Folks, the new year is settling in. Normally, this is the time of the month when everything starts to go to shit. But this year’s feeling different.
If you’ve been around here, you may recall my 10 year long January sucks curse I talked about last year. Well, I think it’s been broken.
Yeah! Somehow, I DO NOT feel any bad feelings about this month anymore! In fact, I actually feel quite hopeful. I’ve been telling everyone that I’m pretty sure the curse was broken when Christo Bowman himself wished me “many more awesome Januaries to come” in a Cameo for my birthday last year. Not that I need to fluff that man’s ego any more than I do (jk Christo I’m here to do exactly that always).
No, on a serious note, the energy I’m carrying with me this January takes into account that entire 10 years of bad luck plus the rest of the 16 years I’ve been alive. What do I mean? I mean I’m finally prioritizing being kinder to myself, including every version of me I’ve lived in.
It’s been a long road to get here, but I couldn’t have gotten here by myself. Obviously, my faith in God has been a big part and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my closest friends. But I also I owe it to these amazing songwriters that helped me voice sadness, frustration, and anger, as well as giving me the words to speak to my inner child.
Before we get into the music, let me attempt to explain my inner child and the conflicts I’ve had with her.
My inner child is a sweet bean. I described her to my therapist as “an anxious schoolgirl” as I remembered the version of me in my Catholic school days. She’s compassionate, optimistic, kind, merciful, and she wants everyone to be happy all the time. While adult me has kept a lot of the same qualities, I know that it’s unrealistic for everyone to be happy all the time. For a long time, I was mean to her for wanting that because it just wasn’t gonna happen. It’s not realistic for people to be happy all the time and sometimes there’s nothing you can do to fix someone’s situation. I used to get so mad at myself for using up all my energy to constantly be concerned about other people.
But now, I’ve come back to love her and say “honey, I know you want that but if you can’t get it, are you gonna really sacrifice your peace?”
In essence, I’ve learned to reparent myself. My parents were really good at a lot of things, but one thing I had to learn by myself was how to emotionally regulate and be honest with myself. I’ve developed what works for me and finding songs that voice exactly how I’m feeling so I can sing it out is a huge part of it.
Does this mean I have it figured out? Absolutely not. It’s a daily battle to recognize my feelings, figure out where they come from so I can feel their depths, validate them, then reason with myself. I even had a moment this week where it became apparent what the next step of healing my generational trauma is gonna be and instead of staying in despair, I focused on hope. I got to a place where I was able to feel the always accessible heartbreak then tell myself that I will not have to stay there. Even if everything between my parents finally falls apart, I know by the grace of God that I can heal from the effects of it. How’s that for confidence and growth? My inner child is proud of me and I feel it.
That said, let’s talk about the songs that helped heal my inner child.
Minor Feelings by Rina Sawayama
“All my life, I’ve been saving face. For all these minor feelings are majorly breaking me down…”
Get in losers, we’re going to hold the girl!! This entire album made me sob when I first heard it in the fall. And it all started with the opening song. I don’t know how she did it, but Rina so succinctly laid out the heartbreak I’ve been trying to heal from. As a kid, I was under the impression that I was part of a perfect, hardworking immigrant family. I thought my parents had the perfect marriage and that the immense pressure to be a perfect, unproblematic child was normal. When the cracks in their nonexistent relationship illusion started to show as I headed to college, I started to unravel and found myself in a period of running away. I always had these minor feelings but I ran away from them because it wasn’t compatible with the model child role I had been in. The moment I stopped running away was when I started therapy back in September 2021. That’s when those minor feelings were majorly breaking me down because of the way I ended up hurting someone else. I’m in awe of how brilliantly Rina transitions from laying down the deep heartbreak to immediately saying “I need to care for myself”. That growth is what I feel now.
The King by Sarah Kinsley
“So tell me, before we get older, let’s do everything. You’re scared of when it’s over, you’re still young and you’re still free…”
I love Sarah Kinsley and am constantly inspired by her songwriting and honesty. She said she wrote this song for her younger self. And what a gorgeous song it is. It’s given me space to take my younger self and be like “you know what, I’m still young and there’s still time to make your dreams come true, so let’s do it!” It feels triumphant and joyful and fun and it captures the energy I want to carry well.
Forgive Yourself by Foxes
“Working for days trying to love myself in the right way…”
This song is not only a bop, but it takes into account the ongoing maintenance that I have to do. I tend to feel a lot of guilt for not being able to hold as much space for people as I used to. But I have to remind myself that the space that’s been “taken up” is for me. So if I need to escape for a spa day and disconnect from the world for a bit, then I have the freedom to do that. And I should because that recharging of self, that quality time with myself, enables me to be more connected to myself so I can love people from a more genuine place. I can rest knowing that when I do that, I’m caring for myself well and care for others well.
