The Adapted Child

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.

Anger and the Inner Child

“Blessed is the lion that the human being will devour so that the lion becomes human. And cursed is the human being that the lion devours; and the lion will become human.”

I am destabilised. Under the tree, I look at that baby, rigid with rage and terror. Could I pick it up? It is a baby, but it is also chaotic blackness which might consume me.

Kate asks, can you hear its anger? Pick it up and hear it?
I can’t explain its anger, I say.
Can you understand and sympathise with its anger?

I don’t want this resolved, I say.
What is lost by resolution?
It’s not for me. It’s not to heal me but to silence me and get me to conform.

Well, it works that way if I am crying and someone says, Don’t cry. It’s not they want to console me, but to make me pull myself together. This is different: I don’t want resolution because that would mean accepting the angry part.

What does the angry part want?
Impossible things.
To be loved. Accepted.

What does the heart lose in accepting the angry part?
Safety? Control? But I have neither.
I lose the moral high ground illusion.
My self-image is that I am not violent. Others have assaulted me. But really, I just shout.
Others experience me as angry. The anger is there whether I am conscious of it or not.

What would the heart gain?
Cerberus, my guard dog. It sniffs out the threats, so that I see the world more clearly.

I need to love my anger.
Anger would become energy to confront threat or insult, rather than as a terrifying thing I must suppress. When I attempt to suppress my anger, people see I am angry, and I am paralysed. It is a disaster for me.

What’s under the anger?
Self-respect. A sense of my worth.

The only time I am comfortable expressing anger is when I am sucking up. Someone is angry with The Thing Which Angers All Good-thinking People, and I am angry too, to show I am one of the good people. I hate it afterwards. One such memory when I was eighteen causes me lasting shame, because the thing the Good People were angry at was my crowd, and my anger at my crowd did not make me one of the Good People, just divided me from my crowd.

Kate says the value of Internal Family Systems for her is to honour the voices within her. She treats them as people, with feelings and needs, which may be stuck somewhere with a limited perception of the world. The whole person is much more than that individual voice, but the voice is someone she can greet with compassion.

Then, I had one of my I Am experiences, and it felt the I Am- what I thought of as my Heart, or Inner Light, was absorbing the anger. Was able to admit anger to itself, perceive anger, not try to suppress anger, and therefore use its energy. That felt really good.

A Friend ministered on being spanked as a child, and gave a great deal of detail about how hard her mother’s life was and how good her mother was and how bad she had been so she absolutely understood her mother doing it- and then of how it has affected her whole life, believing that when something bad happened to her a vengeful God was punishing her. Then I watched a baby held by delighted grandparents as he tried to get his legs underneath him and push down with his feet, and my lovable, joyous, inspiring Friend in a hospital bed.

I identified the I Am as my heart, my higher power. And yet, I could be knocked out of it. I lied: my ego produced a plausible falsehood to make me look better. My heart had no access to my anger and fear. I take Thomas’s Jesus to mean, if my anger devours me I am cursed, but if I absorb, accept, use my anger I am blessed.

At the Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACADF) group, the question was, “What do you do to improve conscious contact with your Higher Power?”

I thought what I called my Inner Light or Heart was that higher power in me. The ACADF group is studying the Loving Parent Guidebook, based on Internal Family Systems, and I thought, that is not for me. It is too rigid. I have an Ego and an Inner Light, which does not map on to this system of Caring Parent, Critical Parent, Inner Child and Inner Teenager, so perhaps I should look elsewhere. However I got the kindle sample of the ACADF 12 step book, greatly expanded in 2016, and Claudia B’s introduction destabilised me again.

We honored each other with acceptance for where we were, precious children and now adults struggling with what is called our false selves. We learned to project this false self to the world in an attempt to hide our inner thoughts and feelings. The preciousness of the Inner Child was tapping from within, asking and hoping to be heard and acknowledged.

Not inner light- inner child. That makes total sense, and turns my world upside down- again.

So what now? I learn more about IFS. I seek my Loving Parent. I identify the Heart as my Inner Child rather than Inner Light. The Inner Child had already this week been shown to be wanting- lacking access to my fear and anger which it is now seeking. Now the aim is to parent my inner child.

Norethisterone V

It seems my choices are to take Oestradiol only, and completely lack energy so that if I do my washing in the morning I just want to slump in the afternoon, or to take synthetic progesterone, and have febrile energy manifesting in highs I don’t fully trust- I seem rational, but its my Norethisterone brain doing the judging- and crushing lows.

