There’s a message in our culture that tells us growing up means we shouldn’t want to be taken care of. That we’re codependent for being attached and needy. That, if we’re to call ourselves adults we shouldn’t want what we longed for and needed in childhood. This creates the illusion that we can somehow separate ourselves from our childlike fantasies and playful spirits, from our basic needs even, all in the name of evolving. We buy into this idea that we must sever ties with, cut ourselves off from, the parts of ourselves that are seemingly too young or too immature or, sadly, too vulnerable.
What if, though, something entirely different wasn’t only possible, but integral to healing?
Try this on: we’re BOTH the adult and the child.
I can remember the day when all this knowledge (that I’d been learning for years) finally sunk in. I was making myself lunch, something I can be rather grumbly about because I just don’t feel like it (thanks, ego). I want quick. I want easy. And even though making lunch doesn’t really take much, resistance makes it seems like I’m preparing lunch for 10 people about to leave for a hike: Too. Much. Effort.
On this particular, day, though, I didn’t give into that old familiar friend in my head by snacking on this or that or skipping real food altogether. No. I made a proper lunch despite all the noise in my head. (This is another important lesson about being an adult – doing things because they need to get done versus not doing things because we just don’t feel like it.)
It sounds so trivial writing it out, but the real learning came after I made the meal.
I sat down and ate it as the child. Having food made for me is one of my most favorite things. It’s one loving action that continuously gives me the warm fuzzies. And in this moment, I felt those warm fuzzies as though some other grown person had prepared my food for me. It was as though I hadn’t done it myself at all. The wonder! I was, and am, both the adult and the child all wrapped into one complicated human.
This is just one example of what it looks like to connect with the different parts of yourself. For many of us, we long for something from someone who isn’t available to meet our needs for various reasons. Maybe they haven’t learned the lessons themselves. Perhaps the time of childhood has simply passed. So we wait, mostly unconsciously, as we project and get irritated and anxious and controlling with the people currently in our lives. We want to boss around the people who can never replace what’s missing.
Yet when we learn to do it ourselves, we can stop waiting (and, thus, stop doing all that other stuff too). We can stop denying and shaming ourselves and take the short road to satisfaction because we realize we are holding the reins of our own lives. We can be the parent we’ve always longed for. And the child inside, with his or her beautiful spirit and vulnerable needs, never has to go away. This isn’t easy. It’s not quick. There’s a whole psychic landscape to navigate either before or simultaneously as you grow yourself up and tend to your inner child and world. As you learn to be both the holder and held.