in March this year.
Child Origins: A good and pretty boy who made things in order to be loved
Ever since I can remember I have always done things with the intention of earning the applause of others.
As a child, people used to say I was perfect. According to those closest to me, I was a very cute boy that not only was good, but at 5 years already chose what to wear, tied my shoe laces alone, was the flagship of the Kindergarten, sang in French, and changed the diapers of my younger siblings.
I was like this kind of doll that my parents “showed the world. My “function” was to “always make my parents look good” and I suffered a lot when I could not. From there on, I developed an extreme intolerance to disappointing others, a neurotic need to please and be liked, and, especially, a neurotic vulnerability to flattery. The worst criticism I could get was ”you let me down”.
While I perceived myself as a very emotional boy, I tried to hide my feelings (mostly negative emotions, such as rage, anger, sadness, etc.) in order not to worry my parents, who were always overwhelmed with problems. Little by little, I disconnected from my feelings, to the point of not knowing exactly what I felt.
But it turns out that the “perfect child” had a flaw: around 6/7 years, I began to stutter, a problem that was aggravated years later, not being able to issue a whole sentence when I became very anxious. Silently, I saw how my parents were tortured by this, and sometimes not so quietly. My biggest fear had come true: I had “let my parents down”. I felt that my parents wouldn’t look at me anymore because of ” my “problem”. So with only a few years, I decided I was not going to let my stuttering get in my way; I wouldn’t fall back and become a gray and withdrawn boy, much less, suffer! Quite the contrary, even knowing that it would make me work twice as hard as other children, if I could not use the word, I had to develop other skills, but people had to go back to look at me for anything.
That’s how it became necessary to be charismatic. And along with it, the thirst for applause became voracious. Over the years I learned several strategies to hide my stuttering, to the point of forgetting that it existed. And as I knew that the word was not my forte, I tried to focus people’s attention on other qualities of mine such as my body, my smile, my sympathy, my enthusiasm, my spark, my willingness, and of course, my clothes and my hair, among other “suspicious” virtues. I discovered hair products at 16, and since then they have been my faithful companions.
Thus arose my mania to show just the beautiful of my life and hide the ugly things, things that led me to self-alienation and then to living my life as if I were the protagonist of a successful Hollywood film.
How The Passion Of Vanity Affected My Adult Life
Although it may sound hard to imagine, I have to admit that all my life I’ve only looked at myself through the mirror of others, looking only at myself from the outside in, I lost my connection to myself. The need for recognition, the outside look, and, of course, the long-awaited “desire” of the other, were the compass points that guided my life since childhood. “I’m seen, therefore I am” would be my Cartesian dilemma.
My adult life was characterized by this neurosis, where being rejected, or simply not being chosen or being disliked equaled death. Obviously, my ego worked hard for this not to happen. I put so much emphasis on the outside, on the “shell,” and building a wall behind it, that I just accomplished the self-fulfilling prophecy: eventually people, tired of not being able to connect with me in a genuine and profound way, walked away from me . As fast as I got friends and lovers, they would go away as fast as they had come, because they were relating to “me” but really only to the image I projected to them (which usually was unattainable). Between four walls, the reality was very different as it was almost impossible to maintain that image 24 hours without this beginning to crack.
Unable to connect with my dark side-that “Boogie Man” I feared-I used to hide or minimize bad things that happened to me or if I told anyone about them, it was only to someone with whom I had a lot of trust. When I shared a bad experience with someone, I used to tell these things as if they were the scenes of a film that had happened to someone else. It didn’t dawn on me that what had happened was serious until someone else mirrored back to me and responded to my tragic experience. I also felt that I had nothing important to say, for other people’s problems seemed more tragic, dramatic and interesting than mine.
My self deception with respect to love made me, at age 26, fall in love as I never had before in my life, an intense, ephemeral, narcissistic love, that caught me by surprise and left me forever scarred. It was not the first time I had fallen in love-I was always very susceptible to crushes- but the intensity was as strong as an Asian Southeast Tsunami. Its aftermath lasted years and while I did contact the primal pain, I tried to escape it through workaholism, a frivolous and frantic social life, and overdoses of lightweight sex and booze which only served to push me to the pit of my empty interior, which, for lack of love-I could only fill with more applause and more desire. All this only served to complete my internal freezing. My polarities got bigger: the outside could be charming, sweet and seductive but in intimate situations I was cold, uncaring, hard and totally lacking in empathy. With a hardness and falsehood hidden under a blanket of kindness, any situation that escaped my control left me with turned corners.
