I recently was asked, by someone who saw before him a woman who appeared happy and vibrant as if nothing bad ever happened to her, what got me through all the harshness in my life . My immediate response was "my Inner Child". I could tell by the quizzical look in his eyes that he didn't quite understand.
I grew up with very little teachings in religion (I remember going to church one Easter Sunday) and virtually none in spirituality and God. However, as a small child, I remember feeling connected to my spirituality and nature as I would explore the woods alone. I remember feeling close to God and nature. I remember hearing Santa's sleigh bells one bitter cold Christmas Eve as my mother tucked me into bed. I remember seeing a witch on a broom fly across the moon on Halloween night as my father took my sister and I trick-or-treating. When my father was no longer in my life (age 8), something changed. While the abuse stopped, my mother's depression did not. I lost not only my father but my mother, too. And with them, God and spirituality disappeared altogether. At that point, it seems to me that I became 'human', losing all sense of any spirituality that I had known.
The subsequent harsh experiences over the course of my life that began very soon after never phased me. I simply absorbed the negative energies and became more and more numb as I continued my day-to-day life. I was numb to my pain. I was numb to my connection to my inner being, my soul, my spirituality, God, my heart, love, and, ultimately, my connection to others. I was numb to my Inner Child.
Inner Child is both Healer and Protector
Inner Child is that part of me that, no matter what happens to me, she remains innocent, pure and whole. She is full of truth, wonder and unconditional love. She is very childlike, holds no judgment, and perceives the world through a child's eye. She is all feeling and expresses emotions effortlessly. She is intuitive and sensitive. She is the Keeper of the Soul. She is honest and will tell you what's on her mind. She has no filter and is very open. She wants to connect with the Inner Child of others. She is brave, strong and courageous when dealing with adversities in life. She exercises discernment and wisdom in a thoughtful and heartfelt manner. She is quiet, observant and playful. She loves to laugh and enjoys the simple things in life. More than anything, she wants to experience unconditional love, both giving and receiving.
"The closer we live to our Inner Child, the greater the healing."
Without realizing it, living close to my Inner Child has protected me. When I did not have the tools to deal with the traumatic experiences in my life, thereby stuffing the fear and unexpressed emotions into my body and subconscious mind, it was Her unconditional love that nourished me, allowing me to be in my life as fully and productively as possible, albeit it dysfunctional. She kept me rooted in reality and filled me with the resilience and fortitude I needed to keep going. She has the gift of being aware of what is going on in Her surroundings and keeps it to Herself. She has the ability to brush things off rather quickly and easily. Because of Her, I became "thick skinned" which allowed me to deal with negativity without letting it get to me in the heat of the moment.
Before my mother left my father, when I was 8, I stood across the street looking at our apartment building. The wise part of my Inner Child saw clearly as She said to me: "This isn't my family. I was meant for love and light." In looking back over the course of my life, I've always had a sense of striving for...something: recognition, validation, love, fame, fortune. I know now that it was the life I was shown a glimpse of...a life rich with abundance.
While I worked hard to strive for a life of abundance, it eluded me. It would come and go. The light and love was there but I didn't FEEL it IN me. I was unable to consciously connect to abundance because I had not healed my trauma.
Healing my trauma has meant working with my Inner Child by digging deep into the rabbit holes of my pain and dis-ease to encourage and support the release and/or expression of the unexpressed emotional energies that have been trapped in my body and subconscious mind since in utero. I've worked with limiting beliefs, negative thought patterns, thinking errors, ego work and suppressed emotions. I've done a great deal of work with fear, worry, depression, anxiety and PTSD.
My Inner Child has been with me my entire life whether I've been aware of Her or not. Inner Child's Healer and Protector have been loyal companions that way. She's been invaluable for developing my deep sense of self-love and self-trust which have been essential to reclaiming a sense of safety and security in my life.
It's been a very long and difficult road recovering from trauma to the extent that I have thus far. Trauma is not something I will necessarily "get over" or "rise above" but rather learn to co-exist and transform for the remainder of my days. For, the Path of Peace is a lifelong journey.
My exposure to the harshness of life began in utero; I was born into domestic violence with a father who was abusive in all forms and a mother who was oppressed, depressed and victimized. I was 8 when my mother left my father and moved us (herself and five kids) to another state to be with her family. By age 9 or 10 until age 16, I was repeatedly molested and raped by an uncle who was the patriarch of a family near and dear to me. At age 16, I was abducted by a stranger after his attempt to rape me did not meet his approval. In my late 20's, I experienced very much unwanted sexual harassment in the work place in a law office. Around age 30, I was a witness to a double homicide that took place in the apartment across from me in which I had to enter, after the killer left, to rescue a 3-year-old girl who just saw her mommy and her boyfriend to go heaven on Christmas Eve. At age 32, I experienced homelessness, living out of my vehicle. By age 33, I had lost all of my possessions, my job, my friends, my life. All I had were the clothes I was wearing and even those were not mine. Soon thereafter, I was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. By this time, I was severely depressed. Two weeks after radiation treatment ended, I met the father of our four children. After a 20-year committed intimate relationship with him, I survived domestic violence (DV) with its accompanying trauma and PTSD.
I've been through a lot. I've healed a lot. I've learned a lot. I'm a trauma expert by experience. My chronic trauma (repeated and prolonged exposure to stress) and complex trauma (exposure to varied and multiple events, personal and invasive nature) was complicated with acute trauma (a single horrific event) from the DV.
Someone recently asked me what got me through all of these harsh events that allowed me to be in the place of freedom and health that I am today. I had only one answer: My Inner Child and Spirit (more on this in a future post).
We say that children are closest to God, and I believe this. Carl Jung is famous for his quote: "We are not what happened to us. We are who we choose to become." The saving grace for me to overcoming the effects of the extreme negativity in my life has been to live close to my Inner Child and Spirit. Even though my relationship with myself and God was too unhealthy to protect me, my Inner Child and Spirit rose to the occasion over the course of my life unbeknownst to me. At this writing, I have never felt as whole and happy as I do in this moment. And every day gets better and better.
I'm blessed to have received an incredible amount of healing energy and the time for the necessary amount of self-care (nature walks, bath soaks, meditation) following the DV. Talk therapy and support groups have helped along the way. Meditation and connecting with Source have been even more valuable. Healing, in general, is best thought of as a 24/7 commitment to oneself. It is a lot of work, but it's the work we are here to do for ourselves. We are here for a reason and we have a whole lifetime to figure that out; we might as well work on ourselves. After all, "Life is merely a game; where we end up here determines where we will be on the Other Side." Life truly is an emotional adventure.
"Emotions are at the core of all things."