When I was a child I was repressed. Not in an awful way – we weren’t beaten or abused or mistreated in any capacity. But when emotions can’t be expressed, they are repressed. [It wasn’t done intentionally of course – it is just an unfortunate hangover from previous generations.]
A week or so back I had one of those highly emotional moments in my life journey – a moment of deep self-awareness, and a moment of letting go. Letting go of a deeply held belief or feeling is not a conscious choice. It may be something you have always known you must do, but the time has to be right. Then one day, just like holding tight onto a big red balloon, you discover you can open your hand and let that string go, watch that balloon float off into the distance. So I did. [I think I did?! The tricky thing about invisible strings is you can’t always be sure they are gone…]
Many deeply held beliefs about myself come from my mother, and those beliefs had to go – they were intolerably painful and destructive. They may have been intended as a means of protecting me from all sorts of perceived stresses in life, but the intention was misguided and the harm was incalculable. The time was right, so one day, I pictured a powerfully vivid image of my mother in her 40s – a time when I was in my teens and was most damaged by her words – and I thanked her for her efforts but asked her to stop. Her words would impact me no more. I needed to let her go, to let her voice and her fears and her concerns vacate my head. And so she left. I saw her turn around and walk away – wearing her white button up shirt and knee length blue skirt (good grief it was so 1980!) She was slim and beautiful and in the prime of her life.
She was healthy and vital and full of hope and love. And she is gone.
In her place, is a little red-headed girl, full of hope and vitality. A little girl who wanted nothing more than to be loved. Who just wanted to do the right thing. To be good. To be wanted. To be enough. That little girl was full of empathy and kindness. She was also able to read every little thought that crossed your brow, and they were all taken to heart. For more years than I care to count, that little girl was pushed further and further away. Never allowed to be a child. Never allowed to make a mistake. Never allowed to be the full version of herself.
Today though, I want to invoke her right to exist. I want to encourage her to come forth and do the best she can. Sometimes it won’t be enough. Sometimes she’ll get it horribly wrong. That’s okay – that’s how the human spirit works. We try, we fall, we fail, we rise, we do it all again. The inner child is always within us. Always. I believe this with every ounce of my being. No matter how buried or lost or deeply damaged, she is there.
And nobody knows better how I should best set out upon the recovery road, than the little girl who was dragged off it in the first place.
There is innocence, joy and hope in young children. We lose that as we get older. Some lose it sooner than others for many different reasons. And the more damaged our inner child, the less hope we have. I want to recover. I really do. I’m tired of being tired. I’m sick of being sad. I’m ready to recover. I want to take that little girl by the hand and say, Let’s go. We can do it. We know what we need to do now.
Hope. That is what the little girl lost brings. Hope. The cornerstone of recovery. The lamp that lights the way to freedom. Come on little girl – it’s time to set forth.