January 10, 2009


I Resolve to Comfort my Inner Child

After having a much better Christmas than usual or expected--okay, here's the whiny-wiener bad news--I fell while cross-country skiing and injured a few ribs. Then, I got a bad cold. While I was sitting around feeling pain and feeling sorry for myself, I realized that physical illness and injury are big trauma triggers for me.

At my therapist appointment on Thursday, my T said, "You know the actual physical trauma of child abuse gets overlooked and neglected in therapy quite a bit. We focus so much on the emotional trauma and working on feelings, that we don't spend much time on the physical part. As a little girl, you were very, very hurt physically. And most of the time your physical injuries were ignored and received no medical attention."

After she said that, I realized the childhood memory that my recent injury was reminding me of. It wasn't an abuse injury, but the incident reminds me of how many times my childhood injuries and/or illnesses were ignored, overlooked and not attended to in any appropriate, parenting sort of way.

My parents had divorced and, being the upstanding, attentive, appropriate, sane father that he was, dear old "Dad" got full visitation rights with us kids. He had his old, red, two-door jalopy parked in our driveway, waiting to take us to his place for our "visit." I remember that it was winter and there was snow on the ground. My older brother was already seated in the front seat, and my twin sister and I were scooting into the back seat when it happened.

I remember we were all in a hurry to get out of there (even if it was to be with our monster father) because our parents were yelling across the yard at each other: It was the same old topic of, "Where's the child support money?" I got into the back seat first. In her haste to get in after me and close the door behind her, my sister accidentally slammed one of my hands in the heavy car door. I immediately began to wail in pain, while my sister and brother scrambled to get the door back open and release my hand.

My father was oblivious to all this commotion. Instead, he chose this exact moment to zero in and focus on a tiny hole in the knee of my pants, about the size of a dime. Immediately he began to rage. "What the hell do you think you're doing, dressing like this for your visit with me?! Of all the hard-earned money I send to your mother every month, she can't dress you any better than this?! You both have a lot of nerve! Go in and change your clothes immediately! We're not going anywhere with you dressed in rags!"
I remember his words and the look of disbelief and outrage on his face. The details of what happened next, however, are rather a blur.

I know my hand hurt like hell. I know all three of us kids did go back inside the house. I know my parents kept on yelling until my father finally drove away alone.
I know I did not receive any medical attention--parental attention of any kind--for my smashed hand. There was no emergency room, no doctor's call, no ice pack, nothing. I think I went into the bathroom and ran some cold water in the sink to soothe my throbbing hand.

Now, with a broken rib, all you can do is wait for it to heal. You're not put into a cast. About all you can do is ice it down and take pain meds. It takes about six to eight weeks--and you wait and wait--to get back to normal activity while your ribs heal.
That's about all I can do.

There's not much else to be done on this rib issue, when it comes to my healthy, present day self care.
But, I started thinking that there are so many ways I can nurture and heal my inner child. This remembrance is an opportunity for me to mourn my lost and neglected childhood and to grieve for the emotional and physical pain that I, as a little girl, had to endure alone. What types of nurturing and basic care did you not receive from the people who were supposed to be your parents?

Hhmmm...let's start a list. Mothering we didn’t get: reassurance, warmth, comfort, empathy, compassion, protection, optimism, confidence, faith, songs, rocking, attachment, holding, gentleness, patience, allowance, acceptance, guidance, safety, reliability, consistency, TLC, caring, attention, medical attention, adoration, play, wisdom, tenderness, joy, trust, LOVE, unconditional love, nurturing, delight...

Delight. Yes. Don't you like that one? Is it so much to ask that a mother actually take delight in her precious child? It comes so easily for me with my own beautiful son. The day I brought my tiny newborn home from the hospital was about the most elated I've ever been in my life. I was so delighted with my new child. Why was it such an overwhelming burden and impossibility for my own mother?

This is one of the reasons why I did what many may consider an odd thing--I bought a baby doll and I sing to her. In a mindful and sincere way, I sing to my inner child: "You're my beautiful baby girl. You're an angel in this world. You're adorable. My beautiful baby girl."

