The little girl sits by her Mother. Her mother is telling her tales. These aren’t fairy tales however, these are stories about abuse; things that had happened to her as a child. The stories are too adult for a ten year old ears. The girl tries to help and soothe her mother. She doesn’t want her mother to hide in the wardrobe again.
The girl, old beyond her years, does what she can for her mother. Always the helper, the carer, the soother.
What is a Mother Wound?
“The Mother Wound is a set of beliefs and patterns that originate from early dynamics with your mother that can cause you to unconsciously limit or sabotage yourself.” — Bethany Webster
As Mothers, most of us do the best that we can with what we have. But sometimes we have a void, a gap within us and we are not sure what this is, why it is there or how we can heal it.
When there has been an ‘absence’ of our own Mothering (this may be a physical or emotional absence) in our lives we might look for people or things to fill that void. We might unconsciously expect our partners to fill it.
When we are younger we may attach to teachers or other Mothers in the hope that they will give us the nurturing that we have missed out on.
A Mother Wound can come from parenting that has been critical, harsh, abusive, or negligent. This can leave us with low confidence and self esteem. We may feel that we are people pleasers or perfectionists in order to be liked or validated. How can we heal from this to become who we were truly meant to be?
As a child I was raised in a home where my mother suffered from a severe mental illness. I was a quiet girl. Occasionally when I forgot my worries my true character could be revealed. I could be fun, excitable and energetic; a bit like a bouncy binkying bunny.
Looking back I could see that I was suffering from a lack of an emotionally supportive parent. This was not intentional. My parents did the best that they could but my dad was out working and then home caring for his wife and kids.
My mum had schizophrenia and struggled for years to leave the house. She was agoraphobic for much of my young life and visitors were not welcomed. This is extremely isolating for a child.
My dad, who is my rock and my secure base, took me walking in the countryside where I was able to voice what I felt to him.
His validation of my feelings helped me to understand that it was ok to feel what I was feeling. He allowed me to express my anger and confusion. He was my security when at times I felt like I was a tiny boat on a stormy sea.
Emotional regulation is another term for self soothing and processing emotions. In the ideal world our parents will help to soothe us if we upset. When we are tiny and unable to care for ourselves we cry and a carer will soothe us by giving us what we need. If we are held, loved and cared for we form strong attachments to the carer. This helps us to calm down.
However, if our carers have never been taught to process their emotions then there will be an inability to help you to process yours. This may have made you feel unseen or unsafe; “I won’t bother her with my worries. She won’t be able to help.”
Steps to Healing the Mother Wound
Validate the self. Acknowledge to yourself that it has been painful growing up with an absent or critical Mother. Gain understanding how having an emotionally absent mother affected you in your adult years by speaking to a professional.
Show yourself some compassion and kindness. Recognise how hard it was for you growing up. If you have photographs of yourself as a child look at these and remember your beautiful younger self. Tell your inner child that your adult self sees you and that you are loved. Do this everyday.
Learn to name what you are feeling. Meditate for a few minutes each day and allow those feelings to surface. Can you give them a name? Ask yourself ‘what is here’? Is it anger, sadness, grief? Name to tame the emotion.
Self soothe. When do you feel safe? Where is that? Maybe you feel safe in your bedroom? Make a cosy place that you can go to where you can sit in stillness. Light some candles and listen to soothing music. Breathe deeply in and out and focus on each breathe.
Movement can bring you back to your body; dance, run or walk. These things can also help to soothe you if you are feeling agitated. Walking in nature is highly valuable. Notice what you hear, see, smell and feel as you walk.
These are a few steps to begin your healing journey. Speaking with a trusted therapist can help you to continue the process of healing. They will help you to heal your inner child and to recognise the narrative of the inner adult.
To work with me online on painful issues like this one please email me email@example.com I will respond within a few hours.
This blog is part of a book that I am writing entitled 'How to get off the emotional roller coaster and heal yourself from a painful past.' If you enjoyed reading this please let me know. If you would like blogs sent directly to your inbox then email me for exclusive first reads.