212 Miller Loop

It’s almost summer and all I can think about is playing. It’s permeating everything I do and think. I want to be outside running (hitting all the sprinklers of course in this Columbia, SC weather) or splashing in the pool or jumping waves at the beach or blowing bubbles or eating ice cream. In short, I want to feed my inner child. That is the part of me who keeps me laughing, keeps me grounded. Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung described the inner child as a symbol of wholeness.

The other day my vacuum cleaner broke - vacuuming does not feed my playful side, by the way. As I contemplated the research it would take to buy a new one not to mention the dollars for the purchase, I remembered thinking back to when I bought this one. Boy, have vacuum cleaners gotten technical and expensive, but I digress. I remarked to my mom how grown up I felt buying my first vacuum cleaner. Stick with me, the inner child is coming back. So, what other rituals in my life signaled I was a mature adult woman? Moving to college, scoring my first “real” job, traveling to Australia and New Zealand by myself, buying my first car, entering graduate school, buying my house, getting married, opening my private practice - all of these point toward growing up and being grown up.

This started me thinking about what it means to be a grown up. When did I reach adulthood? Because, I am the type girl who wants to know the destination, so I’ll recognize when I”m there. Well, I never pinpointed exactly when that transformation from happy, impetuous kid to a more mature impetuous, happy adult happened, but I did decide I was never alone on my journey - my inner child was there all along the way pulling at my skirt tail when the pace didn’t seem quite right, or cheering me on at go time. And the cool thing is all she ever needs is a little nurturing, encouragement and to play every now and then.

My friend, Susan, fed her inner child recently. She took a trip back to the place that formed her earliest memories. When she was sharing her journey with me, it was like I was there, on the sidewalk where she first learned to ride her bike, in the neighborhood where she sold her first box of Girl Scout cookies. She is grateful to be the grown up she is now who lets her inner child reminiscence about 212 Miller Loop.

What about you? What does your inner child need? Have you taken the time to connect with your inner child? Psychotherapy occasionally is about working through the stories that have shaped who we are. We can use the understanding from this work to free ourselves from limitations and restrictions that have become outdated and no longer useful. Your inner child often is wiser than the outward grown up.

Today, I let my inner child paint my toe nails purple and eat peanut butter and jelly instead of a salad for lunch. Later, we’ll blow bubbles and eat ice cream.