October 24, 2021

 Nothing explicitly Imaginal has been happening over the past few days, although I continue to feel the hand of the mysterious entity on my left hand while I meditate. Last week was our biannual Diamond Heart retreat, held virtually over Zoom due to the pandemic. I began the retreat with mixed feelings; part of me values the Diamond Approach and recognizes its effectiveness and another part wonders if it’s time to move on. I wasn’t tempted to leave my group but was thinking seriously about dropping out of a new “deep integration” series of retreats I’ve signed up for.

A few days into the retreat, though, everything shifted and I recognized how much I still rely on the DA for doing soul work. It’s practice of inquiry, combined with the wisdom and presence of the teachers, make it invaluable.

I was reminded of this when I uncovered and at least started to work through a stubborn constellation of object relations that has been a stumbling block for me for as long as I can remember. It has roots in my relationship with my mother, although it also connects to my oedipal complex. Let me explain.

I’m a 3 on the Enneagram which means that competency is a big deal. I’ve known this for decades and have done a lot of work, metabolizing a lot of structures related to my fixation. One aspect of it has remained, though: I withhold my competency passive aggressively at key times. This shows up mostly with women who I project my mother onto (as well as, well, my mother). My mother relied on my competency (or at least the precocious version of it because what child is really that competent) - she found it reassuring, mostly because my father was unreliable in this way. He was competent but also easily distracted and would procrastinate, sometimes waiting until the very last minute to do things and often putting important projects off indefinitely.

As a Three, I do not procrastinate. I’m very efficient and finish everything ahead of deadline. In contrast to my father who never cut corners, I am known to skip certain details in order to get the job done fast. (You would never want me to be a carpenter or a chef or really any trade that requires patience, exactness and meticulousness.) I also project my sense of competency, appearing unruffled and at ease. I know my mother found this reassuring and for a long time in my childhood I relished in projecting this ‘fake’ competency in order to get what I needed from her.

This was one component in my relationship with my mother related to the oedipal complex: My mother and I merged, finding closeness that both of us needed by excluding my father. I know my father was aware of this and resented it, although he probably wouldn’t have identified it exactly.

All was not perfect in this relationship, though. I deeply resented both of my parents for not providing a safe and secure environment as a child. There were so many fault lines and hidden agendas as well as episodes of violent abuse at the hands of my father when my mother did not intervene. Consequently, I was extremely ambivalent about fully residing in my body. I felt the shock of being catapulted from the safety and attunement of Being (and, if you believe my retrieved memories from a past life, a previous life where I was secure and valued). This new life in my contemporary family was severely lacking and I suffered severe depression and anxiety as a result.

One way I expressed my ambivalence about being fully embodied was by developing this competency shell. I developed this shell, this simulacrum of competency, partly as a defense. I didn’t want to fully commit to being embodied so I faked it, created a shell and hid behind it.

And then there’s the contempt.

I felt contempt (a form of hatred) for anyone who believed the lie of my competency shell. I hated them for narcissistic reasons and out of hurt as well. I hated them for not seeing the real me but hated them more for not taking care of the real me. Anyone with half a brain could have seen that a kid can’t really be competent at anything for a very long time. Also, anyone with half a brain could have seen that my environment was hostile, not a safe place for a child or to grow up. I grew up stunted and hateful as a result.

As an adult, this competency shell stuck with me. For a long time, I poured energy into trying to maintain the shell but it stuck around even when I stopped consciously putting energy into it.

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