I have recently been very nostalgic about the Seventies. Not with any great fondness but it was a very significant time for me. In this decade, I went from being 8 to 18 and my near adult self was formed. Growing up in the UK at this time was not easy. The political situation was fairly volatile for most of the decade and due to strikes etc, there were coal and electricity shortages. I can remember the electricity going off at 9 pm as electricity supply stopped and living in candlelight for much of the time. It was miserable and given that my family were normally short of money, problems were consolidated.
It was a time of discovery for me and I learnt a lot about the world. I was a loner and spent a lot of time alone by choice. I reached a point where relationships became difficult and I felt better in isolation. I remember school holidays where I obsessed about certain things. One year about fragments of pottery in open fields, another about history (I used to avidly read books and then produce my own by summarizing them), another year growing vegetables and weirdly, another watching old cheesy Elvis films. All of this was done alone and in isolation. I look back with mixed feelings. I was an awkward youth and the idea of relationships was scary and I felt, best avoided. On the other hand, it was a magical time full of classic schoolboy memories. The summer of 1976 was a scorcher and I remember long hot summer days. During this time, I developed a strong sets of defense mechanisms which became part of my personality and thinking and dictated how I reacted to future relationships. I wrote about these Identifying My Own Thinking extensively and how they had regulated the way I saw the world.
Later in life, I did deep inner child work where I tried to connect with my younger self and how he is still with me when triggered. One image that came to mind during the work was me at about ten years old sitting at the top of ladder to the treehouse we had in the garden. I had just been smacked and shouted at by my father for something he assumed I had done. It was especially irking because we had friends over and the group were enjoying themselves while I withdrew watching them. I remembered the thoughts in my head and the way I felt at the time. My critical voices were telling me how bad I am, how I am the trouble in the family….my escape voice was telling me to get away and run off (something I did frequently) and I was feeling guilty, ashamed, angry, self-loathing and disgust in equal measures. Quite a lot for a ten year-old to carry and bear.
Together with the therapist I chose to share this with, I realized that the exact same feelings and voices appear whenever I feel threatened, insecure and was at the core of my codependent thinking. I had a dysfunctional connection with my parents that I projected and tried to solve in other relationships unsuccessfully. I used withdrawal as a tactic to sooth myself. The isolated, awkward ten year-old took over.
My inner child work taught me that there was nothing wrong with that boy at all. I learnt how to connect with him, give him the friend he never had and spend time with him finding out what is important in his world. Something nobody ever took the time to do. I follow him across those fields, I write with him and watch films with him. We garden together, I help him and coach him in a way that did not exist for him. He is as much a part of my life as my “real” children. He is as much a part of me as them.