Let’s Reassure The Little Abandoned Self

We all have one. A much younger version of ourselves, one that didn’t get the love or care or comfort needed when we were very small. Maybe that little one was explicitly abused. Maybe there were so many other children that the little one’s emotional needs were lost in the crowd. There are so many ways, intentional or not, to hurt a vulnerable little one.

Now that we’re adults, what are we willing to do for that little one?

Or perhaps we should start with the questions: do we even need to do anything? I didn’t buy into carrying for the wounded self for a long time. I’m the linear, scientific type. The talk of the inner child struck me as touchy-feely psychobabble. I don’t feel that way anymore (and apologize to the field of psychology for my past snarky and ill-informed remarks). I have come to see that emotions are not linear or rational and that metaphors have great healing powers. Whatever the inner wounded child really is, a series of poorly formed neurological connections or a piece of my spirit caught in a time warp, I’ve learned that tending to her is one of the few things I can do to heal my decades-long depression.

In my case, my littlest, uncertain self is maybe four years old. Or perhaps younger; I’m not sure. Sometimes I imagine her holding a blanket and sucking her thumb. Her fear is being abandoned and unloved. She is confused. Someone told her hurt was not really hurt, that it was fine, and that she should be quiet.

Not surprisingly, certain things in my adult life can make the little one upset. Some of them I’m aware of. Others are still murky.

The ones I know: People telling her that her perceptions of a situation are completely off base. The sense that no one wants to take care of her. Knowing she is supposed to do something she really doesn’t want to do. The withdrawal of support from someone she thought she could trust. Pain, especially pain at the opening of her vagina.

Some of these triggers have been very present in my life recently, thanks to my recent pelvic surgery, assorted work pressures, and, well, just life. I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to her, though. Instead, my attention has been consumed with recovery from surgery.

And now my therapist is going on vacation. Adult me is going to cope. But this little self feels it as a loss. E. is going away! She will forget about me! This led me to send a text to E. last night at the ridiculous hour of 1:45 AM.

Late night angst (so hard to sleep these days!). Everything for the past month has been so focused on surgery and my reproductive organs The girl feels so abandoned and afraid. It’s mixed up. On the one hand, it’s not about the surgery, but also connected because it physically hurts in the same place.

I need to concentrate on long, slow breaths because I can feel myself breathing too shallow and fast.

I know you are sleeping–sleeping well I hope–but the texting tells me there is someone there. I’m crossing my fingers you turn the sound off your phone at night and don’t see this til the morning.

What I didn’t say was that her upcoming absence was certainly a piece of my concern. I also don’t think I made it clear that part of why the little one feels abandoned is that we stopped talking about her needs sometime back in March, as I prepared for my surgery and then processed my recovery since then. And we won’t really be able to pick this work up again until June. It’s a long time! It’s all too much to express in a text. Really I just wanted to reach out and tell her that the little one was frightened.

When I woke up late this morning, she had already responded.

Sound was off, no problem. I’m glad you know you have a trusted relationship with me and can reach out. What you say makes sense. The little one is so familiar with neglect. I’m sure this feels like a repeat. What’s good it that it is not a repeat. You, the wise self healer, know you will return. You long to return. Sharing this longing and hope might help the girl know about the new system you are building. I’m sure the girl is struggling to trust a promise. Show her the underlying pain in you about missing her. That deep sharing may help her feel met, even through this temporary distance.

I realize E. doesn’t tell me that she cares for the girl. E. doesn’t reassure her. She reminds me that I can care for her and reassure her. Sometimes I haven’t liked that (those same old feelings of wanting someone else to take care of me). But today it felt okay. I haven’t (yet) followed E’s suggestion. Perhaps I will. But I did make the girl a simple little card to reassure her that even if my head is sometimes otherwise occupied, I’m always with her. My scientific side is rolling her eyes. But the little one loves to get mail, so she feels better tonight and has stopped hyperventilating.

Reassure The Inner Child - #therapy #abuse laquemada.org





  1. It was on your suggestion I wrote that letter to my younger self. I’m also scientific and hate the touchy-feely, but I feel like that is sometimes an excuse i use to keep myself from actually engaging in how I feel. It’s just another way of creating internal dialogue; there’s no literal “inner child”. But there are situations that cause me to revert to who she was, to do things to placate others even when I don’t want to; getting out of that mindset might mean meeting myself where I’m at and working my way out that way, rather than scolding myself from reinforcing patterns of thinking/behaving. So… yeah. It doesn’t hurt to try, if it’s something you’re interested in. “I have come to see that emotions are not linear or rational and that metaphors have great healing powers. Whatever the inner wounded child really is, a series of poorly formed neurological connections or a piece of my spirit caught in a time warp, I’ve learned that tending to her is one of the few things I can do to heal my decades-long depression.”… yes, metaphors are super powerful! I wish you good healing, however you decide to pursue it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sad that I’ve been occupied with life and guests during your surgery. I saw your posts come thru and my heart went out to you, tho I haven’t yet had time to read thru them all.

