First off, happy Mother’s Day to all of you kickass mothers out there.
However, I want to talk about a very different aspect of Mother’s Day for many of us.
A dark secret that many of us carry.
That Mother’s Day can be a painful and lonely day filled with sadness and memories for those of you with a challenging relationship with your mother.
When your mother is absent, hyper-critical, judgmental, emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive, seems to hurt your feelings for a living, or makes you feel less than.
Mother’s Day can feel like walking through a field of landmines.
It can bring up a ton of grief. Feeling like you missed out on a close relationship that you see around you on all the greeting cards and tv commercials.
On that day that’s filled with joy for so many, it may instead poke at the old wounds that make you ask “why wasn’t I good enough to have a good mother?”
And worse yet, most of us grow up learning to keep it a secret.
You learned to keep the sadness, the pain, the disappointment, the frustration, the sense of not-enoughness buried deep below a sea of trying to put on a happy face.
You carried the burden of trying to maintain the status quo. Of keeping all of this chaos secret. And focusing on keeping other people happy.
When you have a mother wound, you’ve been taught that you must silence your discomfort. You must quiet your rage. You must tuck away your sadness. And instead, focus on keeping other people happy.
Mother wounds can cause all kinds of problems in your life.
Ways The Mother Wound Can Impact You:
Put everyone else’s needs above your own. Feeling like you need to have others approval to be “good enough” or worthy. Feeling that if other people don’t approve of your decisions you may be abandoned or rejected. Feeling like you can’t trust yourself and that you must get others approval of your decisions because “you don’t don’t know what you’re doing”.
Drowning in shame:
A sense of shame and feeling like you have to “make up for” where you came from by being extra good, by proving your worth, by hiding away any perceived imperfections. Minimizing any perceived similarities between you and your mother. Feeling as though anything you do that may be similar means you’re becoming “just like her” and experiencing intense guilt for any similarities (which are unavoidable and not something that you need to feel bad about. You have something to learn from even the most painful circumstances of your life).
Internalizing Problems and Blaming Yourself:
Internalizing blame by feeling that everything that goes wrong (or could go wrong) is somehow your fault. Being afraid of what would happen if you don’t take responsibility for everything that goes wrong (“I should know better. I’m becoming just like my mom”).
Feeling like you must have control or things will fall apart. Wanting to control things because you feel like it’s the only way to control the chaos. This can be in the small things like how your towels are folded, or how you cook your morning eggs. Or it can be in the big things like controlling other people’s behaviors and choices. Or you may even feel the need to know exact plans, research every little thing in depth, or be the one in charge of major decisions or you feel “really out of control”
Feeling as though every time someone disagrees with you it could turn violent or ugly. That people will hate you if you disagree with them. That you are “bad” if you have different needs or opinions than others want you to have. That somehow you must be wrong if everyone doesn’t agree with your point of view. And that maybe you should reconsider your own opinion if other people disagree. This is highly related to people-pleasing.
Fearing setting boundaries with others. Feel that it’s “mean” to set boundaries to tend to be a dumping ground for others. Or fear others so much that you tend to be walled up and defensive and over-protective to keep people from hurting you. Your issues with boundaries can be due to safety fears, fear of abandonment, or not knowing how to set boundaries in a healthy way.
Having difficulty trusting others. Feeling like you need to be what other people want you to be in order to be liked and approved of and not trusting them with your real self. Fearing that it’s not safe to show people who you really are. Not being authentic in your relationships.
Feeling like you can’t trust yourself or your own opinions. Fearing that you’re not really worth trusting.
Guilt for wanting more: Feeling bad or not worthy of wanting more money, freedom, joy, time.
Shrinking and Self-Sabotage:
Making yourself small to make others feel more comfortable in order for others to earn love. Getting in the way of your own happiness and success. Stopping yourself short of what you really want.
Fearing that you can’t have it all, so dimming yourself in some way or another so that you’re not threatening to anyone else (examples: gaining weight, drinking too much, procrastination).
When you have a mom who isn’t healthy you literally learn to fear your own awesomeness.
Being afraid of outshining others so making yourself small and more palatable so that others approve of you. Feeling like you’ll be targeted if you do stick your neck out and shine.
When you have a mother wound, you feel the need to shrink so that you won’t outshine her.
Feeling that by being fully yourself, fully vibrant, completely amazing, joyful, free, and absolutely fulfilled means you’re betraying her, betraying others, and somehow responsible for other people’s lack of these things. So you shrink to avoid that sense of responsibility (instead of addressing it head-on).
Putting Up With Crap:
Overlooking poor treatment of others. Making excuses for others poor behavior. Feeling like it’s your fault if others treat you poorly. Having little to no standards for how you’re treated. Allowing others to dump on you. Feeling that it’s your job to take care of everyone around you.
Feeling that it’s your job to take care of everyone around you. Putting other people’s needs first, always above your own. Trying to solve other people’s problems for them under the guise of “being nice”. Anticipating problems and the pains of others and trying to “save them” from them. Feeling that you must help others if you sense any discomfort or pain.
Everyone responds to the mother wound differently.
But generally, the response is on one end of the pendulum or another. You exist in the extremes and feel like life is “either/ or”, “good or bad”, and “black and white”.
This is part of the toxic cycle that happens because of the mother wound.
And when you don’t get help overcoming it you will tend to swing your pendulum from one extreme to the other.
From People-pleasing to thinking “screw them, I don’t need anyone”.
From self-blame to blaming others.
From being a dumping ground for others problems to walling yourself up and not being open or available to others at all.
