One of the concepts that I found valuable in my journey was to identify my inner child and work to re-parent him with the love and acceptance that should have been his but never was.
Below is a letter I wrote to myself when I found my inner child. He was 7 yrs old. When I first found him I spent the entire evening crying. Truthfully, I still get choked up when I read this.
I was able to find my inner child. He’s in his bedroom sitting on his bed, looking down at his hands. His room is neat and all the toys are put away as required by his family. His bed is neatly made. He has some toys in his closet he likes to enjoy, especially the erector set, but he’s afraid to play with them for fear he might break one of them and be told “you obviously have no appreciation for your toys!” or “you have it so good and look how you treat what you have!”. He has a few sheets of paper and some colored pencils on his dresser, but even though he enjoys coloring and drawing, he doesn’t want to do it, because he’s not really very good at it and it’s just another area where he’s a failure. He would like to turn on his radio and listen to some music, but he doesn’t want to be told that he’s “inconsiderate” and “selfish” for making “everyone” have to listen to his music. He’s not even sure if he should be sitting in his room but he has nowhere else to go. Furthermore, he’s not even sure if he should be sitting on his bed, because he might mess it up and invite his mother’s frustration, but he has to be somewhere, and this is the only place he has any solace at all.
He is nearly void of emotion. He can’t be angry, because being angry means he’s being disrespectful and being disrespectful to your parents will earn you a seat in hell, so he’s blocked out his anger. He can’t be sad, because being sad just means he’s feeling sorry for himself and he needs to “get over it” because it’s “really not that bad”, so he’s blocked out his sadness. He can be a little happy, but not so happy that he might act up and embarrass his family, so he’s learned to tether his happiness. The only emotion he knows is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of doing it wrong. Fear of breaking a rule of which he wasn’t even aware. Fear of trying to be his own person and inciting more angry tirades and humiliation. He feels completely unloved, misunderstood, unaccepted, unworthy and extremely lonely. He’s been sitting on his bed for nearly 40 years.
When I first tried to make contact with him, he wouldn’t even look at me or acknowledge me. To him, I was just another adult that he would soon somehow disappoint. I was crushed. All I wanted to do was hold him tight and tell him I loved him and it would be OK. I soon learned that I did have an avenue into his heart, though. I had a wonderful friend that was about his age with whom he could play. This friend is outgoing, adventurous and likes a lot of the same things he does and would never judge him or call him a disappointment. The friend I introduced him to was my 7 yr old daughter. My hope was that when he saw me playing with my daughter, he would learn that I am not like all the other adults in his life. Given time, my hope was that he would learn to trust me and come and play with us and learn that life isn’t all about living in fear. He would learn that it’s OK to be angry, it’s OK to be sad, and it’s OK to be happy. He would learn that it’s OK to just be himself.