I phoned the Samaritans, wanting to explore this low, quite how bad everything is. I would go into the darkness, and start by saying “I am not suicidal” to reassure Helen (or me). Thinking of how to express that I realised, “I want to die”. I don’t trust myself to look after myself.

The low is deep but I know it will end. That is an improvement. The high on Tuesday was really good. Even low, I feel more energy and purpose. Georgia O’Keeffe wrote, I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. Well, I have mostly suppressed my terror below consciousness, and it has stopped me doing things, or even knowing what I want to do. Her way is better. I don’t trust my rationality, but having more energy may be worth that cost. Feelings pass.

As a benefits adviser I dealt with a man who cared for his mentally ill sister. She would do things like wander off at 2am without shoes on, and he would try to keep her safe, that is, well-managed. She was getting DLA high care low mobility, the most she could get, but he wrote to the benefits office asking if she could get more. Rather than telling him “No” they sent him a review form, and decided she should get less. He was distressed by this. She was calm, well enough fed, irked by his control as walking off in the night is fairly harmless, really. He was constantly stressed.

We did the tribunal, he was stressed, picking up various bags and papers, shaking, and she whispered to me, “Help him, Mr Languish”. So I helped him with his bags, and she was quietly caring for him.

It feels I have a carer, looking after the Inner Child, because I do not trust that spontaneous being. I trust the carer to understand the world, but the carer understands no better, is as insane as it imagines the Child is, and does no better than the Child would. The Carer’s first ambition is to avoid the Child having painful feelings, rather than to keep me safe, and it does not manage that, just anticipating painful feelings and worrying about them, and avoiding action. It falsely imagines that is “keeping me safe”. The Catholic Meditations are on getting rid of the Carer, an emptying of all the contents of the ego-consciousness to become a void in which the light of God or the glory of God, the full radiation of the infinite reality of His Being and Love [or, perhaps, the Child] are manifested. It quotes Matthew 10.39, He who loses his life shall find it.

Before today’s low, I discussed all this with Tina. I could lose my income, yet then was sanguine. All I could do was monitor the situation: no point in worrying. Life is bearable, with the occasional pleasing sensation. It is only not bearable if I imagine that I cannot stand this, there is too much unpleasant emotion. I might think that my current existence, at home most of the time, is not enough. I can get more pleasing sensation by noticing more: if I go into that state of awareness of my surroundings, particularly outside, there is a great deal of beauty and the state itself feels lively and energised.

I don’t know if I want more experience. I judge that I ought to. I find what I want when I see what I do. I do what I do. I feel dissatisfaction. I do not want to put plans into practice, as the Carer anticipates defeat.

I see a need for Advance into Greater Spiritual Maturity, and I am working on that. I am coming to appreciate my own good qualities.

I don’t trust the benefits system. It claims to pay a very low income to people unfit for work, but does not keep that promise. If some people in a wheelchair might not qualify for ESA, its criteria are far too strict. And I think I have identified the Gotcha moment, the moment where I could not have known but she seems, now, to have decided I did not score particular points. I am frightened.

Tina asks, are there any human systems which don’t make promises and fail to live up to them? Well, in 1948 the benefits system was more honest. Now there are deliberate cuts, and intended holes in the safety net. And we never manage perfection, just imagine it- each person differently. What we achieve is good enough.

-What do you hope for?
No idea.
-You might get it then.
That is a good question, and I shall go away and consider it.

I have now been blogging for six years.

A joyful, playful child

The compliment I treasure as much as any other is, “You can seem serious, but underneath you are just a joyful, playful child”.

On the bus, my attention is wholly on my phone, narrowed to the glowing rectangle. I am safe, scrolling down through facebook or site stats- Ooh, another page view!

A couple in their sixties get on. He walks quickly down the aisle then stands waiting for her. She progresses in a stately manner. “Will you move over please thank you very much” she says to a young man in an aisle seat. He does. “Sit there,” she commands her companion, waving at the seat. He complies. She sits across the aisle from him.

Watching is better. Later, I walk along Nupton Road, beside a park. There are mature trees growing through the pavement. There is so much beauty in this town, but from the bus I was beguiled by buildings- ordinary buildings, you might say, and I enjoyed their colours and sudden shapes as we moved past.