Using my motherly list I started above, I wrote a poem, which I can also put to music in my head and sing to my inner child. Here it is:

Nurture My Soul

I love you

There, there

Let me comfort you

I care

It’s Okay

It’s okay to cry

I’ll protect you

I’m here

It’s safe now for you to rest

Lay your head down

Here’s my shoulder

I will stroke your hair

It’s okay

You can show me

I will dress your wounds

Sleep now

Close your eyes

I will stay with you

No need to hide

It’s safe for you now

You can be you with me

Run to me

When you’re scared

I will protect you

You can feel

Even your rage

It is safe with me

You are beautiful

The way you are

I find great joy in you

I am patient

With your not knowing

And I will show you how

My arms are open

Fall into them

I will gently rock you

You’re frightened

It’s dark

Be still; I’ll sing to you

Everyone has fears

But the world can be a wonderful place

I’ll help you to see that It’ll be okay.

Copyright 2009 Marj McCabe ~ All Rights Reserved

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Hey - great post! Our inner children don't appease easily, do they?

My traumas were medical and childhood related and then, for years my body and mind (thank you PTSD!) worked together to keep repeating and approximating the original trauma which, even 25 years later, each time threw me into a black, downward PTSD spiral.

I admire your creativity in knowing what to do with those emotions and how to heal them. I healed mine through hypnotherapy.
Have you tried that to end the PTSD symptoms forever? I'm into my second year of being completely PTSD-free.

Now I write a blog for PTSD awareness, education, treatment and healing. (http://parasitesofthemind.blogspot.com). There's tons of info on there about hypnosis, and some other ways we can help to heal ourselves for good.

I hope your ribs aren't wearing you down.... :)
Marj, the story of your smashed hand reminds me of something. When I was around 11 or 12, I went to the doctor two or three times in a short period. I had shingles, and then gastric disturbances. When the doctor diagnosed me with gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach), he had a lot to say to my father. Before he spoke to my father, I saw him staring at my fingers. The nails, cuticles and skin were all chewed and bitten down to bloody nubs. I don't remember everything he said to him, but he said, "very unusual... adult illnesses in a child... stress..." blah, blah, blah. My father got this look on him then. He seemed a bit surprised, but the look also said we would not be doing this again and he would not be hearing such things again. It was the look he got when he felt cornered in some way by someone he couldn't easily mouth off to. I don't recall ever seeing a doctor again until I was pregnant.
Michele: Thanks for visiting and for your ideas. I gave hypnosis a good try, but it did not work the best for me. Perhaps it was my severe dissociation, I'm not sure. I do believe it could work wonders for some, under the right conditions.

Ethereal: Thanks for stopping by with your comment. My heart aches for that 11 or 12 year old whose body was crying out so loudly for someone to notice and to do something! I think, what my parents did is got a pediatrician who was "in on it" somehow. Blackmail, bribery? What? I'm sure I'll never know. But, when I started to suspect CSA, I went to my old doctor's office and they said that my medical records were lost!!!
We weren't allowed to be sick or hurt. We were always told we were exaggerating it.
Hi Marj great post. I still have trouble knowing what to do with my emotions, but am learning to a degree so ones to deal with it. I just wish I could end the P.T.S.D. Hopefully one day we will succeed at that too. take care..hugss Mary
Thanks for your thoughts, Mary. I bet, if we were allowed to have our natural feelings as kids in the first place, we wouldn't have developed such severe PTSD symptoms, huh?
Enola: That's for sure. At the same time, my mother was a huge hypochondriac. I'm always paranoid that I'll become one myself. But, I can still hear her sing-songy voice ringing in my ears: "Oh, Marjorie, you're so sensitive!" Thanks, dear Mom!
This story brings tears to my eyes on two levels. The pain I feel for your inner child and the pain I feel for mine. Thank you for sharing.
I love your poem! How do you cope with your PTSD?
Hey,Wanda! Nice to "see" you. At least, I'm glad we can both grieve for our inner child little girls. That's healthy I think.

Thanks, Erin. I don't go to the same therapist anymore, because I need someone with a lot of dissociative disorder experience--like the T I have now--but I used to go to a T who was an expert in traumatic stress. I did a lot of trauma processing and EMDR with him and that seemed to help a LOT of my PTSD symptoms quite bit. The key was getting well-grounded before attempting the EMDR, though.
Oh, yes, please feel free to post links to my blog, and thank you so much for visiting and for your encouraging comments...isn't God so good to give all of us blogging survivors (and our readers) each other??!!! Blessings, dear one!
Marj, I hope you rest up and your pain eases soon.

I wish I could go back and hug and take care of that child you were! I'm so glad you are learning to nurture and care for yourself NOW. I loved the poem and it speaks to the resilience and strength and goodness that you held onto despite your childhood.
Amy: Blessings to you, too! I'll go right now and put up a link to you. I have to do this stuff piece-meal, because if I start a big list it seems I never get to it. ;P

Thanks, Kahless. Yep, I'm icing up as I sit here typing away right now!

