March 15, 2015
That Little Girl
I remember a conversation I had once with my massage therapist friend Edie. She was in recovery and was talking about her little girl and how she’s learning to take care of her and would imagine rocking her in her arms.
Something I knew about Edie was that she didn’t have any children at the time. She was discussing the little girl inside of her.
To be honest, I thought she was a little batty. I listened, nodded politely at the right times, and changed the subject as quickly as I could.
That was 20 years ago.
Now, at 52-years-old, I’m learning to take care of my little girl. And no, I don’t have any children – well…except for the furry kind.
I’m talking about the little girl inside of me. The girl I once was, who was abused, raped and who felt abandoned. That little girl.
After hearing about Edie’s inner child, I began to hear and read about it more and more. It made more sense to me when I read John Bradshaw’s “Homecoming: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child”.
I’m far from an expert on this, but I’ll explain it as I understand it.
A part of our development, or psyche remains as it was at the time of abuse. Perhaps we lived in fear during part of our childhood. Or maybe no one took care of us. That child who was so afraid and felt so unloved and unlovable is still in us.
As adults, it’s often our wounded child who runs the show.
If one or both parents weren’t there while we were growing up, the result is a fear of abandonment. If we were sexually abused, as I was, adult survivors often find it nearly impossible to trust, and we don’t learn about healthy boundaries. The list goes on and on.
What learning to take care of my inner child means to me is to give that frightened, angry abandoned little girl what she never received as a child. I can re-parent and care for her myself now that I’m an adult.
As I do, she’ll learn that there’s no longer a reason to feel fear, she can learn to trust, she can have good, healthy boundaries and she’ll learn that she is lovable.
There are lots ways to ‘get in touch’ with your inner child. One is through guided meditation or hypnosis. Or you can ‘talk’ to your child. If you do this, pay close attention to how you feel. Try to get a sense of the child inside you.
Another extremely powerful way is to write with both your dominant and non-dominant hands. Write a letter or a note to your inner child from the adult you, using your dominant hand. For instance, it might be written like this: ‘hello little (your name). I’m so sorry for what you went through, but I want you to know that I will never, ever allow anything like that to happen again.’ Then change hands – use your non-dominant hand to write a response from your inner child. Don’t think, just start writing. You can continue the conversation back and forth as long as you like. The idea of using the non-dominant hand is to trigger another part of your brain. When I did this exercise what came up shocked me. Be prepared for some deep emotional healing to take place.
Find a photo of yourself as a child and look at that photo often. Work on loving that child. She (he) is innocent. Nothing that happened back then was her (his) fault.
Once you are used to the idea of the inner child, begin to take steps to nurture her (him). Take bubble baths, play, (survivors of childhood trauma often find it difficult to play), ask someone to read a bedtime story to you, or twirl until you’re dizzy.
Eventually, the child within you will begin to feel safe, she (he) will feel loved and happy. She (he) won’t feel the need to run the show.
When I think back now, I’m sure Edie recognized that I had a terribly wounded inner child.
A few of you might think I’m batty and nod your heads politely.
But if Edie were to see me now, about to rock my little girl safely to sleep, I’m sure she’d be proud.
Have you done inner child work? Do you feel that it’s changed your life? Are you just beginning inner child work?