While I have not seen any studies, I suspect that talking to your inner child is not something that is particular appealing to males, especially older males as a means of dealing with alcohol and substance use issues. Why? It means having to be vulnerable in a very “female” way. That is how society has conditioned us. Men watch football. Men play football. Men 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 uncertainly 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. In my recovery however, I am not sure I would be where I am today if I had not dropped the “male societal expectations” and explored the teenage Brian’s loneliness and need for acceptance. It has been one of the hardest things I have done in recovery because it’s counter-intuitive. It also has been and continues to be very cathartic as a healing tool. I have done it in therapy. I have done it a home by myself. I have done it as an expressive writing tool as you will see here. Here is my letter to my inner child. The young Brian. He answers me back in my dreams and in my day to day recovery. I love him. I hope you do or will love yours.
I can see you. It’s nineteen seventy-four. You are thirteen years old in your bedroom. You are sitting a table playing with your baseball cards and putting stamps in the stamp book given to you by your brother Mark. So alone. Wanting to be loved. Wanted to be accepted. Wanted to be included in the happy conversations in the Mt Lebanon High School lunchroom. The after school parties. Trips to “Mickey-D’s. The prom.
Your friends are going to see the group “Super Tramp” in concert. You are sitting at their table but alone in the conversation. Non-existent. Wanting to exist if only for that moment. They are talking about the new album and the concert coming to the Civic Arena. Please ask me to go! Please include me! I won’t ever ask again.
I know the answer. We don’t include shy, 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 are meant to be alone forever. I feel that day. Not much different than other days in your mind. Alone in your bedroom. I remember that lunch table. I dream that dream with you.
I want you to know the lessons I have learned that you will have coming in your life. You are not alone. I will always be with you. I will always talk to you. I want to take away your pain and absolve you of your shame of body and self. The self-blame. I want you to know it’s not your fault. You are just a child. You have your whole life in front of you. I want you to know that your mom loves you. You are too young to understand this now and it would not matter if you did.
Your mom is hurting too. She went through the same things as you with her mother. She was alone. She wanted to be loved by your nanny. Your nanny who takes you to Kennywood Park. Your nanny who sits alone in the sun for hours while you ride the rides. She waits patiently every weekend for you to take the bus to see her. Some weekend you don’t. She still waits. Her relationship with her daughter is not your fault. It’s ok just to love your nanny the way she loves you, unconditionally.
You won’t understand this until you are older. You will feel unimaginable guilt for abandoning your nanny because your mom abandoned her. Try to release your pain. Let me take on that guilt for you. You are a little boy who deserves to love her. To love yourself. Know that it’s ok to be a shy little boy. 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. You are a beautiful little boy. Love yourself. Love your nanny. Accept that your mother loves you. I love you. You are enough. You will always be enough.