Core Relapse Wound—I Do Not Deserve nor need Love, you do!

When the Two enters recovery he is driven by the heart-breaking feeling that he has lost contact with all love, that he lives in a love-empty world, and that he himself is utterly beyond being loved. This is his core fear and what drives all his desperate attempts to connect with others. He utterly believes (although unconsciously) that his needs or negative feelings will destroy his relationships—meaning he will be unloved and disposed of if he has needs. This is the very real and impossible predicament of the Two. At his core is the wish to feel unconditionally loved and to live in a world of deeply felt connection with others. His motives are good, always, but his suffering obscures his clarity about how to return home. So how does the Two survive in the early difficulty of recovery? Run by his tremendous need to be needed and indispensable, and clearly in the grip of his basic fear come true—I  am unworthy of love, just look at the results of my life, it’s a disaster—he must find a way to anchor some safety for himself. Because of his innate and acute sensitivity to the suffering of others he will play the role of the helper/savior to those he can. With his therapist he will notice his therapist’s unfulfilled needs as a father to his son, and will morph into the son who needs dad, or who plays the good boy who adores dad (the therapist). He will compliment him on his great work (ingratiating himself to the therapist), inflating what he does well, seeking to fill the ego-family wounds of the therapist

Deep Wound/Relapse Pattern of the Type One:

Core fears—of being unlovable, unworthy of love, unwanted and not needed.

Key Commandment: You must care for the needs of others to have a place in the world.

Deep Wish: of being loved unconditionally by others, of being deeply connected with those they love.

Sees himself—as always loving, kind, considerate, generous, without any negative motivations towards others.

At Level 4 and below he falls prey to the Emotional Habit of Pride in which he attends to everyone else’s needs to the exclusion of his own. He perceives that he doesn’t have needs. His Mental Habit of Ingratiation, in which he is continually thinking about others, worrying about them, and thinking of ways to make myself indispensible to them. His Inner Critic tells him he is only good when he is thinking, doing, and considering others, otherwise he is selfish. He cannot ask directly for what he needs.

The Two, acutely attuned to sensing the suffering of his own family and driven to heal it, unconsciously utilizes this gift to survive. He will see the suffering of others and try to heal it. He will think about the wounds of others (the mental habit of ingratiation) and how he might help them. He attempts to alleviate his own suffering and family members by alleviating their suffering. (Remember his emotional habit of Pride: I have no needs, only to help you.) He will bring gifts, cards, and little things to others that he learns his therapist likes, or friends or partners like. (When healthy, he gives because it simply feels good and he has little need to be reciprocated, no strings attached. He loves giving and reminding others that they are special.)

Be certain of this: For the Two to fail at their mission to be the loving one who creates love all around him, is death. And death means that his worst fear, which he already is in the grips of—I am not loveable and will be disposed of—will be continue to be his reality.  Very quickly as he attends AA/NA meetings, he will notice the wounded soldiers, usually women, who need support, kindness, and caring. This he can provide. He sees Evelyn, who’s got three kids, has lost her job, the dad vanished into the wilderness of his addiction, and he feels her suffering (this is his gift—sensing and feeling empathy for the suffering of others). He can help her, he can ease her pain. Never mind that his own wife has left him, that he’s not seen his kids in several years—here in front of him is an immediate need that he can respond to. Of course he doesn’t have a job either, and is struggling with his own addictions (especially with his dominant relapse issue of becoming involved too quickly in recovery with unhealthy women, and inevitably relapsing when things go don’t’ go well.)

But how can he deny the palpable tugging at his heart, translated as I’m needed, I can help, I will create love, I will make this person feel loveable, I will rescue her, while simultaneously unaware of his needs? Alone in early recovery he feels utterly heart-broken and empty. Moving in the direction of love or contact makes him feel better, temporarily. Sitting in his loneliness feels like the wrong thing to do. And Two’s are doers. “See a need and fill it” is their motto. Tommy, a type Two, explained it this way:

