It’s a mystery or a kind of paradox I believe, as I age I am getting closer to the child I was, the part of me that was full of curiosity, openness, wondering and joy, who had a desire to open her arms and embrace life, dance, sing and love.
When I think today of the things I value, they are things of the heart and the soul that this child treasures, and yet my body is aging and it is not that I am in denial of that but in some strange way I often feel lately that my true soul life is only just beginning and I feel so very young.
I love being around young people who were raised with much less restriction around them than I was as someone born in the early 60s. I was thinking today of Wordsworth’s poem Ode to Youth, which talks of how we come from afar and our falling to earth or being born is to a degree about a forgetting of sorts.
Ever looked into the eyes of a young baby and felt the mystery of that little one? Where did he or she come from? If you believe in the life of a soul that may go on and survive a new birth could it be that this child is already bringing things in that it knows and it will meet a world that can meet that, help that knowing to unfold or may deny it?
Or are we just an empty slate to be written on by experience and shaped or twisted by that? I don’t believe that just as I don’t believe the lies of my Catholic upbringing that children are born with original sin. The sins of the family (omissions and traumas) can be visited upon children, but I don’t believe we are born evil.
Is that feeling of being an alien of some kind, as if from another land, something I was born with or did those feelings grow in a family which for me was devoted to cares and concerns that did not really make me feel connected in anyway?
I remember in youth singing and dancing a lot. One of my favourite songs was by Nancy Sinatra. It was “These Boots Are Made For Walking”. I remember doing a performance of it dancing up and down my Dad’s counter in the grocery store.
When bad things happened later that child in me got buried and learned to hide. I did not have siblings my age and then we moved away from the younger neighbours I was closest to into a big empty house that was in the middle of being built with my Mum and Dad. My only sister still at home was sent to live in Nana’s cosy house. I slept on a stretcher bed in a room with no carpet, only concrete. The builder had gone bust and we went through a very cold winter there.
I remember at the time reading a lot of Mary Poppins and I longed for her to come and rescue me, to take me away to her land of magic and adventure and colour and dance and mischief.
School was full of a lot of repression and seriousness, messages of original sin and long boring masses and benediction services. We were taught partly by Nuns in my school and I got in trouble for being too bold. I am sure I was not a naughty child, just full of life, a life that could not really live fully in the environment and I am just one of many.
As I got closer to teenage hood I got more doubtful and insecure. I remember that if I made a mistake or broke things, I would feel ashamed and hide. My parents didn’t show much empathy for the way in which I was struggling.
As I grew closer to puberty I was feeling alone and asked to be sent away to boarding school where some of my friends were going. I wasn’t allowed to go. Dad said he would miss me too much. That’s great in a way, but it left me feeling more alone.
A pattern of being alone and separated from the crowd I wanted to belong to followed after my second year out of school following a lot of family trauma I went away to Brisbane and left my first year of teaching studies and a close group of friends.
I foundered there, getting into drugs and drinking a lot. I knew my studies were being affected so at the end of the year I asked to go back to the Teaching degree I had started the year before in my home town after surviving my accident and witnessing my sister’s stroke and hospitalisation. I wasn’t allowed and I feel I had a gift for teaching.
I was sent to secretarial college which I hated. The drinking and drug taking got worse. I wanted to live out my wild, free side and I was unconsciously frustrated and angry at being trapped in a typing pool all day having to type on manual typewriter in triplicate and make no more than two mistakes a page. (This was before computers were available for those of you reading born after the mid 60’s).
I stuck it out. You just didn’t rebel against your parents in those days. Mine was a silent inner secret rebellion and it went on for about 11 more years until I got into recovery for alcohol addiction at age 31.
I see more clearly now the false self that I developed, I was not aware of it then. I think a lot of depression has to do with a separation from our True Self and that True Self is very much related to our Inner Child, the pure essence of our soul that is a soul seed and needs rich soil and nutriments in which to grow. Our inner child, wounded or wise, makes its presence felt through some kind of symptom.
