Loved and Always Protected
Rita, la maestra, said we each have an inner child inside of us—un niñito—that needs to be loved and cared for. Protected.
She said that child often has things they have not said to their mother and father. That child is often holding onto pain and fear from their past.
The child may be hurt or scared, or traumatized from seemingly innocent events: being thrown into the air by our fathers, watching scary movies too young, or having our faces smashed into our birthday cakes.
Whatever the pain or trauma or fear or worry, our inner child deserves to be rescued.
And so we sat on the lawn next to the Anthropology auditorium at the University of New Mexico and we covered our eyes with red bandanas to simulate the darkness of the temazcal—the earthbound sweat lodge meant to represent the mother’s womb.
Rita instructed us to first call ourselves. She said to call to our most inner selves, to scream our names and our childhood nicknames. Once we had called our younger selves, Rita said to call our mothers.
Again, we all screamed our mothers’ names. Once we had our mothers in our minds, Rita instructed us to tell our own mother all the things we have never said to her. She said to ask her all the unasked questions and unsaid statements.
Next, we called our fathers, shouting their names, and then told them all of our unspoken thoughts.
Rita instructed us to bring our inner children and place them in between our parents. She said to tell them we are no longer going to allow the cycle of hurt and pain into our lives. She said to forgive them, and thank them for bringing us to this world.
Rita instructed us to tell our parents we still love them.
Though we were all shielded by bandanas, I could hear the pain and grieving in our voices. I myself was sobbing through most of the experience.
By the end, Rita instructed us to hold our inner child close to our hearts. At the beginning of the ceremony, she had given us balls of dough to form into a tiny person. She instructed us to gently sway our tiny person side to side—our inner child—telling them they are loved and always protected.
Afterward, with our blindfolds off, the ceremony over, I helped Rita put away her things. I thanked her for reminding me to always care for my inner child. I said it will help me to be a better father to my own children, something I struggle with sometimes.
Rita paused, then reached into a bag she had on the lawn and pulled a red woven bracelet, then tied it around my wrist. She blessed it and said it will be a reminder to always love and protect my children, and my inner child.
I walked away free and light into the warm afternoon, and back in touch with the inner me, the young, innocent version of myself who had been lost for quite some time.