Live Like a Mighty River


Funny how life takes you on a journey.  How certain moments lead you to one thing that then leads on to thoughts and then another thing and then a connection to an interest and before you know it you have walked a little further down the road and something new and deep and so interesting has opened up.

Over a month ago I came across a new biography on the poet Sylvia Plath’s early life, pre her meeting with and marriage to Ted Hughes.  The book is called Mad Girl’s Love Song, taking its name from one of Plath’s unknown earlier poems.  I have long felt a connection to Plath, and been fascinated by her work.  She suffered the loss of her father at a younger age, than mine, and had a powerful and emotionally complex relationship with her mother, which was another connection. And since Plath was strongly Plutonian, with Sun and Mercury in Scorpio and her ruling planet Pluto opposite to Saturn there were strong astrological parallels too, that drew me to explore her life and the astrology surrounding her life and relationships.

I had never before explored her life in context of the astrology but was urged to by an inner voice while reading Andrew Wilson’s book. While researching it last week I happened upon several pages devoted to Plath on the web  and then upon an astrology website where her chart, Ted Hughes chart and those of her children as well as critical events in their connection were also displayed.  It was a moment of profound sadness, for me when I learned that her youngest child, NIcholas Plath took his life in 2009 at the age of 47, not long after retiring form his post at University. I noted that Nicholas was born in the same year, 1962, and a few weeks apart from me.

Today I have been exploring some writing around Nicholas Plath, mostly English and American newspaper reporting on and trying to make some sense of his death and of its strong link to his mother’s early suicide.  Sadly one writer blamed Sylvia Plath for killing her son, while others sought to lay the blame on genetics, quite a superficial and shallow view.  However in the course of my explorations I came upon the following letter written by the poet Ted Hughes, Nicholas’ father to his son.

Nicholas suffered from depression throughout his life.  His mother Sylvia Plath took her own life on 11 February 1963 when Nicholas was only one year old. He and his sister were locked in another room when Sylvia gassed herself, a cripplingly painful legacy for both children to have borne, both eventually moved away from England, Frieda to Western Australia and NIcholas to America.

What interests me about his letter is how Ted Hughes talks about the child self and makes some attempt to explore his inner world, but nevertheless not in a huge amount of depth.  Re=reading it I understand more, perhaps about how alone Nicolas must have felt with his own struggles and the area of shadow surrounding the hidden truths of his parents complex relationship. When you explore his chart, Ted Hughes had the Sun and Neptune in Leo and as a curious parallel at todays writing the Moon in at 19 degrees Leo is very close to passing over this conjunction, while at the same time sitting right on top of my own North Node with the transiting Sun conjunct Uranus trining the Moon and squaring transiting Pluto which is widely inconjunct the transiting Moon.

The letter appears on and is entitled Live Like a MIghty River.   Maybe it will speak to you.

Dear Nick,

I hope things are clearing. It did cross my mind, last summer, that you were under strains of an odd sort. I expect, like many another, you’ll spend your life oscillating between fierce relationships that become tunnel traps, and sudden escapes into wide freedom when the whole world seems to be just there for the taking. Nobody’s solved it. You solve it as you get older, when you reach the point where you’ve tasted so much that you can somehow sacrifice certain things more easily, and you have a more tolerant view of things like possessiveness (your own) and a broader acceptance of the pains and the losses. I came to America, when I was 27, and lived there three years as if I were living inside a damart sock—I lived in there with your mother. We made hardly any friends, no close ones, and neither of us ever did anything the other didn’t want wholeheartedly to do. (It meant, Nicholas, that meeting any female between 17 and 39 was out. Your mother banished all her old friends, girl friends, in case one of them set eyes on me—presumably. And if she saw me talking with a girl student, I was in court. Foolish of her, and foolish of me to encourage her to think her laws were reasonable. But most people are the same. I was quite happy to live like that, for some years.) Since the only thing we both wanted to do was write, our lives disappeared into the blank page. My three years in America disappeared like a Rip Van Winkle snooze. Why didn’t I explore America then? I wanted to. I knew it was there. Ten years later we could have done it, because by then we would have learned, maybe, that one person cannot live within another’s magic circle, as an enchanted prisoner.

