a quiet, riveting intensity, when the words you speak are so real, so alive, so spot-on-amazingly true, that all that is required is a whisper and everyone is riveted and shocked into the truth of the moment. (The point being ‘it’s not the volume that wakes people up.) You must learn this art of precision, the art of noticing when silence, quietness, delicacy or a softer, gentler tone delivers the fierce truth just as effectively as your high intensity delivery. In learning to blend soft with direct and firm (the heart and soul of Chinese Goju martial arts), you deliver an even more precise, impacting, real, and passionate message. People hear you more easily when you are not plastering them to the walls. Full-on aliveness means you attune to the energy that is required in the moment to speak your deepest truth. Sometimes gentleness, sometimes fierceness. Realness and passion comes through many channels, and healthy Eights know how to play all the strings on the instrument of their soul. At your best you are as strong as a bulldozer, flow like hot lava, and are precise as a needle.

9. Notice the behaviors indicative of your loss of presence, awareness and contact your magnificent heart. When your personality is taking over, telltale signs arise: you begin to mistrust the loyalties of others, you perceive that others are teaming against you, you become harsher and more threatening, and you push yourself and others harder and harder. You become a hard-driving task-master. You talk louder, you believe that no one can be trusted and that you don’t need anyone (people are replaceable, commodities, not worth much), you think you are the most important person in the room (You are no longer right-sized!). You inflate your self-importance and thrive on feeling superior. When all this occurs be certain—you are headed down the road of self-destruction and addiction is waiting enthusiastically for you. Realize this: people are abandoning you because they feel you will not listen or consider them, and find it hopeless to even try. They sense you are in the game for yourself, and their only value is whether they produce for you. They feel like disposable objects in your projects. Because you’re scary they won’t confront ego. So, being smart…they leave. This is one of your wake-up calls—people are leaving because you are driving them away.

10. Humbly and quickly apologize when you’ve caused harm. Nothing blows people away like a powerful Eight humbly apologizing for hurting, offending, or scaring them, or for being caught up in egotistical self-importance. It’s uncomfortable as hell to do—apologizing—because it smacks of weakness (in the eyes of your ego) and you will feel weak, humbled and vulnerable when you do it. But it is a doorway to your peace and happiness. Invite friends and co-workers to let you know when you’ve stunned them, ridden rough-shod over them, been insensitive to their feelings, got caught in big-shot-ism, or disregarded and disrespected their approach to problem-solving. Apologize quickly. Plan to do it often. Cherish the humility that arises as it is a sign that essence is speaking through you And understand and appreciate this with compassion: your less desirable behavior that intimidates, scares, hurts or threatens others happens so automatically under stress that in the moment you do not see, smell, feel, ear it.

Apologizing will begin to give you eyes to see yourself in action. Humbly apologize (your heart will hurt when you do this). Humbly apologize. Humbly apologize. And get curious. Ask people “How did my behavior make you feel?” This too will begin to give you eyes to see yourself.

11. Notice when you are threatened by the genuine power of others. When you are caught in the fixation of your personality (meaning you are being taken by your need to assert your strength, power and control and out of touch with essence, etc.) you will feel threatened by the genuine power of others, and will begin to undermine them or outdo them as a response to feeling like you’re throne of power is being threatened. The ego agenda of the Eight (which is vastly different than the healthy agenda) is “I am the only one who can be in control. I don’t share power. If I share power I am weak and will be taken advantage of. There is only room for one of us.” Your real power, your healthy power comes online when you are genuinely interested in empowering others. If you are present and awake, you know that empowering others never diminishes your power, but actually expands and nurtures it. Can you tell the difference?

12. Learn to sit with your intensity before acting on it, i.e., learn to relax and ‘be.’ You must learn restraint. This comes from doing a meditation practice on a daily basis in which you sit quietly, noticing the rising and falling of thoughts, emotions, and the tides of your passion and intensity. Learn to sit in the furnace of yourself allowing your intensity and fire to simmer, cook, clarify, settle, and purify without getting up and going into action. Practice ‘being’ rather than ‘doing.’ You will begin to notice more clearly and acutely when you are being driven to intense action in order to avoid deadness, fear, ego-diminishment, or vulnerability. With time you will notice how and when you jump into intense action or confrontation as a means of escaping these less-than-strong feelings. A growing edge for you is in discerning when your adventurous spirit is being called into action for real, life-enhancing adventures, or when your defensive patterns are activated to avoid fear, deadness, and vulnerability.

Message to the Eight

Your deep gift is to empower others to arise and own their innate power and autonomy, to champion them to step forward into life, fully alive and lit up with passion, realness, capacity, big-heartedness, generosity and energizing juiciness. As you model and embody this in your personal action-filled, passionate life, your magnanimous heart is like a tornadic firestorm cutting through the deep losses and humiliations individuals have experienced activating their can-do courage, their dignity, their ferocious love of life, and their personal will. Such that they arise and declare, “I am here. I will live this life fully. I will give everything I’ve got. I will be anything but half-hearted.” This is the clarion call of the Eight. Your impassioned aliveness touches a life wire, invigorating and inciting people to be resourceful, independent, able to stand on their own two feet, able to think for themselves, able to walk through whatever challenge they face. Your lion-hearted message is loud and clear: you can arise and meet your challenges, you can muster the will, courage, and wisdom to match your difficulties and claim your autonomy.

These are some of the beautiful gifts of inspiration you give to the world!! Thank you!





