Dysfunctional Family Teachings and the Fears of a Six Year Old


family dysfunction mental health
on the rocks

Dysfunctional families are dysfunctional early on. We may not realize it early on though because we have no other frame of reference. When we look back at our lives, we are unaware of getting stuck in some of our childhood fears. I talked a bit about this in my last post ~ Dissociated Identity as a Coping Method for Mental Health

 Feeling the feelings is very scary especially if you don’t realize when you are facing them with the fears of a child. I used a cave analogy a little while back in a post about how navigating recovery is often like trying to feel your way through a pitch black cave with a faulty flashlight.

 I had another image of the cave this time looking at it from the outside. It just flashed through my mind a few weeks ago; I was sitting on a picnic blanket in a beautiful field of wildflowers on a breezy sunny day. It was quiet and peaceful and I was all alone. I was surrounded by food and was using both my hands to eat, while I stared wide eyed in fear, into the mouth of the cave.

 Something about that whole image bothered me, and it kept coming back to me over and over again in my minds eye. My wide eyed staring at the mouth of the cave seemed logical, I understand the fear or hesitation that I have about going in there, but the chipmunk eating (which I figured was just nervous eating) was what didn’t seem to fit right.  The way that I was using both my hands seemed odd to me. When this image had flashed in the back of my mind for a couple days straight, I noticed that my shoulders were bare and that I had a little sundress on. I looked a little closer at this image in my mind and I realized that I was about six years old in this scene, sitting by myself in a beautiful felid facing the mouth of a pitch black cave which represented my faulty belief system.

 Although I have faced many “fears of the unknown”, for some reason facing the cave this time was really scary until I realized that I was six; in my mind, I was trying to face this fear of dealing with more false truth and belief system stuff as a six year old!

 I think this is a good illustration of the process of recovery. We usually think we are facing things at our current adult age, but the things we are facing that happened when we were children we seem to face with the same mindset we had as children at the time of the incident which formed the false belief.

 Realizing that I am facing fears of a false belief that I adopted when I was only six helps me to be gentler with myself. I can use self talk to reassure my inner child that she is not alone.  Becoming aware of my mind/age also helps me to understand where this particular fear started; I was around six when my mother started to teach me about sexuality. Our mother daughter relationship had some faulty foundations. Another benefit of realizing my mind age is that instead of looking at my fear of dealing with yet one more thing from the standpoint of an adult and reprimanding myself for still having these issues, I was able to realize that I am facing this with the thoughts, fears and understanding of a six year old ~ a six year old who was being taught that her looks and sexuality would serve her in a world that she was not ready to live in. I developed fears about not looking good enough, and because I was also sexually abused, I developed fears about looking too good. I was able to understand the confusion that still exists inside of me. I was able to breathe a sigh of relief because now that I know I am facing the cave as a six year old and I have been through this process before, I know how to re-parent myself and begin the process of getting me and my six year old self through it.

 Emerging continues…

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Family



I was diagnosed with “Dissociated Identity Disorder”..The therapist that worked with me since I was 17 had originally believed it was “Multiple Personality Disorder”. However through PTSD and the idea that I had suffered repeated trauma in my life the first made more sense. I see where you are comming from as a child facing that fear. Every since I was about 5 years old I have (to this day) episodes where I will see a flash of light or hear screaming (muffled) in my ears, all at once my body begins to tighten up and the screaming hurts my ears. My brain feels like it is being tightend in some sort of devise and I become paralyzed with fear. When I was little I would try to move and fight it. As I got older (30 now)I would cry out loud (although I couldn’t scream) “Jesus help me”…over and over till the episode stopped. I have learned not to fight it. To let it (as terrifing as it is) take it’s course through my body. When I was five a man (that I can not see the face) I called it “shawdow man” came into my room and my last memory is him putting his hands around my neck and and mouth. I have tried to recover this memory and for a long time just thought it was a nightmere. However I know it’s a painful, traumatic event that my mind is not able to process right now. Therapist have not been able to tell what these episodes are? Well thank you for sharing this, I really relate! Love to you all.


Hi Christina,
Thanks for sharing this part of your story. I find it so interesting how many different ways the memories and feelings come back and how many different ways that we deal with and process them. I have some fragments of memories too, some really bug me, others not so much. The most important thing to me today is to keep facing things, and keep being willing to go forward and I figure if I am meant to remember the rest of those fragment memories, I will. If not then I guess I don’t need to. Thanks for being here.
Hugs, Darlene

Just a note to the readers: I use both Dissociated identity disorder and multiple persnality disorder interchangeably because in my case they are, but after reading this post from Christina, maybe I should not do that because some people can have just DID and do not have both conditions.


Thank you so much Darlene<3


The majority of the time that I am dealing with fear, it is coming from my inner children. That is why I decided to write my Inner Child Letters Series of posts on my blog. Just like with a real child, part of the reparenting consists of having conversations with my inner children and helping them to feel safe. Realizing that your fear came from your six-year-old inner child rather than from the adult you is a big step in healing.


Patricia’s inner child series can be found at http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/


I am happy to post it Patricia; I think that kind of work is so important for others to read. It is inspiring for many just to know that others are doing innerchild work with successful results!
Hugs, Darlene

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