The Inner Child

Part of healing from ongoing childhood trauma is accepting that a part of oneself is, and probably always will be, a damaged child.  I never really considered this until a long way into therapy.  I knew I had a "kid voice" and I had a lot of painful memories concerning my childhood, but the truth is that there are more than just sad thoughts and memories floating around there--an actual undeveloped, whole persona exists that is trapped in a past it can't leave.

Because there is no resolution from that.  My childhood self is waiting to be repaired.  That would require my mom to come back to life, firstly, and secondly, for both of my parents to backtrack or repair all the damage--it would mean giving me a safe, nurturing environment where I would know for certain that even if I messed up, I was loved.  I wasn't going to be hurt, or beaten, or starved or whatever.  I'll never get anything remotely similar to that.

Instead, the option I get is to let myself grieve.  It always annoys me when people ignorantly (though usually with good intentions) try to sweep whatever negative story I've told under the rug.  "Oh, but it made you who you are!  Would you really go back and change it?"  Uh, yeah, asshole, I would.  Not getting a broom broken over my legs, not sleeping by cockroaches and rats, not watching my dad throw every book I owned into the fireplace?  Not being called fat, horse faced, acne-covered and ugly by both parents?  Not having my house broken into by a police officer because I was left alone in my crib for days on end for a "party" that my parents left for?  Yeah, sign me up for going back and changing that.  Who in the hell says something like that?  How do you know it made me who I am?  I could have been given a better chance and still been "myself."  I don't think what defines me is a long string of depressing abusive events, if that's what defines me then holy shit, I suck!  I don't even think surviving it defines me.  There's a whole lot of me and I'd like to believe it's more complex than "abused kid."

Anyway, before this goes full rant--I just have to make it known that I have a damaged child and I carry her with me, wherever I go.  I remember as a teacher, going about my day and enjoying the time with my students, and then feeling a pang of sadness I didn't understand when Mom or Dad would come, button up their coat lovingly, listen patiently to what had transpired in the day, ask me with great reverence of how their little one did...What was wrong with me?  Why did this make me sad?  I should be happy that these kids are getting proper nurturing relationships with a parent, right?  It's that little girl that hangs out with me, though.  As much love as I want to give myself, I'm not my parent (does that make sense?)  As much as I know and understand that as a kid, I didn't deserve any of that, it will never satisfy the grief of loss.

So what do we do with our inner damaged children?  I have no idea.  I do whatever whims come to me.  It's strange how now at almost 30 years old, I still marvel at things like a warm shower.  I still quietly thank myself for uninterrupted painting time--something I craved as a kid.  I still feel a surge of independence when I can buy whatever food I want, even if it's something dumb like mac and cheese.  I still get nervous about any sort of trust for an authority figure, even though half the time I'm older than my supervisors.  Every time I try to get involved as a foster parent, the enraged, violent protective part of me completely takes over and wants to choke every smug social worker and self-righteous foster parent who dares tell me about "what to expect" and how "rewarding" the "experience" is.

I have no answers about how to appease a broken part of oneself.  And I don't even necessarily think appeasement is the right choice.  It's more of that bullshit put-a-positive-spin-on-shit mentality that is prevalent.  It was horrible, I as a child endured something horrible, the only resolution that would potentially satisfy this child is one that isn't going to happen, and understanding that does very little to bring me, or any part of me, peace.  Luckily, many other things in my life do bring me peace...my cat, my relationships and friends and loved ones, my art, nature, my work, the happy memories I do have from my childhood, and tons more things that I am forgetting.

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