My Father—The Valiant Type Six Hero


baseball glove for dad story

My Father—The Valiant Type Six Hero

                                                                    A Memoir of Mercy

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

Copyright 2018, Version 1.0 🙂

My Father was a Type Six, demonstrating many of the tell-tale signs, a community gatherer, a devoted church-goer, a counter-phobic, anti-ego, fierce competitor and humble team player, a life-insurance salesman making life safe and secure for everyone, a World War Two PBY navigator with a Purple Heart and Silver Star for risking his life in shark infested water picking pilots out of choppy waters and surviving a bomb landing outside his tent in the Philippines, he near dead and strapped with back pain for the rest of his life; a rash and reactive big mouth when provoked or drunk, a deeply devoted dad with gnarly, rough edges, blind-spots that were gapping; a tender-hearted man, considerate and kind, a leader, and inspirer of disadvantaged boys, a follower, dependent on my mom, secretly very inferior, and brash in his own defense if you ever insulted him. Also, an alcoholic who recovered by the sheer and real threats of my mom: stop drinking or we’re done. He heard her.

I’m a Type Four kid, one who takes all experiences deep into my soul.  At age 4 I joyfully see my father sleeping on the couch in our living room, and in the rush of passion and heart-opening love for my father, run across the room and dive onto his sleeping carcass with joyful abandon and spontaneity, and awaken a dragon. Arising with red-hot anger he spanks me to my room, a beehive of pain burning my bottom, the knife of shame and rejection cutting through my heart. I will never again approach my father with this spontaneous enthusiasm. As a said, I take things deeply and unwittingly build a small, protective, near-immortal inner cathedral to this event that I worship at daily. Inner work will allow this to dissolve.

My Type Six Father at His Best

I am 9 years old, standing outside of St. Charles church in Portland, Oregon. My father stands next to me in a black suit. He leans forward with eight other young men, eighteen and nineteen-year-olds, grabs the side of the casket and lifts it overhead. My heart breaks in this moment. My beloved 19-year-old brother who I adore, tall and beautiful, jet black glorious hair, Billy-the-Kid bravado, lay inside the casket. This brother who has been the love of my life, who has treated me with such kindness, who has shown such radiant delight upon seeing me on his returns from the Navy, gone in a flicker—thrown like a cannonball through the windshield of his car, mercilessly dying at 2 AM on a black Oregon country road. Bleeding out in the pitiless arms of the Merciless Heropass. May 10, 1960. As my father lifts him up, his lips quiver and tremble with sorrow, tears brimming in his eyes. I have never seen my father’s valiant heart like this. Slowly my father and Peter’s eight Navy buddies—dark-suited and burdened by personal grief—proceed with the silver casket lifted overhead into the chapel, myself at my mother’s side, hand in hers, as I wander internally in the devastation of my brother’s death, a scene from 48 hours ago playing through me.

Quietly my dad slides the patio screen door open and looks out at me. On the patio I am reliving a momentous victory, heaving a baseball into the spacious sky, joyfully catching it and hurling it up again, the taste of a 7 to 6 victory for my Jefferson Standard baseball team an hour ago a jubilant fire inside me. The sky is brilliant blue, and the Sun a disk of celebration. At my core, the fever pitch of baseball streams through me. It’s in my veins, my blood, in my eyes, in my hands, in my muscle, in my soul—the baseball, the glove, the crack of the bat, the intercepting a ball cat-like in the mid-stream of its movement, the chant and rhythm of the game, the feel of the ball in the glove, the humming of the crowd, the inspired chatter of my teammates—all of this sings in my soul stream. I was made for this game.

Dad calls from the open patio door: “Mike, please come inside.” Moments later he greets me on the couch. I sit. Dad, deeply still, stiller than I’ve ever witnessed, granite kindness in his eyes, says to me, “Mike, your brother Pete was killed last night on his way home from the Naval base.” Tornado silence electrifies me. Gut gripping Silence. Silence that cuts like a blade into the softest crevices of my soul, the sacred place of kid-innocence within me.

I have no words. Suspended and hanging on the edge of this abyss-like moment.

I sit back on the couch staring into the wells of my dad’s grieving eyes and say nothing. And yet, resurrecting in this bone-chilling silence, in this crucible of Type Four depth, in this moment of I-have-no-words, are inner-silent-fierce-words. From the depths a clarion call, a mantra prayer arises unbidden, ferocious, desperate, and repeats itself and repeats itself and repeats itself within me…”Peter, I love you. Peter, I love you. Peter, I love you.” It possesses me. This mantra. This rope of words. This call to God echoed in every fiber of my being, deep, sincere, urgent…”Bring him back! Bring him back! You cannot have him!” And then…the gravitational pull of the sorrow sucking me down, deep, into some strange hidden harsh chamber of grief and self-protection. I am closing down. Heart tensing, writhing, tensing, disappearing…gone…silent. Years later I will discover myself there. Huddled in the unnamable emptiness. Grieving. Stunned with life-shocking sadness. It is too much for this 9-year-old soul…this heart-rending yearning for my brother, Peter…yearning, yearning. In this shuddering moment that mysterious plague of Type Four longing, of something missing in the core of my being, which has plagued me since I was three, has an object. Is a gravitational force. Inexplicably aches. And yearns. Is bottomless.

Peter. My brother is the hole in my Type Four heart. Is the disconnect from the beloved.

Two days later we enter the chapel, slowly proceed down the aisle, people in the pews watching, glancing. Compassionate eyes, shocked eyes…touch me. I look down at the floor. Ashamed of my sorrow, horrified by my grief. My shock too visible, too naked. Then, the ceremony. In a foggy glaze, it passes. The sound of words, ebbing low and grave and sorrowful, the smells of death and grief, the incoherency of the moment, everyone ghostlike and lost. And yet I will remember this, feel this in my core, my father, his utter devotion, and love for my brother, his commitment to being in this holy sadness completely and utterly as if my brother was still breathing, dad by his side, holding him as he passed. More than anything it is his presence, this solid ‘something’ of devotion that reaches me, that is implanted in me, a kind of unwavering, unshakeable courage in the darkest hour, cutting through the atmosphere of the chapel. Here he is Gandalf facing the Balrog in the mines of Morea, saying “You shall not pass!” Here he is Samwise Gamgee carrying Frodo to the fires of Mordor to eliminate the ring of power. His unstoppable, fiercely devoted, Type Six heart, is valiant, courageous…is going with my brother all the way home. I know this. I know my father’s devoted heart, it is in me now, in the cells of my being, in the sound waves of my voice, in the tidal stream of my passion, in the fire of my desires, my father. He whispering in the silence of this grief, “My beloved son, Peter. I am with you. Come what may…always…with you. All the way home…with you.” Here, in this breathtaking moment, my father’s loyalty and commitment to my brother is like steel. Here, the magnificence of the Type Six, the Valiant Hero, touches me. My beautiful brother Peter, hovering at this funeral sight, is held by my father. Is engraved with his love.

The ceremony concluded, we leave the pews. Dead men walking, shuffling. Almost out of the church a piercing wail rises in my 9-year-old-heart and bursts from me, myself gasping, throat gripped with sudden sadness. Grief wrenches through me. Alive and harsh. Mom huddles around me, holding me as my innocent boy-tender-wails echo in the church silence, a piercing shrill. Oh my beloved Peter, my beloved Peter, oh my brother…Peter, Peter, Peter…He’ my brother, my brother! You cannot have him, my heart screams. And there is my father, holding this shock with his attention, his stillness, giving it space, supporting me, not flinching…with me. A guardian at the gate of my horror. Devils meet me, eat me, devour my spirit. But dad, here, all the way here in this merciless moment of loss. It is in these emergencies that an unshakeable stillness becomes him. Something deep and unwavering.

Two years later…I am sitting on my bed, heart-rending sorrow and disappointment my everyday companion. I have eaten the ghost of my brother’s passing. I am 11 years old. Through a complexity of emotional currents of confusion, my mind-stream has gone crazy. Out of nowhere comes the thought Fuck the Virgin Mary…Fuck Jesus Christ…Fuck God. Unbidden, these declarations play through me. It has gone on for months and months, myself holding them as the darkest secret. If anyone knew! It is in stark contrast to my fervent desire to love God, to be good, to not sin, to be the best Catholic I can be, to be like the saint I emulate, Dominic Savio. But something has come loose inside me and each thought equals the committing of a mortal sin, punishable by life in hell unless confessed before I die.

I confess daily.

On the streets. In the bathroom. At daily confession: Bless me, father. for I have sinned, I swore at God 40 times. I am going to hell. My best efforts cannot stop this brain mangled on sorrow. Resignation is sinking its teeth into me…at 11 years of age, I am succumbing to the belief that I will die and remain in the fires of hell for eternity. I am a disappointment to my mother, to my father, to my God. I am giving up. In my desperation, I reach out to my mother who immediately goes to my father. 7pm. He kneels now at the side of my bed, myself crying in heartfelt despair, and says, “Son, you are not capable of any kind of sin that could send you to hell. You are not capable of this. You are having difficult thoughts. These are not actions. Mortal sins require actions.” With the kindest of eyes, he looks back at me. “Okay?” he asks, as he peers into my soul. I nod yes. Quietly, assured, he gets up and leaves my room. It will be years later that I will understand the roots of this madness, this giving up on life. The hopelessness. The pointlessness. The heart angst of the heart-broken, passionate Four. A mind that cannot settle itself, that is gripped by a blasphemous mantra stream fueled by an imagination that makes all thoughts vividly real. A heart that cannot relax and trust in the grip of this inner movie.

The death of my brother is the gravestone in my heart. It has sent a signal to the surface of my being, Mayday, little boy overwhelmed with grief, overwhelmed with utter disbelief…finding its way into the Type Four imagination circuits of the mind that blares fuck god, fuck Jesus, fuck the virgin Mary and then hates himself for it. Only full-out expression of deeply felt sorrow will derail this beast of confusion that now possesses my perception of myself, that now possesses the thought and imagination stream of my monkey-mind. To me, this is reality: vivid, turbulent, felt thoughts are actions. Thoughts are actions, images are actions. They are living, they breathe, they feel. They are no different than actions. That’s how it feels and even the solid love of my father cannot at this time penetrate the sin-trance that owns me.

Later I will learn that my father has planted a seed, has sunk something deep into me that will blossom. Something solid and real and still. An inner knowing. Beloved Michael, you will find your way home. Easy does it. I have your back. Thoughts are not actions.

