Monday, August 16, 2010

The Inner Child. Monday, August 16, 2010.

“I have been a depressed person most of my life. I was always in the throes of self-hatred.” - Eve Ensler

I don’t really think of myself as someone with a “low self-esteem.” I consider myself intelligent, and I’m proud of my career, as endangered as the field of publications is. I’ve won awards, which I think I deserved. I think I have a lot of common horse-sense, as well. I’m OK with my looks, and I think I’m a decent person, who does good things for other people. If someone were to ask me if I had low self-esteem, I would say “no.”

I rationalize that my suicide attempt had absolutely nothing to do with low self-esteem. In the case of many other attempt survivors, their attempts had everything to do with self-hatred. But I was different. I was in a bipolar mixed state, and my employer was going through layoffs. I attempted suicide because of biological imbalance and financial pressures – neither of which has vanished, by the way.

With the return of some stressors, and my medication yet to become an exact science, I’ve started feeling lower again. So my husband gave me some materials on Nurturing your Inner Child.

For anyone that doesn’t know, the Inner Child is a therapeutic term for that part of us that is left over from early childhood. It’s also the part of us that is joyful, playful, hopeful. But it’s the part of us that has been wounded due to childhood traumas. While our adult selves might be able to be rational about experiences like abuse and neglect, our Inner Child may still be in pain, and if we’re acting out on those experiences (being abusive, allowing ourselves to be abused, escaping with drugs and alcohol, etc.), one place to start healing is by caring for that Inner Child.

The materials suggested writing a letter to your Inner Child, but first, to find her and picture her. This is where I got my rude surprise. I pictured her, about 6 years old, bob hairdo, wearing a little turquoise skirt and saddle-shoes, and going by the little-girl nickname my parents called me at the time. And I was mortified to realize that I had a white-hot hatred of her. I didn’t want to comfort her, or write her a letter. I wanted to scream at her about how worthless she was, and how she deserved to die. I was filled with so much fury at her I began to sob.

Where do these feelings come from? I honestly don’t know. Many would assume that my parents must have treated me this way, but on the contrary, I always felt that my parents loved me. They had their problems, to be sure; my father was mentally ill and my mother strained for years to keep a family together that should not have been together. But they didn’t “abuse” me. So why am I so quick to abuse myself? What do I blame my Inner Child for? Why do I think that she deserves so much rage she doesn’t even deserve to exist?

I have a lot of work to do.

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