The following is an excerpt from Jana Wilson’s ‘Wise Little One: Learning to Love and Listen to My Inner Child’, released on July 12, 2023, published here with permission.
A victim of childhood abuse and trauma, Jana Wilson could have wound up another statistic. As a young girl, Jana endured unimaginable hardships that left lasting scars on her psyche. But throughout the years, a resilient voice within her, her “Wise Little One,” whispered words of encouragement and guided her towards a path of self-love and empowerment. Through introspection, therapy, and the exploration of various healing modalities, Jana learned to listen to this inner voice, her inner child.
In “Wise Little One: Learning to Love and Listen to My Inner Child,” Jana Wilson takes us on a deeply personal journey of triumph over childhood trauma and the transformative power of connecting with one’s inner child. This gripping memoir is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the extraordinary capacity for healing through self-discovery. Jana Wilson’s story will resonate deeply with anyone who has experienced trauma, offering a guiding light towards reclaiming joy, authenticity, and the capacity to manifest an inspiring and love-filled life.
At times, I felt joyful and free with my daddy. He would swoop me up into his arms and dote on me, lovingly sweeping the hair out of my face, calling me pet names, and kissing my cheeks. I let his love fill me up. I let his attention satiate me. Yet, somewhere within, I sensed that I was not completely safe around him. At first it started as little warning flutters in my belly, but it soon developed into more obvious signs of anxiety. My heart would race, my palms would sweat, and my body would scream NO! anytime I’d get too close to him. Yet, I often had little choice. He would demand that I hug or kiss him, and when I resisted, he’d say, “Poor ole poppa, nobody loves me.”
I’d look into his sad eyes.
I’d shift my weight between my feet.
I’d go to him.
With each forced hug and kiss, I was being conditioned to put his feelings above my own. When he wanted his precious Time, I had no choice in the matter. He’d take me on his routes to deliver Lays Potato Chips, or my least favorite, when he wanted to go out for drinks but couldn’t afford to pay for beer.
On days like these, Daddy would insist that I wear the pair of white ruffled panties he bought me. We’d go to a local dive bar filled to the brim with old slimy men, their skin and breath seeping with the smell of alcohol and Aqua-Velva. He’d then place me on the table and put upbeat music on the jukebox, then prompt me to dance. As men started to gather, he’d give me the signal to lift my dress and shake my booty to show off the panties. Men would hoot and holler and throw dollar bills and coins my way. Daddy would take the money and buy himself several beers before taking me to another place to do it all over again. As he drank, he’d prop me on a stool next to him and tell me how adorable I was. He’d push my hair behind my ears and smile before swigging his beer.
“My little girl.”
I knew when he looked at me all he saw was my blond hair and my big, brown eyes. He never saw my innocence. My looks were something that softened him and allowed him to offer me his skewed version of love. I learned how to use that to my advantage. I knew how to bat my eyes, tilt my head, and pronounce my words in a cute, clumsy, way to manipulate him. That attention felt like love. But it also felt wrong. I was being conditioned to see my value through the lens of my looks. If I was pretty, then I was worthy and desirable. He exploited me and I was learning to exploit myself.
That feeling of his love being wrong didn’t come all at once. It started slowly, then it grew roots, took hold, and spread into a gnarly feeling in my guts, that I couldn’t ignore. Being around Dad began to feel more than uncomfortable—it felt scary.
It felt dark.
It felt stifling. It felt bad.
As these feelings increased, I did everything in my power to distance myself from my dad. I knew the days of the week and times when he’d likely want me to go places with him and I’d curl up under my covers feigning sickness or hide under my bed or in a closet so he couldn’t find me and take me along. Yet, I wasn’t always successful.
One sweltering day, he came out of the house while I was splashing away in my plastic pool with my neighbor. He walked over and swept me into his arms and carried me to his truck.
“Take a ride with me, Time!”
“No, I don’t want to go!” I shouted, “I want to stay and play!” But he didn’t listen. He never listened.
My mom stood in the doorway with a concerned look on her face as she waved goodbye to us. He opened the driver’s side door of his beat up, old, red Ford pickup, that had a rag shoved into the gas cap. He pushed me onto the long bench seat. He got in beside me and put his arm around me before slamming the door.
I swallowed hard.
“Now, stay close to me,” he said with a smile. “Don’t forget the other door is broken. I don’t need you flyin’ outta here onto the road.”
He lit a cigarette then turned the key and the truck rumbled to life. My stomach tightened as we pulled out of the driveway and began heading down our street. He reeked of Old Spice aftershave, cigarettes and sour beer. His energy was too intense for me to handle. I cautiously inched away from him when he shifted gears so he wouldn’t notice.
“Jana Lee, y’need to sit still now. Just stay right here next to me,” he bellowed.
I shifted farther.
Soon, I was pressed up against the passenger’s side door.
“I told you—” he began as the passenger side door flew open, and I fell out of the truck and rolled onto the street below. Dust swirled around me as I tumbled, the pavement scraping my knees and elbows. I rolled a couple of times, grinding dirt and gravel into my skin. Luckily, he’d been driving slowly, so I didn’t land too hard. After screeching to a stop, he placed the truck in park and flew out of his door. My body ached and my skin burned, but my plan worked, my dad would have to take me home now. He picked me up and cried out, “Hot damnit! I told ya to stay next to me.” He ran his hands over my hair and hugged me tight. “You’re all banged up, my beautiful girl! What we gonna do with you now?”
“I want Mommy.” I cried.
Jana Wilson is an emotional healing educator, meditation teacher, retreat leader, hypnotherapist, HeartMath Facilitator, and founder of the Emotional Healing System. For the past two decades she has taught thousands internationally in group and private retreats. Jana trained with best selling author and physician, Deepak Chopra MD and NY Times best-selling author, Debbie Ford. She lives off grid in the foothills of the Sangre de Christo mountain range in Santa Fe, NM, with her husband and business partner, Dr. Lance Wilson. When she is not guiding clients to heal, she enjoys hiking, yoga and watching documentaries. To learn more about Jana visit her website and get familiar with her work at the Emotional Healing Retreat. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.