Without realizing it, I became so afraid of my heart being broken that I went through life pretending not to have one.
The frantic search for ideal love drove me to promiscuity, a promiscuity I always refused and rejected (for it didn’t match with my “luminous” self-image).
Sex helped me to manipulate, control, shine, tame “beasts”, ask for favors, repay favors, protect myself, attack, feel desired, play characters, among other things. The irony of this is that I never managed to “connect” with anyone genuinely, and I rarely felt that sense of confluence one must feel in bed in achieving a true connection.
Just past the middle of my 30s, it happened to me, what I thought, it was the worst thing that could happen to me-after a peak of stress, I gained a considerable amount of weight. To my despair, I went to a doctor who prescribed me amphetamines, which created a rebound effect, and after losing 10 kilos, I gained twice as much weight. Amphetamines ruined my body. The worst of my nightmares was materializing: who was going to like me if I was fat? I thought my sex life was over. I thought I died.
But then, there’s no accounting for the neurotic “resources ” of the Ego, through research, I discovered that there were people who went crazy with desire over plump people (which was very difficult for me to understand), I started researching: Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Alec Baldwin, James Belushi, John Travolta, who were all Sex Symbols who remained as such even after they had gained a significant amount of weight significantly. People still kept seeing them attractive and seductive. For example: Who would refuse to get laid with Alec Baldwin in spite of him being overweight?
And then I decided: if was going to be fat … I would be the sexiest of fats. My Ego had won the battle.
The Transformation Process: My Experience at Claudio Naranjo’s SAT Programm
I still remember my thoughts at the end of a SAT Seminar when I had finally come to see and embrace my Three: “I’m like a cheap Easter egg, filled with frosting, candy and decorations on the outside and completely hollow on the inside.”
Let’s do a little history. The Enneagram reached me by “accident”. I had just graduated from Counseling School, I was looking for resources for my toolbox, besides the counseling Master’s degree I already had, through which to perfect myself. One day, an email from the SAT School about an Enneagram Workshop arrived in my inbox. As I have always been fascinated with the psychology of personality, I read the flyer and without hesitation, I signed up for the workshop.
I took the Protoanálisis (In Naranjo’s school, the first Enneagram workshop ) training, at which I was wrongly identified myself as a 7. Then came the first SAT I did (a seminar with a 10-day retreat, living with 90 other people) and once there, I found out that of all the traits associated with Type Seven, all I had was the enthusiasm. Thus began my journey: first I landed at the 2 as they were the “emotional” version of 7, and while I had more of 2 than 7, they had something that I had not (that feeling of being great and wonderful people, for example), I was hopeless when someone said, “Look, you draw the attention without speaking and even though you’re sitting at the bottom, you are seen.” I spent a whole night without sleeping, not only going over the notes I had taken, but reading ” Transformation Thru Insight” by Claudio Naranjo. When I read the story of “Star From far Beyond” written by the dear, late Suzy Stroke, it seemed written for me.
After very deep inner work and a long talk with Suzy, I came to realize I was a 3, an Enneatype which always generated a feeling of rejection in me. In my view, these Type 3 ladies were so “blonde” and so posh-at that time the group of 3s in the SAT workshop were all women, most of them in top-brand, white and pink tracksuits-It was difficult to recognize myself as ”a vain”, especially because I rejected that group more than any other: the excessive drama of 4 seemed to sympathetic to me; the 8s seemed exciting; the 5, enigmatic and mysterious; the 2, seductive and fun (and with that self-esteem, dammit!), but the 3 … there was something in them that put me off. Perhaps, precisely, it was seeing in them what I could not see in me. Thus began the downfall of my Ego. And I had the very sad realization that if I’m not seeing myself through the look of the other I have no ability to look at myself.
Needless to say, it was my work with the subtypes that opened a whole new range of opportunities.
The two strongest things I faced in the SAT were the meaningless of my life, which was covered over with a superficial and mundane existence, frivolity and false love, and above all, the insensitivity to abuse that I had developed with the years, due to my physical, emotional and sexual disconnection: before the abuse, I simply shrugged to avoid conflict.
