I feel like my inner child died recently

I went through childhood trauma, but have always had a good bond to my inner child of the pre-trauma age range.

(The trauma started at age 7/8 and I'm not so good at accessing my inner child age 7 and up, and the trauma was worst in the teenage years and I have a lot of trouble accessing my inner teen kid - but that's another topic.)

So, I've always been good at accessing my inner kid at a young age - say 3 to 7 years old. This has always been a strong, safe connection and played a big role in my trauma therapy and recovery.

Several years ago, I got into a relationship that was first very deep and loving and the turned abusive and then turned into a nightmarish breakup.

Ever since, my (young) inner kid has felt totally dead.

I've been working through the breakup and the post-mortem of the relationship in therapy ever since and have made some slow and confusing progress.

To make a long (and boring) story short, we finally worked out in therapy that because this relationship was incredibly deep, it touched on very core early childhood issues, including early childhood attachment trauma that had been untreated, up to that point.

So when the relationship turned abusive and then spiralled into an unbearably painful breakup, it seems to have torn open all the old, partly-healed-over early childhood attachment wounds.

From a logical/ rational point of view, this makes sense to me and I've tried to work with it as best I can.

But emotionally, it just feels like my inner child has been dead ever since.

And given that the bond to my inner child used to be so strong, it feels really chilling and haunting.

And to make matters worse, my inner kid disappearing has taken a lot of other things with her - joy, happiness, hope, optimism, sense of purpose, sense of meaning, warmth, caring, etc.

I've heard people talking about dead parts countless times and the general consensus seems to be that parts don't "die".

So, from a logical point of view, I'm going to rule that out.

It just *feels* like my inner child has died.

I just don't have a clue of how to even start accessing/ healing my inner child.

Do I try and resuscitate it?

Do I talk to it and if it doesn't answer, just keep talking regardless?

Do I tell it I feel like she's died?

It's so weird to have had a massively negative event in my adult years deeply trigger childhood trauma stuff like this.

I get the normal/ daily triggers that we all get - some incident sets off trauma memories and trauma thinking and I dissociate.

But to have an event actually unpack childhood trauma that previously was never unpacked before... That's not just a trigger, that's something more major.

I don't know what it's called (should probably read up on it) when some key life experience rips open past traumatic material that your brain had neatly packed up and put aside.

Before this happened, I literally wasn't "aware" of this early childhood trauma.

I knew about it in a part of my brain - there was evidence in photos and in family stories about my first 3 years of life.

So logically I knew it existed, but emotionally I had zero access to it, so it never really "bothered" me, so I basically ignored it, figuring it was not important.

But this particular event in adult life just ripped right through those layers of trauma and spewed them all out in gory, painful detail and I've been struggling with it massively ever since.

And a huge part of that has been numbing.

I've felt so numb for the last 4 years... I've never felt this degree of numbness before, ever. Not during the later childhood trauma, not during previous trauma therapy.

And yeah, it just feels like my inner child (of all age ranges) is dead now and I feel like an empty shell, a zombie.

I need to find some way of dealing with this... Getting the dynamic to shift... Cos it's just no way to live.
 
But to have an event actually unpack childhood trauma that previously was never unpacked before... That's not just a trigger, that's something more major.

I don't know what it's called (should probably read up on it) when some key life experience rips open past traumatic material that your brain had neatly packed up and put aside.

I guess it's this (paraphrased):

Dissociative amnesia is a form of memory loss that is usually temporary. Memories that the brain has blocked can come back spontaneously, in a therapy process, or when a life event triggers the memories. With dissociative amnesia, people are often not aware that important information is missing, or they are not bothered by the missing information.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
Your inner child lives the same experiences that you live through. So, my first thought is that this traumatic relationship was probably pretty traumatic for the child part of you. And that, that child part of you isn't so sure that the world is safe.

If that's the case? Kids go into hiding. And they don't come out until they feel like it's safe again. In a young child's mind, it's often a case of "if they don't know I'm here, I'll be safe". Makes sense to me that the child part of you is hiding so deep that they're hoping (just like before you first started on your recovery) you'll think they're gone/dead. That's safe for them.

If you knew there was a young, frightened child hidden away in your home, how would you approach that? For me, it was talking to them, working on rebuilding trust, and demonstrating that I was safe and reliable (ergo could keep them safe) and attend to their needs reliably...their needs are my needs, but they need to be attended to in a different way.

Like, dealing with the post-trauma, adult part of you after this relationship is only part of the healing process from the fallout of this relationship. There is now a process of rebuilding trust within yourself that needs attending to. To feel safe being you, the whole of you, again.
 
