Spent a full 30 mins with my inner child today - well my inner teen. The 13 year old girl who had too much to carry & had no reason to believe that she didn’t have to hold the weight and intensity of dysfunction, generational trauma & a whole lot of fucked up shit that was happening within her home.
I swam laps as the sun came up today in my local public pool. As I pressed my goggles into my eyes and dove into the water - I physically felt myself embody the 13 year old girl I once was.
The chaos and confusion of being a teenage girl was compounded by the dysfunction of my family home which was magnified by the complete denial that dysfunction was met with.
To this day there are things that just go unspoken. Things that I had to process as a 13 year old. Things that had nothing to do with me - but I took complete responsibility for within my naive, vulnerable psyche.
I remembered that at 13, I was in a swim squad that would train 4 or 5 days a week. I remembered how I would find refuge in the water each day - because in the water no one can see you cry and no one can hear you scream.
I would scream at the top of my lungs under the water. The repressed fear and pain and rage and confusion would come out of me. I’d cry big heaving sobs as I swam laps. I’d pop up out of the water after completing set distances, my puffy eyes hidden behind my goggles.
It was my safe place to come undone - but at 13 it reinforced the feeling that no one could see the pain I was in. That has reinforced the belief that no one cares what I am experiencing. It’s meant I am resilient and resourceful and carry my own emotions without giving away what’s going on within me.
It’s not something I had thought about in 20 years.
So today, as I swam laps I realised I could finally meet that 13 year old girl and have a conversation with her. I could let her be seen.
Our dialogue went something like this...
you are safe my love. go ahead and scream, let the tears fall freely. Feel that tiny pause in between breaths as you sob. Feel that stillness? That little, tiny moment where there is space - that’s you. That stillness, that presence, that strength.
By all means cry - but as your tears run dry, notice the pause between sobs gets longer. Feel the space your body holds as you recompose yourself. Breathe into that space.
Breathe deeper. With every breath send love to every cell in your body. Right to the tips of your fingers and the souls of your feet.
You are safe. You are seen. You are loved.
At 34 years old, I smiled to myself & felt truly proud and in awe of just how incredible I was at 13. My behaviour at 13 spiralled out of control & I can look back and see what a blatant, desperate plea that behaviour was for attention, understanding and deep connection.
I smiled as I realised how powerfully I moved emotion through my body even at 13 - even if it was hidden below the surface of a swimming pool.
I promised my 13 year old self today that we can meet again and again as I swim laps - that I’ll help her see what she couldn’t see within herself. I’ll show her the ways she was actually learning to partner herself in those years and she might even realise that it was a necessary part of her growth that she was so let down by the trusted adults around her.
... this has opened my eyes to countless experiences as an adult where I have unravelled around water. In the shower, at the beach, visiting waterfalls - being around bodies of water have always made me feel deeply. The highest or highs and the lowest of lows. I never understood why.. but I think I’m connecting some dots today.
Inner child work and reparenting or partnering yourself can be powerful and profound.
It should however be done with the support of a close friend or family member or professional support if you have experienced significant trauma.
A lot of my fears and resistance in life are the reflection of repressed thoughts and feelings of that 13 year old girl. I am going to spend more time calling her into the present moment with me so that she can be heard. I won’t make her wrong. I won’t try and discredit her. I will just try and reassure her that I can look after her now. I can keep her safe. She can just relax ... it all turns out ok for her.
Do you have a connection with your inner child? I’d LOVE to know what age you connect with most regularly and whether you have developed a way to reparent or partner yourself to support the wounds of your past that need a little attention and tenderness.
Writing your inner child a letter as your present self can be a beautifully powerful way to connect to her - when we can make it safe for our inner child to share what she has repressed or ignored, often we gift ourselves with a sense of freedom we didn’t know we had been denied.
... yup, all that because I decided to start swimming laps !
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