Little me

April 15, 2010

This is my favorite picture of little me

My therapist has been trying to get me to do this “inner child” work for some time now. It always seemed important, but also sort of ridiculous. She would give me this stuffed bear and tell me to imagine it was a little me and tell it things. I would take the bear and look at it and think “what? that’s not me… This is silly, I can’t feel anything for this bear” Then she would tell me to separate myself. To have my adult self talk to my child self and help her, but that just didn’t click in my brain!

I feel like I don’t have an adult self, I don’t really feel like an adult. Most of the time I feel like a confused kid stuck in this adult body. I’m supposed to be responsible and grown-up and I don’t want to! I want to run and play and be silly. I don’t want to do the dishes and go to the bank and file my taxes. Being a “grown-up” seems like such a horrible thing to be. I just didn’t get how the hell I was supposed to separate me from me…

I talked to my naturopath today. So often I’ll be dealing with something in my therapy and totally stuck and then I’ll ask my naturopath and she’ll help me understand. For some reason, I just get it when she says it. Anyway, today I asked her about this “inner child” stuff. I’ve been talking with my mom about it recently and it was on my mind. And amazingly, every thing I asked her, every piece I was stuck on, she answered and made sense of for me!

I’m a bit embarrassed to share all this stuff, it’s so personal, but that’s the point of this blog, to share my journey through my condition and this is definitely a part of it… So here’s what I learned for anyone else who feels like they want to do this work but it doesn’t make sense.

I don’t feel like I have two people inside me (inner child and adult) and I don’t really like the idea of being split!

Well, the idea isn’t that you’re split, but that part of your thinking is stuck being a kid. When I cry and panic because I broke a glass, the little kid in me is feeling that I am bad because I did something wrong, and afraid because the process of cleaning up seems so big and daunting. But if I could think clearly, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. In that instance, the child in me is taking control, because an adult would just say “damn!” and then pick it up. The trick (so I hear) is to have my child self and my adult self separate in my mind so that I can talk that irrational child down from her anxiety, instead of letting her control my emotional state. When that child-like side doesn’t have so much control anymore, there wont be a reason to separate these two ideas of “myself”. So really it’s just a tool, something finite.

How do I talk to my inner child? It seems so silly to talk to a stuffed toy.

That’s not the only way! You just have to be creative and figure out what holds the most weight for you. For me, I figured out that writing in my journal would work best. Having an imaginary conversation is so much easier for me in writing. I used a pen to represent me and a colored pencil for my inner child. I just asked her how she was feeling, and I could actually feel that the feelings were hers. It’s hard to explain, but I really felt like I was talking to my little me, not just to myself. I don’t think that writing will work for everyone, but I used to write to imaginary people in my journal all the time when I was young (I started writing to my mémé when she died) so it came easily.

Talking to my “inner child” does seem totally silly, but to imagine that I’m talking to an actual child made it easier. I realized that I do have an adult me, it’s the same me that would talk to Eva (my friend’s daughter who I lived with for years) and try to help her figure out the world. I may not feel like an adult, buy I am definitely capable of talking to children and I know how talk to them about how they’re feeling and help them figure it out for themselves, so that’s what I needed to do with my own inner child. 

What do I say?

Ask her what she wants. My naturopath said that it’s important to try to see what is really driving the “wants”. If a child says they want to go to the park all day, it’s not that they wish they could just go to the park whenever they want all alone, they want to go to the park with you. They want to play with you and feel loved by you. And obviously you can’t always spend the whole day at the park, you have other things to do! So the trick is to recognize how she’s feeling (she wants to go to the park and spend time with you) and honor that within reason. So you would say “Well, we can’t go to the park ALL day, but we could go for two hours and do whatever you like” And when you keep that little promise you are proving to her that you do love her and you do want to hang out with her, even if you can’t do it all day.

So it’s the same idea with your inner child. Mine told me she wants to hang out with her daddy, which is sooo not going to happen. My father was very loving and fun when I was little, but at some point (around when I was 6, I think) he just stopped. He started hiding away in his office all day and didn’t want to play and would tell me he was busy if I tried to go to him. At that point he stopped being my daddy and became my father. He was still there, physically, but mentally and emotionally he was as far away as he could get. I always felt like it was my fault, that I could have done something differently and maybe my daddy wouldn’t have stopped loving me.  So that was high on my my inner child’s list of what she wants. What I told her was that he does love her, I know he does. He just has his own thoughts and feelings and he forgot about hers. It doesn’t feel good, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her. I told her that she can’t hang out with her daddy, it’s just not going to happen, but she can hang out with me and I’ll love her. She said that wasn’t good enough (which is the way I feel, how can I be a substitute for my own father?) I asked her what she would do if she could be with him right now and the answer was just to snuggle. That’s all I want and it makes my eyes well up to think about it, but I just want to feel loved by my father and if he just wanted to sit with me and hold me, I’d be so happy. So I offered to snuggle her.

