I have a friend who is an adult. That may sound weird since all of my friends are adults. But this friend stands out as extra “adult”. She gently (or not so gently) reminds me of the things I have to do, the things I hate doing. She doesn’t let me procrastinate until they are problems because she knows I might do that. She reminds me of what it means to be an adult who takes responsibility for the stuff that adults don’t want to do.
We all have things we avoid as adults. We don’t like paying bills. We avoid the dentist. We hate doing taxes. We don’t often grab these things by the horns and make them happen with gusto. And for trauma survivors, it is worse. In many cases, we have triggers associated with these things. Maybe our parents didn’t do them well. Maybe they abused us after doing those things because they felt powerless, and they needed to feel powerful in their dysfunctional way. Whatever the reason, doing the things required of adults may make us feel triggered or powerless.
I have known about these triggers for a while, but recently, I had a revelation. My inner child gave me another glimpse in to her world. I received some insight in to what she thinks about being an adult. And it isn’t pretty. But it makes so much sense.
When I was a child, the adults in my life were abusive, manipulative and downright evil. If they didn’t abuse me, they abandoned me instead. As a child, I was still lacking in discernment. I wasn’t quite clear that some adults could be evil, while others could be good. So, I made the only conclusion I could. All adults are bad. And I don’t ever want to be one.
I have known about my difficulty with trusting others for quite some time. I have had difficulty in trusting many people. I have worked through a lack of trust in men. I have worked through a lack of trust in women. I have worked through a lack of trust in anyone 25 years older than me (awareness brings up some weird stuff). I have even worked through a lack of trust in myself on many levels. But this new revelation shows me another side to it. Simply put, if I am an adult, I am evil. So I must find a way to avoid being an adult.
So I am faced with a new challenge in my awareness work. How do I convince that horribly abused inner child that there is a benefit to being an adult, that there is freedom that comes from responsibility and joy from freedom? How do I show her that the powerlessness she felt as a child has more than one alternative? While powerlessness and evil seemed to go together in my childhood home, there is a different reality if we want it.
An adult can take a powerless child and teach them, inspire them, be patient with them, be the role model that child will never forget for all the right reasons. Most importantly, an adult can take a powerless child and show them what it means to use power for good. So that one day, that child will be the adult that the next powerless generation will be glad to know.
So I will show her that growing up doesn’t bring dire consequences. It will take time. She will need to see that I won’t misuse my adult power against her or anyone else (she is very protective of all children). She will need to meet a few other healthy adults along the way. She will need to come to the realization that perfect or evil are not the only choices when it comes to categorizing others. And she will also need to balance that adult stuff with childlike activities since of course, she didn’t have a childhood.
But one day, she will realize that there are other approaches to being powerful. And more healing will happen for her and the powerless others who rely on adults to make the right decision.
And while taxes will always be taxes, and dentists will never be a walk in the park, maybe the rest of adult life won’t be so bad.