Note from Stacey: I am delighted to feature Britt Bolnick of In Arms Coaching today on my blog. You can read more about Britt and her coaching programs below.
Last week my 5 year-old daughter had her first school performance. However, there were more performances than just her class and the one that brought more tears to my eyes than any other was a series of little vignettes the dance teacher called “Mini-me dances.” In my daughter’s school they do a lot of pairing up of little kids with bigger “buddies” from older classes. The buddies have reading time together, game-playing time together, art and music classes together, and more.
Each dance had an older girl getting ready to graduate and move on to middle school, and a little girl who resembled her and dressed identically. The dance teacher explained to us that the little girl had spent the whole year with her older buddy learning from her, bonding with her, being taken under the older girl’s wing. As the older girl was getting ready to move on to middle school, she was leaving the little girl in her place, passing on the torch.
I started crying as soon as the dance teacher explained the dances and continued as the dances went on, bigger girl swirling little girl around the stage, flowers in their hair, big girl lifting little girl to soar up above her, little girl running and leaping into big girl’s hands, and finally, all the little “mini-mes” swirling on the stage together with their older girls, getting ready, after a year of being cared for and nurtured by these big girls, to take over the stage as the big girls moved on.
I’ve been thinking about why I experienced such a powerful and emotional response. The dances brought up an intense sadness about my experience as a little girl -lost, confused, depressed, frightened and angry. There wasn’t much that was healthy and nurturing that I was interested in and I had a tendency, in desperation, to turn my anger and despair inwards.
There were a few older girls that I looked up to and when they paid attention to me I emulated and followed them. Sadly, they had walked the same path that I was on and were involved in early sex, drugs, and other self-destructive behavior. The girls I spent time with had absent or unstable parents, ran away from home, lived on the street. I spiraled downwards in their wake and it took me many many years of healing to re-balance and find the place I had lost so early on.
What would my life look like if I had had even one healthy, loving and nurturing older girl as an example, to hold her hand out and teach me things, to encourage and exemplify healthy interests and activities?
Our culture swallows girls whole. Things are worse now – we hear about older girls in high school selling younger girls desperate for group inclusion into prostitution with college men. We hear about kids giving younger kids free drugs to hook them and create clients. We hear about bullying that kills.
In contrast, the beauty of these 9 and 10 year-old girls loving the little 5 and 6 year-olds, holding their hands and leading them through their first year of school, leading them in celebration of their bodies and small, sacred selves broke my heart — for every bit of that that I missed. And I realized that my reaction to seeing it — to the tears that trickled down my face, was that there was some healing still needed of MY inner little girl who was led only in self-destruction, the shredding and shrinking of myself, the hiding of my heart and the carnage of silencing my inner self.
In honor of this message that I’ve uncovered I’ve started writing a short note to myself almost every night from a wise older person –things that I want to hear, need to hear. Information for healing. Witnessing of the bravery I’ve shown in my own healing work, shout-outs and gratitude for accomplishments. And I sign them with fierce love to myself, from myself.
What messages did your inner child get as you were growing up? Were you nurtured? Were you treated as if you mattered- as if you were sacred?
What messages does your inner child NEED to hear now? Write a letter to your little self telling it all the things that you wished you had heard back then…all the things that you wished someone older and wiser had been there to tell you.
Britt Bolnick is the joyful owner and master coach of In Arms Coaching, a life coaching service for women. She is passionate about all women living each day from a place of personal power, joy, while building meaningful work, healthy, loving relationships and a deep connection to self. Britt supports women in connecting with all the ways we hide our inner selves, and guides them through the work of building big, brilliant, joyful lives that we love living!
Connect with her at IN ARMS COACHING , and sign up for her mailing list to receive more articles, tips, and exercises to support you on your heart-centered path.
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