Starting in my 30s, I began the journey of developing my own healthy Inner Adult. At first, I resented taking on a parenting job that should have been done by my father and mother. I felt that I had been an adult all of my life, taking care of my parents’ disowned needs and protecting my sisters. I perceived that I had been robbed of my childhood, and now I was being asked to be a parent again, this time to myself. When would the time ever come for someone to take care of me and be interested in what I needed? However, there was no one else to do the job. My Inner Child was wounded and bleeding. I cared about her so I signed on, willing to build a personal relationship with her.
I remember journaling to get in touch with my Inner Child’s feelings. In my first communication, she told me that she thought that I was very boring and that spending time with anyone else would be more exciting than spending time with me. She said that she felt completely alone in this life. Even when we were together, she felt disconnected from the whole world and experienced that no one knew or cared if she was dead or alive.
Weekends, mornings and late nights were her worst times. She was in constant pain and had little self-esteem, feeling not enough in any number of ways. Through lots of crying and desolate loneliness, I finally came up with some suggestions for how we might play together. The first one was to paint. I would take large canvases and just let her throw paint and express herself. My fingers and anything else around were fair game for our creative endeavor.
Don’t get me wrong. This may sound like we were having great fun, but that would be very misleading. At first, it was just one step above pain—just OK and nothing more. However, I was willing to accept this baby step. We have continued to build our relationship in other projects, such as sculpting, painting and jewelry making, which even to this day are rewarding for us both.
Developing a bond with my Inner Child was not an overnight process. Her self-esteem was so low. I remember thinking for quite a long time that all the positive things I was doing were not building much of anything. It felt like there was a hole in the bottom of her boat.
At first, your Inner Child might react like a dog that has been beaten. When you put out your hand, she cowers. It can take awhile for an abused dog to trust that you are consistently going to be there for her and not hurt her. Therefore, when forming a relationship with your Inner Child, my advice is to stay with it and don’t get discouraged. Every kind move you extend toward her does count and is making a difference, whether you see it or not. I patiently attended to her as long as she needed it, not expecting her to feel strong right away.
Everyone encounters situations that have not turned out the way they wanted. I grieved for the part of my Inner Child whose dreams got dampened. Now she often lets me know when things are not right, and I have learned to listen and respect her. I find great wisdom in her feelings and gut responses. Her emotional state is directly connected to my eating and to my body.
For example, I noticed over the years that when I broke up with a man, I went straight for a binge of candy and ice cream. It was my symbolic way of giving myself the love I was not getting. Feeling rejected and abandoned, I temporarily soothed the pain with something I could give myself. (pg 89 Freedom From Food)