Día de Enero by Shakira
“Ya vas a ver como van sanando poco a poco tus heridas…”
If I’m gonna talk about my inner child, I have to talk about Shakira. I have never stopped wanting to be Shakira. What has helped me with this song is using this as a template for kindly interacting with my inner child. It was also last January when I started getting really empathetic with my inner child and drafted understanding where my convoluted patterns were coming from. Dang, Shakira just gets me. And the fact that this tender love song is in Spanish? Another level of healing honestly.
Comeback by Jonas Brothers
“Come back to me, baby, I’ll come back to you. Light up the world like only you can do. If you’re lost on the way, then I’ll get lost too. Come back to me, baby, I’ll come back to you…”
Can’t talk about my inner child without talking about the Jonas Brothers, are you kidding me? When they came back with Happiness Begins almost 4 years ago, there was definitely a lifesaver thrown to my inner child. As time has gone on and I’ve been in therapy, this song has just deepened in meaning. It acknowledges the imperfect process of giving myself space. I often feel led to make decisions based on my inner child self because she’s got some great wisdom. But it can be hard when something doesn’t work out and I’m used to blaming her for being naive. This song gives me the language to walk alongside her as I process situations that don’t work out and remind her that her sensitivity and kindness is a light that I as an adult need to protect.
I Got Nerve by Hannah Montana
“I need to uncover the part of you that’s reaching out for me…”
Again, we can’t talk about my inner child without talking about Hannah Montana. I wanted to be her SO BAD when I was a kid. She was so cool, talented, kind, and she always stood up for herself. And I LOVED this song. Re-listening to this song made me realize how much this sounds like a statement of strength from my current self to my younger self. It’s as if current me is telling baby me that I’m strong enough to stand up for the both of us. I’m strong enough to care for the both us. I’m strategic enough to figure out places for me to truly free myself. And I can speak so kindly to that.
Matilda by Harry Styles
“You can start a family who will always show you love. You don’t have to be sorry for doing it on your own…”
Oh Harry. When I first heard this song, I remember clearly hearing a kind voice telling my inner child that redemption is possible. But my inner teenager (we’ll talk about her later) was like “can we please not get sad anymore? I’m so tired of being sad” so it was hard to really sit in it. But it’s hitting different these days. I’m very on the fence of having a family of my own because *gestures wildly* do I want to be in a situation where I could end up causing harm to an innocent child? Mmm yeah, I’m not sold on it. But, the thought of a kind man singing these words to me with full confidence that I could have a family of my own that is free from the cycles of trauma that I’ve been trying my hardest to break? Not only is that attractive, but that could heal me in a new way. Geez, I don’t want to entertain the idea honestly because I’m sure that man would still let me down somehow. Anyway, that’s a whole other discussion.
Loose Garment by MUNA
“Used to wear my sadness like a choker, yeah, it had me by the throat. Tonight I feel I’m draped in it, like a loose garment, I just let it flow…”
Jesus Christ this song. It’s gotta be one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Katie Gavin is a genius songwriter and Josette and Naomi are sonic geniuses. Although this song talks about letting a lover go, the sentiment of letting emotions freely happen as they come is so powerful. I used to wear my generational trauma heartbreak as a choker, thinking that it was inappropriate for me to feel things so deeply and not do anything to fix it. So every time this wound would start to hurt, I would repress or run away from it. But now I’ve gotten to a point where every time it aches, I give it space. I cry, I scream, I go on long drives where I let it all out. My inner child needs it. And then I remind myself that I can move on. That redemption and healing and freedom is there for me when I’m ready. I might not see or feel the full picture of what that looks like, but I can have the confidence in God and myself that things can improve. Heck, proof is in the way I’ve learned to wear my sadness like a loose garment.
To Be Alive by Rina Sawayama
“’Cause I used to make my world so small, prisoner to my bedroom walls. I never thought that I’d get this right, but I finally know what it feels like to be alive…”
On the note of guilt, I used to feel so shitty that there was nothing I could do to fix my parents. It weighed me down so much that I would feel so guilty every time I did something for myself. But then it finally dawned on me that it’s not my job to fix whatever they have going on. Even though my inner child wants them to be at peace, there’s nothing she can truly do to fix their issues with each other. Coming to that realization was very hard and required a lot of surrender, but the sweetest fruit has come from it. For the first time ever, my inner child was liberated from feeling like I had to be the always available peacemaker that knew what to say. She was free to go explore the world, dance at concerts wholeheartedly, make music, become friends with rockstars, and do whatever made her feel alive. I finally feel like I’m making her dreams come true by allowing myself to be my entire self. And I never want to go back to not embracing her.
Symphony of Lights by Bad Suns
“Tell me what to do, I’ll be there for you…”
Lol y’all thought I was done talking about Bad Suns. NEVER. Anyway, this song serves as a reminder of when I inevitably struggle with my inner child that there’s space for both of us in God. If I can put it simply, the way that God loves me is not just the way I should love others, but it’s the way I should love myself. If every act of love is a tiny reflection of God, then every act of love I seem to give to myself is God at work. Every breath I take, every joyful burst of dance, every sip of water is a reminder that I am so deeply loved. And if I ever need a concrete reminder, I can “look towards the sky” and see the “symphony of lights”.