I have been in recovery for just over 21 years now and maybe that is why now I am feeling much closer to the little child in me. I have read somewhere that there is a difference between the wounded child (for those of us traumatised from hidden or overt emotional abuse and lack of mirroring and affirmation) and the wonder child (the authentic real soulful essence of our self).
There is a lovely book by Charles Whitfield on Healing the Inner Child and it depicts an illustration of little child buried deep down inside us before we first start recovering and understanding what happened to us as little ones. I wish I was more technically savvy and I could find a way to copy it here (maybe one day).
I know that my Inner Child isn’t sad all of the time, as I can sometimes be (though a little less these days), she isn’t grieving all the time for lost opportunities. Adult me feels very sad sometimes for the wasted years where I lost touch with my inner child’s strength, magic, hope and promise and that it has taken me nearly 53 years to find her back.
My Inner Child has deep feelings and she isn’t scared of them as my false, adapted self is sometimes. She absorbed a lot of false beliefs along the way and healing her has meant confronting these in myself and in others. It has meant learning to trust the messages she give to me, often through a body that is hurting or suffering.
I understand too that a large part of her repression has to do with the time when I was born on a collective level, the early 1960’s where self expression was not always encouraged. As one of the generation born with Uranus the planet of liberation in Leo the sign of narcissism (healthy) our task as we evolve is to liberate this energy in positive ways. The Leo energy is strong for me as my ascendant is placed there and so is my North Node and the Sun has just passed over the placement. With my South Node in Aquarius I can get too trapped in thoughts and out of touch with feelings which help me connect to my authentic Inner Child.
A few years ago after the painful break up of my last relationship I got myself a dog. I sadly lost contact with the little dog I loved that belonged to my ex partner and my inner child grieved for the loss, along with the pain of the shattering of the illusion that my ex partner could ever love the real me. I know I took wounds into that relationship that needed a lot of healing. I was longing to be love and be loved for who I was. Sally, my ex partner’s dog, gave me so much love and I never got to say a proper goodbye.
Today I finally grieved deeply the realisation in therapy that my ex partner just could not love me for me, and that, I assumed, made me unlovable and he told me I was. “No one else would want you”. I’ve read in several places this is a common narcissistic tactic they use to devalue you and destroy your self belief In this relationship here were all kinds of rules about which aspects of me could express. Due to past abuse I accepted them but my body rebelled all the time with symptoms.
Last week I dreamed about my ex partner behind me pulling my hair and then pleasuring himself while I suffered and longed to escape. But I stayed (sadly for my Inner Child) until I was discarded and it has taken four long years to undo the damage.
Just under 3 years ago, as part of my healing, I got my little dog Jasper after a few years of looking longingly at pets on the net and in pet store windows and with owners. I had to over come a prohibition even for this as I had a battle with my Dad when young over getting a dog after being told I could not go to boarding school. “You won’t take care of it”, he said.
Eventually he relented but the dog was a wanderer and she had a bad accident and eventually we had to give her away to a dog breeder who lived on the land. It was as if the curse of my Dads’ words had come true.
It took a lot to overcome these messages and allow myself to adopt my dog Jasper and he connects me daily to the part of me that is so pure, happy, joyous and free. I feel that way when I watch him run off lead over the grass towards the beach at our local lake, chasing birds and swans and kangaroos to his heart’s content. I trust that he will come back to me and he does even when he goes missing for (what seems like ages), just when I think this time will be different and I will finally have lost him, he appears, wagging. When I look into his eyes I see the honest soulfulness of the child.
Well this is just a little bit of a blog about this Inner Child part of me that I feel so close to. Time for dinner now. To all you lovely Inner Kids out there, come share with me if you want your own experience of how your Inner Child got lost (if he or she did), how you found him or her back and how it is for those of you who never lost touch at all. I would love to hear your stories.
A big hug from my Inner Child to yours. XoXoXs