I’ve been wanting to write about gentle parenting and my own journey with it but I’m still trying to gather my thoughts about it. Instead I’m going to write today about some inner child work I have been doing.
I know that for some the concept of an inner child is alien. What is an inner child and how do you even go about finding them? Well, for me it started when I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD. I had suspected I had it for years but no one was willing to test for it let alone diagnose me. In fact, when I was 19 I was diagnosed with it but subsequent doctors dismissed it. Then at 33, my therapist did several tests and she concluded I do have it. Honestly, that was helpful. Just knowing why I am the way I am gave me huge insight into my psyche.
My therapist decided to focus on my inner child who I have named. I use my middle name for her. For me, it helps to talk about her as her own person. She’s gone through a lot. She’s been hurt and traumatized. I kept her in a dark room of my mind for the longest time. It wasn’t until I was finally in a safe and stable place in my life that I finally started working with her. It’s been about a year now.
In some ways, that I’m sure I’ll elaborate on when I write the posts on gentle parenting, having her around now is like parenting myself. When I parent TJ or help them navigate something tough, I’m also doing the same with my inner child.
I collect Barbies and I realized that my love for them stems from the fact that they and the world I would create with them were a refuge from my sad, lonely and abusive childhood. I get so excited about new Barbies and have a modest collection now. I realized that that source of joy was my inner child. I was nurturing her. Now, this doesn’t mean she’s only nurtured by material things. She’s also nurtured when I honor her feelings.
Recently, TJ asked for hamburgers. I made them two like they requested. They took two bites and didn’t want them. Admittedly that bothered me A LOT. It triggered my food insecurity trauma. I told them they didn’t have to eat them, but I excused myself and let their step dad BB, deal with getting them something else to eat. I was in my room sort of stewing. Why was I so upset? So, they didn’t want the dinner you cooked. Yeah, that would be pretty annoying. But why was I so upset I wanted to cry and scream?
I don’t want to be the parent that forces their kid to eat food they don’t want. I grew up that way. Being yelled at for not finishing a meal. Getting beaten for hiding (unsuccessfully) our dinner we didn’t want. And then it hit me. Inner child was angry and resentful. Why does TJ get to turn their nose up at a food and I didn’t? Once I realized that inner child was angry, I could then do something about it.
This I guess also ties into gentle parenting and how triggering that can be and I will write more about that. But for now, I want to keep talking about inner child. I imagine her to be about 8 or so. That’s when I started wondering if dying would be better than my life so far then. She’s tall for her age. She’s as smart as a whip. Her mouth is constantly getting her into trouble. She loved (still does) Ricky Martin. She just wanted to be loved and seen.
I’m more in touch with that little girl than I ever have been. I’ll start EMDR soon and I’m sure I’ll talk about that too. We’re going to tackle the trauma I have around TJ’s bio dad, Jekyll, but eventually we’re also going to work on healing inner child’s trauma. I have started to do that on my own but I know it’ll be easier and better once I have my therapist helping me as well.
I talk to inner child a lot. I write her messages. When I am upset, when I know she’s upset, I leave her/myself notes on my Facebook page. They serve as reminders. Below the latest note I wrote myself. Actually after the hamburger incident.
It helps to go back to these notes, it helps soothe her and it reminds me that I am capable of changing for the better. That if I can parent myself, I can parent TJ well.
Will I’ll ever be the adult I needed? I hope so. I don’t know that I’m there yet. I don’t know that you ever get *there*. I think it’s a constant process. But now that I am taking care of her, I know that maybe one day soon, I will be the adult I needed.
I try to be better for TJ, for BB, for my friends And my family. For the whole world, really. So I can leave it better than I found it.
I try to be better for myself and for the little girl who just wanted to be loved and wanted. I’m getting there.