This is another picture of the new “littlest” identity that came bursting out in therapy the other day. She is pure emotion, she likes to run and laugh, and falls down a lot. In this picture she is running free and happy. But when she is sad or scared, those can be huge too. I am learning to talk to and reassure her. And she is starting to trust me.
Additional thoughts, added 26/12/17
This is the part of me that got left behind, locked in a room and forgotten while I grew up too fast, and accepted responsibility I was far too small to carry.
I was in stubborn denial of this for years and years. Black and white thinking at it’s BEST, “my Mum loves me loads, my childhood must have been perfect”. Of course the premise does not automatically lead to the conclusion drawn! All the love and good intentions in the world cannot protect a child from harm.
This bit of acceptance work was (and occasionally still is) excruciatingly hard. I had to accept that “not perfect” does not automatically entail “abject failure” and that ordinary people, acting in love and trying their best may still make mistakes and miss things. And that in extremely adverse circumstances, even the best intentions may go astray.
I realised that a parent could be wonderful and flawed at the same time, and that real love for someone is accepting and forgiving their flaws and mistakes because you know they did their best and that things were hard for them too. Accepting that meant I could mourn the loss of the image of the perfect caregivers, and realign the reality of who they were with my experience.
To my surprise, this shook the foundations of a nasty self-belief: “I am wrong, bad, broken, alien, unwanted, invisible, unloveable, this is why I am unhappy and things are harder for me than anyone else.” I realised that, yes, sometimes bad things happened, or I didn’t get the care or attention I needed. But if parents can be multifaceted, so might children. Including me. And maybe the same circumstances that made things hard for my parents, also made things harder for me. For no reason that had anything to do with my character.
And working hard to accept these new thoughts, and let go of the old ones set that little part of me free and I felt joy for the first time in a long time.