A few weeks back, my therapist recommended that I look into the workbook “Recovery of Your Inner Child” by Lucia Capacchione. First, let me say that I hate the term “inner child”. For me it reeks of 70’s hippie new age. This is not to say that I don’t believe in the concept, I just hate the term. I prefer “core wound”, but it’s hard to use that term when describing the process of working with this book. The term “inner self” is used in the book, so I’ll be using that term instead.
Aaaaanyway, it took me about a month to finally start reading it, and as I did, I couldn’t help but keep tearing up! It is so compassionately written.
In the beginning, Lucia states that “The Inner Child is the emotional self. It is where our feelings live. When you experience joy, sadness, anger, fear, or affection your Child Within is coming out. When you are truly feeling your feelings you are allowing your Inner Child to be.” Learning to “feel my feelings” is something I’ve been struggling with this whole year, but since April I’ve been practicing it, and it’s tough. I do not go gently into that good night.
Before I started the exercises, I prepared by buying a new art journal and box of crayons (since I already have colorful markers, etc.). I remembered how, as a child I always wanted that big box of crayons with the sharpener on the back. My mom was very frugal so I had the RoseArt K-Mart crayons that were waxy and dull in color. So getting to buy crayons, this time the ones I wanted, was quite fun. When I looked at the price I was shocked and laughed, saying to myself “Dude the 90+ box of crayons is only $4! My mom didn’t want to spent an extra couple of bucks?” I’m not dissing my mom, she was great with money, and I used those waxy RoseArt’s to the nub.
I began the first exercise yesterday, very hesitantly, because I knew I was going to be tapping into some serious stuff. So I turned the t.v. off, logged into Pandora and chose the “Spa Radio” station so I could have some comforting ambient music. Now, if you haven’t read the book, what comes next is going to sound really cheesy, so bear with me and trust that with the knowledge from the book, it all makes sense.
The first exercise had me getting to know my inner child/inner self. I was to visualize a place that was safe and allow this person to make themselves present. I resisted it for a while and in all honesty, was really agitated. I kept thinking “Why am I doing this shit? Why do I always have to do shit like this? Can’t I just be like other people and be out enjoying this nice day? Can’t I just live my life?” Then from somewhere inside me I felt a voice saying “Don’t ignore me”. It was at this moment that I realized that what I was doing in this moment was what I always do – ignoring what I really need and looking for distractions. I felt bad because, for me, my core wound consists of being ignored and feeling invisible.
In my mind I envisioned a park with a swing set and no one there. I sat in the swing and looked next to me where I saw her. She was small, pale, with dark hair in clips, and wearing a black dress with a red long coat. I smiled at her and she sat in my lap. She put her head against my chest and her presence radiated love and acceptance. I held her close and told her how sorry I was for ignoring her. She told me how alone she felt, how she felt ignored all the time, and unwanted. I told her how I would never ignore her again and how much I loved her. In her presence there was a sadness and a sense of comfort.I then had to draw a picture of her with my non-dominant hand (which evokes a child-like experience). And just like that, there she was, a big smile and all.
Next I was to have a conversation with her. I know, I know, it sounds crazy! A part of me was thinking “are you asking me to have a Dissociative Disorder (multiple personality) experience?” but I remained open to the process, and I’m glad I did. My right hand wrote out questions to her, and my left hand (non-dominant for me) wrote out her answers. “What’s your name?”, “What do you like?”, “What don’t you like?”, “What do you want from me?” were some of my questions to her. When I finished, I looked back at the page and read what had just happened. Without expecting to, I felt overwhelmingly sad and cried.
What I had just experienced was me having connected with, and giving a voice to, that part of me that froze in time. It was that part of me that, so many years ago, I told to shut up, grow up, and leave me the hell alone. I cried for that little girl who was ignored. “I’m so sorry” I cried, “I’m so sorry you got so little of what you like and so much of what you don’t like”. I promised her I would give her what she needed anytime she needed it, all she had to do was ask. I was not expecting to be able to actually feel what it was like to be 5 years-old again.
When I was done, I noticed that the song playing on Pandora sounded very familiar. I didn’t expect it since, like I said earlier, I set it to the “Spa Radio” station so I could have ambient music playing. I didn’t want to be distracted by lyrics. I turned the volume up, and it was The Doors “You’re Lost Little Girl”. Strange days indeed.