The Lost Child
It’s been nearly two decades – for so long, I have searched for her. I knew she needed my help. The truth is I needed her as much as she needed me. We had been separated for so long. We both were desperately in need of healing, and it was all up to me. The task was daunting and often impossible. In every self-help book, I read, in every meditation, and in every affirmation – I looked for her. I looked through the sands of time recounting each grain, as I scanned my history. Where could she be hiding, and how do I find her?
It wasn’t until I was ready that I was able to find her. I had to dig deep, deeper than I ever could before. I had to travel into the darkest, coldest recesses of myself to find her. There she was. Hiding in a place bitter with cold and cloaked in darkness. She did not see me at first. I was able to conceal myself just enough to observe. It is here, I saw her in all her brutal weakness.
The years have not been kind to her, and much more, she has not been kind to herself. Her body was frail, her clothes were dirty and caked with blood. Her hair was matted, covering most of her face. Her hands looked worn and cracked like she had been digging in search of something precious. Even her knees were bloodied and smudged with dirt. She walked with a severe limp, almost dragging her leg behind her. Her feet were bare, her arms and legs were dangerously thin. She was a heart-wrenching mess.
As she turned, I caught a glimpse of her face. Her eyes were almost swollen shut, and her cheeks were tear-soaked. Her face too was filthy with blood and scratches. She turned again and that is when I saw her back, it was heavy with an overwhelming burden. I was shocked to see several blade hilts sticking out from her spine, some still dripping with blood, some oozing with infection. She carried a flog with her. Occasionally she would snap it a crossed her hands, feet, legs, and back. With each crack, she would scream, “STUPID! How could you be so STUPID?” Her voice was hoarse and cracked with each outburst. With every step and every swing of the flog, I could feel her pain. My heart lurched and my stomach dropped. How could one person endure so much?
It was then she saw me. It happened so fast. All at once, she disappeared, and the room went almost completely dark. It felt as if someone had blown out a lantern allowing demon-like shadows to take over. Temporarily I was blinded. Dammit! Where did she go?
I stepped into the cold vacant room, and I tried to estimate where she might be. I waited a moment for my eyes to adjust. I exhaled and saw my breath rise in the air. It was so cold I could not help shivering, my body convulsed uncontrollably. Tucking my arms around my chest, I took a feeble step forward as I tried to gather myself. The floor felt like slippery slime-covered stone, I had to be careful, or I might end up on my ass. My eyes adjusted to the dim light. Slowly, I put one foot in front of the other taking each step with care. I could feel fear and loneliness creeping up my back. It reached my neck making each hair stand on end. I could not turn around. I could not give up. I have come too far to go back. She was here somewhere, but where?
Then I saw it, out of the corner of my eye – movement. I slowly reached the faint outline of a couched trebling figure hiding in the darkness. I tried to approach her, but as I did, she became wild. The dim figure lashed out at me with all the strength she could muster. She was cornered and scared like a wild animal pushed into a hunter’s trap.
I backed off. Trying to think of what I could do next. I did the only thing I could, I sat cross-legged on the cold hard floor, straightened my back, and bowed my head. I went to my heart-center, where the energy is warm and gentle. I prayed to my Dark Queen, my Goddess, for help. Swiftly she responded with, “You know what to do,” and she grinned her usual cunning smile. I signed and agreed.
After a long breath and an even longer silence, I began to speak to her in the darkness. I told her how my heart aches for her. I told her I was sorry it took me so long to find her. I let my tears flow, and I opened my heart to her. I spoke to her about how it wasn’t her fault. I told her she can stop punishing herself. I asked her if I could help heal her wounds. I asked her to forgive me and, most importantly, for her to forgive herself.
I sat there for what seemed like days, or maybe it was weeks. I suppose it doesn’t matter. At some point, I was allowed to come closer. Eventually, I was able to touch her. As I took her cold, emaciated hands in mine, I offered her my warmth. Her arms and body were covered in bite marks, each leaving deep bloodied impressions. She allowed me to wash her dirty face. As I pushed her hair back and wiped her cheeks with warm water, I was able to see her. She was a shell of a once beautiful child. Her eyes seemed less swollen now that her tears had stopped. Within them, I could see her innocence. I could almost make out the soft, playful child she once was. This is it! I could see her coming back to me.
She allowed me to wash her feet, arms, and hair. She allowed me to tend to the wounds on her face, hands, and limbs. The salve soothed her as I spear it in thin layers covering each deep wound. I brought her warm blankets, and a pillow to rest on. I gave her nourishing hot teas and food to help strengthen her. This is all I could do now. I needed to care for her. After all, this is why I came.
I asked if she would allow me to tend to her back. As she lay there, I could now clearly see each dagger sticking out of her rib cage and spine. Most were small, and each buried deep into her body. The oldest ones were rusted, showing that they have been there for a very long time. Until she agreed, I continued to care for her other wounds. Then finally, she spoke to me and asked me to remove the blades.
I knew this would be difficult. The blades had been with a part of her for too long. I was not sure what to expect as I began removing them. As I pulled the first blade from her back, I could see a word etched into the cold hard steel, “Cousin.” The next read, “Best Friend.” Then “Family, Boyfriend, Teacher, Leader, Community, Mother, Father, Church, and so on.” Each blade originated from someone who made her believe that the pain they cause was somehow her fault. As I removed each blade, I cried as I too remembered the pain, the confusion, and self-hate. Some blades reminded me of how I once believed the world would be better off if I were dead. These were the hardest to remove. They were deeply embedded and filled with vile loathing. I washed each wound and sewed them up, closing the gap between the blame placed on us by others and healing. Finally, I spread each wound with soothing salve.
She threw her arms around me, we cried together in joy and relief. At that moment, we once again became one. She is me, and I am her. I did what I came here to do. I reclaimed my inner-child. I reclaimed my innocence.
This experience came to me after deep meditation and a series of inner Shadow Work. It offers us a reminder that our work as Witches and Pagans is not always glitter-coated and dealt with through blowing smoke around.
This account reminds us that it is our responsibility to heal the wounds inflicted on us by others. The inner child is valuable to our forward momentum and understanding. Take care of your inner child and help him or her heal from the damage inflicted.