To Dream Again "Wondering if I will come to a happy place in surrender to self-care. Surrender to me. Myself. And I. Self-talk, positive affirmations of my worth. It's my time now. My season of me. I've given and given and given. No time for guilt over self-care anymore. Over rediscovering who I was…who I am apart from my spouse. I really am still me. How wonderful that she, the little girl inside, has not been extinguished? Even through the incredible trauma of discovery, lies and deception—I am still inside. Inside my heart I am still that young girl who loved the outdoors, the simple joy of natural surroundings ...and just being. I want to just be. I long to just be me. Before my time is up." – A Betrayed Wife What is this inner child work of which they speak? For those who have committed wrongs against self and others, it is a part of recovery. One must learn to forgive and re-parent the little child inside whose lens was distorted and learned to handle life's pressures through harmful escape. What about those of us who have been abused and neglected¬—we who have lost our footing because of our spouse's choices? How do we nurture compassion and empathy for the child we once were? It has been said in many 12-step ‘anon' programs–for recovering friends and family of another's addiction-laced actions–that it is to ourselves that are owed amends. Many of us have sacrificed the hopes, dreams, and joys of that little inner child with the best of intentions for our spouse and family. In turn, we have neglected the tender heart of our inner child. The cliché "no good deed goes unpunished," comes to mind. Yes, we have done many good deeds—probably more than most. And yet we drew the short straw when it comes to having a faithful marriage. We will never be able to say we had all the things those greeting cards in the stores tout on anniversary cards. Through no doing of our own, that precious day of remembrance of white lace and promises has been tainted. Yet, that inner child needs to be embraced and loved—the one who dreamed of a 50th wedding anniversary, grandchildren on our knee, and celebrating a life of honesty, respect, and love. What were his or her dreams and joys? What simple pleasures made him or her smile? Lying on the carpet face to face with puppy breath, needle teeth, and a squirming bundle of love. Strolling along a necklace of foam at the crest of a wave as it reaches up the beach and then slides back into the sea—looking for a glint of shiny shell to capture in hand as treasured remembrance. Wiping away the milk moustache after a crunchy Oreo experience. Running just a little bit ahead toward the front door of the next neighbor's house on a cool and dark Halloween night; pillow case in hand awaiting to be ‘fed' when the door opens. Trading your latest treasure from a collection of rocks, marbles, stamps, or trading cards with a best friend. Pumping the pedals of your bike, heart racing, with wind tossed hair. Taking a juicy bite of summer's first slice of watermelon. Trying to fall asleep in anticipation of Santa's drop down the chimney. Running in from playing outside to sit down to dinner surrounded by family. Gazing at the moon and trying to see the man's face wondering how Swiss cheese could form such an image. Being tucked in and kissed on the forehead, "Goodnight." Find them. Don't give up. There are still so many simple pleasures awaiting your notice. Mindfulness is not just a tool to achieve a state of meditation, it is the crystal clear lens of reality that allows you to really see all the amazing wonders all around you: see, taste, feel, hear, and smell the breadth of life. Find that little person inside and promise to never let him or her go. Never again sacrifice so much that you can't look up at the clouds and dream.