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Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I agree with @Sideways

Your inner child is there, but retreated to safety.

My T suggested to me, when I had no access to younger me, to maybe not use words because that was too cognitively developed for the age of younger me. But to use colours, textures, smells etc to communicate.
Stroking me helps little me too. That touch of me helps sooth.
My T also suggested that little me might not know that adult me exists and that adult me can keep little me safe. So I had to teach little me that (which I think happened through tradegy unfortunately).

So maybe your little you needs to know you are safe and can keep her safe? And you got to find a way to communicate that she can relate to?
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @Sophy (in lockdown) , someone said to me once that she didn't think I'd had much of a childhood. She was right. I was traumatised throughout my entire childhood and really just felt fragmented and in a state of hyper vigilance and dissociation. I still feel like little me is dead (or doing a very good job of hiding far away). I don't know how to connect with him and it's a scary concept. I would like to find little survivor3 and bring him back into the world. He was a good kid.
 
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ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
I experienced this too in a strange way. It was very clear the moment it died. It was a wolf because it couldn’t really speak. It died of old age, or left without leaving traces. It feels very cruel to lose a part of oneself in that way and it also feels strange. I don’t have answers. I feel like I should ask a ouija rather than anything else to talk to that inner child / animal spirit.
 

triptych

Learning
I’m so sorry this happened to you. It must have been a horrible experience to make you feel like a part of you has died.

I know the feeling of thinking a part of you, or something inside you, has died. I believe it can be hard & sometimes impossible to go back to who we were before traumatic events. But I also think your right when you say that it seems unlikely those parts of yourself are gone for good.

I think something that can be helpful for me is to try is to do things you know certain parts of yourself enjoy. For example, if I do something I know I would enjoy if I was more engaged with the child part of myself then that, not always, but sometimes, can allow me to connect to that. I don’t know if that’s in any way useful but either way— good luck with reconnecting, I’m sure it’s possible.
 
I apologise for being terrible at replying to this thread...

I started it to try and *force* my brain to deal with the issue... but the automatic avoidance has remained strong.

I think it has helped tho... My brain has been chewing this topic over... Even if it's not led to being able to verbalise stuff.

I think I've finally come to terms with the breakup of an abusive relationship... Which is what caused the whole "inner child dying" thing... And that seems to have helped. I feel more "alive" again... tho I think there's still a long way to go.

I've also noticed how the "inner child" and "inner parent" roles have been contributing in a negative way to my current depression symptoms. Instead of working together, those parts of my brain have been fighting each other relentlessly... It's felt like a bit of a war.

Looking at that dynamic led to the realisation that my childhood consisted of being told the message "You are not allowed to be a child!"

I was always expected to behave like little adult, or was even parentified and expected to "look after" my parents' needs instead.

So I'm currently trying to reverse that by telling my inner kid "You are allowed to be a kid." It seems to be helping a bit.

I hope I can eventually fully restore my inner kid to how things were before they got bad.

It seems like a long way off... But at least there have been *some* signs of life recently. So that feels less creepy and shit that just feeling like my inner kid is "dead" somehow.

Thanks for everyone's thoughts, btw!

They did help, even if I've been slow in replying.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Instead of working together, those parts of my brain have been fighting each other relentlessly... It's felt like a bit of a war.
^^^^ jeez I know how you feel! Am stuck in this myself right now. What my T said to me is that I don't need to carry the messages of my parents inside of me. Those are their fears and worries, and don't need to be mine. That has helped to correct myself when my parental voice starts it's negative chatter. But it's just more hard work and effort to engage that way internally.

Also: my inner child has gone into hiding at the moment too.

All this is so hard! Sorry: no positive uplifting post from me, just an acknowledgement that: I hear you!
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
I have repressed memories of early childhood. I remembered which brought me up till today. But I only partially remembered. I understand these feelings but think them so personal and open to personal interpretation that it’s better not to have an opinion. It just is very dark and so hope you get to a better place. I’ve been dark and it’s hard.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
I connected with my inner child through art, music, dancing, playing with other children, watching fun.....clean movies with kids in them, cooking fun things, shopping for games, puzzles, and doing creative things like painting, all kinds of art, and clay sculpture. Creative play is really a great way to get in touch with feelings, and it can have such great rewards if you are creating a product ( things I've done: playing an instrument, dancing, taken enough photos to enter a photo contest, making and painting curtains, making clay sculpures, experimenting with different kinds of tea with a hint of juice, baking familiar/favorite foods). Creative ventures can create not only a safe space....but a fun place. I started with things that I had done when I was younger....and then experimented with new things. Good luck, connecting.
 
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