Because I was blindsided by my divorce, my self esteem and inner child took a traumatic hit. Inner child might be an elusive term for some, but bottom line our “inner child” represents our innocence, our sense of wonder, joy, sensitivity and playfulness. As we grow older we earn the title of adult when we acknowledge, accept and take responsibility for loving our inner child. I don’t believe we truly “grow up.”
You have to protect that inner child. Strangely enough I had another poetic dream in which I got a lot of insight.
I was sitting in a dim lighted bar. I was drinking and my companions were ugly versions of my adult self. One of my companions was fat with an affliction of severe acne. Another had dark hair that was untamed and his arm pit stains glowed like a green neon sign.
The third looked withered and near death. His appearance looked like he had suffered from a long and tough famine, just skin and bone with dark circles around his eyes.
They all laughed when I finished my story of how I lost the love of my life to someone else.
Their laughter shook the walls and the rhythmic pounding of their fist on the bar’s counter bounced the glasses into a dance.
“Well no wonder! Look at you! You look like a ghost,” said the fat one as he rocked back and forth in his chair with laughter.
“I bet this NEW MAN isn’t boring like you are! Your personality is flat! You think too much and you’re all business. She wanted fun! She wanted to feel ALIVE!,” said the dark haired one.
“I bet she forgets all about you when they are making love. I bet he is better in every way and that’s why she’s never looking back. You only live once, never settle down with a bore like you. He’s probably hung like horse too.” said the skinny one.
I laughed with them, although uneasily and I agreed with them as I took a drink.
The door to the outside flings open and the light blinds the bar’s patrons. They groan as they squint. A small boy enters the bar. He is crying. He has blonde hair and fair skin with blue eyes. He runs towards me and hugs my leg, burying his face into the side of my leg.
“What’s wrong boy?” I said.
“She doesn’t want to play with me anymore,” the boy said as his hiccups and sobs interrupted his speech.
“Why doesn’t she want to play with you anymore? Did you do something mean?” I said.
“No. She said my toys are boring and that she doesn’t like me anymore. She said this other boy had better toys and is more fun and that… and that… and that she doesn’t want to play with me or be friends with me. Ever. Ever. Ever. Again,” the boy said.
“Well, sounds like she’s a mean girl to me. Why were you hanging out with her anyway?”
“She was always nice. She was fun. I liked her a lot. I don’t know why she got mean,” the boy said.
“Don’t cry over a mean girl. Find new friends who don’t treat you like that. Geez, it’s that easy.” I said with impatience.
“Why was she so mean?” the boy said.
“Doesn’t matter! Life is short! Keep friends who are nice to you, not mean. Aren’t there other kids on the playground?”
“Yes,” the boy said in a fit of sniffles as he clears away the tears from his face.
My ugly companions began to laugh.
“Well, well, well, well, well. Looks like we have two lame whiners. The boy cries like a girl! No wonder his friend left him! He’s too sensitive and takes life too seriously. Hey boy! Did you look at your toy airplane and speak of its wonder? Did you tell her your dreams and how you hoped to be a pilot one day? It was all about you uh? Did you even share?” said the fat one.
“Yes,” the boy responded.
“Lair! You’re not remembering it right. Ha Ha Ha! The boy is stupid too! Doesn’t have a memory! His mind is fickle and unreliable! The girl chose right! She left you because you’re no fun! I bet this new boy friend has bigger toys and bigger delights!” he responded.
“She said I was her friend yesterday and the day before. I don’t understand,” the boy said defensively.
“Ha ha ha ha! She is no friend boy. You’re lame, plan and simple. Look, the boy needs to learn that the world is cruel. It’s full of mean boys and girls! Tell him to stop being a baby! He’s pathetic! Kick ‘em out. Stop consoling him. The world needs tough love. The boy needs to suffer! It’s a world of hunters and the hunted. He needs to learn to be a hunter, a taker rather than a giver. Kick him outside! Tough love is in order,” said the deathly skinny pale companion.
“Okay guys… enough. He’s just a boy! He is young! He has so much to live for and I think it’s honorable to protect his innocence, his sense of wonder, we need to give him hope that there will be more joy in his life, sensitivity is good and playfulness is essential in a fulfilling life. We need to give him the tools to be successful and happy. I think protecting him in this moment will help. Just because a friend rejected him doesn’t mean you take away his potential for a happy and fulfilling life! After all, he loved this friend. He would be friends with her today if he could! This boy needs comfort and to be told that life will be okay because he can find a new friend that is not mean or cruel or gets bored too easily!” I said.
The fat companion left his leg and let out a loud fart and said, “Well that’s what I think about all that!”
My ugly companions laughed. The glasses on the bar began to dance again.
I bent down and grabbed the boy’s face. I said, “Okay boy, I’m going to count to one hundred and I want you to hide. This is a game of hide and seek. Do you know what that is?”
The boy nodded that he understood.
The boy ran outside and let in the sun’s rays. The sun made my companions groan as their eyes tried to adjust. The door closed and darkness eased their eyes again.
My companions continued their laughs and cruel jokes.
“Enough!” I said with tight fist.
They laughed and continued on their degrading stand ups.
I picked up a chair and broke it over the skinny companion. His bones broke just as the chair did. I picked up the leg of the chair. It was a stake. I looked to the dark haired companion like a vampire. I was the hunter. I drove the stake into his heart. He let out a yelp. Blood covers the bar.
I turn to the fat one. He pleads. I broke a bottle to give it a shiv like deadliness. I slashed his throat.
The room is silent.
“No more jokes?” I asked to my lifeless companions.
I left the bar and enter into the sun’s rays. It is beautiful! The sky is blue and the birds sing their passionate songs. I looked for the boy in the playground. I looked in the tunnels, the slide, the swings, behind a tree, in a bush and found nothing.
“This boy is clever.” I thought.
I looked to the bar entrance. He hide behind the door. He knew if I exit the bar, I might overlook the first place I past.
“Hey you! I found you!” I ran towards the boy.
He laughed and began to run towards me.
I bent down and embraced him. He laughed in my ear and I patted his back.
The boy became smaller and smaller in my arms and he entered into my chest, like witchcraft or a possession.
I was left there hugging myself. I stood up in confusion. The boy was me. My inner child. I was defending him against the negative thoughts I told myself, to hurt myself.
This dream really showed me that I needed to protect my inner child from my own negative thoughts.
Jane E. Brody wrote a great article in the New York Times regarding how positive thinking can improve your health. It is a skill that is developed. Here are some of those tips I’ve adopted in my every day life to protect my inner child:
- Recognize a positive event each day
- Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
- Start a daily gratitude list
- List your personal strengths and note your progress
- Report minor stress and lists ways to reappraise the event in a more positive light
- Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily
- Practice mindfulness, focus on the here and now rather than the past or future.
Some days when my grief is strong, my strength comes from the idea that “yes, it was a tough day— but I’m closer to being healed.”