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You don’t have an inner child

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

It has repeatedly been told that one must heal or somehow tend to the “inner child” while doing trauma mending or engaging it; that the playfulness inside of us is related to this extraneous and buried creature, not unlike a small elf or fairy, that embodies the experience of our naïveté and burdens itself not with the idea of productivity but with the idea of joy. That somehow that small being begs for attention and compassion, and that giving it such results in systematic reparation of wounds that we experienced in our past. But I don’t think this is what the concept originated as. I don’t think the idea of an inner child was to keep it separate and exclusive, but to highlight our own lost sense of curiosity and exploration. I do not believe it to be available then, in the discourse of Soma and somatic awareness, to exist as a series of separate entities. I notice the uprising of the self unified as incongruent from the responsibility of tending to a young self, even more so if said young child needs care and attentions that one does not naturally offer to oneself in spaces of healing and reparation. If the soma is complete integration, that integration must not negate that we are all of our years of existing, ancestral, present, and future, all encompassed in the growth of acceptance and kindness. We are all unified, in our experiencing and in our own path of growth. We are all child, ancestor and lineage.

This concept becomes further problematized when we acknowledge the unique positionality of the child body, that exists as the only marginalized community that all humans share in the experience of, the history of having been considered property, with decisions made for and likely in-spite of, with no more disclosure than is given to a house plant. This complete annihilation of bodily autonomy, and negation of integration, then becomes translated into the purest version of denial- the idea that children are unaware and undisturbed by their lack of control, that joy and play were the main motivators and that it is lost only through that passage of time, and not merely through the rude awakening of constant and incessant trauma. In order to want to “heal the inner child”, a paradoxical relationship must exist where the inner child is both pure and untouched, and in concurrently the source of most profound trauma. Becoming an adult and then romanticizing that upbringing, and creating a marked difference in the tending of the the childhood wound as unique and unmerged with the universal wound of existing in the patriarchy, alienates the very sense of self that we search to unify in holistic resistance and somatics. That differentiation necessitated that we view ourselves as projects to tend to, all exclusive and at times hierarchical. Am I not at once playful, naive, excited, enticed, longing, hungry, thirsty, desperate, controlled, wounded? And how am I to exist wholly with myself if I need to fracture this body of knowledge into eras, or moods or ages. I am the child, the mother and the future. I am an ancestor in the making. The eradication of even the language of “inner child” is critical for integration.

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