“When I came into recovery from addiction all I could see on my perceptual screen, screaming at me, were the needs of others. That’s what I’d learned to see and of course, even though my life was a mess, I immediately reached out to help everyone I could, whether I had the true resources to help them or not—I didn’t—and relapsed numerous times when I tried to save a woman from her addiction. Often I chose someone who was so wounded that I wouldn’t be rejected. I imagined I could love them back to health. Unfortunately this was precisely the sort of person who would not be able to stick with me. In the moment it filled the terrible hole of feeling unlovable and unwanted. As I got healthier, I chose healthier partners, but the drive to be the one who helps others in distress has driven me throughout my fifteen years of recovery and has had a sometimes horrid impact. If I’m always giving, there’s no way anyone can reach me with love. See, I have this slippery thing called pride, that is, I learned as a little boy to make myself feel like I was better than other kids because I didn’t need or want certain kinds of attention or nurturing, and because I had this sensitivity no one else had. I got attention and accolades for being kind and generous, and this is how I learned to make a place for myself amongst my peers. After getting sober I continued to hone this role so perfectly that I was unable to really express what I needed from my wife, be it loving attention, or a better sexual relationship, or honest communication about how I really felt. Instead I prided myself on how much I was always trying to help her, while at the same time, harboring anger and resentment towards her. Eventually not addressing these dynamics led me to a serious illness where I was forced to open up and speak my heartfelt truth. I had to tell the truth regarding suppressing what I wanted, feel the anger and rage, walk through the feelings of being selfish, to truly get in contact with real love and heartfelt authenticity.”

First Shock of Recovery—Embracing the Shadow

The breakthrough for the Two begins when the Two begins to see that his actions do not match his fantasy of himself, or his self-image of “I am always loving, compassionate, caring, generous, and attune to the suffering of others.” When he is healthy, his behaviors match his self-image more often, but when addicted, the shock for the Two is to become aware of how he is frequently manipulating others by giving too much of himself, giving out of fear of abandonment, giving to secure a place with others, and giving intrusively (thinking he knows what others need) without asking other’s permission. Thinking of himself as always loving, he will be horrified to see how often in his despair that he was secretly hateful, mean-spirited, or outright manipulative in his attempt to keep and hold contact with others (Of course, everyone has these impulses, it’s called being human, but there is no room for ‘humanness’ for the Two). Worse yet, he will see his ego in action: he begins to see glimpses of his pride, seeing himself as more attuned and more loving than others, his superiority a cover for shame, unworthiness, and sadness. He will see, with shock, the times he has lied to look loving, or to please someone, or to keep someone close to himself. And the biggest lie, and most painful to bear, is to see how often he abandoned his own heart and left himself out of the equation, treated himself with hatred. All of this will greet him at the door of addiction recovery, and will be the true gauntlet he must navigate.

Feeling the full brunt of his shame, self-rejection and heartbreak (I am not worthy of love) he will begin to notice the desperate attempts he makes to escape these feelings by going on a rescue mission to save another human being, looking for love in the gaze of another, feeling lonely and ashamed and meaningless without it. He will begin to see the results of his addictive haze, he trying to connect and find love with the exact individuals who would surely reject him or use him. And then he will come face to face with the deeper inner critic message that has run him ragged: “You are unlovable. This is your reality—you are unwanted. Even when they appear to love you, you know you are unworthy of their kindness.” (Note: The inner critic always lies.) The bar has been set high: being loving means not having negative feelings towards other people (like anger or frustration); only kindness is permitted. Being close to others means that if others reject me then there is something wrong with me, and I must reach out to them to make them like me.

He begins to notice that he continually monitors the responses of others to see if he’s passed the test of being loved and wanted, or rejected by them. Seeing how he is constantly on trial in the eyes of his inner critic will be ongoing work for him in recovery. The first glimpse of it will lay him low with shame but with continued efforts to see his self-judgment mechanism without judging himself for it, he will begin to dismantle the marching orders that have been driving him.

Suggestions for the Two

1. Begin to listen to your heart.

Type Two kids develop a “pride” in not needing love. It’s as if they say to themselves, “If I shut off my need for love, it won’t hurt so much.” That is, having shut off and numbed themselves from the love they hunger for, they develop an ego stanch wherein they pride themselves on not needing anything. They give themselves a weird psychological reward for not feeling their heart’s desires. It’s as if silently they say to themselves, “I’m good because I don’t have needs.” Your job in recovery is to reverse this habit and start listening to your heart with the same intensity and compassion that you attune to the hearts of others.

