Until I became aware that I was seeing, yet not seeing. Once aware, I did what I needed to do to bring myself back to the present. I conjured up my smiling toddler, and when I felt him holding my hand, I was present, one with the beauty of nature surrounding me, and smiled.
And that day, for the first time, no sooner had my smiling toddler appeared, than I felt my inner child (the 12-year old version) holding my other hand, smiling. The experience of walking down the beach with my smiling toddler holding one hand, and my inner child, now healed, holding the other, listening to them laughing and commenting on what they were seeing, was overwhelming. I was overcome with gratitude and cried.
In one of my visions, when I free myself from the burdens of the five skandhas, I emerge from the depths of the ocean and join my unborn Buddha mind and true Buddha self on the other shore. We hold hands and dance around in a circle, with the music from La Strada playing in the background! When I was walking down the beach that day, it felt like that vision had been realized.
Clearly, the work I had been doing with my wounded inner child had borne fruit. Talking to him, asking him to express himself, giving him my unconditional love. As well as my smiling toddler doing tonglen for my wounded inner child and leading him out of the dark room into the light. (See my previous post, “Smiling Toddler + Wounded Inner Child.”)
The last time I had “visited” my inner child in our childhood home, he was smiling and said that he knew he was loved unconditionally and loved himself unconditionally. He said that when my father would yell at him for not cleaning up his plate, getting all red in the face, and sending him up to his room, he knew that my father loved him and that he just wanted to make him strong. (Context: I grew up in a generally very loving home.)
He said my father knew, because of what he had gone through in life, that one had to accept and adapt to life if one was to survive with sanity. Eating what was on my plate. not being picky, was to him accepting my life.
And he said that when my father said there was something wrong with me, I wasn’t normal … because as a 12-year old I would regularly throw up before going to a dinner party (it was bar mitzvah time) … and so he first sent me to the family doctor and later to a psychiatrist, my inner child said he knew that again he did that because he loved me and wanted to help me be strong. Because strength was needed to navigate life’s challenges.
Having encouraged my inner child to hug himself, to embrace his emotions, to know that he will be ok regardless what life throws his way, to love himself unconditionally, my inner child was now able to forgive my father, to see him for who he was, not who the child wanted him to be, and to see through the actions that caused him such pain. By having healed himself, he was open to seeing my father as he was.
But my inner child knew that had he been an adult, he would have said to my father, “No, I am normal; there is nothing wrong with me. I am gay. And your yelling at me about my eating habits has made me neurotic with fear of offending others by my eating habits. I know you love me, but you are wrong. This is not the way to make me strong.”
My inner child has been healed. He is his own person.