The Type Five in Addiction Recovery



                                                              Type Five in Recovery

  The Investigator—The Intense, Cerebral Type

By Michael Naylor, M.Ed, CCS, LADC, CCPC

                        International Enneagram Association Professional and Teacher 

Copyright 2017 Version 1.0



The Healthy Five

Terry, a Type Five Investigator extraordinaire, walks through the back door of the 8 AM, Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, a gangly softness to his movements. A well-navigated precision to each step, he quietly moves through the rag-tag Oregon crowd, a blend of all-ages, genders and backgrounds—street drunk to scientist to lawyer—thrown together on this precious sobriety life-raft. He inhabits his body ever so lightly, as if it is made of soft, transparent paper, and he a puppet-master guiding ‘it’ along, helping ‘it’ walk. You see, he doesn’t have the testosterone hard-wiring of Big Fred, the boisterous, hearty Eight who moves and speaks with bravado and punch and brassiness, never mincing his words ( Fred’s short version of the Serenity Prayer: Fuck it!). He’s not a florid emotional Type Four, like Frank, often sharing tender and heart-rending depth, real life emotions oozing from his soul. No, Terry’s energy is hard to describe—neither strongly male or female—and somewhere between water and wind and hidden lightening.

As he approaches his seat, his gaze emits an elfin-like sense of humor and joy, he appreciating the weirdness and incongruent beauty of this gathering of serendipitously linked basement-dwellers. Mixed with his off-beat joy is the curious aura of I’m-not-really-here-I’m-posing-as-a-quiet-observer-of-reality that surrounds him, like he’s standing behind a thinly-veiled curtain watching the whole show. Truth is, he’s examining each moment with an intense, passionate awareness. You catch it in his eyes tucked softly back in the contours of his bony, gentle face, the piercing laser-lights burning with curiosity, looking for what he calls the ‘illumination’ behind what he observes—the Prana—the life force invigorating all manifestations.

Because he’s keenly aware of the incredible miracle of his existence, he does not call attention to himself, does not name himself as a respected scientist, but is humbly right-sized. Quietly he absorbs the pleasure of connecting with ‘his’ people, appreciating their quirks and idiosyncrasies, cheerily sensing the invisible life-force that infuses the room. All of it is taken in. Nothing is missed. Comfortable as a gnome on a bar-stool hanging out in the oceanic matrix of his mind, he drinks in his perceptions like the sweetest wine, quietly contemplating the unfolding moment.

If you get curious about his passion—examining the process of life and death in plants and fungi at micro levels, articulating the nuances of gamma rays or black holes, ‘seeing’ the magical network of intelligence that links earth, plant, air, water, wind, insect, animal into a living thread of life…ahhhh!…music to his soul and mind—you get a dose of his infectious inquisitiveness. And Shazam!—this sweet guy rubs off on you, injects you, shocks you—and suddenly your perceptions begin to take on a multi-dimensional quality. You’re not just looking at a mud puddle, but now you sense the microscopic dynamism that makes the puddle ‘exist’ and its interrelationship with sky above, and earth below, and all measure of invisible intelligently linked forces at work. Perceptual blinders temporarily dissolve and Type Five illumination touches you: everything is living; nothing is stagnant; reality breathes. There are kingdoms within kingdoms strung together by amazing chunks of intelligence, most of it absolutely invisible, interacting seamlessly! (Except if you are a Terry, a Five, you ‘see’ the invisible strands. It’s your nature.)

In time you realize that Terry is meditating on ever-growing storehouses of illuminated wisdom, watching stunning film clips of complexifying perceptions which flow across his mind screen—from the natural history of the earth to particle theory to the microscopic kingdom he recently examined in the scum pool he knelt at, at the Grand Canyon—as he takes you in. It’s like an IMAX movie is continually turned on inside him—it’s the lens out of which he observes and engages reality—and yet he is present enough to include you in the movie. Wordlessly he invites you into his meditation of awe, to feel the intelligent lightness and precision in which he touches the moment, and the deepening wisdom he is cultivating with his perceptive acumen. Truth is, you just want to hug him. And many do!

This is for certain: when he was mired in his addiction, no one hugged him. He merged with his computer screen, and his electrified imagination. But now he is twenty-five years sober and when he speaks of his sobriety at an AA meeting he becomes the wizard, Gandalf, arising with his staff, striking the ground in front of the Balrog in the Mines of Moria, proclaiming “You shall not pass!” Tangibly the strength and power of his soul penetrates the room. And then, seconds later, he has become crazy, down-home hilarious, poking fun at his absurdities. “I’m very odd you know. Well, you can ask my wife, she will tell you (he grins, blue eyes glimmering with joy)! I could hole up in my office for days, in fact I love isolation. I’ve got to remember to come out of hiding because I could stay there forever, hypothesizing and testing my theories, studying the cosmos in microscopic detail. There’s no end to how I can entertain myself with speculating and theorizing. But don’t get me wrong, it’s on real things! Sometimes I get afraid to come out. You know, if a car cuts me off in traffic I’m not sure whether I should call suicide prevention or shoot myself. Like I said, I’m not that well yet”

Laughter peels through the room, his eyes glimmering blue. “Frankly, I’d much prefer staying at home and reading a book than to come to this meeting. Hey, it’s an honest program, right? But there’s this thing called alcoholism that I must attend to. Okay, enough about me and my idiosyncrasies.  Let’s hear from the rest of you!”

Welcome to the precious soul of the Five! He is a living example of a Healthy Five—engaging, connected-with-others, heart gentle and open, mind wide with invention and curiosity, he appreciating the astounding mystery and complexity of life while holding the torch of humility and compassion. He is a light of courage, inspiration and hope for everyone at the AA meeting, shining a huge light of gratitude from the center of his being.

So let’s take a look at the journey he took to arrive here.

