Guest Author - Kelli Deister
Most adult survivors of child abuse never knew what it was like to be a child. Instead, they had to grow up very quickly and learn survival skills in order to get through their circumstances. For instance, the child of an abusive parent learns at an early age how to gauge the mood within their home. I remember one night in particular, as a young child. My parents went to the bar and left us with our uncle, who was also an alcoholic. He made macaroni and cheese for us. The problem was that he added a ton of ketchup into the mixture and told us we had to eat it. My siblings and I tried to gulp it down while he was telling us we could not tell our parents what he did. This was not a healthy situation. However, we knew better than to speak up about it to anyone.
Children that are being abused are not allowed to express themselves freely. Instead, they learn early on when it is OK to talk at all and when they must be silent. If they don't like something, they know better than to express it. Although they have likes and dislikes like any other child, they know that they cannot share such things with their parents. Instead, they learn to like what they are told to like and vice-versa.
Abused children miss out on healthy things, such as playing in the rain or blowing bubbles and chasing them. I remember spending a great deal of time outdoors to avoid my alcoholic parents. However, don't misinterpret that to mean I enjoyed myself all the time. I bottled everything up, as did my siblings. We learned to play as much as we could before my parents got home, all the while knowing that there could very well be another explosive incident later that night. It's hard to enjoy playing when you've got bigger things on your mind.
Now, for the adult survivor of child abuse, it is important to learn to tune into our inner child. There is a yearning that we feel, to know what it is to be a normal, healthy child. We may dream about being able to stomp around in a large mud puddle during a heavy rain. We may also imagine going to the circus and watching the acts in sheer child-like awe. So, once we acknowledge that we have these yearnings, as adults, what is our next step?
We need to try, in baby steps, to allow ourselves to experience what it is like to be a child again. Have you ever watched the rain pour down outside? Have you ever felt a desire to go play in the rain? That, my friend, is your inner child expressing him or herself. During these times, we must listen to our inner child. Of course it will not be easy, since we have not experienced anything like that before. However, that doesn't mean that because we don't know much about that type of play, that we should ignore it. On the contrary, we should gather our boots and jacket and head for the great outdoors. You might consider taking your child along with you. As you step outside, go straight for the puddles and jump around in them. Splash each other with your boots. Laugh. Play. Enjoy yourself!
One of my favorite things to do now is blow bubbles. I love to sit on my porch and softly blow bubbles, catching them in the palms of my hands while I wait for them to slowly pop or dissolve. I recommend you go to the five-and-dime store in your area and buy yourself a bottle of bubbles. You might even want to purchase a special kit to go along with the bubbles. Then, go outside and have a great time! Who cares if someone is watching you? Let your inner child express him or herself! Watch the bubbles as they float away. Catch them in your hands. Pop them with your fingers. Enjoy your fun time!
There are so many things you can do to nurture your inner child. You can buy some crayons and coloring books (another favorite of mine) and color your heart out. Go on a hike through your favorite spot. Make a picnic and go to the park. Play on the equipment with your kids. Fly a kite. Take a train ride. Ride bikes. Go to the circus or the fair.
Allow your inner child to express him or herself. Nurture your inner child. Get in touch with your inner child. You will be amazed at how much better you will begin to feel.