The Inner Child
Connecting with, and healing, the Inner Child has been a part of the therapeutic process for many of us. It was John Bradshaw (1933--2016) who first introduced us to, or at least made popular, the concept of healing the Inner Child through his 1990 book "HOMECOMING: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child". To see a brief video of John Bradshaw, click on this link. Home Coming part 1
Connecting with those younger parts of ourselves and bringing healing to those wounds the child within us may be carrying is extremely valuable work for sure. One quote from John Bradshaw that I really like is, "The truth of our childhood is enormously important." The Inner Child part of us carries that truth for us until we are ready and willing, and we find the right tools and support, to bring that truth to conscious awareness.
I personally have spent many years re-connecting with those younger parts of myself that had, for a variety of reasons, gotten disowned, left behind, lost or were simply too fearful and/or full of shame to show up in the world. Sometimes with help and support or sometimes in my own solitary way, I have managed to re-connect with, and nurture, the infant part of myself, the young child in me, my inner teenager and even my young adult self. Parts of me had gotten really stuck in certain stages of my growth and development. I needed to go back, with deep love, respect and patience, and give those parts of myself a chance to be heard, to express, to cry, to rant, to play and to create. All parts of ourselves need to feel acknowledged and cared for. This kind of work can bring a sense of Wholeness into our lives and into our being.
Now, having done so much of that wonderful Inner Child work, I find myself getting older, thinking about the aging process and what that means to me. Although I do my best to stay healthy and positive, health concerns do creep in! In the past year or so, having reached that honored place of officially becoming a Senior, or Elder, I do find myself reflecting on what my future may look like from here on.
My Future Self
Doing this work (more like play actually) of connecting with my elder self, really helps me to know that I do, indeed, still have a future ahead of me. And it is looking pretty rosy I must say!! I have had many wonderful and very enlightening dialogues with my older self. Although at 66, I feel like I have gained a certain amount of life experience and wisdom, my older selves are that much wiser and more grounded. They have a great deal of important information and guidance to share with me. I have had some dynamite conversations with those older parts of me and I would like to share my most recent dialogue. This one was with my 68 year old self -- so only one and a half years away!!
A couple of weeks ago, I attended an event called "Imagine Hope" a Peace Circle run by Dr. Larry Nusbaum. Larry has developed a process called Focused Questions for Inner Guidance. This is a series of questions that have been developed to help one access the wisdom of their Inner World. It ends with an invitation to dialogue with anything or anyone.
At that time, I was dealing with a slight dental infection. I asked for Inner Guidance on how to strengthen my Immune System so that it could heal the infection without my needing a dental extraction as the Dentist had recommended. At one point, as I was reflecting on, and answering the questions, I saw myself in 2 years, at age 68, looking healthy and vibrant and being engaged in a fulfilling life. So I dialogued with that healthy, vibrant 68 year old part of myself.
A Dialogue Between Myself Now (age 66) and Myself at Age 68
ME (now at age 66): I'm thrilled and excited to meet up with you. You look happy and healthy and well rested. It is amazing to me to be able to look at you and see my future self. And to know that I am heading in a good direction.
My 68 year old self responds: Yes Barbara, the World is still full of possibility for you -- maybe more than it ever has been. You are moving towards a place of freedom and happiness.
ME: I wish I could feel a little more of that now. Sometimes I just feel tired and heavy and uncertain about health and aging.
My 68 year old self says: That is because you are still picking up on the attitudes of others around the idea of aging and health. Don't forget, you did spend many years nursing elderly people in your previous work in Retirement and Nursing Homes. Your experience of the elderly was very one sided. You were seeing those people who no longer felt useful or wanted; who were overly medicalized, drugged and institutionalized. It is time for you to let go of that unfortunate, outdated model of aging. I know that it is still happening now and I know how broken- hearted you felt, and still feel, from that experience. But the time has come to let that go. You have done your job there. Let it be over now and move on. Remember -- I'm waiting for you. And I am only one and a half years away!!
-end of Dialogue for now!!-
An Afterthought: This brief, but powerful, dialogue helped me to see that I was still carrying some heaviness and symptoms of burnout from my Nursing days. It is such a good reminder that those days are over for me and I can let them go now. Although I still feel, deeply in my heart. for all of those people I encountered while doing that work, I can now release myself from the responsibility, the sadness, the pain and the loneliness that I encountered there. It is not mine to carry. My responsibility now is to my Elder Self -- to make sure I move forward in the best possible way for myself; for my current self, my 68 year old self, yes even my 93 year old self!! The life I am moving into wants my full attention. What a relief, to know that my only "job" now is to continue moving forward into a lifestyle that is nurturing, stimulating, enjoyable, creative and free!! I hope I can keep remembering that!!! I'm lucky now that I have open communication with my older self. She can remind me!
With Love and Blessings to All of Us -- At Every Age!