I have a confession to make.
For all the healing I have chosen to do, I still don’t quite trust myself. Not totally, not completely.
I have not done a lot of therapy. I might have a year’s worth, total, accomplished over the last 17 some odd years. So, yeah not much. I’ve done a lot of reading, I’ve talked with other people and in some ways that is therapy too so I’m not knocking that I haven’t done a lot of therapy, I’m just saying that as a preface for what I’m about to say.
I’ve heard a lot about “inner child” work. There’s a whole theory within therapy about the inner child, of which I know basically nothing. I assume it is exactly what it sounds like, that somewhere in the psyche are the various child versions of you at different ages in your life. I suppose it could be looked at sort of like a chronological psycho-historic collection of yourself. Wow that probably isn’t any more clear but bear with me (remember, I don’t really know what I’m talking about, as far as psychological theory goes).
Anyway, the point of that is this; I’ve gotten in touch with what I assume is my inner child. Different ages, different stages. I’ve reflected on her many times. I keep pictures of her (me) in my home and look over them at times. It is a strange thing to see a picture of a very young me and know the entire context of that person – and the nightmare that it is – and wonder… how does a picture of this exist? How is it possible that it leaves so much out yet… contains it all?
My first experience with the inner child was through a reiki session (I have come to see reiki as a facilitated meditation in which the practitioner does nothing but allow you to exist exactly as you are. I’m not too certain of the metaphysical stuff, don’t believe, don’t disbelieve…). I traveled backward in time first, to when I was about 3 or 4 and “met” myself. Then progressed forward up until my early twenties. What a trip. This was my first taste of feeling compassion for myself, for the little person I was who was carrying so much all alone. Since then I have gone back in meditations (this is a loosely used term here; I don’t really meditate but I do sit and ponder things a lot… I ruminate… rumidate?) to… touch point with this part of my psyche. It is usually… painful, uncomfortable, stressful.
Last night, after a weekend of both positive (I got some beautiful and loving gifts from My Safe Person, went to an excellent event and even saw a circus cabaret, listened to some beautiful indigenous story tellers) and… more difficult stimuli (the cabaret is one I used to perform with and the feelings it brought up were… challenging… I was also constipated [we will likely talk about poo one day but not today]) I could feel something wrestling inside me. I was restless and also tired. Maybe depressed though my feelings were dulled by my efforts to contain myself at the cabaret and during the story tellings (had I not I would have just sobbed through the whole damn thing and detracted from the performers/story tellers efforts to entertain and enlighten us). So I did what I have begun to do when this happens. I moved my body. Movement brings to the surface what can not be spoken. It gives shape and expression to the things my articulate mind recoils from but my hearticulate spirit wishes to release. Simple stuff; a vinyasa of cat/cows, planks, down dogs and other poses to massage my over full intestines. Afterward, I lay on my back and placed a block under my hips and just breathed. My guts started to feel better. Some minutes later, I removed the block and just lay on the floor, palpating my stomach. As I dug around in my low belly I found a sore spot. Cranky! Oh it was tender and I could feel my emotions welling up. And so quickly, I was remembering other times when my guts were compacted and the childlike fear, anger and sorrow I felt.
And I knew… it was her. If there’s a place in my body she goes to hide, it is at the very bottom of my gut, just before the small intestine joins the large intestine (illiocecal valve, for you anatomy buffs). Now I’m not saying that memories, personalities, emotions or any of that is actually stored in the physical tissues of the body, but I am aware that our bodies have receptor sites for the physiological components of our emotional experiences and I do know that, given enough repeated exposure to certain neurotransmitters and hormones our bodies become hard wired to process those chemicals thus those organs and tissues can go into a sort of hyper reaction when those chemicals are expelled into the blood stream. So anyway, for me, stress/depression/fear land in my guts and I get terrible gut rot. And when this happens, this scared little girl in me comes rushing to the surface.
As I poked my belly and sussed her out, I was mentally transported to me at younger ages. First when I was a pre teen and was grieving that I could no longer go to horse riding camp because the bus changed stops and I would have to ride the bus across town alone in order to get to it… Then when I was 6 and was told I would no longer be going to ballet classes because we moved too far away and I would have to ride the bus across town alone to get there… And I said to my sad brown eyed 6 year old me… Gee that’s rough. You always get just a taste of something nice, something you want, and then it is taken away from you… I tried to tell little me that, when I grew up, I would return to dance and I would see horses again but something about it felt empty.
Then I was transported back to me as a 2 year old. A tiny distorted face, red and swollen from crying, baby teeth just pushing through, screaming in fear and sorrow and anger. I had just been betrayed by my father. My hands were held out like claws, fingers stiff from clenching into fists and trying to fight away The Monster. And then I could hear myself screaming through the bathroom door and there was no one there to save me. Just a two year old alone in a bathroom with The Monster.
And then I was with her (me) again, looking into that face, making myself look into her face knowing how desperately she needed to be heard and I asked her “what’s wrong sweet heart?” And she sobbed “he hurt me.” And I asked, “what did he do?” And she didn’t have words for the thing that had just happened to her, so she cried and gagged and choked and then said “he made me sick.” And I felt so much compassion and love and need to protect this tiny little person and I asked “would you like to be held?”
And she said, wailed, sobbed “no!”
And I knew, she didn’t trust me.
I don’t trust me.
And in this I realize that, even to myself, I am alone. I can’t ever hava, truly have, the support, love, encouragement, guidance and care of those around me if I can not have that within myself.
I have begun reading a book called The Anatomy of The Spirit and honestly I am taking a lot of it as… interesting, and worthy of much salt, but parts of it seem to be really hitting home. The parts about power, and how some of our remembered betrayals are like holes through which our power leaks, are making a lot of sense to me. I can see how my own ability to care for myself leaks through these holes and I can be irresponsible with the things I need, most often money, time and love.
As I chew on this, connect the dots, I can see how, with regard to the cabaret, art classes I want to attend, friends i want to see, places I want to go, I am now the one telling myself you will have to ride the bus all alone across town in order to get there. That is a big part of the story I tell myself for why I am not in the cabaret anymore (there are a lot of other, legitimate reasons for why I stepped away, see the post “The Time I Chose To Heal”) among other things.
And it’s no wonder this tiny little 2 year old can look into my face and think she can not rely on me. I’m a leaky boat bailing as much water as pours in.
Ahhh and so… tomorrow I start on step one. And perhaps the step that follows is how to be true to the word I give to myself. How to prove to myself that I CAN be the reliable adult I need in my life.
But first… Let’s just wake up tomorrow morning.