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How to Begin Healing the Wounded Inner Child

Updated on April 2, 2018
Inter Jonny Wills profile image

Jonny has been a well-being enthusiast for more than thirty years, using self-therapy, creative projects and mentors to heal and grow.

The Wonder of Your Resilience

As well as accepting negative episodes we can also acknowledge our childhood resilience
As well as accepting negative episodes we can also acknowledge our childhood resilience

Trauma in a Time of Innocence

What I'm about to discuss is how I overcame multiple childhood traumas: Medically-recognized traumas or what I'm calling here MRTs, just so that we have clarity or some kind of scale – if there could be such a thing. Hopefully this can be of use to you in either beginning to heal or during your process of healing for your 'wounded inner child'.

Another way of saying it is post-traumatic stress disorder, although my focus here are the type of situations that, as a child, you would have no control over. You would of course be innocent, at the very least blissfully ignorant. Perhaps this helped you be more resilient, but you were resilient, because here you are: And perhaps you can factor in the wonder of your resilience to balance out how bad things were.

There is a difference when seriously sad things happen when we are in adulthood. Without belittling in anyway the often unbearable acuteness of personal tragedy, there is a certain amount of knowledge we have as an adult going on into life, that means we can be partly prepared or responsible. Afterwards we are also more able than a child to search out how to approach coping with such intolerable grief and stress.

And unlike being a kid, there may not only be a support network, there will be your experience to help as well. Perhaps some of the following may be of use to you if have experienced distress in adulthood as well. Having 'trained myself to overcome trauma' so to speak, it certainly helps me. And although the writing here focuses on overcoming traumas, in the Muhammed Ali spirit of 'Me, We', I hope the words can help you in your approach to testing times throughout your life.

One Time Divorce is Continuous for Children

A removal of the family foundation can burden kids with deep insecurity issues for decades
A removal of the family foundation can burden kids with deep insecurity issues for decades

Let Me Show You My Pain

I'm not being facetious with this heading, but I did experience eight medically recognized traumas. I shall need to get into them a little for you for the sake of fraternity and transparency and to understand the circumstances, and I'll do that with some notes and timeframes, assuming age 18 is adulthood:

1. Parents divorce
One time event. A bomb going off. A broken home. (age 7)

2. The consequences of my parents divorce
Ongoing turbulence, aftershocks and non-stop arguments on all sides.
Emotional blackmail, torn heart. Two new strangers as parents. (age 7-18)

3. Relocation and travel
Five hour train journeys. Three moves. Time without mother three years. Without father three to four years overall. (age 7-18)

4. Facial disfigurement
Something I got over when I was 11. All day abuse at school in the form of name-calling, teasing, hatefulness and simple questions reminded me other people weren't over it. (7-present day!)

5. Consequences of disfigurement
Dental surgery to arrange teeth and remove three. Speech therapy. Orthodontistry with tracks and one of those greyhound head-cages. (age 7-18)

6. The psychological, emotional and physical abuse of a parent on my family
Hundreds of incidents of screaming rage, malicious manipulation, subconscious gamesmanship, with around fifty examples of manhandling and physical assault. (age 5 -18)

7. The psychological, emotional and physical abuse of a parent on me
At least one hundred incidents of screaming rage, malicious manipulation, subconscious gamesmanship with a dozen of manhandling and physical assault. (age 9 -18)

8. Neglected education
Mishandled or forgotten education path. Opportunities for scholarship and University not supported by any parent.

There were the bereavement of grandparents and sadness happening to others, I had a few nasty accidents, but for some reasons they pale in comparison.

As I entered adulthood I kept meeting people who were in therapy for any one of the traumas above, often describing a singular time they found too difficult to bear – to the point of feeling suicidal – they always asked why I didn't need it. The odd thing here of course is: being so emotionally discombobulated I didn't know if I needed it, so I probably didn't, which meant I was coping. But how the hell was I coping?

Where Excess Negativity is Out of Place

Are negative thoughts that cycle on repeat till they rust you up worth imbuing with feeling?
Are negative thoughts that cycle on repeat till they rust you up worth imbuing with feeling?

The Ultimate Test is Ultimately Absurd

If we are to agree that a trauma can test us with seemingly endless torment to the point of ultimate self-harm, we can agree that it was not going to make much difference to me after two traumas, or three, four and so on. In the end, for me there was no end and all I could do is discover that it was all absurd. Especially as my mind and body were and are working. Especially as I knew at the time everyone was human and forgivable.

