It all started with an umbrella. Not necessarily a special umbrella, a purple one, though. Not some light lavender nonsense, but a good, decent purple. It was used on occasion, but mostly it was there to be of use, in case it was needed.
And where it went, it was needed, it just wouldn’t be coming back. That was the trouble, because it was mine.
I did not expect that an umbrella would be responsible for my first real attempt at grieving with and for my inner child, and really it wasn’t truly about the umbrella, it was about the things that the act of loosing it brought up for her.
Do you ever have those moments where there is a strange sense of calm numbness before the storm? Where you know that something is coming but you aren’t quite sure when or at what scale?
That is what happened when the information that a new umbrella was needed hit me.
At first it was ok. Then, wait, why? And once the why was supplied a slow tide of upset and betrayal descended. How could my umbrella have been simply given away? And not even with my permission nor by my hand. It was simply gone before I even knew it.
Rationally there was consideration that it had been raining, and raining hard. The person who received it from my kind husband probably desperately needed it. But underneath it all was the ugly, raw hurt that something of mine was given without my consent…even if I may have consented had I been there when it was given away.
I was triggered in more ways that I understood at first and I spent tearful, tense moments trying to understand it all. That is when I realized that I wasn’t the adult me, I was young again in my mind. It wasn’t truly about the umbrella. It was about what my inner child had been denied, had lost, had hurt over.
Losing things unexpectedly had been a punishment as a kid and when it was taken away it was a reminder that I’d done fucked up. I was left with that reminder and the inability to grieve the loss because it was a punishment for a wrong I’d committed. It was “right” that I’d lost the item.
Most of those things tended to come back, eventually, though it likely felt like forever to my young self.
Then there was the betrayal. At first I thought that I, adult me, felt betrayed. But when I really dug into it the answer was no. I still trusted my husband, he had done a good thing. It was the little girl I had been that didn’t like to share and was forced to do so because it was the “right” way to be.
My inner child, she felt that if anyone truly loved us that they would not have given away something that was clearly ours. So much so that I was feeling her anger, frustration, and disbelief.
So, after I talked it out, trying to consider my husband’s feelings in all of the turmoil, I went to my office, sat in my comfy chair and I sobbed. I sobbed for the hurt my inner child felt at the weight of all of the betrayal, all of the pain, all of the hurt that had built up without release over the years. I put my hand over my heart and I grieved with her. And for her. I acknowledged that what we were feeling was valid, it was ok, and that we could begin to let it go, now. We could begin to consider that what had happened in the present was ok, too. We can share things and still be ok. We don’t have to like it, and we will be ok.
It has taken many, many years to get to the place where I can differentiate between my present self and my past self. And, it is something that others can benefit from doing themselves. We are all made of many mental parts and depending on our experiences parts of us can be stuck at different points in our life or protecting us from harm…and sometimes progress. Our parts need to be validated and acknowledged for them to reintegrate. And, while I’ve done some of this work on my own, I’ve done a lot of the work (Internal Family Systems and others) with my therapist. This post is not professional advice, simply advice from someone on the journey.
And, for me, the more that I’ve pursued and connected and grieved with my inner child (and other parts of myself) the more that I’ve found new depths and passions in my creativity. I truly believe that we can best approach creativity holistically. As our minds and bodies are inextricably linked, so too is our creativity linked to both mind and body.
PS. Decided to draw my purple umbrella, since I didn't have any pictures for the post. It's been nice that I can actually decide to draw something and don't always get stuck in my head worrying about everything. I just get down to drawing and see where the art takes me. Also, I trust more and more my ability to create something out of my head, I definitely still tend to use reference images but this time I am pleased that I drew from memory, and it is actually pretty close to the real thing. That I've not actually seen in a long time since I'd not recently use the umbrella.