2. Begin to notice that when you listen to your needs, the Inner Critic slam dunks you with the message “You are selfish and unworthy.”

You can observe this dynamic in yourself when you hear yourself thinking or saying, “Hey, I don’t need a thing. But I see that you have needs. Let me help you. But I don’t have those needs (because I shut them off as a kid, I had to). That would be selfish of me. I can see that you have needs and I will attend to them. I can help you because I feel it in my heart—my heart feels your heart. And because I am sensitive and intuitive and can read your heart, I am compelled to move in and help, wanted, needed or asked for, or not.

Does this make sense (hello in there!)? You don’t have needs, you’re the only one without needs, but others have needs? As you allow yourself to “feel” your needs you will begin to feel the suffering your Inner Critic has caused you—shaming you to shut down your awareness of your heart. You must learn to bear this and step forward courageously into your very powerful heart, that longs for contact with you.

3. Begin to notice that you do experience resentment and anger from giving too much of yourself.

If the Two has developed rigidity around the role of helping he might noticing himself thinking: I am the Mother force of the Universe, the good and loving nurturer of all. If you don’t notice it soon I’m going to have to punish you or at least collect the debt you owe me.” This would be an example of the resentment that builds up in the Two stuck in the giving-all-the-time trap. Resentment is a signal to yourself that you need to listen to. It suggests that you’ve lost contact with your own real needs and in reaction to this, are trying to manipulate others into helping you, rather than being direct about what you need. In fact, you are likely getting angry at others because they haven’t properly “mind-read” your needs. Give them a change, tell them directly.

4. Notice your tendency to not ask directly for what you want.

Twos notice that they don’t seem to have permission to ask directly for what they want. To their Inner Critic this is “selfish.” So, if the Two is in need of love and support he has to smuggle this need past his Inner Critic in the form of a gift, concern or care for someone else. Instead of saying it out loud to those he cares about, “Hey, please love me, help me with my suffering, see what is lovable in me,” he goes indirect and buys his loved one a card, or volunteers to give her a massage, or tries to provide the loved one the support that he actually needs. That way, he didn’t ask for it and can’t be accused of selfishness by his Inner Critic. But in his darkest hour he might say, “Hey, I give love to all these people, and they barely see me. What’s with that? What am I doing wrong? I don’t get it.” And this is a question well worth examining. Sometimes, it is the way in which the Two seeks to make connection with others that is veiled and confusing for the designated recipients. And sometimes those they seek to love are not worthy of their efforts, and this is critical for Twos to ascertain.

5. Learn to endure the guilt you feel when you ask for what you want.

This is a big one for the Two and means being willing to sit with the guilt until it touches your heart. Then, you will begin to experience the suffering you have endured under the weight of guilt run wild. Guilt is the signal that your Inner Critic sends you, threatens you with when you take care of yourself, or say no to others when you need space or time, or refuse to spend time with those who disregard you, or take time to simply express your creativity while not allowing others to intrude on this time. The Inner Critic, committed to holding you in the role of the one-who-gives-too-much, says, “You are guilty, bad, selfish!” Your instruction: walk through it, feel how it hurts your heart. Don’t buy into the message. Let compassion arise and touch you.

6. Realize this: you must learn to ask for help if you are to stay clean, sober and happy.

This is the heart and soul of your recovery: to put yourself first until you know what it means to receive love, direction, attention, and actually get comfortable with it. And this will be your hardest lesson. However, know in advance, the road to recovery and freedom will require you, over the next 20 plus years, to know when you need help and to ask for it. And to notice that when you are in need of real help, your first inclination is to disassociate from this need and project it onto someone else: they need help. As one of my mentors said to me, “You must learn to become an expert in asking for help if you are ever to truly help another. This is called healthy “selfishness,” or doing whatever it takes to heal, reside in, and trust your heart.

