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Have you met your Mother Wound?

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

It's a powerful new phrase for an all-too-universal experience - the early-life trauma of being under-mothered: the mother wound.

It's the inherited grief that women carry from generation to generation.

It's the unspoken pain and silenced shame that our mothers carried, and their mothers, and their mothers before that.

Women with a Mother / Women's Wound may:

- feel shame and secrecy around their femininity and/or sexuality

- struggle to set boundaries, say no, or engage in self-care

- often end up in abusive relationships

- have a difficult time defining themselves to stand in their strength

- deny the existence of their inner child or struggle to care for her

- tolerate high levels of poor treatment from others

- be chronic people-pleasers

- be needy, insecure and codependent, or hyper-independent and isolated

- struggle with connecting to their own role as a mother

- battle obesity and weight-related issues

- struggle with finances, security, and stability in work, housing, and life

When life slowly shifted from living of the land to (men) owning it, women began to lose power. We went from strong, matriarchal, sexual, open, liberated, confident leaders of society to becoming a man's property (even so far as trading our own father's last name for our spouse's... official transfer of property). We were slowly pushed into the shadows, into the kitchen, into child-rearing and monogamy. We were shamed for our sexuality and punished for any final cries of liberty we attempted to make. We were called witches and written out of story books and burned at the stake for knowing too much about medicine and magic.

The mother wound is a major misnomer.

Our mother isn't to blame. Neither is her mother, or her mother before that.

This isn't even about a wound that we carry because of our mother... it is, in fact, our Mother's wound. Our mother's pain.

It is the woman's wound and we've been carrying it, collectively, for thousands of years. The truth is, no child can save her mother. No sacrifice a daughter makes will ever be enough to sufficiently compensate for the high price her mother had to pay, or for the losses she suffered over the years - simply for being a woman and a mother in this culture, in this world.

And yet, this is what many women do for their mothers early on in their childhood. We subconsciously take on our mother's pain. We innocently watch the world unfold around us in our early years and we learn about what it means to be a woman in this life. We learn, subconsciously, through subtle-yet-powerful, almost-translucent limbic imprints, how men behave toward women, how women operate in the home, who earns the money, who spends it, who raises their voice, which insults are hurled.

The decision we make to take on our mother's pain is subconscious and made from the kind of pure love only a small child can have for the woman who brought it into this world - that blind, unabashed, perhaps even misplaced, desperate love - even if our mother isn't able to love us back in the ways we need. And most of our mothers were unable to love us back the way we needed.

It's a sensitive subject... the mother wound. Nobody wishes to "throw their mother under the bus" or blame our parents for our maladapted outcomes. But it's in the social silencing and shaming that we're losing sight of a matter if not shifted into the light will remain a shadow forever: the social and economic conditions in which women are being expected to mother in this life are grotesque and inhumane. And the only way they perpetuate is because we're too afraid to hurt our mother's feelings by discussing them. The truth is - children subconsciously learn that how we treat them is how they deserve to be treated. They need emotional regulation and psychological attunement as desperately as (if not more than) food, water, and shelter. When you bring a child into the world, you're not just tasked with supporting its sustenance of life but also with role-modeling strong mental and emotional hygiene: self-regulation, self-reflection, shining light on shadows. Unfortunately, historically, generations have come into worlds of extreme abuse, poverty, and oppression - making the fight for survival infinitely more pressing than the fight for emotional intelligence. What we're left with as a result is a global generation of middle-aged adults currently processing a post-pandemic landscape in which all of our childhood traumas were collectively shaken up and brought to the surface, and we're all just hyper-connected by the internet enough to realize that how we're feeling, how we're struggling, the pain we're carrying, isn't normal - and that it doesn't have to be this way. These are some of the childhood traumas that everyone's too afraid to admit as being childhood traumas: 1. Being loved conditionally for your behaviour (if good then love/praise/connection were plentiful, if bad then love/praise/connection were withheld)

2. Having a parent dismiss your feelings and/or your reality without scaffolded learning (i.e. "Stop crying! There are no monsters!" vs. "I understand the movie made you think that monsters really do live under your bed, but what you saw on the TV screen is just like the pages of your story book.... it's a story that someone wrote to help you imagine something exciting and make-believe, but it doesn't exist in the real world here when we close the book or turn off the TV!")

3. Not being shown how to express needs, set boundaries, express humility/apology

4. Being silenced or disallowed to express certain sets of emotions 5. Being overly-criticized for appearance, performance, developmental shortcomings (i.e. wetting the bed, a poor grade in school, too fat/too thin, acne) Children are a beautifully innocent and curious creature that cannot disconnect from, or protect themselves sufficiently, against abusive behaviour. Like a dog that will go back to its abusive owner for warmth and love after being abused, a child will continuously return to its parents for warmth and solace - even if its parents aren't capable of providing it. It's like that quote, "A child abused by her parents doesn't stop loving her parents - she stops loving herself."

As a means of adapting, some children will take on an insecure-avoidant attachment style and escape into hyper-independence - while other children will assume an insecure-anxious attachment style of seeking out hyper-connection with anyone within reach to feel safe. These attachment styles will continue to play out in our lives, across all of our relationships, until we stare directly into our shadows and do the work to dispel our demons. Our maladaptive attachment styles came from our parents, whose maladaptive attachment styles came from their parents, and from their parents.. and from poverty, and from war, and from abuse, and trauma, and neglect, and suffering. Our parents played a central role in the development of our own attachment style, and are no more to blame than our grandparents, great-grandparents, or our ancestors before that.

The mother wound, the women's wound, is a bigger, more systemic, collective pain that each of us carry - and each of us is being called to heal. We don't inherit a mother wound for the purpose of suffering. The Universe's design is too intelligent for that. The Mother Wound, the collective Women's Wound is lessened by being passed on to each subsequent generation - in hopes that in each subsequent lifetime we will slowly, systematically rise and heal it; in ourselves, and in each other.

We make the decision to take on our mother's wound. It's made subconsciously and out of love, out of loyalty and from a need for approval and our mother's emotional support. It's also a beautifully, powerfully-designed mechanism by which the wound slowly lessens and heals over time. We are like wooden Nesting Dolls of the trauma; there's the pain I've experienced in this life, and then you open me up and inside of my I carry my mother and her pain... break her open and there you'll find, neatly tucked inside is her mother's pain, and...

The pain we go through in this life is our individual soul's karmic contract. We chose to come into this world, in this life, to experience all the beauty and pleasure - but also to suffer and evolve. Our mothers are not responsible for our suffering... we alone are responsible for how we choose to respond to it. Out deeply rooted emotional trauma is neither good nor bad.. it just is. More importantly....

It deserves to be seen.

It deserves to be heard.