Category Archives: Childhood

Introspection in Moderation

When my therapist brought up inner child therapy in one of our first meetings, I was highly resistant.  Just the words inner child therapy scared me for some reason.  I didn’t have a real idea of what it was, but I didn’t even want to hear about it.  “I know you have your tricks up your sleeve and I don’t need to know what they are.  Just do what you have to do, doc.” I said.  So he did.

He let me slide for a few sessions.  I had things I needed to say before I could ever start inner child therapy, that was clear.  I  think my therapist also understood that I needed to make sure he really was on my side and understood my past before taking the plunge into something as complex and difficult as inner child therapy.  

We talked a lot about a lot of things over the next few weeks, but it didn’t take long before inner child therapy came up again.  I was still worried about moving forward, but he had the confidence that I was ready.  I trusted his judgment and tentatively agreed to take the plunge the next week.

I’m a curious person and a planner by nature, so I really couldn’t stop myself from scouring the web for information about the process over the next several days.  Discovering that there were significant benefits to inner child therapy got me really excited.  I wanted to get in touch with my inner child, give her some support, figure out the meaning of life, and get back to feeling better already.  The sooner the better.

My enthusiasm was a bit of a mistake.  I ended up unreasonably hopeful that by doing my own self work before my therapist and I began as well as between our sessions, I would be fixed and feeling better after just a couple more weeks.  Instead, I found myself feeling worse because I couldn’t stop thinking about anything other than the bad things that had happened when I was a kid. I was putting insane amounts of pressure on myself (and my inner child) to quickly examine every traumatic event from my childhood, resolve whatever negative feelings my inner child was holding onto, and have the feel-good revelation that I thought was supposed to come with inner child therapy.

After a few inner child sessions, my anxiety and depression still lingered and were actually getting worse in certain ways.  I was silently disappointed by my progress and getting overwhelmed in the process.  Then my therapist told me that I was ruminating.  Ruminating?  That stung.  By doing what I was doing, was I actually hurting, not helping, myself?  I didn’t want to hear that.

But he was right.

So, after getting over initially feeling perturbed at having been called out, I decided to take a break.  I can’t say that it’s been easy, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve been making a very conscious effort to stay in the present and to focus, not on my wounded inner child, but on my life and the person I am now.  Focusing on the here and now has its own challenges, but I am feeling more positive over all.  Progress!

Stuck in the Guilt

I’m feeling stuck, and guilty, the last few days.  It’s an odd combination.

When I say stuck, I mean this weird catatonia.  Late last week, I was on my couch nodding off.  When I woke at one point, I couldn’t even coax my eyelids open.  For about 30 seconds, my mind was fully awake, but my body refused to respond to my commands.  This has happened before and I’ve always found it more fascinating than frightening, but it still gets my anxiety buzzing.  Then at my friend’s baby shower this weekend, a guest caught me zoning out and I hadn’t even realized I was doing it.  I can’t be sure how long I stood there blankly staring into space.

The guilt, on the other hand, is manifesting more as a feeling like I’m going to get into trouble.  Like I’ve done something terribly wrong.  Then I feel emotionally (and somewhat physically) stuck again.  I imagine this is my inner child trying to say something to me.  Unfortunately, I’m still ill equipped.  I still can’t relate to her.

How could I possibly know what to say or how to begin righting the wrongs? I’m still pissed off that I’ve been put into this position in the first place.  This obligation – to heal the broken child within me – never should have come to pass.  I’m angry, and I can’t get past the anger.  I also feel terrible for this truth, but that is the current state of affairs.  It’s all fucked up and I don’t know how to fix it.

How do you explain such complexity of emotion to a child (or, in my case, an inner child) without making them feel pushed to the side aside for the millionth time?  It’s impossible.  This is impossible.

Telegram

Just realized I had written more on the back of the page I wrote Telegram on earlier this week. I revised it to add the ending. Enjoy.

The Redheaded Wonderblog

sheen. shine. shine on.
clean. climb. climb off.
mean. blind. blinders gone.

I am best with the monsters under my bed.
The light of day brings worse.
Snap. Crack. Slap.
Sharp. Cut. Play.
Fear.

