~ Louise Hay (www.healyourlife.com)
A true story…
I tried to tell my wife, Nola what was ailing me, but all I could come up with was that I was dealing with issues having to do with self-worth. Apparently, I wasn’t dealing with them very well. Funny thing was, as soon as I expressed this, something didn’t sit right with me. Something was causing me to feel unwell, but try as I might, the only thing I could come up with was that I was feeling disappointed with myself. Beyond that, I hadn’t a clue.
But then, I suddenly remembered an odd little piece of stream-of-consciousness writing that had come though me — something I had written down several months earlier (in July of 2004), that for reasons unknown, had caught my attention as I was looking over my journals that morning. Somehow, that odd little piece of writing — a one paragraph fairytale-like story — had been sitting with me all morning, only to surface as soon as I started talking about my feelings. Thinking nothing of it, I mentioned it to Nola. And when she asked me to read it to her, I agreed to do so, though I still thought it was nothing more than an amusement.
As was my journaling practice at the time, I occasionally resorted to stream-of-consciousness writing when feelings surfaced that I couldn’t make sense of or express. This didn’t happen all that often, but when it did, I allowed myself to write down in words whatever flowed through my mind, without censoring, or stopping. Basically, I wrote in my journal the kind of thing one might write if someone said, “Quick. Write down the first thirty words that roll off your tongue. Go!” In my case, this is what flowed that morning, the odd little story I suddenly found myself reading aloud to my wife.
“Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a Prince who was tormented by his illness. The King was so fed up with this Prince that he locked him away in the castle and forbid him to go out until he found joy in his heart. But the Prince could only find unhappiness and misery and so, in the castle he stayed forever and ever.”
Nola immediately responded by saying something that surprised me.
“It was unjust of the King to have locked the Prince away in the castle, ” she said. “That wasn’t helping the Prince. That was cruel.”
Interestingly, as many times as I had read that little story, never once had it occurred to me that the King was cruel. But suddenly, Nola made me see it that way. And then she said something that really floored me.
“You are not responsible for the fact that your father locked you away. You understand me, right? You are not responsible, and you need to forgive yourself. You did nothing wrong.”
I don’t know why I was so incapable of seeing that perspective, but it really shocked me! I thought I had forgiven myself for all the choices I had made in the past. And I thought I had forgiven my deceased father for the choices he had made. But when Nola suddenly asked me to say the words, “I am not responsible for the fact that my father locked me in my room, and I am now free to walk out the door,” it took a good five minutes before I could actually bring myself to repeat them. When I think back to that moment now, I find it fascinating how each time I thought about saying those words, I laughed with nervousness and embarrassment until finally, under unrelenting pressure from my wife, I said the words.
When I wrote about this event in my journal later that day, I wrote that I felt like I had emotionally distanced myself from the meaning of the words in order to say them. Thus, I reasoned that I hadn’t really said them at all. Realizing that, I suddenly wondered if I subconsciously agreed with the King – did I really believe that some part of me deserved to be locked away until I found happiness. But then Nola’s point of view drifted into my awareness:
“The Prince was ill and he needed help. As the Prince’s father, it was the King’s responsibility to help the Prince overcome his illness in any and every way that he could.”
And, with that realization, I finally accepted the fact that my father had truly been incapable of loving me, and I shed some painful tears.
Just to clarify, it’s not that I had ever been locked away in my room in a literal sense. But I was definitely a victim of physical, mental and emotional abuse at the hands of my father. And clearly, as much as I thought I was long over it by the age of 44, I still had unresolved issues.
Also, in order for this story to make sense, you need to know that just after Nola and I were married (twenty years earlier), I changed my name from David to Mathew because of a significant disassociation I felt between my true self and the name David. In fact, by my early twenties, this disassociation had become so severe, there was a time when a friend shouted my name from across the street several times, and even though I plainly heard him. I didn’t respond because I didn’t realize that I was David. Thus, a few years later, when I finally changed my name, although I didn’t know it at the time, I was effectively sealing little David’s fate.
Twenty years later, when a torrent of tears suddenly rose to the surface (as I was writing about Nola’s reaction to the story of the Prince and the King), I found myself strangely detached from the tears.
Why am I so detached, I wondered.
And then I understood. It was because my inner child, David, was crying, not Mathew the adult. It made perfect sense at the time. Thus, I was able to allow David to continue to cry while in my mind I called upon the angels to be with us and help us.
Moments later, I could feel the little boy starting to surface through his tears, and I did my best to encourage him. “I love you,” David, I cooed in my mind. But I could feel that it was hard for him to break through, to express his feelings — by then, he had been locked away in the castle for so many years. “It’s okay, David,” I continued to gently reassure. “Everything’s okay.” And finally, David surfaced and tried to say something through his tears. It sounded very much like, “I love God. I love God.” But because he was crying and trying to talk at the same time, I wasn’t exactly sure if that was what he was saying. But, the thought did cross my mind, “I wonder if David has been mad at God for all these years because of being locked away.”
Interestingly, no sooner did I finish writing this observation down, stream of consciousness words began to flow from my heart:
“You are free, David. I love you and you are free to come out of the castle and go anywhere in the world you want to be. You may go forth with all the wonder and joy that’s in your heart, without restriction, without judgment. You are allowed to be whoever you wish to be, in any way you see fit. God bless you, David. Go forth. You have existed in the castle long enough. Now that you are free, go forth and enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds and smells and tastes and beauty and wonder of the world around you. It’s okay. Everything is okay. You are safe, protected and nurtured and no harm will come to you ever again. God bless you, David. God bless you.”
A few minutes later, I thanked my guardian angel for participating as I felt certain that he was guiding this event. I confided that I now knew that I had unresolved forgiveness issues, and that my inner child was still very wounded and needed a lot of love from me. I then asked if there was something my guardian could recommend that I should do to continue along the road to health and well-being. This was the guidance I received:
“Thanks indeed to Nola for recognizing the truth in your story about the King and the Prince. We gave you that story several months ago for this very reason. You needed to understand that you had been treated in an unloving way and that you did not deserve this treatment. It is an unfortunate experience that you arranged to have. And you have been dealing with its unfortunate consequences for many decades.
“God bless you, Mathew AND David. You are both one and the same and neither is more valid or worthy to live out their life than the other. You both must coexist; your inner child and your adult persona. Together you will find much happiness.
“But remember, it is your inner child that has been very neglected and badly treated for your entire life. He will need a lot of love and encouragement to come out of the castle and stay out in the light of day where he belongs.
“God bless him and God bless you, Mathew, for having the courage to look within and find this little boy. You have done a wonderful thing by letting his pain leave your body. There will be more pain. But it is all good. You are forgiving yourself and others, and in the process, you are recovering your lost creative child.”
Later that day, with Nola’s encouragement, I cleaned out my office and threw away a lot of old work papers that had been sitting on a shelf above the computer table where I regularly sat to write. In its place I suddenly felt a strong desire to hang some old framed pictures I had stored in a box that little David had drawn many years ago when he was seven. I wanted to show David all the love and respect he deserved now that he had ventured forth from the castle, and I felt that by hanging up his art work, that was as good a place as any to start.