Tom Buxton is a kid from the poor side of northeast Portland, Oregon. And a student at St. Charles grade school, located at the edge of a poverty abyss. A student who has no happy home, no welcome by the Catholic school, and no astute teacher to pull forth his grace, his joy, his capacity, his self-worth. The school is often an emotional gulag, and tenderness and loving kindness touch few of the classrooms. And poverty-stricken kids, kids who wear the same salt and pepper traced cords and mournful green sweaters to school daily, well, the wear and tear show the poverty. Plus the absence of parents. This little boy, Tom, walks home alone every night. The loneliness echoes in his stride, in the arch of his back. Lonely. There are no happy traces of home that accompany him to school. But in 8th grade my dad decides to coach the first baseball team St. Charles has ever had.  A grade school baseball team, seventh and eighth graders—unheard of—playing other Catholic schools in the city! Word goes out and Tom Buxton shows up for practice. This is where the elegance of my father’s Type Six heart comes alive. He sees the capacity of a kid, sees where he’s hidden his gifts under a stone covered by a veil of shame, knows this suffering in a heartbeat because he feels the little-boy-in-himself who suffered with truckloads of poverty-shame and inattention in the city streets of Chicago. And he feels it in the soul of this kid, Tom Buxton, who beyond all hope of success has decided to try out for the baseball team. He’s accompanied by Jimmy Miller, a little boy also weighed down by poverty and a dad who is wildly alcoholic. And wandering out of the same poverty back-bushes, entranced by the vision of a baseball team, comes rag-a-muffin-alcoholic-father-rage-terrorized-kid named Gary Yuskat, a little boy skittish with fast, razor-sharp, dagger-eyes trained to spot incoming danger in a nano-second. Lightening quick on his feet, nothing surprises him. Both Jimmy and Gary wear shame coats covered with steely indifference and fierce, rebellious outcry. “Fuck you, don’t need you! You dare to humiliate me and I will tear your heart out!”…covers their soul-crushing rejection.

Dad, with the endearing, generous, engaging, warm curiosity of the Type Six, welcomes Tom. He’s like Ellen DeGeneres on the ball field! Hey, young man, we’re all friends here! And in short time Tom Buxton relaxes; it’s as if he arises from a strange casket of invisibility, and next thing I know this kid is swinging the bat so happily filled with the love of baseball that he’s a resurrected-joy-machine. Grinning, laughing, bouncing like an Irish Setter. And fast—runs like a deer, can track down fly balls in centerfield like a gazelle, is quick, fast, alert, has an arm like a rocket, and can steal bases anytime, anywhere. And he loves my father. Adores my father. It’s a damn miracle. Tom comes strolling to the ball field, upright, alert, happy like a kid should be, and shouts out “Hey, Mr. Naylor, how are you today!” He approaches my father easier than I do. And my dad, thrilled at the sight of Tom, welcomes him. And then proceeds to unfold the hearts of Gary Yuskat and Jimmy Miller such that both of these vagabond, raised-on-fear-and-hatred-and-rejection, these sweet boys begin to exude a kind of self-worth that taps them into their instinctive capacity to play baseball, to love baseball, to be a part of a team, to be teammates. To belong, like little boys should belong. And these two are scrappers, fighters, never-say-die-ballplayers who just needed a little kindness to call them out of hiding. And once out they are all in, devoted to my dad, devoted to his every word. Acceptance is a powerful medicine and my father’s Type Six devotion to embracing these boys, to giving everyone a chance, to welcoming them, making room for them, these potent kindnesses towards these otherwise fringe-dwelling, homeless-in-their-hearts tender boys, has taught us all to be kind to one another. We see it. We do it. And we become an awesome team!

Everyone counts and is valued on dad’s ball field! He does what the Type Six can do, welcomes and calms them down, includes them, finds the place where they fit, tenderizes the fear running rampant in their hearts—and creates the amazing glue of teamwork. (This is the devoted heart of the Six, each breath circling around and through fear, and in turn, does whatever he can to make sure no one is fearful.) We are one mind here, and all are welcome. Without saying it, but being it. And before you know it my dad has woven together a team, a team where all are equal, where there are no favorites—not even his son. A team that plays baseball passionately and with that instinctive intelligence that arises between players when they know that they are cared for, loved, and appreciated. Then magic happens. When the chips are down, when the precise alertness that is needed to call forth a double down the third base line that scores the runner from first base in the bottom of the ninth inning ‘arises,’ seemingly ‘happens’ out of the magic of the moment. This is the mystery of the game such that a team coalesces and performs miracles and the psychic glue of comradery and kindness calls forth unseen loving forces. And when that flow is ignited—stand back and bow to the holy unfolding of miracle plays. In the flow of this grace, Tom Buxton, with his cannon arm is cutting down a runner at the plate with precision accuracy, his soul afire with the love of baseball, he lit up with dad’s Type Six inspired awareness. Then Gary Yusket, all 5 foot one inch of him, has stolen second and third and crossed home on a short-passed-ball, he lightening on wheels. Followed by Jimmy Miller unleashing a triple into deep left center, knocking in two runs. With the force of my father’s support running up and down their spine, they become what they were made for. They experience a rare sense of inner knowing and confidence, injected by the Type Six heart and intuition of my fearless father, as if he knew in advance what they were capable of, and simply assumed it. He too, having eaten and drank fear as a boy, is an expert on seeing it, taming it, transforming it.

Healthy, radiant Type Sixes are valiant heroes who inspire heroics in others. Who helps a boy to feel that innate quality of confidence arising in his core, knowing and feeling his capacity, awake and alert for the unforeseen possibilities. Ready, here, now for what arises. A team wired on this perceptive consciousness gets prescient, leaning into the next moment with fire, passion, courage, intuitive wizardry. It’s a thing of beauty! Ragtag Gary Yuskat arises in his power, all five foot one of him, a fierce courage emanating from his being, daring anyone to challenge him. And then, wide awake with presence, he sees the pitched ball, it’s line of descent, in a split-second, wrists snapping, he executes, precision swing lacing a single that rips past the shortstop like he knew he was going to do it. Knew it. Just knew it.

In the wake of my father’s generosity of spirit, we win the city championship, undefeated. The final game a 7 to 0 victory, my lazy-looping-curve-ball so evasive and precise and untouchable, nicking inside and outside corners, the grace, grit, and love of my teammates riding and informing every pitch. Trust me, it is the consciousness of ‘we’ that guides each pitch. At our best, we become one being. And this is the true joy of sports, this oneness of being, this uniting the souls of a team. Then a quality of inner knowing proceeds, and right time, right moment, precise and precious execution of bat to ball ensues. Timing, teamwork, impossible plays enter the intuitive union of spirit and soul creating a field of intelligence and creativity that is a joy to behold. This so representing the intuitive intelligence of a Type Six inspired team.

This demonstration of kindness, support, commitment to all, courageous perseverance in the face of terrible odds—empowering homeless kids to sense their capacity—teaching us that everyone is welcome—exuded by my father’s presence, touched me at depth. Shaped me. Loved me. He embodied the devoted heart of the Type Six, the one laying foundation and support for everyone, the one holding space for others to feel safe enough to arise, the one injecting this mysterious confidence into boys who souls had been shame-broken way too often, and way too early. The father force.

This is the heart and soul of the Six, encouraging, fiercely supporting all, fiercely laying the psychic glue of teamwork into the fabric of this lived experience. Here we have the best of the father force, the best of the Six, the force of deep support, that holds ground for an individual’s shame, fear, anxiety, providing an often unseen rock of intuitive stability amidst rocky waves of unpredictability. That allows everyone to settle and then, arise in their glory, face their fear, respond with clarity and skillfulness in the moment of most importance, when the chips are down, when self-consciousness and fear would disrupt the flow of graceful action. In its place—clarity, confidence, uncanny knowing. And to play like a team, a one-minded being of unitive intelligence–the deepest joy of boyhood sports. You see, Dad knew stuff in advance but rarely spoke it.

I watch Mr. Lee Hilderman walk past the front of our house on 37th Avenue in Portland, Oregon. He’s built low to the ground, with a perilously bulging belly, dressed clumsily, he is a disheveled 40-year-old in a fog of torment. (He looks like he could hurt you if he got his hands on you, in fact, a target for his rage would satisfy him.) Mostly he’s at war with the demons in his soul. There is a bristly swagger to his gait, and expletives fly like small explosives from his mouth, he raging at some ghost or imaginary person. He is a soul-eaten, miserable, sick drunk, an alcoholic, who periodically cuts a path of fear through the neighborhood. Nobody talks about it.  Everyone stays indoors. The neighborhood looks away. I am 11 years old and my gut turns. This is my friend, Terry Hilderman’s dad. Terry, who joins us in the in-the-street softball games, the one most likely to hit the long home run before he is called by his father’s harsh razor voice, to Come home now! He lives scared too, and I can feel the recoil of terror in his belly as he turns away from me and heads home, a flush of terror in his eyes. It is a sad, terrified, resigned walk back to his gulag, back to the prison of his heart-breaking childhood, where he watches his mother beaten by the hands of his furious dad, where he digs deep to resurrect joy, or hope, or at least hone a steely resilience until he can leave this hell hole.

I am riding my bike past Terry’s house, which is, in fact, about 40 yards from my home. From inside Terry’s house come screams, merciless, terrified, innocent and startled little boy screams, followed by crying and heart-wrenching wailing, gasping-sad-shocked sounds like a siren call of horror. It’s the slaps that turn my stomach. Thick throughout Terry’s sounds is the hateful voice of his father. Cruel. Vengeful. Sadistic pleasure in being the Punisher. My skin crawls, and terror rises in my chest. Terry is being beaten. No one can save him. I shudder inside, unable to comprehend the why of it. Horrified, I continue riding home. Fear squirms throughout my body. What kind of world is this? I don’t tell my mom. Too scared. Something inside Terry’s house is terrifying, and I want nothing to do with it, nor do I want my mom exposed to it. Only on two occasions do I go to Terry’s house and ask for him.

His mother answers the door. She is small, five-foot-one and she is utterly kind—her Type Two Heart touching me–yet in her aura is that vigilant intuition that says she fears for her life every day, lies low, tries to stay under the radar. Eyes in the back of her head, she watches everything, every move, her vigilance a lighthouse of awareness looking for sudden tsunami waves. She lives as a battered woman, a hostage, her mission in life to save Terry from his beatings. (She is so kind that it hurts my heart. God have mercy on her and her merciful heart.) She moves with utter caution, speaks with utter caution, not wanting to wake up the hidden dragon who sleeps curled up in the arms of his alcoholism, his hair-trigger rage a breath away. One wrong sound and hell is upon her. One wrong sound–this is the terror my friend Terry is submerged in. How he manages to be so kind, so considerate, so friendly is beyond me, he much like his tender-hearted mom.

And then, one miraculous summer day, Terry saunters up to me and says, “Guess what, Mike. I’m on your baseball team. Your dad asked me to join and I said yes.” He is smiling, a joyful little-boy-light in his eyes, happy for a moment to be a boy who’s going to play baseball. You see, dad is like an undercover agent. He’s snuck a conversation past Lee Hilderman’s booze-flustered-mind, past his I-hate-humanity-heart, past his my-son-will-suffer-like-I-do-so-help-me-god-insanity, and squeezed a yes out of him. As in, “I give my permission for Terry to play on your team.” And like dad does, he’s got another convert. This boy, Terry, who’s dodged so many hateful bullets, who’s eaten and digested hatred and rage from his father, still, God bless him, radiates a spark of joy in him. (Never, in all my days around him, has Terry complained about his fate. He’s hidden the knife buried deep in his heart with such skill that no one knows his reality.) And today, he is wide-eyed, a liberated kid, anticipating joy on the ball field, living in his first field of dreams with a coach who wants him on his team, who wants him in his company, who welcomes him as a fellow player, a part of a tribe, who gets to play on his first baseball team ever, Peter’s Office Supply.