As Claudio Naranjo says, “To get to heaven you must go through hell”, and I discovered firsthand why the SAT Program is known as a “Grinder of Egos.” It took a lot of work to achieve the insight involved to contact feelings I did not know I had, such as sadness, shame, devaluation, a large and especially suppressed anger and helplessness. These are the feelings of very lonely children who strive to be self-sufficient, which all 3s can contact after deep spiritual work.
But the hardest part was to discover the tremendous lack of love I had for myself.
What Was Left Behind And What Still Remains
Regarding my own transformation process, there are some things that are gone and others that are still there, since I believe that the work against the Ego never ends. For instance, I no longer feel the urge to shine and be seen. Having reconnected with my shyness, I now prefer going through life with a lower profile. And I tell you, it does not feel bad at all!
Basically I learned to see what is Gonzalo’s and what is from others, slowly recovering my authenticity. Now people see me as more sincere and above all, more human.
I think the neurotic Sexual 3 healing happens basically to put the “look” inside, because we have spent all of life looking “out” without contacting ourselves, totally alienated and out of touch with who we really are. The more we Sexual 3s gear life toward applause and recognition in the private sphere, the more unhappy and lonely we stay.
I managed also to realize the tremendous expenditure of energy it takes to maintain a character 24 hours, 365 days a year. This constant effort makes you live in a frantic agitation, unable to relax, not to mention experiencing a constant sense of panic that someone will see that your perfection is feigned.
Sex is not so much a means to an end or a tool to get things, but an end in itself. I learned to enjoy it more and not be so aware of my performance.
It still costs me a lot to achieve emotional surrender (that dreaded hell for me), but I have learned that if I give myself emotionally to another person, nothing bad happens. But little by little I’m opening myself and I realizing I’m more demonstrative and affectionate; most importantly, I try not to raise that wall of ice when people get to me closer to me than I feel is safe. Sometimes I manage and sometimes not, but now I realize.
Another thing that is still difficult for me is direct confrontation, but I’m realizing how I’m now establishing limits and trying to say things that bother me in time, instead of letting “centuries” pass and then one day I explode like a volcano erupting because of the accumulated frustration of unexpressed anger (and thus preventing the people around me to stay stiff of surprise wondering why such a nice person had became a crazed basilisk in a second).
I no longer try to fill my empty existence with a life full of frivolous and superficial activities, or look for someone else to fill my emptiness, but I seek someone to accompany me in it; someone who will wait on the other side when I contact the nothingness of my vanity.
Nor do I push the other person to mold themselves to conform my ideal image of movie, as I did before. I just take people “as they are”, with their strengths and weaknesses. And ugliness! And though while I keep having glimpses of how the ideal person should be, I take a deep breath and realize that it is just that, a fantasy of someone who does not exist that my neurosis drew in my head and that -if I kiss a toad, the toad will remain a toad and will not be transformed into a Disney Princess with whom I’ll live happily ever after in our House of Barbie.
Gonzalo Moran is a Psychological Counselor & Business Consultant who specializes in Labor Counseling and Group Facilitation. He was part of the first group of Argentine Therapists trained in AIT (Advanced Integrative Therapy). He’s Therapist, Consultant, Coach, Trainer, Group Facilitator and has taken multiple courses and personal development workshops throughout his life. Self-declared fan of the Psychology of Personality was dedicated as a consultant to study the behavior and human relations in business and institutional backgrounds and attending individuals who would consult for work/career related problems.
Gonzalo discovered the Enneagram thanks to Claudio Naranjo’s SAT Program in Argentina and since then he passionately devoted to research and learn about it. Having also studied screenwriting, Gonzalo is devoted in recent years to merge two of his passions: the Enneagram and TV shows (and now, musicals), specializing in researching and identifying the 27 subtypes in the TV series, which in future, will be part of a book. Precisely, the Enneagram Subtypes are his main domain and point of research.
He is a member of Aeneagrama-Spanish Association of Enneagram-writing for its magazine and one of the founding members of the IEA Argentina chapter.
He’s founder and director of “Dez-Struktur Counseling Psychology”, a consulting firm specializing in improving the work environment in business through experiential workshops and writes for several HR portals, plus turning his passion for writing in his blog: ¨Pobre Niño Pijo: Tribulaciones de un Tres Sexual” (Poor Cool Kid: Tribulations of a Sexual Three) www.pobreniniopijo.blogspot.com in which he writes about Enneagram, mostly focused on the 27 subtypes.