When we enter the territory of childhood story work, particularly linked to wanting to gain greater command of the Self when we are under pressure, there is a tendency to focus on the most challenging and difficult, dark experiences we had in our formative years. Whilst this is an important part of the process, it is also crucial to connect with the light experiences of the child and the light that existed within the child, which will most certainly be there even if they have grown up in the darkest of times. They may be transient glimpses of light but they will be there. Why is connecting with and acknowledging the light important? Doing so helps us to redeem the child, another extremely important part of the process.
Redemption is a transformation where negative aspects of the Self that have been deeply ingrained in our experience are turned into something truly positive that serves us well. Such a transformation involving the redemption of the inner child can be achieved by changing the nature of our internal narratives, but also by adjusting the structure of our behaviour with different kinds of people. Whatever specific path we take, redemption insists that we begin to transform negative aspects of our identity. Having the Self redeemed is critical for being able to write a new internal narrative. Not finding redemption through a new affirmative, enlivening internal narrative means that we will in all likelihood keep repeating the dysfunctional old internal narratives over and over in our adult lives. To get to the new internal narratives we need to be able to connect with the light within and around us that was always there.
In ‘Where Did You Learn To Behave Like That?’, I shared some of the darker experiences when I was growing up. They were ever-present, dominating my memories of childhood. It was hard for me to connect with anything lighter. A photograph of myself, aged 10, wearing a pink dress, was the inspiration for seeing if I could remember the lighter moments. Here’s what emerged. Why not have a go at doing something similar and see what comes up to the surface and how it impacts you.
The 10-year-old girl in the pink dress
A Tiny Tears doll – oh how I loved her
Uncle Peter’s greenhouses – the smell of tomatoes growing
Aunty Mary’s summerhouse – the smell of cedar and warmth of soft pillows
and crocheted blankets
The sea – mother of pearl shells, wet sand, constancy of waves, endless horizons
Leeds United Football bag – a longed for birthday gift
First parka – how ‘cool’ was I?
Mum coming home from hospital again and again – loving her
Dad making toffee – such a treat
Passion flowers – For their intricacy and difference, I still love them today
‘Peggy’, my cat – comfort when I was hurt, scared and alone
The Famous Five – dreaming of being ‘George’, having adventures and a different family life