Terry becomes a fierce third baseman, where line drives like bullets are launched with sizzling speed out of the nowhere of a swinging bat, and Terry is like steel, unflinching, and sees the bullet coming and is on it, cat-like instincts and the courage of a lion making him unstoppable, as in no ball gets past him no matter hard it’s been drilled at him. Hell, he’s trained for this. Eleven years with his tormented, unpredictable father-eaten-by-alcoholism-rage-assaults on his boy’s soul, well, this baseball whizzing at him at light-speed is a piece of cake. He does not flinch, and this is a very good thing when you are a third baseman. And he so loves this game, and in these precious moments loves being a boy and celebrates the miracle of just being a kid. Hanging loose, playing the game, being a boy without a care for a few moments.

Twice a week he happily plunks his body in the back seat of our car, ready to rock and roll, eyes gleaming with waves of joy. Everything in his body, heart, and soul says yes, This is for me. This is precisely what I want to do with this summer day.  A kind of relaxed yet glorious peace holds him, the peace of my father’s unwavering, your-a-friend, support. Terry feels secure and this security allows him to relax for once, to breathe for once, to be held in the embrace of my dad’s beloved kindness. Because that’s what dad does as a Type Six. He endears you to him. He befriends you. He slides up next to you and disarms you, knows exactly where you are filled with fear and anxiety, and calms you down. Chills you out. And then, when you’re still bathing in the joy of your anxiety-relief, taking a deep breath of ‘calm’, he invites you in as a comrade in arms, to join the team, to join this tribe of boys, boys loving baseball, boys conspiring to win a championship, ordinary no-big-deal-boys high on his welcome. And high on belonging.

So the angry, blindly suffering, sometimes malicious, soul-tortured drunk armed to the gills with resentment is disarmed, lowers his guns as dad stands in his cross-hairs, as dad’s contagious team spirit, his fear-calming-Jedi-master-trick of nothing to worry about here, it’s safe, just relax–calms and tenderizes Lee Hilderman’s heart. Dad, who grew up with a raging father, who ducked enough bullets of hatred to kill Godzilla, is masterful with soul-suffering alcoholics. And he does it with that crazy-wise, Ellen DeGeneres type Six, humble-grit-and-humor-and-contagious humanness. And next thing you know, Terry plays the whole summer season with us, a happy third baseman with a brimming, sun-splitting smile, so gratefully appreciative for playing baseball on this day. Saying repeatedly to dad, “Thank you, Mr. Naylor, for inviting me to play on this team. I’m not that good but thank you for having me.” And he means it, man, means it with all his heart.

This was the legacy of my Type Six dad. Heroic in ways that truly counted, he working on the inside of kid’s hearts. An unsung hero needing no applause, never bringing attention to his efforts, the joy of kids high on baseball was his deepest pleasure and reward. True heroism, feisty and courageous when needed, and so skillful at disarming the anxiety of boys. However, you would not want to be on the receiving end of his wrath if you were an umpire who had blown a call. Dad had laser eyes and bad calls were his nemesis. And here his Jedi capacity to disarm did not apply. Here you died under the scrutiny of dad’s precision awareness. Then, his team had been dealt an injustice. Then, his commitment, loyalty, passion for his team was channeled into his skewering of the umpire.

I am sitting on the bed with my father, as the priest begins last rites. It is twenty-four hours away from my father’s passing and my eyes are held captive on my father as he prays, his every word reverberating in my core, he planting a final message, a final impression in the depth of me. On this edge of death, he staring over the cavernous cliff of his mortality, with the utmost sincerity and devotion, dad says, “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be they Thy Name…” with the priest and myself in sync. Each word is a reverent gesture to the Divine. An invisible barrier has dissolved and nothing separates him now. His prayer rivets me with its authenticity, a palpable quality of translucence surrounding and pouring through him. It’s the same mysterious translucence I felt yesterday when outside, he was gliding around in his electric wheelchair in the brilliant, August, Oregon sun. And, stopping at the edge of the parking lot and gazing into space, communing with the invisibility, and then turning and driving straight up to me and gazing into my eyes, looking at me from a vast place of mysterious stillness, an uncommon depth in his gaze. A last wordless transmission. And now he prays with such reverence, commitment, and devoted love. In his words I feel the strength of his deep commitment to me running through his time with me, his love for me, his wish for the best for me, he often the guardian at the gate of my misunderstandings. His devoted heart rings from his depths. In my mind’s eye I am hearing the words of Samwise Gamgee to Frodo, “Mr. Frodo, we can’t give up. We must go on,” sincere love in his voice as he lifts Frodo, deranged from the impact of the ring, onto his shoulders. This is my father, now, reminding me, carrying me in his heart one last time, carrying me in the words of the Our Father, imprinting me with his sacred commitment, his Type Six devoted heart, all in, all in, reminding me that at stake here is our connection with God. We can’t give up. We must go on.  All the way home. All the way.

He is saying goodbye. Leaving me this last trace of him, to be moved and guided by. A holy transmission.



Type Six in Addiction Recovery

sam and frodo 2

Type Six in Addiction Recovery

The Loyalist, Pathfinder, the Valiant Hero

Version 1.0 Copyright 2018

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

            “Trust the Unfolding” says Lynda 😊           _________________________________________________________________________________________

The Healthy Six

The healthy, kaleidoscopic Type Six expresses an array of beautiful and often ironic qualities. For instance, Tommy B., a Type Six, a mischievous glimmer in his eye, describes himself thusly: “As a Type Six I am an expert complainer, world-class in fact. I can chew on a complaint like it was a tasty steak,” his wry, self-observation radiating impishly from his gaze. Michael O. ups him and says, “Oh, that’s nothing, Tommy. I can annihilate an inspired idea in less than a minute, troubleshoot it into oblivion! I am a highly skilled naysayer!” he brags as he boyishly grins, humorously aware of the gravitational pull of his Type Six personality habit. No other type—with the exception of the Type 4—will so enthusiastically and joyfully point you towards their flaws and endear you to them.

In the company of a healthy Six one can witness a Valiant Hero who embodies relentless bravery, a capacity to deeply touch others with their emotional honesty, an earnest, reverent, down-to-earth, every-man-and-woman-counts sincerity, and a determined fearlessness to face and call others to truth and responsibility. They are intensely devoted to loved ones and willing to risk their safety and comfort in service of the individuals they have committed to. Gifted with an exquisite intuitive sensitivity in picking up on the sometimes subtly-hidden-behind-the-scenes-bad-behaviors-and-motivations of those caught up in their ego-distortions, they can see through the masks of difficult humans. Add to that their generosity, kindness, and commitment to helping those in true need, to providing an equal playing field for everyone, and one is touched by the transcendent and heroic quality of their devoted, humble heart. Selfless servants, they can lead, they can follow, and they can inspire an inexplicable spirit of teamwork and fellowship where all belong, and all rise to be their best. And, like the awesome Ellen DeGeneres, their boundless, self-depreciating humor could disarm King Kong.

Called the Loyalist, the Trouble-Shooter, Path-Finder, Watch-Dog, they are known for noticing and sensing into the invisibility of a situation and intuiting what might go wrong at any moment, often able to spot incoming danger with pristine clarity. (Some say they can read the four corners of reality with amazing precision.). Ever aware that a mysterious lion is loose in the neighborhood, at their best they are gracefully alert for its impending attack. They feel the flow of reality and know what comes next, and when. When less present they are like tremulous guard dogs, on edge, pacing, feisty, certain of an unavoidable, nameless, invisible awfulness approaching. Then, their intuitive gifts vanish in the fog of suspicion and they become what they fear. (Best to catch them on his good days.)

Ronnie—The Healthy Six in Recovery

Ronnie is an addiction counselor at Mercy House, 15 years sober, and a beloved Type Six. He is jittery and brave, bashful and fierce, timid and assertive, cranky as a prickly porcupine, and kind as the Buddha. One who follows all the rules, one who rebels against the rules, one who wants to know what’s expected, and one who doesn’t want to be told what to do. He can disappear like a Nine—vanishing into his invisibility cloak like a wisp-of-wind in the midst of a conflict—to shape-shifting and confronting the powerful, less-than-healthy-drunk-on-power-CEO Type Eight of the drug rehab in Type Eight style over issues of right treatment of clients. (As in, “Stop threatening and scaring the vulnerable clients just to get your arrogance and self-importance fed…please stop!”)

Both whimpering and cowering, then reversing and holding his ground like a Samurai in the next breath, he becomes David confronting Goliath with awesome unflinching courage. Then unexpectedly captured in a three-second-wave of self-doubt and fear, he melts and collapses like the Wicked Witch dissolving powerlessly into nothingness, and just as suddenly he arises once again out of the pool of this collapsed-self, an unshakeable warrior ready to stand for the cause he has committed himself to. He will protect the vulnerable clients! Such awesome courage just when you thought he was a goner ready to be swallowed by a hoard of piranha. As Ron will say later, enveloped in a wave of ironic self-reflection, eyes-rolling skyward, “This is just how I seem to roll.”

Being nearly vaporized while reduced to tears in the presence of the enraged-volcanic-self-esteem-crushing-boss (which is why Ronnie is confronting him in the first place, his esteem-crushing behavior towards clients), and with certain-death evident to his quaking heart, a hidden, inexplicable something arises in Ronnie from the sinew of his heroic heart and soul. You see it slip in between the gut-gripping-tsunami-waves-of-fear coursing through him, this steely force of unwavering confidence. Out of the nowhere of himself he has become a column of luminous strength. His essence, the soul-stuff of unshakeable faith that rests in the core of him, that inspires him to commit to what is true and deserving of soul faith, that rises when needed—penetrates the moment. Then, one short hour later he inhabits a different, far-away-cosmos within himself and is complaining voraciously about the details of something-so-insignificant-the-angels-weep, naysaying like an out-of-control-the-sky-is-falling-terrified-chicken, and then—click-bang—channel-change—he is back in action hyper-dedicated to tirelessly and responsibly delivering the best to the clients in his charge. Just take a breath and a new ‘Ronnie’ appears out of the mystery of his fluctuating selves.

Go figure! This is no ordinary super-hero!

What is amazing, mysterious, confusing, and awe-inspiring is that amidst the vast array of who-he-is-in-the-moment, this fluctuating, kaleidoscopic, slide-show of ‘beings’ appearing out of the nervous mystery of himself—courageous, scared, skittery-as-a-frightened-pigeon, tender, mean, laser-clear, confident-as-Gandalf, grumpy-as-Gollum—is his absolute and utter commitment to the men who walk through the doors of Mercy House. He has made a heart-vow to assure that the standards of care at the rehab don’t weaken (Rule #1: Do not change the protocols that saved him and many others. Do not! You strike a freak-out note when you do this. He is the staunch protector and steward of what has worked.).

