Abandonment and the Inner Child
I was abandoned at age two, when my sister Suzie was sent away to a special school for kids with Down syndrome. Not only was she gone, but my grief was ignored—worse, I was expected to be cheerful and fix up my parents’ feelings. The grief-stricken two-year-old was all on her own. I feel it afresh now that my sister Suzie has died. But now I’m able to listen to this Little Girl and console her and tell her it’s OK to grieve. Grieving feels scary; it means going to painful, lonely places, but I need to do it. I sit with this little girl every morning, and she cries often these days.
I was abandoned again by abuse. My father, whom I loved, used me sexually, and so this adored person turned into someone else, an alien stranger at times. I was only 3 years old, and suddenly my world was exploded, no safe core of protection. When my mother refused to listen, she betrayed and abandoned me yet again.
It’s through years of therapy and creative-arts healing that I have found a strong Inner Adult to hold, love, and cherish my abandoned Inner Child. I describe this transformative process in my ("inspiring," "unforgettable") book, The River of Forgetting: A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse.
Abandonment calls up the most basic human fears. We are social animals. We need to be raised socially and be shown how to have our emotions and live a full human life. Early abandonment means that there’s always a howling child inside, wondering where love and connection have gone. We need to reconnect and heal that wounded inner child.