I sit erect, trusting, sufficient. I have dignity. I am safe in my society, even the malicious cannot easily hurt me, and I am rarely even mildly discomposed. What crush and constrain me are fearful fantasies.

At the bus stop a woman glanced over. Her “celebrity” magazine article is about Piers Morgan, and she wears bright Azalea-red lipstick. Did she show surprise at my voice? Who cares, really. Well, I do. As Lucy said and I repeat to my Aspie friend, those of us who are different should not have all the work of keeping the more normal ones comfortable. Or, we need greatly to expand “normal”, to include everyone. It could have been interest. I imagine disapproval. It may just be in my head.

Two policemen in Kevlar with sub-machineguns patrol the shopping mall. I am glad I had heard of Mr Corbyn’s rally, they would have freaked me a bit otherwise.

I reach out to caress the rough bark of the tree.

On the bus, a man in a wheelchair and his partner get on. Both are very tired. He can hardly speak, only make very quiet noises. They miss their stop, because she did not see it and he could not get her attention. The bus driver says he will drive to the end of the line then take them back, and I am surprised at how good his hearing is.

“You had a button,” she says, and he lifts his arm to show there is no button on that handrail. I see one on the other handrail, but perhaps he cannot push it with that left arm. I am a bit sorry, as I am facing him. I thought of moving so she could face him, but did not do so before she sat on the other seat.

I have just had a vile, humiliating experience. I have abased myself, and may not have done enough to avoid being wronged.

Here’s Jamie Catto. I think my dignified child needs looking after. She is not wise to the ways of the world. She will show herself off to be Not Normal, and get squished. She does not anticipate what will happen but is just enjoying the rough bark of the tree and the sudden shapes of quite ordinary buildings, on a slovenly street. Or seeking refuge in her phone. He says the thing I trust to look after her is insane and also fails to anticipate the future, simply believing wild guesses and fantasies.

The child knows what is going on and what she must do, and she is afraid and angry. Or something is afraid and angry, these feelings are inside me. Part of my brain may assert control and I am not sure which bit is best, even if the child is the bit I love, and love being.

Richard Rohr says all breathing is sacred breathing, and our true life is love without ego, which I identify with Jamie’s sane part. Wake up. Rohr, a Franciscan, is as happy with religious and spiritual language as I am.

I touch the rough bark of the tree. I am cracked open. At Yearly Meeting Gathering I walked to the Friday session in delight, loving the profusion of seeds, so many in one bundle, so many bundles in the sycamore. There are also conkers. Approaching the Arts Centre, I started to skip, because I anticipated beauty in the Quaker business meeting, and someone told me after how she had been- not sure what, now, moved pleased delighted happy- to see me skip. Others like the child.

When I became a man I put away childish things. But then, I am not a man.

Rohr gave the exercise, Sitting at a table with a pencil and a piece of blank, unlined paper, look at a nearby object (for example, a vase of flowers, a chair, a tree outside). Turn your attention to the empty or “negative” space surrounding the object. Rather than focus on the object’s contours, look at the lines and curves of the space butting up against the object, the places in between and around the thing itself. Breathe deeply and begin to draw these nooks and crannies of air and emptiness. Keep your focus on the “negative” space as you draw. And I thought, something impossible the Teacher demands and the students attempt with diligence, because they want Enlightenment. Cycling to Meeting yesterday I was a soldier, thinking of my thighs- I saw the moon and trees, some of the time, but much of the time my attention narrowed to the road, and other road users. Only one car passed terrifyingly close, most were far enough away. And I thought, there is no gap. There is always thing, even the light refracted through the atmosphere or that light marbling of almost-not-cloud in the blue. Aha! A Spiritual Lesson!

Anger rage frustration and fear, and an inability to care for herself due to being very very young indeed, and I am almost resigned to the fact that the Child really might be my best option: best for seeing reality, best for seeing people, best for deciding, best for acting.

Abraham Maslow wrote, The most fortunate are those who have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy. Yes. A ripe peach! The bark of a tree!

The inner child II

Rodin- Eve, from MetmuseumNot the easiest counselling session, but possibly productive.

