Inner Child

The last few weeks have been difficult for me. After four years of therapy, my therapist and I came to identify that there is still a lot of healing to do. Although, I have learned that it is not my fault, processing feelings is complex – just when you think its done, another layer appears.

In all these years, I have never truly connected with my inner child. Whenever I talk about the abuse, which is rare, I talk about it as if it happened to someone else. I was shocked to discover this, I never realized this before, I talk about it very matter of fact, very disconnected. The fear of facing the grief, of facing any left over feelings of shame/guilt, and therefore the fear of connecting with my inner child has been terrifying.  I have finally come to a logical place, been able to move past my abuse and I don’t want to lose it all….

As I began to connect with this part of myself – emotions rushed in. It felt like I was nine years old again. Very weird feeling, to be a fully grown woman and feel unsafe even in your therapist’s office. Logic isn’t what can explain the feelings of the inner child. But these feelings, so old but so real, like time had never passed. I can’t do justice to these feelings with words, I wish I could. But its the first time I have truly felt speechless.

And for the last two weeks, I have been speechless. Unable to comprehend, unable to explain to others, unable to journal or meditate. I have found ways to sit with my feelings but its been a world wind. I guess, I finally opened that pandora’s box, when I allowed my therapist to take control of the session, and stopped rejecting her help with this topic. Although I’m glad to move towards healing, another part of me is screaming, what was I thinking, giving up control again? Which is ironic, because I too am a therapist, and a good one too – yet being in therapy is never easy – no matter how much you know.

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After a lot of tears, numbness, dreams, reflection and reading, I have come to realize a few very very important things:

  1. When I imagine my inner child at the time of the abuse, and I imagine soothing her, talking to her, connecting to her (as recommended for healing), I feel so incredibly guilty – and that is after I am even able to move past the numbness and connect. Guilty for ignoring her all this time, guilty for ignoring all the signs that she needs comfort.
  2. As I overcome some of this guilt, I realize that she is a wonderful child. She was so smart, so wise, so courageous, so positive and so skilled and doing her best to protect herself, protect me.
  3. As I learn to connect, I feel her intense grief, but also realize this is my grief. Mostly, for allowing myself to treat myself so poorly and reject the one person, who protected me – my own inner child.
  4. As weird, uncomfortable or illogical it may feel, learning to comfort myself and talk to my inner child, has been allowing me to feel some sense of happiness in a way I can’t explain. It is like gaining back a relationship I had lost, filling of a void that I forget is empty since I have been so good at filling it with other meaningful relationships.
  5. I continue to learn that my inner child, my authentic self is very special. She is very smart, beautiful, funny, caring, loving, able to think of others even in the worst of times, she is a very gentle soul. She truly amazes me, how at age 9, she could be so wise and giving. This brings me to tears because I have ignored this fact for over 20 years. I have allowed myself to constantly criticize and constantly shame myself.
  6. I have realized my inner child does not deserve the treatment I have been giving her. She doesn’t deserve to constantly feel like she has to be perfect, to prove that she is a good person, or to constantly desire approval/love from others. She deserves to just be and be celebrated for her courage, for her amazing self.

A big sigh of relief and a sigh of sadness. I will call this the happy-grief feeling. I am happy to know my  inner child. I never truly felt special, although I am lucky enough to have people tell me this all the time. A part of  me always doubted what they said. Maybe a relationship with my inner child is the only way I can truly fill this void. I think I realize the hardest part of abuse, is losing yourself, because every child blames themselves. What I’ve learn is that its easier for children to believe they could have changed something than to realize that it was not in their control, this is very scary as a child; to be in a world where you cannot change/control the horrible things happening to you. And it is even worse when your abuser blames you and emotionally manipulates you into thinking its your fault. And that is what my grief is about, for myself and for all the other children in this world who suffer.

As hard as that is for me, and I do feel that sadness quite often, I try to remind myself that I am one person, and I do my best to help others recover as I continue to recover myself. I have come a very long way and now I have the privilege of being able to heal fully, to be able to afford therapy, to be able to be supported by my partner, friends, co-workers, and my supervisors. I am truly very blessed. I hope that as I keep healing, I can continue to advocate, raise awareness about what it is like to recover from abuse, and help people truly heal and not just cope indefinitely. As I previously said in a post, I am trying to prioritize getting better vs. getting by.