What a wonderful comment, April! That gave me a nice,warm, fuzzy feeling. Thanks!
I wish I could say I didn't have an incident yours reminded me of...but,of course, I do. I hit a dock once water skiing behind a boat at 35 mmph. I had scrapes on my arms and legs. Lots of the skin was scraped off my face except for a small patch under my nose, over my eye lids and my lips I think. My face was a raw bloody mess when I got home. No one said a word about my injuries. I did get in trouble for coming home late.

Looking back I can't help but wonder why I didn't understand then that wasn't normal behavior for parents.

I'm glad that you're learning how to take good care of yourself now.
Marj, I hope your ribs are getting better. It has been awhile since I visited your blog.

I had to make myself breathe through your story about your hand. The same thing happened to me when I was in elementary school. We were coming home from church with my grandmother and it was raining. The car was full of people. I was getting in to sit in my grandmother's lap in the front seat. As I was getting settled, she shut the door on three of the fingers on my right hand. Two of them were badly cut so I did get a homemade bandage when we got to her house but nothing for the pain and no doctor's visit to make sure that my badly swollen fingers weren't broken.

I learned that I had bronchitis as a child when the doctor described the symptoms that my kids were experiencing with their illness. I remember thinking, "Oh, I had bronchitis most winters when I was a kid and nobody ever took me to the doctor with it. I wasn't even allowed to miss school.

Like you, I had to learn to take care of my needs when I became an adult. When I was in my first counseling group for incest, a friend bought me a teddy bear so that my inner child would have something to hold at night when I went to bed. I slept with that teddy bear hugging him to me for at least two years or more as a comfort for my inner child.
love, love, love this poem...it speaks my thoughts...thank you!
GREAT POST... this post brought a lot of thoughts to me. may i copy something and write/reflect on it? i have therapy next tuesday...you really helped my by writing this. thanks. love the silence the shame blog too.
RR: Oh my God! I just don't have any words for that. I just can't believe you weren't taken to the hospital. Unfortunately, I CAN really believe it. That's the sad part.

Patricia: So nice to "see" you again! I'm glad you had a friend that gave you a Teddy and you were able to comfort your inner child with it.

And thank YOU, Amy! :)

Mile 191: If you can copy something of mine and write/reflect on it that will help you at your T appointment, go for it! I only ask that things that are used on the Internet are credited/linked back to me. Thanks!
This is great! Thanks!
And thank YOU, Karma. I'm glad you liked it.
Hi Marj,
New to the whole therapy deal. Your poetry left me feeling numb but alive. It was a trigger for me. Poetry is how I used to escape from the abuse. I would literally go off into another world while I was writing. My child is somewhere buried deep amongst the debri. I admire your writing. Thank You!
Sapphire Dreams: Thanks for visiting and leaving acomment. I hope you can lead that inner child of yours out of the debris., I know how that feels and I know it's hard. I'm just beginning to really feel it's worth it, though! :)
I'm so glad you found me through Michele's blog. What a wonderful site you have here :)

It's funny I should come across this post right now. I had a hilarious conversation about this topic with a friend yesterday. Of course the humour is a bit of duck and cover for both of us but whatever works 'eh.

My point is, I really 'got' the poem. Comfort is not a thing I knew about really growing up so I know learning the kind of attentiveness you're shooting for is no easy task. But that's okay: I don't think it needs to be easy. Just worth it, I hope!
Hi, CatatonicKid: thanks for your comments and thanks for the compliment! :)
I started crying almost at the beginning of your post. I remembered that I had visited and read this shortly after you wrote and posted it. I got it this time on a deeper level probably because I have been doing my own inner child work over the past few months. No child should be abused or neglected the way that we were. Thanks for sharing this in the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.
Thank you, Patricia! I know some of these revealing posts are hard to read, and you've read this one twice! I'm glad we can relate to each others' inner child therapy work. It's nice to have that support.
Thank you, Patricia! I know some of these revealing posts are hard to read, and you've read this one twice! I'm glad we can relate to each others' inner child therapy work. It's nice to have that support.
Hey Mzrj, I'm a little late reading the September Blog Carnival. :)

I'm so glad I read this post though...beautiful. Just what I needed today!
No worries, Leslie. I often get around to some of the posts late myself. There is often a lot to read at one time. Thanks for reading this post and leaving a comment!
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