Steel Magnolia

Awaking My Inner Child


August 2023 Issue
By Tricia M. Boland


Inside every woman lives a child. A sensitive little girl who desires fairness, kindness, and respect. If she was fortunate, her parents prepared her to walk that fine line, that fragile path between being a gentle and accommodating female and a hard-hitting woman who can hold her own.

In relationships, marriage, or career, at some point. every woman’s inner voice has cried. No matter her age, her inner child has silently screamed at injustice, arrogance, and rudeness of the few who would deny her the respect she so rightly deserves. Hearts have been broken, promotions denied, and relationships destroyed as a woman's inner child fights to survive.

Does the struggle ever end?

One wonders if young women hear their inner child's cries as loudly or as often as the older generation. Do they even care if they are accused of being out of control or called a bitch?

I thought I had left my own insecure child behind. Closing in on what is known as the older generation, some may even call me elderly, I have lived decades of life and amassed hard-earned degrees, executive titles, and global leadership roles. I am a published author and single-handedly raised four daughters—three of them adopted.

And yet on a beautiful summer day in the Lowcountry, where natural beauty abounds, my inner child’s voice merged with that of an adult when I found my neighbor had taken it upon himself to have the magnificent magnolia tree that stood in mighty splendor between our homes cut down.

For the twenty years I’ve lived in my home, the sight of her beauty greeted me every sunny day. Her growth was evident with each of her 50 or so years as her blossoms grew larger and more abundant every spring. We had both lived a lot of history, me and that tree, and I believed we were bound until the end—my end coming certainly before hers.

But the end came too soon for that beautiful old tree right when she was reaching middle age; magnolias can live 100 years. While I slept, a little man with a big ego hired a tree service to end its life. Nothing remains, not even its stump

Did I not deserve the courtesy shown between respectful neighbors? Did I not matter?

My inner child’s rage merged with adult anger. The little girl inside me cried out, “Am I not good enough? Do I not deserve to be here? Do I not get a say?”

Now, my adult self shouts: “Dammit, You bet you Do!

Unfortunately, that beautiful magnolia tree is gone forever, but the voice of the “steel magnolia” has been heard and will not soon be forgotten. Yes, sometimes our inner child, who harbors all those childhood moments of fear, doubt and self-consciousness, puts on her big girl panties and lets the world know she’s a woman.

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