Our inner child

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all4peace

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Our inner child
« on: May 29, 2018, 09:08:38 PM »
This is a concept that I've been exploring for nearly a year now. I've posted frequently about it but I don't think I've ever started a thread on it. I'd welcome a conversation about this with all of you, and would love to share what has been helpful to me so far.

My journey to the inner child started by accident. I have a lot of physical scarring that I got therapy for, a hands-on physical treatment done by a good friend. I didn't realize her methodology included therapy in the emotional realm. She took me back to my surgery at birth, in my mind, where the first scars came from. She asked me to visualize that infant, that entry into the world, asked me to describe what I saw and felt, then invited me to care for that infant as she needed to be cared for. It was the most intense emotional experience I can remember in my life, and it showed me the absolute power of inner child work. What I saw that day is that I cared for that infant just as I had cared for my own children, and my entry to the world was likely traumatic, cold, painful and lonely. Based on what I know of childhood, it didn't get better.

That started a journey for me in which I consciously tried to go back to different ages in childhood. Photos helped, memories, writing, even siblings' memories. I did a lot of writing to that child, I created a meditation/imagery to myself from birth to adulthood and made it a daily part of my healing.

As the journey has continued, sometimes I simply ask myself what age is being expressed? My desperate need to get DH to understand me? I think it's the desperate need of an infant who must be heard, or die. The angry, rage-filled person who wants to shout the truth to our parents, to let it all come out? I think it may be my teen self so silenced and full of anger that had no place to go. The terror-filled, weak-kneed, anxious one? That could be many ages, but for certain it's not the adult or teen. The parts of me that are so curious, reaching out to others, loving to connect and full of joy and delight in the world? I remember being 10 and I think this part of me is still alive. The sad, grieving, angering, crying one? That's my adult self, finally accepting, finally grieving.

I read a fascinating summary of this book and have ordered it to read it fully: "Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation" The author is a therapist who has worked with Bessel van der Kolk, author of "The Body Keeps the Score". She believes that healing comes by seeing and reclaiming all the parts of us that were fragmented through trauma (both abuse and neglect), and that until we can see our child selves and reclaim them it will be very difficult or impossible to heal.

I found a great article today on the same topic: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evil-deeds/200806/essential-secrets-psychotherapy-the-inner-child
One quote: "At least in the sort of psychotherapy I practice, the adult part of the personality learns (and this, like much of therapy, is a learning process) to relate to the inner child exactly as a good parent relates to a flesh-and-blood child, providing discipline, limits, boundaries and structure. These are all--along with support, nurturance, and acceptance--indispensable elements of loving and living with any child, whether metaphorical or actual. By initiating and maintaining an ongoing dialogue between the two, a reconciliation between inner child and mature adult can be reached. A new, mutually beneficial, cooperative, symbiotic relationship can be created in which the sometimes conflicting needs of both the adult self and inner child can be creatively satisfied."

Once in T, my T briefly used the word "tantrum" in reference to me. It shocked me, agitated me, but made me think. There are ways that I have desperately tried to get my needs met in adulthood, and I was certain that DH needed to meet them, but did he really? I am coming to understand that some of my core beliefs are really faulty, based on the desperation of a child, and not on a solid foundation at all. When I'm willing to let down the defenses and really be "re-made", be willing for the humbling experience of learning how to be an adult by first really embracing the child, then the healing can really begin.

This a big fragmented (no pun intended) but hopefully makes enough sense. I'd welcome anything anyone would like to share! And, for the record, I found the first exploration into inner-child work embarrassing, but it was too powerful to ignore.

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lightworld

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Re: Our inner child
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2018, 07:43:15 AM »
I've done some inner child work with my T too.  Like you, each time I have an emotion I identify which one  of me it really is and what age I am. Often the anxious me, the one that expects punishment and the one that thinks the sky will fall in because of one small error, the one that worries about what people think is my earnest 12 year old self, trying to be a good girl, with huge expectations heaped on my shoulders. being a carer, problem solver, scapegoat and slave.

This helps because, as well as caring for the inner child I've identified, I can then address the emotion or feeling as myself, as I am now, knowing I'm an adult and I'm in charge. It calms me.

