Me, Myself and My Inner Child

Yes, you are reading that correctly. After many years of self-reflective soul-searching, I seem to have arrived at The Inner Child. For those who don’t know me: I’m not an inner child kind of person. If anything, I’d be more of an ‘A2+B2=C2‘ kind of person. Or a ‘let’s fix this here and now’ kind of person. The inner child is just not for me; especially not the wounded one that is supposed to be nurtured and healed. Or the one wearing pink leggings and going on swings. Nonetheless, today I spent almost an hour talking about my inner child. And strangely, things kind of made sense.

Last night I had made a total PTSD mess of myself. First, Facebook had confronted me with a picture of my abuser (or so I thought; it turned out to be someone else who doesn’t even look like him). Upset, I tried to distract myself by doing the dishes, which resulted in hot water burning the back of my left hand. So I ran it under cold water and applied a soothing cream, which triggered another set of intrusive memories, until eventually my legs gave in and I fell (don’t worry, other than the hand I’m absolutely fine).

“Looking back, is there anything you could have done differently?”, my therapist asked. Admittedly, I could have chosen a safer distraction than washing dishes and cutlery in hot water. She agreed, but it was not the answer she was looking for. I could have detected my bodily signals of distress earlier? I should have known not to go on Facebook after a long day at work? I should have called an ambulance? She shook her head. I had no other ideas. “Did you at any point consider trying to comfort or sooth yourself?” she asked.

Obviously, I had not. “When you saw that picture on Facebook”, she patiently explained, “your thirteen-year-old self got very upset. Instead of jumping up to provide distraction, you, the thirty-year-old Ana, could have comforted that traumatised inner child. Look, you could have said, that’s not him in the picture; that’s someone else. I’m with you, and nothing bad will happen to you”.

I realised immediately that I can’t talk to my inner child like that. I just can’t. If I’d try my bestest best, I may manage a grumpy “you’ll be fine” or “come on now”. I hate my inner child, and not just because she’s so terribly incompatible with science. I hate her because she needs attention. I hate her because she can’t take care of herself. I hate her because she sleeps with a forty-year-old guy (even if she never wanted to). I hate her because she’s fat and ugly. I hate her because she’s me. If only she wasn’t me, I’d know exactly how to care for her. I would wrap her in a blanket, hold her, stroke her hair, stay with her and tell her she’s safe. And I would fight with all my might if anyone would ever try to hurt her again. But for the inner child that’s me, I have no clue where to start. I don’t even know her.

So, I may not be an inner child kind of person, but I’m not a very ‘happy and PTSD-free’ kind of person either. And that’s something I want to change. I decided I may consider accepting the existence of an inner child in myself, and make an attempt to get to know her. But on one condition: the inner child shall behave. No going on the swing, no whining over veggies, and no pink leggings. Does that sound like a reasonable start, Inner Child?

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3 thoughts on “Me, Myself and My Inner Child

  1. Wow, I pretty much identify with everything in this post because it’s so reflective of my own situation. I’ve even changed my name, going by my middle name rather than my first name because of hating ‘that’ person so much.

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