The Five in Addiction Recovery—Life at Level 6 and 7

The Type Five arrives in addiction recovery disconnected from his inherent gifts. Terry puts it this way:

“I spent the five years prior to coming into recovery holed up in one room, drugging and drinking. I never went out. Hey, give me another drug-inspired psychotic state, give me more of that! I rarely ate. I was locked in, crazed, captured in my inner world, and if my body wasn’t on the verge of completely dying, I’d still be there, taking hallucinogens, drinking, and spasmodically hypothesizing on my psychotic imagery. It is pure luck that I made it out alive. When I came to my first AA meeting, I didn’t think I had a drinking or drug problem, but golly, what did I know? I just saw that you all were sober, so I keep it simple and followed the program. Thank God. I had no idea how lost in the machinations of my drug-fueled imagination I was, or how indulging in fantastical, bizarre imagery had become my pleasure seeking escape from reality. I completely dissolved into the back-chambers of my mind, where no one could touch me.  Only when I got really sick did I notice my body…dying. It was like I was watching a specimen of myself on a lab slide, and myself thinking, “Look at him, He’s dying.” That’s how disconnected I was. If friends hadn’t intervened you would have found me on the floor, a dried up twig, frozen in place by my last hallucination.”

In addiction the Five has lost contact with his ability to savor the amazing complexity of life, his innate gift of joyous curiosity now leveled to wasteful imagination, and off-the-wall, fearful  speculations. His niche as a true journeyer into vast and unknown territories has been stripped to digging alone, out of sync with humanity, and lost in the sea of his secretive mind. Disconnected from reality, from his heart and his body, he has disappeared into the far crevices of his mental world, his heart and soul like dry leaves, shriveled and juiceless. His capacities have reversed themselves—his awake, clear minded optimism turned to nihilism, his penetrating insights turned to contentious doom-saying or insane theorizing, his innate objectivity turned to intellectual arrogance, rigidity and eccentricity. At his worst, his visionary capacity has morphed into antagonistic pessimism and self-indulgent hatred of all living things. Bottom line: life feels utterly meaningless.

Instead of seeing and perceiving life outside the box of the culture, he is trapped in the ever-narrowing box of fear-filled, imagination hell. He uses substances to both escape his emotional suffering, and conversely to indulge and exacerbate his fear-driven, intensity-fueled mind with dark images of death and doom. In fact, he can become addicted to the intensity of fearful speculations. Once able to make heartfelt contact with other human beings, he has become an alien repelled by human contact, and by contact with himself.  Once creative, he is now bombarded with frenzied, bizarre ideas.

In contrast to the healthy Five’s capacity to see the amazing and spectacular intelligence that runs through every fiber of life, the addicted Five at L6 and L7 is stuck on one dark note: there is no goodness anywhere; nothing that makes sense or can to trusted.

What Helps the Five. The Five in early recovery is often distant and secretive. He does not feel welcome and is deeply suspicious of the world he inhabits. Is it safe, can he trust anyone, will he be overwhelmed? His strategy is to analyze everything that he encounters and to distance himself from contact with you. Don’t take it personally. Underneath the intense gaze of the Five is a very sensitive soul who feels that at any moment, too much contact with you could drain him and put him completely at your mercy. He has great doubt that you want anything to do with him. Approach him with curiosity, kindness and calmness. In his time, when he sees that it’s safe, he will come out and share his many gifts. Don’t think for a second that he isn’t paying attention—he is!

(Welcome to the horror-scapes of Stephen King! At any moment, ‘anything’ can turn alien and kill you!). He feels incapable of facing life or dealing with it—it all seems so pointless. His brilliant perceptiveness is lost in the vast, negative universe of cynicism and withdrawal. This is the Five down the levels of health, constricted by suffering and loss, failing prey to their worst fears of being helpless, useless, and incapable, and submerged in an inner world that is terrifying, and without meaning. Why try? What’s the point, anyway? They enter addiction recovery entranced in these dark thoughts. Wonder why they might be a little withdrawn?

     First 12 Weeks in Residential Treatment

When the beloved Five arrives in residential he immediately is confronted with his aversion to making with his fellow human beings.  If he could receive treatment by staying isolated in his room doing group therapy via Skype, or get sober by tracking through the magnificent complexity of a Halo 4, this would be a hopeful beginning. But instead he is thrown into a men’s treatment center, forced to sit side by side with them to talk about his feelings—the last thing he wants to be doing. He is not one to easily share his emotions and inner truths with others, most especially strangers. If he shares too much he fears he may vanish and disappear like dust in the wind since he’s given away trade secrets that make him vulnerable to the meanness and ignorance of others. If you know his inner world, you can enter it and do harm to him Unbeknownst to many, he is deeply sensitive, acutely aware, and easily hurt. His need for your emotional support is only faintly registered on his radar screen. Walter explains it this way:

“When I arrived in treatment I was people-phobic so to attempt to speak to anyone took great effort. No one felt safe to me. I was filled with cynicism. I thought everyone were like happy sheep conforming to the latest politically incorrect notion. Never mind that I’d been a sheep following every delusion that passed through me. I surely didn’t want, or need, any contact with them, and I was sure they didn’t want anything to do with me! But there I was, in a treatment center because I could not take care of myself. The delusions I fed on, which I mistook for  superior intelligence and razor sharp analytical skills, were unable to reverse my fall into addiction and utter despair. This was my first wake-up call: my analyzing mind didn’t have all the answers. Especially the important ones! I would relearn this lesson a thousand times! I was killing myself and I needed help. Stuck in hopelessness, I felt that nothing mattered—everything was all bullshit. I had no hope, no need to feel hope, and was raging at the stupidity around me. My cynicism protected my vulnerability. If I didn’t need you, you couldn’t hurt me. My nihilism numbed out my deeper disappointment—that I didn’t know how to live in life, didn’t know where I belonged, couldn’t feel love, and felt like an utter outcast. Added to this volatile mix was the fact that I was utterly unapproachable and terrified of you.”


The Five, certain of being rejected, is safe and fortified in the space-ship of his mind, watching for intruders while trying to scare them away with aggressive silence or retreat. Already self-rejecting, they expect it from you. However, be certain of this: they are not as cynical and remote and anti-human as they appear, not by a long shot. If you saw them when they were feeling safe and cared for, you’d see a humorous, sensitive, caring, intelligent, curious individual—like Terry—who is comfortable in his own skin and more than glad to share his wisdom to improve your life.

