In this blog, teens or former teens of three Enneagram types react to the deaths of close family members. These stories are from The Enneagram for Teens: Discover Your Personality Type and Celebrate Your True Self.
Elayne, a 2-Helper and a cheerleader: ”I was the go-between and caretaker in my family when I was a child. But I didn’t do a very good job of taking care of myself. I’ve always taken things personally… I’d get my feelings hurt and burst into tears.
When I was twelve years old my mother and grandmother died in a plane crash, leaving my father to care for me and my younger brother, Lee. We moved a lot. Moving my senior year was the hardest; I had worked hard for the yearbook and newspaper positions and giving up being cheerleading captain really hurt. I had to leave old friends, start a new school, learn new routines, adjust to a stepfamily, and make new friends. I felt as if I were on the outside looking in, as if I didn’t belong anywhere.
My feeling left out and different from other people are both linked to the loss of my mother and grandmother. I floated through middle school and high school. Everything was surreal. I don’t remember much about those years. I wasn’t okay during the decade following the plane crash. My brother Lee wasn’t okay. I put up a wall so people wouldn’t know how confused and powerless I felt. I never talked about the crash to anyone, even my best friends.” —Elayne
Bob, a 4-Romantic with a talent for writing: ”I was a first child, the center of attention, and early on had the idea I was meant for special things. When my sister and brother came along, I resented the competition but never lost my sense of specialness. When I was ten, my sister died. It threw my parents into a depression and turned our house into an unhappy place. Without knowing that’s what I was doing, I started building a life outside it.” – Bob
Tom, a self-sufficient 5-Observer: “My father died when I was 12 and my mother slipped further into her alcoholism. Within two months of his death, I moved from a life of considerable affluence to one of poverty. I was essentially orphaned, even though there were some significant other adults in my life who helped me—in particular, my only living grandparent…
I always did well in school (even though my mother took no interest). Most of the friends I chose were like me: fatherless and poor. But these were fairly strong bonds. I was quite clinically depressed, although I had no idea that I was, had no idea there was such a thing as depression. I had to do everything for myself, including earning all my money for clothes, car, entertainment. I became extremely self-sufficient, the downside to that being I learned never to ask anyone for anything.
I was mostly unclear about who I was or who I was becoming. I made choices compulsively, desperately, with little or no consideration of the consequences. This quality led to a number of interesting adventures, but not much that was helpful in climbing out of the black hole of adolescence.” – Tom