November seems to be the month for revisiting the battles you have endured throughout the year and reflecting on what strength you will be carrying into the next year. Some of us have gotten used to not knowing what to expect or what is right around that corner. In an ever-changing world, we either treat change as a close friend or a stranger we tolerate with pleasantries when we run into them. For me I think it is the former, a friend that I only know through a fond connection we made once upon a time. I would love to get to know Change more, to build that friendship to a point of trust. But can you ever fully trust a friend? Considering Change is consistent in its ability to occur, could it be as dependable as close friend capable of someday fully trusting?
Just recently in something I was watching, one person mentioned that her therapist had asked her to go and sit down with her seven year old self. Then the therapist asked that person, ‘what would you say to that child’? I have entertained this idea before. There was even a song some years ago by The Lumineers with the line: “what did you sing to that lonely child?” They go on to sing “…promised it all but you lied,” to which I always dropped a tear to. Nonetheless, no matter the time of my life that I am in, this idea of visiting the little child version of myself makes me so incredibly sorrowful. There is no doubt in my mind that if my therapist ever asked me that question, I would burst into tears and just sob. Besides the fact that children have an innocence that makes disappointing them just heartbreaking, telling a child that you tried and failed is arguably one of the most unbearable situations to be in. Imagining telling your own child that you’ve let them down and that you weren’t able to be strong from them probably isn’t half as bad as telling the child version of yourself. Self preservation is a hardwired mechanism of almost all living beings. I suppose this scenario directly takes you back through your past actions to the being that did not make those actions and asks you to explain. I would even go as far as to stay, speaking to your youngest cognitive self is a version of heaven that most religious followers belief exists for them after death in some form or another. This sense of having to answer for oneself is enough for them to live in a more moral and giving way so that they will not somehow be punished for having to answer for every single thing that they’ve done. So why is it so emotionally demonstrative to imagine speaking with your youngest self? If it is the guilt, pain and persecution that you hold onto and mostly ignore, why even breach those issues with your child self? Guilt and pain can seem to be just as consistent as change. The key point is that you share your stream of consciousness with this child, and of all the people in the world, that is ultimately the one person you cannot hide from.
My most painful part of this exercise isn’t that I have made choices that directly damaged or otherwise negatively affected my child self. The most painful part for me seems to be that I have been forced in so many instances to make decisions that have sacrificed the preservation of certain mental fortitude that my child self should be entitled to. I, like so many others, want to protect that child but cannot always. Even some of the damages I still carry today had already happened to my child self at seven years old. I would want to hug her even though I know at that age she may rightfully so cringe away from it. However, just sitting with a seven year old and weeping the whole time would be pathetic. Telling that child that everything she hopes for and thinks about the future is wrong would be cruel. Letting the child ramble on about Barbies or soccer practice would accomplish nothing. So what is the right conversation to have to the child you once were?
So what do you say to that child?