This is a column by Robert Burney.
Recovery from Codependence is a process
of owning all of the fractured parts of our selves so that we can find
some wholeness so that we can bring about an integrated and balanced
union, a marriage if you will, of all the parts of our internal self.
The most vital component of this process in my experience is the healing
and integration of the inner children. In this column I am going
to be talking about some of my inner children in order to try to communicate
the importance of this integration process.
My wounding began in the womb. I incubated in
my mother’s terror and shame and I knew that this was not going to be a
fun lifetime before I was born. After birth the deprivation started
and the terror - a nameless terror with no words, only the squalling pain
of an infant and the terror of being powerless in an alien environment.
The toddler in me feels not only the pain and the terror but also an anger
- an undifferentiated anger that needed to strike out, sometimes at my
little brother, sometimes with willful destruction of things.
By the time I was 4 or 5 I felt overwhelming shame.
I felt like I was inadequate and defective because I was unable to protect
my mother from my father. My mother emotionally incested me - made
me her surrogate spouse - and I felt at that young age that her feelings
were my responsibility. By the time I was seven I would not allow
my mother to touch me - because her touch felt “icky” - and would not show
her any feelings. I was being cool at seven in a passive-aggressive
response my mothers complete lack of emotional boundaries - I would not
admit to being happy about anything or hurt or scared or anything.
I was completely emotionally isolated by the time I was seven years old.
I was also full of despair, my spirit broken, and I tried to commit suicide
by stepping in front of an oncoming car while being dropped off at a movie
The seven year old within me is the most prominent
and emotionally vocal of my inner children. There are two distinct sides
to him - the despairing child who just wants to die, and a child full of
rage because death/escape was not allowed.
The despairing seven year old is always close
by, waiting in the wings, and when life seems too hard, when I am exhausted
or lonely or discouraged - when impending doom or financial tragedy seem
to be immanent - then I hear from him. Sometimes the first words
I hear in the morning are his voice within me saying “I just want to die”.
The feeling of wanting to die, of not wanting
to be here, is the most overwhelming, most familiar feeling in my emotional
inner landscape. Until I started doing my inner child healing I believed
that who I really was at the deepest, truest part of my being, was that
person who wanted to die. I thought that was the true ‘me’.
Now I know that is just a small part of me. When that feeling comes
over me now I can say to that seven year old, “I am really sorry you feel
that way Robbie. You had very good reason to feel that way. But that
was a long time ago and things are different now. I am here to protect
you now and I Love you very much. We are happy to be alive now and
we are going to feel Joy today, so you can relax and this adult will deal
The seven year old who is full of rage is Robby
and he wants to destroy. When I was a teenager I heard about a guy
who went up in a tower at the University of Texas and just started shooting
people. I knew exactly how he felt. But because of the Karma
that I was here to settle it was never an option to take that rage out
on other people. So I turned it back in on myself. For most
of my life that rage was focused on destroying my own body because I blamed
it for trapping me here. I knew after my attempt that suicide
was not an option for me in this lifetime so I worked on killing myself
in other ways with alcohol and drugs, food and cigarettes, self-destructive
and insane behavior. To this day the seven year old in me has incredible
resistance to me treating my body in healthy, Loving ways.
The integration process involves consciously cultivating
a healthy, Loving relationship with all of my inner children so that I
can Love them, validate their feelings, and assure them that everything
is different now and everything is going to be all right. When the
feelings from the child come over me it feels like my whole being, like
my absolute reality - it isn’t, it is just a small part of me reacting
out of the wounds from the past. I know that now because of my recovery,
and I can lovingly parent and set boundaries for those inner children so
they are not dictating how I live my life. By owning and honoring
all of the parts of me I now have a chance to have some balance and union