The Child Within
She lives within, the child inside, she’s known the depths of sorrow. The forgotten one, she shouts so loud but you’re headed for tomorrow.
And there are times, you cannot know, her anger squashed, restrained with fear. When life demands the ‘adult’ you, her cries for help, you cannot hear.
A tiny child, that innocent girl, she knew no real protection. The time is now, to bring her close, she needs your deep affection
You are the one to rescue her, her pain you need to feel. Holding her inside your heart, your love, she needs to heal
A part of you, you did disown – you had to, to survive. But now you need to bring her back, so you both can thrive
She knows just why you made the break, she knows your grief was strong. Welcome her back into your heart, it’s where she does belong
When you learn to love the girl and see her innocence, reality is clearer – you dismantle your defense
So make your peace with this small girl and know that you are one. Collect ‘yourselves’ to make you whole, see new hope has begun.
A poem by Dr Gemma Gladstone.
A few years ago, one-day I sat down to write a poem for some of my clients who had a history of childhood trauma and/or painful emotional neglect. I particularly had in mind a few women who had experienced harrowing childhoods when I wrote these words. I have often been struck by the courage, inner strength and resilience these clients possessed. It is not easy to look deep within ourselves and not easy to begin the healing journey.
These words are a message to your “healthy adult” self to take better care of your “vulnerable child” mode (or hurt inner child). An important part of moving through and healing from childhood trauma, grief or hardship is to see and connect with the part of you who experienced the suffering at the time and to bring them back to you. This is the part or parts of you who hold all the pain and hurt and to continue to operate trapped in a kind of ‘time warp’ waiting and wanting to be rescued and finally heard and seen.
As we get older though, we develop all sorts of fancy coping mechanisms and clever ways to protect ourselves from feeling that pain. Some of these coping defences are skillful, but most are not. An unfortunate consequence of these protective ‘tactics’ is that we cut off or disown the wounded parts of self. We reject them and in doing so we abandon them all over again (again and again). They are left in a state of hopeless despair and their misery and desperate needs for affection and attention can get the adult self into all sorts of problems and unhelpful patterns, needless to mention lifelong bouts of depression and disconnection.
What can you do and what attitude can you adopt?
With the help and guidance of a therapist you trust, you can start the journey toward healing those parts of you who were wounded early in life. In the mean time, turn your mind towards nurturing and loving her, accept her fully and bring her wholeheartedly into your life in the here and now. Acknowledge her as an important part of you as you bring her to the core of your worldly existence. Include her in your life as it is now, at times imagine her with you, laughing, playing, sleeping, crying. Imagine that you comfort her. Correct the horrible, negative and harmful messages she heard at the time and learnt directly or indirectly from her trauma. Then, with loving kindness let her be, accept that you can do no more than strive to live a spiritually rich and full life. Remember that spiritual growth is psychological growth, and you have grown if you have embraced and cared for your wounded vulnerable child self.
A full life is where you take excellent care of yourself physically and emotionally and let go of all judgments about how you ‘should’ have been or what you ‘should’ have done. Such voices are not yours anyway, they are only introjected messages from the past and belong to other people or past experiences. Everything that has happened around you and to you has led to who you are today. For those of you who have been abused (in whatever way), remember that you are not an “abuse victim”, you are a complex and vital human being who has experienced very real suffering at the hands of another person or persons. You have known a darker, more sinister side of humanity that most children simply do not encounter. You have encountered fearful times, alone times, and despairing traumatic and painful times.
But you are here today because you have within you a vital life force with a natural proclivity towards healing, goodness and regeneration. This force or energy or spirit (or whatever you want to name it) is stronger than any experience you have ever had. Also, remember that no one can take away your soul, your inner strength or your life force. Our minds and bodies are evolving and changing all the time, and each life experience has played a role in shaping the person who you have become and the value and kindness that you bring to the lives of others.
So no matter what the nature of the suffering that little child faced, ultimately you need to let her be heard and you need to accept her and her reality so that healing can begin.
Poem written by Dr Gemma Gladstone