So take this new opportunity to look about and fill your lungs with that fantastic land, while it and you are still there. That was a most curious and interesting remark you made about feeling, occasionally, very childish, in certain situations. Nicholas, don’t you know about people this first and most crucial fact: every single one is, and is painfully every moment aware of it, still a child. To get beyond the age of about eight is not permitted to this primate—except in a very special way, which I’ll try to explain. When I came to Lake Victoria, it was quite obvious to me that in some of the most important ways you are much more mature than I am. And your self-reliance, your Independence, your general boldness in exposing yourself to new and to-most-people-very-alarming situations, and your phenomenal ability to carry through your plans to the last practical detail (I know it probably doesn’t feel like that to you, but that’s how it looks to the rest of us, who simply look on in envy), is the sort of real maturity that not one in a thousand ever come near. As you know. But in many other ways obviously you are still childish—how could you not be, you alone among mankind? It’s something people don’t discuss, because it’s something most people are aware of only as a general crisis of sense of inadequacy, or helpless dependence, or pointless loneliness, or a sense of not having a strong enough ego to meet and master inner storms that come from an unexpected angle. But not many people realise that it is, in fact, the suffering of the child inside them. Everybody tries to protect this vulnerable two three four five six seven eight year old inside, and to acquire skills and aptitudes for dealing with the situations that threaten to overwhelm it. So everybody develops a whole armour of secondary self, the artificially constructed being that deals with the outer world, and the crush of circumstances. And when we meet people this is what we usually meet. And if this is the only part of them we meet we’re likely to get a rough time, and to end up making ‘no contact’. But when you develop a strong divining sense for the child behind that armour, and you make your dealings and negotiations only with that child, you find that everybody becomes, in a way, like your own child. It’s an intangible thing. But they too sense when that is what you are appealing to, and they respond with an impulse of real life, you get a little flash of the essential person, which is the child. Usually, that child is a wretchedly isolated undeveloped little being. It’s been protected by the efficient armour, it’s never participated in life, it’s never been exposed to living and to managing the person’s affairs, it’s never been given responsibility for taking the brunt. And it’s never properly lived. That’s how it is in almost everybody. And that little creature is sitting there, behind the armour, peering through the slits. And in its own self, it is still unprotected, incapable, inexperienced. Every single person is vulnerable to unexpected defeat in this inmost emotional self. At every moment, behind the most efficient seeming adult exterior, the whole world of the person’s childhood is being carefully held like a glass of water bulging above the brim. And in fact, that child is the only real thing in them. It’s their humanity, their real individuality, the one that can’t understand why it was born and that knows it will have to die, in no matter how crowded a place, quite on its own. That’s the carrier of all the living qualities. It’s the centre of all the possible magic and revelation. What doesn’t come out of that creature isn’t worth having, or it’s worth having only as a tool—for that creature to use and turn to account and make meaningful. So there it is. And the sense of itself, in that little being, at its core, is what it always was. But since that artificial secondary self took over the control of life around the age of eight, and relegated the real, vulnerable, supersensitive, suffering self back into its nursery, it has lacked training, this inner prisoner. And so, wherever life takes it by surprise, and suddenly the artificial self of adaptations proves inadequate, and fails to ward off the invasion of raw experience, that inner self is thrown into the front line—unprepared, with all its childhood terrors round its ears. And yet that’s the moment it wants. That’s where it comes alive—even if only to be overwhelmed and bewildered and hurt. And that’s where it calls up its own resources—not artificial aids, picked up outside, but real inner resources, real biological ability to cope, and to turn to account, and to enjoy. That’s the paradox: the only time most people feel alive is when they’re suffering, when something overwhelms their ordinary, careful armour, and the naked child is flung out onto the world. That’s why the things that are worst to undergo are best to remember. But when that child gets buried away under their adaptive and protective shells—he becomes one of the walking dead, a monster. So when you realise you’ve gone a few weeks and haven’t felt that awful struggle of your childish self—struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence—you’ll know you’ve gone some weeks without meeting new challenge, and without growing, and that you’ve gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself. The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all. It was a saying about noble figures in old Irish poems—he would give his hawk to any man that asked for it, yet he loved his hawk better than men nowadays love their bride of tomorrow. He would mourn a dog with more grief than men nowadays mourn their fathers.

And that’s how we measure out our real respect for people—by the degree of feeling they can register, the voltage of life they can carry and tolerate—and enjoy. End of sermon. As Buddha says: live like a mighty river. And as the old Greeks said: live as though all your ancestors were living again through you.

I think it is a beautiful letter. Sadly it doesn’t address the deeper pain of what Nicholas suffered, however it does give us a window into Ted Hughes’ psyche and conflicts. Hughes lost his first two wives to suicide and his infidelity has been blamed for their deaths.  I can only imagine the questions that the letter raised for Nicholas.  Its interesting that Nicholas moved to the wilds of Alaska to be closer to nature and pursue pottery, following his retirement while his father, acknowledges in this letter some of his own unlived hopes and dreams surrounding his American life now borne by Nicholas.  The deeper pain and feelings that  dogged Nicholas were too strong in the end and the breath he needed to breathe became, sadly impossible for him.  He went to his death with the painful truth locked deep inside, unspoken.  In a mysterious parallel in his ending was symbolically displayed was the devastating impact of the pivotal emotional event his psyche bore, over 46 long years.

Sweet Surrender

untitled (10)

How would it be

If we could enter our innocent heart

And feel the power

Of deep true feelings

Blossoming forth

Like flowers

And set them free

Without care or concern

For the opinions and responses of others

Freed from old imprints of




How sweet that would be

I remember

That funeral

When old unfelt grief poured forth

And I cried like a child

The look of contempt

You gave

I was reaching out with the arms of love

To his grieving grandchildren

Who returned my embrace

And we melted in

They didn’t stiffen and pull away

And I remember too

The tender hugs

Of the other dancers

As we fell spent to the floor

After we danced the element water

On the evening of that painful day

When you came to me in the garden

By the Chalice Well

And told me that you

Who I had loved for eleven years

Now loved another

The child in me cried

For there were layers and layers of loss

But the child in me also danced

With that great abandon

That is the soul’s true release

Revealing how sweet it would feel

To enter my innocent heart

To look upon all of this suffering

With the eyes of a child

Eyes of love

Eyes of hope

Eyes of forgiveness

Holding nothing back 

No pretending

To feel this

To allow this expression

To live deeply centred

In a child’s pure soul

Would be surely be for me

The sweetest

Of sweet surrenders

Disorganised Attachment

In our attempts as a baby and young child to bond with our caregivers (and most especially our mothers) we meet all kinds of reactions.  These reaction are dependent upon our mothers’ capacity to nurture, mirror, bond, accept and respond to the very real needs we have for attention, understanding, comfort, connection, closeness and empathy.

Some mothers can respond at certain times.  At others they may be absent, dismissive, abusive or rejecting.  They may have lacked a foundation of healthy mothering to draw from and having a child may bring up all kinds of conflicting feelings which affect their ability to respond, care for and bond with their child.

If we had a mother who was going through something big emotionally when we were young this is also going to affect her ability to respond to us.   If there was family trauma, illness or addiction these also limit her ability to be there for us and provide us with a secure foundation.

It becomes confusing for the child to meet with these different and confusing responses of the mother.  We develop what is known as a disorganised attachment style. We never know what we can count on. Will mother understand?  Will she fly into a rage?  Will she comfort me? Tell me to get lost?

