I can still hear the tap-tap of my inner child’s finger on the closet door and the deep exhale of relief that followed.
Heart, this month’s blog topic is heart. As soon as I heard this, my inner child came to mind and knew it was time to share this part of me. Because, she undoubtedly is my heart – the strength & ferocity of its beat. Devastatingly, she wasn’t always but, what do they say? Distance makes the heart grow fonder? In this case, I can agree.
Being a survivor of childhood sexual assault, I experienced many complexities with my relationship to my inner child – the most heart wrenching being my own self-abandonment. The time in which I experienced my assault – as many also intimately know – wasn’t ripe with resources to heal. And while I wasn’t entirely sure what I needed to repair my shattered self, I knew I didn’t want the assault or me to be shoved in a closet either. Unfortunately, this is what came to be – a sort of, we just need to move on and get back to life – I accepted and maladapted to this reality and worse, shifted from being my own victor to my own worse enemy – if you can’t beat them, join them right?
So, you can imagine the gut-wrenching pain I experienced when I was finally able to come home to my inner child – the one that, I didn’t throw in the closet, but definitely locked the door and threw away the key – how could I possibly look her in the eye and how could she EVER forgive me?
Did I have the strength to listen to her pain and the courage to own my actions – and equally important, could I forgive myself?
When I was finally able to come home to my inner child therapeutically, I connected to her through both journaling and meditation. Each resource brought me back to this closet feeling and setting so I trusted my body and chose to use an actual closet to facilitate this reunion. Now, trust me, I understand from the outside how unusual this approach may seem – talking to a younger version of myself at first felt intimidating and frankly, kind of crazy. But more than crazy, this approach felt right and exactly what I needed to do to continue healing. I still feel intense gratitude for the connection and trust I had restored up to this point with myself – the thought of allowing crazy to chase me away from the sweetest reunion ever turns my stomach upside down.
When I made it to the closet in my bedroom, I sat outside of it for what felt like forever and lost count how many times I brought my arm up to knock on the door. My heart was racing like a pack of Mustangs and my mind was whirring like a record – filled with all sorts of thoughts. I almost talked myself out of knocking when suddenly, a single tear streamed down my cheek. This tear calmed and centered me, reminding me of the deep pain I carried with me daily – the pain of loss – and how much I missed her, this sweet part of me. So, I took a deep breath and knocked.
What only took a few seconds felt like an eternity – her little tap-tap saying, “I’m here and I miss you too!”
And from here a new love story began. As it turns out, she could forgive me and equally, I could forgive myself. It was gut wrenching to sit, really listen to her pain and withstand her questions but as I came to learn time and time again – she didn’t need me to fix her, she needed me to be with her – to listen and seek to understand her – learn her and let her learn me too. That was perhaps, one of the greatest unexpected gifts that she afforded me. Her line of questions came from a place of love to understand to grow closer to me, not further away. In a word empathy – our bodies wise companion.
For so long I stayed away from her, fearing that my own shortcomings would cause rejection and or drive us further apart. But what I didn’t realize and am daily grateful for now is all the gifts I allowed to reintegrate by communing with her again – joy, playfulness, curiosity, and daring sassiness just to name a few – as they add a zest and energy, a vitality really, that enriches my experiences and relationships. I also feel more confident and relaxed inside of my body having released the anxiety that long lingered in my heart tissue that she might reject me, all of which allows me more peace and joy to be present!
A VERY happy heart month to all the ways it needs care.