What If Embracing Playfulness Heals You?

I’ve always been serious, even as a child. Having a very emotionally stunted and traumatized parent meant that I took on the role of adult early on, and I never lost that burden of responsibility. By the time I realized why I am the way I am, I was well into my thirties.

No wonder I rebel against authority and responsibility. No wonder, despite my independence and assured capability, I secretly wish someone would come around to take care of me for a change. I’ve long carried resentment because I didn’t really get to be a kid. I used to feel bad about myself for wanting a break from adult life, not understanding where that urge comes from. I thought I was lazy or ungrateful, but really I’ve been operating in a grown-up state of mind from a very young age. I’m just burnt out.

As an adult, embracing my silliness and sense of play has been extraordinarily difficult. It’s tough to bring in something that I don’t remember ever experiencing – pure wonder and curiosity with no sense of anxiety or responsibility attached. I want to be light. I want to be fun. It doesn’t come to me easily. I know that it’s deep inside me somewhere but I have not felt safe to play for a very long time now. Maybe I never did.

As an adult, I’ve consistently chosen partners who fit my trauma bonds. They’ve either been so childish that I was once again stuck in the parenting role, or they have not made me feel safe to embrace my own silly side, mocking me or judging me for it. That certainly hasn’t helped me get in touch with the little girl I once was, the one that existed before the weight of responsibility, worry and stress.

If you feel resonance with this, if you cannot seem to connect with that innocent playful self – there is nothing wrong with you! Think about all the years that you lived in survival mode, your nervous system on high alert, just doing what you could to get by. Of course it isn’t easy to get past that. It’s become your normal. It isn’t your fault. I promise you that. It isn’t your fault, and you are not broken.

I understand the feeling, the feeling of being off, or alien, or someone that doesn’t quite belong. I struggle to even have a conversation with a child. I don’t understand them. Why would I? I never got to be one. Why would I want to engage in childlike activities? I grew up so fast that I don’t know when I ever did.

If any, or all, of this is landing for you, I just want you to know you aren’t alone. Not having a connection to your inner child doesn’t make you crazy, or insensitive, or cold. It’s another symptom of the trauma you experienced that was not your doing. Your beautiful, sweet, pure little self deserved better. They deserved to learn, create, play and explore with no strings attached, no disapproval in the background. You deserved that, and I’m sorry that you didn’t get it.

You matter. Your feelings matter, your trauma matters, and your history matters. Now the work is, can you start to allow yourself to embrace play? If you can find safety in situations with people who are happy to explore and discover alongside you, that’s a great beginning. Put yourself in the way of curiosity, discovery, and ways you can explore your silly side comfortably. It’ll feel weird at first. It certainly does for me. I do think it’s a powerful tool to reclaim an essential part of yourself that’s buried and suppressed. It’ll make your life more fun – and we all need that, right?

There’s nothing wrong with you because you’re serious, but there is so much more to you if you are willing to explore. I hope that we can all someday finally feel safe to play. There is healing power there if we can access it and find the vulnerability to let it in. Your inner child deserves to feel safe to express fully. You are so beautiful in your individuality. I love you.

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