Added to this magical mix is his remarkable ability when under stress and unexpected conflict, to draw on a deep well of unshakable clarity, stillness, and an intuitive wisdom to take spontaneous, unplanned, right-action on a dime. When shit is flying everywhere, it’s like everything nervous in him settles—his Type Six need for an external structure that demands he be utterly organized and prepared before acting vanishes—and he becomes a beacon of laser lucidity. In the midst of an emergency when there is no time for doubt, for wondering, for analyzing and preparing—his mind and his actions harmonize instantly. He is wide awake, present, mind still as a lake, knows what to do, the light of clarity filling his perceptual screen of awareness.

Summer, 2017, an August dog-day, 2 PM. He is standing on the porch of the rehab with five other men, clients at Mercy House. Ambling up the stairs to the porch is a hulking, big muscled, fiercely tattooed, red-faced, drunk-out-of-his-mind, ominously-swaggering man, with a rage-blazing-I’m-going-to-kill-someone look in his eyes. He steps towards Ronnie who looks like a wisp of wind in contrast to his giant-Self, and says, “You little mofo, I am going to kick your ass! Get out of my way!” he blasts, the reverberation penetrating Ronnie’s chest, with the five men behind him quaking in the aftermath! Without hesitation, Ronnie, 130 pounds and sleek as a toothpick, standing a good head below this Godzilla of a guy, seamlessly steps in front of him, and nose to chest without a shiver of fear, says, “It is time to get off the porch or I will kick your ass.” (Truly, this would not have been my first move.) Suddenly Ronnie is eight feet tall, a column of courage running up and down his spine, his words unquestionably real and true. The rage drains from the man’s eyes, his body softens—he’s been snake charmed by the Six! (Oddly…even endeared!) Sheepishly the rage-fueled-juiced-on-alcohol-hulk says, “Man, you don’t have to take things so seriously,” and turns and walks with drunken-uncanny-nimbleness down the stairs.

Moments later Ronnie is shaking and ambushed by aftermath-anxiety. The doubt is on him like a team of Dementors, sucking his confidence from his soul. Did I do the right thing, I’m not sure, did I say too much, was I wrong? Will I get fired? What do you think? Back and forth he goes, his inner committee now forcing him to consider every possibility, he unable to stand on the sure ground that he fully and completely inhabited minutes ago. Luminous strength has vanished. The amnesia of his skillful action takes him over, trancelike. Staff and clients say, “You were awesome. That was amazing what you did! Where did you get that freakin’ courage!” In this moment he can’t reference, feel or remember the courage of his actions or the clarity of his awareness that came through him, when his real nature came online, Ronnie knowing exactly what to do in the critical moment, unexpected heroism flowing through him. (This can be a powerful challenge for the Six, the felt sense of their successful encounter with difficulty vanishing like wind through their fingers, leaving in its place a hole of doubt where inner knowing resided…swoosh, gone! It will be an essential growth curve their recovery will take them upon.)

Equally significant is Ronnie’s vast and enduring loyalty to those who pulled him from the mouth of the Balog in the mines of Morea, those counselors and friends that held his addiction madness at bay long enough until he gained eyes to see himself again. From the muck and mire of the dark swamp of addiction he was revived and held. And his commitment goes something like this: you saved my life and in return I will give my undying devotion and commitment to those who need similar help. I pledge myself to them. I will adhere my heart to their heart.

A resilient, psychic, heart-cord of his Being attaches to those he is moved to serve. He is embedded in his intention to serve them.                                                                                   

Like it or not, this is simply the way he is wired, much like Samwise Gamgee who was given unmistakable evidence to abandon hair-brained, wide-eyed, sanity fluctuating, deluded, often mad, ego-power-ring-driven, nut-case, sometimes kind and sweet and courageous Frodo on the way to the friendly fires of Mordor. In other words, I will follow you all the way home. You’ll have to kill me to get rid of me as I’ve attached my soul to yours for safe-keeping. (This scene comes to mind from Lord of the Rings. Frodo has decided to travel solo the rest of the way to Mordor alone. He pushes his small boat off the dock into the lake as Samwise bursts down a hill towards him. Thirty yards out, Frodo sees Sam gallantly running towards the shore and Frodo says, “Sam, I’m going to Mordor by myself. This I must do.” And Samwise replies, “Of course you are, Mr. Frodo, of course you are! That’s why I’m coming with you!” And plunges into the water…and sinks…because, well, he can’t swim. Never mind. He’s coming with Frodo. Frodo retrieves him from the water and pulls him into the boat. And Sam, heart as big as the ocean, eyes filled with passionate devotion, says “I’ve pledged myself to you Mr. Frodo. I’ve pledged myself!” This, the devoted heart-cry of the Six.) The gift of the Six: Once I make a commitment I am all in. I will be your eyes in the darkness on your journey home through the mines of Morea. I will find the path home.

An interesting study in paradox is Ronnie’s relationship to worry: On the one hand, there is his often-percolating sense of anxiety and worry that threads through him like an electric current, hot-wiring him for the danger-that-awaits-him-at-any-turn-in-the-road. Juxtaposed in him is a corresponding counter-intuitive trait: to the level that he feels anxious and on edge, on the verge of being destroyed by the next monster of terror that reveals himself out of the fires of his anxious worried imagination, he will and does go out of his way to eliminate any unnecessary worry, stress or anxiety for clients who enter Mercy House. His radar is exquisitely attuned to their fear. He tastes it, feels it, senses it immediately. He intimately knows the suffering of anxiety. He is too aware of the all-to-familiar-pulse-of-fear in his soul, which often greets him when his eyes flutter open in the morning, waves of anxiety and self-doubt the first emotional impression touching him. It has trained him to instinctively sense who is scared, uneasy, or tremulous. This suffering, this holy unrest, inspires him to compassionately alleviate it in others. And often he does.

While clients are shaking and baking and disoriented in early recovery, he calms them down. He does it without fanfare and guys love him for it. Here his tender-boyish-innocent-loving-heart comes online. You see, with all his oddness and lack of traditional male energy, he is given a free pass into the world of wounded and rough men. They are eye-witnesses to the way in which he navigates fear. It’s like he stands back and notices his own terror and says, with great humility, “Okay, terror is here, but there is a job that must be done.” (Like Frodo, he says, I will take this ring to Mordor even though certain death awaits me.) And then walks through it—which has the amazing result of tenderizing their hearts. Somehow guys get how extraordinarily courageous he is, this timid looking, so shy, anxiety-fierce guy. He, terrified of them, walks directly into his fear, engages them, greets them, welcomes them, asserts himself…and they soften and disarm. His trembling-courage catches them off guard. In effect, he teaches them without speaking a word, how to work with their fear. Step with and through it, that’s the drill.

When men arrive at Mercy House rehab their hearts are thread-bare with hope, their souls still imprisoned in darkened bars or hypnotically trapped in time-warp-scenes of horror-filled interactions with loved ones. They are empty shells, wandering ghosts without a true home. In the fog of their disorientation they encounter Ronnie, an often near-invisible force working behind the scenes, so unassuming, so unpretentious, so-not-a-big-deal that you mistake him at times for one of the clients, or the janitor, or one of the aids, he so a part of the ordinary-unsung-fabric of the moment. When he enters the group room there is a quiet formality to his posture, a sense of the dutiful-humble-boy-scout there to bring earnest good to the group of men, a trusting naivety and innocent sincerity flowing in his presence. He is fueled by an unquestioned and inherent confidence, a mysterious knowing that he can help these guys, men straight out of prison, men homeless living in shelters, men wandering the streets lost and disoriented, victims of the Balrog of addiction that has had his way with them, eating their opportunities and devouring their hope. This is the Goliath he faces every day. This is the ring he carries to Mordor.

And Ronnie, this unassuming guy with a flow of kaleidoscopic opposites a serious gravitational force coursing powerfully through his mind-stream, radiates a hidden essence that is so simply caring, so not pretentious, so solidly gentle, and so street-smart-kind, that men draw near to him, edge in a little closer, as if to say, Who is this guy that hangs with us like he’s no big deal, like there is no difference between us? Who is this no-reason-not-to-be-scared-and-terrified-guy that is so likable? And what is this child-like adorable quality that softens our hearts? What, in the complexity of this opposites-colliding-on-steroids-worried-anxious-humble-being that is so endearing, so smile-causing, so sweetly kind. Even cranky kind! Who weirdly makes us feel safe! Who inspires us to be kind!                                                                                                             

Ronnie, unaware of his impact and his innate transmission of a mysterious-grounded-stillness, walks into this den of wounded-to-the-core men—who wield knife-sharp, hair-trigger emotional defenses and laser-probing-can-spot-a-fraud-instantly-awareness—like a gardener gently watering newly-budding-flowers, matter-of-fact, like no-big-deal, just another day in the garden. He is among dangerous and deeply wounded men but it doesn’t seem to faze him. He just walks in like he’s supposed to be there, like he knew they were coming and he’d been waiting for them. Walks in and does that amazing Six thing. He befriends them, becomes one of the guys, no barrier here! Never mind the non-matching trauma, never mind non-matching deprived childhoods, never mind non-matching criminal behavior, never mind non-matching life losses—their interior fundamental humanness is what counts!

It’s like everyone is down to zero with no separation in the ranks, no hierarchy. Big, husky, muscle-hardened, swaggering, don’t-come-near-me-or-I’ll-kick-your-ass guys…relax. Weird, strange, nerdy, fringe-dwelling-I-got-the-wrong-universe, rebel-outcasts…relax. Cool, narcissistic, I’m-too-cool-and-too-superior-to-be-with-you-losers…drop their act. Cool is gone, tough is gone, weird is gone. That is, something in his presence engages them such that they don’t feel that horrid sense of inferiority for the merciless, shameful losses they’ve experienced—their true manhood, their true strength, and capacity lost in the barren wilderness of their addiction.

Masks become unnecessary in Ronnie’s world.

And this is what is so very cool about him—he infuses them up with causeless faith. As in, you can trust me. You can trust that I can help you. You can have faith in me. Simple. Always simple. (He’s a Jedi that commands, “Disarm. Lay your weapons down. It’s safe! Trust now!” And they do!) And then he embodies it. That is, he trusts them. Without saying it, but through the deep-yet-appearing-insignificant-ambiance of his gracious soul, he communicates: “I trust you. I trust your better-selves to arise.” Like it’s an unspoken fact, established and now in reality…nothing to question…fact…their better selves will prevail.

He deems them trustable!                                                                                                                     

He knows it, expects it. It’s just the way it is. This flow of Ronnie’s genuine-soul-fostering-faith-in-them reaches through their save-your-life-kill-anyone-who-approaches armor and finds the microscopic openings in their protective shell…and penetrates them…resurrecting their buried, innate self-confidence, awakening their faith and true wish to heal themselves!

He is the safe, stable ground they desperately need to re-enter life!

In his own intuitive, Type Six peculiar way, he delivers this additional message: But for the grace of God, there go I. (Another Fact.) There is simply no difference here in our fundamental humanity. As well, his devoted heart says this in every glance or movement he makes: We are here to help one another. As a team, we will succeed. And this all transmitted by his grace, his kindness, his wish to alleviate their suffering, his wish to give to them what he was generously given—safety, care, and hope.

