Our past is a story existing only in our minds.
Look, analyze, understand, and forgive.
Then, as quickly as possible, chuck it.
Marianne Williamson offers sage advice. John Bradshaw, author of Home Coming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child, tells how it’s done when the history we’d like to chuck is too deeply ingrained… Our childhood wounds.
For your wounded inner child to come out of hiding, he must be able to trust that you will be there for him. Your inner child also needs a supportive, non-shaming ally to validate his abandonment, neglect, abuse, and enmeshment. Those are the first essential elements in original pain work.
If you’re still inclined to minimize and/or rationalize the ways in which you were shamed, ignored, or used to take care of your parents, you need to accept the fact that these things truly wounded your soul. Your parents weren’t bad, they were just wounded kids themselves.
3. Shock & Anger
It’s okay to be angry, even if what was done to you was unintentional. In fact, you have to be angry if you want to heal your wounded inner child. You don’t need to get outraged or “hate” those responsible for hurting you. But it’s appropriate to be mad about not getting what you needed and deserved at the critical times during your childhood. The consequences have reverberated through your life.
Part of your anger can also be expressed as a contract with yourself to be responsible and stop whatever ways you are continuing to act out the abuse – with ourselves and others: “I will not tolerate dysfunction and abuse, like that which dominated my family system, in my ongoing life.” (See About core issues )
After anger comes hurt and sadness. If you were victimized, you must grieve the fact that you were betrayed. We must also grieve what might’ve been– your dreams and aspirations. You must grieve your unfulfilled developmental needs: “It’s sad you (inner child) didn’t get to play in sports or join the acting groups because mom and dad didn’t give you the time and encouragement”.
In grieving childhood abandonment (and all childhood wounds can be seen as abandonment), you must help your wounded inner child see that there was nothing S/HE could’ve done differently. And, there is nothing the adult you could have done differently before now – before your awareness of the inner child: “I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you…. I didn’t know you existed”.
The deepest core feelings of grief are toxic shame and loneliness. We experienced shame because our caretakers abandoned us. We think it was our fault and so feel we are bad – as if we’re contaminated – and that shame leads to loneliness. Since our inner child feels flawed and defective, s/he had to cover it up by developing an adapted, false self. The true self was alone and isolated. “I offer you (inner child) unconditional love”.
In embracing our shame and loneliness, we begin to experience our true self.