The Shadow Child

I’ve always referred to my inner child in the third person. The Shadow Child. The neglected version of the inner child. She’s me but doesn’t feel how I feel. We don’t share our thought patterns, fears, reactions or dreams so I guess I feel like she’s a version of me but not current enough to identify with daily.

So I talk about her. And sometimes I talk to her.

There’s lots of evidence out there to show that addressing the inner child in varying methods is useful for recovery for trauma survivors. Some therapies work towards acknowledging the inner child in order to help process the feelings you felt during childhood trauma. Another method is to write a letter to them, in the hope that they write back eventually – nothing weird about that at all, right? I can’t even be bothered to read the reminder emails I send myself so not likely to get far with that method personally 😉

I have however, done lots of inner child work to aid my recovery. This meant addressing and, most importantly, acknowledging the feelings I had towards my life as a child.

My shadow child protected me, defended me, and even saved me. She didn’t overreact (infact she didn’t react at all), didn’t let in any situation that could be damaging, and kept people at a comfortable distance. Her and I are pals. She got me through the hardest times of my life by building these unshakable walls. Her courage, resilience and problem solving were commendable. The problem was, once I became an adult she did too. I was untouchable, unreachable and immovable. She built me a fortress in which to hide. If even a hint of something emotional came along, a life event, family gathering, anything where I might be required to give my feelings freely, she did her utmost to make sure I was otherwise engaged so I never had to trip over any rogue feelings left laying around.

Sounds great right?

It was. Right up until I realised I was half a person. The other half, my shadow child, was busy sunning themselves safely tucked away inside a fortress. This was a turning point for me in my healing journey. I knew I’d have to face her. But she had such a gob on her I wasn’t sure I could. Turns out she’s all mouth, and actually her and I have come to an understanding. She has nothing to be angry over anymore, so she isn’t. But I’m grateful. Grateful she was there. Without her walls and blindingly good defences, I don’t think I could’ve survived. So I thank her daily. And remind her that her work is done, I don’t need her anymore. Maybe I never will.

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