He is a model of pure and real humility. And this alone is the equalizer. Being in the presence of real humility heals you, settles you, disarms you, relaxes you, reminds you of what you’ve had inklings about, that there is fundamental goodness in the heart of human beings that can be trusted. Go figure. The guy who’s wired with anxiety and the task of managing a multitude of fluctuating, nervous, often-catastrophizing selves, is a channel for trust! Through the maze of his conflicting selves arises the mysterious, still, solid, healing force of trust.

One last note about this precious guy. The men in rehab play whiffle ball in a Boston Red Sox style parking lot improvised-baseball-field, the green monster the huge brick side of the four-story Victorian. Teams divide up, six on a team, and designated hits to certain zones in the field are marked as single, double, triple or home run. Anything clearing the green monster, the roof of the Victorian…a home run. Staff plays with clients, and Ron is anything but a ballplayer. Yet he has this kind of abandon about his awkwardness and is so humbly-awful-yet-sincere in his efforts to swing a bat, or throw or catch a ball, that everyone is endeared to him. To see someone struggle yet take delight in being awful is a thing to behold. No pretense. No ego. Like a five-year-old first exposed to the game, it’s an exploration filled with curiosity. And of course, being a Six, Ron is quite open about how awful he is, but never mind, let me swing the bat again. It is this openness, this refreshing down-to-earthiness, that makes him a precious jewel. Everyone feels like they can try. There are no failures here. And trying and failing repeatedly is no big deal. All are welcome. (So much like Ellen DeGeneres and her often funny shows when she’s not afraid to make a fool of herself and does so with such an endearing and humorous heart.) Ron, in the ambiance of his awkward actions, states: We are brothers in arms, here to serve each other. All walk on an even field. It is the deeper and truer message of AA when it’s working at its best: no one leads, the group serves everyone. Everyone is equal and needed, the core transmission of the Six soul–only as a group, as a team, is deeper healing energy transmitted.

Because the Type Six has spent so much time dealing with his internal anxiety and dis-ease, he is inspired to lesson one’s suffering. To do something to help you relax and feel safe, be it stand up for you against unjust forces (like Michael Moore standing for all the disenfranchised Americans via his documentaries), relaxing your addiction to worry through humor (Chris Rock is wildly and sarcastically funny as the devil, yet compassionate, tough as nails, straight-talking-cutting-through-the-bullshit…and kind), or loosening the grip of your panicked, worried, neurotic self through creative endeavor (Woody Allen’s autobiographical movies, there to remind the Six that you are not alone, crazy yes, alone, no!). Add this to the holy mix: heroism in spades. This is Ellen DeGeneres at her best, so tenaciously down-to-earth-courageous in exposing herself as a lesbian woman in the middle of a TV episode, losing her job and being thrown out of work for three years, she steadily climbing the horrendous mountain of homophobic hell and oppression such that her fabulously-courageous-loving-heart cut through the crap-shit of prejudice, she embracing the archetype of The Valiant Hero with amazing and humble dignity, and with inexhaustible, loving, sweet, truthful humor. And luminous strength—she being heroically called to spotlighting the courage in others and heralding them on her talk show.

This is the courageous and devoted heart of the Six. And Ronnie, at his best, is an exemplar. Glimmering blue eyes when feeling well, steel gray eyes when facing down the dragon, a puppy-tender heart that welcomes you, fierce-courageous-abandon when called to duty, unwavering clarity and confidence when down to zero, a nano-second to act with grace and skill.  Such a beautiful example of a recovered, heart-open man!                                                                        

                                                       The Balrog of Addiction                                                              

The Balrog of addiction is fed by the accumulated impressions of soul shame and hurt and humiliation that boys encountered and now lay buried, like dark-cursed-jewels, in the basement of their Being…A mother who is a drug addict who brings horrific men into her life who beat little boys to a bloody stump while she mired in the role of the victim who can’t protect her children, even though she continually chooses the next crazy-bat-shit-crazy man, who simply mirrors her crazy, bat-shit wounded soul. Pain-body meets pain- body, the unconscious gravitational pull of deep suffering defying sanity or logic, defying the deep and desperate wish of those wishing to jump from the treadmill of their unconscious patterns. (Much like the gravitational pull and magnetism of opiates to suck men and women into the black hole of their death, their best wisdom and commitment to never use again ejected from their consciousness like Dave ejected in a space pod by his formidable foe, Hal the computer-gone-rouge in 2001.)

The Balrog of addiction was born in the homes of the men at Mercy House where they inhaled fear through their pores, drank deeply of hatred and shame, the flesh of their soul infected with the vibration of not being wanted or loved. This alone creates a young boy who is anxiety-panicked and on the verge of madness, who, based on his Enneagram type will seal himself off to protect himself with his type-specific armor, safeguarding whatever is left of his soul. A little boy’s heart (or little girls) can only take so much assault before it shuts down, hardens, disappears. These men were conditioned to turn their aliveness, sensitivity, and heart-wisdom “off” to survive and not suicide by age ten. Their substance abuse was the lifeboat that carried them through these painful times.

                          How the Six Enters Addiction Treatment: Drunk on Suspicion

The Six, blinded by his addiction, is driven to the basement of his being where emotional distress, fear, suspicion and bone-rattling paranoia haunt him. He is locked in the prison cell of his unhealthy personality patterns. Here, in the hell realms of Type Six at Level 7, his graceful, endearing gifts reverse themselves. Now the camera lens of his objective awareness closes to a microscopic dot of near nothingness. Then his actions say, “I abandon you based on nothing but my fear! I destroy your sense of support and security to protect myself! I attack you with my anxiety and blame you for it! I read all of your reasonable and kind actions as the actions of a traitor. I confuse everything you say and turn it into an attack on me. When you are kind, I see hatred. When you are considerate, I read conspiratorial. You are the enemy and cannot be trusted! You’ve abandoned me. Never mind that I cut off from you completely and utterly! I can’t see that!”

This state of being, where he is locked into suspicion and paranoia, is often what finally drives the Six to get help for his addiction. (Be mindful of this. None of the types are at their best at Level 7. Each has their own dungeon from which they view reality. Each unwittingly reverses their gifts and turns them into weapons, flipping reality upside-down! What complicates this is the Six’s ability to shape-shift such that when needing to show up at his best socially (for survival), he can pull out of this nightmarish-paranoia-swamp and temporarily be socially graceful (this is the Six going to Three wherein he can become what is needed to impress or appear normal.) At least for brief, critical periods. This magicians-slight-of-hand in which out of the blinded fog of his paranoia he appears as a normal, functioning, likable chap, (although looking to those who know him, as if he is masterfully manipulating others and is mean-spirited and cruelly calculating) when in actuality he is as unconscious as the night is dark. He can’t see that he moves back and forth from an unconscious, mean-spirited madness to temporarily appearing sane—gracious even! (You can see why family members start to go a bit crazy in his midst, and why we call it a family dis-ease.) A strong buffer shuts him off from this realization.

Family members, friends, and colleagues are horrified by his merciless and sometimes heart-chilling responses to their attempts to help him bridge the gap between these two worlds, knowing that if he could see himself in action he’d run to the halls of recovery. And yet when confronted, he is caught in the fog of sincere-black-as-night-delusion, and truly shocked that you would accuse him of unkind actions. (Not intentionally deluded, sincerely deluded!) This is the dis-ease of addiction: I can’t see myself objectively.

Those horrific alcohol-driven-drug-addicted behaviors that stab your soul like an ice pick are like a dream he can’t retrieve, that slips through his awareness like water through his fingers. Until he can, in which case he will weep with profound sorrow for his actions. In this awakening moment, when the door of reality creaks open, one prays that he will have the courage to stay with the remorse that rises in him like a dragon, ready to overwhelm him. Then angels lean forward and whisper: stay with this, it will pass, this is the first door you must pass through…you can do this.

       The Six in Addiction Recovery:  Welcome to the Hell Zone of Level 6 and 7

Like all the types, the Type Six enters treatment with only tiny threads of awareness free from the mechanical, self-defending, fear-driven patterns of their type. Their perceptual camera lens on reality narrows to a thread-bare-filament of panic through which they see and interpret reality.

Meet Marvin, an Oregon farm boy, husky and thick through the torso, wired to lift heavy bales of hay, milk cows, throw farm equipment around like child’s play, who arrived at Mercy House so thoroughly tightened by anxiety and fear-infected-imaginings that he could barely sit still in group. Suspicious eyes darting around the room, restless and searching, everything said in group reaches him through the churning fog of his worried-mangled, mind-confusions and is heard wrongly. His attention is glued to a replaying, internal movie. The scenes mercilessly unfold…he discovering six months ago that his wife of many years had been cheating on him with a neighbor, he screaming How could you do that, after all I’ve done for you, after my loyalty to you! Never mind I’ve been drinking myself blind the last 10 years, and barely noticed you from my freight-train-of-alcoholic-insanity tearing through the tracks of our life!

And the scenes unravel, he powerlessly glued to them. He blows past his wife and heads to the neighbor’s house, tornadic hurt burning through him, bursts through the front door splitting the screen door in two—the hurt now transformed into volcanic rage—and readies to pound his neighbor within an inch of his life, using a tire iron to deliver the message. And it’s only by a miracle that the police arrive, pry him off the neighbor, and stop him from committing murder. Seconds away from a life sentence, his life irrevocably destroyed, they disarm him, and he is jail-bound.

In a whirl of cyclonic-shock, he detoxes in jail. In the moments of being forced to sit still in a jail cell, memories slip through the fog of his alcoholism revealing situation after situation in which he has hurt those he loves. He’s been sleeping through everything important to him—his wife, his kids, himself. God have mercy on him. He has destroyed everything he cares for (but not permanently). The deep-felt sense that no one will support him is ice in his heart. His inner critic whispers with casual abandon as if this is a ‘fact’ that needs no promotion: “No one wants you. You are done. Your father was right. You are hopeless. You’ve failed at all of your responsibilities.” Desperate, he swings on the pendulum of Type Six in stress: he desperately wants your kindness yet pushes it away. He wants to trust…he doesn’t trust. He rages…he begs for forgiveness. He pleads, please take me back…then…oh, fuck you, get away from me, I don’t need you!

While trapped in the prison of Level 6 & 7 he cannot sense, hold on to, or remember when he’s actually being supported and cared for by others, be it group members, friends, or counselors and will need tons of tenderness, patience, and supportive learning experiences to penetrate this instant-amnesia pattern. A single thread of doubt often interrupts all accurate recall and he instantly forgets that just moments before that he was emotionally supported by others. In a split second, he falls into a recurring trance: no one supports him. He is abandoned. Nobody cares. It’s not safe here. (This is a core pattern that he will be challenged to transform throughout his recovery at deeper and deeper levels until liberated.)