What you are seeing now in early recovery is a Five soul who has been forced to shut down their gifts and survive on their self-protective defenses. I recall Walter, a sweet, withdrawn, lanky Five who came into treatment, he a street survivor in Portland, Oregon for years. He was like a small animal tucked tightly between two rocks, scrunched down as small as he was able, his eyes peering from the darkness. Finding words was achingly painful for him, he compulsion to retreat quickly so instinctive to his survival. And yet, when he spoke, I would discover a vastly intelligent, shockingly funny, kind and perceptive human being who was certain beyond all belief, that if he came out of hiding he would be killed. Better to risk this on the street, sleeping in back alley-ways. This fear jettisoned him out of rehab into the streets over and over again, a hobo wandering, traveling light as a feather, a paperback tucked into his back pocket.                                                                                                                                              As unavailable or intellectually superior the Five may appear, it is only a reflection of just how ‘not substantial’ and terrified they feel within. They don’t need you to confront them, scold them, judge them, coerce them, convince them, or attempt to pry them open. What they need is an invitation to simply be, so they can settle and realize no one is going to do a full scale assault on their soul (This will send them out the door, and I’ve seen many Type Five high-tail it after an overzealous counselor has delivered wrongly-attuned tough love!). Only a rare few actually thrive when they are confronted, and the Five isn’t one of them.

In early recovery, the Five needs a paradigm that works for them. Let them know how the 12 Steps worked for you. Educate them about the dynamics of addiction, its biology and psychology—they love knowledge! Remind them that they have freedom to follow these sacred recovery dictates: “Take what you need and leave the rest. You have freedom to choose what works for you. This isn’t a dogma machine that produces recovery robots. It’s a place to discover real freedom through working ‘your program’ of recovery. Find out what works for you.”                                    The Five doesn’t need you to catalogue and point out his alcohol or drug addicted behaviors and deficiencies because the Five is one of the few types, who as they descend into deeper levels of crazy behaviors, can still see their actions. Where other types shut down this perceptive ability, the Five can’t (much like his cousin, the Type Four). Welcome him just as he is, with his cynicism and nihilism and whatever distortion has filled in as his protective suit of armor. The Five needs time and space to involve himself in recovery at his own pace. Pressure him and he digs his heels in. Try to convince or coerce him, and he will come up with skillful counter-arguments that will shake the roots of your faith. Give him room to challenge every assumption and belief about the 12 Steps and you truly invite him to see if this will work for him. Notice and appreciate his intelligent perception and let him know you respect and have no war with his brilliance (even if it is slightly out of kilter at this point, or sometimes completely off-the-rails!), and he will begin to investigate his opportunity to get sober without his intellectual resistance, fueled by fear, whirring at full tilt. If your support goes in the direction of creating room for the Five to discover for himself what truly is the antidote to his addiction, you will open the door for a real solution to arise.

Invite him in kindly. Drop any position you are inclined to take that suggests that you know what is good for him—you don’t—even though your training as an addiction’s therapist or recovering person might have insisted on this. Be a force of ‘attraction,’ not promotion, as the 12 Steps rightly suggests. Your humble recognition that he, with the Higher Power of his understanding, are the true sources for discovering his path home will allow him to feel safe, welcomed and respected.

And remember, the Five arrives in addiction treatment imprisoned in the defensive structure of their type (as do all the types). Be mindful that his innate gifts are manifesting in their opposite expression (that’s the nature of Level 6 & 7). Your job is to point him towards his true gifts. Don’t be put off by his quirks, his tendency to disappear into the folds of his mind, to go into deep silence when he is afraid.

   Protective Mechanism of the Five: You Will Not Enter My Tree House

The Type Five is an iconoclastic, intelligent, perceptive , sensitive soul  (I’m reminded of sweet-hearted, quirky-funny, vastly intelligent Eckhart Tolle), and fierce in his search for truth (like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory on a good day!). Easily addicted to his intense thinking and conceptualizing capacity,  he can be an intense fire-storm  of inquiry, seeking knowledge, information, clarity and understanding (See “Encounters at the End of the World” to witness the brilliance, humor, intelligence, and elfin wisdom of Type Fives living at the South Pole trying to save humanity, and calmly realizing it’s too late.).

When the Type Five arrives in recovery his mental chatter, and his sizzling, curious, let’s-explore-and-dissect-every-interesting-idea-we-encounter-brain, is heated up and in over-drive. As one Five said, “I realize that I learned to avoid my feelings by escaping into my intense thoughts. I began to feel that who I was, was my intense thoughts. This became my identity, what felt like me. Caught in this identity, my heart and body seemed like they were located on a distant planet.”

This is the key aversion pattern the Five will confront throughout his recovery at more subtle and deeper levels: vacating his body and heart and disconnecting from people, that is, losing a felt sense of connection with himself.  He thinks about the experiences he is having, rather than inhabiting and feeling them. He becomes a distant observer of reality and builds himself an inner tree-fort, where he hangs out and studies his information library, and analyzes life from a distance. Having high-tailed in into his analyzing mind, everything below the neck becomes alien territory (This is called the schizoid split.). As one Five says, “I often feel like my body is a taxi-cab for my head, something to transport me to my next information source. My task is to remember to feed it and give it water or it doesn’t work so well.”

His tool of protection: his probing, razor-sharp mind which he can use to fend you off so as to assure that you will not reach in and touch the live-wire of his helplessness, incapability or self-rejection. He’s smarter than you, more observant than you (even though he misses everything that is positive) and feels he doesn’t need you. Don’t even try to sneak up on him. He sees you coming miles away. And underneath all of this, he’s scared and shivering.

So, sitting at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting it’s as if he is wearing an invisible sign that says, “Don’t talk to me. Stay away. The moats up. No one is home. You are not welcome. Idiots need not apply. Contact with you could kill me. Don’t try to get close to me because I know you’ll reject me, drain me, and banish me to the outskirts of the cosmos. I will go there on my own, thank you. I don’t need you. I don’t ‘need.’ Needing you puts me in your cross-hairs. No thank you!” Over the years of his recovery, this defensive structure will get thinner and thinner as he challenges his vulnerability.

