wrestling with Old Fears

As I get ready to send my memoir out into the world (the first step being sending it out for prepublication reviews by Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, etc.), my Inner Child is getting scared. I know I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about the abuse, and even though I’ve worked on it in therapy for 15 years now and told numerous friends and written the memoir and this blog, the idea of making it really public is scary to the Child.

The fear works both on the completely irrational level of the scared little girl and on the more grown-up level of fear of criticism. When I met with my therapist the other day, I listened to the little-girl fears from back in the days when I was only four or five. I was terrified of my parents’ anger if I told. I fear being abandoned and all alone. Of course, the abandonment happened anyway on an emotional level and I was all alone with my feelings. But this little girl is also afraid of physical harm.

My therapist urged me to feel the fear in my body, the claws gripping my neck and shoulders. Then she had me imagine feeling real safety (which came slowly). I talked to my inner child about being grown-up now and no one is going to come to the door and beat me up.

It’s also true that I can’t promise the little ones that everything will be great. Critics can be mean and say hurtful things. Perhaps some reviewers, from their own insecurities, will doubt what I write or will see it as self-indulgent. This could happen. I need ways to stay safe inside. So I called and emailed a lot of supportive friends and received their blessings and encouragement, and I’ve pasted all their words in a big bouquet on a doorway. I also think of the other survivors of abuse whom my memoir may touch, my companions along the way.

I decided to post this because it’s a real-world example of how the inner child work deals both in the inner, magical/imaginary realms and in the real world where things are not under our control.

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