In Need of a Get Together

I remember when I first heard the term ‘inner child’, I pictured a pouting toddler, curled forward, arms hugging her knees. She was crouched somewhere deep inside of me, behind my ribs, peeking through the gaps like they were slatted window blinds.  I felt unnerved by her presence.  Did she need a snack?  A cuddle? Someone to play with?  It was hard enough meeting the needs of my own two children and suddenly I had a third small person to worry about.  One who didn’t speak much but had the whole of my history wrapped quietly around her tongue.

When I was training to be a therapist we were encouraged to have a dialogue with our inner child. Good luck.  Mine was uncooperative. She hid her face. Gazed at me with pleading eyes. Begged me silently to put her to bed and concentrate instead on being the ‘outer grown-up’ I was supposed to be. I soon realized she wasn’t alone in there. She was hanging out with my ‘inner control freak’, my ‘inner debbie downer’, my ‘inner hopeless romantic’, my ‘inner moody adolescent’ and my ‘inner catastrophist’. They were all having a fine old time.

Trying to get the attention of my tenants was a bit like attempting to recite poetry at rave. My inner child might have been monosyllabic, but the rest of them were a raucous crowd – constantly jostling to be heard.

We all have busy interiors. Different psychological paradigms assign this phenomenon varying labels  (ego states and sub personalities to name a few). Whatever you wish to call them, our chaotic internal get togethers are often a result of neglected aspects of ourselves battling for the limelight.

Start to listen to the voices. Establish firm guidelines. I learnt not to let Debbie Downer and Hopeless Romantic meet for breakfast on Valentines Day, no matter how much they petitioned – it was never pretty. Catastrophist was banned from reading the newspapers for a little while and Control Freak was surprisingly calm when I instructed her to keep typing and stop tidying. I started dragging Adolescent to gigs with me and she stopped sulking about all the endless Saturday nights spent watching ‘The Love Boat’. I bought Child the dog she had been longing for, and we took a daily walk through the wooded trees in the park. Gradually she began to chat. She whispered a few secrets to me about connecting with my own children as well; secrets I had very nearly forgotten.

Ignoring the needy parts of ourselves will always have a consequence. Start tuning in to the voices in your head. Use your writing to help you hear what they have to say. Take a roll call. Write a dialogue between them all – is it a comical farce or a tension fuelled drama? Notice who’s mssing. Is there an aspect of yourself that you need to make more space for?  Write them an entrance.

Share your findings!  Post snippets of your dialogue in the comments section or simply let me know your thoughts about your own internal meet ups.  Be playful – create an imaginary Facebook page for your various aspects or write about what they might Tweet to each other.  Don’t over think this.  Just write… and report back!


PS. Hopeless Romantic would like to wish you a “Very Happy Valentines Day!”
PPS. Debbie Downer and her new friend Sarcastic Susan would like to add (rolling their eyes in unison) “Whatever!”

6 Responses to “In Need of a Get Together”

  1. Kristin
    February 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    I have big problems with Paranoid… she is stuck somewhere in the tween years and spends an unhealthy amount of time worrying that everyone is judging her… I try to remind her that people are just going about their business and no one has the time to notice her hair is a disaster, but she puts up a hell of a good fight.

  2. Anonymous
    February 15, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    My inner voices are all over the place. Some sit on my back burner and fester on my feeling of abandonment I experienced when my (ex) husband left me while I was barely in recovery from a major illness. Some are still in survivor mode waiting to gear up for my next surgery, even though I haven't had any for the past year. (I've had about 9 in the past 4 years – not a record, but something). Some are trying hard to be my cheerleader and remind me of how great I am and how much I've accomplished in life so far. Some are reminding me that I'm so much better than the festering voice. Some are in mommy mode, trying hard to be a good, happy mom. Some are looking for the map that leads out of this melancholy place and back to the main road that once was me. Some are working hard to fight these counter-productive voices by writing this and looking to DO things. Creative things. Fun things. Travel things. Family things. Some are dreaming of the day the light will shine brightly through me and radiate out of me again for all to see and know and feel. Others are working hard against the tide to make that happen…Hmm, maybe I should have waited to be in a better mood to write?

  3. Rory Green
    February 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Thank you for your contribution and thank you for not waiting… "the map that leads out of this melancholy place and back to the main road that once was me" is such a powerful image. I encourage you to write more on that, and I invite you to come again and share, whatever mood you find yourself in!

  4. Frahnseen
    February 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    I have this defiant, angry, petulant inner child. She kicks her feet and bites and scuffs her patent leather shoes. She doesn’t care if you tell her she is ungrateful, she didn’t ask to be here. She didn’t ask to be born. Secretly she craves approval and acceptance and love. She wants to be taken care of and nurtured, but not feeling this unconditional experience she loudly acclaims her independence and self sufficiency, needing nothing or no one; this she desperately believes will save her the rejection and disappointment. She can write her own life story and act it out accordingly. Assume the worst; be happy if you get more than that. Her motto achieved her an outward success of the embodiment of these traits. She attained the job and house and marriage and financial freedom but as these benchmarks meant nothing to a child, they were not accompanied by the sense of worth and self esteem she thought should be part of this achievement. For in the end these outward trappings could not make her love herself. In the end she was alone and naked, longing for a connection to feel she belonged to something greater than the painting of her life. The words she wrote to herself to make sense of this conundrum, the answer as elusive as the solution to mathematical word problems at school were her comfort and connection. The blank page covered with her ruminations felt warm now, a momentary respite from the external judges. She belonged to her words as patently as they belonged to her. The warmth filled her internal expanse of longing as fully as the words filled the page. And through her life this connection remains no matter how confused her thoughts become. She is a writer although her words do not define her. Her words expand her world to an endless page awaiting the speed and deepness of the ink stains forming words connecting one thought to another. Sometimes cohesive and fluid, then jerks and starts of discordant discourse, then frothy, glib sentiment and trite rhymes. Sometimes the warmth coming from the act of pen to paper as in art, not poetry or prose. The feeling of a rolling writer pen, fluid and sensual. And then the words flow as water to thirst and chocolate to craving, words for the sake of words. And deep within, deep beneath her monkey mind and pushing aside her acute judgments her child solemnly and graciously accepts that this is purpose enough.

  5. Rory Green
    February 22, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    "And then the words flow as water to thirst and chocolate to craving, words for the sake of words" What a beautiful line! Thank you for the view inside of you. Brave and honest…

  6. Rory Green
    February 22, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Paranoid is a pesky one! She might need frequent reminders and very firm boundaries, not unlike the tween whose well she has sprung from! Thank you for sharing…

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