Ever aware of how small and unprotected he feels, the Five compensates for this by disengaging from his feelings and body and heads due north into his mind, his inner library. It’s as if he thinks to himself, “It feels so strange and scary to be here amongst these crazy people, best to simply dis-inhabit my body and my feelings so I don’t feel how dreadful and afraid I actually feel.” He has learned to shut off his need for people as a form of protection from suffering. This is what he must ‘unlearn.’ It’s as if he says, “Help me…but don’t let me know you’re helping me because if I spot it, it will trigger my feelings of uselessness and incompetence, and I’ll want to run. I’ll push your help away.”

You get the picture. He’s suffering and in need of genuine understanding and compassion, and yet receiving compassion intrudes on his script that he must be masterful and capable—so says his Inner Critic: You must be the expert who is independent and self-sufficient or you are nothing—before he is okay to come out and be supported. It’s a delusionary trance that drives him into isolation. He’s supposed to have the answers and yet his answers have failed him. AA members directly confront this when they say, “Your best thinking got you here. Better let us help you. We may sound like baboons from time to time, but we possess a rock solid truth that can get you sober. In time you can eventually put your mind to good use, but for now, let us do a little thinking for you.” Not easy words for the Five to listen to!

Deep Wound/Relapse Pattern of the Type Five—of being stupid and lost in the stupidity and ignorance of the world, of having no map to navigate reality, and no niche or place in the world. Key Commandment: You must be an expert in some area of intelligence, or you are not lovable, protected or wanted. You must not need anything except time and room to study. Deep Wish—to feel useful, capable, and to find a niche. Sees himselfas innovative, perceptive, observant, curious, objective, whimsical, objective, and compassionate, and more intelligent than others. At Level 4 and below he falls prey to the Emotional Habit of Avarice in which he avoids emotional contact with people because it drains him and scares him. He turns his heart off to avoid feeling his intense sensitivity. Add to this his Mental Habit of Retention, in which he tries to feel strong by accumulating, studying and memorizing what he studies,  which drives him to disengage with reality, to go ‘into his head’ to live. He hides out in his analyzing mind, habitually going over what he’s studied and remembered to feel strong. His Inner Critic tells him he only safe and worthwhile when he’s brilliant. So he impulsively studies and accumulates more knowledge.

All this said, if the Five becomes aware of these particular tendencies, a choice will come when he must risk and step out, trusting another human being with his vulnerability. Give him space and time, and he will make the journey home, where patiently waiting for him are his deepest gifts: his perceptiveness, intelligence, curiosity, and his wizened heart.

Core Suffering and Relapse Pattern of the Five through out Recovery

There is a recurring song that the Inner Critic of the Type Five plays, attempting to awaken the core fear that lays at the foundation of the Type Five personality structure. It works like a mean-spirited sorceress, weaving a spell over the Five whenever they are approaching growth, transformation, or expansion in their spiritual journey. Fiendishly she murmurs these incantations…

You have no niche, no place here. You are a stranger in a stranger land. No one really wants you around. You are powerless and have no capability, no internal strength. You are a weirdo living in this uninhabitable, dangerous world. Retreat, hide out, and store up as much knowledge in your head to survive. If you expose your heart you will obliterated—blown away like a dry leaf in a windstorm. Your best bet is to pay no attention your sensitivity.  Your only life is found in your intense thinking. Stay hidden. Reject any needs you have. Needs, what are needs? Needs are for idiots. Become an intellectually superior expert. Feed your disdain of others. Leave your body and heart behind, climb into your head, stay there, let no one intrude. Good luck to you. Remember, if you want or need anything, you will expose yourself and be eaten like an insect by this meaningless world! Life is scary. No point in entering it. Go it alone. Hide out! There, don’t you feel better already?”

Not such a cheery trance (but where Five humor comes from, as in, on my birthday, my Five friend sends me a card that says, “Happy Birthday. The Grim Reaper awaits!”) When the Five’s fear is triggered, up comes the trance of the Inner Critic, generating this terrifying, hex-like, inner-movie.  In response to this, emergency flares exploding around him—death is near, death is near—he detaches himself from himself. His consciousness disappears into the back crevices of his mind. He becomes a detached speculator, an outside observer of life. This feels like ‘him.’ This feels ‘comfortable.’ “Can’t feel my body, heart, needs, or discomfort…ahhhhh! Excited by my ideas—yummy, just right!” (As one Five put it, I know myself as the intensity of my thinking.) He strategizes, “I will just study you from over here, from behind this wall, house, computer screen. And when it’s safe, I might come out (but not likely). From the looks of it, why bother, really?! If I withdraw into my isolation room, the world cannot attack me or harm me.”     When Gene, a type Five, was asked if he had need for emotional support, he replied, “I really don’t understand what you’re asking. Need? Emotional support? Doesn’t compute.” Okay, I reply, what does your heart need? Shaking his head, he answers, “Heart? What does that mean? My existence is lived from the neck up. I don’t understand the ‘feel’ part? My heart, my body, my feelings, all mysterious stuff. So, I don’t get the question.”

Throughout his recovery from addiction the Five will confront one over-riding pattern: his habit of retreating into his analytical mind when emotions begin to touch him, when he begins to experience ‘intimacy’ with another, when he begins to allow himself to have a felt sense of his body, when he dares to allow you to look inside him. Fifteen years into recovery, as he’s grown and made progress with these issues, he will be triggered to go deeper. Once again his core suffering (at an ever deeper level) will arise: that he will never ‘really’ be welcome on earth, will never have a place to participate from, will never have real connections with people, will never get comfortable with feelings and sharing them, will never really understand the point of existence.