Due to these kinds of experiences, children raised with disorganised attachment learn to care take and meet the parent’s needs.  They develop a finely attuned radar.  They may have difficulty trusting and relaxing.  There is a need to be on hyper alert (especially if mood swings due to hormonal issues, depression, illness or breakdown were part of the picture.)

Lack of what is known as a good enough holding environment is the basis for the development of anxiety conditions in later life.  (see The Emotionally Absent Mother by Jasmine Lee Cori, p. 65)

Difficulties with intimacy result and the brain itself is affected in its development (op cit., p. 53)   We develop an attachment trauma which will affect our ability to attach, connect and bond in later life and we don’t get to fully develop a feeling of safety in the world.

Later in life pain in relationships will drive us towards healing and understanding how we didn’t get to develop a very secure foundation in early life.  As we explore our childhood history through therapy, recovery or reading and journaling we may become aware of some of the ways we felt insecure and abandoned by our mothers or caregiver’s emotional absence and inconsistency and how these issues replay in our later relationships.  We may become more aware of why we feel such strong feelings of push-pull and confusion with complex issues of intimacy, dependence and independence when relating to our inconsistent mothers and replaying such issues in later life.  We may develop addictions as it has been understood by psychologists such as J. Flores that addiction is an attachment disorder. (See Addiction as an Attachment Disorder)

One of the problems of developing this kind of attachment trauma is also that we expect the worst in relationships and begin to project the expectation of abandonment.  In avoidant attachment patterns we turn away from and repress our need to attach and connect.

Healing involves connecting with and understanding our Inner Child of the past and learning to soothe her when she is in distress.  It involves looking for relationships with emotionally available people, learning about the feelings and needs we may have had to address and taking steps in the present to get them met in healthy ways.  It often involves developing a relationship with a therapist in which we can explore our wounds, someone who doesn’t have the same pattern as our mother did because carrying that blueprint we may attract those who cannot be there consistently.  This has most especially been my experience.

And it involves recognising that our attempts to bond and connect wont always end in disaster or rejection.  As we learn to listen well to our own insides we will find those who are loving and supportive and as consistent as they possibly can be.  And we will learn to comfort ourselves when people fail us, as they often do being human.

The awful power of the inner critic

When parents do not provide a safe enough bonding and positive feedback, the child founders in anxiety and fear.  Many children appear to be hard wired to adapt to this endangering abandonment with perfectionism.

A prevailing climate of danger forces the child’s superego to over cultivate the various programs of perfectionism and endangerment listed below.  Once again, the superego is the part of the psyche that learns parental rules in order to gain their acceptance.

The inner critic is the superego gone bad.  The inner critic is the superego in overdrive desperately trying to win your parents’ approval.  When perfectionistic striving fails to win welcoming from your parent, the inner critic becomes increasingly hostile and caustic.  It festers into a virulent inner voice that increasingly manifests self hate, self disgust and self abandonment.  The inner critic blames you incessantly for your shortcomings that it imagines to be the cause of your parent’s rejection.  It is incapable of understanding that the real cause lies in your parents shortcomings.

As a traumatised child, your over-aroused sympathetic nervous system also drives you to become increasingly hyper-vigilant.  Hyper-vigilance is a fixation on looking for danger that comes from excessive exposure to real danger.  In an effort to recognise, prevent and avoid danger, hyper-vigilance is ingrained into your approach to being in the world. Hyper-vigilance narrows your attention into an incessant, on guard scanning of the people around you.  It also frequently projects you into the future, imagining danger in upcoming social events. Moreover, hyper-vigilance typically devolses into intense performance anxiety on every leve of self-expression.

Pete Walker, Shrinking the Inner Critic, in Complex PTSD : From Surviving to Thriving

In this particular excerpt, Pete Walker goes onto explain how in childhood if we are traumatised or neglected a healthy ego gets no chance to form.  We don’t get to develop a realistic sense of our true gifts and limits, in addition we tend to develop a chronic unconscious feeling of Toxic Shame.which unconsciously drives our behaviour in many ways.  In toxic shame we develop the unreal belief that we are fundamentally flawed.  We escape from the true reality of how we were painfully abandoned, often we are not allowed to know this was true.  In addition we may be shamed for healthy assertions of anger or protest and so our anger becomes bound in shame.  Indeed we can be shamed for all of our deep feelings, sadness, anger, joy, excitement.

At the same time we develop a relentless internalised critic that runs an ongoing campaign against our True Self.  It also induces in us emotional flashbacks,  where difficult and painful incidents of our past flood our present time awareness when triggered by thoughts about something we have done (for example spilling a glass of water) and launches into an all out attack upon us.  When we have been emotionally abandoned or neglected we are far more likely to set up relentless standards of perfection as a defence against feeling how painful it was not to have been loved unconditionally.

In his book Pete Walker outlines the 14 common ways the inner critic attacks us and tries to convince of immanent disaster accompanying any acts of empowerment or self assertion.  (Please note there is a much more comprehensive listing associated with each of the 14 types which you will find in the book).

Recovery involves understanding when we are being assailed by the inner critic or what psychologist Robert Firestone has called Destructive Thought Processes.

  1. Perfectionism (inner self persecution).
  2. All or None & Black and White Thinking (eg. your NEVER get it right)
  3. Self Hate, Self Disgust & Toxic Shame
  4. Micromanaging/Worrying/Obsessing/Looping/Over Futurizing
  5. Unfair/Devaluing Comparisons to others or to your own most perfect moments.
  6. Guilt
  7. “Shoulding”
  8. Over productivity/Workaholism/Busyholism
  9. Harsh Judgments of Self & Others/Name Calling
  10. Drasticisizing/Catastrophizing/Hypochondriasising
  11. Negative Focus
  12. Time Urgency’
  13. Distablising Performance Anxiety
  14. Perservating (projecting the idea of).. Being Attacked.

