I've been moving goldfish around for about eight years. From one home to another. Moving homes, traveling, when I go away or when we go to NH for the summer.
I move a lot.
The goldfish ride with me in a glass jar and we move back and forth. This is the fifth summer the goldfish have spent in NH.
I've broken so many goldfish bowls.
Once I broke the bowl in the sink and caught the goldfish in my hands, both of us getting cut by glass.
The kids threw a ball and broke the glass, sending water squirting out everywhere, all of us yelling for a bowl to scoop up the fish.
The glass bowls have broken in the van because I didn't secure them while driving.
Last summer our oldest goldfish jumped out of the bowl and died. He was my first fish when I got my Loft all those years ago.
I love our goldfish. I love how they have kept time with my life. I love that Patrick (kid's dad) has our first goldfish, still alive, almost eleven years old and the size of a baby shark.
On Friday I drove to NH and put the fish in the glass jar and something about moving him around felt different. It didn't feel like chaos, which it always has.
It felt like home.
Like my life.
Like the most beautiful blessing.
The van was piled with the puppies, the hamster cage, my plants, clothes, baby gates, the glass fish bowl, all the tomatoes from the garden. I could feel something changing. We were supposed to have a back yard bbq for Dave's friends the next morning and nothing was prepared and I wasn't stressed out. It was nine at night before I started driving home.
In the past, this is when the goldfish bowl would have broken. In the whoa-is-me-high-drama of my life.
Studying Enneagram since becoming sober has changed me this last year.
I am a Four, The Individualist.
When I first heard a Podcast with other Fours describing themselves I cried. Then listened over and over again.
This. Finally, I had a map.
From the Enneagram Institute's website ::
Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.
Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance
Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an
Key Motivations: Want to express themselves and their individuality, to create and surround themselves with beauty, to maintain certain moods and feelings, to withdraw to protect their self-image, to take care of emotional needs before attending to anything else, to attract a "rescuer."
The last few days I've been inside of the melancholy, the withholding, the moody. And. All of the ways I've wanted to lash out and react and blame and gaslight and go selfishly forth into crashing shit apart hasn't happened.
I also haven't been able to speak. I know what I want to say, but every word that tries to escape gets gobbled up by inadequacies and fear.
The retreat of my four right now is about trying to find the words without the chaos. Without going back into the old ways.
I am up against how I've taught people to treat me in the past because of my behavior and my addictions.
I've been holding myself back from all my old shit-reactions, repeating wait, wait, wait-like I do with the puppies.
I've imagined writing the first chapter of a book on my sobriety.
My partner hasn't had a drink in almost four months and the whites of his eyes are shining, glowing with healing. He is challenging everything he had set up as truth in his past.
Pretty certain he is Enneagram Two, understanding that has brought me to a whole new place of healing our relationship. Everything I've ever read about our coupling from Enneagram to horoscope to woo-woo you name it insists that we make better friends and colleagues than lovers. I'm sure it's true given our struggles, AND, we we our each other's medicine.
The patterns we set up when we were in the heart of addictive behaviors haven't just gone away.
They are being gently re-worked.
The way we see ourselves doesn't go away.
The amount of healing I've had this past year literally surpasses the healing of the last two decades of my life.
And. Now the hard part begins.
Not reacting in the same ways.
Teaching those we love who we are now.
As a four, I wanted the rescuer my whole life.
As a sober four, I realized as I drove the goldfish home (again) that the rescuer doesn't need to be called on if there isn't the chaos.
Which also means the one doing the rescuing won't have the same job any more.
The chaos of all the moving and the goldfish dramas and the fights and the obsessing and the love addictions isn't happening and I am mourning what my past self set up as truth. (Oh, and the shame, the shame is starting to melt.)
"Mom, were you a drunk?" my fourteen year old asks.
"I don't know Eli..." I start to rehearse the words to tell him that addiction is a spectrum, not black and white and that it isn't always about the amount we drink but how and why we drink or do what we do, but his words are faster than mine.
"I like hanging out with you a lot more now."
"I like it a lot more too."
Probably a chapter in my book.
If you want to chat about Enneagram or relationships or sobriety or goldfish, I'm just here on the other end of this, leave a comment like the old days.
I see you. I appreciate you. I adore you.