In November 2012, I had my last job interview. At the end- Do you have any questions for us?- the woman said to me, “That is the first time I have seen you smile” and after I was smiling with every word I said, grinning like an idiot. Then I stopped going in to the CAB as a volunteer. I could not be bothered with it. I prefer my current lifestyle. I-

here I pause. I want you to react. I want you to make “go on” noises. I open up my body language a bit, crossing ankles rather than legs, hands loosely folded in lap rather than by my waist, but other than that stay still. Eventually she asks me to go on.

Another interviewer had told me that he had not thought I could relate sufficiently to their clients. Actually I could: with a client I sought to give power to the client, so got them to open up. People said things they found embarrassing, or said “I’m not explaining this very well”- evidence that they were concerned about their ability to tell someone but felt comfortable enough with me to try- but with a job interview all the power is the other way.

-Did you explain that in interview?
-Yes. Possibly not as much detail as there.

-Why did you go to that interview?
-Because I had not realised before quite how sick I was of it.

I prefer my current lifestyle. I read a bit, watch a lot of recorded TV (I would not want to watch daytime TV, but watch in the daytime) walk in the park. Last night there was a Quaker discussion group but I might go a week without seeing someone to talk to.

It seems to me that there might be something more to life than this, but I cannot see how to get it if there is. I like to think that if the benefits stopped and I had to change, I would, but I might not: people came in to the CAB with letters saying the bailiffs would evict them the following day, and I might stop paying my rent and run up my credit card, but the day before eviction I might just go back to bed.

Silently, I wonder if I could get any sort of job just for an income, and find some pleasure in a hobby. Or wean myself out of my shell, perhaps volunteering at the charity shop.

Oh, I want you to respond! I hunger for it! I take what I can- a slightly slower blink, a motion of the head-

That last speech therapist in Newport asked me what I wanted. I could not say, at the time, but I wanted
-to do Good, that I might be worthy of existing
-to see myself as a Good person, for some fragile sense of safety- I might continue to be worthy of existing
-to attract as little attention as possible, because any attention will be irritated, and will be unpleasant to me.

L'homme qui marcheIt seems to me that this is a small child response. (She asks me to explain.) This is me with my mother, very young, and taking that response into adult life. I blame my upbringing- not my mother, for she did her best, and I have seen a friend aged fifty express her live distress at 26 years before having a baby and not having a clue how to be with him. If she had realised she did not want me beforehand, and not had me, some delight would have been missed.

I curl up on the floor and scream. Even as I did the inner critic told me I was being theatrical, I was play-acting.

This is really painful. It may be useful, but only in uncovering my blind spots. I don’t think I have articulated this as clearly before. Do you think this is any use? She can’t tell me. I have to get wherever it is I am going, myself. Either she disagrees with Carl Rogers, or has been told to therap in a different way.

There is nowhere I can recover for a bit. She suggests the bench outside under the trees, which is covered in bird poo. I go to the children’s area, kneel, and “trace the spaghetti” with my hand. I ought to be past that developmental stage- perhaps I was honouring my inner child or something.  The beads make satisfying clicking sounds. Then I go to the butcher’s, and walk home.

How do you feel?

Well, how do you feel about that? anticipation.
Mmm. Yes, the right feeling, we must feel the right feeling. It feels like you looked it up in a book, came up with the right feeling, decided you felt it.

-Anxious, worried, all the things that could go wrong-
Always with the negativity. No, I won’t be in control. (I never am, but sometimes I can pretend that it seems that way.) Don’t worry, it will be alright, and worry does no good. Does harm, even- it makes you watch out for the wrong things. Another way the Law of Attraction might work.

-Excited. Interested. Joyous.
Ahh. Good, innit.

Ask me in that moment- earlier today, and I could have given those answers, all of them true. And it appears that each were different aspects of me, feeling what they felt. I could engage each in dialogue. The third is the one I like, perhaps with just the slightest tincture of the second to make it a little dangerous, but pleasurably so: we know, really, that we will not spill out of the rollercoaster.

I anguished about it from four yesterday when I had the invitation to nine this morning. I will regret it if I do not go. What else will I do? Karate in the morning like I can do any Saturday morning, and hing aboot like a bad smell in the afternoon. And the worry almost kept me away. It is so finely balanced, until it isn’t. Will I accept the invitation? Will I get up now, at 7.15am, for karate and silence, or fiddle with the net-book until breakfast time? That balance, when I could do either.

 Window open for

morning kata and silence.

Birdsong is constant!