It took some years into my own recovery to become aware of the power of the destructive inner critic within myself.  When I had reached the point of most complete isolation I  experienced countless lashings from my own inner critic.  And then I got into a relationship a narcissist and was on the receiving end of critical attacks from him which it has taken me many years to become aware were actually harsh projections and devaluing attacks which came out of his own rigid Inner Critic projected onto me.  (This was a familiar experience from my own childhood btw)

I had read about the power of Toxic Shame in the early years of my own recovery from addiction but not really aware of the connection between toxic shame and the awful power of the inner critic.  How I wish I had read Pete Walker’s book years ago.

The truth is we cannot thrive as individuals and as our True Self in a climate of perfectionism and shame.  When we are bound by Toxic Shame and punished by the Inner Critic we don’t get to develop a relationship with the Inner Child within us who was abandoned and is in dire need of our compassion, sensitivity to its true needs and empathy. We most certainly don’t get to experience our true feelings of sadness, anger, confusion, abandonment and pain, as often we will shame ourselves for any display of these emotions until we come to understand how valid they were as responses to what happened to us in childhood.  And I do believe that it not only the parents to blame for this development of the Inner Critic but damaging forces around us such as hostile siblings, peers and teachers.

Pete Walker’s advice for shrinking the inner critic is to use the full force of our anger and outrage at its abuse against the inner critic within us.  It is only through such an active self directed “stopping” of the relentlessly harsh, fixed, judgements of the perfectionist critic within that we get to heal and to reparent our lost Inner Child in the way that child most needed to be parented in childhood, but wasn’t.

This takes work, and it is work in which we need powerful allies in the outer world who have developed a healthier relationship with their True Self and Child Within.  I personally have experienced being toxically shamed by the Outer Critic of at least four therapists in the past (the Outer Critic is an issue for a separate blog).  I even experienced an incident of this last year with my current therapist.

When we have had a traumatising childhood we have often been emotionally abandoned. To survive we erected real defences against ever feeling this primitive level of abandonment, the four ‘F’ responses that I have outlined in recent blogs.  Healing means dismantling these to meet the child within in its deepest most profound feelings of distress, anger, sadness and pain and finding ways to hold, and feel this pain so we can know the truth of what we experienced as well as all we may have lost along the way from never developing a healthy relationship to our True inner self.

The awful cost of being held hostage by the Toxic Shame of the Inner Critic perhaps for years, even into our own recovery is massive in terms of loss of our power to practice self-love, self-understanding and self-compassion.  It also exerts a massive cost on our relationships and when we project our own inner critic onto others.  It seems to me that understanding the power of the Inner Critic is essential to ongoing mental and emotional health.

By all means we need to grow and acknowledged ways in which we need to change.  However, this will be much more possible when we are not held hostage by the Inner Critic but can instead show love for ourselves and others, empathy and compassion for the way in which the True Self can be wounded and its development arrested by a toxic Inner Critic.

To be the adult or to be the child

I awoke feeling very vulnerable today.  The harsh extremely hot days had surrendered their hold on us later yesterday.  The mercury dropped about 10 degrees by early evening and rain fell.  Today I awoke to a very cool, fresh sparkling sunny day, but sitting outside on the deck in the sun with little Jasper hip to hip by my side I began to feel so many things, sadness, vulnerability, as sense of how it is the most natural thing in the world to want to be close to others and how impossible that was for me growing up in my family which was busy, busy, busy and much, much older.

There is a lovely reading in one of my Al Anon books, I cant find yet, but it speaks of how in recovery the person realised she had lost a long time ago the connection to the little child within her, who looked upon rainbows with joy and awe and cried her eyes out when the dog died.

This week in a body work session which starts with a time of talking it was like I was almost looked down on for this part of myself. I was expressing the longing I had had to be close to a sister.  “Did you notice how when you said that your voice became high and you sounded like a child?”….???  Yes and isn’t that a good thing.  I know why it might not be, if we still have the broken hearted childlike longing and direct it towards the wrong relationships it can be damaged.   When I told my other therapist about this interaction yesterday she only said “Ouch!!!”

What happens to us when we have to grow up too fast?  When we cant depend on anyone?  We turn within and we also become strong which I am sure is a good thing on some level, but if the un-nurtured child within us is still powering on and not realising how sad we are how can that be good?  To me it seems the genesis of co-dependence.

I have known for some time that there was never a soft place for me to fall when I really, really needed it.  This week as usual my Mum tried to deny this again.   I know it comes out of her own programming. As a little child she was so lonely without siblings and a mother who was gone at 6am and again at 5 pm, leaving her alone (while Nana worked).  At the age of 13 when her mother wanted to send he into live in domestic service my Mum got out and got herself an apprenticeship.  She worked and worked and worked.

Last year I found some letters Mum wrote when my older sister married and moved overseas to live when I was 3.  The letters were all about how tired Mum was, how hard they were working and how I was really a bit of a bother and a nuisance as I needed attention.  How surprised she was that when I went on a lovely holiday where I could be with others and do fun things I was really happy and not a bother at all???  Feeling quiet angry as I am writing this.  She just didn’t “get it”.

It may not be her fault, but I needed more.  Inside me there is still that lonely girl who is a lot like my Mum in many ways.  I learned to go off alone and try to cope alone.  I did not learn how to ask, how to be vulnerable.  I worked hard and was an excellent employee until addiction took me down and I stopped working so hard to begin to recover.  Didn’t go down well with my husband.  I was trying to heal a very old pattern.

When I was sitting outside in the sun just a moment ago I was thinking about how the child we were and who still lives inside of us may be the most authentic part of us that gets covered over by an adult with all these responsibilities.  The implication in our society if you don’t grow up and be super responsible you are a bit of loser, but is that really the truth?

Carl Jung believed in the archetype of the divine child.  At one point in a breakdown he was having he spent a lot of time playing and building things from stone.  He formed the idea that the divine child within is the one that is connected to wholeness, to the present moment, to feelings, sadness, joy, play and so many other things. John Bradshaw has picked up on this idea with his concept of the Soul Child, which he believes to be the most soulful part of ourselves.