In the face of heart-rendering loss, his heroic heart will crack open revealing the spirit of a tender, kind little boy. But seconds later the intense hurt and loss will impel him to stand up and leave the rehab and go to his wife and beg her for forgiveness, and on the way, threaten the life of the offending neighbor. With a restraining order in place and jail the consequence of violation, he is forced to stay with his experience, with his hurt, his shame, and the men at rehab. This is the mercy of the universe providing the staying structure, beginning with jail, the protection order, and a wife who is done with him. Merciless mercy. Slowly he will learn to sit with his suffering, sit with the heartache, allow that vulnerable spot in his heart to open, to hold it like a small child in his arms. This staying-with-it, this allowing himself to feel his hurt and remorse, this inner-kindness-and-act-of-courage will open him to receiving and feeling the love and support of others. He will remember his deep value and preciousness, and that he is wanted and belongs.

                                        The First Twelve Weeks of Residential Treatment

And so, Marvin’s work begins, he courageously enduring and transforming the necessary and temporary suffering of his type–fear and mistrust. In the group, he is met with tremendous compassion. Nine other guys have no problem understanding how hurt, shocked, humiliated and abandoned he feels, learning that his wife and neighbor have betrayed him. They get his rages, his difficult-to-track-temperament, his sudden flashes of paranoia, his broken heart, and his fierce need to blame all of it on those two! The men will hold space for him when he falls off his righteous horse of blame as realizes it was his alcoholism that betrayed and fooled him, that he didn’t have ‘eyes’ to see it. A predictable cycle will ensue: shock followed by genuine remorse followed by self-recrimination–Why didn’t I see what I was doing?—to self-hatred—I am horrible and despicable! A total loser!—to hopelessness—I’ve destroyed everything, it’s too late for me!—to surrendering and feeling his suffering, his heart courageously inching forward. Slowly this cycle will simply wear out as he realizes the blamelessness of everyone, himself included. Kindness will begin to reach him. Forgiveness will reach him. Healing will ensue as he arises out of the fog of his addiction and gains eyes to see what is real.

With practice, his anxiety will shift to acceptance as he learns to stop unconsciously attaching a storyline to it. Unwittingly he assumes, “If I find the story/reason/cause of my anxiety I will feel better. This will calm me down.” If only his inner critic, the dark magician pumping pictures of fear and worry and impending catastrophe through his mind-stream, would just silence! Just when Marvin relaxes for a moment, another fear-wave arises. One worry gone, up pops another. Meditation will save him. In time he will report, “I started doing meditation and stopped identifying with my worrying-monkey-mind. I learned to focus much of my free-attention toward sensing my body. This changed the level of anxiety I was feeling and gave me the ability to discover what lie beneath it—flowing energy! Cultivating quiet and still mind has brought such relief!”

His discovery: Sitting and enduring, with unconditional kindness and patience, the machinations of his mind, while sensing his body and breath, invites innate peace to arise and inhabit him.                                                                                      

The Trickery of Addiction: Euphoric Recall & The Inner Critic

Sixes who become addicted to substances often start by innocently using them to calm the whirlwind of anxiety, self-doubt and worry they are experiencing, not realizing that the chemicals used work from two ends. First, they shift anxiety into another sensation, maybe excitement, maybe deep numbness, perhaps a vegetative state of calm (the opiate-induced-death-is-a-peaceful-solution-no-big-deal-trance-state), allowing for moments where the anxiety just isn’t there—until it reverses itself! The next day the escape-state vanishes so that the moments of anxiety-freedom turn to heart-explosive-anxiety-and-boundless-self-doubt that sends one through the roof. Ride that relief-train too many times and it’s hard to jump off. The anxiety one sought to escape has now morphed into a larger dragon of terror, along with one’s addiction cravings. What started as relief becomes a death trap.

Early recovery for the Type Six is a walk in a firestorm of anxiety, suspicion, and worry while searching for someone, something he can trust. His Inner Critic is working overtime, reminding him, “There is not a single soul you can trust here! A drink, drug, anything would be better than hanging with this ragtag group of recovering weirdo-freak-alien people who obviously are not trustworthy. You could feel good right now! You deserve to feel good!” And then re-runs his favorite euphoric-recall-movie through his mind-stream where all the bad moments of his addiction are erased (you can find these in the “Deleted Scenes” portion of his addiction movie) and all the feels-good-confident-self-adoring scenes play in an endless loop of temptation. Never mind he’s seen the movie three thousand times, with the same ending! The movie is so compelling he believes it again. The challenge for the moment (which will pass) is that he feels he can’t count on anyone, and everything seems ready to fall apart. The good news: it’s a temporary illusion. However,  Type Six anxiety on high voltage inside your chest, with his Inner Critic incessantly talking to him while infusing your cells, bone, and skin with anxiety—he feels possessed!

Suggestion: Starve this pattern one moment at a time (meaning don’t feed it a drug or a drink). Ask for help from above and around you. “God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” Put yourself in the presence of sober people. Breathe and sense your body. Hang in one moment at a time…and your path to liberation will unfold.

                                                   Beautiful Hearty Sixes in Recovery

Teresa, sober twenty-five years, says, “I’m scared every day. I’ve never gotten rid of it. I walk through it every day and it has yet to kill me! I hate to fly, yet I have flown to Tibet and taken care of orphans every year for the past fourteen years. I am terrified every time I get on the plane, certain I will not make it. If I don’t step through the fear my life becomes dedicated to managing fear, rather than living audaciously.” Teresa is one of those outrageously courageous recovering women who, with a little knowledge of the Enneagram, combined with awareness around the power of sensing her body and developing a quiet mind, could transform much of this fear she breathes in every day into deep stillness, intuitive clarity, and inner security. But in the meantime, she’s taken on the Goliath of her fear directly and endures the suffering of terror that resides on her trip to Tibet, the gold being the loving connections she experiences with the Tibetan kids she nurtures. Awesome courage.

Maria, as well, is a recovering Type Six, a salt of the earth sweetheart, a rough and tumble Idaho girl who’s both rugged as a horse and tender and kind as a kitten. Sober ten years, she’ll dish out what you deserve, truly. No words minced. If you are kind, she will give you kindness in spades. If you are snarky, she’ll push snarky right back at you. Tough and direct when called for, kind and generous when needed, dedicated to humanitarian realism and action, for Maria everyone is equal and deserves relief from their suffering. She’s no one’s dummy (as she’d say, swagger in her gait) and doesn’t like to take shit from anyone. She might not know all the highfaluting, smart-sounding words you might try to impress her with, “Whatever!” she scowls, but she knows what is earthy-real. It’s in her eyes, it’s in her body, it’s in her heart, she radiates and feels it. She relies on it and can smell danger a mile away, be it a deluded narcissist trying to impress her, a client in a rehab center who’s fixing to put one over on her, or an employee sucking up to the boss. You name it, her bullshit detector is screamingly awake and in the weave of the invisibility—the subtle emotional currents that fill the room—she senses the razor-edge of a lie, she earthily-attuned to danger and disturbance in the Force on a variety of levels. Usually, it’s an uncanny, instantaneous knowing that arises in her. Zing, there it is! She just reads it in the field of the individual. Sneaky triangles happening at work, she flushes them out in a heartbeat and is vigilant not to get caught in the smarmy dynamics.

On the other hand, if you are genuinely suffering she’ll give you the shirt off her back. She is about as real as you can get, and she spots ‘real’ needs. You could call it ‘Idaho’ real, meaning “What you see is what you get, and if you feed me crap, you get it right back. Not here to kiss the earth under your feet, mister, or bear the brunt of your self-importance; don’t care how pretty you think you are or how much ya’ think of yourself; I’ve got bigger priorities, like my husband and son, my dedication to addicted-hurting clients, and my faith in God. So don’t try to trip me up with your narcissistic agendas or manipulations cause we don’t play to that sort of ‘stupid’ in this neck of the woods.” Like many Sixes, no filter exists in her real communications.

Her radar is finely attuned to egotists (They’re damn troublemakers!), those who think they are a cut above the rest. She spots their Achilles heel every time and ruthlessly but joyfully points it out, unafraid of consequences (a lot like Michael Moore, I might add). “Hey Hank, you’re a little high on yourself today, what’s up? Not getting enough praise and adoration? Poor thing! You’re having a difficult time hanging out with us mortals? Here, have a cup a coffee, relax, chill out, things will get better,” she says, grinning ear to ear, eyes gleaming and piercing into Hank’s ego-unveiled eyes, pleased that she has put another rooster on notice, meaning ‘I can see exactly what you’re up to and it ain’t pretty, mister, it ain’t pretty. Just thought you should know.” Never mind it’s her less than healthy Type Eight boss who parades around the office like a grand peacock, his every step boasting his magnificence. But something about her ballsy approach softens him and he comes out from behind his facade. He softens and drops his guard. Like I said, she’s a snake charmer.

Maria is untouchable because she works so hard at what she does, managing the office, going out of her way to help men at the drug rehab who have real emergencies, giving 120% because she is driven by her commitments, whether she is applauded or not. Makes no difference to her. She is dedicated and responsible to the core. Not here to ‘put on a show’ but to do what is expected of her, and what she has dedicated herself to. Plain and simple. Addiction recovery has allowed her to transform her anxiety into a steady faith, mindfulness, and intuitive clarity. At her best, she is unequivocally courageous, direct, and balls to the wall, fierce. Followed by the tenderness of a kitten, or the fearfulness of a cowering puppy. But that puppy does not cower for long.  

                                                            The Recovery Journey

First days in rehab (or AA, or a counselor’s office) the Six can barely sit in his skin. It’s as if he is sitting in a fire, the fire of “Are you telling me the truth? Do you know what you are talking about? How do I know you know anything?” Doubt…doubt…and more doubt.

Alex says:

“I know I’m a damn Six, I worry about everything, I second-guess everything, I don’t know whose advice to take and I don’t want to take any advice from anyone. I want to be independent, but I feel like a weak little boy who is always looking for Daddy and Mommy to guide me and tell me what to do. And then I get really mad when people tell me what to do. I want to be a grown-up, but I feel like a kid. I’m just never sure about anything. Back and forth I go. In my head is a constant argument between warring parties, arguing about what to trust. It’s awful. And every time I get sober this is what I go through, this indecision and not knowing what to do, what not to do, who to trust, and who not to trust. Are people telling me the truth or are they purposely deceiving me? What are their motives? Man, I get so suspicious. I just can’t tell. And then I take advice from the wrong people, I can see that now, finally. And they rip me off because I’m a nice guy and I want to help, I hate to see people suffer, and then I drink because it takes my suffering away. My mind stops for a while and what a relief. Then the whole thing starts up again. I hate it.”

The Six must learn to sit through the waves of fear. More than anything they need compassion and a reminder that the longer they stay clean the quieter things will get…slowly, if they do the necessary work. The Six in men’s rehab will glide from being outrageously funny, able to articulate the foibles of their doubting mind with such raw humor everyone will be in stitches—welcome Chris Rock—their self-depreciating zeal and fierce earthiness both touching and highly engaging, and then will sharply plunge into deep distrust of everyone, becoming over-sensitive to teasing, feeling insecure and suspicious of everyone, and unable to notice a single positive attribute he possesses. He swings from despair to anger, too timid shyness to unbridled rebelliousness, to awesome and stark courage.

