When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1st Corinthians, 13:11)
I couldn’t disagree more.
I may be a 52 year old man, but there’s still a lot of child in me. In many ways I still speak like a child; it’s just in my own head. My thinking isn’t always like a grownup either. And emotionally, there are a lot of immature feelings.
And I’m not alone. How many people do you know that still act like children? They get their feelings hurt over the silliest things. Grudges are held instead of acting like an adult and letting things go. I believe that we should try to understand others’ point of view, and respect different opinions, but not everyone feels that way and (including myself sometimes) and we can get angry because someone thinks differently. People still have temper tantrums. (Think of all the times you see road rage.)
There are many things that I still do that are childish. There are times I find myself pouting when I have a bad day. I have plenty of pity parties. Oh, woe is me! Harumph. I’m not usually a dramatic person, but even so there are times when I get overly excited and act out in an immature way. “I can’t believe she turned me down again…See if I ask HER out again”.
My temper tantrums are legendary. Of course a lot of this stems from being bipolar. My mania is often full of rage. But even when I’m not manic, the smallest of things can piss me off. There have been times I’ve left a grocery cart full of food and walked out of a store, because someone cut in front of me and the cashier didn’t do anything about it. I’ve done my best to cut off other drivers when they tried to pass me, because they came roaring up behind me flashing their headlights for me to get out of their way. Just try to get past me you bastard!
I like to play with my toys too. I loved my matchbox cars as a kid, and could spend hours setting up tracks for my hot wheels (Both American toys). I still play with my cars; they are just a little bigger. I few years ago I had a BMW Z3. What fun I had with that! Even though I’ve moved into a four door sedan, I enjoy working on it and keeping it clean. And then there are my tools. I used to build all kinds of things growing up. And I still do. There’s a lot of excitement when I get a new tool to play with. It’s not just the big thinks either. There’s my computer tablet and my cell phone. I just HAVE to have the latest greatest technology!
It has been many years since my mother passed away. But I’ve never outgrown my need for a Mom. Whenever something happens, good or bad, I find myself reaching for my phone to talk to her about it. Even though I rarely took it, I still want her advice. I miss talking to her. The funny thing about that is, my Mom was not maternal at all. There were no hugs or comforting when I felt bad. I never felt nurtured, and sometimes I felt like she didn’t even like me that much. It seemed that she was never really available when I needed her. I remember one time when I was a teenager I got into a fight after school and I got my butt royally kicked. I called her at work, humiliated and crying, but she had to go to a meeting and didn’t have time to talk. She never took off work when I was home sick; it seemed her job always took precedence. But in spite of that, I still need my Mom.
When I had my overdose last year, my Psychiatrist told me that when we were talking on the phone I sounded like I was a three year old. My conscious thought had already shut down, and I have no memory whatsoever of talking to him at all. But apparently, in my condition I reverted back to a needy little boy. When we talked about it later, he seemed to be somewhat disgusted by my behavior. But I think it’s a natural reaction. I was approaching death, and wanted someone to be rescued and taken care of.
But no matter how old I get, I still think the way I always have. I still have many of the same insecurities and fears that go back to my earliest years. I worry about what others think of me; I want to be liked. Sometimes I feel like I should pass a note to someone I’ve just started dating; do you like me? Check yes or no. I want to be noticed…Look mom, no hands! I don’t think you ever outgrow the need to be nurtured. I’ve become much more comfortable being by myself then I used to be, but I still want to be cared for. Not pampered or waited on hand and foot, But it feels good to have someone do nice things for you.
I’ve told the story before, but it bears telling again. I spent a lot of time with my father as he was in the hospital waiting to die. He knew he was deathly ill, and that he was never going to leave the hospital alive. He was lucid up the very end, and we had many conversations about a great many things. Just a few hours before he died, He said, “Where did it all go? I’m going to die; probably tonight. How did this happen? I still think like I’m 18 years old. I have things I want to do and look forward to. I don’t feel old, but I am. Where did the time go?” Shortly after that he slipped into a coma, and died several hours later. Even in the last minutes of his life, he was still thinking like a young man; like a child.
For the most part, I don’t think my ‘inner child’ has anything to do with being bipolar or personality disorders. I’ve talked to many other people who say that they feel the same way. A good friend of mine recently retired as a Director for a major pharmaceutical firm. It was certainly a position for a mature and responsible man. Yet, he still acts like a kid telling me about his new jet skis, tells the dumbest jokes and stories, and laughs at the silliest things. We’ve actually talked about not wanting to grow up, and he admits to the same childish thinking that I have.
Yes, I’m an adult now. There are jobs to do, bills to pay, houses to take care of and countless other responsibilities. But deep down I’m the same person I have always been from early childhood. There are base feelings that don’t change and my thinking will always have a little bit of kid to them. There have been enough books written and even entire psychological philosophies based on the ‘inner child’ that I believe it is something in all of us.
It’s something we never outgrow. And we never should.