It seems to me that while this part of us is an essence many aspects of it live in the lower more primal brain structures which hold our earliest sensations and experiences, not always easily translated into words.  As we heal and learn to connect with this part of us we try to access this part of the brain through meditation and non dominant hand writing.  It seems to me that this part of ourselves is the sensation feeling, deeply attuned creative part of us, not the hyper rational adult.

We most certainly need a functioning adult to take care of us from within ourselves.  It seems to me we need both a good mother and a good father in side to nurture us, however I feel that all that is most lovely in us at times comes from the inner child.

Some people speak a lot about the wounded child.  Most certainly that part of us is a very strong aspect when we have gone through wounding experiences growing up. If it runs our life we can be full of pain, and yet that part of us, too, needs love and understanding.  It needs good boundaries.  It needs to be held and comforted when we are hurting, as I have been today.  It needs to hear that not everyone will hurt him or her as he or she was in the past.

The strong Leo energy in my own chart (ascendant, North Node and Uranus there)most certainly means I have work to do with connecting to the child within.  Its part of why I love to write about it in my blogs.  This strong energy opposes every personal planet I have in Aquarius over in the sphere of body (6th house) and others (7th house).  I can spend a lot of time living in my head and trying to make sense of life and relationships and this isn’t a bad thing, but I need to remember that at times I just need to use my senses and touch base with those tender childlike feelings and needs that I had to bury so long ago.  I have a deep fear around reaching out due to my Saturn Moon, but it seems my work is in reaching out to those true people with whom I can most deeply connect.

It takes time to develop the emotional intelligence to know who these people are.  As was mentioned in part of a quote I posted in my last post, when we first start to feel our true feelings they are very tender and raw.  Due to the law of the repetition compulsion we will reach out to the wrong people and we will get hurt again.  But that hurt will teach us something, our vulnerability will tell us what is healthy and good for us, as opposed to that which hurts, then our adult will be able to put up healthy boundaries.

If the wounded child is hurt or hurting we can talk to her or him and see what his being triggered for us.  Recovery gives us this capacity to be present and to bear with things.  We can sit with the child and ourselves, hold her hand and not be as reactive and lash out in pain which is the first impulse of the wounded child.  We can explore one feeling to see if it hides deeper layers of other feelings.

And my hope is that as this work progresses we all re-connect with the child if we lost touch with him or her long ago.  That child does not need to be shamed or admonished only to be loved and understood and helped to grow.  It can inform us with the help of our adult, what is best for us.

Getting in touch with my inner child

As I am going deeper and deeper in my therapy I am becoming much more aware of the pain of my inner child and her struggle to bond and connect. A little while ago I was lucky to come across a book called Addiction as An Attachment Disorder,  by the psychotherapist Philip J. Flores.

In this book he explains how when we have difficulty attaching as a child to a parent, difficulty in being mirrored, affirmed and understood, we have difficulty connecting later both in our relationship to ourselves and our emotions and as a result in our relationship to other human beings.

In the vacuum that forms we learn to attach to substances, which seem to fill the void left but don’t actually do so, with the result we are left even more hungry and filled with despair on an emotional level. It is easy to see how overconsumption and addictions result when we are this out of tune and don’t know what the hunger and pain is really about.

When we seek sobriety and remove the addiction we are left with the deep hole that emotional neglect has left.  We also, at first, find it difficult to make sense of and understand complex needs and feelings we never learned to understand and regulate  growing up.

It seems to me that then if we are in 12 step programmes we may come to believe the wrongly that the fault is in us, in a sense it is in that we are reaching for the wrong thing to fill us up now, but on another level we were not responsible for the fact that in being unable to bond with a caregiver, receive validation, comfort, nurturing love and understanding we naturally reached for substances, things and relationships to fill the void that was left and failed to mature.

However we are responsible in sobriety to learn what the wound of emotional neglect, failure to bond and lack of connection to our feelings and to needs and to others is really about.  The true nature of our childhood wound needs to be understood and grieved on a real level, rather than medicated with the wrong things.

Healing involves acknowledging what happened, mourning what we missed, longed for and never really received so that that pain becomes the fuel to recover and make healthier choices.   It also involves a long journey to become aware of ourselves and our feelings and needs as well as those of others.  One legacy of a wounded or damaged inner child is that our capacity to see others as separate may not have developed adequately.

One way we may try to heal  a wound of emotional neglect is that we become the parent or the caring one for our emotionally absent parent in an attempt to bond. When we were young if we were emotionally sensitive we probably felt their deep wound any way. I know this was true for me.

Later in life we may try to heal both wounds through caretaking. The truth is our caretaking cannot heal the original wound in either of us. It is a huge wake up call to realise a long way down the track what we may have sacrificed in our own life in order to do this while not being fully conscious.

This is where I find myself today. I found myself mourning so deeply today after a telephone call to my Mum. I was left with the deepest sadness and pain of my inner child over her insensitivity to my own needs that went so far back and I was also full of sadness for her insensitivity to her own feelings. Despite the fact of the anger and pain she has caused me for my own neglect, I still feel sad for my Mum who seems to have no way of expressing the deep grief she holds and has been carrying for years, to the extent now that her legs are all swollen with fluid and she is on all kinds of medications.

It is being pointed out to me in therapy that her sadness is not mine to carry, but still at times I feel powerless in the redeemer role I set for myself.

Today I really sat with my inner child after this conversation with my Mum. I felt anger and hatred towards her at the same time I felt the deep, deep longing for her love. While sitting with myself and allowing all of this pain to rise up I said to my inner child.

“Little Debs, please tell me about your pain growing up, I really want to hear you and be there for you and to know how it was for you. I want to give you comfort.”

