A Vast Array of Enneagrams on Vacation


Tricia: Okay. So, I want to talk about this. Right before the whole world shut down, we went on a cruise. Rob’s family, my family, our parents – the whole crowd. We call ourselves the Great Eight, and we went on a cruise together. When we got on the ship it was safe to cruise, and when we got off the ship it was no longer safe.

Rob: We barely made it.

T: Oh my gosh, yes. Just under the wire. And then we went to Disney World the next day – which, also, right under the wire.  We were basically shutting down the country. It’s like we got into the ark just in time, and we were the last animals allowed in the ark.

R: Like they were pulling up the bridge.

T: Exactly. So we got a lot of good quality family time on the trip, and a lot of good conversations. One evening, we were at our table in the dining room, and I believe it was you who posed the question, Rob. You said, “What is your enneagram number, and based on that Enneagram number, how can we love you best in this family? What do you need from the rest of us, based on that?” So we start going around the table with our answers.

Now, we have a vast array of numbers among the eight of us, even among my young sons. I mean, technically you’re not supposed to diagnose yourself until you’re in your twenties, but my guys have been exposed to this dialogue enough that even they feel at this point that they know what they are. So, we talked through our numbers.

Now, I’m a two. I’m such a two. I’m such a two that I almost don’t have a wing. Like I’m so mainstream two that I’m right down the middle of the road. It’s a little crazy. The two is known as the helper, and twos tend to be chronically codependent. We don’t know how to use our own voices, and we can get so caught up in meeting the needs of other people that we don’t pay attention to what we actually need.

I’m guilty of that, especially on this cruise ship vacation. I felt so many things. I have to make sure everybody is accounted for. What are the kids doing? What are our parents doing? What are Rob and Kate doing? How can I make sure that everybody is getting the snacks that they need? I get carried away, not paying attention to the fact that, first of all, nobody asked me to do that. Secondly, I’m exhausting myself by chasing all these people around.

Rob: You were well on your way to needing a vacation from your vacation.

Tricia: Oh, totally. To-tal-ly. And, might I say? A little jealous of you, who definitely knows how to vacation well.

Rob: [Laughing]

Tricia: You know how to be like, “welp, peace out, girl scouts. I’m going to go get a massage, so I hope you’re all good.” And I’m just like chasing everybody around with my little dust pan of heart crumbs. I’m like, okay, you good? You good too? Okay, let me make sure everybody’s all settled!

Rob: Chasing everybody around! (laughing) I literally am picturing you on the deck of the ship, running after everybody with a dustpan and broom, saying, “I’ve got you! I’ve got you! You good? Whatever you leave behind, I got it!”

Tricia: Right!  Like, I’ll hold it for you! I’ve got it! I’ve got you! Meanwhile, my brother is like, “Hmmm? What? Is there a problem? Seems like everyone’s okay. Tricia’s got this covered.”

Rob: Oh, I was fine! So fine! There’s people for that.

Tricia. Right. It’s Me. I’m the person.

Rob: Well, part of why we chose a cruise vacation for the whole family is because we knew there would be something for everyone to do. All ages. You could do nothing, or you could do something, all the time. That’s why we picked it. So I was just kind of like, everybody has their wristband, we are all basically stuck here, and so if we need to meet up, we have a way to do that. But you were much more making sure that everybody was making the most of their time and being taken care of.  Which, honestly, Tricia, I’m a little jealous of that. You are jealous of me and my ability to just do my own thing, to turn it off and be on vacation. And I am jealous of your ability to go deep with any individual very quickly. You care so much about the individuals that you spend time with, family or beyond. I’m actually a little jealous of that ability in you, because… well, I just am. Jealous may be the wrong word. But I appreciate it.

Tricia: Well, I’m glad I brought it up, then. Goodness. I just showed up for the affirmation today. So, thank you.

Anyway, I said at our dinner conversation, “Listen, you know what I need for you to do? I need for you to ask me what I need, and then require me to give you an answer. I will always believe that your needs are more important that mine, and I will wear myself to the ground. So I need for you to require me to be accountable to my own needs.”