Eat. Threats. Vomit.
Threats. Terror.

Play. No.

Sad that.  I’m not sure.
This is where.
Stop.

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How Much Is Too Much?

I’m learning that inner child therapy attaches significance to things that, on the surface, are innocuous. My first session was drawing myself with my non-dominant hand and my homework was to add color to my drawing.  So I added various colors of red for the hair, brown freckles, blue eyes, and I colored my pants blue.  They were blue jeans.  I wore blue jeans at that age, I wear blue jeans now.  But in inner child therapy, they weren’t just blue jeans.

The color blue was significant.  Obviously, saying you’re blue can also mean you’re saying you feel depressed.  Check.  But blue is also the color of water.  Which my therapist used to remind me about a traumatic childhood event involving water (I’ve written about it before).

Oh.  There it is.  There’s the door to that memory.

I’ve kept that door locked, under constant security surveillance, for a long time.  Interestingly, that door always had a window on it.  I mean, I’ve been able to tell people about the drowning incident for a long time (usually without much emotion).  Now I can barely think about it without wanting to cry.  Thanks, Dr.

In all seriousness, what my therapist did was help me open a door inside myself.  A door to real, raw, emotions that I haven’t allowed myself to feel.  That I couldn’t allow myself to feel, really.  I didn’t want to even unlock the door.  But before I knew what he was doing, he helped me unlock and open it.  The emotion hit me like a freight train, but in a good way.  He was there to help me manage it.  Then he helped me shut the door before we said our goodbyes.

Unfortunately, the door was more like a pressure valve with an old warn out gasket.  Now that the seal is broken, the steam that has been building up for the last 24 years (I was 7 in the drawing, remember) is seeping out around the cracks of the door.    So, a few other things have came out since hanging up the phone with my therapist.  I’m handling it surprisingly well, but I’ve been pondering an important set of questions.

How much is too much?  Can finding significance in something as normal as the color blue go too far?  Could it be risky business to see meaning where there really is just a pair of blue jeans?

When I was losing my mind a couple of years ago, I did something similar.  As I was trying to reconcile the unending terror I felt after she threatened me, my life, my career, I attached to the color red.  It was pretty natural, I think.  Red hair.  My dad always called me Red growing up.  But then I kept seeing red things everywhere.  I kept searching for it, attaching profound meaning to it.

Scary noise outside?  Look out the peep hole and a red truck drives by.   Panic.   I find a little red thing my dad gave me.  Anxiety.  I knew it was irrational, yet I could do nothing to stop it. This was at the peak of my psychosis when I was completely powerless over my mind.  Words can’t describe how awful it was.

So, yeah, your mind can do crazy things when left unchecked.  I suppose that’s why it’s great to have a good therapist.  I didn’t have that at the time and it cost me.   Now, as the week comes to a close and the weekend begins, I have to admit that I’m still way more anxious than I’d like to be.  But behind that anxiety is a layer of excitement to learn what else is behind this door number one.   I was 7 when I shut this door and I sense that there are others to come.  In fact, I almost feel like there was a wall behind the door that has to be busted down first.  Hey, I warned you that there was more to deal with when I started this process.

I’m still terrified of what lies in wait for me.  That feeling isn’t just miraculously gone like I had hoped it might be, but it has lessened.  And I at least can acknowledge that, with guidance, I can handle (and almost look forward to) figuring things out about myself.  Progress.

Possession

Another dream from the travel journal.

10/19/13

I’m possessed by an evil spirit that links me to a priest, known for malevolence.  I am physically unable to cross the threshold of what I believe is a church, because the demon is so strong within me.  The priest tells me I’m ready or something like that and then a ghostly spirit of a piglet transports me to a hospital.

We travel down an aisle between hundreds of beds full of dying people.  As I approach one on the left, I recognize it’s occupant.

Her.  She is struggling with the orderlies trying to subdue her.  It is clear I can’t be seen by anyone around, but this vision is truth.  I am assured of that.  Suddenly, she lurches and is still.  She has died.  Her heart, weak from constant self abuse, and hardened from years of consternation, meanness, manipulation, and the like, has exploded in her chest.

