I think almost every person has something from their childhood that brings up a bad memory or some sort of guilt. Let’s say for the sake of ease that childhood is anything from when you are born until you finished high school. 0-18
You might have done a lot of good things but you do recall some bad decisions and perhaps you even still feel badly about a few things.
If you have childhood trauma of any sort, that will naturally add to your looking back and possibly feeling that you should have done more, tried harder, told more people, fought more vigorously or just done things that would have helped change your situation.
What we tend to forget in either situation is that we are thinking with an adult brain now. We didn’t have an adult brain back then. All the ideas that now seem to pop in to our heads so easily are because we now have years of experiences under our belts. We have a better idea about what works and what doesn’t. We know who to contact in case of an emergency and we know where to call with our questions. We did not have all of these tools available to us when we were growing up.
It is very easy to fill your head with the words you heard so many years ago directed towards you in hate or with a lack of understanding. We do this all the time. When you say “I am such an idiot!” Is that really YOU talking or is that someone else speaking? Maybe a teacher told you how stupid you were or that you’d never amount to anything? Are you now the one telling that to yourself?
For me? I was called a sociopath my whole life. I never recall a time that I was not told that I was a liar and everything I ever said to anyone was to be ignored. This was how my mother/monster got away with as much as she did. She convinced others that my pleas for help were those of an attention seeking child/teenager rather than a child who really needed help. People preferred to think that as well rather than even look to see if the horrors of my life were true. To walk away from me saying “You need help.” was so much easier than staying in that space and accepting things needed to be seen for what they really were.
To this day I find myself saying things that will diminish or belittle myself and I still question almost everything I say. It has resulted in me being unable to tell even the smallest of lies because I fear being branded as a sociopath/liar again. This sounds great but beware… do not ask me if those pants makes your butt look big unless you REALLY want the truth. 😉
In our lives now, we also have a better ability to decide who we allow in to our lives and to what degree we allow them in. As a child, you just had to accept whomever was put there and we had very little say. If we really felt uncomfortable we were told not to be rude. If something bad happened, we were often scared in to silence or not believed. The was the ultimate betrayal and it often taught us a powerful lesson. “You must stay invisible and silent. You do not matter.”
I firmly believe that we need to offer that child within us some support now that we are adults. I think it is important to think of that child as almost a different person. It was you but it was “little you”.
If you feel able, I think it is a great idea to begin by writing a letter to the little you. Dear little _____,
In this letter you can express anything that you want to. Try to picture yourself as that child and perhaps compare a child you know today with the child in your mind. It will help you get the size and innocence of that age in to your mind and make it more concrete.
In my letters to my younger self, I try very hard to express concern, compassion, care, and a belief in the truth of what went on. I say that I am sorry for what she went through A LOT. I have told her many times that if I had known back then what I know now, I’d have gotten her out of there and taken care of her. I’d never let anyone hurt her. My adult self is capable of doing things differently but my little self wasn’t. Go easy on that little person He/she tried their best with what they knew at the time.
Sadly you can never really go back and change whatever happened to you whether in your youth or your adult years but you CAN become more compassionate with yourself today. You can be that mother, father, teacher, or any other adult to yourself now. Allow the adult you to truly care for your younger self and start using your own words rather than others. You are not stupid, an idiot, useless or gross. I know that for sure because you read my blog all the way to the end and only the best people do that. 😉
Be nice to little you. It can really help with your healing.