I was born at a time when my mother was battling depression and my father was emotionally unavailable. My maternal grandma took care of me from the age of 6 months, because my mother was too ill to look after a baby. My earliest memories are of the excitement I used to feel when I would hear the hooting of a car at our gate at the end of the day. I was less than 5 years of age at the time since I had not yet joined kindergarten. The hooting of the car meant that mom was home. I lived with my maternal grandma within the family compound. The last born of 7 children, I was grandma’s little girl. My siblings were living at the family home and I guess that they could take care of themselves, unlike myself since I was still very young. My mother must have been very sick because she used to be supported from the car to the house. I don’t remember having asked anyone what was wrong with mom. Probably I was too young to understand such matters.
I missed crucial bonding with my mother during my early years of life. When I grew up, I found myself often neglecting my own needs as I toiled and labored to take care of others. I would feel like I was being selfish if I needed to devote time to caring for myself. The wake up call came when I was diagnosed with depression and put on antidepressant medication. I was also on treatment for high blood pressure at the time. I was living like an invalid and needed help to accomplish even ordinary day to day duties. I do not know what pushed me to seek lasting solutions but I know that I was not contented to just swallow pills and let things be. I desired to live a full life.
My journey to getting my life back after depression threatened to rob me of it, was an eye opener. It was actually a journey to self discovery. I can share with you some tips that worked for me on that journey to freedom. If you suffered any kind of abuse or neglect as a child, you might not understand why you tend to neglect your own needs and to allow others to take advantage of you. You were conditioned to believe that your needs are not really important. You treat yourself the way you were treated as a child. You attract people and circumstances into your life that take you back to your childhood. You end up living in circumstances that are similar to your childhood.
You need to understand that what happened to you during your childhood was not your fault. You also need to tell yourself that you deserve better; you deserve to live a full life, to enjoy your life to the fullest. Since familiar ground for you is having your needs neglected, you need to make deliberate effort to repair your inner child. Failure to do so will leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled, looking up to others to love and care for you. The others could be your spouse, parent, best friend, adult child or even your boss. A damaged inner child not only hurts you but hurts your loved ones too as you are likely to neglect your family as well. You need to give yourself permission to love and nurture yourself, to heal the wounded inner child.
Give yourself what you were not given as a child. By re-parenting yourself, you increase your self-confidence and your feelings of self-worth. Re-parenting is a practical way to heal from childhood abuse and/or neglect. I will share with you 5 simple steps that worked for me in healing my wounded inner child.
5 Simple Steps To Healing From Childhood Abuse And/Or Neglect
1. Acknowledge That Your Upbringing Was Not Perfect
Chances are that no one had a perfect childhood. Maybe our parents implanted negative messages in us from the time we were little, killing our belief in ourselves. We might have been bullied by our elder siblings or by other children in school or in the neighborhood. Maybe our early childhood teachers belittled us or compared us unfairly with other children they considered to be better than us. All those negative early childhood experiences impact our adult life negatively. Many people go through life sabotaging themselves because they live in denial concerning the negative experiences surrounding their childhood. They sweep all the negative things under the carpet and hope that those things will just go away; they don’t. They are forever taking blame for the mess their adult lives are in. Do not give excuses; ‘My mother used to beat me because she wanted the best for me… My dad was always unavailable because he was working very hard to give us a good life…’ Children need love and care; there is no excuse for denying them that. Acknowledge that what happened was not right and that it affected you negatively. You cannot right a wrong if you do not even acknowledge that it was wrong in the first place. You need to give yourself permission to feel the pain of whatever negative experiences you went through, and to learn to forgive those who failed you while you were young and helpless, when you looked up to them for love, care and protection.
2. Give Yourself Permission To Love and Care For Yourself
Chances are that you feel guilty when you do something for yourself. You end up feeling like you are being selfish. You need to learn to love and nurture yourself. Make it a habit to ask yourself several times a day what you need. Do you need to take a break from your busy schedules and take a rest or a nap? Do you need to engage in some physical exercise? Is a well balanced meal what you need? Some fun such as watching a movie or treating yourself to some beauty treatment? It will take some practice before you get used to stopping to ask what you need and to actually meet your own needs regularly without feeling like you were being selfish.
3. Keep A Journal
Chances are that you were never listened to as a child. You were not allowed to have needs and feelings, you were made to feel guilty for experiencing emotions. Keeping a journal gives you permission to bring out your needs and feelings to the surface. You get in touch with your inner child who was most likely ignored and neglected during your childhood. You start having conversations with yourself and getting to understand yourself deeply. Write in your journal every day.
4. Get Yourself A Journey Mate
Having a mentor, someone to guide you and walk with you on the journey to regaining control over your life makes your journey easier. This is someone who keeps you on track, keeps you from falling back to your old ways. If you can’t get a mentor to walk you the journey, find someone who is seeking to regain control over his or her life also and become journey mates. You will keep each other on track and minimize the chances of giving up. This should be someone you can open up to without fear of being judged or condemned. It the person tells you to get a hold of yourself or to forget about the past, keep looking for the right journey mate. Opening up about the experiences that sabotage you is a critical part of the journey to healing. You cannot afford to walk the journey with someone who stops you from speaking what is in your heart. You were already stopped from doing that during your childhood and that is why you need healing.
5. Surround Yourself With Positive People
One reason why many people do not heal from childhood wounds is because of the company they keep. They surround themselves with people who make them feel guilty for having needs and feelings, reinforcing the negative training they received in childhood. The minute they try to say something about needs that were neglected or unpleasant experiences they were subjected to, they are silenced with condemning messages such as accusing them of unforgiveness. That only pushes them deeper into the pit. Choose your circles carefully. Kick out toxic people from your life. If they are family or close friends, love them from a distance. The last thing you want is people who damage you further while you are working on achieving healing.
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This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter, Life Coach, Mentor, Network Marketing Professional and Blogger