The Internet is rife with posts on "18 things I'd want to tell my 18 year old self" or "15 things I knew when I was 15" - these mostly revolve around stuff we wish we'd known or had the courage to do. Mostly hang-ups from a yesterday already gone.
I had the opportunity of being a part of an interesting workshop and one of the activities i was introduced to required all the participants to write a dialogue between their adult self and their child self. It is an immensely cathartic experience and I'd urge anyone reading this to try it out sometime. There's a kid inside each one of us and that kid has been saying quite a bit for a while. I tuned into my inner "kiddo" and emerged pleasantly surprised.
The following is the text I'd written. Needless to say it is really personal. But it's also my own way of exhorting you to try this out. It's truly an experience to watch as the conversation flows - you'd think you'd have control over it and may be script the dialogue as you start writing but that won't happen if you're doing it right!
Over to my dialogue --
Adult Me: Oiee…
Child Me: *no response*
Adult Me: Uhm! Hey lil’ one I know you’re ignoring me.
Child Me: Don’t like the taste of your own medicine, eh?
Adult Me: Hey! I’m sorry ya.
Child Me: Really? About what?
Adult Me: About how I’ve been treating you
Child Me: Uh huh! Aren’t you more sorry I am you?
Adult Me: Don’t say that. Please.
Child Me: Go on…I’m listening to you. You see, unlike you I don’t only listen to what others around me have to say. I listen to me too.
Adult Me: You’re really making this more awkward and difficult than it already is. And before you have a snarky retort for that I need you to believe me when I say, “I’m sorry for everything”
Child Me: I’m the one who has never doubted her beliefs so quit trying to tell me to believe you. Because if I didn’t we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But you go on... I want to hear what you have to say.
Adult Me: Really?
Child Me: Oh C’mon! I’m not the adult here. A lil’ tantrum and once I’ve blown my steam off, I’m fine.
Adult Me: Point taken, kiddo!
Child Me: Don’t kiddo me, okay?
Adult Me: Okay. Sorry baba.
I owe you a very sincere apology. I’ve always been too hard on you. What’s worse is I’ve never acknowledged the struggles you’ve endured and the efforts you’ve made to make me the me I am today.
Child Me: This sounds unreal! You’re really saying this??
Adult Me: Yes I am. And it’s because I realize that I’ve caused you more damage than the rest of the world put together. I’ve constantly judged you, made you feel guilty – I did to you what everyone else did – only so many degrees more and that’s why more painful.
Child Me: Yeah, you did that to US. I tried reaching out to you on days when you’d drive yourself crazy because you felt like a fish out of water and the nights when you muffled your tears as you tried to fall asleep. But I wasn’t louder than the stupid voices inside your head. You let them in, muted me out and hurt us both in the bargain.
Adult Me: Shit! It sickens me now when I think of what you’ve said. It is true – I hurt us.
Child Me: There, you’re doing it again. You’re becoming the people. You’re becoming those voices. We’re human – you and I – like everybody else. We’re here to make mistakes and what’s better is that we learn from them.
You comfort your friends by telling them to focus on the issue to be solved, not the person to be blamed, right?
Adult Me: Yeaaahh…guess someone doesn’t practice what she’s been preaching.
Child Me: Yes, Miss Do Gooder. The world can wait. You need and deserve to channelize your energies inwards for you.
Adult Me: For US. And you’re right – all acts of selflessness can begin only when you start working on your own inside!
Child Me: May be that’s what was really meant by ‘charity begins at home’.
I just also had to add that the facilitator for my session quite liked this dialogue and has a copy of the same to share with future participants.
Not every dialogue will necessarily go down this same format - some are more difficult than others, some take longer than others to even get started... Whatever be the case be patient. This isn't a one-time activity.