Dear Inner Teenager,
You haven’t had an easy life. You have interacted with a lot of power-hungry people. And I’m not just talking about the pedophiles and their enablers. There were adults who wanted you to be less than you were. There were other teenagers who wanted to make you feel less smart, less attractive, less talented. They needed you to be small because they wanted to build themselves up in comparison. They let you know you were not acceptable. You had too much to say for a girl. You acted too smart for a kid. You should shut up and listen to your elders.
But in reality, the courage you were showing to remain confident and expressive after all that abuse was phenomenal. And I’m proud of you. I am proud that you didn’t shut down. I am proud that you continued to stand up for yourself. I am proud of your resiliency. You didn’t let them break you.
I am proud that you will allow me to take risks, speak up, and help others without sabotaging my every move. I know you would much rather find a cabin in the woods somewhere off-grid. I know you don’t like the public part of this work. But I know you see the gift you were born with, the gift of expression. It is why you never stopped standing up for yourself all those years ago. So, you begrudgingly allow me to take risks when you would prefer safety. And one day, I know we will do it together. And for that, I am proud of you.
And now, even as we work through your hesitancy of embracing a full expression of self, I am proud of you for what you did. I am proud of the defense mechanisms you so cleverly employed to stay safe. You knew that the anger, sadness and fear were unacceptable in our family environment, so you put it away. You knew that the inner child could not handle the pain of the past, so you kept the memories under lock and key. You kept your trust to a minimum because those around you were dangerous. And that was the truth.
I am proud of you for protecting the children. I can tell you care for them, even if they drive you crazy most days. You get irritated with them. You don’t understand their world as “real” children. But you love them and you allow me to teach them to love and trust even if you aren’t sure it will ever be possible for you. You allow people in our lives even though you would much prefer to stay isolated. You know isolation would not be good for the children.
And I am more proud of you, that after all the mistreatment, you chose to hear me out. You may roll your eyes. You may dismiss 90% of what I am saying. But every once in a while, you hear what I have to say and you consider that things might be possible now, even though they weren’t possible then. You haven’t shut me out forever. You could have. But you didn’t.
I have a hunch that you won’t believe me when I say I am proud. You might think there is an ulterior motive. You might assume I want something from you. Why wouldn’t you think that? That was always the case when you were growing up. Nobody ever said anything nice unless they wanted something. The honest comments always seemed to be the mean comments.
You might think I want to control you. You might think I want to gain access to all your information. Ok … well … that might be a little true. But I am learning to trust that you will tell me what I need to know when I need to know it. And I want to work with you, not against you, not instead of you. We can tackle life’s challenges with your experiences and my experiences together. Honestly, that is the only way to do it well.
So I will keep working with you even when you are done with me. I will keep showing you that I can be trusted. I will show you that my crazy ideas will lead us toward a life that will make you proud too. I will push you. You will not always be comfortable. But I will do my best to keep you out of harm’s way. And one day, there will be trust. And our trust will manifest our aspirations. And it is all because you didn’t give up on me. And for that, I am proud.
Me … And You