Hurt: The Orphan/Wounded Child Archetype

Everyone I know goes away in the end.  – “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash

Compared to people who have had severely traumatic childhoods such as having been orphaned, or having experienced physical/sexual abuse, my childhood was a walk in the park. Although my parents stayed together and I was never truly physically harmed (except for some school bullying), the psychological challenges I faced were filled with enough loneliness, alienation, and abandonment that forced me to understand early in life that this was a mean, cruel world.

I realized long ago that much of the anger and depression I go through as an adult all stems from my childhood, but I didn’t realize how much I was attached to the pain of my youth until I encountered Caroline Myss’ work on archetypes.

This leads me into my first of twelve archetypes: Child. Within the Child archetype, Caroline Myss actually presents six subsections:

  • Child: Divine
  • Child: Eternal
  • Child: Magical
  • Child: Nature
  • Child: Orphan (aka Abandoned)
  • Child: Wounded

I’m not sure if we were supposed to choose only one of the Child archetypes, but I chose two, both of which strongly called out to me.


Child: Orphan/Abandoned

  • Light attributes: Best known pattern in many fairy tales. Helps develop psychic independence based on personal judgement and experience in early life, independence based on learning to go it alone. Conquering fear of surviving. Reflects feeling that you aren’t a part of your family or tribal spirit.
  • Shadow attributes: Manifests as failure to mature, and obsessive search for surrogate family structures to experience tribal union rather than moving on.

Child: Wounded

  • Light attributes: Holds memories of abuse, neglect, and other traumas endured during childhood. Awakens deep compassion and desire to serve other Wounded Children. Opens the learning path of forgiveness.
  • Shadow attributes: Blames all dysfunctional relationships on childhood wounds. Resists moving forward through forgiveness due to self-pity and blame.

Both of these archetypes combined explain a lot about my relationship with the memories of my childhood. These archetypes also explain my behavior now as an adult. What made my formative years difficult was being an only child to two parents who were rarely home, and without any sort of emotional support or having been taught any social skills, I retreated to seclusion as my sole source of healing. Being small, sensitive, awkward, and being of a different culture/race, was always fodder for a lot of ridicule and alienation. I was never good at making friends, and I was rarely close with my relatives, some of whom loved to pick on me too. So I always found myself alone, unable to find comfort in anyone.

Even in blood, many of my relatives didn’t want anything to do with me. Even with my loyalty and love, several friends turned their backs on me. Even in the face of racism, the Filipino community didn’t accept me. It was painful to feel like I wasn’t a part of any community or a group of friends or even a family. I felt like at any moment, anyone would take their cheapshots at me, and many times they did. I was always scared and alone, and always felt vulnerable.

There were several moments in my childhood all the way up to my adulthood when anyone who ever meant anything to me had abandoned me.

The “light attributes” of my Orphan and Wounded Child archetypes are both equally strong in me. Since I was 8 years old, I learned how to be independent at such a young age (i.e. cooking, cleaning, caring for myself) and was never afraid to learn life’s lessons on the fly. I’m a loner and I’m happy being one. But from my childhood till now, I always took time to seek out other people like me who were treated like “outcasts,” for whom I felt the deepest feelings of compassion. In me, they can find refuge and solace. These archetypes are what led me to eventually become a healer.

But the “shadow attributes” of my Orphan and Wounded Child archetypes are also very strong in me. There were times when I encountered people with whom I truly became fascinated, but found myself throwing away my sense of independence and started depending on them to become my “surrogate family,” to make them the brother or sister I never had. This unfortunately has lead me to be inappropriately demanding towards those friends. Because of me, sometimes those friendships would end. When that did occur, I found it tremendously difficult to forgive both them and myself. In addition to all of this, for all of the anger and resentment that I felt, I also had an ongoing habit of blaming my parents and all the people in my past who’ve abandoned and hurt me. Forgiveness was never my strong-suit, and in the end, I’ve suffered from that the most.

As my photo above suggests, that hurt little kid still lives on in me. A lot of people can see it in my eyes.

But for every scar that I have is a lesson that I’ve learned. In regards to the shadow attributes of my Child archetypes, the bottom line lessons I’ve learned were to give myself the compassion I deserve through cultivating forgiveness, and to stop looking for a surrogate family in others. Ever since I’ve been working on those things, I’ve been feeling a tremendously positive shift in my life.

Nowadays, when my shadow self starts coming into full consciousness, and that depression, resentment, and outright wrath start coming out, I allow myself to fully experience those feelings, and ask myself “what do you want?” Almost always, all my shadow really wants is to be expressed. All I really need to do is to either artistically express myself through writing or to take time to study more ways to heal others. Through writing stories, comic strips, or morbidly dark prose, I can either sort out my thoughts or reach out to those who’ve been through the same so they don’t feel so alone. Through healing others, I can help them realize that they’re truly cared for; that life is worthwhile.

In any case, when my shadow comes out to play, it’s always a learning experience.

As soon as Caroline Myss’ teachings came into my life, I began to grow wings. I began to learn from my shadow self and to embrace him. I’m starting to shed several years of limitations I’ve placed on myself by simply “allowing and letting go” in order to let life unfold in its natural brilliance (wu wei).

Archetypes are symbolic aspects of you that you’re expected to learn from. That’s why they’re there. These archetypes are a symbolic way to transform those harsh memories into positive lessons from which we can grow. And that’s how we move forward in our journey towards happiness.

Attached here is a PDF of archetypes that one of my friends found online: Archetypes – written by Christine Breese, DD, PhD

Which Child archetype are you?

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