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The Mother of All Problems-Understanding the Mother Wound

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

The Mother Wound, or pain of being a woman in patriarchal culture, is passed down from one generation until the next until someone disrupts the cycle.

I’ve got a Mother Wound. You’ve got a Mother Wound. Our world has a Mother Wound. You might be thinking, this does not apply to me. I love my mom. She loves me. I just saw her this morning. You can love your mother and still have the Mother Wound. The Mother Wound is more than a painful relationship with your mother. The Mother Wound is the pain of being a woman that gets passed down through generations in a patriarchal system.

Imagine your mother, grandmother and great grandmother and the world they lived in. To give context let’s consider that women have only had the right to vote for nearly a hundred years. The criminalization of marital rape did not begin until the mid-1970s and it wasn’t until 1993 that marital rape was deemed illegal in all 50 states. Historically the safety and voices of women were not valued (and let's face it, they still aren't a priority). Imagine the ways women had to swallow their voices. Imagine the ways women had to actively hold back their power and potential to conform to societal standards. Imagine your great grandmother bare foot in her kitchen cooking with nine children to care for. Do you think she had permission to dream of a different life? Do you think she ever got to say “NO”? Should she have chosen to abandon the expected path of marriage and children, what support would she have received? What criticism would she have been met with? How often do you look back in history to understand where you came from and how it shaped you? Imagine the fear and pain that women lived with and live with still.

The women who came before us grew masterful at playing small and staying safe. They needed to. And then they turned around and raised us with the same beliefs because it is all they knew. The problem is that our world is no longer in need of nice girls who follow the rules. Our world needs women who know their value. Our world needs women who own and use their voices. Our world needs women who let go of who they think they should be to become who they were meant to be. Our world needs women who show up powerfully in authenticity. Our world needs women who risk the criticism of some to be true to herself and stand up for what she believes. Our world needs women who create paths where their once were none. This is where we find freedom and this is how we model empowerment for our daughters. The Mother Wound is not about mother blame. It is our understanding that there is a larger system at play. Our mothers carry wounds, their mothers carried wounds, and their mothers carried wounds and on and on and on until someone breaks the cycle. The Mother Wound permeates our culture.

↣ It is the belief that a women’s value is dependent on how she looks and how well she conforms to society’s beauty standards.

↣It’s those comments your mother makes about your body. Her own lack of self-acceptance projected onto you.

↣It’s your own judgment of your appearance. It’s the belief that you are not enough exactly as you are.

↣It’s your fear of disappointing your mother. It’s how we follow her rules long after we move out of her home.

↣It’s your belief that your value is in what you do and how well you do it.

↣It’s your belief that you owe your mother something because she gave you life.

↣It’s your inability to say no to her or to create healthy boundaries.

↣It’s your overwhelm and stress from a calendar that’s full of commitments.

↣It’s choosing people pleasing over your own pleasure.

↣It is how you respond to your needs and how you choose to mother yourself.

↣It’s you laughing with your girlfriends saying you’ll never be like your mother but not actually taking steps to do the work needed to change the pattern.

↣It’s the times your mother praises your husband in front of you for doing half of what you do all the while never acknowledging your effort.

↣ It’s the times your mother tells you that you’re lucky you married a guy that helps.

↣It’s your inability to sit and be with yourself because your brain is so wired for action.

↣It’s the two hundred open tabs in your brain trying to juggle home, family, self, marriage, work and then make time to be fun and relaxed.

↣It’s never choosing a side because you don’t want to ruffle anyone’s feathers.

↣It’s your inability to sit with your heavy emotions.

↣It’s your shame for feeling angry for all you have to do.

↣It’s your desire for your husband to open up to you and then shaming him when he shows his vulnerability.

↣It’s your inability to sit with your child in her/his heavy emotions.

↣It’s your belief that if people see your child misbehaving, they will think you are a bad mother.

↣It’s how female relationships begin with cliques, circles and separation in early childhood.

↣It’s your distrust in other women.

↣It’s your constant habit to compare yourself to others.

↣It’s gossip about another mother over wine at book club.

↣It’s keeping track of who helped you so you can return the favor.

↣It’s the belief that your emotions make you weak so you hold tight to them for fear you’ll be called “too emotional”.

↣It’s the voice of your inner critic.

↣It is how we deny our femininity to survive in a male dominated world.

↣It’s your belief that self-care is selfish.

↣It’s your shame around your sexuality.

↣It’s the anxiety you feel because you are active withholding so many parts of yourself from being seen or expressed.

↣It’s your silence about your struggle with you own mother because good girls don’t speak of such things.

What brought me to this work?

I have two young daughters and I want to be a good mother to each of them. My challenge is that I did not have a blueprint for the kind of conscious mothering I'm attempting. In fact, I’ve had a painful relationship with my mother for a very long time. I’ve often felt guilty talking about this with others because I feared I would judged or seen as ungrateful. I believe my mother did the best with what she had and what she knew. I believe my mother when she says she loves me. And still there are parts of me that feel unloved and unmothered. I have grieved deeply for the mother I always sought and never knew. I spent my lifetime trying to earn my mother's love by being good enough in her eyes. I was always trying to be who I thought she would love. I've worked really hard to repair my relationship with my mother both in my own counseling and through counseling together. All I wanted was for her to accept me unconditionally but I was not yet doing this for myself. This year I realized that what held me back was that my mother's voice lived inside my head as my inner critic. Unconsciously I was still trying to please her and earn her love. Four months ago I told my mother I needed space from her and discontinued contact with her to become absolutely clear who I am separate from her.

Here's what I discovered. My mother lives in me. I learned a lot from her, not only in what she said but in how she lived. I learned strength and resilience. I learned how to survive but not how to thrive. I learned how to bury pain. I learned how to toughen up to the world creating armor around my heart. I learned how to talk to myself. My inner voice a reflection of the world I experienced. There was no softness, sweetness, or nurturance. This inner voice always pushing me further and faster to get it all done. This voice telling me to ignore my own femininity to make it in the world. This voice endlessly setting goals and raising the bar, never allowing me to celebrate my success. This voice is sharp, forceful and controlling, and never trusts the flow of life. This voice is not love. This is the voice of fear that I have carried with me since childhood. This voice still whispers to me, a habit I’m slowly breaking. Meeting those whispers of comparison, judgement, and criticism with pure love. A new voice rooted in my femininity that recognizes the power of vulnerability. This voice was always here. I just had to remember.

Healing the Mother Wound is as personal as it is political for me. It is my soul purpose and my legacy.

The more I have learned about the Mother Wound the more I understand that I am not alone in this. There is a system at play that is much bigger than me and my mother. Healing my Mother Wound and sharing this message is how I honor my mother, my daughters, and my family line. The parts of us we refuse to heal will get passed on unless we break the cycle. We do this by learning to radically love and accept ourselves exactly as we are. We do this by learning to create boundaries that support us in body, mind and spirit. We do this by releasing our mothers of their responsibility to us. We accept that we are responsible for the lives we create. This is has been the most important healing work of my life. I’ve created a process to help women heal their Mother Wound, connect to their loving inner mother and break generational pain patterns.

In the next coming weeks I will be sharing more about my process and the most recent workshop I created, Connect to Your Loving Inner Mother. One participant said it best, “there would be no war if everyone was doing this work.” This is as personal as it is political to me. I am here to do this WORK. This is my legacy. This is my soul purpose.

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