    The card is beautiful. So glad you’ve stopped hyperventilating. ❤


  3. I don’t know if you believe synchronicity but this topic was on my mind when I decided to read posts here on WordPress today… My psychiatrist is telling for a long time that I should focus on my inner child, she tells me to go back in time in those painful memories and rescue the frighten defenseless little me. Last week was the main focus of our session, she really insists that this is the path for my recovery! She says the grown up me can go rescue the child me and bring her with me to the safe present environment. She said the little girl in me is still trapped somewhere there in the past. Im still resisting this concept and really don’t know how to proceed but this issue was in my mind today and was planing to write about it later so I could shed some light in my thoughts. Thanks for sharing your story! I hope you’re treating your little one with lots of love and care! Have a beautiful day! XO Nina

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like your card! Did you invite the little one to help make it? I agree with the whole inner child thingy seeming far fetched, but like how you said metaphors and analogies can be healing. I like that and it’s true. It seems like you are being open to the feelings that arise and that seems to be helpful. Sucky, but helpful in the long run.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing this. I also pride myself on being very rational and reasonable, and it’s difficult for me to accept emotions and “touch-feely psychobabble” as legitimate. It’s a struggle for me to accept feelings, especially when my feelings don’t align with how I think I should feel.

    It makes so much sense for you to feel frightened that E is going away. I’m glad her text in response to your message was reassuring.

    I focus so much on logic and reason and rationality as ways to get through the day. I try and think my way through sessions, which I suppose is helpful in some ways, but I really struggle with letting emotions surface and lead. And I know that therapy is emotional work (see? I KNOW! I love knowing… it’s the feeling part that’s difficult).

    The idea of having an inner child makes me cringe, but I do see the value of it, and why it’s so relevant. And maybe I cringe because I know, deep down, that there’s validity to the idea in some way, and I’m just fighting against it. I try and pretend I am, and was never, vulnerable, but I suppose if I go back a few decades, there’s no way I wasn’t vulnerable. All children are vulnerable.

    I really like, “Whatever the inner wounded child really is, a series of poorly formed neurological connections or a piece of my spirit caught in a time warp, I’ve learned that tending to her is one of the few things I can do to heal my decades-long depression.” Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So acutely familiar. I resisted the fuzzy-wuzzy cuddly – wuddly stuff very fiercely too, but eventually got around it with logic – what I’ve been doing is not working. The rational thing to do is to try something different. Being able to push past the sense of ridiculousness to embrace a new way of taking care of yourself shows a lot of guts. I’m glad she liked the card.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow this really resonated with me – especially the part about how you wish that someone else could care for you. I have the same feelings. I think that’s why the most recent thing that happened to me has left me reeling and devastated. I know what I need to do – i.e. care for myself, pick myself back up – but it seems too impossible a feat right now. Thanks for this post, Q. It sent shivers down my spine. That’s how much it affected me to hear your truthful words.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. this post is touching my heart. thinking about whatever it is that makes us who we are and why we keep getting stuck…”someone telling her she wasn’t hurt, that it was fine and that she should be quiet”…that’s so it. I feel so alone and so tired of being quiet. We haven’t had our girls together in a long time and I think I miss that and maybe our little girls miss that too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The card you made seems like a great physical reminder of your connection, love and care-taking of the little girl inside you. Looking at your card even made me feel more reassured inside. I may have to make one myself! Thanks for this. A.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. its hard when you first learn of inner children. hard to know what to do or how to be with them. glad e reached out to you and i liked her response. great you made the card for the little girl inside of you. hope the time that e is gone wont feel too long. XX

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I thought I commented on this already, but I guess not! I love all of this, I loved it the first time I read it, and I still do. Comforting the little one is kind of scary, approaching her need and sadness. But I think it is helpful. I really do. You are so wise to approach her with this amount of love and care.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love the card. Taking care of that little one is important, she does matter. I’m really glad you are still reaching out to E and she is still responding. 🙂 She will be back, and there is no way she will forget you. Xx


  13. There is always a little child within me who felt abandon, unloved, unappreciated that I bring with ME to adulthood.I used to look for those things outside of me until I realized everyone of us have the same needs;to be loved,to be appreciated, to know that we matter.
    I used to feel so scared being abandon until I realized that the only thing I can do not to be abandon is to take care of myself and find ways to love. When I begin to love that little child within me the fear of being abandon gradually disappear. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s so hard when parts get sorta pushed to the back burner when more pressing issues come up. It can be such a challenge to balance all of those needs. Excellent work on offering compassion to that little one 💗


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