It is over.  I should be sad at her passing, and in a way I am, but I am also relieved.  Relieved that I have peace of mind.  Peace of soul.

Perfectionism

She always required perfection, especially in education.  It has served me well, I can’t deny it, because I ended up loving school more than I ever loved being at home.  However, her demands for the highest grades came at a price.

Under the guise of “encouragement,” she forced perfection in school down my throat every chance she got.  To be stupid like my brother – an entirely untrue belief ingrained in me from a very young age – meant you would be beaten mercilessly for seemingly innocuous and normal childhood behavior.

Perhaps it is no wonder than when I finished the second grade with one B out of all of the skills we were graded on back then, I couldn’t bear the weight.  It was one B, out of countless.  And I was a second grader.  Yet it was made clear to me that getting that B was wrong.  As I’m sure you can imagine, it wasn’t a fun experience learning that lesson in my house.

I was able to maintain my grades until sixth grade, when I finally stopped giving a fuck.  I couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t be perfect.  I just couldn’t.  So I screwed around and nearly failed a few classes.  I loved my music class, though.  Needless to say, the D I got was not received well.  But it doesn’t matter now.  My sixth grade grades never mattered as much as she led me to believe.

Getting that B in second grade was the very moment my childhood was irretrievably lost. I was finally a target for her wrath. She would no longer spare me.

Who Is That Girl?

I started inner child therapy last week and still can’t figure out how I feel about it. As I understand it, inner child therapy is a method that allows you to get in touch with your inner child – the creative, playful, side of yourself – to help heal your inner child and, by extension, your current self. The methods for inner child therapy vary greatly, but everything I read on the subject before my first session said that the process can reveal things – potentially traumatic things – about your childhood that you may not have remembered before. These memories that you’ve ignored for many many years can surface without warning. Well, the things I already remember are pretty damn shitty and I’m terribly afraid that I will remember worse.

What could be worse? I can think of two particularly troubling, yet somewhat possible, scenarios. The isolated incident of molestation by my brother could have been an ongoing thing. Or, worse, my father could have done more than just sit idly by while my mother abused me; he could have actively participated. I’m not currently convinced either of these are actually true and I don’t want to create any false memories, but who knows. I didn’t think some of the things my mother did to me was sexual abuse until I was 30 and when I finally put two and two together, I lost touch with reality. So who am I to trust my own judgment anymore?

Also, where I live, any form of new age, holistic, creative treatment for any illness isn’t necessarily frowned upon, but it’s certainly not well understood (not that inner child therapy is any of those, but I certainly hadn’t heard about it until recently). Not to mention, I’ve been conditioned from a very young age to avoid asking for any kind of help, even when things are at their worst. In fact, going to someone for help was strictly frowned upon, because (now I know) it could have alerted someone to the craziness that was going on behind closed doors at my house.

As I prepared myself mentally and emotionally for my first session, I told very few people that I was going to start inner child therapy. Everyone had mixed reactions. A couple of my good friends were, as I had hoped they would be, amazingly supportive. They asked what it was and encouraged me to try it out, to see if it would help. One was somewhat indifferent, but still supportive. And the final one, well, his reaction made me feel like an idiot for telling him in the first place. This one negative reaction, from a person I should have known wouldn’t be sensitive to my journey, legitimized all of my inner dialogues about how idiotic and ridiculous I am to be trying something like this.

So, as we started with my first attempt at contacting my inner child, I was closed off. My very strong mental defenses – the wall I have built to surround my heart and emotional being, keeping them safe from all intruders – held me back. Part of the process was to draw a picture of myself with my non-dominant hand. Besides the fact that my drawing was terrible, I couldn’t describe the person I drew to my therapist. I knew it was supposed to be me when I was young, but I don’t even know who that person is. I can’t remember her; I can’t relate to her; and I am afraid to talk to her. I know she has a lot to say, but I can’t open up enough to let her out. All I see when I try to peek into her world is sadness, and all I can do is run away from it.

I’ve been closed off ever since I said my goodbyes to my therapist. I haven’t been able to let myself feel anything about my first session. I haven’t been letting myself feel anything at all, really. I’ve been going through the motions, but am not present. It’s distressing and I don’t know what to do.

I just want to be normal.