how to heal by protecting your inner child
photo by Jennifer Santaniello
we are comprised not only of our 2018 versions of self, but of ALL years in existence of self. conjure the image of a paper mache doll and imagine you are infinite dimensional and tangible flutters in it. since we are not one-dimensional, we are walking around all day and night with past versions of self. most of us have barely integrated ANY of these selves. this is evidenced with the tactile, 3d reality that we are still connected to. we seek outside of ourselves for “healing” and “help” because we are too afraid to look at what is already there…
each of those paper mache flutters represents a memory, a dimension/aka specific point in time, and other persons. our emotions are informed by our ego (survival) messaging, which is informed by our *experiences*. when we suffer unconscionable abuse or experience, we automatically fragment in order to psychologically survive. the structure of that fragmentation looks like big walls around our synapses that connect the emotional and intellectual processing of said experiences. we then walk around with labyrinth-type walls around our day-to-day experiences, having trouble integrating some of the most basic functioning around xyz aspect of our lives. for each of us, the aspects can be extremely different; yet with severe PTSD we will share in common certain denominators…
the denominators include all aspects of moving forward in life. they show up differently for each person and they show up in every category. for example: achieving a dream via actualizing a talent or gift; pursuing and enjoying a romantic partnership; losing weight or optimizing physical health. when we suffer ridiculous abuse, it is the chemical within the BODY that sends a signal to the brain to “stop”. and so, we usually just stop. we can not be smart enough to find space around this. my CBT with individuals centers around finding this space, as we pursue the unconscious mind and bridge it with the conscious and current self. which requires “remembering”… which is typically shrouded in PTSD…
last night I had another personal breakthrough psychotherapy session. I’ve been having pointed breakthroughs over this last month or so. so, perhaps I have been in another personal cycle of evolution and that is why I have not written many blog posts as of late. during this particular session, we noted one of my most shameful cycles: holding myself hostage to people, places, and things. yet this particular cycle is one that has been so present since my first breath, that I did not acknowledge it until last night. at least not in this new way. imagine that!? anyhow, it is the cycle of having nothing and no one. sound strange? I know. it sounds strange writing it. for example I have a thriving business. I have tons of friends. I have no shortage of interest from romantic prospects. I earn an excellent income. I am in excellent physical shape. I appreciate the way that I look. I feel spiritually FULL. I can wake up happy every single day (because of the work I have already done on myself). what could be missing? this: I have been trained to be left with absolutely nothing, and especially nothing that does not first belong to someone else. I can see that my therapist is very protective over me. because I have never been protected in life (speaking in logistical 3d terms). when I garner something for myself, my adrenals (the hallmark chemical adrenaline in the body that says “this is unfamiliar! so this is dangerous!”) work overtime to discard all of my fruitful efforts by disintegrating their byproduct. more on that in a bit…
after a strong hug and two kisses from my beloved therapist, and a warning to please stay away from all in the past that has set me up to die (spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and then physically), I randomly turned on Kenny G’s “Songbird” and headed home to ponder such a magnificent session. I would also like to note, that digging into trauma and releasing unfortunate patterns does not color my over-arching emotions or present-day conscious life/reckoning, at least on the surface; meaning that as a result of deep therapy and self-seeking, I do not become depressed or feel inadequate — in fact I feel the opposite…relief and Universal support…as I subsequently realize that my tiny brain and body could not help themselves back then, but they can now. at any rate, “Songbird” was apparently a huge hit in my young life and upon hearing it, I began to recall more repressed memories. tied to the very thing that I unlocked last night in therapy.
as I listened to the song, a feeling washed over me that my young self in 1987 was sitting there with me. she must have heard that song 1,000 times on the radio that year, and I only last night for the first time had any recall of what that time actually felt like for her as a being. I tried, consciously, many times already, to remember her. that doesn’t work. and if it were that easy, we would all be running around as stable, happy, healthy and extremely successful individuals. and so the point is, that the epiphanies that had surfaced in therapy made it safe enough for her to join me on my ride home. I rode all of the way home with her sitting by my side, and I cried for her. I cried for her, because I missed her. it has been so long since it was safe enough for her to be with me. I thought about the constant reminder of my therapist, to stay away from that which seeks to destroy me in life — a decision that I actually made, on my own, prior to even entering therapy (which has been the most gratifying and abundant experience imaginable over the last few years). when we create distance between us and that which seeks to destroy us, it is only then that our inner child is even remotely safe enough to peek his/her head out of the door and down the hallway. if the hallway is busy, or if we are still in trauma aka denial of true inner self (meaning we can not move forward in life in one way or another!), the child will go back in. these are my metaphors, by the way, the ones I see visually in my mind’s eye, when I explain this process. last night that particular dimensional self not only poked her head into the hallway, but she walked into it and down to my 2018 door.
