The Helper

Growing up I loved personality tests. I would take and administer them to my friends and family constantly. I was obsessed with understanding more about myself and those around me. When I discovered the Enneagram, you better believe I went down that rabbit hole. The Enneagram helped me better understand my friends, my coworkers, my family, and my spouse. It helped me understand why their personalities would change when they were stressed or relaxed, happy or sad and how our personalities clashed or complimented one another.

Perhaps the greatest gift of the Enneagram was the ability to better understand myself. I am a 2 on the Enneagram (wing 3), the Helper/Giver. Knowing this helped me understand elements of my nature: I love to host, I love to help and do things for others, and I get along with most people. It also explained my tendency to be a chameleon. At work (or in stressful situations), I take charge like an Enneagram 8 (the Challenger) because Enneagram 2s present like 8s in stressful situations. I like to perform and cross things off a to-do list like Enneagram 3s (the Achiever), which 2s can “wing” (lean) towards. When I am in a good place, I connect with myself and create beauty like an Enneagram 4 (the Romantic), which is where 2s tend to go in health.

I remember the first time I listened to Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s The Road Back to You podcast about 2s. I was in my car, commuting to Austin, and as I listened to the podcast, I sobbed. It felt like someone had read my thoughts. No one was supposed to know that I get resentful when I’ve taken on too much and don’t know how to ask for help. No one was supposed to know that I have actual feelings that get hurt but are quickly swept under the rug for fear of offending others or worse—being seen as difficult.

The basic fear of 2s is to be unloved and alone. To mitigate that fear, we tend to do and give and make ourselves of service to others in hopes that all of this giving and forgetting of ourselves will make others love us and make us indispensable. This tendency led to years of being unable to connect with my actual emotions because they felt dangerous.

The truth was that beneath my helpful, altruistic exterior was resentment and rage.

I have wondered where that rage is directed, and I think I’m actually angry at myself. Angry for having such a fear of being alone and unloved that has led to codependency and self betrayal and a life half-lived. As I’ve stepped into this New Year, I’ve been wondering what it looks like to be fully and completely known, whether or not I’m loved. What it looks like to forgo the version of myself I present to the external world and to be completely myself. To be the one loving myself. 

Lyndsey Amen Ribble lives in San Antonio with her husband and four sons (aged 5,4, 2 and 2 mos). She loves reading, writing, traveling, food (cooking it, eating it, taking pictures of it…), wine, hole in the wall anything, and forming community in unexpected places. She has a heart for bringing restoration to broken people and loving the unloved. She writes about all of these things and attempting to find balance at