His Inner Critic Trance will arise like an evil sorceress and suddenly life, himself, people, all will look like chaos, stupidity and madness. His recovery will take him directly into repeated encounters with his core pattern of suffering until he digests and heals it. He will learn at more subtle levels how he still disconnects from human beings and retreats into his head to study them, rather than make heartfelt connection. This will be his core relapse trigger and his growth edge. Just when he thinks he’s got it figured out, this core pattern will morph into a more subtle and invisible version, and he will be challenged to deepen his awareness. (Hey, this is what makes recovery meaningful and fun, this hero’s journey into your own personal Mines of Morea, until you are completely redeemed and healed, until the ‘ring’ of your addiction/personality patterns are burned in the flames of awareness. It’s your hero’s journey, you can be glad about that! Never mind if it’s both the best and most difficult game in town.)

With long term recovery, he will learn to intimately sense his retreat patterns: in his body as it numbs, in his heart that goes dry in response to fear, in his mind that starts hyper-analyzing his experience rather than being in it. He will notice his aversion to contact with people, to disconnect and withdraw. People will suddenly become objects on his observational screen, insects to examine and study and stay away from, and he himself, an object that he observes, disembodied from himself. And with skillful awareness he will ask for help. He will move towards healthy recovery people, rather than retreat. He won’t get hooked on the stream of cynicism, hopelessness, and fear that temporarily occupies his mental circuitry. He won’t get juiced on his addiction to conceptualizing. He will rest in his heart and body. If not…his addiction will wrap its arms around him one more time—at five, ten, twenty years sober—masquerading as a comforting lover.

The good news: the longer he works a program of recovery, the greater resources he will have at his disposal to dismantle these patterns and to awaken to a deeper experience of his inherent brilliancy, wisdom, and a compassionate heart. Exactly what he got sober for! This will be his ongoing recovery practice: to sense into his vulnerability, and to patiently sit with his feelings of being unwanted, that he has no place in the world. In spite of his tremendous desire to climb up into his thinking, buzzing mind, he will learn to stick with the painful feelings, will allow them to touch him rather than escape, noticing that as he radically and kindly accepts what arises in him, that compassion touches and heals him. Patiently being with his suffering, not dodging it or manipulating it…dissolves it.  As he trusts himself, he will deepen his ability to trust others, to be supported and fed by others, and slowly but surely he will inhabit himself. In this manner, the sweet heart of the Five will continue to reveal itself more deeply, and the real satisfaction of living in the world will begin to be navigated.  And his greater wish—to deliver something masterful to the world that helps the planet and contributes to the clear “seeing” of reality—will slowly begin to unfold. This is what he has gotten sober for, and what he is meant for, and precisely where he is headed.

                                                                Suggestions to the Type Five      

1.  Notice when you’ve fallen into the role of the Expert. As you stay sober, you will begin to observe how quickly you drop into the role of The Expert to feel safe. As the Expert, you teach, you conduct, you share knowledge, you stay emotionally distant…they listen. It is so easy to make this the ‘you’ that you show to the world, the one who knows stuff. The information source. Very different from letting them see your humanness, your need for kindness, your sensitivity, your desire to feel connected. Your intellectual wizardry can easily become your go-to card, your default setting when confronted with a social setting or life situation you don’t know how to navigate. If this Type Five, Social Role, runs the show, you will stop experiencing a felt connection with those you are teaching. You become a role—the teacher machine—rather than being with others, and making real and ‘felt’ contact with them. Your inner world becomes dry. Then, for all intents and purposes, you are not home, not in the very experience you are having, caught in the schizoid split of the Five. Instead of humbly owning your awkwardness and stepping fearlessly into it (scary stuff, truly), instead of admitting that you do want contact with people and feel inept (I don’t have mastery here, help me!), much easier to submit to your personality habit of playing the expert (or leaving the playing field altogether). Truth is, instantly shutting down your discomfort and vacating yourself, and heading due north into your head ‘is what happens.’ It’s the lightening- quick, automatic setting of your personality. Start with noticing this fast-moving habit with kindness. Say out loud to yourself, “I just jumped into my head and am searching my information files, looking for data to be The Expert, looking for info so I show up as smart and capable…instead of staying with my uncomfortable feelings.” Take a breath. Bring your attention back to your heart. Lean into the discomfort. Breathe. Sense your body. Give yourself compassion and kindness for the difficulty and uneasiness you are experiencing. Let go of the need to be masterful. Just be in this moment. It is seamlessly easy to fall into the expert role to alleviate your anxiety and fear, and to feel like you have a niche with people. Detaching from this role simply means being a human being, not an intelligence machine, and trusting that you can handle whatever feelings arise spontaneously. With time you will see that you can handle life and whatever arises within you. You will get comfortable in your own skin. And when you teach, you will have the pleasure of feeling connected with others while delightfully sharing your wisdom.

2Notice when you retreat into your mind and study humans as though they are objects under a microscope. This too, can happen faster than you can blink, such that when you begin to sense your feelings (sadness, fear, grief, anger, love) you immediately vacate your heart and go into analysis mode. “I will study this experience rather than be in it.” My friend Margaret, an Enneagram teacher, said,

“This was a huge shock for me. I realized that whenever I met someone, rather than experiencing being with them, I went straight into my head. I begin analyzing what type they were, what their wing was, what Level of Health they were living at, whether they were exhibiting behaviors from their stress or security point. With each statement they made I fit my perceptions into an information grid. I studied them like insects. I couldn’t feel my heart or my body. And I couldn’t get close to people. But man, I could study them!”                                                                                                        Fear drives the Five up into the buzzing intensity of their mind. Here’s where the Type Five, Inner Critic, arises and slip-streams into your thinking like a marauding ghost, whispering, “If you allow yourself to make contact with your felt sense of reality, if you allow yourself to sense your heart, you will be turned into dust.” The good news: So far as I know, no one has been turned to dust (perhaps an insect on two or three occasions). In fact, when you allow yourself to be impacted and touched by others, you’ll discover that a deeper, heart-inspired intelligence awakens inside you. You begin to sense your intuitive intelligence, which is connected deeply with your heart. Head and Heart come together and the best of the Five arises in you—you have valuable gifts to deliver that are a fusion of your love and wisdom. Your felt sense of connection with others and to self comes online. You land here and now. You feel your niche. Sounds pretty great, and it is! You have been endowed with an ­­­­exquisitely sensitive heart that when open, becomes the wise heart…and the angels cheer.

