Trust Your Inner Child to Lead You: A Poem on Going Back to Go Forward

trust-your-inner-child-inage of a stump

Stumps and Roots

Something makes me step back

over the raised doorsills of time.


I step

without stumbling,

careful not to let others hear,

avoid rusty nails


poison fruit.


I shrink

to the size of an unpricked finger,

move cautiously over the pages

in our fairy tale collection.


Here is a picture of the girl with her basket.

How can I tell my daughter, who I read to,

that the child we see on the page is me?


Walk anyway

past stumps and roots

to where parents lose their young

in shadows

and a bear could snap a neck

like wood.



into the house

too snug

for my skin.

Bones pressed tight

in lath and plaster swaddling.


My ancestor draws me

calls me to reach in

to where each small detail looms.

Her life played out in whispers here,

a forest warning.


In childhood we are closest

to the ghosts that formed us.


I must go back to know better

where I came from.

No need to mark the trees

with the tip of a silver knife.


I recognize the way.


From my poetry collection, In Green (Guernica, 2002)


I was reminded of this poem while planning an upcoming post. It’s on navigating your personal history stories along the path to living a braver and more authentic and fulfilling experience. Trust your inner child to lead you, and in doing so, you will discover a vital way forward.

This can feel unsettling.

Yet one of the best gifts we can give ourselves in the process of personal transformation is allowing ourselves to be uncomfortable in service of our growth. Sometimes in order to go forward, we must first go back “over the raised doorsills of time” in order to better appreciate where we have come from.

This has certainly been the way for me.

You are the author of your own life story. Trust your inner child to lead you to the aspects of your own story which are calling for your attention. You are a creative being, and this is a highly creative process.

In my next post, I will share ways of working with emotionally charged material in order to transform old personal history stories into new and empowering editions. This way, you will be able to claim your gifts from them.

Stumps and Roots” © Robin Blackburn McBride

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