The Inner Child is Calling

I think I was blissfully asleep for a long time, numb or unaware of the realities that plague us individually or collectively. Thanks to my upper-middle-class upbringing in a safe, American neighborhood, my male whiteness that has opened so many doors and my propensity to lose myself in friendships, work, music, nature and, yes, drugs and alcohol, I enjoyed denial for many decades.

Sure, I experienced some familial pain when my parents divorced, and some discomfort around career and love relationships. But all and all, I have led a blessedly comfortable life that’s allowed me to experience The American Dream.

Ring, ring…

My writing was just interrupted by a fellow traveler (the term we in ACA apply to our brothers and sisters in the program). After talking through some logistics about an upcoming event, he asked me, “How are you doing?” I responded that I was feeling a little down, lost and confused by my intermittent visits into a mild depression despite the blessed life I’ve led. Then I asked him, “Any thoughts?”

His response was personal and universal. Basically, he said that his work always involves being the Loving Parent to the Inner Child. I/we often need to ask our little guy/gal, “What do you need right now?” and let them respond as they couldn’t during our childhood.

Most if not all ACAers (and many others) grew up too fast. In a dysfunctional home where emotions weren’t honored, abandonment occurred or abuse may have been present, we became little men or women instead of living out the childhood we deserved. You can learn more about us (and perhaps yourself) by looking up The Laundry List.

And that’s only one of the reasons people like me, newly “woken” to the emotional palette and no longer denying them through habits or addictions, experience depression. It’s really a form of grief as we recover the lost child and rebuild ourselves anew.

It’s hard work. It often sucks. And people outside of the program – even in our own families – often wonder why we are sad. Many don’t get it because they lived a different childhood or they are still in denial themselves.

But back to my Inner Child…

Frankly, I am sick of all the horrors around me: political divisions, climate change, war, housing and food insecurity and so much more. I see and feel a deep disconnect between what is being expressed in the media and what I know in my heart. I see much more fear than love and I find a lot to grieve about.

Sadly, this is not new in America. We’ve been on a “road to nowhere” for years, steadily pursuing the wrong course in our relationship to ourselves, one another, and the earth. I believe that we’ve also lost much of our spiritual direction, our love, empathy and compassion. I see evidence of this everywhere and I’ve felt it in some level since I was a teenager.

I don’t recall anyone ever asking me, “Scott, why do you drink or take drugs?” until I was in my fifties. Getting high is culturally acceptable in our adult world, so as a kid who felt in a hurry to grow up, I turned to substances like adults do. Heck, my parents and grandparents were drinking scotch, smoking cigarettes and so we’re my teachers. They all seemed okay. Why not try that medicine, too? There were beer commercials on TV, cigarettes being smoked by the “cool” kids and teachers and all of my musical idols were doing it. It was the antidote for every ill, the social elixir and the secret to happiness all rolled into one, right?

So, now my life has changed. I see all of this and I still have not found a way to comprehend and deal with the ills of the world without an unhealthy attachment to substances, work or other behaviors…yet. I have removed the crutches and the cane and I’m limping a bit, a bit tired and worn out from the world I’m witnessing and the feelings I’m experiencing. You may feel this, too!

And what does my Inner Child need? To cry. To laugh. To feel love. To sing. To share, play and dance and then, maybe, take a little nap after lunch.

Let’s see how that goes. Thanks for reading. May our inner, Loving Parents give our children what we so deserve.

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