Stories from Dr. Yukari, Story 38, Inner Child

[ Stories from Dr. Yukari ]

Guided by the hope of St. Nichiren, we continue to work towards a peaceful society. Honolulu Myohoji Mission collaborates with Psychologist Dr. Yukari Kunisue, a trained and experienced therapeutic life coach, to offer a safe online space: Stories from Dr. Yukari
Marie’s photography

Marie told me that it was about 69 years ago that she was born in Paris. Her mom later remarried an American man and the mother and daughter duo moved to New York City when Marie was four years old. Soon after, her brother was born and for some unknown reasons, her new American dad and brother left and she never saw them again. Marie still remembers everything from the look of their old apartment, a huge trans-Atlantic boat, a scene of the Statue of Liberty, and a black car that her little brother rode away in. Marie also remembers her Maman (mother) frequently crying in her bed. 


Marie is now comfortably retired from her photography career and lives with her husband near a quiet beach on Oahu. Together, they raised two daughters and are even blessed with three grandchildren. 


Marie visited me one day requesting a hypnotherapy session because she was looking to find out more about herself. She started by telling me that her Maman used to call her “Manon”. It was her nickname but this also means mommy in French. That meant that her own mother had called her daughter “mommy” which fit well into Marie’s story. Marie was her mother’s caretaker because she was constantly ill. Her mother’s English was also very limited so Marie had to frequently translate. Marie even acted as a counselor for her mother who often mourned the loss of her son, marriages, and home country. Once Marie heard about the Inner Child therapy, she became interested in the process to see how her childhood experiences affected her life. 


Inner child work, as a hypnotist calls it is a type that believes our subconscious mind holds childhood memories. Memories spanning from trauma and both positive and negative images of yourself that could affect your adult life. This process is not just about digging into old childhood memories. It is common for us to lock up unwanted memories and parts of our childhood self especially when it is associated with negative emotions such as loneliness and fear. 


Our adult part of our consciousness sees it as something we should grow out of or sees it as undesirable. A child’s mind is not trained to use language as emotions. An adult would have the vocabulary to say, “I feel slightly uncomfortable”, “I am frustrated”, “it makes me angry”, etc. The inner child within us expresses these feeling in behaviors—bed-wetting, sleeping during class, picking on siblings, breaking toys (for younger children) or uncontrollable anger, addictive behaviors. 


These actions can indicate that your inner child is sending you signs to grab your attention. It is also possible that when we ignore these emotions, we may also be confining positive parts of ourselves including imagination, creativity, curiosity, playfulness, and joy. 


“I cannot make her stop her crying,” a younger Marie started to tell me. Her voice is from little Manon, who occasionally spoke in French of which I could not understand.  


I asked her, “How old is Manon?” 


“Maybe four or five,” said the adult Marie adding, “(she) is wearing her favorite pink pleated skirt”. 


*In hypnosis, you are always conscious and are able to talk.


“May I speak with Little Manon directly?” I asked Marie’s permission while she was under a relaxed trance state of hypnosis. 


“Maman is sad. She cannot go back to France anymore. She does not have money. I am too young to go see my little brother.” Marie shared these vivid memories along with the sad emotions she felt that little Manon did not know how to handle or express. Marie shared her realizations with me after the session. She expressed that she did not allow herself to simply be a child. She did not have the chance to cry and mourn her own loss since she was busy playing the role of a caretaker throughout her own childhood. 


Marie stayed quiet for a long time. 


Marie sighed, “little Manon was lonely and sad.”  Adult Marie understood how the inner child needed to be recognized. With inner child work, it is extremely important to recognize her and admit that she is there. Then, with a skilled facilitator, you can have a conversation with the little YOU. It is common for the adult to say, “you must feel sad and lonely, right?” or “I will be with you!” This dialogue can take place in a safe and comfortable environment. 


With little Manon, Marie allowed her feelings of sadness and loss to come from deep within her memory. After Marie gently assured Manon that they are always together, the face of the 69-year-old retired photographer seemed to radiate happiness.