This is life at Level 6 and 7—unconscious and often reactive. When the Type Six gets unhealthy due to substance abuse, one of their finest capacities disappears, the ability to be tuned into their intuition and inner guidance. When healthy they are in direct contact with their intuitive knowing. Their mind is still and clear. Awake to the moment, when challenging situations arise they simply know how to respond. This innate GPS allows them to relax, to be present and to trust. And of course, their addiction distorts this capacity and creates the opposite: they feel like a kid who’s been dropped off in an alien culture where they don’t know the language or the people and have no idea how to find their parents. (Watch Open Water to get the feel of this!)

                                            Helping the Six—the Dark Fortune-Teller

When the Type Six’s are feeling powerless and panicked—like a cornered, unprotected animal—and are filled with feelings of inferiority, they can attack and berate others, lashing out in response to a paranoid belief that others are out to get them. Mind-readers, they hold internal conversations with you without your knowledge, believing the imagined paranoid statements they ‘hear’ you making in their imaginary conversation, provoking them to strike out and accuse. In a sudden flash they become reactive and blame/judge/indict the individual they’ve been mind-reading. Seconds later, having a moment of sanity, they are filled with regret and remorse for their actions. They apologize profusely. They become compliant. And then, the wheels of their suspicion again turn on without their permission, and they go into a reactive replay at the object of their betrayal. In the beginning, they are often possessed by this rollercoaster of reactive emotions and this habit of mind-reading. One second docile, kind, considerate, and the next moment ferocious, defensive and outraged.

The Six in early recovery experiences tremendous inner confusion, polarities of feeling and thought, all of this held in the sticky glue of pessimism, i.e., nothing will work, there’s no one I can trust, I can never retrieve my life, it’s your fault, no, it’s my fault! Damn, I can’t make up my mind! With a light heart remind them of the inherited pattern Six’s fall into when afraid: imagining the worst-case scenario—catastrophizing something horrid is going to happen! Help them to intercept this pattern and learn to name it and observe it before the trance hypnotizes them.

Along with extending much compassion and acceptance for the difficult inner world Six’s inhabit and not taking it personally when suddenly attacked or accused—you can offer the Type Six this gentle observation: their imagined conversations are easy to mistake for real conversations. Encourage them to speak to it out loud: “I’m having an imagined conversation with Tom and it feels real. I’m imaging he’s saying negative things about me and growing angrier and angrier. Yet we haven’t even had a conversation. Help me sort this out!” Teach them to do reality checks before acting, for instance, having a conversation with their counselor or sponsor can dissolve a delusion in the making. Teach them to forgive themselves, to understand that this mind-reading pattern has a life of its own and will unleash without their permission. It’s not their fault they have it but is their responsibility to tame it! Apologizing sincerely to those they’ve attacked will make the pattern more conscious. After enough apologies, a window of awareness will open up and they won’t have to ride this reactive, suspicion horse into an imaginary battle. Then, the angels will sing.

Kindly remind them that when they get scared that they instinctively begin to blame others for their state of stress. They must learn to observe it—the flood of blame thoughts—and communicate it to counselors/sponsors/allies before they believe the thoughts and unleash them. Suggest saying something like, “I’m experiencing a flood of blame thoughts towards Tom and feeling really justified and right about it.” Gently remind them that blame does not help and puts them in the position of the victim, keeping their spiritual and psychological waters muddied and agitated. Relief does not arrive through the channel of blame.

With a loving heart remind them that as vigorously as they blame others, in a heartbeat this blame pattern will be reversed toward them by their Inner Critic. (You’re loading up the guns of your Inner Critic when you indulge in blaming or judging others. Now he’s locked and loaded, primed to attack you viciously!). Teach them to notice and sense the fear or hurt in the moment that turns into blame, allowing it to reside inside them, holding it with kindness, feeling the sensations in the body, keeping it in ‘conscious’ awareness. This alone will help them to derail the blame-train, which is their unconscious escape from the discomfort of fear.

                                                   The Snarky Scared Type Six

In residential treatment, a go-to survival strategy for the Six is to find out what is expected of him, i.e., what are the rules that when followed will give him a sense of stability, predictability, and settles his sense of disorientation. At Mercy House he is required to do a job and, driven by his predisposition, he will not only do his job but will notice who isn’t doing their jobs and fall into complaining. (His ego-story is “I am responsible and wish others would be too!”) He asks, “How come George isn’t doing his job. I’m doing what I’m supposed to, how come he isn’t? What are these rules for if no one enforces them? Why aren’t people more responsible—like me!” Great patience is required, and the knowledge that he is wired this way under stress. For a period of time, he will remind you of how everyone, including the counselors, are not living up to their agreements and what is expected of them. Never mind that a trail of unconscious, over-the-edge, irresponsible actions trail him like a bounty hunter.

Mark, a beloved Six, swings from revealing the truth of his life, the heart-breaking errors he’s made that make it difficult for him to see his kids—to being enraged that chores aren’t being done in the rehab, he wondering Where’s the accountability, dudes! Often he is grumpy and edgily-threatening to the other men, not afraid to mouth off and condemn someone on the spot for their laziness, or whatever ill-natured quality he sees in them. Under stress he is driven to taking sides, his side against the other, the good guys against the bad guys, and so easily can turn his attention to habitual complaint and protest (some would call it whining!) to then laying heart-breaking self-blame on himself. He’s a crusty one, men will say, always grumbling. Yet the truth is he has suffered terrible loses and his sorrow plays out in this manner. Almost in the same breath of complaint, he will be making an effort to help somebody get the clothes they need, or direct someone towards a needed social service, food stamps, general assistance; or even cheering someone up who seems down. Complaining and helping, back and forth, he a study in opposites.

As he continues to open up he discovers a personal truth: his crustiness and grumbling are the way he deals with anxiety. In vulnerable moments he will talk about his fear and worry about his life, and his despair that he will never resolve these matters. And while he might be caught in a complaint about another’s inability to follow the rules, it is never done from a place of “I’m better than him.” More attentive and responsible perhaps, but not better.

Trust will not come easily to him. He will see the forces of life working fully against him, he in a dog-fight to survive the opposing forces. But if you are consistent and true to your word, if you treat him as a fellow man; if you have an earthy humility, he will grow to trust you, and rely on you. And as he feels safer and calms down a bit, the edges of his negativity will begin to soften. At heart he wants to be in community with those around him, playing an integral part in creating a team effort. As he develops more compassion for his mistakes, sees that no one judges him as harshly as he judges himself, his softer side will appear more frequently, his open heart more will become more visible to others.

He will need to question and doubt everything. He will need to know if you think he’s doing okay, is he getting better, do you think so? Really? How can you tell? Are you just feeling sorry for him? His confidence will be in continuous flux for a good period of time. He will trust you and then he won’t trust you. Back and forth he will travel. Don’t take it personally; he’s doing the very best he can. Sometimes he will give all his trust over to you and fall into doing exactly what you suggest for him. You have become his inner authority. Your job as a therapist or friend or sponsor is to challenge him to not attach so strongly to your opinion but to begin to take baby steps in trusting himself. But don’t be surprised that just about the time you think he’s fully agreed to follow one of your suggestions, he does the opposite. In fact, count on it. It’s just how he’s wired!

Your mission as a therapist (sponsor or friend) is to roll with it, to expect it, to be steady in your receptivity to him. This is the best anchor you can provide and one that he desperately needs. Even though he changes his opinion, his decisions, and his perspective rapidly and without warning, at least he can see that you are steady in your attention and present with him.  You can, with quiet and still presence watch him move back and forth without being thrown by it. This teaches him to do the same, that in the midst of his back and forth movements there is something that is steady and able to watch within him. You teach him to begin to watch and observe himself without judgment and not to be thrown by his back and forth movement by your stable and deep presence.

Your steadiness will begin to permeate him, touch him, touch what is at his core—his Essence, his sturdy, unshakable Being—and to call it forth such that it becomes available to him. Trust this process. By being a still, grounded container of presence you begin to permeate his confusion with an energy that is inherent to his soul, that wants to come forward, that is his True Nature. This presence alone can be a game changer. Model it…and he becomes it…starts to notice that buried underneath the chaos of his mad-hatter-worried-catastrophizing-where’s-the-next-emergency Type Six mind…is this inherent stillness, just waiting to be touched.

The Zen of AA, Worry, and Self-Sabotage

Each Type arrives in dearly recovery thoroughly shell-shocked. All feel that their core fear has been established as a reality. The One: I’m bad. The Two: I am unlovable. The Three: I have no value. The Four: I’m an insignificant nobody. The Five: I’m am not wanted here.

The Six has certitude around the issue of abandonment and certainty: There is none. He is abandoned. No one supports him. There is no path home. He knows he’s blown the doors off anything or anyone he can trust, including himself, by his addictive actions. He seriously wonders if he will ever feel supported again by anyone. Whatever certainty he had disappeared through the window of his erratic addiction spiral. He feels he has let everyone down. His anxiety has gone full blown as his addiction has soared, and caught in an anxiety- frenzy, he has alienated everyone. At his worst, he has scared others by abandoning them, by not supporting them, by making them feel as fearful as he feels, by attacking them to unsettle their safety. He has become what he has feared in others and he is shaking in the aftermath of his actions. How could he ever act this way?

The Six’s protective mechanism for dealing with the sense that there is no solid ground underneath them is by wrapping themselves around a belief, a code of behavior, a clearly defined path. Just give them the map of what is expected. This could be the code of AA, where they become strict advocates of the AA rules, expectations, and philosophy. They follow it, hold on to it, as their life-raft (make no mistake, it might save their life). Gripping the AA ideas, they rigidly advocate and promote this path. In essence, they replace their lost sense of inner knowing with an external form of authority. This is not an altogether bad thing because it may get them sober long enough so that they start to nurture their relationship with their own presence and inner guidance. Obedient and dutiful, the 12-Step program becomes their missing authority. At the start they are quivering and vacillating between trying to trust again while simultaneously retreating in shame for violating the very codes of loyalty and commitments they’ve believed in. They harshly judge themselves, guilt a crushing weight on their soul. Give me the rules, so there is something to hang on to. A structure. A rope. No matter how crazy and tipped-upside-down I become, at least I’ve got the AA program (or my church, or a belief structure that guides me.)

In early recovery they are torn between two extremes: following the rules—so as to not upset anyone and increase their chances of safety. Or suddenly rebelling against their fear and acting out against the environment they are trying to please and placate, attacking impulsively those that they are seeking guidance and support from. They will test all their supports, push them away, just to see if they will hang in. This could be their counselors and fellow 12-Step members, or anyone who is a part of their circle of help. It is this rebellion and compelling impulse to self-sabotage that can undo all of their efforts to be sober and clean.

When the Six loses touch with their intuitive guidance their mind goes into hyper-kinetic-override trying to provide the feeling of guidance by worrying about everything. So much so that the Six begins to feel that “If I don’t worry, then I’m not prepared. If I actually trust something, such as AA, I’m not prepared for danger. Trusting means putting myself at risk.” This makes it extremely difficult for the Six to trust their instincts and their decisions, and as they succumb to addiction, their GPS is scattered in a hundred directions, they unable to know what is trustable within them. As they get sober and begin to settle down, an important hallmark of their growth is in slowly but surely gaining confidence in their innate wisdom and ability to trust their decisions. This does not happen quickly and many times they will turn to others to be their guiding light.

