When Melissa Lee saw all the people coming forward about sexual abuse in recent months, she knew that she had something she needed to contribute to the conversation. Lee is a first-time author who lives in Essex, Connecticut. Her new book is Journey to the Inner Child Workbook: Meditations, Art Therapy, Journaling and Other Techniques. In the book she shares her process of recovering from sexual abuse in her childhood.
She recently joined News Director Dan Katz to talk about the book. Below is a transcript of their conversation.
Melissa, thanks for being with us.
Thank you, Dan, I really appreciate this opportunity.
The book is literally a workbook to help people reconnect with their inner child. It’s full of questions, prompts, and activities to do that. First for our listeners, how do you define the inner child?
I think one of the most powerful experiences a person will ever have is meeting their inner child. And the reason for that is because in our childhood often, we have woundings and woundings where pain is creating, and those woundings...if we don’t deal with that and repress that, as adults it’s gonna come up in patterns in our life that are really unhealthy. Addictions, physical symptoms. Any kind of pain that hasn’t been addressed will come up in all those ways.
So I think going into dealing with your inner child is the only way to heal these woundings that are coming out even now in our modern life with all of the media attention around some of these men who have perpetrated against some of these women. And you know, with the sexual harassment. I think a lot of those issues are directly related to unresolved childhood repressed abuse. And until we as individuals do this inner child work, we will continue to embody our childhood traumas as adults and act them out together.
Can you take us through the kind of activities that are in the workbook to help people reconnect with their inner child?
Yeah, one of the most important ones that I believe you should do right away is get a picture of yourself as a child, and every day connect with that inner child by looking into the eyes of the inner child. And start connecting through looking at the energy of what you seem like in the picture, like, look at your eyes, do they seem sad? Do they seem like they’re in shock? So by doing that daily, that’s going to bring you right back to your...the child that you were growing up.
And by doing that you’re going to start to possibly have memories that have been repressed, and emotions come forward into your conscious mind from your unconscious mind. And that is so pertinent because that’s gonna show where your pain comes from.
And there’s exercises in this book, if you want to do art exercises, there’s a whole section in the book that guides you through these exercises using art to connect with your inner child. And if you’re having a physical issue, I have a whole section on what you should do with getting in contact with those physical symptoms that are coming up, and that can also be a doorway down into your pain and some probably unconscious traumas from your childhood.
Now this book is based on your own healing process. And it was really later in life that you decided to go on this journey to connect with your inner child. What prompted you to do this?
Panic attacks and physical issues that I was having that no doctor, therapist, healer could help me with. It was this prompting of my own inward journey. Except for one person in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a doctor helped me kind of hold the space for me to really give me the confidence that what I was getting in touch with as far as the inner child was real and some of the memories that were coming up were actually real also.
You lived in Connecticut, Newtown, in a nice place with animals and family...
Uh-huh. I had a wonderful, beautiful life.
But you felt you needed to go on this journey, and that took you to Santa Fe.
That took me to Santa Fe, yeah. It was really quite an inward journey for me to let go of my life I had here in Connecticut for 17 years and go to Santa Fe to heal some of those childhood wounds.
So, you’ve been doing this work for more than a decade on yourself. How is your relationship with your inner child today?
Well, so much more intact now I would say because I have every single day of my life for twelve years been in touch with my inner child. And basically, have made this my life’s work. So, I have so much more joy in my life, and acceptance of who I am.
Because what happens, Dan, when you don’t deal with childhood trauma and abuse is that we have these beliefs about ourselves that are actually false beliefs and are usually around our own self-worth. And if we don’t deal with that, than we sort of embody that in the victim/perpetrator roles.
And so for me, I was severely abused as a child, had repressed it, didn’t come into the knowledge of that until my late 30s, and so I was acting out a victim role all the time with people in my life. And until I did this work, it was really entrenched in my life. Now it’s very, very few circumstances where I’m embodying being a victim, and I have come into my power doing this work.
What advice do you have for people who are starting to come forward with their stories that they’ve held down for so many years?
I would say believe all of the emotions you’re getting. So that is my advice. Do not discount it as a figment of your imagination, because it’s not. And so, I would say seek someone who has done the work. Seek a therapist or a healer who has done their own work, who has delved deeply into their own pain and knows how to guide and guide you through your own. ‘Cause that’s really the most important, is owning your own pain and knowing how to do that with another individual. And so that’s the advice that I would give them.
As somebody who’s gone through the book and has done all the activities I can tell you, doing the Inner Child work has changed the way that I look at life and the way I interact with other people. Thank you, Melissa, for coming in today and sharing your story with everybody.
You’re welcome, Dan. I would like to give 100 free books to the first 100 people that get onto my website and leave their information so that I can send them a book.
Learn more about Melissa Lee and the Inner Child Workbook.