I did do a bit of karate, just in my living room, before putting on last Spring’s dress and going to meet this woman I had not met before. Her husband could not come, so she had a spare ticket. No-one else is in a dress, but that is fine by me.

I have control in my living room. I can be in control. Or, I can be not in control, and it will still be alright! More or less. In the station, I take my wig off. No-one minds, possibly no-one notices, but it is good to be reminded of it.

Last time I passed through London I tried that trick, of announcing the station names as the train pulled in. It got me into conversation with the woman in the next seat.

The inner child

Why, “Inner child”? Why should my emotional being not be adult, and be seen to be adult?

Because it has such a perfect clarity about what it wants, what makes it happy, that it seems like a child, as children often have that clarity. This is what Matthew 18:3 means:

unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Ha, and again Ha! Not “Mild, obedient, good as He” but in touch with their desires, and bent on carrying them out. Knowing that those desires are constructive and creative for learning and exploration, and that there is no failure, until you stop working towards something. One may be that child and be fully mature, with all the wisdom of your years. Possibly one cannot be fully mature without being that child.

Perhaps, also, we talk of the “inner child” because we fear it, and want to disrespect it, and call it less than the mature intellectual adult.

People fear the emotional being so much, and repress it, and because our parents in their thankless task of civilising us as they themselves were civilised, feared and repressed it. Repressed, it gains the energy of the repression, and becomes the Id monster, because it claims freedom. That hurts. Possibly, when I suppress my emotional being I stop it maturing properly, so it really needs to undergo stages of development which ideally it would pass through before physical maturity. And I think the work I am doing in my ritual space, loving and caring for the baby Clare, is necessary work, gentling and reassuring my emotional being like a frightened horse or dog, so that she may take her rightful place beside my intellect, working together, each doing the work appropriate to herself and not intruding on the other’s realm.

I have a room in my heart for Baby Clare, which is quite unspecific at the moment- red, soft, warm- because it is she who gets to decide how it will be. I cuddle the baby there- I am my own guardian angel, my own highest self, and my own most vulnerable self- and if at any time she decides she would like to get about, crawling, walking, she will learn to do that there, surrounded at all times with my own unconditional Love.

Does this make any sense to you at all? I am writing it here, rather than in my journal, to prove to myself that I am sufficiently unashamed of it, and sufficiently convinced of its rational value to show it off. Yes, I do want external validation. I imagine that would make me feel more comfortable. And yet I know myself sufficiently well to know that I will go my own way, whatever anyone else thinks.


Jesus as a child, from the infancy gospel of Thomas:

And when Jesus was five years old, there fell a great rain upon the earth, and the boy Jesus walked up and down through it. And there was a terrible rain, and He collected it into a fish-pond, and ordered it by His word to become clear. And immediately it became so. Again He took of the clay which was of that fish-pond, and made of it to the number of twelve sparrows. And it was the Sabbath when Jesus did this among the boys of the Jews. And the boys of the Jews went away, and said to Joseph His father: Behold, thy son was playing along with us, and he took clay and made sparrows, which it was not lawful to do on the Sabbath; and he has broken it. And Joseph went away to the boy Jesus, and said to Him: Why hast thou done this, which it was not lawful to do on the Sabbath? And Jesus opened His hands, and ordered the sparrows, saying: Go up into the air, and fly; nobody shall kill you. And they flew, and began to cry out, and praise God Almighty.

No, I don’t believe it: but if Jesus was God, and a human child, would he not play games like that? That he would not is the doctrine of Kenosis.


I look at the Tag surfer quite a lot, all posts with a particular tag shown in one place. Recently Lexie Cannes, a trans activist, wrote about Mischa Popoff, a campaigner against trans rights, whom she called “hardly worth mentioning”.  At least she answered the rubbish he wrote. Dr Eowyn mostly quotes, to spread anger and resentment among her conservative readers about the Transsexual Menace to our Children. I prefer posts where people write on what pleases them. I do not want to be depressed. There are positive stories about. Popoff opposes the introduction of education on trans issues in Canada. Hooray! That means it is a live issue, and other people are working for that education.

I recommend Dr Eowyn’s post, because it contains a great deal of useful information on how to bring up healthy, well-adjusted children with a wide spectrum of behaviours traditionally more associated with one gender than the other. I am grateful to her for introducing me to Gender Spectrum. She will not be pleased at giving such aid and comfort to her adversaries.