Feature image: Found on a dear friend’s timeline, which is text that says, “Dear little me, You took so much on that was not yours to carry. We can set it down now, whenever you are ready. Love, Me.” Photo credit unknown.
cw: inner child discussion, spirituality, religion
Last night’s Intersections talk (on Queer Cult) dipped into this a bit and I’d like to share my thoughts. We were discussing queer spiritualities: what it means to be queer and spiritual, how those identities intersect and dissect and influence, etc. Within this discussion, I described my spiritual journey that took place because I realigned to my queer identities. Coming out was the door I needed to have opened to find my humanity again, something my conservative Christian upbringing took from me.
On a Full Moon last Fall, I held a special ceremony for myself where I wrote a letter to my parents on one side of the page, and a letter to myself on the other. I lit a candle under a tree that was shrouded in moonlight and burned the letter. Not letting go of the pain my parents caused me throughout my life was holding me back from accessing my inner child and healing that relationship; it was keeping me from living in the present as my full authentic self. As adults we have the responsibility to be our own parents, and that can be a rocky relationship if we don’t have anything to model it after.
I wept and wept under that tree, as a vision of me holding my younger self took over my mind once the burning was done. Finally I could see Little Me, confused and scared and hurt. I could see what she needed: she needed to be told she wasn’t wrong for being who she is, she wasn’t wrong for knowing she’s different and for knowing there is a better love and life waiting for her.
That night I got to witness just how neglected my inner child had been my whole life. I neglected her because I was scared of how mad she’d be at me. But because of the added neglect on my part, she made her anger known in ways that disrupted my life in really impactful ways. Impulsivity, selfish behavior, angry yelling, emotional meltdowns that could have been avoided, etc.—all of these and more because I didn’t want to look my inner child in the face…I couldn’t bear the shame of not taking care of her all this time either.
And part of me in the present was still mad at HER because I had the wrong perspective. Instead of loving her because she was an innocent child, I held grief over her (and me in the now at the time) for not being “normal”, for having specific needs, for “fucking up” over and over (because I didn’t have the tools to effectively communicate or self-regulate properly).
Because of what happened within that ceremony, after the added benefit and privilege of proper therapy, I’m now on my way to repairing the relationship I should have with my inner child, and because of this, I am feeling more wholly myself everyday. I’m finally ready to set down that pain, see my parents for who they are WHERE they are, and stop hurting myself trying to change them or make our relationship something it isn’t. I get to be my own parent and love my inner child so wholly that they get to be imaginative and feel nothing but freedom—freedom of shame, restriction, judgment; freedom to BE; freedom in knowing they are unequivocally enough, who always has and always will be. Coming back to my inner child is starting to mean coming back to the queerest version of myself; the most authentic version of who I am to my core—a free spirit, a ball of light made of love, courage, and a desire to make a difference.
It’s wild to see what growth looks like, and how nonlinear it really is. I’m grateful to be where I am now, even as I had to go through the rough stuff to get here. If you’re struggling, just know you’re not alone, and you are so so strong because you’ve already been through a lot and you’re still here reading this. My inbox is always open if you need someone to talk to: I offer peer support sessions on a sliding scale (and pro bono), just click here to schedule. 💜🌈💜