I have found these resources helpful in the recovery.
Here is one of the exercises in the book:
In the second emotional stage, we use "internalize excersise". Try to have a conversation between a little girl in you and a big adult in you. Big adult you will tell Little that she will not leave her and she will love and nurture her no matter what.
You will try to build a dream house by imagining the place where you want to be in the future, which is your well and come back whenever you are sad or feel empty to nourish your soul.
Dialogue with Inner Self
Step One: Your first task is to create a vivid picture of your abandoned child that newly awakened part of yourself. Recall yourself as a very young child (of about four) and use that image to personify your emotional core. Imagine that you, the adult, can stand back and observe this child, as if she or he is a separate being, standing outside of you. This helps to cognitively draw the needy feelings this child represents out from where they are hidden within your limbic brain. Robertiello and Kirsten recommend that you picture this child standing five feet away from you on your left side. The idea is to remind you that your child self is in fact more vulnerable and dependent than your adult self.
The child has long been within you, making its needs known, trying to control and interfere in your adult life. When you feel insecure, for instance, it is the child within you who is insecure, the child who feels desperate for acceptance and approval. It is also the child who is afraid to take risks and the child who sabotages your attempts to form new relationships. Rather than forsake these feelings, your task is to accept and care for this long-abandoned part of yourself.
Step Two: Now visualize your adult self. Form a picture in your head of the person you wish to become.
Many struggle at first when they try to see themselves as strong, capable adults. Try picturing your adult self doing something you know you are reasonably good at. Think of the times you knew you were at your best, most competent, and independent. From these positive recollections, form a composite image that includes all the best of you.
Step Three: Now you’re ready to start a dialogue between the adult image of yourself and the child – between big you and little you.
By creating an image of your child self and potential adult self, you have created a triangle. You, the individual are at the top of the triangle. The child is on the bottom left, the adult on the bottom right. You are going to remain at the top as an objective observer, where you can mediate the dialogue between these two figures, between your most urgent needs and the capable adult you know you can become.
The role for the adult self: Your adult self’s job is to provide the child with al that he or she needs: a sense of belonging and love, to be admired and listened to, to be relieved of guilt and burden. Your adult self should act like a good parent toward a cherished child.
The role of the child self: In turn, the child will express its feelings and look to your adult self for help. As you begin to see your child self as a separate figure, he or she reveals its most basic needs, fear, hopes and dreams. Many of these things have been buried for a long time. This exercise is designed to bring them out in the open.
The role of the individual: As the mediator of the dialogue, you will be conducting a kind of one-person role-play. You, of course, give voice to both your child self and adult self. When you are speaking for the child, you take on the language and attitude of a child. When you are speaking for the adult, you take on the body language of a strong and sensible adult whose main goal is to help the child.
Your task is to become more aware of what you are feeling. Attribute these feelings to the child. You are also supporting the adult who is striving to be strong and emotionally self-nurturing.
To gain maximum benefit from this exercise practice it daily, preferably at a fixed time and in the same place. Your adult self opens the dialogue by greeting the child and asking about its feelings. Big you draws out what is really bothering you by asking questions an demonstrating a sincere interest I understanding and helping.
At first the dialogues can be long. The child often has a great deal to say. Later, the dialogues become more focused and direct. Your overall approach is to reassure the child that everything will be all right. This also helps to reinforce the strength and confidence of your adult self. Your goal is to put your child in a good mood if at all possible. Getting the child to express its feelings is the most effective way to lift its mood (and yours).
Here is an encapsulated version of one of Roberta's first dialogues:
BIG: What the matter, Little?
LITTLE: I'm sad.
BIG: Tell me what's bothering you. I'll help you.
LITTLE: I think you made a mistake yesterday at work and I'm afraid your boss will be angry with me. I don't like being yelled at. I'm scared.
BIG: I understand how you feel. You don't need to be afraid. If my boss yells, I will handle it. I'll take care of you no matter what happens. Besides, he's usually very nice. He doesn't expect me to be perfect. Anyway, this is not your problem. It's mine. Don't worry about it. I'll make sure he doesn't hurt you.
This exercise does not guarantee that you will walk away from the dialogue with all of your conflicts neatly resolved. Establishing a dialogue with your inner self is no different from opening any other type of dialogue; it is an ongoing process whose outcome is far from predetermined.
Working with the child within is really nurturing the growth of the adult. By administering to the child, your adult self becomes free of the child's destructive, negative influence and functions on a more mature level. In fact, when you find yourself handling stressful situations poorly, it is because you have allowed the child to slip back inside. Your goal is to make sure that your child and adult selves remain in their separate roles.
Many report that at first their adult selves don't know what to do. "My child was so difficult, my adult was completely stumped," said Jill. Here is one of her early dialogues:
LITTLE: I feel fat and ugly and it's all your fault, Big!
BIG: I'm sorry, Little. But I really do know how you feel.
