Exploring Trauma via Inner Child Work

Posted on June 20, 2016

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Most of us have an inner child, trapped inside of us, caught there emotionally from a period of our lives where some sort of trauma took place. We carry this toxic shame around with us and it often isn’t until we’re adults, and our lives aren’t quite playing out the way we imagined they would, that we start to realise this.

Trauma, is a strong word isn’t it. Trauma can be anything – but whatever it was it was deeply wounding. Quite common examples are being put into care, being adopted, or losing a parent – but equally it could be something far less obviously traumatic.

‘Traumas’ take place all the time with children and are as deeply wounding as the examples above because when you’re a child it’s all relative to what you know. It could be an argument with a friend, being told off by your teacher, getting an unexpected bad mark on your homework or being shouted at for bad behaviour (ie ‘being bad’), by one of your parents.

When I was 7, I went to boarding school. A seemingly privileged thing – my parents wanted the best for me, and since my Dad worked for an organisation who were offering subsidised tuition this seemed like a good option as our family was living overseas. I intellectually understood this, and never consciously questioned whether there were other reasons for me being sent away.

And I had a great time! It was the Enid Blyton experience, lots of midnight feasts, running around playing and being a mischevious, curious kid like any other.

But in my twenties I started to explore my insecurities with therapists. The picture that emerged was that of a 7-year-old who – already insecure for reasons unknown – then had her subjective fears confirmed when her primary caregivers sent her away from home. My mother has always had anger management issues and borderline personality disorder behaviours, and its probable that I created a world view that I was sent away because I used to make her angry with me all the time. Which then equated in my undeveloped mind, in simplistic terms to ‘she doesn’t love me’ – which then subconsciously translates to ‘I’m unlovable’.

Since then, even as an adult now, I’m often looking for evidence that someone doesn’t love me. It’s become a dangerous habit, because you can find evidence wherever you look. My default outlook therefore became incredibly negative, and I was rarely seeking evidence of the goodness in my relationships.

I’ve been carrying around my 7-year-old wounded child since I went to boarding school – and that same inner child as an adult constantly found evidence of her insecure fears in everything she did afterwards. To the point that self destructive, abusive behaviour became her comfort zone.

Sound familiar?

john bradshaw quote

During therapy I worked through John Bradshaw’s book Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child. Over the last few decades, this lonely 7-year-old has been dominating my world view. Throughout my teenage years my subconscious fears were validated by the bullies at school, I sought validation in the wrong places through drugs and alcohol and incredibly bad men, and I built walls around me that were so hard to penetrate that throughout the majority of my twenties I rarely had an authentic, meaningful, intimate relationship with anyone (and had no idea I was doing this). But I didn’t even love myself, so how could anyone else? My mother smothered me with her love, which I translated as guilt not love, and I punished I her for it.

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I went to a Psychotherapy workshop in West London for adults who went to boarding school as children – the theme was about struggling to have intimate relationships and finding real love. In one day we explored our romantic histories with an amazing therapist who herself had also been to boarding school. She had been exploring the relationship between mental health, relationships & boarding school children.  I continued to see her after her workshop for around a year, and she was instrumental in helping me work through reclaiming my inner child.

Depending on when your trauma happened may dictate what era of your childhood your child is trapped in. Homecoming: Reclaiming & Championing Your Inner Child will help you explore the different periods of your life, and it provides useful activities for you to do in your own time that will help you learn how to love your inner child and tools that will show you how to set them free.

Part 1 of the youtube series where author John Bradshaw narrates through his powerful book, Homecoming: Reclaiming & Championing Your Inner Child.

Self love and forgiveness are key here.

I recall one day around 6 years ago thinking about my 7-year-old self, wondering who she was, remembering the things she loved to do and was passionate about. I transported myself into her mind and she just seemed so innocent to me. It made me break down in tears. I welled up with a sense of love for this unassuming 7 year old who had done nothing to anyone, she just existed, she didn’t ask to be brought into the world.

Since that moment I stopped taking drugs. I stopped abusing my body, and putting my delicate fragile beautiful self through more pain and more trauma. It was the first time I acted in a loving way toward myself. I was 30 years old.

This is hugely emotional work, that releases decades of pent-up trapped emotion and lets you break free of an emotion prison that you might not even realise you were caught up in.

Are you ready to change?

Sources:

Homecoming; Reclaiming & Championing Your Inner Child

The Making of Them: The British Attitude to Children and the Boarding School System

Boarding School Syndrome: the Psychological Trauma of the ‘privileged’ Child

 

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