If you're sadness is not so overwhelming – and even if it is – you can or may default to natural moments of hunger, sleep, lust, love or even anger. You can cry, laugh, discuss, get angry, bury or bottle it for years even if there's nothing you can do about the actual 'it' of a sad thing having happened.

Any thoughts of death become just as silly, so are subsequently any of self-pity, sadness or blame. They are thoughts we all consider when things appear to keep going bad. They are in isolation, just thoughts.

As well as the actuality of most of life being about not terribly much out of the ordinary happening (sleep, eating, walking, waiting, watching a film for example) the more you think about it past tumultuous times become more difficult to actually shape.

Once the feelings we stimulate our negative thoughts with have subsided – as they always do – our traumas are ghosts in a dream of memories. They don't exist here today. In other words, they can't 'get you' again.

When There is No Love, You Know

Ingenuous children can't be forced to empathize with an inversion of love and care
Ingenuous children can't be forced to empathize with an inversion of love and care

The Conflict is Love v. Anti-Love

It comes down to simple equation. So I'd been like a (yes, mad!) scientist thinking about this problem for a long time – possibly this is another reason why I didn't want anyone professional to step in muddy my deep waters. But I did come up with an objectivity that I think can be of use to you.

Mental issues are in essence confusion or inner conflict, and when we are confused or conflicted by inflicted traumas the situation is simply:

Love v. Anti-Love

The inherent tussle of love (received and given) versus no love (received and given) spirals inside us and until we are sick with it. We know someone loves us, but they do the opposite, it might even be indifference. My father for example was impassioned and embroiled in his own turmoil of emotions but he created anti-love; while my stepfather was more not bothered and although it felt less dangerous, it was no less damaging to realise.

Such realisations become unthinkable (difficult and also toxic) because our love for loved ones has got their opposite behaviour or absence of effort mixed in with it. And I'm not talking about power plays or squabbles over money, I'm talking about the transgression of agreed boundaries and foundations of a relationship.

Where security becomes insecurity, a home becomes broken, where a parent makes you fear for your survival or assassinates your character by gaslighting over time or decides not to support or believe in you. Stuff that leaves you with issues because these people had automatic access inside your heart and head.

We are shaken to the core because we can't and don't want to admit it because it makes us cry too much. How could they have betrayed us? We weren't allowed or can't speak out either, because our elders were supposed to be guiding us. Instead we are led to darkness not light. We are programmed to love them and do their bidding yet we are left malfunctioning. This is confusion and love versus anti-love.

Have a Word With the Driver of Your Thinking

We project and drive thoughts. Practice trying not to let sour ones get the best of you
We project and drive thoughts. Practice trying not to let sour ones get the best of you

You're Right, You've Been Confused

I give myself licence to come to terms with things because by overcoming traumas I now no longer suffer from insomnia, sleep paralysis, shyness and migraines. My work ethic is wholesome, not distorted by obligation or confused by blackmail if I don't work hard enough. My sense of manhood is greater, and more of moral framework informed by the best of great role models rather than a wife-beater or racist. When the layers unravel, the process continues and you can learn to accept the shock and become newly reborn, becoming a person who has learnt and grown.

On the journey for peace of mind, you may find Buddhism, up-to-the-mark self-help theory, an SAS training mindset or the odd, odd Facebook meme about loving well.

If your condition is debilitating then of course you will need to see a medical professional. You will obviously be armed with some techniques for slowing down panic disorder, and there hundreds of anxiety disorder articles online for you to try.
This article aims at the roots of your issues.

This you may run the whole gamut of healing thoughts and processes you can have. Just remember, wherever you may find your 'penny drops, healing moment' you are the driver of your thinking. This means you can improve on perceived wisdoms too. It's up to you to restore and nurture love, starting with yourself.

Recognize the mixed messages from back in the day as confusion and conflict. Observe the anti-love in the traumas and the way it has poisoned things, including your outlook and the way it influences your behaviour with others you can really love in a reciprocating way.

One cool thing you can certainly do is watch how your thinking becomes feeling, and practice trying not to mainline every negative thought into an emotion that joins forces with your inner rage. Just observe and watch those clouds float pass.

To deal with the sadness in your past just take a step back and:
Realise or admit you've been confused or conflicted.
Accept it.
The conflict is it.
You're correct, trust yourself.
There was love and the opposite of love and it confused you. That's it.

© 2018 Jonny Wills

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