Sixes want to trust with all their soul, so they can feel secure and protected. Thus, “trust” and “guidance,” although central to every type in recovery, is even more important to the Six. Equally palpable for the Six is the fear that they will suddenly be put in circumstances that they don’t know how to navigate, as if suddenly lost in a strange land where no one speaks their language. It’s this kind of dread that greets them each morning, the sense that suddenly I will not know what to do, will not be prepared adequately, will face unpredictable and unforeseen circumstances. This is a core fear, being abandoned by all of life, no guiding light to assure their navigation through life. In response to this, Sixes develop vigilance and watchfulness for any signs of unexpected events intruding and blindsiding them. If they just prepare enough, cover all their bases, go over all the possibilities they might be safe, might establish certainty and avert disaster. Nagging at them is the worry that they might have missed something, that they will be unable to divert the catastrophe they sense is lurking hidden in the next moment. To keep working, keep preparing, and do what they can in the face of feeling it’s not enough—these are the Six’s robotic patterns they are challenged to master.

Several Sixes describe it this way: the moment their eyes open in the morning, worry and anxiety turn-on in their perceptual stream of awareness. One can only imagine what that would be like, to wake up and instantly go into worry mode, fear mode, with anxiety entering your first breaths of the day–addicted to worry, being ever-vigilant, and not feeling safe. And counter-intuitively believing that worry makes them safe! Egads! There is a path to healing, and first and foremost is the necessity of learning to develop a quiet mind. In so doing one can settle, be internally still, the fluctuations of the mind quieting like a clear, still, lake. The Six will be challenged to find a technique that allows for this transformation and healing of the thinking center.

                                             The Challenging Journey Home

Arriving in addiction recovery, the Six support system consists of a group of strangers trying to recover from addiction, members of alcoholics anonymous, or men at a rehab center. Strangers, broken strangers, and none of them seem reliable and steady. The Six thinks, “I better find that one person who I can commit to, who can be my strength and who I can count on. Who, by my association with them, will give me a sense of strength that I cannot feel on my own. They will be the strength I wish for, that I feel is missing, that I can’t seem to embody from the inside out.” And so, the Type Six radar goes on the search, looking for someone to be loyal to, someone who can fill in for their missing sense of inner support and inner strength. If they find someone they can attach to, they bring new meaning to the word “attach.” They become loyally attached.

The individual in early recovery is hungry for safety. Willing, in some ways, to go to any length for this safety, and yet trusting nothing, no one, not even oneself. Tossed back and forth by anxiety, and always questioning everything they think or do, never sure if they are perceiving reality correctly, least of all the motivations of others. In compensation for this doubt, the Six finds several sources of support, sometimes unwittingly collecting more than one sponsor, more than one counselor, more than one support group. As a guide to the Six, asking the simple question: “What new support system have you added to your life this week?” can be very useful in helping the Six not spread themselves thin in their search for sources of support.

The good news: the Six, as they maintain sobriety, as they endure and transform fear patterns, will settle down, will land in their essential nature, will begin to experience the sense of inner authority and clarity that they seek. All of this is learnable, slowly and steadily. Everyone in recovery must take a journey like this. Slow, steady, walk with and through the fear…that’s the Type Six drill.

Suggestions for Navigating Recovery

  1. You must make friends with your worry habit. You’ve come installed with a Type Six Worry Program. It’s a part of the psychological hardware of YOU! It’s a program that runs whether you want it to or not, and your job is to begin to relax some of your attachment to it. One Six describes it this way: “I wake up in the morning and seconds after I’ve opened my eyes an electric current of anxiety begins to course through me. With this running through me I naturally start scanning my inner library of known things to worry about until I find something. It only takes a second, actually, such that I match up a subject of worry with the energy stream of anxiety running through me. It’s as if I need to make sense of the anxiety and that this will make me feel better. I rarely see the mechanism that creates this. First step: give the worry-pattern a name, an identity, a face, a size, a name, a gender, and declare out loud “Voldemort is streaming worry scenarios through my mind. Have mercy!” See it and feel it in your body, heart, and thinking center.
  2. Notice your bargain with worry. A Type Six bargain has been struck with some unseen force that goes like this: If I put enough time into worrying, and suffering from worrying, this will be a form of ‘preparation’ that perhaps will ward off anything bad happening to me. If I’m anxious and worried, then I will be safe and okay. That is, I’ll end my worry by worrying.” Your challenge: You must develop a quiet mind, and a willingness to let go of worrying as a way of propping up a sense of weirdly crafted false security.
  3. The Zen of doubting and Your Inner Review Board. The agony of the doubting mind is that what the Six knows to be true suddenly loses its surety within them. “Three seconds ago I felt absolutely sure about the next step I must take. I took a breath and all confidence disappeared.” Their thought screen, once vividly clear, is suddenly foggy upon review of their actions or decisions. They might clearly “know” that a certain action they took was done correctly in the moment but their doubting-mind, fueled by a team of saboteurs in the hidden back corridors of their perception, throws doubt on everything they are certain of. The voice of the Inner Critic/Review Board says, “Maybe that wasn’t so good. Hmmm…I doubt it was done correctly. If you are certain, you are sorely mistaken. Better to be doubting. Self-doubt means you are responsible and not arrogant. Self-confidence will lead to more errors.” This is a rare form of internal torture—the horror of second-guessing. A dear friend calls it—‘a loss of confidence in myself’—as their sense of inner, palpable sureness, is fogged out by their doubting-mind that inaccurately revisits actions taken, revving up second guessing! You must find a trusted friend to help you break this trance!
  4. Learn to stop indulging your self-doubt. You must stop indulging and laying down in the strange, negative comfort of worry. Counterintuitively, you may have to endure the anxiety of not being anxious, or the discomfort of feeling confident, as a first step away from worry. Your Inner Critic will whisper: “Because you are not self-doubting, disaster edges ever closer to you!” Suggestions: Develop an exercise habit that needs your full attention and gets you out of the thinking center! Develop the capacity to inhabit your body through sensing practices. Let people support you when engulfed in doubt. Or as some schools suggest, stand with your arms outstretched, parallel to the ground for 10 minutes. The physical focus and will it takes to accomplish this requires taking your attention out of your thinking center, the home of your worry. Or, step into a cold shower for 10 minutes. Presto, worried-mind disappears into the effort to survive and not leave the shower. Try it, you’ll be surprised at the results.
  5. Stop reviewing yourself! It’s a form of self-torture. You can trust yourself, you just have to give yourself a chance. Dear Six friends describe this as nights lying awake, compulsively reviewing the day behind them, asking themselves the question, “Did I make the right decision? Did I have the facts straight? Did I do it correctly? Am I certain of the position I took? Is this a horrid mistake I made or was I actually correct in my actions?” And then re-imagining and re-feeling the situation over and over again, trying to establish a state of calm and certainty that rarely comes through these means. Do any inner “Stop” and turn your attention away. Try this meditation: Like a cat at the mouse-hole of your mind, you patiently name the worry, go back to your breath, and welcome the next worry. Touch it and let it go. This dis-identification will help you to not bond with every worry/second-guessing thought that emerges in your precious psyche!                                             
  6. Begin to notice that your first intuition regarding the correct course of action is often accurate and can be trusted. If you pay attention to your intuition you will begin to realize that you often know exactly what needs to be done. However, if you hesitate for a second or two, and the crowd of your internal committee/review board—your ‘inner rugby team’ one Six calls it—begins negotiations with you, the wisdom of your inner knowing gets drown out in the ruckus. You must practice stepping into your initial knowing, stepping with and through the fear. With practice comes confidence.
  7. Discover what brings you into a state of peace. Some possibilities are yoga, painting, weaving, your favorite crafts, walking, swimming, meditating, dancing, or singing…find what works for you and nurture it. Learning to trust quiet mind is als0 growing edge for you. This is moving in the direction of Type Nine, where you become deeply still, peacefully embodied, settled and at peace.
  8. You must begin to own your courage and capacity. Six’s develop a habit of disowning their capacities. It’s as if they say to themselves, “It I disregard or play down my successes then I am being a careful, humble, practical, and responsible.” Notice your tendency to take for granted what you do for others. Here’s an example: It is often true that Type Six’s are deeply committed to their children (as in awesomely committed) and will move heaven and earth to assist them, but they don’t count this beautiful capacity as noteworthy. The reasoning is: “I can do that well, so why note it?” However, the areas where you are struggling are noteworthy! This is a form of negative narcissism, wherein you make myself feel like a good person for noting how bad or ineffective you are. Suggestion: notice yourself doing this and stop!
  9. Notice your tendency to develop too many support systems. Sixes are funny this way. Not all of them of course, but a certain strain of them does this thing in recovery that no sooner have they gotten a sponsor, they then start looking for another sponsor-type influence. Then they add a spiritual mentor, then a coach, then one, two or three more 12 step groups. For whatever reasons adding another support system alleviates anxiety for a while—so they are less likely to feel abandoned! They all become a part of the Six’s Inner Committee. This tendency can make it difficult and confusing, with too many authorities influencing their decisions, making it difficult to develop a relationship with their own inner authority.
  10. Catch yourself in the act of complaining. To habitually complain can engender a feeling of false strength as if you are doing something about an issue. It drains your precious energy needed for embodying better states of joy, calm, peace, love, clarity, satisfaction and acceptance. Complaining is much like your habit of worrying. You unconsciously think if you complain enough, long enough and fierce enough, then your life will change for the better. In fact you will nurture negativity. Your intuition will get muted. Your clarity of perception will shut down. Get help from loved ones as in, “Please, help me notice when I’m needlessly complaining so that I can be more aware of it.” You’ll be surprised how willing they are to help you.
  11. A Meditation Practice. Sit down, feet on the floor, back against a chair and start by following your breath. As you begin to observe the flow of your thoughts, check in and notice and label the thoughts, and say to yourself: “Oh, how very interesting. I’m having a fear-thought about ________. (Then breathe, let it go and wait for the next one.) Oh, yes, here comes another fearful thought about __________. (Then breathe, let it go and wait for the next one.) And another worried thought about _________. (Then breathe, let it go and wait for the next one.)” There is a thought-storm of fear/worry thoughts pouring through you unbidden and you don’t have to attach to any of them. Notice also, thoughts almost have a personality that demands that you listen and be loyal to them, that say to you, “Hey, these are Big Deal thoughts. You better listen to me or you are doomed to a horrific ending.”

They are just thoughts. Nothing more. You don’t have to believe them! You might think, “Not only am I wired to be loyal to certain people or beliefs, I’m wired to be loyal to my worrying thoughts.” Stop it. That is, the second you notice yourself caught in repetitious thought, declare a firm inner “Stop” and refocus your attention.

Parting Words

Dear Six, you can do this! You can find support, you can learn to trust yourself, you can learn to bring forth your wonderful gifts of serving others, connecting them to their best, heralding the underdog. The world needs you and you deserve to be here. So keep showing up. There is much hope for you. One day at a time, one moment at a time, trust the unfolding! In time you will discover that the universe has your back!



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.