How could my parents give me something they themselves didn’t have? How could they give me love when they themselves didn’t receive enough love? How could they teach me something they didn’t even know?
We cannot give what we do not have.
My parents surely had their own inner child wounding and unresolved issues. No doubt about it. That’s why my siblings and I were raised and treated in less than loving ways. And most likely, they were influenced and have taken only after how their own parents raised and treated them.
I’ve become aware and now know that my parents simply didn’t know any better. They did the best they could. The best they knew how. Like the rest of us do.
We all do the best we can, in whatever way we know how, with whatever capacities, abilities or limitations we have, at any given time. Knowing this helped me in my forgiveness process.
It isn’t meant to justify or give excuses for my parents’ lack of parenting skills. I’ve come to know all these simply as part of my youth. And they have formed part of my truth.
“You cannot put a spiritual band-aid on a psychological wound.”
These were the words of the facilitator of the Reparenting the Child Within workshop, where I first encountered my little Nadine in 1999, and I became aware of how extremely wounded she is. The words rang so true to me.
Yet I also learned that it’s only my adult self that can fully comprehend the concept. My wounded inner child simply cannot.
And when the process of forgiveness is not properly carried out or is incomplete, my forgiveness becomes superficial. It takes place only at the intellectual level. It isn’t truly embodied. The wounds remain imprinted in every cell of my body.
“Ipagpasa-Diyos mo na lang yan” (Just leave it all up to God).
A common response from the average Filipino. It’s supposed to help alleviate the pain. That God will take care of everything, even when the person does nothing else except pray.
I’m not underestimating the power of the Divine. My limited human capacity can’t even fathom the magnitude of the Creator’s supremacy and magnificence.
But I also believe that God helps those who help themselves. I navigate the course of my life in partnership with God. I co-create my destiny with the Creator.
“You cannot put a spiritual band-aid on a psychological wound.” These words truly make a lot of sense. And I constantly remind myself that.
A holistic, integrated approach to healing and forgiveness
The childhood wounds that were inflicted upon me were at the psychological level. No amount of prayer or blind faith can effectively and completely heal the wounds, unless my efforts are complemented with the appropriate psychological, therapy work. A holistic, integrated approach is the most effective, in my opinion, and from my experience, research and studies.
To begin the forgiveness process, I need to acknowledge first and foremost, that the wounding is there. My wounded inner child then needs to be given the opportunity to voice out. My little Nadine needs to be given permission to release all her hurt, pain, frustrations, anger. Some hurts I’m not even aware actually exist.
I’ve also learned the need to grieve over whatever was lost, or wasn’t there during my childhood. To forgive myself for what I mistakenly thought were my own doing. What I falsely blamed myself for. What others erroneously made me feel responsible for. To stop blaming my parents and others for the kind of treatment that I experienced. And to stop accusing them for whatever it is that I didn’t receive, even if what was deprived of me is something that I justifiably or rightfully deserve.
And there are healthy, appropriate and effective ways of releasing these hurts and pain.
The healing power of writing
Much has been said about writing being very therapeutic. Journaling is such a beneficial healing tool. Here are other exercises which have been valuable in my healing journey:
- Writing an angry letter to my father or mother, or whomever else my inner child is angry at.
- Non-dominant hand writing brings up stuff I never knew existed.
- Morning pages is another writing tool that helps clear up repressed stuff. It was developed by Julia Cameron, author of the bestselling The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, first published in 1992.
- Doing primal scream is another effective tool in releasing my anger. This is based on the work of Dr. Arthur Janov, author of Primal Scream, which was first published in 1981. He is the founder of The Janov Primal Center located in Los Angeles, California.
These are some of the ways that I’m able to give myself the chance to get in touch with my innermost, hidden and repressed feelings and emotions.
A safe space for my inner child to freely express herself.
With no one judging. No one ridiculing. No one invalidating. And, no one watching.
I may have the middle child syndrome; my little Nadine may be seeking and enjoying the attention.
But it is times like these, when I’d much prefer to not be noticed, and instead, be left alone and on my own. 🙂
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