I’ve been faltering a bit lately. Well, I say lately, actually since my late teens, which isn’t that recent! I’m an avid reader of self-help books, I love motivational and inspirational speakers, and stories of self and life transformation. I dream of the day I wake up and I have transformed into this good, life-affirming, patient, hippy type person who channels creativity to the extent that it pays for a lovely life where I can travel extensively with my family and where I look like some bohemian babe with feather and beads in her hair and henna tattoos. The problem is, since my late teens, lie has rather got in the way of that. I met someone who I thought would be a perfect fit in that kind of lifestyle, hippy, traveller type who loved life and risk taking, but he turned out to also be controlling and manipulative and I left the relationship feeling very damaged, broken, and dark. I met another man, the complete opposite, who I married and have had three lovely children with. I love him and he is a good man and a good husband and father, but we are not soul mates. His soul does not speak to mine, and I know he struggles to really understand me. Our visions and values are very different, which leads to interesting living day to day!
I feel like my real personality stayed in my childhood, that upon entering the grown up world of expectation and relationships, I smothered her and left her behind, and that has affected my life negatively. I feel alone all the time. I felt I would be happy once I let her back in, allowed her to shine through. So I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote down what I could remember about what I loved when I was a child. This is my list:
- reading and watching Peter Pan, the idea of never growing up, having adventures and magic
- playing outside a lot, building dens and playing a lot of make believe adventure games with my friends
- drawing, writing stories and reading ALL the time ( I hardly ever watched tv)
- family celebrations like birthdays where my Mum handmade my costumes and birthday cake and my Dad would dress up as a magician to show my friends magic tricks
- seasonal celebrations and the traditions that went along with them, especially Christmas
- summer holidays – my Mum and Dad worked hard so they could take us abroad in the caravan, we’d spend the time exploring local places, on the beach building special sandcastles, having bbqs, playing board games and sitting up late with my Dad looking at the stars and chatting about everything
- playing Sylvanian Families, watching Disney films, collecting badges, loud music, listening to Dad play the guitar and to him reading me stories, my Mum baking fairy cakes and making Christmas pudding, trying desperately to teach me how to knit and crochet, and my obsession with new stationary, especially new coloured pencils and clean pretty new notebooks.
I thought there would be a lot on my list that I would look at and think “Oh, all that isn’t in my life any more, and missing it is stopping me from being the real me, and bringing it back in some form will fix everything.” Actually, I look at my list, and realise that most of it is in my life, even evolved or changed slightly. I run a small cupcake business cause I love baking, I bake and decorate my children’s birthday cakes and throw traditional birthday parties at home. I am more enthusiastic at Christmas than my children I think, and it drives my husband up the wall. I still read fantasy novels and it is my ultimate dream to be a published fantasy writer. i went travelling as a student, and hope to take the children when they are a bit older and money is more abundant! I’m still happy to watch Disney films, and love the opportunity to sing along to loud music in the car when I’m driving alone, and I have a serious notebook addiction!
My inner child gets to do quite a lot of what she loves, and I have realised that it is not anything on this list that was missing from her. It is the stuff I never noticed, and it took looking at her as an actual child to realise what it was. A parent. Having grown up and left home, I left my parents behind. I see them fairly often, and although they are great for help and advice, it is obviously a much more grown up relationship than it was. My little inner child needs a parent to care for her, and I have not been that. Instead, I have pushed her to carry on when she is exhausted. I have not bothered to make sure she eats healthily and not stopped her eating endless amounts of sugar. I not have let her stop and rest when she is poorly, or let her get enough sleep day to day. I have let her sit in front of screens mindlessly looking through social media sites because she is bored, rather than telling her to get off and find something constructive to do, to use her imagination and play and create instead of sitting in front of the tv for hours on end at night. I haven’t told her to go play outside when it is such a lovely day. I haven’t reminded her to say please and thank you when she is talking to my children, or to be kind and thoughtful, to think of others instead of herself all the time. Instead of encouraging her, I have told her repeatedly that she will never succeed, so why try. instead of comforting her, I have told her she deserves everything she gets and she needs to try harder. Instead of telling her I am proud of her, that I love her, that she is enough just as she is, I have constantly criticised her and put her down. I have spent so long worried about parenting my children that I hadn’t realised I needed to parent her as well. This was the difference between the confident, kind, fun loving, creative little girl I was and the miserable, scared, lazy woman I grew into.
So I am going to find that little girl and tell her I’m sorry. I’m sorry for neglecting her, for not taking care of her and being there for her, and that I’m here now and she doesn’t have to be afraid or alone any more.
Have you talked to your inner child recently? Are you treating her the way you would treat your own children? Are you letting her play, giving her treats, encouragement and love? Are you taking care of her physical needs, or are you neglecting her like I have been?