For as long as I can remember, I was a lackluster student in elementary school. My grade 5 teacher used to call me a “dunce” in front of the whole class at least once a week, and I assure you I am not exaggerating. I was particularly bad at math, had no interest in geography, and hated history. Even though I had a certain taste for French and physical education, the word “dunce” had become so familiar to me that I came to firmly believe that I had no significant intellectual capacity, which translated into frequent meetings between my teacher, my mom and me at the school to find out the reasons for my academic failure. These meetings made little difference. Why?

I think I had internalized being a “failure” so much that success just seemed out of reach. In class, I often felt inferior to others, both mentally and physically. This was partly because of the silent or overt prejudices associated with my skin color and African background, and partly because I had subconsciously accepted these prejudices as intrinsic traits of my persona.

Don’t worry, with time, I managed to attenuate these prejudices and that “self-sigmatization”. Indeed, I now understand that I am a handsome, intelligent, creative, generous, cultured, athletic black man, in short, I’m the whole package;-). However, from time to time, I can feel this psychologically scarred child in me trying to convince me that I have not changed at all and that I will remain the same forever; unable of loving myself and being loved, unable to succeed, unable to appreciate my intrinsic and non-negotiable value in this world, unable to be happy of just being me.

I find it crazy that even today, in my adult body, I still feel my childish emotions, all as strong, all as vivid, in total helplessness, sometimes. I don’t like this feeling. In fact, I hate it; that feeling of being stuck in the past, of being trapped in my own body, when my inner child reminds me that it is bruised and prevents me from being the adult I want to be. “Can I really heal my inner child? “This is a question that obsesses me at the moment, especially because of one of my readings* according to which “The older you get, the closer you get to your childhood, to your origins, finding intact all that you had left there.” I want to move on. I’m tired of the past.

How to heal my inner child?

This question is of crucial importance to my art and my life, because my art is the living expression of my inner child. It reflects his deepest need to express herself, to be free and to self-medicate in order to heal. For now, this is the only answer I can give to this question. Another observation that could lead to a more complete answer is that my inner child, despite his little legs, always catches up with me eventually, especially when I run at full speed to escape him in my adult problems.

It seems that in order to find peace once and for all, I have to stop running, turn around and have a dialogue with him.

This is what I have been doing for some time in the form of dialogues in my diary. The more I dialogue with my inner child, the more I realize that he has things to say, and his heavy and uncomfortable emotions simply reflect his need to confide and be listened to. In this way, we relieve each other. Through dialogue, I hope that we will get along wonderfully and become one and move forward in the most serene way towards our artistic destiny.

Finally, to those who, like me, sometimes feel deeply unfulfilled in their adult lives and wonder why, I would like to leave these few words to ponder from author Moussa Nabati: “Let’s remember, it is never the adult who is unhappy, but the inner child, affected by early childhood depression (ECD) and guilt. “… ” There is no point in exhausting oneself in concretely “doing” this or that. It is essential, on the other hand, to pacify the relations with one’s past by understanding one’s history. “*

*Source: The Happiness of Being Oneself, by Moussa Nabati, 2010


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