anxiety in children, child anxiety, child depression, child fear sleeping alone, Fear of Being Alone, Fear of The Dark, getting over fear of sleeping alone, getting over fear of the dark, homesick, night terrors
Last week I was working with a 5th grade student who, suddenly in the middle of our lesson asked me if I’ve ever had the experience of suddenly knowing who I am. He explained to me how he distinctly remembers waking up one morning when he was around 4 years old knowing exactly who he was, what his name was, who his parents were and everything that defined him as a person. He explained to me how he, before that moment have no memories, that it was like his life only started in that moment. It was interesting to see how he defined himself very destinctively as though who he is is this name and the son of his parents. It made me curious as to what it is that creates such an experience in a person because it is not something I could relate to in such a distinct way.
Then today I watched this video that shows a baby standing alone in a crib crying for her mother and the father coming in to soothe the child eventually lying down with her in the crib. In the video the baby only calms down once the father is physically close to her and she clings to him. This reminded me of how I often experienced myself as a child and even as a baby, where I would have this distinct perpetual experience of being alone.
What I see when I look at that experience of being alone is that it is not so much a ‘being alone’ as it is a conscious awareness of ‘being apart from’ or ‘being separate’.
I remember so many times where I cried myself to sleep because of this experience of being separate, like I was floating in a pitch black void of nothingness, while consciously aware of a world existing outside of me that was not here with me. In my experience as an older child I connected this experience to my mother and a desire to be physically close to my mother, so whenever I had the chance I would crawl into bed with her just to be close to her and feel the warmth of her body. When I was having sleepovers at friends’ houses I remember often becoming extremely homesick and it was in these moments that the experience of being alone was the most distinct.
What I am seeing now as I look at the point is that this extreme fear and discomfort with being alone as ‘separate’ and ‘apart from’ actually doesn’t have anything to do with the child’s bond to their parents. I know that in classical psychology there is a theory that the child when it is young experiences itself as part of the mother, like there is no distinction between what is ‘me’ and what is ‘my mother’ (or father).
Only later, the child starts separating itself as it starts developing an independent consciousness and awareness of itself being an individual and as such also start seeing the parent as a separate being, something that can develop into a separation-anxiety due to the mourning of the symbiotic relationship that is now ‘lost’. I see that this experience is actually an existential one where, when we come into the world we are more distinctly experiencing the reality of our situation as beings of this existence, with the foundational problem being that we’ve separated ourselves from ourselves.
Because that separation is automated and perpetuated generation after generation, the child then projects the point of separation onto their external world – that which then becomes what the child is separate from or independent in relation to, when in fact; all along the separation we so feared and mourned, was the separation from ourselves.
As we grow up a lot of psychological development happens and we are socialized (and brainwashed/programmed) into a particular culture to which we become anchored in such a way that we no longer experience ourselves as aimlessly drifting in the pitch black silence of outer space, but instead become clearly defined people with personalities and characteristics.
However the perpetual fear of being alone as separate and apart is a constant undercurrent that for many, if not most people governs out lives and the decisions we make from underneath all the noise of our loud and colorful, intricate and dramatic personalities.
It is why we place so much emphasis on relationships, on friendships, on family, on belonging, on being part of a group, on fitting in and it is why we eventually decide to have children to have someone to belong to, someone that belongs to us, that will never leave us and that may hopefully fill that ‘void’ we’ve been secretively existing in all our lives.
We are born into a world where we are shown for all intents and purposes that the solution to our experience of being separate and apart lies in the world outside of us, in relationships, other people, external goals, consumption and stimulation. It is sometimes expressed explicitly but it is also a subtle undercurrent, like a silent agreement everyone adheres to without anyone really knowing why they’re doing it.
For me, a significant turning point happened in my first months of participating with Desteni where I decided to walk through the fear of darkness. For many years, darkness had represented this ‘void’ for me, this explicable feeling of always being separate and apart, hence manifested as a fear of actually darkness. When I started embracing the literal darkness of the night, I also started embracing the darkness of myself and I realized that in the darkness is also the closeness, the ‘HEREness’ if you will. I stopped fearing to be alone. I started to embrace myself and now five years later, I can say that I am still just getting started. But if I had been a child today, I would have liked to have been supported to embrace myself within the comfort of my own physical body to embrace and enjoy myself within the moment of sleeping, not as something where I’m ‘separate’ or ‘apart from’ others/the world, but where I am simply Here with myself.
So here I will walk self-forgiveness on the emotional experience that I recognize from myself in the child in the video, because when I look within me I can still feel it, I can see that this experience has remained within me – yet now I understand that what I experienced wasn’t a ‘void’ of being separate from my mother, but the inherent awareness of I as life being separate from myself, exemplified by the situation of being a small baby having to sleep alone in a crib while being consciously aware that the world/my mother is outside/not here/separate and apart from me.
