Inner child work
20-something miseries, mental health

Dear Inner Child: You Have Needs and That’s Okay

Dear Inner Child,

You have needs. I know that now, and I’m going to do my best to get them met in a healthy way that finally allows us to grow out of our child fears. Fear of being too much and not enough at the same time. Fear of asking for something we need. Fear of needing things at all. Fear of existing the wrong way.

It is okay to need attention. When we were little, we used to sing to our strawberry plant every day because we read somewhere that plants grow better when people sing to them. This was one of our first unacknowledged lessons in our own brokenness. We understood that it was okay for the strawberry plant to need attention, but we also knew, deep in our bones, that it was not okay for us to need that same attention. The strawberry plant had something we didn’t, or lacked some kind of deformity that we had, and even though we didn’t realize it at the time, we were learning.

It is okay to need to cry. When we cried as a kid, we deserved comfort, not vague disgust and disgruntling. We deserve that comfort still, today. We deserve it from others, but we cannot control them. We never could. We were never going to “earn” comfort, even though sometimes it felt like we did. We can only control ourselves, and so today I am wrapping my adult arms around my sobbing child body, and letting her tears stain my shirt.

It is okay to need gentleness. Some people are cut from hardy polyester or resilient cotton, but we are made of silk, and even the smallest hangnail can leave us torn. You do not need to grow a tougher skin. Silk is a precious material, and if it toughened up, it would cease to be what it is. For a long time, we thought that was the goal. To magically become something else. Something more versatile, something tough enough to withstand steel wool love. But it is okay to need gentleness. And it is okay if some people cannot give it to you.

It is okay to need to be who you are, even if who you are seems to be wrong. Everything about us has always seemed wrong. We’re not strong enough, we’re too sensitive, we’re playing the victim, we’re blaming everyone else. And we cannot defend ourselves because we were a child when these accusations were first fired. We were a child and we did not know how to separate our truth from others’ truths. In many ways, we still are a child. Even though we have grown from a sapling to a large sycamore tree, if someone cut us open, they would not find any rings. We are stuck in the center, waiting on the child’s needs to be met.

For so long, we have waited for others to meet those needs. Now, I am taking care of our needs. I will give us attention and hold us when we cry and support us when we want to express ourselves even at the risk of looking foolish. And we will no longer be two separate beings, living on opposite sides of a wall of avoidance and shame, but one identity. I am not reverting to a child, but finally acknowledging the child that is always within me, always clawing at the walls I have imprisoned her in. I have set her free. Not so she can run rampant, but so we can learn to work together. So I can care for her as she deserved. As I deserve.

Your Loving Adult Self

4 thoughts on “Dear Inner Child: You Have Needs and That’s Okay”

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