3. A doorway to what you love is through your body. Dude, you’ve got to find your way into your body. It is not just a taxi cab for your head, the transport for your intelligence storage unit (your mind!), but a conduit for deeper awareness. Yes, you’re body is a center of intelligence. Begin to notice that when caught in your analyzing mind and avaricious heart (the heart that is avoiding emotional contact with others), that your body disappears from your awareness—as one Five said, “Sometimes it takes me fifteen minutes to actually sense my feet!). Your body becomes a ‘thing’ that you don’t feel, that you don’t properly feed or exercise, a kind of appendage that you must attend to from time to time. However, it is a powerful doorway to all you love—a spacious mind, a sensitive heart, and being here and now fulfilling the niche you are meant to inhabit. Find exercise that brings you into mindful contact with your body: Tai Chi, massage, yoga, Aikido, walking, running, dancing, biking, weight lifting, and swimming are all great body-oriented activities. Sense your body. Feel its aliveness. Get support to show up for your body. You will love it!

4. Notice the ways in which you resist support. The last thing you want to experience is the feeling that you don’t know have expertise, the answers, that you are incapable and judged as stupid or helpless. Your personality is wired to avoid these feelings, so naturally, when you need support and help from others, everything inside you rebels. As in, “I should call my sponsor, but  no, I think I can figure this out on my own.” (Wrong! You lack emotional intelligence!) Notice some of the rationalizations that fly into your awareness: “They can’t really help me. I feel stupid for needing help so I won’t ask…instead I will try to figure it out myself. If I let them see my vulnerability and need, they will overwhelm me and crush me with their needs, or use it against me. If I let them see my suffering, they will reject me further.” When your B.S. detector hears these messages, take note! These are the storied obstacles that you must navigate to arrive at allowing others to help you. Without this, at year one, five, ten, fifteen, etc., lost in the habits of your personality, and facing more deeply into your core wound, you will relapse. This is a fact.

5. Learn to Develop Quiet Mind—the 11th Step in Recovery. Not easy to do, especially with a mind that likes intellectual intensity, each thought feeling like a universe to you. The sizzle of intense thinking is home base for you. This means learning to meditate and to disidentify from your intense thoughts, learning to break the trance of addictive analyzing. Sitting in a chair, eyes closed, be like a cat at the mouse hole of your intense mind, noticing the next thought that arises and then letting it go…then waiting for the next thought to arise at the mouse hole…not trying to stop thoughts but noticing them…and not hopping on the train of any thought. See it, let it go. Observing and letting go. Take time in meditation every day. Include doing a body scan to sense the energy and aliveness (the electric tingle) in your body.

6. Notice Your Rationalizations for Staying Alone and Separate from others. Such as: Relationships take too much time—any kind of relationship. And never mind that non-stop analyzing, thinking and acquiring/memorizing information is so interesting and captivating that you hardly notice human beings and their importance to you. (You, above all types, can self-entertain yourself endlessly with your fascinating curiosity.) You unwittingly think that the way home is through the head, not the heart—if you could just collect enough knowledge you could enter life. This is your addictive prison: Your compulsion to hoard time to acquire knowledge because it makes you feel substantial. Under the constant fear of feeling depleted and small, of having no substantial emotional resources to manage connections with others, you hang on and build upon what you do have—knowledge. Unconsciously you believe, “If I can just acquire enough knowledge, I might feel safe and strong. People and their needs will take me away from this. Letting people in will distract me from what I care about.” Your task: notice when you avoid people under the hypnotic sway of these thoughts…and challenge yourself to make contact. Just do it!

7Begin to mistrust your Analyzing Mind as your Guidance System in Recovery. You know this is true—you thought you could figure out your addiction via your intelligence and brilliancy (which is formidable in other arenas), but the results speak for themselves. It does not work! You surely possess intelligence (more than your share!) but up against your addiction you lose every time. Your addiction is faster, smarter, and quicker than your brilliant mind and will morph right into the stream of your very intelligent thinking brain and lead you right out the back door and into the addiction hell that you once lived in. Your Inner Critic will tell you that this familiar hell is actually better than coming to these AA meetings, or going to counseling, or reaching out to people in any way, shape or fashion.

So, know this to be true. You have what we might call a “highly intelligent” addictive self—your own Darth Vader—that resides in you and uses your vast intelligence against you. So when that ‘character’ starts chanting rationalizations for leaving recovery, you have permission to say out loud, “This is complete and utter baloney. I need the help of others. I lack ‘emotional intelligence’ and need others to teach me. It’s okay to have and receive the help of others, and even though I feel small and incapable, this is no reason to not ask for help. I don’t possess the emotional understanding it takes to stay clean and sober on my own. But I can learn. I am here to learn ‘recovery intelligence,’ which means beginning to feel my heart and my body, and letting others who know this territory, be my teachers. In this situation, humility is vital for me. I can be a student. It’s not a sign of failure, but of true bravery.” And when your Inner Vader starts running film clips of those small moments in which using drugs was great, trying to hypnotize you with euphoric recall, call your sponsor asap.

8. Begin to express your vulnerability because your Inner Addict thrives on your disconnection from your heart. Shut down your feelings long enough, shut down your vulnerability to hurt, despair, and loneliness, tell no one about them, and in short time it will make perfect sense to use addictive substances. Face it: with your heart shut down you will not experience the full joy of your curiosity, the beauty of your sensitive and loving heart, the awe and appreciation of this magnificent world and your capacity to understand it. Not of that will be available. Instead you will be mired in a familiar, arid despair and scorn. That elfin humor of yours, that great sense of child-like curiosity that delights you, will dry and wither. Consider this radical suggestion: if you reveal your vulnerability, that which you love will be accessed, including a sense of personal strength, capacity and ever-expanding intelligence.