Dad is a Four, so he is a romantic. He loves to create big moments and big memories. He loves to pose us in photos so we will capture the moment. If Dad has motto for our time together, it’s “Make a memory.” So he said, “can you just let me be that way? I know how it is, I know that I’m creating this all the time, but can you just let me? I need to create the moment. Just let me have it.”

Mom is a Nine, and a nine is a peacemaker. So she was like, “Hey, can you guys just get along? If everybody could just get along, it’ll be fun for me.”

Rob and I both married similar personalities, a male and female version of the same person. Kate and Peter are both Eights, and eights are right-fighters and justice seekers – and GREAT people to put in charge. Both Kate and Peter are quick to tell us, “This family needed us. This family needed somebody to wave the banner high and say, ‘Good gracious, you guys. Get your poop in a group and just follow us. You do not know what you’re doing.”

A classic example of this is when we went on a different family vacation – San Diego or San Francisco, somewhere in California.

Rob: Yes. I was just going to bring this up. Keep going.

Tricia: We decided we were going to go to the ocean. We packed up our stuff, we got in the car, and we headed out to find the ocean. And… I’m embarrassed to say, and it is absurd… but we couldn’t find the ocean. [ Laughing ] And your sweet wife was in the car like, “Wait. Are you kidding me?”

Rob: Yes, like, “Are you serious right now? It’s the blue on the map. Zoom out on the map. There’s a whole bunch of blue. That’s ocean.”

Tricia: We were in California! Everything to your left is ocean! How can you not find it? But we didn’t. And finally we were like, “Well, we’ve been driving around for an hour and a half… let’s Plan B it. Let’s go to the zoo.” And we get to the zoo only to realize that their hours for that day closed at 1:00. So we paid like fifty dollars a person to be there for like forty minutes.

I mean, honestly. If ever a family needs somebody to be in charge, it’s us. We need Kate, and we need Peter. So at this dinner conversation on the cruise ship, both Peter and Kate were like, “Yes. If you guys would just let us be in charge, everything will be better for everyone.” They were in agreement: We’ve got this thing. Just surrender. How can we love them well? Let them be in charge. That’s best for everyone.

So then we come to my brother, who is an Enneagram Seven. Sevens love to have fun, and that’s all they love to have. That’s all they like to have. If it’s not fun, they are out. So my brother said, “You know what? I don’t like to talk about sad things. I don’t like to do that. So, I don’t really want to do that, and so I’m not doing that.”

Kate said, “That’s so weird that you would even say that, because I can’t even think of a time when we’ve talked about sad things.”

“Yeah, that’s because I don’t,” Rob said. “I won’t do it. I don’t like to talk about sad things. I’m not good in the space, and I don’t want to do it.”

Okay, that’s fair.

I mean, we’re on vacation, so let’s keep it light for Rob. He’s not here to do mission statements and family grief therapy. He’s here to have a good time….

~ ~ ~

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(My brother makes me laugh.)

Tricia Lott Williford

Comments are closed

  1. Are you sure you’re not a 9? Nine is about more than just peacemaking– it (like 2) is all about understanding others’ needs SO THAT you can find the peace of knowing everyone having fun /taken care of/ etc.

  2. Hey Tricia, after I listened to your podcast mentioning enneagrams, my husband Dan and I took the tests —- my tops are his bottoms — so we knew that, but it was so good to have it affirmed. We balance each other and that is a good thing! Believe me, I need someone to balance me! I loved hearing about your family cruise trip. I hate cruises( I have my reasons!) but I loved hearing about people that love them. So funny hearing about your caretaking on the ship – ha! p.s. I am a 7,3, and my husband is a 5, 4. I think we all need to find out what we are so we can communicate well with others since this seems to be the “in thing”. Loving your podcasts! You two click well!

  3. Uh, what is an enneagram?

  4. Love it! Having spent a weekend with most of your family I heard every word of this post in their own voices – even Rob’s, thanks to the podcast. You are all terrific and I am thankful for your various degrees of presence in my life.

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