I love the idea and feeling of having a connection with the inner child in me. Certain therapists and writers focus a lot of their recovery on the ‘inner child of the past’. There are the archetypes of the wounded child, the divine child, the soulful child and the magical child. Our inner child holds in our body and cells the unconscious memory of all that happened to us in our early years.
Childhood represents a time we were open to everything. Many of us were connected to the world in a deep or magical way, we may have sensed the presence of spirits, we may have observed things and situations with a state of awe and questioning which was open and then we may have been many times been met with the shut down world of adults, telling us we didn’t see something, or must hug the uncle we don’t like or feel safe with, or that ‘the sky is actually not purple, why didn’t you paint it blue?” Such things are confusing to a lot of young ones and get them to question their perceptions or natural creativity, or sense of connection and openness.
I know in my own emotional recovery process a few years into sobriety discovery of my inner child and working with a therapist who helped me to understand certain key impacts of traumas that occured in childhood helped me to make so much sense of why eventually I sought relief in drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. I also understand now, why I retreated to my room to write poetry and into music which expressed things that my ultra conservative and very hard working parents would not have understood and actually poked fun at. I remember too, my personal diaries and letters were never safe from the boundary invasions of my mother who read them. When I was only about 6 she read in a note that I had said I was in love with my first childhood sweetheart Peter Woolridge. She almost thundered at me that I could know nothing of love being only a child.
On Saturday my sister told me she has no memories of any of our childhood pets or much of her childhood and I can personally tell you she knows less now than she did five years ago before she was medicated and given a dose of ECT. Loss of that child in her also was extreme because she was my Mum’s shadow and would follow her around and do her best to adapt and please her, often telling tales on my older sister who was at that point getting into lipstick and cosmetics (a much bigger issue then, in the early 1960s). In later years if I ever confronted Mum, I would be given the silent treatment and my sister actually ended up having a fall when this occured back in 2013 when I tried to confront Mum about a particularly damaging boundary violation that happened in childhood.
Anyway back to the inner child. I recently received a comment which spoke about the person separating out from their inner child and no longer identifying as much, and maybe this is something we may need to do if the pain of our inner child is manifesting in wounded child behaviour that hurts others. And yet, even then, I think that needs to be understood and we need a connection with the child in us which as therapist and shame explorer John Bradshaw points out is the source of our soulfulness
I don’t know if I will ever get to the point where I leave my inner child behind. She comes out when ever I get to spend time around young children and when I can allow my spirit to be joyful, spontaneous and free. I often feel that my gorgeous doggie companion, Jasper carries this child energy too, for me. I love on our walks to watch the joy that shines from his eyes as he chases birds and frolics in the long grass.
There is an adult part in me too, that my inner child often needs the comfort of when sad, confused, hurting or out of sorts. Two of the most helpful books I read in sobriety a few years ago were Healing Your Aloneness and Inner Bonding by Margaret Paul. Both books explain how we suffer when we lose touch with both the inner child and a loving inner adult/parent inside and how to understand how establishing a connection can help us understand our past and reactions in order to heal and let go of old unhealthy patterns and demands.
Jay Earley and Bonnie Weiss’s book Freedom From Your Inner Critic : A Self Therapy Approach helped me to understand how the inner critic in us often acts to protect the inner child against projected shame and critical attacks from parents, becoming internalised over a course of years and how we can work with the critic in positive ways to help us grow in directions or ways our inner child may feel unsafe or threatening.
In my years of active addiction, I know now for sure that my inner child was crying out for release. I got to liberate that side of myself on weekends with the help of booze and drugs, but acting out those hidden inner urges of a fun and love starved child in such an unconscious way led to enactments of my wounded child’s past pain and hunger over and over again. I am now no longer as ashamed as I was of all of that. I know my inner child lacked for so much in the way of nurture, emotional presence, attention, guidance and good boundaries as well as deeper emotional insight in those years and emotional recovery and uncovery of my inner child has helped me to understand so much.
I hope never ever ever to leave my inner child behind for it is she who so often holds so much of my essence. I personally see as people age the inner child come to the fore more and more and try to tell of a hidden legacy no one wants to hear in terms of reactions others at times find difficult. I saw my much loved Godfather struggle in this way and his childhood wounding lay unaddressed and he was so often trying to speak of it to me, who he knew was in recovery. There is nothing lovelier in this world to see than an older person with the inner child smiling behind their eyes or expressing through their aging bodies.
My personal wish is that as a collective we would value, respect, cherish and honour both children and the inner child because a wounded inner child run amock in psychopathic leaders can cause overwhelming destruction and decimation.