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Do You Value Your Vulnerable Child?

By Phyllis Stein, Ph.D.
December 25, 2007

How do you feel about being vulnerable? Can you accept the sacred privilege of protecting the beautiful, vulnerable little one inside?

Recently, I reconnected with a 2-year old part of myself who had decided that her job in growing up was to become stronger and tougher, i.e., less vulnerable.  She did not have these words for it, of course, but her decision was clear.  She had to try to become less and less easy to hurt.  She had to learn not to cry so easily.  She had to protect.  Even though I had not remembered making that decision, I do remember trying hard to implement it the whole time I was growing up.  

I understood the good reasons: that is how everyone was, when I showed that I was hurt I was ridiculed, there was no one there for me, etc., and we had done a lot of healing around them.  What was new for me is that what my little girl needed was for me to show her that her vulnerability, her softness, her openness were beautiful parts of her essence, something to cherish not something to get rid of.  That aspect had been totally devalued, now I had to bring healing by loving and valuing it.  So obvious and even easy, but I had never noticed this need before.

I immediately realized how pervasive this missing piece was.  Not only had I not told my little girl how valuable her vulnerability was, I had often failed to tune into this part of other people, including my own children.  When I saw vulnerability, there was an unconscious tape running the background that said, "You need to toughen up."  I think this part of me saw Inner Bonding as a way to become less vulnerable, which it is, but only if we think that vulnerability and inner abandonment are the same thing.  What we are busy tuning out in ourselves, we tune out in others.  Because I did not value my own vulnerability, my wounded self became invasive towards myself and other people.   I noticed, for example, that when I remember my vulnerable little girl, I eat differently, more slowly and deliberately instead of eating quickly and swallowing without really taking the time to chew my food.

I have a talisman now that I am using to remind myself of this beautiful, vulnerable part of me.  It is an image of candle flame on a white candle, and it is my sacred privilege to protect and honor this flame.  When I forget and go on autopilot, I can embrace the flame and shift back to protecting my little child.  

Often, at the beginning, Inner Bonding clients say that they wish that their hurting child would just go away so that they could feel okay.  At some point, they realize that this is not an option and start to take the job of loving this child.  What I have realized now is that when my little one's ability to hurt, her deep vulnerability, is precious and beautiful to me, it magnifies my ability to open my heart to the sacred journey of caring for her.  I no longer confuse my little girl's vulnerability now in the presence of my loving adult, with the old vulnerability of having no one there for me.  Welcome back my precious one!  


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