For those interested in learning more about the separation anxiety that babies/children can experience, there are some awesome Eqafe interviews on this here:
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to carry and hold onto a memory within me of being a baby/child attached to an energetic experience/reaction of anxiety within experiencing myself as ’alone’ as ’separate’ and ’apart from’
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to carry and hold onto the memory of experiencing myself as being ’alone’ as ’separate’ and ’apart from’ and that I have attached this experience to an experience of anxiety and fear
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to attach the experience of lying alone in bed in darkness and silence with an experience of anxiety towards being ’alone’ as ’separate’ and ’apart from’
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to define ’alone’ with an attached negative experience of fear and anxiety in defining being alone as being ’separate’ and ’apart from’
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to define ‘separate’ and ‘apart from’ attached with an energetic experience of fear and anxiety within experiencing that “this is not how it should be/this is not how it is supposed to be” – instead of realizing that within seeing that I am separate, I have the opportunity to question this separation and see it for what it is instead of it being something that I avoid and fear and eventually suppress and hide myself from through trying to establish a ‘closeness’ with that which I’ve projected this separation onto, as my external reality
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to define being alone as being in a state of ‘lack’ and ‘separation’ – as a ‘void’ and to then attach this to being separate from others/the world instead of realizing that the separation that I’ve experienced and accepted within and as me, was and is essentially a separation from myself that I’ve projected onto my external reality – thus believing that if my external reality comes ‘closer’ to me, I won’t experience myself as ‘lacking’ – when in fact what I was lacking was standing one and equal with myself here
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to automatically associate ‘being separate’ with ‘being separate from others/the world’ and I forgive myself that I’ve never accepted or allowed myself to question whether this separation was in fact a separation from myself OR whether this separation is even real, since I am Here, whole and the world is Here, whole and therefore: how can I/how can anything/anyone be separate?
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to fear sleeping alone as a child and I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to define, accept and experience sleeping alone as a scary thing, instead of simply being with myself, embracing myself within and as the darkness and silence that the night brings as a moment to be here with myself alone
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to, as a child, embrace the moment of going to sleep by myself and that I have instead defined, experienced and accepted going to sleep alone as something scary and ‘bad’, because of the experience of ‘void’ and ‘being apart/separate from’ I associated with going to sleep alone
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize that I’ve projected my existential separation from myself onto the scenario of being a child sleeping alone apart from its parents and as such believe that who/what I was separate from was my mother/what’s going on outside ‘in the world’ when in fact the only point of separation that existed, was my separation from myself
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not embrace myself and that I haven’t embrace simply being here with myself, with my breath and my physical body in silence and darkness
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize that I have nothing to fear in being alone with myself, that being alone with myself doesn’t mean that I am ‘lacking’ or being separate or apart from anyone or anything else as everyone and everything is still Here
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to, as a child experience myself as being ‘cast out’ and ‘excluded’ from ‘what’s going on in the world’ as though I was being placed outside of the world when I had to go to sleep and the adults kept ‘living’/being awake in the rooms outside of my room where I could see the lights and hear the sounds but I wasn’t allowed to be a part of it
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize how I sub/unconsciously associated being forced to go to bed alone as a child, as though I was being made ‘dead’ within experiencing that life was what was happening in the next room where my mother was still awake and the light was still on whereas my room was dark and silent and within this I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to create a polarized energetic experience of comparison and conflict between the dark, silent space of being alone and having to sleep (die) and the light, loud space of my mother being awake (alive) in the next room
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize that lying in my bed alone in the darkness and silence with my own breath is equally being alive as it is to be awake in a room with lights and sounds and that I do not lack or lose anything by lying in my room alone in the darkness
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to believe that I was missing out on life and/or something very fun and important when my mother forced me to go to sleep and I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to believe that my mother was doing it deliberately because she didn’t want me to be part of the fun and so within this, I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to blame my mother and to be angry at my mother for excluding me and within this create an energetic experience of desire to be part of what ever is going on outside my room and create an idea that what’s going on must be so much better than lying here in my bed
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize that what I resonantly picked up on was an energetic experience within my mother of feeling relieved and happy to finally be alone without her child and how this wasn’t actually something personal where she deliberately excluded me for personal reasons, but simply because she wanted and enjoyed that time to herself in the evening, which I then picked up on and accordingly interpreted as though I was being excluded from something amazing lol
I forgive myself that I, throughout my entire life have longed for and desired a physical closeness and unity with other beings, and that I have never considered giving and gifting that physical closeness and unity to/with myself Here.
When and as I see that I’m accepting and allowing myself to react within fear towards sleeping alone, I stop and I breathe and I bring myself back here to the stability of my body. I realize that I don’t lose anything or lack anything by sleeping alone because everything and everyone is still here, including myself. I realize that the separation I experienced as a child when I was alone, wasn’t in fact towards being separate and apart from my mother/the world, but actually the awareness of my existential separation from myself – and I realize that I further perpetuated that separation by projecting it onto my outside world, thus separating my even further from myself, constantly looking for solutions ‘out there’ instead of embracing myself here. I commit myself to stop separating myself from myself as I go to sleep and to instead embrace myself and enjoy the moment of being with myself, my body and my breath in the darkness and silence of myself.
Investigate Desteni, investigate the forum where on is invited to write oneself out in self-honesty and where any questions regarding the Desteni Material will be answered by Destonians who are walking their own process. Visit the Destonian Network where videos and blogs are streamed daily. Suggest to also check out the Desteni I Process and Relationship courses as well as the FREE DIP Lite course