This seemed so impossible, how the hell do I snuggle and comfort myself? But I thought about it and it seemed like the best way to simulate being held would be to wrap up in big blankets, so I did. I wrapped myself all up and that’s when I realized something was missing. That’s when I could see the sense in the stuffed animal “inner child” because my arms felt empty and I wasn’t comforted. So I grabbed Bonky.

Bonky is what Joe (jokingly) refers to as his inner child. He’s a stuffed bear that Joe’s had since he was little. His name is Bonky because Joe used to throw him against the ceiling (BONK!)

Laying there, holding Bonky I really started to feel like I was comforting myself. I started to sing a little made up song to my little me about how I thought she was great and not to change herself because it’s the you in you that makes you great, and I started to cry. I cried so hard I had to get up to blow my nose. It was so real and so moving to be there, rocking my imaginary little me and telling her all the things I wish someone had told me. I never thought that this would work for me, but somehow it did.

After a bit I told my little me “In seven minutes, I’m going to get up”. She didn’t want to, none of me did. I was so comfortable and felt so peaceful there, but I had things I had to do. When the seven minutes passed, she held me there. I wanted to stay like that forever, feeling safe and loved, holding this little me that feels so unloved most of the time. But I was the adult. I said “It’s been seven minutes and now I have to get up. I want to stay, but I have to go put away the groceries and make myself some food and do other things. But I promise, we’ll do this again soon”

I’m so glad I finally figured out how to connect with my little me. I really think this will help me immensely in my quest to conquer my anxiety and agoraphobia. If I could just be that little girl in the picture again, be that girl who thinks she looks amazing with her plastic beads and giant bow and green umbrella… I want to be her again, but I wont until I can heal all the hurt that she feels.

My naturopath said to do this everyday, just check in with my little me and pay attention to her, so she feels loved. It’s going to be hard to stick with that but I know it’s important. I put a reminder on my Google calendar to tell me every morning to check in with her before I check my email, so that should help.

I know this was an incredibly long post, but I hope you’ve made it this far and that you’ll share with me your experiences with inner child therapy. Whether you love it or think it’s a crock, I’d love to hear your opinion.


4 Responses to “Little me”

  1. jani Says:

    I just wanted to say that you should be proud of yourself for all the good work you’ve been doing to help yourself. So many of us have these deep-seated problems,especially creative people, I think. Most times I feel like I want to make something,but if its not perfectly done,(i feel) it will be terrible,so I don’t do it. So, I’d like to come to terms with that too. I also feel most comfortable being alone, but I kinda fight it.

    I’ve been thru some therapy, and I know its a lot of work to deal with these psychological issues. I’m glad you’re sharing it with us, I think it will help all of us. Good luck ! & know that lots of us are rooting for you,and sending you good karma. xxx, jani

    ps) When I was in art school,learning how to paint, my prof.used to give us old masters to copy…Now, I know that sounds dumb & boring,but sometimes you can learn a lot from copying, and sometimes you can find your own style that way. Just try painting different styles, maybe, and you will get better just by painting a lot too. There’s also a good book on acylics called “The New Acrylics” with lots of cool techniques to try.

  2. Thank you! You’re so sweet, all your kind words make me feel so much better ^.^ I agree, that a lot of creative people have issues like mine. I think the REASON we are creative is because we are sensitive to the creative winds that are a-blowin all around, but with that we end up being extra sensitive to other things, too.

    Hey, that painting advice is really good. I know I should be copying, I mean, that’s how I learned to draw as a kid! I don’t know why it’s so hard to start at the beginning when it comes to painting… I need to let go of the paintings that are in my head so I can just LEARN to paint! Oh, it’s all so annoying… I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but I as so annoyed by having to practice anything. It’s like now that I’m an “adult” I should be great at everything and not need practice… But that is ridiculous.

    Soon I will get my motivation back and I WILL learn how to paint…. I will. And I’m gonna get that book. Thanks for everything Jani!!!! ♥

  3. This was such a touching post. It didn’t seem long at all, because it was so revealing it carried me right along. You’re also so good at illustrating with photos. You’re on my blogroll now. Don’t feel pressured about it. I just like featuring the writers I’ve enjoyed reading.

  4. Awww, thanks invisible mikey ^.^ I don’t feel pressured, I feel touched! I feel so proud that you like my work enough to put it on your blogroll!

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