Lots of tears came and my child took me back to the times I was in a world of adults wandering around feeling invisible and longing to have my feelings and true needs noticed instead of ignored. It felt like I wandered so very long and was so very lost and confused for so, so long looking for the path home to me, making connections watching them break when my rage came out then understanding the pain underneath.  Trying to give love to both sisters in their damage, pursuing finally my own addiction recovery only to discover I was deeply co-dependent myself and had so much work to do to grow.

I was also made aware of the many times I ignored my own true needs and feelings.

“Why won’t you listen to me when I tell you what I need?” my inner child cried.

“I have been in so much pain, I need for you to feel the pain, to hold it in order to gain understanding.”

In contemplating this dialogue and through some of the investigation I have been doing into anger and pain lately I am beginning to realise the difference between acting out pain and holding it consciously in love, working through and processing it, without stuffing it.

Often I have acted out my pain and fear in rage. At the time I did not realise that was what I was doing. I did it in my last relationship where I was hurt deeply by similar behaviours of ignoring and neglect and downright insensitivity that mirrored my child hood. But acting out my rage never served any purpose but to show me where my needs were not being met and it often led to me feeling deeply ashamed.  There had been no conscious adult there to hold my child’s rage.  For me the healing only came after the acting out when I could realise this, grieve it and act in a healthier way on what I needed to do for me.

I am conscious lately that there is no where to go in my family to get my true feelings acknowledged. The truth is that only I can do that for myself and the curious thing is that often when I stand firm and true in this way and acknowledge my own feelings they sometimes get validation from my family. I do get my feelings acknowledged in therapy and often on and through blogging, reading blogs and sharing. I thank God for those sweet victories.

Coming to know what my true feelings are is so important, understanding that they were not met in childhood and how suppression of that truth led me to addictions has been a long journey in sobriety for me (It has taken over 20 years).

It seems to me that any encounter I have with my family of two (sister and mother) ends up in hurt for me. It has taken me over four years of different hurts occurring to see this. I am the one who sets myself up for it by hoping it will be better next time. At the same time I am realising that asking for intimate connection with people who are not intimately connected to themselves is not realistic. However, the hurt that comes when I see them doing things together taps the old wound that I am on the outside.

As a child I felt on the outside my sister and mother worked together. At one point this sister was a boss to me, a very tough boss. I am on the outside but it doesn’t need to be a lonely place if I am there for me. Even now they are forming an alliance of two, but today when I shared about all of this with my therapist she said “that must feel really painful seeing them do things together but the point is they aren’t really connecting, they are just doing things together.”   The truth is I feel most deeply connected when I am in touch with my true needs and feelings with or without them.

After being with my inner child to day it seems to be that for so long my inner child had nowhere to go to get her true feelings heard. In my last relationship silencing of my true feelings was essential to being accepted.

It is now so important that I be there for me. That I listen to my inner child’s pain, that I hold her hand and tell her that her feelings matter. It seems clear to me that the only healing that can come for me now is in being my own parent. Understanding how emotional neglect led to here means also being diligent in taking steps to ensure that such emotional neglect no longer continues from within me.

I also need to find a place for this child in me to grow and to connect with others in a healthy way, that does not involve caretaking. I long to connect to others and don’t always know how for today that is all I can express.

The wound in my child throbbed today, I felt the scars both on the inside and being coughed out too.

For today I just have these realisations, new realisations on a path of recovery that goes on. I am feeling so young today. I am aware that I have not fully matured because for years I seem to have been stuck in pattern of looking outside for mothering and fathering. There is pain in that (and some shame too) and awareness of much more work that need to be done to allow myself to grow in new and healthier directions.  And yet I am growing.

Sometimes it is tough work to allow myself to feel this vulnerable but I do know that in allowing the vulnerability to be and to be seen I grow in strength and authenticity.

Free of this place of suffering

This is a piece I wrote a while ago for my sister who has just undergone surgery for breast cancer.

I want to fly free of this place of suffering and pain where joy is not allowed where a happy smile is crushed under the weight of doom prediction stealing all happiness.

When did it become so difficult to dance, to see the light and funny side of life, even in all its darkness. What pleasure is there in a prison of solitude built brick by brick by fear, suspicion, mistrust and doubt?   I no longer want to live there. I long for open space, for the sun, for empathy, for the release of happiness and dancing that does not deny tears and pain but finds meaning in it and through this process transforms rain into sunshine and flowers.

I am not naïve I know that flowers fade and fall to ground, the petals leeched of colours but in these are still the memory of how sweet a rose smelt at the height of late spring.   I know darkness is a precursor to the dawn and dawn will bring in time the day which has sewn in its last embers the dusk of approaching night and still I want to love and keep the faith through all of this.

I hear such pain in your voice when we speak, I know the suffering you feel. You say you are waiting for someone to come and wave a magic wand, and make it all okay, but life isn’t like that. It is part of growing up and so I wish you would stop swallowing the drugs and trust your guts because it’s lonely here having no one to talk to about what really happened.

I was with you in those years and I saw how hard you fought for your sanity only to be labelled mad. I was never seen, being unseen and alone I saw everything and my body knows how it felt to duck and dive and be on hyper alert for the explosion of anger and what toll this took.

We are no longer so young, no longer prisoners of childhood but finding our freedom means that the adult in us must take our frightened children by the hand and lead them away to a safer happier place and bear witness to the truth, give her a place where she can be heard and comforted and re-parented.

It will be a bitter pill but the realisation will come that with the pain we swallowed we also swallowed so much joy, and in feeling and releasing the pain from our wounded tissues we will find joy and redemption.

I want to dance, I want to sing, I no longer want to be caged. I want to fly out on wings of flame that I built through every passage of knowing who and what I am, what it was I suffered and what it is I long for, that food that can only feed my soul, while feeling the pain of what was denied and of all the mistakes I made to get to here and out of that finding the true core of what I need to truly live my authentic happiness.

