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November 26, 2023

How I’m Healing my Inner Teenager—& Why it Really Matters.

Living in a Historic Home with my Inner Teenager.

At this very moment, I am sitting in a home that several generations before me have lived in.

I have seen the records at my grandparents’ home of it being bought and sold for years and years since the 1850s.

My grandmother was raised here as a child. The home is quite spacious for just a mama and baby now, but I can’t imagine seven people living here in this one bedroom home. There is a yard with an outbuilding under where lives a family of cats. On the outside, the house is beautiful yellow brick. The house is across the street from an elementary school with a nice playground, and only a few blocks from another park, a library, and the downtown square of this little town.

Maybe it’s because I grew up spending time here with my grandparents, it all feels so nostalgic. Maybe because it used to be part of Route 66. Maybe because it is still simply a small, historic, Missouri town. There is a certain energy here, slow, calm…sheltered even?

I was concerned, I’ll be honest, about living in this old house. When I was little and my great grandmother still lived here, I can remember the mildew smell, the floor that waved and sunk under green shag carpet. The glass cats and downstairs daybed. Sometimes if I think hard enough I may remember my great grandma’s sweet voice. However, I was never really close to her because I was so little when she passed away and I felt I didn’t see her often. My grandma is so attached to this house that she will not rent it out, or use it as Airbnb. She and my papa have poured so much time and energy into fixing and replacing so much. I knew it was a beautiful space and they had truly transformed it, but I guess my concern lay in living in such a tiny town in the middle of the Bible belt, in an old home with potential for mold or old, haunting energies. I was worried about who or what would be staying in and around this home with me.

Now it has been three solid months and I feel completely at home here. I have burned Palo Santo and cleared the space as much as possible. I chose Palo Santo over Sage because, well, first of all it smells better in my opinion, and because it is a gentle clearing—only negative energy is my understanding. I tried my best to voice to any positive, loving, healing energies that I am grateful to be here and I want to learn what I need to and respect this space while I am here.

The home now feels like an utter sanctuary. Because of where it is, I have not had guests over yet besides my grandparents and brother of course. I have fallen in love with every little part. I love the loft bedroom and our floor bed in the A-frame space. I love the fairy lights on the railing that cast a welcoming glow in the windows. I love the gas furnace that is so cozy and efficient on chilly winter days. I love the way the sheer curtains blow delicately in the spring wind. I love playing binaural beats and working at my desk space while my sweet baby stacks wooden blocks on the purple rug. I love the white brick backsplash around the sink and the light pear green of the kitchen walls. Practically, I enjoy how close the home is to everywhere I need to go. I love being close enough to spend intentional time with my grandparents. I love watching my cat gaze out the window on more cats in the backyard. I love the awesome water pressure and the bathtub that is deep enough and clean enough to take steamy baths whenever I’d like.

The biggest fear and concern I had when moving to this new home was that it belongs to my grandparents, and although I would be paying utilities and such, I would basically be living here rent-free. My grandpa had offered it for years and my answer had always been an adamant no, never! So much of my identity since I was young has been in me being self-sufficient. I got my first “job” when I was eight years old, working at the next door neighbor’s house packing Bar-B-Q Sauce in their basement. From that age, I also babysat, dogsat, worked in lawns, had lemonade stands, and so on. I always worked. When I was 14 years old and a sophomore in high school, my school signed a waiver for me to get a job at Taco Bell. I continued nannying. When I finally quit Taco Bell and could drive at age 16, I began working at Chuck E. Cheese in most of my freetime. I continued working there and nannying when I moved out at age 17.

I began paying all of my own bills at this age with occasional spoiling from my grandpa (he and my grandma are actual angels who have saved my butt on more than a few occasions). It has always been thanks to my grandpa and other loved ones helping in the truly hard times that my life has been comfortable. When it comes to bills and home life, though, I became independent at 17—and even before that honestly. If I could legally have moved out sooner I would have, even though I had different responsibilities when I moved out on my own. It was nothing compared to the emotional responsibility and energetic suffocation I had felt the past 16 years.

In a lot of ways, I grew up well before I should have. Yes, “worldly things” were hidden from me but the expectations and responsibilities put onto me at a young age and the things I witnessed and experienced throughout childhood created a type of unhealthy understanding of the way some things were. Of course, I have grown a lot since then, and I had an incredible support system of friends and friends’ families who supported and loved me along the way. So now, accepting a home to live in and help from my sweet grandpa once again (who isn’t as young as he used to be) causes immense guilt and shame. I have had so much of my identity wrapped up in being self-sufficient and independent. I feel that independence gives me the freedom I want and need to do what I want and need to do when I want and need to do it.

While I still feel this way, I am learning to be grateful. I am learning to accept the help and be deeply grateful for it instead of feeling ashamed. I work full time, have side jobs, and am a full time single mom, and thanks to my grandfather letting me live here, I feel a sense of effortlessness and ease. If I had to, I know I could rent somewhere or find a place to live on my own, but right now, doing that would be purely out of a lack of accepting help. Purely from a place of ego and pride. Of course, I will eventually find another place to live when I am in a season where it is right, but at the moment I am truly embracing this feeling of seclusion by choice, solitude, peace, and being held and supported.

I feel that it is healing my inner teenager. The one who felt trapped and overwhelmed. The one who worked 60-hour weeks while being a full-time student. The one who was walking with one foot in childhood and the other fending for herself. Maybe it is that I always felt completely emotionally alone, even as the universe always gifted me people who loved and supported me through people outside of my own parents. I have made mistakes, but I am resilient, and that is purely due to people in my life. So yes, things were sh*tty and hard and I was battling this type of financial help and a gifting of a home. However, I am accepting it and letting it feel healing and warm and safe. I also am realizing that just because my biological parents did not give me what I needed as a child, I did have many other people in my life who cared for me, so I was truly never lacking, supported all along.

