Whether we, or they, acknowledge it, the bond that we have with our mother is one of the most important and impactful ones that we will carry with us through life. A relationship that began from the moment of conception, our biological mothers pass along to us their beliefs, patterns, griefs, joys, fears, traumas and generational experiences which, left unattended, can play out in through our lives. Our mother was our first sense of other, of separateness. She was our teacher, nurturer and leader.
Even if you have a beautiful and expansive relationship with your mother, there are wounds that can be attended to for us to elevate our own consciousness. Even birth, or how we are brought into this physical world, in and of itself is said to be a trauma that we inflict from our mothers.
WHAT IS THE MOTHER WOUND?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to the mother wound and both are intertwined with ancient and modern ways of thinking. One way to look at the mother wound is to see it through the lens of collective injury from being female in our society (hello, patriarchal culture!). It is unintentionally passed down from generation to generation of women to their children, particularly their daughters. It can include pain from ancestral experiences such as abuse, neglect, trauma, and marginalization.
The other side of the mother wound, and that which we will explore more today, is the wound passed along by our mother (or mother figure) to us from not being able, willing, or equipped to meet the needs of us as children - therefore leaving us feeling inadequate, unloveable or fundamentally flawed. Most mothers don’t set out to not meet our emotional needs but, because they are human, they might not have been emotionally aware or attuned to the needs that you had.
The mother wound can manifest and perpetuate itself in many different ways throughout our lives. It can look like poor boundaries, people-pleasing, perfectionism, unhealthy attachment styles, low self esteem, lack of self-confidence, our inability to trust ourselves, over-controlling behavior, never feeling good enough, the list goes on.
Generally speaking, if you are human and you have a biological mother (or mother-figure) there is an opportunity to get curious and look at how you maneuver through the world and how the relationship with your mother may be playing out in your adult life.
The beautiful part of being an adult, is that we have the free will to rewrite our stories, reparent ourselves or to seek professional help to move through the denser, more challenging experiences that we’ve had. We are never stuck and have full autonomy to change our outcomes in life. In essence, the cards we were dealt in childhood don’t predetermine the rest of our lives.
HOW TO BEGIN HEALING THE MOTHER WOUND?
SEE HER AS SHE IS, NOT AS YOU WANT HER TO BE
Expecting her to show up differently for you than she has the capacity to will only end up in more pain and disappointment, reopening the wound over and over again. One of the most transformational steps you can take to heal the mother wound and shift the relationship that you have is to loosen your grip on the expectation that she will show up in any other way than she is.
While this doesn’t mean you have to be in a relationship with your mother or put yourself in a toxic or harmful situation, it can invite compassion that she showed up for you in the best way she knew how and help release the idea of who your mother ‘should’ be and open you to accept her for who she is.
This allows you to see yourself as separate from her and empowers you to choose how you want to show up in the relationship moving forward based on how she is not how you want her to be.
SET POWERFUL BOUNDARIES
Sometimes setting boundaries can be challenging, but they can also be the most liberating and necessary actions when reclaiming your power in the relationship with your mother.
You are allowed to express your needs and be clear on what is and isn’t acceptable in your relationship. You can begin the process of setting boundaries by first, becoming aware of and second, voicing what is and what is not ok with you. It can also look like saying ‘No” where you would normally say a regrettable “yes”. In doing so you are shifting the balance of the relationship to one of equals, which you are.
The wounded child of the past is still within each of us and surfaces as your inner child. When situations and feelings come up that remind us of traumas from younger years, our inner child will rely on old coping mechanisms to make it through safely. This part of us has a significant impact on how we behave and relate as adults.
While we can’t turn back time (yet), we can take time to nurture the wounded child within us. We can give ourselves what we didn’t receive from our mothers and show ourselves just how loveable, beautiful and whole we really are. Reparenting is just that - giving ourselves that which we didn’t receive as a child. Reparenting can be as simple as asking ourselves, particularly in the moments of emotional chaos, “What can I give myself right now?” or “What do I need to feel supported/loved/safe?”. By not relying on others to provide that for us, but providing for ourselves, we again, take our power back and build confidence in ourselves.
One of the most beautiful lessons on this planet is that we don’t have to do this thing called life alone. Seeking support is available to EVERYONE and is absolutely encouraged. Support can look like leaning into a sisterhood of trusted friends and family or it can look like working with a therapist. Life can be a lot to handle and when we seek support we often see how connected we truly are. We are not alone in our experiences, in our wounds, and in our traumas. This is an opportunity to heal as a collective.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in the article are the views of the cited guest/expert and do not necessarily represent the views of PRISM.