7. Begin to notice that part of you believes you cannot get healthy unless others get healthy with you.

Beloved Two, you cannot love others into sobriety and you must give yourself permission to recover and thrive and leave those behind who are not ready or are unable to get clean and sober. You are not guilty if you recover. This “recovery guilt” can destroy you (You are not the only Type susceptible to this—hello Six’s.). You help no one if you don’t get sober and remove yourself from those who are not interested.  Unconsciously there is the belief that if you get sober and thrive, that you can’t do this unless those you love recover with you. You must confront this illusion with clarity and ruthless awareness: If you get sober you become a living example to those who are trying to get sober. This is your gift of hope to them. But, if you try to get a loved one sober, you will sacrifice your sobriety, and your true gift to others. You must face a dilemma that everyone in addiction recovery faces. If you get healthy, learn to take care of yourself, learn lessons of healthy “selfishness” you will by necessity leave other unhealthy significant others behind (friends, relatives, lovers, spouses). That’s reality! At some point you will have to say goodbye to your unhealthy partner and this will feel like abandoning your very own soul. You will imagine that you are inflicting the soul-wound you received on your partner. Here, the temptation for the Two is to do self-harm to himself and sacrifice his freedom and sobriety for the loved one, and stay drunk. The Two must face this serious question: Am I worthy of a relationship with someone who is capable of loving me back, and who is willing to face his demons straight on?

8. Notice how often you fall prey to this core pattern.

If the Two lost the love he needed as a kid, and learned he wasn’t going to get it at home, then some part of the Two had to give up, and compensate. Perhaps, what many Twos report, they became super-givers to their care-givers, to the very ones they needed love from (Go figure. Instead of being outraged by the neglect they experienced, they felt bad for their caregivers. Where are the Fours when you need them?). Their unconscious motto became, “Maybe if I love them enough, they might throw me a crumb of love. What do I have to lose? I’ll prove my worth. I’ll earn the love I need.” And off they went, trying to create the love they wanted with their unhealthy parents and settling for crumbs. Begin to notice every day how this core message shows up in your life, and how you act it out with those who you are in relationship with, sometimes choosing people who are only capable of giving you crumbs of affection.

9. Become aware of your pride.

The bottom line description of pride is captured in Thich Nhat Hahn’s words, “Pride is the unwillingness to admit our own need and suffering.” There are layers to this. The first layer is the fact that the Two may not be able to sense their own need and suffering and believes that they don’t have emotional pain or suffering that needs attention. The second layer is that if the Two brings attention to their needs, they will feel the horrid guilt of “selfishness.” The third layer is that if the Two speaks of their suffering no one will notice and they will be deeply wounded by rejection, the thing they are wired to avoid. Much easier to reach out to help another, and play it safe. Problem is, as most individuals in recovery know, unless others lend you their compassionate eyes to see your addiction patterns, you will relapse over and over again. Saying “I’m fine” when you are not is a form of suicide and self-pity. Drop it now!

10. You must develop habits of self care.

This simply means exercising regularly—be it yoga, aerobics, dance, etc., learning to take the time to develop quiet mind (which means developing a solo practice of meditation), taking necessary time alone to explore your creativity and your capacities. You are challenged to develop the internal sensitivity for when you are in need of support, or have over-spent your energies on everyone else.  This means planning time for yourself, and creating the time and space to explore you and your needs.

11. Learn to identify Ingratiation, your habit of mind.

Here’s how this can work for the Two: when they are stressed out and feeling vulnerable to loss of love, instead of saying this out loud, calling a spade a spade, instead they may compliment you as a means of creating a connection, or shower you with praise or affirmation, call out something positive about you, turn your attention towards something great about you. They go into people-pleaser mode. It’s as if they say to themselves, “No matter what, I must be pleasing to you so I’m going to do my best to inspire you to feel positive about me by flattering and pleasing you, by affirming what’s good about you, rather than addressing my real feelings.” The Two does not see himself doing this, it happens faster than a speeding bullet, and is as seamless as the air he breathes. In the grips of this unconscious habit he will take the heat off himself perhaps avoiding feeling that he’s angry as hell or deeply hurt by you, or scared of abandonment.  Via ingratiation he showers positive energy on to you to keep the connection between the two of you.