(I do want to mention that I always had a roof over my head and food on the table and clothes to wear, and I forgive my parents and think they were doing the best they could at the time, but I may or may not get into the other specifics later. There are many different types of abuse, neglect, and trauma, and only through much therapy, hours of research, podcasts, books, introspection, and so on, am I beginning to understand where and how this complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) formed in my life and why.)

So why does this healing matter? Because we all have inner teenagers to heal.

We talk a lot about “inner child work,” and that is so crucial and important, but we often forget to think about how teenagers are still children, although they have a unique set of needs (both physically and emotionally), and it is such a delicate time in development and growth. It can be an angry time, a painful time, and a lonely time especially if you are not adequately prepared or supported.

My inner teenager has found worthiness and identity in being a do-it-all-myself type. At every job I have been at, Chuck-E-Cheese forward, I have been one to “live at my job,” always saying yes, working as many hours as possible, trying to be the hardest worker there with the best attitude. Then I transition, of course, and my identity shifts to the next job I have. In jobs and breakups I never seem to be able to fully say goodbye and usually end up staying on payroll and picking up a shift here and there until eventually I’m gone for good. I finally am breaking free of this cycle. Even with challenging parts of my current job and lifestyle, I am grateful, held, and as if I have a lot of choice within every day.

When I moved to South Carolina (after college), I began learning about boundaries and how it’s okay to leave if something doesn’t feel aligned. It doesn’t have to be “bad” to not be for you. If you say no to some things, you have space to say yes to others, and so on.

I have also learned that consciously acknowledging and allowing anger and not being angry at anger itself is healing and crucial to moving forward and creating emotional space. Instead of continuing to be “miss independent” in every way, I am learning to release shame and anger and defiance around accepting help and acknowledging it. I have always been supported in one way or another; I have just refused to honor it because I was finding purpose, fuel, and identity in being “completely alone.”

We need the assistance of other humans to survive. Even if you live off-grid, completely alone, never seeing a soul, chances are that something you have has been made by another human, and if you really made every single thing yourself, chances are you still used tools or material made by someone else. If anything, you were birthed at some point and kept alive by someone else. So no one is completely independent or self-sufficient, no matter what your story is or how much you have had to struggle or suffer to get to where and who you are today.

All of life is a practice for death.

We are learning that we can take nothing with us when we leave, and that nothing truly belongs only to “just you.” Everything is energy, and there is abundance in all forms—enough for everyone. That being said, all we do is borrow or share. Anything we have or receive is a gift. It is easier to be in the present moment and not become worried if you think in this way. I have heard it explained as: if you go on vacation or rent a nice car, you don’t spend your time enjoying it only thinking about when it will be given back. If you did, you wouldn’t be able to appreciate or enjoy it at all. Instead, you try to soak it up, experience it fully, maybe take photos to look back fondly and remember. In the same way, nothing we have is only ours. The relationships we have, our homes, and our belongings are all borrowed and meant to be shared. If we get too hung up on what is only ours, or what we may lose, then we are embracing a lack mentality and our energy is focused in the wrong place.

The learnings, gratitude, and healing is what I have been trying to accept and lean into while living here in this home. If I want to have the capacity to give and share in the future, I must also learn to receive and accept with the same energy. If I truly am leaning into the mantras and affirmations of abundance, ease, gratitude, wealth, support, and so on, I have to accept that these things come in more ways than just a paycheck. I must learn to appreciate and enjoy without worrying about the future or the “why.” I am so grateful for the opportunity to live here with my child, and I plan to pay it forward in the future.

I also have claimed this time for my “healing era” meaning the elimination of distractions such as actively dating or searching for a partner, no television in the house, and no alcohol. I go in depth more about this in other areas but overall this is to provide pure focus, limiting the amount of numbing I can do. While I do not fault or judge anyone, including my past, current, or future self for any of these things, as I plan to welcome them all back into my life once again when I am in the right place, I felt deeply called for many different reasons to let all these distractions go while living here and focus on doing the healing work.

Although it may be an immature way to look at it, it also helps me feel less guilty about receiving gifts from those around more and being more receptive to the gifts from the universe when I know I am maximizing my time and space. I feel as though it is accelerating me forward on my path, and I am beyond grateful for that. I definitely have times when stillness or staying is a good thing overall and I can spend time just enjoying and indulging, but this is not one of those times. Deep healing work does not necessarily mean only fun and play, although those are aspects, of course.

I don’t know what the next layer of healing will look like, but I am grateful for the one I’m in now. I recently learned a bit about Inner Family Systems (IFS) and I am holding and nurturing the exiled inner teenager within. She sometimes wants to kick and scream and punch things and wants to curl up in a ball and cry. Sometimes her body needs so much love and appreciation, and other times she needs to be cooked for. She needs someone to make her a hot, homemade meal and eat it after a shower while wearing soft jammies and having someone ask about her day. She needs to feel held, safe, loved, and cared for. She needs to remember she is still a child even though she’s dealing with adult situations. She needs to be told emotions are not permanent and it’s okay to feel them; they are here to teach us. It’s safe to feel feelings, and there is room for her feelings here.

I love my sweet inner teenager and plan to give her all of these things and more. She is healing right along with my inner child, although they don’t always get along.

How can your adult self show up for your inner teenager? What areas in your life are you working on giving yourself grace to receive? How do these things interact for you? I would love to hear.

~

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