Dear readers, followers and anyone who comes across this post,
It has been quite a long time since I have blogged, and life has been doing a lot of things since I last wrote. I became fully licensed, gained a booked caseload, started the process of becoming a clinical supervisor, changed my practice to a group versus a solo practice, expanded by adding another location in Houston, TX, relocated, traveled, discovered more of myself as well as the relationships around me, met many amazing people and experienced some great aspects of this world. One major relationship that has gratefully (and thankfully) improved, is my relationship with God. This is THE most important relationship that I have navigated throughout my life, and you’ll likely see why through this blog.
While all the aforementioned events may seem very exciting and adventurous, which they all have been, I also experienced a great number of struggles. Since my last post, I have experienced severed relationships with friends and some family members, the upheaval of COVID, navigating isolation as a single woman, processing my fears and feelings in the social justice movement of 2020. One of the most trying experiences is navigating the death of my oldest niece very suddenly on December 1, 2021. Additionally, I lost many friends and village members in 2022 (almost two people every month), all the while trying to navigate all the business and professional changes I was trying to manage as well as assist my clients in navigating their journeys. I experienced depression, anxiety, disappointment, other forms of grief as well as just being overwhelmed. I thought numerous times of closing my practice and going back to corporate America and changing careers, again. I’d essentially given up hope and didn’t know it. Please pay attention to the language I am using throughout this post because it is very intentional.
Are you feeling overwhelmed??? Well, imagine what it was like being me.
Along the way, I discovered many lingering inner child wounds that needed addressing, exploring, and healing. And yes, I did the work. I called on my therapist as well as leaned into my great support system. Some of these supports showed up out of the blue and helped lift me in ways I never knew possible. I call them my rams in the bush. If you are unfamiliar with this term, please google for additional context.
To the outside world, I made my struggles look good. If you follow me on social media, I was always posting about the various great things that were happening to and for me, acknowledging my own accomplishments, travels and moments of peace and joy. Some of my posts addressed the other side, as I was struggling and celebrating at the same time but the posts that received the most responses were about my celebrations. Many people never knew the behind-the-scenes pieces that brought me to the points that I posted, and to be honest, some didn’t care either.
This is something that people with inner child wounds experience. We mask our pain well, depending on the situation, and no one really knows unless they truly see us. Because we are social chameleons, we kinda mask and blend or hide our “selves”, even if we stand out or have a big presence. According to Caroline Myss, there’s six types of inner children. I identify as the abandoned/ orphaned child. My wounds stem from the following occurrences:
(1) being left out or disregarded in and from many life altering conversations that affected me
(2) having people tell, or promise me they were going to do something all to have my trust betrayed by not keeping their word,
(3) being an afterthought when inviting people to events
(4) by losing key people I felt truly loved me and protected me, without having a choice. This usually was due to death.
Now, I want to clarify that, although these wounds occurred at very young ages, they can be triggered as we grow physically, and our reaction is to revert back to the age emotionally where the original offense occurred.
One of the phrases that would really trigger me was, “You know…happened. Did…tell you?”. Internally, an abject rage would boil to the surface, and I would usually lash out by saying, “No I don’t know because nobody (or y’all) never include me in anything. So, what else don’t I know?”. The other phrasing that would absolutely take me over the edge was, “Hey! You want to go to…me, Tiffany, Stephanie, and Eliza are going and if you want to come, you’re more than welcomed”. My response to that would always be, “Nope, I’m good. You invited the people you wanted to go with already. Don’t consider me on the back end.” My reaction(s) would be followed with much silence from me and an unwillingness to hear and/or accept the person’s explanation. It would also result in me withdrawing from the person or people, either abruptly or slowly, depending on the situation. And don’t mention the emotional rollercoaster I would ride repeatedly, repeating the beliefs I had about myself due to these wounds. If you know me in real life, you know that I absolutely HATE rollercoasters and anything that resembles them. So why would I put myself on the emotional ride that I physically hate? One reason was I didn’t know any better because these were the unhealthy coping skills I developed so that I wouldn’t hurt so badly.
Some of you might be seeing yourself in these experiences I am being very vulnerable by sharing and if so, I am glad because you can start the process of healing your inner child wounds by taking the first step: acknowledging that they exist. If anyone is familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous, you may be familiar with the first step, which is admitting you have a problem.
I had to acknowledge that I was struggling with my wounds. Now, I am not that therapist that thinks that I don’t stink! I am usually reflecting on how I can be a better me but I made the big mistake of praying to God and asking Him to show me to myself (IYKYK…Jesus be a fence!!). If you know anything about prayer and being aligned with what God has for you and may require from you, then you already know how much of myself I was shown!
So, how did I begin to heal? I had to go back to each offense and speak to my inner child at whatever age she was and ask her the following questions:
1. How did you experience this situation?
2. What was life like for her?
3. What did she need that she didn’t receive?
4. What does she want to say to the offender in this situation?
In each answer that I received, I journaled about what it did to me currently and how it affected my life. Those gems I discovered in my journaling answered many of my questions that I wanted to understand about myself and how I show up to others. It also answered how I was projecting my own image of self onto how God saw me. Making these discoveries opened a new view of who God truly is for me and how He sees me.
I also addressed the original offenders, whether they were dead or alive. One of my major offenders died suddenly and tragically in 2006, which was devastating to me. Although I’d forgiven them for things they’d done and we’d become friends again, I was still experiencing the offenses as if they were currently happening when any situation resembled those experiences. I had to release myself by releasing him from my desire for him to have been something or someone he just couldn’t be. This was a very cathartic and healing process that I still do currently.
Going back to the intentionality of language when I said I’d given up hope, I did. I made the choice to release the hope that I had because of other peoples’ behaviors. I thought I was being denied the things I wanted most in life: to be seen, chosen, and loved. I want to emphasize that, once I became aware of my wounds, if I didn’t manage myself through my reactions, I was choosing to allow them to control me.
To anyone who may stumble upon this post, I want to stress that you will likely not change other people's behaviors because let’s be real, they will still do them. What will change is how YOU experience their behaviors and react to them. The only person we have control over is ourselves and because of this, the goal isn’t necessarily to change others. The goal is to heal to have the best most fulfilled life in spite of what other people do.
The thing we want to avoid during the healing process is the hurt that is associated with the process. There is no healing without hurting. If you’ve ever broken a bone or had surgery, you know that you will hurt as you heal. The two ARE synonymous but there is beauty in both and as they both occur at the same time, there is a transformation that occurs that produces some of the most beautiful outcomes.
Hold on to these words that I am imparting to you today. We, yes, we as I am included in this, are all healing as we progress through this thing called life. One thing I can ensure is that if you go through each step, there is refinement on the other end. There truly is beauty from ashes!!