Finding my way back to myself

Dear Inner Child,

I’m so sorry. You had to keep picking up the pieces and putting them back together at an age too young. You kept everything inside, but I know how scared you were. I know about the panic attacks late at night, the dark thoughts depression brought, the eating disorder that made its way into your life, even though it should never have had a place in your life at all. You’ve been to really dark places where you thought you were alone, but you’re not. I’m here now. I’ll take care of you, of us. Together, we can heal through vulnerability.

Until we face the demons that have haunted us since we were young, we will not be able to heal. The emotional injuries we have carried with us for years has no place in the present and future. If we do not gain control over them, they will transform us into ticking time bombs that could go off at any time, leading us to hurt the ones we love. We cannot tear ourselves down with the expectation that someone else will put us back together. There are many who have trapped themselves in narrow tunnels of vision and have painted an incorrect picture of our identity. No one can fully understand and know the complexity of another person — the only one who knows your experiences, vulnerabilities, strengths and pain is ourselves. We are the only one who can recognize our wounds, examine them, close them and ultimately heal from them. We can’t unlive the pain, but we can use it to find new ways for us to live and thrive. 

We do not have to settle for less than what we know we deserve. The voices that tell us otherwise are not ours. We were taught to fear failure because we thought this would lead to abandonment. If we were abandoned, there would not be someone who would give us their love or validate our worth. Because of this, we forced ourselves to kill our childhood innocence, playfulness, hopes and dreams. We ignored our boundaries and the boundaries of others, betraying our own self and hurting others. All of this was done in pursuit of finding something meaningful, something that would allow us to feel anything other than worthless and on the brink of failure. The standards we set for ourselves lowered — no more. The only validation we need comes from ourselves, and the love we need must be able to weather our winter storms and spring blooms. This love comes from within.

We tried to control anything we could get our hands on, even those things that did not belong to us, in order to compensate for a lack of something in ourselves. We responded to trauma, hurt and the loss of our innocence by isolating ourselves from the game of humanity. We purposely created distance from people, always thinking we were one step ahead. We left them before they would ever have the chance to leave us, because that way, we would never be caught off guard and we would always have the upper hand. We tried to predict the things that would be said about us and talked badly about them before they could talk badly about us, excusing this behavior as “self-defense.” We thought we were building a fort to shield ourselves from their verbal and emotional attacks, but we were really building a cage full of distrust, obsession and paranoia. We were the prisoner and the jailer. We hurt ourselves, numbing our emotions and preventing ourselves from experiencing happiness because it was only a temporary concept. I hurt others because I would leave others, but I didn’t want them to leave me. Our fear of abandonment and desire to control others manifested itself as toxic jealousy and manipulation. This is the hardest lesson for us to learn and grow from because we thought for so long that this was the defining characteristic of our identity. It’s not. We are more than that. We will be more than that.

Our feelings are valid. We are valid when we feel beautiful and the world appears to be our stage. We are valid when we feel depressed to the point where we cannot get out of bed for days. We are valid when our insecurities force us to wear the biggest hoodie and baggiest pants we can find, covering ourselves from head to toe in clothing that is somehow both loose and suffocating. We are valid when we feel like we can run the world and overcome our greatest fears. We are valid when we feel lonely, when we feel loved, when we feel angry. We are valid when we feel like we can spend the whole day talking to everyone or when we feel like the task of even greeting someone is too much. We are valid when we want to let loose and have fun. We are valid when we don’t know how to name what we are feeling because we are feeling so many things at once. There is nothing wrong with us. Our feelings are valid. We are valid.

Our value is not weighed with a scale. Our worth is not measured in inches. We cannot expect to grow if we are constantly looking for ways to shrink ourselves. Those who do not accept our beauty and strength will be left behind. This includes those who only love us based on an idea of what they want us to be rather than who we are and who we want to be. We must recognize a toxic person whose purpose is to weaken us so that they appear to be stronger. We will water our garden of flowers with the tears they caused, drowning out their voices. The brilliance of the sun that shines upon our flowers will be nothing compared to the light we create for ourselves. We will grow without them until their feet are no longer large or strong enough to trample our beautiful flowers. We do not need their apologies or validation in order to move on and grow. We will find our sense of peace on our own.

We are not meant to fit in. We are meant to create our own space because we exist for us, not them. We do not need their approval to be happy or celebrate ourselves. We have the right to recognize the beauty of our body, accomplishments and existence. Their voices of disempowerment cannot mute the volume of our self-love or the colors of our spirit. When everything we built for ourselves seemed to go up in flames, they just watched in silence, but now that we can control the fire they are trying to put us out. They won’t succeed. We are reclaiming our identity and we refuse to let them kill our soul, the soul that you kept alive by yourself when there was no one to turn to.

Thank you for being strong and doing your best. You’re the reason we’ve come this far, and I can’t imagine how tired you must be. The burden and sorrow you had to carry even though you feared its weight must have been unimaginably hard. Rest now; I’ll take it from here. Welcome home.

Love,

Me, You, Us

Contact Jenny Lee at [email protected].