9. Engage life with your gifts—notice your addiction to preparation. This means operating counter-intuitively. Notice how you keep yourself locked in your analyzing mind such that you prepare and prepare but don’t take action on your ideas. You’re in “preparation” mode, fine-tuning everything, keeping yourself safely locked and protected in your analytical, intense, thinking mind. Living in your head, not your life! You’ll need help with this which means you’ll need a coach, or therapist, who will give you the warning signals (Hey, you’re not taking action but hiding out in the cave of your speculations!), the inspiration (You have much to offer the world!), and the shove off the cliff of your fear (Do it now! Let’s step through this bullshit!), to go and engage life with your ideas. Because left to your own devices (your personality habits) you will keep yourself secreted away in isolation, preparing and preparing. The time will never be right to come out. And face it—the world needs your contribution.

10. Stay away from video games or other imagination devices that don’t serve a real purpose in your life. Want to create a universe where you are safe, no one can hurt you, and you are the master? Where you can merge with your information source and live completely and utterly in your head? Where you only have to make sure your body is hydrated and fed enough so you don’t die? Where relationships with others do not matter? Welcome to video-game heaven, inhabited by a fair amount of Type Fives, with Type Four’s and Nine’s running a close second. What happens when addicted to video games? I carry an imaginary world in my head that I’m always referring to. I’m excited, upset, or fantasizing about things that aren’t real, but feeling them like they are real. I enter a fake world with fake sensations and fake reality, but which seem true. I open up a weird, alter-reality in my mind that I mistake for real. I become an imagined character that I mistake for myself. That’s the definition for delusion, illusion, and heart-deadening reality. The thing about video-games, they numb your heart while filling you with a pseudo, strange intoxication (it’s a psychological drug high). You feel weirdly good as you disconnect from your body and heart. That’s addiction, baby, in spades, and the welcome mat for your drug relapse. Talk about a formula for getting confused and weird around living human beings. But for the Five, this can feel like home. No humans around interfering with my space, imagination on fire, give me more of that.

Bottom line: this can be an alluring addiction to rest in, lounge in, get excited by, believe in, have pseudo experiences in, and totally delude yourself with! If you are sitting at a video game more than several hours a week, and you hope to develop a rich and satisfying sobriety and not die of an overdose, and not grow dead and become metallic like the system you are using to fascinate yourself with, mayday! Tell your sponsor about it ASAP. Announce it at AA/NA meetings. Come clean! And drop the activity if you can. As in don’t touch it. Truth is, video addiction is a fast growing and powerful addiction, and there are many reaching out for help in this arena. Get the help you need.

10Notice your intellectual aggression. You must begin to notice your intellectual aggression and how it shows up as cynicism, criticism of others, contempt and hatred for others, putting others down and bullying them with your intelligence, and ego-inflating yourself with your mental capacities. (Gulp! Who want to see that?) Not easy to notice, believe me, because it is a protective habit learned when you were just a little guy. How to become aware of it, you ask? You must let other men you trust become your eyes and ears, so that when you drop into this habit, they kindly point it out. Of course, you enlist them in advance, you ask for their help, i.e., “Tell me when you notice this habit? With kindness, please.” So, in the midst of an episode of intellectual aggression, your friend Ted, the Eight, says, “Man, you are smashing me to smithereens with your contempt. Do you notice this?” Of course, being so human, you reply, “Bullshit. I don’t do that!” And then you soften and say, “Ted, tell me more. I want to know what you mean.” Do this enough times, humility in your heart, and you will actually begin to hear your voice when it arises in contempt, feel your heart harden, taste the flavor of this habit. And in time, you will stop it in its tracks! Part of your task is to notice the rationalizations you use to give you permission to treat others with intellectual arrogance and ridicule. And the 5th step, yes that awful but freeing step… making amends to those you’ve attacked with the message, verbal or non-verbal—that they are useless and incapable, an idiot. Why? Making amends brings awareness. It’s the fast track to disengaging a negative habit. Humility heals. Each time you apologize you will become more awake to the mechanisms of your personality which stop you from accessing what you love most: your intuitive mind, and generously giving your gifts to the world.

Practice this: when you notice yourself cynically attacking others in your mind, and begin to sense your heart. What drives your cynicism? A heart that feels rejected and not wanted, that is filled with despair that you never have a place in the world? Begin to sincerely feel this, bring compassion to it, and healing will arise.

11. Notice when books become your contact with human beings. Much like the video games story, you can begin to live inside the world of books. Books can become your pseudo-contact with human beings. And because you have such a vivid and electrifying imagination, this can feel like real ‘contact’ as if it is actually happening in the flesh, except that it isn’t. As one Five said, “Hey, books are humans too.” Then, grinning, he said, “And they have feelings!” Oh, the off-the-rails humor of the Five. This is not to deny one of your greatest gifts, to sift through and delve into information galaxies, and to synthesize and interpret remarkable information that brings wisdom to everyone, but if you delete contact with human beings from your agenda, you the miss the precise ingredient that can and will deepen your intelligence and wisdom, not to mention you might feel really good!

The Good News 

You, dear Five, like all the types, can learn to stay sober and clean. It first means admitting that you don’t understand the process of recovery, have a difficult time comprehending emotional intelligence, or that support from others will not only help you, but will make you feel really good in the long run. When that urge to bolt and leave the playing field of recovery arises, only leave for a short while, and come back as soon as you can. Lean into your discomfort with talking about feelings, lean into your discomfort around being with people, gently stick around and let the miracle land inside you. We need you, we need your gift of intelligence and creativity, and we need your precious heart.