How seeing the wound heals the wound – The story of an extra-sensory child
Childhood wounds run deep. And even though the body grows and decades stockpile, what was hurt within us remains frozen in time. Governed by laws we are just beginning to understand, the wounded knows how to wait until we are ready to heal. And as we begin to question our identity and perspective, as we feel our feelings more, there will be no shortage of revelations on the path to healing childhood trauma.
Unhealed past wounds always belong to the present. Furthermore, these wounds sometimes carry a greater power than the intentions we set in the now. How can that be? What is unhealed, rejected, and disowned, finds shelter in the deeper levels of the mind. There, outside the reach of the conscious, is where these parts thrive. No matter how we call them – parts, fragments, inner children, all these aspects want is for us to see and integrate them. And until we do, we continue to make choices and respond to life from the point of view of a hurt child. I believe there are as many inner children in one adult, as there are wounds. And the only way to outgrow the effects of childhood trauma is to connect with the inner child that keeps reliving the hurt.
When pain saves live
There is a small number of individuals worldwide who cannot feel physical pain. This rare condition is called congenital insensitivity to pain. A life of precautions awaits those without pain perception. Infants with this condition can easily chew their tongue, fingers or cheeks. Adults need to be careful not to hurt themselves; and if they do, they need to closely monitor the wound, so it doesn’t get infected.
Pain is a sign. It shows us that there is something that needs our attention. If lack of pain represented the absence of hurt, then those with congenital insensitivity to pain would have the easiest of lives. But this is not the case. Painless wounds are more dangerous than painful ones. Physical pain tells us we need to change course. What about emotional pain or mental pain?
Non-physical pain speaks volumes. And its intensity doesn’t diminish over time. We can try to ignore the wound for the longest time, but at some point, avoidance damages more than the hurt we are so afraid to see. The pain of not looking becomes greater than the pain of the wound. However, in spite of that, we can dismiss the pain further, and in doing so, we bury a breathing and feeling part of ourselves. Without integrating pain and trauma, we cannot become whole and we cannot feel we are truly a part of something. The same way our wounded inner children want to belong to us, we also want to belong to the world. So, what happens when we parent the child that cries inside?
Annie is a bright four-year old. It’s daytime and she is playing on the floor. Her mother is resting in bed. As the father enters the room, Annie suddenly realizes that something has changed. It’s like a heavy cloud darkens the room. Her parents are speaking and Annie listens. She doesn’t understand much, but now she knows her mother is sick. Words like ‘tumor’, ‘pain’, and ‘breast’ fill the space, but Annie only perceives the intent and emotions they carry. She goes to her mother’s bed, takes her hand and asks: “Are you going to die”? To which her mother responds: “I don’t know”.
In one therapy session, twenty-eight years later, Annie feels again the crippling shame and unworthiness she knows so well. Suddenly, a memory pops up in her mind. She sees herself as a child, playing in her parents’ home. Her mother is lying in bed, and Annie is close, on the floor, busy with some toys. Her father enters the room and the child senses his fear. He goes straight to the bed, without looking at the child. Her parents start talking about something serious. It is not the words that confuse and frighten the child, but what she sees and feels. A weight is pressing on her chest, the head is heavy, forehead – numb, and the walls are about to fall down on her. The light in the room grows dim as the little one goes to her mother’s bed, and asks what comes to mind. She knows nothing about death or disease. She sees the silhouette of her mother, but something is different, unfamiliar.
Annie remembers that when she was eighteen she started seeing energy patterns. She clearly recalls her desire to see and experience more of what some books she was reading then defined as ‘paranormal’. That day in therapy, Annie realizes that her extra-sensory abilities developed way before the age of eighteen. She starts to understand how she as a child interacted with the world – with all her senses wide open.
In therapy, Annie holds space for the child. She takes little Annie’s hand, as the child hears her mother say: “I don’t know’. She witnesses how the mother’s rampant fear and confusion enter the child’s body and mind. She sees how the child tries to entertain the idea of her mother’s death, with ‘death’ being just bits of her parents’ flounder and despair. The woman understands that when the child dismissed the idea of death, that created a rift in her psyche. One part of the girl doesn’t want to and can’t hold onto all the fear and pain coming from the grow-ups. Another part feels shame, thinking that she should take in her parents’ experiences. This part also thinks she did something wrong that made her mother sick. Moreover, it’s certain that if the mother dies, it will be her fault.
As Annie works with her inner child, it becomes clear that the girl who almost three decades ago sensed the fear of death, never grew up. The mother recovered after surgery, but for the four-year old and her two parts, that didn’t make any difference. Outside time, the wounded aspect found refuge deep in Annie’s mind. Forgotten but far from inactive, the girl relived the experience again and again. And every time, the adult felt the overwhelming, the disheartening guilt, self-blame and confusion. Everything made more sense for Annie now, as she recognized the wounded child inside her who needed help.
To heal the wound, Annie had to parent the child. She went back into the memory and stayed with the girl until the end. Just before the memory started again, she asked the child if she wanted to talk. The child nodded. This is what Annie told her four-year old self:
I see you. I am with you, I will not go away. I love you, you are safe. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. I know that what happened was scary. Mother is well, father is well. They love you and they are very happy to have you in their lives. It’s all right you didn’t understand what ‘death’ meant, and it’s all right you wanted to play with your toys. I am sorry this was so hard for you. I am sorry you felt so alone. Everything is fine now. I love you. I love you with all my heart. Your parents love you. If you want you can grow up now.
When Annie asked the child if she wanted to come with her, the child was eager to leave the memory. Annie thought of a place where the child would feel safe and happy. She decided to take the girl to her grandmother’s old house, the place she loved the most growing-up. Before Annie left, she hugged the girl one more time in her grandmother’s front yard, and reminded her, “I am always with you”.
The end of trauma
Annie released the hurt that was causing so much emotional distress, and as time went by, she was surprised to discover a more composed woman. It was now easier for her to be kind to herself when she thought she didn’t live up to expectations. She trusted more her healing process and demanded less of herself and of those close to her. Annie realized how much energy she unconsciously used to encapsulate the trauma, and couldn’t wait to redirect those resources elsewhere.
It is true that childhood wounds, along with sexual wounds, require the most effort to heal. But as we surrender to the reality that the only way out is through, we find that we are perfectly equipped to integrate the pain. With each inner child we heal, we become more alive and aware of the connections between everyone and everything:
About the author
Manuela Raiz fell in love with the plant medicine path nine years ago. In 2015 she started her apprenticeship in the Shibipo tradition. Manuela answered the calling to learn from and work with Ayahuasca and other powerful plant teachers. She is the founder of SoulCenteredMedicines, which represents her passion for self-discovery and being of service.