Although I am still learning to adult with balance and grace, an important thought came to mind: not only do I need to practice self-care on a regular basis, I need to care for my inner child, too.
We forget to nurture the small people we once were and can be unforgiving to ourselves for the past. Why are we so hard on ourselves for situations beyond our control? Why do we push our own nurturing aside? Our childhood is our foundation, yet many of us have histories of traumatic events which can follow us throughout our entire lives- if we let them.
I grew up with a wonderful mother next door to my grandparents. I lived for art and nature, drawing and creating, but I was scared of the people around me. I didn’t know what being an empath was back then, but I did know that being around a lot of people was overwhelming. I always felt different but I didn’t know why. Since I didn’t have many role models or siblings to shape my social habits, I lived with constant anxiety until I began to align with other creative people who understood me.
Getting bullied was something I lived with for many years. One of my memories (which may explain my lifelong distaste for people in groups) was being bullied by several girls back in elementary school. I was quiet and shy; an easy target. They would usually strike on the bus where I was trapped and couldn’t go anywhere, but sometimes they’d follow me around at recess, too. Recess was already traumatizing for me since I was terrible at sports- you’d find me on the swings.
Flashbacks of the bullying would always come back subconsciously when meeting new people or making friends. In the back of my mind, I questioned my worthiness or value. In a small town, “different” is one of the worst things you can be, so I stayed quiet and avoided conflict. After college I moved to a big city, far away, where I could be whoever I wanted- I could hide, or I could shine. In San Francisco, nobody cared what I street I grew up on in Michigan or whether or not I was “popular.” I didn’t know anyone from my hometown out west, which is exactly how I liked it. I was new.
San Francisco is where I started my cycle of running. For nine years, I perpetually ran away, moved, or changed things because I was scared of letting people get to know who I truly was. I was scared of abandonment, criticism, or failure, so I would be the one to leave. I was scared of my mistakes.
It may have taken me 30-some years, but now I finally know it is safe to stand still.
I used to think I could run away and ignore my problems, but that only made life more difficult.
Once I moved to Boston I knew that I would always be the same person until I made a change inside my soul. Geographic cures and avoidance no longer worked: I had to face those bullies and demons… but more importantly, I had to face myself.
I didn’t realize how tightly I was still holding on to that timid, insecure girl. Nearly a year later, I have forgiven those who hurt me, from family to perfect strangers, but I have also forgiven myself, too. I am also learning to show compassion toward my inner child- she did her best for living without a solid foundation for many years.
My sensitivity and intuitive nature used to feel like a burden, it now they feel like of my greatest gifts. I am grateful for each and every experience, from the mistakes to the pain. Every road has lead me to where I am now: a place where I am comfortable sharing what I have been through, who I am, and knowing what I want.
Today, being vulnerable isn’t so scary. It’s my power.