The Boy Who Follows Me Around (The Inner Child) – by Jack Sheehan

Try as I might, to pretend he isn’t there, my efforts are in vein as he lets his presence be known all too frequently. I march ahead in life, and he plods along behind me. I glance over my shoulder cautiously. Is he still there? He is. I don’t mind it so much when he looks happy, skipping along. It’s the dragging of the feet and the head bowed that makes me irk. I pretend not to see it. He doesn’t like that very much. He wants to be seen. When I look the other way in avoidance, he reminds me that it is not wise to do so. The further I resist, the more he persists. When I dismiss what he is trying to tell me, he acts out. He craves feeling heard. Validation is what he seeks. He begs to be cared for and understood. He is incessant in his attempt to steal my attention, from whatever distraction I have strategically manufactured. He nags at me. I imagine him tugging at my hand, I look down and see him. It’s confronting. Innocent and afraid. Not always the same age, it changes from time to time. Often quite clear, with every minute detail in focus, from the expression on his face, to the shoes on his feet. But then again it can be blurry. The feelings are never blurry though.


Who is this boy who follows me around?


He is the child that lives within me. He is the person who has shaped my arrival at this very moment of adulthood. Yet he is the one who I try to leave behind, as if he had no part to play. He won’t go quietly. He wants me to know of his plight. Not looking for anything spectacular, just acknowledgement, understanding, and compassion. He urges me to stop being so hard on him, judging him. He did his best. Now he needs me to accept him, love him and hold his hand. If I can do that, he tells me, we can move forward healthily and happily. If I can’t, he fears the outcome will be destructive.


I do it.


No longer negating the pain of the past, I face him with openness and care. I comfort the hurt parts, and celebrate the rest. Amplifying that he is here, and look what he has achieved! Not denying the struggle that has come before, but reframing it to a reminder that now he is safe and need not fear himself or the world. We can move forward together. No need to follow me, walk beside me!


Is there a boy or girl who follows you around?

Do you see them? Are you listening?

Will you allow them to walk beside you?

“The wound is not my fault, but the healing is my responsibility”

Marianne Williamson

Thanks for reading!


Psychotherapist & Co-Founder of MindSpace

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