The pendulum is not the answer. It’s part of the problem.
* * *
At your core, you fear to betray the contract you signed on for in childhood.
- The contract to never outshine your mom.
- The contract to never make too much noise.
- The contract to be what other people wanted you to be.
- The contract to put other people’s needs first.
- The contract to sabotage yourself if you were making anyone else uncomfortable.
- The contract that that made it “normal” for other people to treat you poorly.
- The contract that said that you better be happy with what you have and shut up about it.
- That contract that says that you must squish yourself down and make yourself small so that your mother doesn’t become enraged, sad, or withdraw her love.
- The contract that states that you have to just “forgive and forget” and that it’s a betrayal to look at these deep wounds and heal them for good.
- The contract that makes lying okay. That says that “that’s all in your imagination. That never happened!”
- The contract that says that you can’t become too successful, too wealthy, too attractive, too popular or you may elicit envy, jealousy, anger, or coldness from your mother.
- The contract that demanded silence, obedience, and putting the responsibility for everyone else’s happiness on your own back.
Oy vey is that a heavy burden to bear.
No wonder the mother wound can dig so deep into your psyche and pop up to cause so much trouble.
* * *
And when day’s like today come around, we suddenly bump up against those painful points.
- Those points that you’ve been protecting and shielding for so long that you believe are a part of you.
- Those sore spots that you fear that if anyone else saw, they’d reject you.
- Those bumps and bruises that you feel make you damaged, wrong, and not good enough.
- Those painful places make you push others away, fear trusting, and push your feelings down into the dark to escape from.
- Those ouchy places that still cry out, longing for soothing.
- The young you that still wishes she could receive the love and nurturing that she never received.
All of these raw and open wounds inside of you long for healing.
And yet you feel that you’re not entitled to healing.
That this is just your burden to bear.
That you must “suck it up” because she’s your mom.
Because your mom did so much for you.
Because you’re loyal and loving and if you bring all of this out into the open in order to deal with it, it would mean you’re betraying her. You’re betraying your loyal and loving heart. Betraying the core of who you are.
No wonder you’ve kept silent and kept shoving down the pain.
But the truth is. Your silence does not fix your mother. Or stop her from suffering.
It just perpetuates your suffering.
It perpetuates the shame. The secrets. The lying to yourself saying that you’re “being dramatic”.
It creates a no-win scenario where you’re carrying around your mother’s wounds inside of you and blaming yourself for them. Feeling like maybe you can heal them, or soothe them, by just being “better” or reigning yourself in more from who you really are.
* * *
Ignoring this wound has major consequences.
Like a wound on your body that you refuse to seek treatment for, it will rot. That rot spreads. You shrink more and more, get more and more exhausted trying to keep up the façade and feel true happiness, joy, contentment, and enjoyment are a myth that someone came up with to torture you.
You’ve got to air out the wound.
You’ve got to open it to the light.
What you’ve longed for lies on the other side of it.
Because you can stop being imprisoned by the mother wound when you stand up with the courage to say “no longer. I will no longer live this way”.
Overcoming The Mother Wound Will Change Everything For The Better:
- Feel Free To Shine: Stop fearing your own brilliance and start shining like a beacon
- Authentic Happiness: Find joy, delight, and gratitude in things that used to feel like a burden.
- Empower Your Intuition. Feel all of your feelings and see them as tools and information that helps you connect with your true path.
- Normalize All Emotions. Cultivate the skill to sit with both your own and other people’s “uncomfortable” emotions.
- Self-Nurturing. Nurture yourself and drop the guilt around giving to yourself and treating yourself like a beloved. Like you wish your mother had treated you.
- Drop The Need For Control. Stopping the cycle of feeling like other people are rejecting you when they don’t live up to your very narrow expectations.
- Silence The Inner Asshole — the internalized judge, critic, and abuser who makes you feel small, not good enough, and rips you apart any chance it gets. To stop renting space in your head to people who have been abusive or unkind to you.
- Cultivate Healthy Relationships. Feel more intimate and connected to others as you become more intimately connected with yourself.
- Worthiness: Feel that you are worthy, worthwhile, and that you deserve everything you’ve ever desired.
- Unconditional Love: Both give and receive unconditional love — unbound by the need to control and manipulate in order to feel like you’re “enough”
- Feel Good Enough and Authentic. Feel loved and adored and good enough in your own skin. No longer feeling like you have to be something you’re not. No longer craving approval in order to feel worthy.
- Discover YOU. Who you truly are. And become fully authentic and self-expressed.
- Trusting yourself. Trusting others. Trusting the divine. And trusting in life itself.
* * *
You are no longer that child.
You did the best you could with the tools you had at the time.
You protected your precious heart.
And here you are today. Ready to take a leap toward becoming the woman you’re meant to be.
Finally feeling the courage to stop having to be the child who molded herself into what others wanted her to be in order to be loved.
You’re ready to embrace your freedom.
You are prepared to fly.
Knowing the doorway lies through being honest and open and addressing the wounds that you’ve kept secret, and silent, and tucked away inside of you for so long.
It’s the most rewarding journey you’ll ever take in your life.
This is the work I do with my clients. I help them move through these ways of coping and stop feeling like they have to protect the sore places inside. And instead, heal them for good. Becoming joyful, ecstatic, and open to receive what they’ve always wanted in life.
When your heart and soul know that you can’t live like this any longer.
When you’re ready to breathe deep a sign of contentment.
When you’re done with playing small for others comfort.
When you’re ready to become ALL of you.
And to invite in success and achieve more than you ever thought possible.
I’m here to help