I cannot stay in this place of endless suffering.

The light returned

Today sometime in the afternoon the light returned after a morning of great darkness.  I am aware of the part WordPress plays for me in this process.  Nearly two years ago I was in so much pain following a sinus operation just prior to Christmas.  I faced that day alone and following a google search I found a post on Uranus transiting the eighth house written on the blog space of An Upturned Soul who some of you may know from here.  Through a chain of connection that led from this to other posts, Ursula ended up publishing a poem I wrote about my last narcissistic relationship and she recommended I start blogging.

I was not entirely sure how my writing would be received. I have used writing as a form of therapy since I was very young.  When I felt as though there was no one around to listen or understand my deepest feelings, I could always pour them out onto the blank page.

After my marriage ended in 2004 I retreated to the coast house my Dad built in the years prior to the major car accident I suffered at age 17, in 1979 and while in isolation there I wrote reams and reams of journal entries, reflections on my recovery, stream of consciousness writing with both the inner accuser voice as well as the  voice of a loving archetypal Mother figure who stepped in to comfort me when the times were particularly dark and lonely.  There were days and days on which I saw no one.  At times I could not sleep but still it was an achievement to get out of my pyjamas all day/ I had a lot of trouble breathing and began to suffer strange symptoms.  At times it was hard to eat, just to walk a part of the way down the beach was a Herculean effort.  Another two accidents followed as I made attempts to leave my self imposed isolation behind, I was at war with a lot of the darkness I was being forced to face.  I now know having suffered so many endings and so much loss I was being forced to face grief but I didn’t know how to deal with it and it was hard to feel it alone.

Being given the opportunity to find a voice via WordPress to speak about my journey of trauma and recovery has helped me through the recent dark times following the death of my older sister and the mental illness of my other sister at the same time as I have been working through the grief of painful relationships stretching back across years.  I am aware of the time I have needed to be alone and heal, but I am also so fully aware of how important good connections are in that process.

Earlier today I shared about the really tough day I was having.  At one point I was on the floor in foetal position with spasming pain all through me, the pulling and tearing was the hardest it has ever been and I was struggling to breathe.  When I finally managed to get upright and take a call from my Mum, I cried and cried.  Then I felt a release of the weight on my chest as I followed a like as mentioned before and found links to other sites of people undergoing similar trauma.  A little of this is a repeat of what I wrote about in the earlier blog but my reason for writing this one tonight is to say publically thank you those of who have expressed empathy and support and shared your own struggles.

I feel there is a healing community here on WordPress which can help some of us in the darkest times to express what we are going through and see a return of the light.  Reading the experiences of others who suffer too helps us to know we are not alone.  We all have wisdom to share.

I’ve just come back from a dinner with my Mum and her best friend.  My relationship with my Mum is healing.  For so long she just did not get what I was going through but lately as my other sister has struggled with her own bi polar illness I have felt my Mum trying to compensate for what she could not give us when we were young. Both she and my father worked very hard. They were not bad parents but neither were they emotionally present, their attention was consumed with business and their priorities were not focused on emotions and inner needs.  Neither had much in the way of nurturing themselves.

Add to this the stress we all went through following my older sister’s breakdown and abandonment by her husband and most particularly the pain we went through when my father became really ill with terminal cancer and died very suddenly following complications after an operation to remove the cancer from his internal organs, all deeply Plutonian events, huge underworld experiences banking up which took me into the realm of addiction in an attempt not to feel, not realising this was what was going on.

The pain of father and mother hunger took me towards three heart breaks, as I struggled with feelings I could not really express.  When love came and gave me the opportunity to reach for sobriety and recovery I took it but after a number of years my buried pain opened up and my husband and I did not make it through.

In a circular way I have now returned to the earlier paragraph in which I wrote about finding myself alone and writing in the house by the sea my dead father built.  I know now I needed to really feel the darkness of all I had gone through and writing could take me there but healing and feeling the feelings takes more than this.  Writing comes often after I have made sense of some of the feelings which are not fully conscious as more than curious body pains and sensations.

In the midst of this there was another relationship which was also a repeat of low nurturance themes I have struggled with over many years, in the end the nurturance I needed has had to come from therapy and from recovering people in groups and online here.  I am very grateful for this forum which helps me to know I am not alone.  That so many others suffer in similar ways and that they appreciate the effort to give voice to what is at times very painful and difficult.  I’ve been able to share some of my writings, thoughts, feelings, struggles, insights and poems here which has given me a sense of purpose in some way.  I know there are so many others of us out there attempting to do the same.

I feel a great returning of the light tonight.  I am aware that over the next little while the Sun in Libra will oppose Uranus in Aries while squaring transiting Pluto in Capricorn.  The name I would give to this process (Pluto will soon station to move direct again after 5 months of backward transit) is an unleashing of personal authenticity and emotional freedom through purging and emerging the dark emotions.

At present Pluto is transiting my fifth house of the inner child and self expression. There are so many of us out there who are aware of the importance of the Inner Child within, it seems to me that this part of us holds the authentic key to our spiritual essence.  We need to learn how to love, care for, understand and parent this precious little one in us who holds the light for us, even in reminding us of the darkness we faced in never finding support for him or her while growing up.  Part of the journey is to feel and recover earlier feelings and make links to today in order to understand and parent ourselves as emotional beings who can have emotional awareness centred in love not through rejecting our fear but through understanding and embracing the fearful self in love and compassion.

I believe that the power of love can overcome the power of ignorance and fear.  We should not be afraid to voice the deepest darkest feelings we have, for this is the way that light returns to us and to the world. Tonight I am feeling very much the return of that light.  To those who have reached out to me today.  Thank you, so very much.  Collectively we are undergoing this transformation very much tied up with the outer planets Uranus and Pluto because collectively we are all connected by mutual experience.  For me there is great peace that comes from this awareness which grows in power as we share honestly and reach out.