 

Chit Chat.

HOPE

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Hope

Hope was something that I felt I had lost. I also came to realize that hope could also be dangerous. Always having hope that my parents would come around, that they could grow, learn, become better and more importantly that they wanted to do this, was hope that always gave me strength. Until it didn’t. Hope became the glimmer I always looked for, only to be constantly disappointed. In this hope, I made many decisions that if I knew differently, I would have lived my life differently. In the hope they would come around, I remained more attached to the idea of being the daughter they would approve of and hopefully, accept and love unconditionally. But as I faced reality and the devastating pain that came with this reality, my hope began to disappear. Now, I sat in my bathroom shower bawling my eyes out, crying until I could no longer breathe, feeling the strongest physical pain I have ever felt in my heart. Without hope, I did not know where to go, what to do, I had no direction. Without hope, this pain felt like it would consume me and moving on felt necessary but all I could see was darkness, with no direction of how to escape the pain.

Then a new hope appeared. I still don’t know how I got here, but eventually the pain began to subside. But it did not subside until I surrendered to allowing my pain to express itself, validating my emotions and accepting that for now, I may not have answers but I would have to continue to try to move forward, no matter how directionless. As I began to reconnect with the present moment, I began to appreciate what was present in my life that was positive, that gave me love and acceptance. As I began to look around, I started to think of acceptance differently. I accepted and loved myself, my friends, boyfriend, coworkers, employers and even some clients accepted and loved me! There is acceptance all around in my world. Yet, the emptiness and the hole in my heart still often remains. Being present, recognizing everything that is going well, has begun to bring back hope into my life. A hope that I can become attuned with my own needs and practice self-love and self-acceptance. A hope that all the love and acceptance from others can fill the empty part of my heart in different ways. A hope that I can be happy and move forward in life, no matter how my parents behave now or in the future. Now, when my parents do what they do, I am no longer as upset or attached to it. I don’t expect them to be better human beings, to change, to grow or to even love me unconditionally. I accept they love me, but I also accept that they love me in very flawed ways. Their humanity no longer has as much of an impact on my humanity, my self-identity. It has been a very very rocky road, and it is no where near over. But, I have been holding on, now I see that my pain is beginning to end, or at least diminish.

Chit Chat.

Happiness

Happiness

Today, watching the sunshine creep in through my translucent red drapes, listening to music, staring at a pile of my laundry, I realized, this is what happiness feels like. I can say that I have reconnected with the pure joy that I have always longed for and for a while it disappears at times. Today, I have realized it has reappeared, and that I am satisfied and happy with my choices in life and everything that I have to be grateful for.

This being said, no one would know, that less than 48 hours ago, I had received unwanted contact from my past abuser. How he obtained my contact info is still a mystery, but what is clear, is that I am no longer a helpless child. My heart was beating out of my chest when his message and face appeared on my cell phone what’s app box, and I hoped to god it was someone else. The fear that has been stored in my body returned will full force, I can say, sitting here in another country miles away from my abuser, I still felt scared.

But, thanks with the help of counselling, I was able to recognize my fear for what it was — a survival skill from the past coming back with the memories. I reminded myself that I am no longer helpless, I am no longer in danger and this sad sad sad person has absolutely no hold over my life. In fact, the only thing he deserves is pity (and maybe some hatred). So I did what my brave but feisty nine year old self wanted to do a long time ago – stand up for myself. I not only told him where to go but also how little he was worth. I think for this one, a little immaturity and anger will suffice.

Then I remembered what I’ve learned from Ekhart Tolle, the power of now. That is right. I then quickly reminded myself that this person does not deserve to take away another moment of my happiness away from me and moved along with my life – accomplishing lots at work, spending quality time with myself and my loved ones. So today, watching the sunshine in my apartment, I remember, how lucky I am and how special I really am.