In living the abandoned child
within herself
the woman becomes pregnant
with herself.

—Marion Woodman


When you first read this quote you may have thought that the word “living” was a typo. Shouldn’t it say, “loving the abandoned child”?

But in this case, living the abandoned child is the path to love.

It is through seeing, acknowledging, and listening to the abandoned child within ones’ self that love arises.

Sooner or later, every woman will discover an abandoned child inside herself.

Some of us are intimately familiar with her because her presence inside us has created some of our most excruciating longing and suffering.

The abandoned child may appear when a relationships ends, when someone disappoints us, or when we feel discarded or dismissed.

When you go inside, can you find the abandoned child? 

If you’re not sure, here are a few questions to help you discover her:

  • Have you had a habit of saying yes when you really meant no?
  • Do you ignore or cover up your feelings?
  • Have you gone along with someone else’s wishes, desires, or demands when your mind, body, and soul were screaming a loud NOOO?
  • Have you compromised your integrity, your values, or your beliefs so that you could (hopefully) secure the approval, love, or acceptance of another person?
  • Do you routinely dismiss your thoughts, intuitive hunches, values, or beliefs because others don’t or wouldn’t approve?
  • Have you fooled yourself into believing that another person was being “accountable,” when the truth was that he/she simply repeated apologies but never brought any urgency, enthusiasm, or sincerity to changing their hurtful or offending behaviors?

If you’ve done any of these, especially more than once or twice, you have an abandoned child inside you.

These are difficult truths to face because you will want to focus on what he/she/they did to you.

And even if they did violate boundaries or were true offenders, your focus on them will only feed the victim in you. But it will not heal you.

If you want to live the abandoned child inside you so that you can birth yourself, you must Return to the authentic truth of who you are and Stand for your needs and desires.

These unconscious patterns point to the most painful kind of abandonment—self-abandonment.

The abandoned child inside you may be difficult to acknowledge, admit, or face.

You may not like her. You may see her in your mind’s eye and feel dislike toward her, or even disgust. (If this is true for you, this is likely how you believed others saw you as a child.)

The abandoned child inside may scare you.

The thought of her may be so devastating that you just don’t want to go there.

That’s okay. Just notice what comes up for you.

The invitation is to live the abandoned child, and that includes noticing your true, authentic response to her.

How does one “live” the abandoned child?

Start by seeing where she shows up in your life.

For example, does she return to an empty well (a person, relationship, or situation) over and over again hoping to get the love, approval, or security she is seeking even though she knows there is no water there?

If you notice her wanting to, or actually returning to an empty well, ask her, “what would help you feel better right now?”  Listen for her answer, and do your best to give her what she needs.

When we allow the abandoned child to return over and over again to empty wells, we abandon and neglect her, again.

We fail to show her that there is another way.

When you begin doing this kind of inner work, you discover what you need at the deepest level. And you begin to learn how to nurture and feed the hungry, abandoned child inside.

When you begin attending to the abandoned child, you become pregnant with yourself.

If you’ve ever been pregnant or know a woman who was genuinely excited about her pregnancy, you know that pregnant women go to great lengths to care for their unborn child.

If she used to drink alcohol, she stops. She never misses a prenatal care appointment. She avoids toxins in the environment. She is extra mindful about the food she eats, and what she puts into her body. She may even become more sensitive and protective about what she consumes with her eyes and ears—what she receives into her consciousness.

Why? Because she deeply cares about the child inside her.

Can you care for the abandoned child inside you in the same way?

She is the one you nurture and attend to so that you can become who you are meant to be.

By seeing her and allowing her into your mind and your heart, you create the container to which she can return home.

Welcoming her is choosing you.

She is the key to feeling loved, worthy, and cherished from the inside out.


Invitations for reflection, exploration, and action:

  • When you close your eyes and go inside, can you find an abandoned child? What does she look like? Where is she? What does she need from you?
  • Do you have any “empty wells” in your life? What do you need or want from those empty wells?
  • What does “becoming pregnant with yourself” mean to you?

© Victoria Tidwell Palmer (2022)

Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and Soul (©1998)
By Marion Woodman and Jill Mellick
(Reprinted with permission)

*This post is from the Coming Home to You Series. Visit this page for the backstory of the CHTY Series.



I want to support you to Return to the authentic truth of who you are, Reclaim what is yours, and Receive everything that is meant for you. So that you can Regenerate your life, your relationships, community, and the world.

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