If you haven’t already read “Approval Addiction part 1,” you might want to go check out my brief overview of the Enneagram and the background of this post. I wanted to split up my Enneagram Two thoughts into two posts because this set deals specifically with me as a “Two” mom. Like I said before, I have always struggled with pleasing others. I have high anxiety and fear and shame about disappointing others. It will always be something that I battle. It will always be something that I will daily hand over to God. That said, the shame of not being enough has been tripled lately with the addition of my 3 beautiful children.
The whole having kids thing, especially three at a time, means that all I want to do and think I can do is take care of them (and all of the other people in my life). Then, I have no time left to take care of myself. I feel so much pressure to take care of them and everyone else around me all at the same time, and I am exhausted from my inability to be everything for everyone all the time. The beautiful thing is that I do not need to be everything or even half of the things that I place on myself. Believing that I am enough is hard, but identifying the lies buried deep down and speaking truth over them, is the first step. Writing down my thoughts in this blog has helped give me freedom to believe them. I re-read these thoughts regularly. Usually my head is filled with others’ feelings and emotions so writing and re-reading this blog helps me remember truth and my true thoughts and feelings.
Just like the last post, many of these thoughts may resonate with you even if you are not a Two on the Enneagram. Many mothers and females in the church feel anxiety over being a helper as they try to balance all that life calls them to be and do. We are being told by so many people and places exactly what our lives need to look like. We are told that our role is to support and be in the background and not lead.
I hope that you also find truth and freedom as you read as well.
Please tread cautiously and graciously as you enter into my thoughts for the next few minutes. Recognize that this is difficult for me, and that I am just beginning to figure out how to break free from them.
Thought #1: Before kids I had time to be an unhealthy Two, running around taking care of everyone, needing to be needed, creating this web of support where I was validated and lifted up for my helpfulness. Now with the kids, I just don’t have the time. So I’m running around trying to patch these holes that are just constantly dripping with water, and it’s impossible to help them all. I’m so afraid that one will burst open and it will be my fault. And in reality they are bursting. I will always love taking care of others, doing ministry, mentoring, and reaching out. There is a healthy way to take care of people. In order to get there, I have to realize that I am not the savior. I love being a Two. I love that I genuinely enjoy serving, mentoring, teaching, being a mom, and giving of myself. Those things bring me life and will always fill me with joy and purpose. I love that I am good at seeing a need and knowing what to do. I love that I am an encourager. I don’t want to ever lose that piece of me. However, I need to let go of the lie that everyone needs me in order to rebuild and regain life and purpose in knowing that Jesus is the one that speaks through me. I am nothing without Him. He should fight for me. I need to be still and quiet and let Him use me instead of me trying to use Him as my excuse to be loved and needed. My ministry will be even stronger when I realize that I am not the savior, Jesus is the savior. I am not that important. But in humility and with confidence I can have a ministry that involves vulnerability, empathy, and boundaries.
Thought #2: I have 20 texts right now, and it is physically painful to not look at them and respond right now because someone might need me, and I wasn’t able to help them. But if I sit and respond right now, I take away time from my family. They suffer when I keep trying to plug all of the holes and take care of everyone around me. I have to push against the urge to be needed. Saying yes to others often means saying no to my family.
Thought #3: Derek said one small thing that I needed to do, and I lost it because I failed to anticipate that need before he voiced it. I already feel like I am drowning, and when Derek says something that even remotely sounds like disappointment, I lose it. I panic. I just can’t do it all. That pressure to be all things, doesn’t come from Derek though. It comes from myself. In fact, if I said “Derek, I can’t do that small thing right now.” He would say, “That’s totally fine! We can deal with it later.” Why do I put so much pressure on myself?
Thought #4: I’m learning more and more recently that often the feelings that I have are not my own. It’s really hard for me to identify my feelings and how I feel when people are hurting around me. I feel their feelings so strongly that I think they are mine. And sometimes they are. When I’m around my kids, it’s even harder for me to identify my real feelings. They are always needy, so my feelings are often about them or for them. It’s really hard to express my personal needs because my brain is so full of their needs.
Thought #5: Derek regularly asks me a simple question (like where to put something or what do I want to eat) and my response is a panicked – “I don’t know!” I am a terrible multi-tasker. With 3 kids, I am constantly doing at least 4 things at a time and my brain is so full. Even the simplest question seems impossible, especially if it’s about myself or my needs or my feelings. I have found that calmly saying, “Can you write that question down?” or “Can you ask me again in a few minutes after I have finished the task at hand?” helps tremendously.
Thought #6: Shepherd bit another student at school. I cried and had a panic attack about him going back to school the next day. I want to please everyone and with kids it’s exhausting because I can’t control what they do. I now disappoint people through my kids. It’s a whole new level of balance and letting go. I want to be able to control how they act. I don’t want people to be disappointed in me because of what they do. I want them to be kind so badly, but I can’t force it. And I’m mad at myself for getting so anxious and stressed about it and feel like a burden in that too. I’m still working on the solution to this one. But identifying it is the first step. I have a feeling that I will circle back to this one in another post soon, so stay tuned and please pass along any wisdom that you have found helpful!
Thought #7: I don’t have trouble asking for help and receiving help when I ask. Because in that, I still have control. But when someone offers help that I haven’t asked for our just helps and sees a need that I didn’t see, it’s much harder and I feel guilty that maybe I missed their needs and can’t help them.
Thought #8: I can let people help if it in turn blesses them or helps someone else. And if I take care of myself, it must be to immediately bless someone else. The truth is that it’s ok to just take care of myself. It’s not selfish to do things simply because they bring me life. In fact, I’m much better at taking care of those that I love after taking care of myself.
I have an inner voice constantly telling me that I am not enough, a failure, and unlovable. Telling this voice to shut up does not help. Speaking gently and confidently to it does. I legit tell it to step down, stop talking, and walk away. Then I speak truth into those areas. Brene Brown says it perfectly in Gifts of Imperfection: “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone. I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” (Page 125 if you are interested.)
I have been asked by several people for the Enneagram resources that I have used. Here are my favorites:
The Road Back to you
Annie Downs with Beth McCord – Overview of the Enneagram
Jen Hatmaker with Ian Cron– Overview of the Enneagram
The Enneagram Journey by Suzanne Stabile – very detailed and every episode that I have listened to has been amazing
The Road Back to You – The authors of the book also have a podcast that is really helpful