Had a dream the other night, where Jan and I were caring for two young children, a girl and a boy, who had never been cared for by anyone but their parents. Try as I might to do everything right, I’d flushed a toilet in one bathroom, which disrupted the water pressure in another bathroom where the little girl tried to flush. Flushing didn’t work for her and she became traumatized.
We were all once children. Our bodies, and some parts of our psyches, became adult. But parts of us are still the innocent, naive, shy, frightened, excited children we once more fully were. Perhaps those parts never grow up and transform. Perhaps the adults we become must assume childcare for our inner family. Perhaps that’s what it means to become a responsible adult. Perhaps that’s what wholeness and integration really mean.
Of course, this does not mean that adults should be bound to childish entitlements. Needs must be appropriately met, but neediness or demandingness are not to be catered too.
Children, inner and outer, may bear the wounds of trauma and unmet needs, which require adult intervention to provide necessary healing. However, adults must be careful not to become codependent to victimized parts. The horror of trauma is not healed through reparation or compensation.
The healing of trauma requires adult support as the traumatized child regains equilibrium, as it fully experiences and knows the facts of its personal history. Acceptance of the truth frees the child of the trauma and allows it to blossom. Catering to the dysregulated emotions of trauma only further entrenches one in victimhood.
Adult relationships must contend with child parts. Every adult has inner child parts that projectively feel entitled to attention from ‘parent’ partners or others in life. We may look physically like full-fledged adults, but inwardly we are a composite of many developmental stages.
The challenge is to individually assume parental responsibility for our own inner family. The expectations we place on partners or others frequently originate from our own child parts. Maturity is willingness to acknowledge and assume responsibility for what is ours and not expect another to care for it.
Nonetheless, with consciousness we might agree to be partners to our partner’s healing journey. To hug the wounded child part of another might be a helpful healing support, if voluntarily offered. However, to insist on a partner or another person taking care of a wounded part, or insistently feel entitled to care, entrenches and empowers victimhood. Healing cannot proceed under such conditions.
Ultimately, needed childcare must be provided by the adult self, who becomes the true parent to all the parts of the personality. Parents and partners provide the matrix that activates the issues of the child, but only the adult self can truly care for, heal, and lead the whole self, with all its component parts, to fulfillment.