New Interview about Healing the Inner Child

It's been my pleasure to be interviewed by Adam Adamson of the zentactics website, a site devoted to helping people heal from childhood abuse.

Adam posed a number of thought-provoking (or even challenging) questions, such as asking me to compare the effects of different types of childhood abuse (sexual, physical, emotional). Check out the interview, "Healing the Inner Child," to see what you think about my answers.

Getting in Touch With the Inner Child

I spend time each morning sitting and talking with my inner children, so it surprised me when an interviewer from ZenTactics asked me “How do you know if you’re in touch with your Inner Child?” But on second thought, the question made more sense. This inner child stuff can be nebulous and changeable.

When I first began doing inner child work, I felt the Child’s presence mainly through grief and pain. I experienced great waves of sadness whenever she was near—the pain of betrayal, the grief of realizing how my parents had failed me, the loss of my illusions about my family. It was often hard to stay with the little one and not run away from her pain.

It took longer for me to learn to feel the tenderness and love towards this child and learn to listen to her subtler feelings.

These days our time together (what I call my “Big Jane” and the little ones) is varied. Some days I feel the presence of my Good Girl and her anxieties about the world and I need to soothe and reassure her. Sometimes I sit with the intention of being present to the inner children and I feel blank or confused, only gradually getting a sense of their needs. Some days I feel a yearning for love and I sit in my imaginary cabin and rock for a long time in the rocking chair, simply hugging and loving the inner child.

In this way, being present to the inner child is a meditation. Things are always changing and it takes some clear intent for me to be patient with the experience as it comes and goes.

Denial Makes Us Crazy

When I was abused by my father, my mother told me to forget it. My parents managed to believe that no harm was done, that I was just fine. I did seem to grow up OK and was successful in my life, but underneath was a sense of not trusting myself or others.

I’ve been reading the book Denial: A Memoir of Terror. I recommend this book only if you are feeling strong—it is full of graphic descriptions of rapes and of dissociation. The author, Jessica Stern, was raped when she was a teen and the whole town colluded in denial: the police dropped the case quickly; her father did not intervene on her behalf, and everyone seemed to take the attitude that “It can’t happen here, so it didn’t, or else it was your fault.”

Jessica Stern’s words on denial are strong and true:
Denial helps the bystander. We don’t want to know….

But the victim, too, cannot bear to believe. She may bury or dissociate from or disown her pain…

When authorities disbelieve the victim, when bystanders refute what they cannot bear to know, they rob the victim of normal existence on earth. Bystander and victim collude in denial or forgetting, and in so doing repeat the abuse…. [T]he victim can no longer trust the evidence of her senses…. The ground disappears….

The dizziness brought on by the denial of others is often worse than the original crime.

I agree, and this is one reason why we need to share our stories and make them public.