Some thoughts on silence and healing

Sometimes silence is golden and often I experience it is also humming with life, energy, vibration and beauty.  Within the silence a lot can be going on at a deeper level, at least that is the way I experience silence when I sit with my body and just direct my attention inwards towards the life energy within it.  It is a pulsing landscape of all kinds of strange and shifting sensations.  At times these sensations are not always comfortable for me.  Having gone through a lot of body trauma in my life I have been left with imprints in the cells which become apparent to me in the silence. It takes patience and courage at times to rest quietly with these painful sensations.

I was listening to a radio programme on chronic pain recently in which a lady was interviewed who had suffered a fairly serious fall from a horse many years ago.  She lived with chronic pain, the kind that makes its presence felt in the silence and at night most especially.  The way to cope with this kind of pain when it became overwhelming for her was to find a form of distraction from it.  There is a value in this.  There is the time we need to escape from the silence and move towards a place of forgetting of the self and deep pain through shifting the focus on self and being with others, shifting the focus from an inner pain that may cause us to spiral down into depression which becomes stronger if we remain isolated and cut off within our pain.

The truth is that sometimes others can be a source of comfort. at times others can be a source of pain.  I was always a bit dubious about the distraction method, before I came to suffer from chronic pain myself.  I thought it might be for people who were not too comfortable inside their own skin, who found it too painful to face aloneness and the deep truths that such aloneness can bring. Part of me still believes that in order to know ourselves it is important to be able to spend time alone and that in this alone time silence can be nourishing, another part of me knows that a huge part of the joy of living is about being in relationship and that my own wound in relationship sometimes led me to seek isolation and silence too much, but I still feel it was a necessary retreat.  Time alone helps me reconnect with myself.  Its all about balance.

Being human and vulnerable means that we need others and perhaps one of the most necessary balances in life is that of time spent being with self and time spent being with others.  Some of us are more introverted, we are nourished by time alone,  others of us are more extroverted, nourished by contact and activity,  sometimes we are on different levels of this bi polar spectrum.  The balance between time alone and time in connection is important and this balance can be problematic or precarious for those of us who may have experienced damage in relationships when we were growing up.

Time alone or in silence in that later circumstance becomes a refuge from pain (though it must be pointed out, such a refuge may have been necessary for self protection) but it may even become what one therapist, Neville Symington calls, the narcissistic solution, if we are more intent on denying our trauma and remaining trapped in a dead end solution.

I’ve been questioning myself and my own life most deeply over the past few days while reading Neville Symington’s book Narcissism : A New Theory, most especially my own retreat into introversion and silence around the time I began to enter my own psychological recovery from addiction.  Facing my own need to check out through substances meant facing pain of the past I had tried to bury.  It led to the ending of one and then two relationships.

I have questioned lately how narcissistic was my own need to retreat, but then I remember that in the second relationship I was dealing with someone who was averse to really looking inside to their own painful history and so looked askance upon my need to do so and one of the hallmark symptoms of narcissism is a complex aversion to looking within the self to take responsibility.  We both had narcissistic issues, that much is apparent to me now.

Over the past few months I had some battles with family members over issues from the past.  Venus planet of love and relationships turned retrograde around the time I had a huge confrontation with two family members.  What I learned from this encounter was how much of my own feelings I learned to bury and how much difficulty I have caused by not being truthful and willing to face conflicts and hurt feelings head on by facing them in a mature way.  I cant really blame myself for this, for like many people I was conditioned to be a people pleaser and not really emotionally aware or intelligent until fairly recently.  Carrying around a hurting inner child forced into silence has not been comfortable for me or my body.  Taking responsibility for helping her to express herself more maturely is part of my healing.

Today I read the following quote in the book mentioned earlier :

Narcissism protects me from feeling a child. even from being a child, but no part of my history is ever cancelled out.  It is all within me, my foetal stage, my infancy, my childhood, my adolescence, my early adulthood…..Narcissism is the quick fix.  I believe I am an adult; I believe I am mature….In the narcissistic situation, all that is unpleasant to my self image, I can ditch…. I can get rid of my infantile self by pushing it somewhere – into my body, into another part of my mind, or into others…( I retreat into)… a cover.

In healing the comfort of the cover has to be sacrificed and the encounter with the true child within has to be made, which means, according to Symington that we embrace the creativity and sense of self at the heart of our situation which may have been too painful to face.  We learn to take responsibility on some level for the act of our own expression and becoming as authentic individual and human being, rather than just seeking to gain others approval or replicate their ideas.  We own our scars and wounds and don’t push them away or project past pain,  through feeling them make sense of them in a new way and explore their lessons and gifts.

Comfortable within the silence of ourselves (often filled with memories and voices) we find not a place of burial and deadness but a place of aliveness full of creative possibility and becoming, of unfolding.  When we hear within the silence as a response to this creativity the remorseless voice of our inner critic, saboteur or assassin we listen but we speak up to and answer it back with our own true word of love, love for self, love for humanity and love for life and others which urges us not to allow this voice to put to death what needs to be born, expressed and lived.

Today I spent day at home.  I had a time with the silence and this blog is the outcome.  I forgot an appointment and was then disappointed at myself.  I had a bit of a PTSD spiral down into a battle with my body after a morning of sitting quietly with myself and my dog Jasper while doing mindfulness meditation, just being with the sensations in silence.  At times I heard the voice of my inner critic trying to lay my entire journey and life hopelessness and waste. I express some of this here to blow my cover.  I then read more of Symington’s book and found myself and my journey within its pages.

I think of silence as I write this, expressing within the silence some of my intimations and thoughts.  I watch evening unfold as dusk grows the darkness outside my window here after a day of interiority and rain.   I feel both the sadness of being alone and the nourishing quality of alone time too, knowing something essential has grown out of those times spent coming to know myself in silence.

The Child in Me

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