I aspire to be a well-adjusted adult. Although I believe that I am a secure person, I often find myself reflecting on the things that contribute to my lack of fulfillment, especially as I journey through my twenties. I recently started writing personal letters to my inner child where I started addressing the wounds that festered for years. One of those realizations was that my deepest wound was associated with patterns of loneliness. My hope is that by sharing my letter in this post, I can encourage someone else to start exploring their stories too.
Dear inner child,
You still have wounds that need to heal. I know how angry you still are that your parents would sequester you from other children. Although they meant well to protect you, there were dire consequences. You were never properly socialized and you grew to become very socially anxious. I am proud of you for recognizing this harm and trying to change that. You are so brave. Remember that time when you were 12? How you mustered up the courage to ask your classmates if you could sit next to them at lunch on the first day of school? They told you no and gave the seat away to someone else. You wanted so desperately to fit in with them since you had all the same classes. There were no more seats at the table and you ended up sitting alone.
I remember how you choked back tears and refused to eat, as you were overcome by crippling anxiety and sadness on the first day of school. The isolation became normal for you; you sat alone for the next three years of middle school. I remember when others thought you were a “ticking time bomb” because you were so quiet. But if only they knew that the reclusiveness was to mask your pain and alienation. There was always something that someone did not like about you: the clothes you wore, the way you wore your hair, your “awkward” mannerisms.
Do you also remember that time when you sat next to a group of students, and a girl in your class took your backpack and placed it across the room as others laughed? You felt so insignificant. It made you feel as though you were never enough. Everyone around you was so unkind to you.
Dear inner child,
I know that you are still hurting. I know that the deep wounds of childhood and adolescence still follow you as an adult. As secure as you are becoming now, I now recognize that having a profound sense of self-awareness does not exclude you from experiencing denial. I know that you have often questioned your self-worth by the depth and amount of friendships in your life. I know that you have envied those who seem to have such impenetrable circles while you scramble to find belonging. You wonder if something is inherently wrong with you. I know that you learned to internalize the moments when you were offended, belittled, or ignored because others dehumanized you in the past.
I saw how you tried so hard to find belonging in college, work, or during fellowship – but you heard the same, repetitive song. You never felt that you were quite interesting enough to invite out or to talk to, no matter what you did. So your insecurities told you to stop trying. I remember how you spent the first half of your 20s ignoring your birthday because there was no one who remembered or cared to celebrate with you. You felt so invisible. Solitude became your defense mechanism for your loneliness.
Even now, at times you still get lonely. You still believe you are an outlier. You feel like an afterthought no matter where you go. I am proud of you for trying to rewrite your story and giving it a voice. The courage to keep trying tells me that you are resilient. At times, you feel rejected. At times, you still feel like it is “too late” to try or too hard to begin. You still feel humiliated and ashamed at the idea of expressing the pain of such loneliness to others. Yet, you keep trying.
It is no mistake that you are showing up now. You are exposing my wounds that not only fester; but also the pain from wounds that enter remission and then resurface when I am triggered by a moment that takes me back to a memory. I give you permission to share more of you with the adult me. I give you permission to heal so that I can show up as the woman God has called me to be. You are incredibly resilient and strong, and you remind me that I can be too. Thank you, inner child, for helping me to see that I have work to do. Thank you for reminding me that I am not broken or bruised; but that I can be whole and fully healed.