As a survivor of childhood incest and physical abuse, I think it's amazing that I've lived through years of rapes and beatings. Wondrous as survival is, it falls short of the ultimate blessing--healing. After turning to adults such as teachers, relatives, and doctors for help, dissociating is the next best coping mechanism for survival--but not for healing.
You must face the pain to recover. Reach deep inside, pick up that beaten child, and tell her she is safe. These things happened a long time ago, it was not her fault, and she does not have to feel bad anymore.
The dominant hand is an exercise often used for communicating with the inner child. The survivor writes adult questions with the right hand and the inner child replies with the left. As this self-mothering process continues, a survivor becomes confident enough to let her inner child out.
The first time I did this, I was excited about the fun I would have. Of course I made this bold move with the full knowledge that I was alone in the house at the time. I began my self-visit by asking my inner child what she wanted to do? With great glee I said, make mud pies. Oh no, I thought. I live in an apartment. I can't go outside and make mud pies! It will probably violate an apartment rule or city water ordnance. But I thought, wait a minute I am a 42-year-old woman who has survived unthinkable trauma and raised a son by herself. I can do this. I can handle my inner child. I asked little Cornelia if there was anything else she wanted to do. Bubble bath, blared a voice inside me. Where was that shy child I remembered? OK. Bubble bath. Up to this point I thought fun in the bath was to light a perfumed candle, turn off the light, lay back in soothing warm water, and let the tension float away. I was wrong. My inner child showed me that kicking water was the most fun to be had in a bath. Yes, that's right, water, bubbles and all kick, hard and fast. My inner child let out a free-rolling toddler's laugh. Loud and blaring and fun. Oh so fun. I've never had so much fun. Everyone should give water kicking a try.
Suddenly my inner child said it was time for mud pies. Yes, mud pies again. Once more I drew on my fantastic parenting skills. I turned my head toward the toilet, where I spotted a roll of tissue paper, grabbed it and said, "Here, little Cornelia, make mud pies with this." I swiftly tore off a huge wad, laughing the whole time. I rolled the wad into a ball, dunked it in the bath, and patted it into a small circle. Mud pie, I announced and held the sodden clump of paper to my lips so I could eat. Umm, Umm. I pretended to nibble away. I made six mud pies in all before I started kicking the water again. Finally my inner child tired, and retreated back inside me.
That bath was the most fun I've ever had. My inner child was not shy at all. I realized that the shyness was a symptom of the abuse. In rediscovering that enthusiastic child I found something new to love about myself. I'm sure that even people who had good childhoods have wounds left unhealed. Revive your wholeness. Surviving is wonderful but healing is the ultimate.
The Fox Prince, which will be released January 2002 by Awe Struck e-books. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her wonderful son.
's short stories and articles have appeared in a dozen print and on-line magazines, including Skirt, Aribella, About.com, Easywriters, Writermelon, No Boundaries, The Pen Is Mightier, The Writer's Life, The Royal Scribe, The Savvy Click, Simply E-books, and The Awe Struck Flash. She is the author of the Celtic/Saxon historical romance novel