I lived my life completely under my mother’s thumb, doing as she thought right. Then I left home, and lived the same way: I placated my inner critic as I had placated my mother. I had internalised her requirements so I would not get the wrong side of her, so the monster would not get me. I had internalised them so well they were unconscious, simply the only possible way to be. This is the adapted child, not a good way for an adult to be.
Since 1986 I have spotted ways in which the way I thought was insane, but still mostly persisted with it. The real me underneath began to emerge, in 1998, and in 2015, and still mostly I lived as the adapted child. It was just normal. I think of that way of being as “me”, generally. There is something deeper, truer, more alive underneath and still, mostly, I am the adapted child. So, I do not consider what life might be like more than about a month or two ahead. I was often unconscious of what I was feeling.
We become conscious of the inner critic when it begins to fail. I only need to hear it say “You can’t say that!” when it crosses my mind I might say what it objects to. There were the words I could not say, then there was the statement about my childhood which I so feared, I thought everyone would judge me for it, so it took all my courage to say it to someone else. And then this year there were things I said to M who welcomed me saying them, and gave me the strength to say them more and more easily, so that I can speak from that heart space far more easily now. Now, “You can’t say that!” may just be a faint echo; and yet still there may be aspects where the inner critic remains unconscious and in control.
I went to the supermarket on Friday 14th wanting to be my Real Self, my Inner Child. I stood at the end of an aisle, centring. And I was: I felt joy, I was in touch with my feelings, my senses felt more alive. It is an effort to be like that, and it is the only way to be. I had a problem there with staff, which may be because I look trans, or because I look poor, and from the real self it is almost not a bother to me, well, I am where I am. I know that had I met it from the adapted child it would have rankled with me for days. I am doing all this work, to be acceptable! All this work and it does me no good at all! (That’s all or nothing thinking.)
The adapted child wants to preserve equanimity, and the true self/inner child preserves it far more easily. The adapted child is unaware of feeling until it bursts out, and the true self can feel it and let it pass. And I cannot go to the Lovely Gathering at the moment because my frustrated, powerless anger at Jamie is unbearable.
The adapted child is a child’s way of meeting the problems of adulthood, or a way of being stuck in childishness. Hence maladaptive characteristics like, not really caring about the future. So we call ourselves “adult children”. The inner child is the way to the integrated self. The adapted child was simply normal, so did not need a name: as I name it, I problematize it, and shed it more and more.