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Echoes from the past

Learning to parent the inner child

Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash

I neglected my child

I have two children, one is a teenage daughter – I gave birth to her, I care for her, love her and try my best to be a good mother to her. The other I didn’t give birth to, I didn’t adopt, didn’t foster, nor did I step-parent – I didn’t choose to parent her until I was in my 40’s. She was around before that, but I neglected and ignored her and to be honest forgot about her. I’m not alone in this – millions of people do the same thing every day, without even knowing it. Yet when I began caring for the other child, things started to change – I began a journey home – to a place of understanding, acceptance and comfort. That other child is me – my younger self, my inner child.

Meetings….

My first meeting with her was emotional, I cried buckets and crying buckets wasn’t something I was used to as an adult, with someone else in the room. Meeting her was like opening a secret door to a secret library, which held a stash of books about me. I could have stayed there for a long time – meeting her helped me put the missing piece in the jigsaw. What was she like? She was bewildered, she felt alone – she saw the world as a cruel and strange place that she had been sent to in error – this belief had rendered her silent – expressing myself has always been an issue as an adult – as a child I was sent to a speech therapist because I failed to talk – the speech therapist found that I could talk but chose not to. This inability to express myself carried on in my adult life – I found that only in anger could I express myself and then my words were vitriolic.  

The child as teacher..

Not all of the meetings were sad, some were insightful and joyous. I found that she had a passion for healing others – I recall my brother being ill with flu as a child and I believed by simply standing in his bedroom – he would get better – this wasn’t a flight of fancy – it was an innate belief. This was long before I discovered Reiki and other alternative healing practices. What she taught me is that I had ventured far away from the essence of myself – I started to see that I preferred her version of me than the one I had become. I had changed to ‘fit’ in this world – I had to hide my sensitivity and my vulnerability – cover the soft centre with an iron cloak that I wore to protect myself and shut down all those beautiful emotions in case the world saw who I really was. I made the decision to stop hiding her like a precious jewel you keep locked up in a dark vault, but to let her out and allow her to make her own way in the world with my blessing. We are now reconciled, she is here with me now, helping me type these words and mostly happy, but like a good parent – I check in with her a lot to see if she’s ok.

Informing my practice

In my work as a therapist and coach, I now help my clients meet the child that they have usually neglected, ignored and forgotten. Like me, many find this emotional, some find it bizarre that they will leave my room a parent, some find a while to locate the child – they’ve left it somewhere and it’s lost. As adults when something gets stuck in our growth as a child, it’s like we never really grow up. We carry that stuck child within us – and when we react, we react from the child. How many of us wonder why we behave in the way we do when we feel anger, resentment, insecurity? Healing the inner child comes from parenting ourselves, often allowing that child a voice, consoling their fears, soothing their anger, encouraging them to express theirselves, telling them not to worry – that everything will work out and to just enjoy life. Telling them that they are loved. With good parenting the child grows and the adult becomes resolved and whole.

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