Likewise, the habit of ingratiation operates in the Two such that he is continually thinking about his loved ones, what they are needing, how they are feeling, whether they need support, all the while missing the experience of the moment, and missing the experience of himself. This chattering “Dear Abby” mind takes him away from his own needs and feelings which if not attended to will lead to addiction relapse.

12. Spend time alone with yourself such that no one can interrupt you with their wishes or demands.

Twos share that one of the ways that they learn to listen to their own heart is when they take time, solitude, for themselves, where they can listen to their needs and put themselves first without outside interference. In this time of solitude, one hour per day if you can manage it, your task is to not bring your attention to the needs of others, not fill your thought stream with worry and compassion thoughts for others, but to keep bringing your attention back to your heart, to what you need, what you want, what is moving inside of you. This necessary time alone will give you the space you need to listen to you.

So, here’s the drill. You schedule an hour for yourself. You let loved ones know this. You do not, under any circumstance, open the door to the room of your solitude regardless of the needy heart on the other side, do not answer phone calls, and do not look at emails. Do not. You draw a line in the sand of your heart and clearly state that if anyone intrudes, they die. That’s what’s at stake here.

Parting Thoughts for the Big-Hearted Two

Let’s face it, this is the most difficult task. If you were a type Eight, piece of cake, baby, piece of cake. But as a Two, the second you get a whiff of a loved one in need, your body is out of the chair, in motion moving towards the loved one, before your brain and your consciousness can catch up. It’s so automatic even the angels weep. But you, brave one, are so deeply committed to changes that will truly allow you to touch people at depth, that you march thru this sacred doorway. And what you will face, in your efforts to stand strong for this 60 minute, 3,600 second time of self-nurturing, will be your hateful Inner Critic, who will raise up and scream, shout, taunt you with, “You are selfish. You are selfish. You are really selfish. You are hurting everyone with your selfishness. They need you, and yet you turn away into your selfish desires. Shame on you!” And if that doesn’t work, out comes the big guns, saying, “You will be abandoned by everyone you love. If you don’t get up and help them, anticipate their needs, heal their aching heart, you will be utterly left to die on the street, abandoned and disconnected from everyone you love.”

Well geez, no wonder you launch out of your seat or leave your chosen activity in a heart-beat. And truth be known, you’ve trained people to respond to your I-will-help-you-at-any-time-you-even-hint-you-need-me, invitation. Skillfully, you will re-train them because you’ve engaged on a new experiment, and you do have the knowledge and courage to withstand the horror that your Inner Critic is willing to dump on you. And slowly, slowly, slowly, you will disengage from this mechanism, your Pet Robot, as you continue your commitment to this very powerful edge of growth. As you do so, the intensity of the guilt and shame generated from your Gremlin/Inner Critic will actually quiet till one day, they are merely passing mosquitoes buzzing in your ear. Oh comes the can of Raid, and they are gone! You can do this because at depth your heart is heroic and strong.

And make sure you surround yourself with a few dear soul who hold your feet to the fire when you abandon yourself, because you will (until you don’t), and who bring you back to listening to that precious heart of yours. Alright, game on! And remember the wonderful words of one of my mentors: “Michael, people want to help others way too soon, before they’ve developed the art of asking for help. You must learn what true spiritual selfishness is. This means learning to find the best help available for yourself that will produce the most profound transformation and liberation for you. Learn the art of asking for true help, Sky Walker, and when the time is right, you’re giving will touch others ten times deeper than you’re unskilled, impatient helping.”

Try This, If You Dare     

Dear Two, try this for one week, just to develop your sense of humor. Each time someone appears to need help, do not respond. Do not offer help. Simply walk by and ask yourself what it is you need. Be utterly selfish if you dare. If someone asks for help, just for one week, reply, “Sorry, I’m fasting from helping people as I’ve gained over-help-fat on my soul and it’s slowing down my real ability to love. So sorry, Charley.”

You get the picture!


Michael Naylor, M.Ed, CCPC, LADC, CCS, is a faculty member of the Enneagram Institute, a Certified Professional Coach, an Authorized Riso-Hudson Enneagram Teacher, and IEA accredited teacher, and a Licensed Addictions Therapist. He teaches in the U.S.A and coaches internationally.