18 May, 2006

Is It Okay To Spank an Inner Child?

So, yeah. I posted three weeks ago about W’s and my conclusion that it’s okay to spank an inner child. But time goes by, and one goes through actual, rather than theoretical experiences, and things become less clear.

I have continued to be varying levels of cranxious. Most of it, I think, is the process of working through the feelings that therapy and my foray into craziness are bringing up. (No, I don’t really think I’m crazy. I just, you know, have issues to work through.) And when the emotional load gets to a point where I can’t ignore it, I don’t always manage to let the feelings out in a reasonable, responsible, adult kind of way.

Last weekend, after several days of hearing my inner child demand—ever more loudly—to be allowed to throw a tantrum, I let it out. And, boy oh boy, is my inner child childlike. So I threw all of the socks at the wall. And then all of the pillows. And then I dumped all of the dirty laundry on top of that. It wasn’t enough. That inner child had a lot of frustration and anger to let out.

So I proceeded to my playroom (and, for the dirty-minded out there, I really mean “playroom”—it’s where we’ve got the playmobils and the blocks and the arts and crafts supplies). I dumped out all of the blocks and rattled them all over the floor. It wasn’t enough.

So I did something entirely, utterly childish. I got out the finger-paints, and proceeded to paint all over the wardrobe. Boy, was it satisfying. My inner child finally felt like it had gotten a chance to do something bad. It wasn’t quite enough, though. Since my (by then inner) adult objected to writing “bad words” on the wardrobe, just in case the paint didn’t wash off, the child wasn’t entirely satisfied. So we got out some expensive Post-It brand poster paper, put several sheets on the wall, painted on them, and then used pens to write bad words.

And in a full display of maturity, my inner child decided that the “bad words” it needed to write were things like “uglybutt” and “fart face.” Silly? Sure. Satisfying? Very much so.

But on some levels, my inner child was destined for disappointment. Because as much as it wanted its bad behavior to be recognized and limited… well, W. didn’t quite comply with our plans. Partly, it was because she thought it was just silly and funny. I can see this, and, yeah, it was pretty silly and funny. Mostly, though, it’s because she felt that it was good for me to let my feelings out, and she didn’t want to discourage me from doing it.

I’d like to say that I think she’s right. But as I check in with that part of me, I can understand the disappointment. There’s a safety in having reasonable limits imposed on my behavior. It wasn’t safe for me to behave badly as a kid, because the response was disproportionate, dangerous, violent. So I have always fiercely controlled myself, and I have learned to turn all of my anger and frustration and rage on myself.

My adult side has trouble letting go enough to let this inner child out into the world. It’s an embarrassing part of me, especially when it doesn’t behave well. It’s messy and irresponsible and bratty. And it’s looking for limits, and I can either test limits or impose them. I can’t do both.

So we go back, W. and I, to pondering whether or not it’s okay to spank an inner child. (Or, for that matter, wash its mouth out with soap, or send it to bed early, or whatever.) If it were a real child, neither of us would consider those options. And if I’m behaving like a child, then shouldn’t I be treated like a child? So it becomes difficult.

Several times recently, W. has brought up the idea of couples counseling with someone we could talk to about the role of spanking in our lives. I admit that I’m incredibly wary of this, for a lot of reasons. But it’s still something to consider, and perhaps having a neutral person to mediate the discussions could help us to stop going over and over the same ground.

And, who knows, maybe they could help us answer the question:

Is it okay to spank an inner child?

1 comment:

Handspan said...

For the studio audience watching at home:


It has been frustrating to see that DG craves the limits and then seems to resent me when I (quite reluctantly, sometimes) set them. I know the point is for it not to be COMFORTABLE, but the signs are NOT clear about what my role is supposed to be, and it often changes. Her needs are then not being met either way, and generally leaves us both frustrated.