The Inner Child
Chapter 3 | Writer's Commentary
Hello fantastic subscribers, you keep me going every week and I thank you all for supporting me in doing what I love the most - writing! Every two weeks I cover a chapter by writing blogpost such as this (on a topic relevant to the chapter), and then with an audio interview the following week, with someone who inspired the chapter.
These blogposts are more of a stream of thought so please excuse some typos/grammar mishaps.
For the next two Sundays, we will be digging into Chapter 3. Read it first if you haven’t, then come back here!
The Inner Child
If you have been following the commentary on the story, you probably know by now that archetypes are a main part of the theme. Archetypes are different parts of us that are created from something that happened to us or that we have inherited from our family.
These parts of us all want different things, and our journey (along with Maskat) is to find the identity we call the “self” which can communicate with these parts, bringing peace to our whole psychological playing field. If none of that made sense, it is ok. In time, the more you get into the story and the episodes to come, the more you will start understanding this whole idea more clearly, which you can actually use to heal some parts of the self-inflicted wounds that are part of our psychology.
I am a guy with a troubled mind. Many people tell me that I am gifted and that I am calm and relaxed, but on the inside, I tell myself that I am not enough, and find it hard to connect with others often because of that. Ten years ago, I found it very hard to accept the love which I direly needed in my life. Today, it is much better, but I am also not under the illusion that there is a simple end to my suffering either. I continue to explore it, and continue to go in sprials where it feels like I am coming back to the same things over and over again. It was frustrating at first, but I am starting to feel that my inner world is becoming more and more familiar.
Today, I can’t tell you that I am “healed”, I still beat myself up frequently, but by doing a lot of this work I am pretty aware of this inner commentary, and by the sort of “catching myself” when it starts being nasty to me, I actually find myself much more open to connecting with others. I am certainly able to love and allow others to love me, in a way that I could not even imagine that I am worthy of, 10 years ago.
I used to feel locked in a glass container, and I blamed the world for it. I also blamed my dad for being too harsh on me, but many years later I realized that I had internalized his voice deep inside of me, and made him my own “inner critic”.
You probably heard of the inner critic idea before, it is that asshole voice in your head that berates you when you forget a birthday, fail an exam, or wear that Hawaiian shirt that your friends think is stupid. It is that voice that takes away from our tenacity and resilience and creates an illusion in which we are constantly not good enough.
The inner critic is so powerful, it can create addictions, destroy relationships and in extreme cases, be the driver behind suicide.
So that is the inner critic, which most of us let go unnoticed. For some reason, so many people relate to this idea of having an abusive relationship with themselves and it seems to be a big aha moment for many.
So who is the Inner Child then?
Well, that is another persona that lives in all of us, and s/he is basically the victim of the Inner Critic’s abuse, and also dictates how we experience the outer world. When we get heartbroken, when we are rejected, and when we feel like we have failed, that gut-wrenching sadness comes from the inner child that lives within us, screaming in agony.
So the next time your partner says something that you think is insensitive, or your coworker doesn’t give you the praise you deserve, or when you get rejected for the job of your dreams, take a moment to think about how the 8-year-old child inside of you feels like in that very triggering moment. What is the overall emotion? Can you trace it back to a memory, that the 4/5/6-year-old child in you has? Usually, you’ll find a clue to your suffering if you attempt to answer this question honestly.
For example, I used to get so triggered when my wife left in the middle of an argument. I blamed her so much for “abandoning me” before I actually realized that “abandonment” is what I am experiencing. When I tried to think of early memories that can hold that same emotion, I clearly found a few distinct memories where my mother had left me in a place with other children where I really didn’t want to be. These memories of me crying with despair from my childhood, are so powerful they remain with me to this day (for whatever reason), and they are clearly the same parts that experience this pain nowadays.
Should I blame my mother for these moments? As appealing as that is, it simply won’t help me. This issue is mine, not hers. It is my life that will be restricted if I do not give this wounded child in me some space to breathe.
Otherwise, I will continue to seek that sense of attention from others - forever!
So did that help me be less pissed at my wife when she leaves in the middle of an argument? No. But can we now have a much healthier conversation about it and be compassionate for both our younger wounds? Hell yes! Did uncovering that and communicating it to her make us feel closer? You bet!
The reason why I am spending so much time developing Maskat’s world as a kid before I bring you into his really intense adult world is to build up from that childhood. These early encounters are going to determine what Maskat will be searching for till the end of the novel.
In this chapter, he is free and he is having a peak childhood experience, which is absolutely thrilling despite him knowing that something about what he is doing is wrong.
Children are unruly and operate from the subconscious by nature, and every child feels in his/her element when being a misfit. They can experience the world in a way that has no repercussions until the adults in our lives, decide that we have grown up and “should” act a certain way.
We have no clear way in society to deal with these early wounds that happen to all of us at a young age, and so they are essentially “buried” by our growing conscious mind outside of our psyche into what Carl Jung describes as the “shadow” or “exiles” as coined by the more recent Internal Family Systems psychology.
As a result of how overwhelming the pain is in some of these situations, we keep those memories (and therefore essential parts of us), locked up in a room where no one can see them or experience them. We can only do so for so long before these parts in our shadow start acting up, and that is when our mental health as adults can suffer. So many people wrote about the inner child and that child archetype idea shows up all over popular media. One of my favorites is Butters from South Park.
Here is one of his best episodes and very relevant to what I am talking about:
So in this chapter 3, I try to highlight the glory of being a child and the excitement that comes naturally from being unruly and unrestrained. By a process of discovering adults, we can create that space in our psyche which we deprive our inner children of.
I hope you enjoy this chapter, and that you take the time to let me know what you think in the comments section/via email!
Next week I will continue exploring the inner child with one of my favorite people to talk to. A long-time friend, with an incredibly funny and loving inner child, who is now learning how to deal with the mischief of his 5-year-old son, and what he would like to see in the world for his 3-month-old daughter.
Stay tuned for an email next Sunday with episode 3 of the Gumpcast!