the agreements within that child ran so deep. she had agreed to be silent for fear of being hit at random, either across the face at dinner or punched in the stomach or dragged out of bed by her hair in the middle of the night while in an otherwise dead sleep. did you know that’s an actual effective form of torture, designed to completely control a person and their mind? the agreement to be silent contributed to her fear of press and media opportunity until recently. the agreement to be silent was present when she was an actor on ABC, and it took every spore of energy just to show up as the fear of dissolution of self seemed imminent once her episodes aired. like most things in life though, she felt this fear and did xyz anyhow. these were steps toward obliterating that fear and getting to the layer underneath the fear. other fears in that child that I met with last night: she had agreed to have absolutely nothing for herself. if everyone around her was not completely happy, then she did not deserve to have anything. she had agreed to have nothing for fear of being either shamed, or completely ignored and abandoned. when she was an actor on ABC, she was told to keep the news “under her hat”, because “people don’t want to hear good news in a bad economy”. into adulthood, she believed that she should silence all part of herself. all of the messages that young girl who met me last night straight out of 1987 had received were not only corrupt and corrosive, but still very active in recent conscious memory. I talked with her about why she was terrified of having abundance. since she had agreed to have nothing so early on in life, this agreement was later met with reinforcements throughout her early 20s whenever she attempted to provide for herself. during multiple attempts to provide for herself, those controlling the agreements from a very early age made certain to destabilize every single attempt. nearly every attempt to be a sovereign being was met with chaotic abuse, and punishment through mind-control games and jealousy. over the past number of years, this version of her/myself would find any way possible to disintegrate personal resources that should have been enjoyed by the fruits of very hard work. yet, she could not see how she was disintegrating these opportunities in order to FREE herself from the enactments of the only patterns and messages that she ever had around personal resources. in restricting personal resources, there was the notion that she would always have to work — day and night — with no break ever. the fear associated with this pattern was tremendous, and last night she met with me to remind me of their entry point. and in order to even meet this 1987 child, I had to make myself extremely vulnerable and raw with someone whom my unconscious mind still probably does not fully trust. it’s ok, I’m conscious of that 🙂
in order to make myself vulnerable, I had to go right to my shame over this past month. as humans we typically bypass ANY and all feelings of shame. if we didn’t, none of us would have ANY problems at all! so it’s either go right to the shame, or repeat the pattern for life. now, shame is elusive. it’s covered up with other people’s fake words and actions, designed to keep us there. shame is an illusion, but if we are young enough, we will buy into it. and we will keep buying into it in order to survive for the rest of our lives. until we become conscious enough to see it for what it is worth. most people I know have shame. in fact, I do not know anyone who does not carry deep and repressed shame in one category of life. it is important to note that in order to identify this shame, we have to admit the one thing that we can not stop doing. for some of us, it is an eating disorder, substance issue, or OCD issue. for me it was none of the above; for me, it was the fact that I could not stop giving. and, in fact, it went a step beyond giving — it went into the territory of truly having nothing for myself. and so my shame was centered around finding ways to make sure that I was left with nothing, no matter what I’ve done in life. the illusive thing with shame is, that we can THINK on the surface whatever we want. we convince ourselves, and we can even convince others. but underneath that surface are the things that make us hurt in secret. for me, it has been a pattern of withholding from self. I’ve made certain to spread my resources so thinly that even though I could have purchased a house or two at this point, it’s been more important to make sure I focus on getting rid of it — OR ELSE…or else is the ultimate, unconscious threat, and it is as real as this blog post. I could not stop holding myself hostage, only to have to (perceivably) keep working for the rest of my life — and with no outside support. it is only when our inner child is under true threat of annihilation that we can cover the enactment with shame, and then hide it from ourselves and the world. this is because shame saves our lives — it saves our lives by making traumatic events OUR FAULT. as I always say: it is easier for the psyche to feel safe (i.e. feel shame) than to see the truth…the truth being, in this case, that the traumatic events and unthinkable abuse were not actually my fault.
