I once heard an author say that meeting her inner child was like coming face to face with a silent stranger you’ve known forever. It was also that way with me.
I was instructed to go dig up an old picture of myself from before I could remember any pain or heartache. My first memory, at three years old, was exactly that… of pain and heartache. Though my task seemed daunting, I trudged through every old album I could get my hands on, and I searched. I found an old Polaroid of myself, little Carly, standing in the kitchen, toes smashed way down into my mother’s giant high heels, apron tied seven times around my tiny 4 year old waist, hanging nearly to the floor. And the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. This is when I met my Lil C.
As the author described, I felt like I was staring at a stranger. Lil C looked just like my then 4 year old daughter, and I could, of course, see the resemblance to my adult self, but the attachment of emotion was simply missing. Missing; like an enormous black hole in the top of my gut; quite the opposite of indigestion, and somehow quite similarly distressing. But there she stood, smiling. And there I sat, confused.
I have always believed I experienced a normal, healthy, solid, acceptable childhood. This belief guided every critical thought in my head. I’ve walked around feeling so guilty for my own hurt feelings, feeling responsible for my tragically flawed thinking patterns. And as I stared at Lil C’s perfect little face, I began to realize an awful truth; a truth which came crawling from that hole in the top of my gut like a demon with massive eagle-length arms, scraping at every organ along the way. This truth: that I have no memory of being told by my mother that I was ok no matter what, loved no matter what, forgiven no matter what; I was never made to believe that she felt lucky to be my mother, glad at the chance to know me, happy with the person I was. And that was only the tip of the abandonment ice burg. This truth crushed my soul, and I knew, beyond all reasoning I knew, that every child deserves unconditional love and endless teaching; and these are things my childhood did not provide.
These are things that my Lil C cannot live without; the reasons for my hurting and wasting and pain. So the task was set before me at that moment: I must work to develop my own voice of the loving parent to help quiet the storm of my inner Lil C, and shut down the voice of my inner critical parent. I can soothe the wounds left long ago which have governed me for longer than I know, I can find now what I needed then, and help my inner Lil C grow up and mature. Sound amazing? It is. This is my journey…