LITTLE: Don't hand that "I know how you feel" crap to me, Big. You're the one doing all of the eating. I'm the one doing all of the suffering. I want to look nice and you won't let me.
BIG: That must make you feel sad and lonely.
LITTLE: Well, do something about it, Big. Go on a diet and stick to it, so I don't have to feel so terrible and ugly.
BIG: I'll try, Little. I know how you feel.
LITTLE: Never mind try. That just means nothing will happen. You always let me down.
BIG: It's not all my fault, Little. You're the one who loves sugar.
LITTLE: Don't blame me, Big. You always go ahead and eat too much, and I'm the one who has to pay for it. I hate you for making me fat!
As Jill continued her daily dialogues, her ability to remain in the adult role in response to Little's attitude showed steady improvement. With a bit of practice, her adult self took on a more effective role.
Here is an example:
BIG: I want to be thin too, Little. But I am going to need you to talk to me every time you feel needy or hungry.
LITTLE: What does that have to do with it?
BIG: I care about your feelings, Little.
LITTLE: All I care about is for you to get thin and pretty so I don't have to feel so fat and ugly.
BIG: Exactly, Little. And I care about those feelings, too. It helps when you remind me of them In the meantime, I am going to get some help losing weight.
LITTLE: It's about time you admitted you can't do it by yourself. You're too weak.
BIG: For your sake as well as mine, I'm getting stronger.
You'll get the best results if you begin by writing the dialogue. Writing helps you, the individual, to keep Big's and Little's roles clearly defined and keeps you on task. Writing is a form of taking action; it involves you more deeply in the exercise, just as taking notes helps you focus on a lecture.
In spite of the aversion many people have to writing, the results are almost always worth it. The kind of writing you are doing is very different from preparing a report or lodging a formal complaint with a credit agency. Anyone can do it. It goes fast because the idea is not to give critical thought to what is going down on the page but simply to resort the conversation. No one is ever going to read your dialogue unless you want them to; it does not need to be legible or coherent. As you write, your feelings will carry your pen swiftly across the page.
As you become more practiced at this exercise and your child and adult are well-defined, you can speak the dialogue aloud instead of writing it all down. Some people who have been doing the exercise for a number of years report they are able to perform the dialogue silently, inside their heads.
Whether you are writing, speaking or thinking the dialogue, the important thing is to keep the needs and feelings of the child from slipping back inside your head where they can subvert your efforts to become the strong and capable adult you know you can be.
When you can't get in touch with the child, go back to step one and create a distinct visual image of the child. Imagine it outside yourself, and then begin writing dialogue to draw the feelings out. The process sometimes takes a great deal of effort. As any parent knows, finding ways to relate to a needy child is a real challenge. You may have to summon all of your patience, but keep gently pushing, keep asking questions.
Remember that Little can easily feel abandoned. She needs to feel taken care of all the time. That means talking to Little at least once a day.
The following is an example of Keaton, who hasn't talk to Little on a regular basis:
LITTLE: Why should I tell you anything! You don't care about me. You haven't paid me any attention in my whole life! So don't pretend now that you care about my feelings. You'll just forget about me all over again and pretend I don't exist!
BIG: I'm sorry that I neglected you for so long. But I genuinely want to know what you're feeling. I want to comfort you. I really do care. I won't neglect you this time.
LITTLE: It's too little too late. I'll never speak to you.
"Of course that was just lip," Keaton told the group. "Now I can't get Little to shut up."
Marie's Little expressed similar anger for being abandoned.
LITTLE: I feel so upset, Big. You let Lonny leave! How could you lose him! It's even worse than when Mom died. I'm lonely all over again.
BIG: I know how hurt you are, Little. But even though Lonny left, I will always be with you. I would never leave you.
LITTLE: But I miss Lonny.
BIG: I know you do, Little, and so do I. But at least you know that I love you and always will.
Remember that the purpose of the dialogue is not to wrap up a problem in a two-minute conversation. It is to create open channels of communication that lead to change over the course of time.
In fact, many clients report that the child makes unreasonable demands. He or she is, after all, only a child, frightened of being alone and full of needs. It is up to Big to parent the demands of Little and gently but firmly explain to Little why some things can't happen. Let's look at Marie's ongoing dialogue.
BIG: What's the matter, Little?
LITTLE: I don't trust you, Big.
BIG: Why not?
LITTLE: Because you put me through too many horrible things. I want you to promise that nothing bad will ever happen again.
BIG: I can promise that I will never let anything come between you and me ever again.
LITTLE: No, Big, I want you to promise that nobody will ever leave me again. I want you to promise that you will find someone who will always love me, so that I never have to go through this again.
BIG: I can't make promises that I may not be able to keep, Little. If I could control these things, I would. But the truth is that there are no guarantees in life when it comes to other people's feelings or behavior.
LITTLE: But I want you to protect me from being hurt again.
BIG: One thing I can guarantee is that I will do my best to find somebody who is loyal and devoted, to help you feel more safe and secure.