last night the little girl explained to me that she had no choice in order to survive her environment, than to decide she would die if she had anything for her sovereign self. and although I felt like saying to her, “haven’t we been over this!? I mean, we have had SO many breakthroughs, why this suddenly NOW and not sooner?”, I recognized that her will to live was something to be respected and touched on delicately. she just wanted to live, period, even if she had to do so in a most uncomfortable fashion. she did not know, that there was another way…(*I*, the 2018 me, did not know, that there was another way)…a way besides draining every cell in her body to accommodate…someone else. I’m speaking about extremely unconscious levels, by the way — the levels Oprah spoke about what she struggled with weight. it’s the unconscious level that is buried so deeply, no drug or chemical or ashram or meditation can reveal it. this is the bottom concrete level of our very being — the last foundation before we drill through it and completely integrate all aspects of our conscious and unconscious minds on a particular theme.
the most illusive aspect of getting there ^^ is thinking that there is actually no other possibility — so it can even be extremely frustrating to discuss with a therapist. and it is a chemical so tightly locked that we literally can not hear another person when they spell it out for us (I have seen this countless times in my sessions). it is the chemical of survival. and when it is the byproduct of severe PTSD, we have a really low chance of accessing it, because we are so afraid of it. despite logic.
so, how do we heal by protecting our inner child? we first have to find the things that make us feel childlike. that’s actually not that hard. I’ve already outlined above some of the ways that we hold ourselves back. other things to look at are chemical disorders (like bipolar etc, and really go in and address them outside of taking a pill), specific fears (like being alone, can’t be single), or addictions (to people or things). though I feel grateful to have escaped all of the latter, I was still a sucker for making sure I was always left empty in life. but I had to first note that which made me feel childlike, which was depleting myself in ALL ways — as that was the one, consistent hallmark of my childhood. nothing like coming up empty could call the important part of my inner child into that room last night to have a chat with my therapist and I. and although there are too many supporting examples and traumas to count in accordance with explaining it, it was the most simple, surface and basic example that I had to greet. I was allowed to greet it because I opened one of my most guarded vaults, surrounded by pure shame, masquerading as protection but actually existing as severe punishment for being who I am.
if you think any of this sounds simple, or that we can meet ourselves on the external plane and work that way, you are wrong. true healing runs super deep, and we all need it (especially men). our resistance of such turns into all kinds of other things/shameful behaviors that are actually not very elusive to us OR those around us. sometimes they take the form of illness. but they all start and end in the mind. if we are to actually go there, deep into the sea of the unconscious, we find that we were little. we were defenseless. we were not supposed to do better at that time, because we could not. and so we go ahead and make ourselves safe, safe enough to heal, in two ways…
we must first be far along enough on our journey to acknowledge who and what is not good for us. I do not care if this is a relative, a friend, a family friend, an employer or anyone else who is abusive. if we are in communication with them, our odds of being completely healthy are none. if we can get this far, then we have taken the first step of clearing the hallway for that little girl or boy. after we have cleared the hallway, we get to the fun part. we get to the part that tied us to the abuse in the first place: the pattern. whatever that pattern was (again I’ve outlined many examples above). the little girl or boy now feels safe enough to tell us why the pattern is there. if we can brave the feeling of shame that has covered up the truth or the true origin of the pattern, we will see that it was never ours and it was never about us. and we will finally give ourselves permission to stop hurting ourselves. and we allow those who hurt us, to now feel the one thing we have carried on their behalf: HURT. we release the fear that if we have xyz, or if we are free from xyz, that we will die at the command of those who decided we belonged to them and that their sickness belonged to us.
last night I gave myself and my 1987 self permission to have things for myself. I gave her permission to share herself with the world, but to have things. to have anything at all. and in doing so I changed my childhood again. which changes today. which puts me one step or even many steps closer to a completely new life that my eyes and heart have dreamed of but never seen. and my life is pretty great despite it all. I’ll keep making sure of that.
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