I’m 33 years old and only now starting to understand what it means when we say our “inner child.”
I started to understand it once I was willing to hear my pain.
As adults, we try to be resilient. We climb mountains, accomplish goals, look forward, move forward. But in our shadow lingers pain, and it hangs out with us until we acknowledge it. Like, really acknowledge it. Sometimes it shows up with big life events or “triggers” that we can make sense of, and sometimes it appears when we don’t expect it at all.
It’s not something I can easily put into words, but it’s in those times when we feel small that we can get acquainted with our inner child.
I had a great day today. My day was packed with people I love. And now, it’s late at night and I’m tucked underneath my covers. The room is still and I’m surrounded by night’s darkness. My mind is free and my heart is open, but there is a pang of sadness I feel from…somewhere. I feel small—small in a way that feels helpless, lost, alone, and abandoned.
Some nights I enjoy being alone, but this is different. It’s a loneliness coming from inside of me, a feeling I would typically ignore or push away, but tonight it is loud. It is as if my inner child is crying out for help. I picture her—me—as what I’ve seen of myself in childhood photographs. It helps me to tune in.
Tonight, instead of ignoring her, I make time to listen and feel what she’s feeling. In some way, I know only I can hear and understand her the way she needs right now. And as crazy as it sounds, tonight, I respond.
I write a letter…a letter to myself. A letter to my inner child.
I hear you.
I don’t always understand you, and I admit, I am new to learning you.
You are complex, but you are not difficult.
I won’t always understand you, but I won’t always need to.
You ask to be heard. I will listen to you.
I want to tell you I am here for you now.
You feel lonely, but I am here.
I promise to be patient with your growth and stumbling.
I will have your back.
I will cheer you on, and I will lift you up.
I won’t give you good vibes only, but I will be present when you feel your emotions—I won’t rush you through them.
And I won’t tell you you’re crazy or too complicated for having them. I know that you need to learn your emotions to feel alive and to grow into yourself and your humanity. I accept that part of you, and I’m learning to honor it.
I will trust you. And I will trust your process.
I know you don’t know everything and that’s okay. You don’t need to pretend you do! I believe you are figuring stuff out. I don’t believe in mistakes because every part of life is for living and exploring and learning and moving forward.
I won’t put pressure on you. And when you feel pressure from other people, I will help take the pressure off.
I will not abandon you.
I will hear your voice, and I will help you hear it too. Especially when the voices of others become loud and could drown you out.
I will notice you.
I will take time for you, and I will help create pause when you need it.
I promise, I’ll have your back.
It’s okay if you value peace more than fun.
It’s okay to feel confused—we will work through the confusion.
It’s okay to not understand yourself or your life, and it’s okay to explore—we’re learning together, and we’ll take it one thing at a time.
You and me.
Some things have meaning. Some things do not.
Sometimes you get answers. Sometimes you do not.
Sometimes you create your own closure. Sometimes, you don’t need it.
No one has to understand your process.
You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone.
If you want to express yourself, you are capable—and yes, you make sense! And no, you don’t sound stupid.
You know how to work hard, and you know how to sacrifice…but it’s okay to choose ease, and it’s okay to relax.
I admit, you’re new to me. And yet no one knows you quite like I do. There will be times when you’re looking for guidance, support, empathy, grounding. Throughout your life, you will feel left behind, lonely, left out. You will feel days or nights of sadness. Sometimes, you will hate yourself and sometimes, you will love yourself and sometimes, you will question everything.
And I will be here for all of it.
Remember, I will have your back.
Life isn’t a competition, and you will meet and love and need all kinds of people on your path.
I just want to tell you that I am also here. Always. Forever. No matter what.
Yours Truly Forever and Ever,