A Conversation With My Fourteen-Year-Old Self

I suspect that talking to your inner child is not particularly appealing to males, especially older men as a tool in dealing with depression, alcohol and substance use issues.  Why?  It requires having to be vulnerable in a very “female” way. That is how society conditioned us, especially the baby boomer and Gen-X demographic. Males are the protectors of women and family. Men do not show weakness. We do not reach back in time and pull out the fear, shame, and uncertainty of a teenage boy.

My anecdotal experience tells me that lawyers tend to be not much different as a group if not even more closed off to that child. We are trained to exploit vulnerability in the adversarial process. We are not as good at looking inward and backward.  This can be especially true when trauma threads through life experience.

In my recovery, I am not sure I would be where I am today if I had not dropped the masculine expectations and explored the teenage Brian’s loneliness and need for acceptance. It is one of the hardest things I have done in recovery because it’s counter-intuitive. It continues to be very cathartic as a healing tool.  I do it in therapy. I reach back in time at home I allow that little boy Brian to have his say on paper with expressive writing.  Here are some conversations I’ve had with the young Brian. He answers me back in my dreams and in my day to day recovery. I love him. It took me a while to get there.

Dear Brian:

I see you in my dreams. It’s nineteen seventy-five. You are fourteen-years-old alone in your bedroom. You are sitting a table playing with your baseball cards, putting stamps in the album given to you by your brother Mark. So alone. Wanting to be loved. Wanted to be accepted. Wanted to be included in the lively conversations in the Mt Lebanon High School lunchroom. The after-school parties. Trips to “Mickey-D’s. The prom.  Holding hands with a girl. That first kiss that is so fearful and elusive.

You can hear the kids chattering about seeing group “Super Tramp” in concert. You are sitting at their table but invisible. Non-existent. Wanting to exist, if only for that moment. Please ask me to go! Please include me! I won’t ever ask again.

You know the answer. “We don’t include fat kids in our group.” You will never be one of us. You will never date one of us. You will never go to our prom. You will be alone forever.

So many decades have passed. I am approaching sixty. Of course, you know that but I want you to also understand the lessons I have learned You are not alone. I am always with you, guiding you.

I will take away your pain and absolve you of your shame of body and self. The self-blame. It’s not your fault. You are a child. You have your whole life in front of you. Know that your mom loves you. You are too young to understand this now.

You were never taught to stand up to the bullies who made fun of your body. The bullies who assaulted you. Forgive yourself for that. It’s ok to be quiet. It’s ok to be shy. You are a beautiful little boy. Love yourself. I love you. You are enough. You will always be enough.

Find a safe place and have a chat with your inner child now and then.  Pick an age/time that resonates with you on a deep emotional level. Have a chat. Regardless of your life experience, you might be surprised at what he/she has to say.