LITTLE: I want you to promise.
BIG: I can promise that no matter what happens with the other people in my life, I will always love you. I will never leave you.
Some people report that Little tries to get them to do things that their child selves want much more than their adult selves. It becomes a power struggle.
"Little Keaton was really angry at me because I wouldn't let him get a dog," explained Keaton. "Of course I couldn't tell anyone else about this because I'd sound like someone with multiple personality disorder. But we were having a fight, Little Keaton and I. I had to tell Little over and over that my landlord didn't allow pets. It took alot of writing and many sheets of paper to convince Little, to get him to calm down."
"Of course, Little got me to promise that I'd do other things to make it up to him. And I'd dame well better carry them out, or he would be on my case all day. Little has become so real that I can't imagine turning my back on him again - I'm afraid he'd kill me."
After doing the exercise for a while, the child self begins to feel like a real presence, with its own personality. Some like to remind themselves that Big and Little are simply images, others prefer to think of them as real people. Some of my clients christen Little with names of their own, including inner child, inner self, core feelings, primal self or emotional core. Regardless of how they refer to these figures, after doing the exercise a few times, profound changes begin to take shape.
Marylou became involved in abandonment recovery in order to deal with her old abandonment wounds. She was plagued by childhood demons, as she called them, stemming from the fact that her father had been sexually and physically abusive, and her mother cold, distant and severely punitive. So Marylou began doing the exercise with great hopes and expectations for relief. Things turned out very differently from what she expected. About three weeks into it, her Little asked her to go to her grandmother's grave.
BIG: It's four hundred miles away, Little.
LITTLE: But I want to go. She is the only one who ever loved us.
BIG: But I have to work, Little.
LITTLE: I want you to take time off and drive me there.
BIG: Maybe when my vacation comes up, I'll take you.
LITTLE: I can't wait that long, Big. I want to go now. I want to remember what it felt like to have Grandma's love, to talk to her. I want to get her love back.
BIG: How about if I read to you tonight, Little, or do something else you like? They you'll know how much I care about you. That's what really counts.
LITTLE: No, I want to visit Grandma. I miss her, and I want to be near so I can talk to her.
BIG: But I don't really want to drive to Massachusetts just to talk to Grandma, Little.
LITTLE: I want you to. If you care about me, you will.
Marylou described how Little nagged her on a daily basis until she finally agreed to make the long trip to visit Grandma's grave. As she made plans for the trip, it occurred to her that an old high school friend still lived in Massachusetts, so she looked her up and they talked about old times. They made plans to meet for dinner.
So off Marylou went to Massachusetts. During the car ride, she was urged to listen to Little once more. Little asked her to buy something to plant at Grandma's grave site. Marylou went along with this, hoping that this would be enough to satisfy Little.
At the grave site, Marylou had a very emotional experience. Little reminded her of the times when she was nestled in her grandmother's lap, feeling cherished and at peace with the world.
Marylou went off feeling drained but with the sense of emotional relief and looking forward to meeting with her old friend. Together, they planned a trip to Norway - Marylou's first trip abroad - to visit the homeland of both their families.
To be effective, the dialogue needs to be an ongoing part of your life. As you continue practicing, you will be able to gradually resolve unfinished business - injuries from earlier losses and abandonment, as well as any current crises, all the while helping your adult self become stronger and more effective.
This Akeru exercise doesn't attempt to sidestep the grief. It works with it, using withdrawal's powerful drive toward attachment to form a bond between your adult self and your child self. Rather than distracting you from these feelings, this exercise uses them as fuel for growth. As you strengthen your adult self and address the needs of your child, you have taken a giant step in the direction of becoming emotionally self-reliant.
Separation therapy works. It is not hard to learn and along the way you become your own therapist and mentor. And it works for everyone. We all have a child who sometimes needs help.
SUMMARY OF WITHDRAWAL
Withdrawal is when all of the connections with our lost love are torn. We try to move forward with loose wires hanging out, exposed and sparking. We were so medicated by the relationship, we didn't realize how intricate our connections had become. Only now can we distinguish which of the wires are part of a healthy connection to our loved one and which were based on fear or the excessive need to please. As we heal, we test the loose wires through soul-searching, therapists, sponsors, friends and trial encounters with new people. Eventually, we discover the connections to true nurturing and healthy relationships.
Our core feelings are awake and alive - the oldest, most enduring part of ourselves. All else is ripped away. The child on the rock cries out for what is lost. It is this child who feels the wrenching tear in the tissues of attachment, the frustration and intense need to reconnect. When we give the child a voice, we are finally able to administer to the needs, fears and longings of our innermost self.
During withdrawal we are like the baby chick without its shell, still wet, facing the world without its protective cover. It is the ultimate trial of survival. We are free from the restrictive bonds of security. No longer sedated by our former relationships, we emerge stark and alive, our needs exposed, our feelings raw, to forge new connections.
Withdrawal is you becoming you for the first time.
It is individuation.