Have you ever asked yourself what your inner child wants you to do?

Do you ever have moments where you really want to do something and know you shouldn’t and you do it anyway? Or moments when you do NOT want to do something and do it anyway? Or you just can’t decide which to do because there are competing voices inside of you saying what they want and don’t want? How do you decide when the voices inside your head can’t agree?

People say to listen to your heart. I think the “heart” is our quietest inner child telling us what it wants and needs … telling us what WE want and need.

Babies aren’t born knowing much about needs. They learn that if they cry something will happen; Some sort of substance will fill their belly, or the gooey discomfort in their nether regions will get cleaned, or the temperature will get adjusted … they don’t necessarily know what it IS that they need at the moment, they just know they need something to feel better. So they learn to make noise.

They start to figure out what feels good and what doesn’t. Sometimes, they just need the comfort of a cuddle. They learn that using their voice gets them what they need.

Then we grow these complicated wants and needs and we grow them in these bodies that shoot out in all directions and get too long and leggy and too heavy to be picked up and held by our caregivers. Before you know it, you have to provide your own food and actually prepare it, eat it, and clean up after. You have to take care of your own nether regions. And you have to find your own methods for comfort. The latter may not always be the most positive choice.

We get to be all grown-up with our own busy and complicated lives, our complicated wants/needs/desires, maybe with our own tiny loud humans to care for, and our own voices (thoughts) who are constantly reminding us of what they need. Except we are too busy with the part where it got complicated that we forgot the basics.

The Basics:
• when you get hungry, eat
• When you get tired, rest
• When you feel an emotion, express it
• When you need comfort, ask for it

When did life become so complicated that it takes a tiny little voice in my head to say “PAY ATTENTION TO ME NOW PLEASE!” ?

I lost my voice as a child. I lost the ability to ask for what I want. To ask for what I need. I lost my voice that asked for the basic needs.

So how do I listen to your inner child? How do I distinguish which want or need or decision is the one to choose? Sometimes it feels like 73 voices with different wants and I can’t find what it is that I need. There is so much emphasis on doing things. On getting things done. On being social. Staying home. Going out. Working. Working hard. Getting ahead. Not working too much. Remembering self-care. Not taking breaks. Ensuring you have down time.

How do I choose who to listen to when I’ve lost my voice.

When I’ve got all these bossy thoughts rolling around and none of them feel right, I listen for the voice that is the quietest. Sometimes she isn’t even speaking. Sometimes that silence says more about what I need than the voice of what seems like a bossy 7-year-old with a Barbie Horse … did you ever own a Barbie Horse? Me either. Man did I want one. And the kids who had them? Let me tell you … they were the most confident 7-year-olds I ever knew. They hadn’t lost their voice like I had. They asked for what they wanted and they told people what to do to provide them with their needs. I never asked for that Barbie Horse.

If I can filter out the noise, then I can get past the wants.
• Yes I want to go out with friends
• Yes I want to stay out late
• Yes I want to be the life of the party
• Yes I know I hate all my clothes but that means we can go buy new clothes!
• Yes I know we are on a budget and now I want to spend money on an outfit, AND going out.
• Yes I know this work needs to get done so let’s do it and then go out!

…. pause …. listen past all those wants ……  there’s a voice there that isn’t speaking. It’s as if all the bossy kids filled with wants have sent her to the corner because all she has are needs.

She’s the tiny baby who had needs and learned how to make noise to get those needs met. But then all the wants took over and got louder and more complicated and that tiny baby grew bigger but lost her ability to make noise, and my basic needs got overshadowed by all the things.

I have worked far too hard in the last few days. My inner bosses have been telling me to go-go-go. They’ve been saying that it’s only a few days, and we WANT to be successful which means pushing through. I can suck it up and live with the pain because I want the end results.

It really and truly doesn’t work that way. Fibromyalgia is not the kind of pain you can push through. It’s not the kind of pain you can tell yourself is only temporary so just keep going. Fibromyalgia pain is widespread and relentless. And the more you push, the more it pushes back. Only it’s like a REAL horse that kicks you a bunch of times and then sits on your back for a month.

I’ve been listening to those bossy little 7-year-olds with their Barbie Horses again. Because those little children learned to take care of their wants and needs and in doing so, I was silenced.

After laying in bed for hours, waking up repeatedly from one bad dream to the next … I tried to listen … those plastic horse-owning kids had so many thoughts and opinions. So I metaphorically gave all those kids their plastic horses and told them to go play. Then I listened for the voice that doesn’t talk. What does SHE need?

Figuring out what you need is a never-ending battle between what you think you are supposed to do and what you know you can’t do.

Having fibromyalgia means KNOWING that a few days of this kind of non-stop physical, mental, and emotional labour are going to affect my body for weeks. But it also comes with these steaming hot piles of guilt and shame; guilt that my partner is doing more than her share of the work, and shame that I live in a body that can’t keep up.

So here I am at 2 am asking myself what my needs are, and guessing that if that quiet little girl without a plastic horse had a voice, she would probably tell me to take some deep breaths, hug my special scarf tighter, and get some rest.


Kira Dorothy is a Toronto-based Writer, Special Education Teacher, Artist, and Advocate. Her work explores her passion for body politics, especially body image, body shame, body language, and self-acceptance, as well as Fibromyalgia, Mental Health, Chronic Illness, and stigma. Her goal is to fiercely explore experiences of eating disorders, body-shaming, and the pathologizing of body-size, and to share experiences of chronic illness and chronic pain. Her own struggles, her love of writing, her passion for advocacy, and her dedication to ending stigma and misinformation is what drives her passion to be a part of this community.