An Open Letter to My Inner Child

Warning — this article mentions sensitive topics such as mental health and childhood abuse. 


My Sweet Inner Child,


With your skinny arms, long blonde hair, and worn clothes – I know you’re hurting. 


I still envision you, frozen in time, at seven years old when we were evicted twice in one year. I see through your eyes, forgotten on the side of the road at dusk after cheerleading practice. I feel the persistent floodgates of tears begging to be released from behind your eyes – but you do your best to barricade the dam. 


I hear the social workers knock at the door. You were told you have two options, shut the lights off and hide, or open the door and pretend everything is OK. 


At seven years old you are entirely too grown, trying to sell your toys to the neighbor’s kids so you can go buy food from the gas station a few blocks down. When mom looks back at family photos she talks about how skinny we were before gram took us in – I don’t have the heart to tell her it’s because she barely fed us.  


I know you don’t understand it yet, but your mom is sick, and so is her boyfriend. That’s why she sleeps for days and he disappears for a while. Dad is the same, but he puts on a better facade – that’s why his aggressive outbursts are more hurtful, because he made us feel loved sometimes. His episodes only worsened with time – he’s learned to leave me alone, though. 


You did an amazing job taking care of your little sister; that was a time where she really needed you. She was too small to take care of herself. 


You have always been good at that: taking care of others before yourself. Long-term, that trait has followed you. Failing to harness our empathy has led to many downfalls as has self-sabotaging, because at the thought of something blissful, I have a history of poor choices to prevent happiness. 


I understand you, I feel the pain you could barely grasp with your tiny hands. I’m here to tell you that I grew up to be the person you needed at seven years old, and it’s because of the things you taught me. 


You taught me to persevere, to share our story with others, and to be independent. I’ve carried your experiences and burdens with me all this time, and now it is time for you to heal. 


Letting you heal begins with talking, because the experiences you had deserve to be heard – they happened, and they were not your fault. They should not have happened.


I’ve been holding you back from healing because I have tried to silence you, but your feelings are valid. You are my inner child, and you will always be part of me. Taking away your pain and the hushed cries of childhood begins with talking – and that’s a reason I’m writing.


We could focus on the heaviness that surrounds our “parents,” but something I’ve been actively working on is facing the positives more often.


Gram saved us and our sister when mom had to go away for a while and dad wasn’t around. She took us in, raised us, and became our second mom. She taught me about life, held me when I cried, rocked me to sleep. 


Mom was young when she had me, she was still learning – as I am now – and made mistakes. We suffered alongside her, but she has been sober for over a decade now. She did it for us. 


You didn’t have the guidance you wanted, but you never needed it. You grew up in the midst of heartbreak and are accomplishing greatness. You overcame the ground that crumbled beneath your feet. 


I am so proud of you.


Over time, I learned to hold myself accountable, and I can always do better. You don’t deserve anymore pain, especially self-inflicted sabotaging. It’s time to take care of my inner child – you don’t have to take care of me anymore. 


Lyssi, I hope that you know how loved you are. Let me take care of you now.




Alyssa, your present 21-year-old self