ASK ABDI: WHY DOES MY SCARED LITTLE GIRL COME OUT SO STRONGLY?
QUESTION: At this very moment, I am writing with a little peace in my heart, and despite my anger, an understanding to forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because I deserve peace. I want to depend on my connection to this soft place, where I am okay with myself no matter what’s happening around me.
I am in the process of noticing my exhaustion from being so busy "keeping it all together", that all my energy has been depleted. I perhaps don’t quite understand what the terror was growing up with my parents and siblings, or perhaps it’s my lineage and ancestry too, but I know I have been living with all the fear, panic, and hardness that my parents carry too. I don’t want to become hard like them, reacting mechanically to situations. In my case, this scared little girl that lives inside me. I have strong feelings of regression that lead to anger when these automated, hard, patterned reactions come up. With my parents, when I “give them what they want”, I feel I'm betraying my true self. When I take my space and try to keep my boundaries and protect my “inner little girl”, I carry the guilt that I am betraying them. It’s exhausting, as you see I carry the feeling of guilt either way.
Breaking the pattern and trying to be my highest version of my true self seems to be part of where my anger comes up, like growing pains. And I know the more I notice it, the more I can make friends with it. With my independence and distance from my parents, it’s almost like I am punishing them for making me feel like this. But when I think, I know that the person I am punishing is myself.
Seeing my parents for who they are with no judgment and seeing who I truly am - the gap there is so big and brings out so much anger, I was never brave enough to live it. Anger for who they are or how I think they view me, guilt for thinking I have disappointed them and not feeling the same connection to their nationality and religion, anger for knowing they will never understand me, anger that they don’t see me for who I am, anger for feeling controlled and never seen or heard for my truths, anger that I do not let who I am shine brighter - when all I want is the freedom to not care what others approve or expect and that it’s enough if I can only see myself for who I am. I know this is all a healthy transition into making more space for my inner little girl and myself as I wake up, and therefore for those around me. But I know the mind will kick in soon into old familiar false “safe” patterns telling me the same old stories, the more the triggers kick in. And I know that’s okay too. Change doesn’t happen in a day, the process is just so long, lonely, and painful. And yet worth it for the few hours of magical inner peace that come to visit here and there along the way.
I know that how I am viewing myself is all that matters, so why then do I connect my pain and fears so strongly to them? Why does the scared little girl come out so strongly? What was so traumatic? I can’t even remember anymore. It’s so hard for me to acknowledge my accomplishments of having my husband, my little boys, my businesses, my growing life, and my self-love if I don’t have this inner peace about my relationship to my parents (whether I talk to them or not). I guess I wasn’t raised with these tools I am searching for, but is that the reason why I am so hard on myself? Is it me who is being judgmental and not accepting of who others are? Do my parents treat me like that little girl because that’s how I feel when I'm around them?
ANSWER: Sit back and read what you have written to me as if you are reading someone else’s writing. There is tremendous clarity in there, and you have answered your own questions. It is important to FEEL one’s way through such mazes, not just think through them. By just thinking through them, one answered question will lead to a hundred more questions. By feeling what lies at the root of your questions, you will gain more clarity.
You say you have come to the understanding that you need to “forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because I deserve peace”. That is absolutely a gorgeous understanding. What you are saying is that you are choosing to anchor your serenity to your core, not to external circumstances. That is something that we can learn to do as adults, even if our childhood trauma did not allow us to do so as children.
When deep anger arises, it can be helpful to identify which part of you it is coming from: is it an automatic response from the wounded child or is it an appropriate response from your adult self? Once you look through this lens, it becomes easier not to take things personally. And remember, nothing is ever personal. Truly. These truths will allow us to reconnect with our center, as opposed to blow around in the wind of all the chaos of this realm. As you say correctly, “the more I notice it, the more I can make friends with it”.
The parent piece is something that we all struggle with. Whether we are codependent or rebels, we are all bonded on some level until we divorce our childhood relationship with them. Then we can either enter into an adult relationship, a truce relationship, a guarded relationship, or in extreme situations - step fully back from any contact. Of course, when you “give your parents what they want, you are betraying your true self”. That is a give in: when we are not anchored internally, we will feel all kinds of chaos, including rage. What you need to work on is your “feelings of guilt when you try to keep boundaries with them”. That is by design; guilt is the glue that keeps us stuck to behaviors that do not serve us and lets us allow others to manipulate us.
That is your work then. Learn to tolerate the feeling of guilt. Know that it is not in your control to make another happy. Always remember that the highest good in any situation comes from a place of self-honesty. If you are true to yourself and practice self-care, the other will be cared for as well. Not their ego or wounded self, but their true self, as you say. Through this practice, “your scared little girl” does not need to come out so strongly.
All the questions that you ask at the end are not important. You might get answers to some or forget others. You are suffering at times. Certain behaviors bring on more suffering. Certain ones bring relief, even though they cause anxiety or guilt. Trying to figure out what others think of us is futile business at best. Tend to yourself. Make friends with yourself. Listen to that little girl that you speak of. What does she need? What does she feel like doing? These are real psychic energies in all of us. Tending to them is how we release the hold of the past on the present. It takes tremendous courage to listen and then act on these truths. You are on your way. Keep checking in with yourself daily. Make sure you do your best to honor your truth, as you understand it in the moment.