The first paintings of my inner child

Trigger warning:
This text contains images and descriptions of sexual abuse, violence, thoughts of suicide, among others.

About three weeks ago I told my psychologist that whenever I connect with my inner child I always feel something in my stomach that I am not able to identify. She suggested "why don't you let your child paint?" Easy to say, but at first I found it very difficult. Although I have done a lot of work with my inner child since the end of February, as I wrote a month ago, until then all my work with my inner child had in a way been done in my imagination. Now, how can this child, who exists in my imagination, actually paint in the real world? I understood clearly that it was not about imagining paintings, but about painting for real, through me.

I quickly understood that my little child wanted to paint, to express themselves in this way. In fact, they began to put their ideas of paintings in my mind, and so their paintings began to come to life and to shake me up and unsettle me. Even though my child did not yet paint, their ideas of paintings already had an impact on me and shook me up. So I went to a bazaar and bought coloured pencils and a notebook in A4 format to paint. One day I went to a park and took the pencils and the notebook with me, and I told my child to paint something that they desire. I was thinking of something positive, something beautiful, but my child's desire was something else.

In a way I was not surprised by their desire: to be free from their suffering, and the bicycle as a symbol of their freedom (to this day my bicycle means freedom to me). The text under the bike says "free at last", and the text above the burning house, with my mother and father inside, says "enjoy yourselves burning". I understand perfectly my child's rage, their need to escape from this house. And I remember how often I wished for my mother's death (in my memories there is nothing of my father - he did not exist), how often I imagined my mother dead. So, this wish of my child is not surprising.

That same day, back at home, I allowed my child another painting.

A picture of their rage and desire to end my father's sexual abuse. Not the best painting of my father, I think, but the important thing is the scissors and the severed penis on the floor. And the words "never again".

It was not easy for me to hold this rage of my child. Also, their paintings connected me to my memories or images of the abuse, abandonment and emotional neglect I experienced living at home with my parents. This whole process of my child's paintings was very upsetting and unsettling for me. And, as my child began to express their anger, I was stuck in pain and sadness, and I could not allow myself to be angry.

The next day my child drew a picture of my mother's abuse in the shower, and what they would have liked to do in these moments (but never did).

And they drew more pictures of their rage, about two days later this:

This painting shows my brother in his bed in the room we share with a knife in his back, and my parents in their bedroom, both with a knife in their back, and my inner child smiling as they walk down the stairs to leave the house. Rage. A lot of anger, and a lot of hate, and at the same time the desire to end their suffering, to end the sexual abuse.


The moment came when it became too hard for me. So I tried to come to an agreement with my inner child. For me it was important to allow them to draw what comes out of them, to allow them to express themselves. But at the same time I needed to take care of myself and set limits. So, I first asked them to alternate: one drawing of what comes out of them, and for the other drawing I would ask them to draw something. We started with their favourite animal:

I think it turned out to be an elephant as it is a large animal, apparently not very vulnerable. Or, at least in my little child's imagination. They would have liked to be an elephant, so that no one could have hurt them, no one could have sexually abused them.

The next animal they came up with was a blue whale:

It is even bigger, and apparently even less vulnerable. And, in fact, I remember my fascination with all kinds of big whales in my childhood (from the age of 10 or 11, when I can remember).

Sexual abuse

Among the drawings that came out of my inner child there are - so far - two drawings of their sexual abuse:

The first is of abuse by my paternal grandfather. It is really only in the last few weeks that I have added my paternal grandfather to the list of my abusers, in another painful process, though thankfully without going through weeks of uncertainty and intrusive images. It was more like my little child crying and telling me "there's one thing I haven't told you yet...". And out came the story of my paternal grandfather's abuse, as my child later expressed in this drawing.

The other drawing is about the abuse by my father:

Not much needs to be said. The drawing speaks for itself.

Gender identity

It's funny, but in all the drawings, except in the drawings of the sexual abuse, my inner child is wearing a red dress. This red dress is the one I always see my inner child in when I connect with them. In a first drawing they clearly express their desire for the dress, and their rejection of boy's clothes:

The trousers on the side, with a pair of scissors to cut them, and my happy little child with their red dress...

In a second drawing, drawn today, we can see how they imagine painting their lips:

Their nails are already painted, and they're wearing their red dress.

I don't have any memories of all this. The whole issue of gender identity since my childhood has only come out through working with my inner child.

My child's fears

There is a series of drawings that rather express their fears and also their desires. And, I feel, I am getting to what I feel in my stomach when I connect with my child. These drawings I also interpret as more or less subtle messages to me.

The first of these drawings was this:

My child is sad, crying and covering their eyes with their hands, sitting next to a tree, and on a branch of the tree there is a hanging gallows. I had to cry a lot with this drawing. I interpret it as an expression of their fear of losing me, and that they couldn't cope with this and would rather commit suicide. It also connected me to my whole history of loneliness and emotional abandonment in my childhood. And I understand this fear of my child well.

It is a fear that comes because I am starting to do more things: I recently did an online course on queering identities: LGBTIQA+ sexualities and identities. I'm also doing some queer activism, and I'm thinking that I want to work when I finally get discharged by Social Security, although, I hope, this still takes a few more months, as I don't feel ready for any kind of work. But it will happen in due time. And my child is afraid that with all this I might abandon them....

Another day I asked them to draw something beautiful, for example a lake, and I think the message to me in this drawing is quite obvious:

My child playing with a ball with me in a lake... no need to say any more.

And, two days ago, without my having asked them for anything, they came up with this:

It made me cry, and a lot. In one way it is beautiful, because of the love that this drawing expresses. But it also connected me with the absence of love in my childhood life, in my child's life. And I had to cry a lot.

I think that with these drawings we are on a new path, my child and me. I am happy that my child now has this way of expressing themselves, and it helps me to understand my child better, to understand their needs. Now we are working on their fear that I might abandon them, and I told them that I am also afraid of losing them again. Little by little my child is starting to believe me that I will not abandon them, although I will return to a more "normal" life (I hate this word and this concept), or, rather, that my adult self needs more space and more time to attend to adult things: work, activism, ... I feel that with their head they have started to believe me, to trust me, but there is still this disconnection between heir head and their emotions - something I know very well.

I understand my child's drawings as a gift. It is another step in their healing, and another way of communicating with me and expressing themselves. I am envious too. My child has found their way to express their anger, while I remain trapped in pain and sadness....