It's particularly helped me to see that I don't need to immerse myself in every relationship, I don't have to give so much, I can take something too for myself. This was  a revelation, I have always felt I had to give, give,give or explains, explain, explain until I was exhausted with it.  I now realise this is just what was  expected  of me at 12, before  I became a rebellious teen. Interesting stuff.
An empathic, highly sensitive, caring, loving, naÔve, emotional and vulnerable child is a prime target for a narcissistic parent
Clare Lane

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Peace Lily

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Re: Our inner child
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2018, 02:43:47 PM »
Thank you for this post All4peace. I have become aware of my inner child's existence and have been relating to my 10 year old self as I have a photo of her which seems helpful in connecting to her.  More recently I discovered my baby self by accident as it were.  I have a memory of my mother saying she hadn't wanted children (at least not as soon into marriage, also that she didn't really relate to us /enjoy us until we were toddlers. She has made comments relating to my sister that she has a bad back because my sister used to kick her back when she was pregnant with her, also she said she only felt sorry for my sister when she realised the reason she wasn't feeding was because she had allergy problems and couldn't breathe and feed. This all did not sound like a mother very caring of babies or a mother very bonded to her babies. It sounds to me now like she resented her babies for being born. If she didn't relate to us before we were toddlers (and then the things I remember after that was a lot of screaming, smacking and threats of beating) then what must it have been like for my baby self? I found myself talking to my baby self telling her it would be alright and I would grow up and be happy. I had always assumed my parents to be delighted to have their newborns. My previous self could not have imagined it otherwise.  Thank you for posting the link, I have read this and it makes such sense.
"It is not the the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind". Aisha Mirza

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Psuedonym

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Re: Our inner child
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2018, 05:32:25 PM »
Thank you a hundred times for this post All4peace. I've been struggling with some weird relationship issues in my life and your post was really illuminating, especially the part about the faulty core beliefs. I will be definitely reading up on this.

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Fightsong

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Re: Our inner child
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2018, 02:33:43 PM »
Hi A4P.  Meeting my inner children, accepting  who I found, and seeing my past experiences as a safe sane adult  looking at my child self ( and sometimes visualisations involving intervening) have been some of the most healing work I have done in my therapy. I suppose if I close my eyes to see them there are maybe  10. Not all as clear as one another.

That my therapist always saw the child(ren) I had fought to leave behind was a sweet comfort and Made something frankly very strange and vulnerable seem natural and allowed me to see itís necessity.

My first job was to make her comfortable, welcome and acceptable, Once she felt safe she began to speak of things we could now deal with. Itís been hard.  And painfully obvious at times. Iíd believed myself to be alsorts of things I am not, and never was.  And I can see how the child at various ages has been in play in my life all along. All along but  unknown, ignored, hated. Horrible really.  Itís  been freeing work and I can now ask - whose is this feeling?  And someone will speak up. Which is mightily helpful and illuminating. 

My therapist talks about bringing all the bits of ones- self together. About how trauma has split parts off and trapped them. About how bringing the parts together brings wholeness to self. Truly when I first saw my inner child I felt like I was breaking up, cracking up.  I was gently told that in fact  I was coming together.  I see now I could never feel whole whilst there were parts of me I refused to look at.

Inner child work for me meant embracing child-likeness. A need for laughter, silliness, comforts and love, to be told itís ok, told I am nice,  be able to cry without knowing why. And be confused.
Itís taken what feels like eternity. I had to just let it be. Let it come. Before I would have said it was all nonsense, infantilising stupidity. Maybe even dangerous to refind those feelings and memories. I would have been wrong. Really wrong. Itís been like a fairy tale,  with fairy godmothers and evil monsters.  Very apt for one so young.

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daughterofbpd

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Re: Our inner child
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2018, 04:17:25 PM »
all4peace,
Thank you for sharing and allowing yourself to be vulnerable here. I know that isn't easy. I too have had poor ways of getting my needs met. I had a therapist help me to see that I was being manipulative, even though I was being very passive. I had no idea. I would be very interested in reading a review of "Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation" when you are finished with it. I feel like I am currently "stuck" perhaps not able to reconcile my inner child with my adult self and/or PTSD responses, I'm not sure. I just find it very difficult to change my ways of coping and I think I have not yet developed faith that coping in a different way would produce a different outcome. I'm trying to keep learning and keep pushing myself to get through this. I appreciate you opening this conversation.
ďHow starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your egoĒ
~ Amanda Torroni