september
in the company of women

the art of lighting the match

a couple of years ago, i started to hear a new term thrown around: the enneagram. like the myers-briggs designation for personality, but the enneagram shows you more who you are within your self rather than in the world. as i saw it explained somewhere, the myers-briggs is nature, and the enneagram is nurture.

after taking the enneagram test and discovering i'm a type four with a five wing, i did further reading on the topic and it all fits ... a little too neatly sometimes. i began to delve into my type and discovered that we are the most comfortable in and within our own pain and sadness. we embrace our trauma and let it roll through our life. then i saw a chart that lined up enneagrams with their most likely myers-briggs countertype, and yup ... there it was: injf.

it made me wonder: how much of our personality is determined by birth, and how much by circumstance? if the m-b is "nature," then wasn't i predisposed to my enneagram 4w5? what if i had zero trauma in my life ... would i still be a 4w5? would i still exhibit its traits if my childhood had been happy and well-adjusted and full of only good things? (full disclosure: it was not.)

when my daughter was younger, she wanted to take the myers-briggs, but read that it really wasn't accurate until after the age of 13. which makes sense; what you go through is in the dna of who you turn out to be. but who you are is who you are, right? and what about your life experiences ... what they do to you and your personality and how you are in the world can also be dealt with and undone, to some extent, can't it?

is this stuff all just hooey? (my son - an estj and likely type 8 - would say, yes ... hooey, all. any good estj would agree.)

i saw this today, and it got my brain working on all these thoughts ...

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and that didn't fully click with me.

i quit. i'm a quitter. and not only will i quit anything, everything, and everyone who makes that space of jeopardy in my soul, i will burn down the mothereffing bridge so i can't ever return. it is self-care, in a way, but i can't say i do it because i value peace. i do it because i value my sense of self-preservation. though, ultimately, i harbor regrets and wonder if i was rash - or cowardly - to make such a move.

which, if you know anything about infjs, is what we like to call "the infj door slam."

the what now?

Why INFJs Slam the Door

INFJs slam the door when they have been deeply wounded. They slam the door when they can no longer tolerate a person’s toxicity. They do it to protect themselves from further hurt.

If the door has been slammed on you, it’s because the INFJ saw no other way of stopping the emotional pain you were causing them. You may not have meant to cause the pain, but nevertheless, it’s there. People of the INFJ personality are generally quite sensitive to the words and actions of others. More so than some other personality types, they need harmony, strong emotional support, and a healthy give-and-take in their relationships to thrive.

They tend to be patient and forgiving of others’ shortcomings, but even INFJs have their breaking point. When an unhealthy relationship becomes draining and damaging, the INFJ must remove it to save their sanity. Usually the door is slammed only as a last resort.

 

ahh. right. explains why i've ghosted the vast majority of friendships, and more than a few relationships, in my life. "i'll leave you before you leave me. which you will."

and, truly, type 4s are fairly obsessive in their need to "get" why they are the way they are, to delve into their identity to figure out why they hurt, why they're lonely, why why why ...

it's exhausting, and it would be so much nicer to be another number. any number, really.

but i get it now. i'm fully in touch with the sadness in life. i'm fully conversant in catastrophizing. and i will slam that door so fast in order to self-preserve and self-care myself into a lonely little box where there's nothing left to hurt me.

god, that's depressing.

but it also segues into that growing need for community that i mentioned the other day.

more on that tomorrow.

today, i'm going to contemplate whether it's logical or fatalistic to say, "it's just who i am, and that's that" every time i wonder why people seem to disappear from my life. when i start to light that bridge on fire, i can't wonder why no one is making the effort to jump the flames to save me.

it's probably my fault for always having matches in my pocket.

Comments

Josh

Found you through the blog along, and omg I feel this so deep in my bones as a fellow infj. I feel like I too need to take this ennegram test as well. See what that says about me. Also I had never heard of the infj door slam, and oh boy that makes complete sense for why my entire adult life has felt so isolated.

Angela F

Good read, I admit I got a tad confused with it, but I know it makes sense to you and is helping your journey, so keep it up and get those matches out of your pocket. xoxo

Tamara

I think these are useful tools, these tests, and that when something in it resonates with you, then use it. I am according to the test an INTP, and I try to use the test from a point of using what works for me, and discarding the rest - because my gut tells me that there is bias in a test being tested by the people who invented it :) and that matches with what they say about us anyway :)

Lisa Andruszkow

I've tested as an INFJ too. I have slammed my share of doors.
I don't understand the enneagram part too much. I can't remember what my result was.
If I have burned any bridges, it's been out of self preservation.

This was a great post to read.

Sue Blott

A powerful read. I haven't done the ennegram test but believe I'm an infp...the p and the j were one point away. I don't burn bridges but I used to lash out at people if I sensed shifts in their attitudes towards me--I'll get to them first, right? And I hear you...it feels like self-preservation but then there are the wonderings of being rash and maybe waiting things out a little longer or investigating further. How we can torment ourselves sometimes! <3

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