This Saturday, August 25th, I will be teaching a 3-hour workshop called “The Mother Wound”. This workshop is based upon my own mother wound and my journey toward healing that wound. The origins of this workshop date back to 2016, when I wrote one blog (different site), and then another because the response to the original post was amazing. I felt honored that so many women reached out and trusted me enough to share their stories. For the past 2 1/2 years, I have toyed with the idea of this workshop and due to my own ongoing issues with my mother, and my own healing journey, I decided that NOW was the time. I will share the blogs here for those who may be interested. The first was written in February, 2016, and the second in May of the same year. I hope it may be of help to some to know that they are not alone.
As I write this, I am sitting in sunny Florida, 2200 miles from my home in cold Massachusetts. For those who would say how lucky I am to be here, instead of there, I would respond with the fact that I wish to go home.
**The Mother Wound**
I’m here to take care of my 83 year old mother, touch base with her doctor and set up services for her with Medicaid, which took me seven months to get her approved for. She is not in good shape physically and it’s my guess that it won’t be long until she is completely immobile. She has a new diagnosis of early dementia and I see the deterioration in her mind and memory. I take my responsibilities very seriously and, so , here I am.
I have always believed in my heart that the mother/daughter bond should be a strong one, so when it is not, it is painful, an experience that I know I am not alone in feeling. Through the years I have always had people who know my mother and then meet me say, “your mother is so wonderful!”. It’s hard not to respond with “yes, but she is not your mother”.
Do I know how awful this sounds to one’s ears? Yes, I most certainly do. However, at best, she was neglectful and had a tendency to abandon me; well, maybe abandon is a harsh word, but that is how I have always seen it. When something happens to you as a child, you see through the eyes of a child and, sometimes, you always see it through the eyes of the child you once were. I was given to my grandmother to raise at birth; to me, she was my mother and when she passed through the veil when I was 6-7, I was devastated and here I am so many years later, still wishing she were here. My mother always told me that my grandmother *took* me; in my heart, I knew better then and had it confirmed recently that she just really wanted to live her own life unencumbered. Upon myd grandmother’s death, I did, finally, go to live with my mother, who was separated from my father. Unbeknownst to me at the time, she was gay (never ever an issue), and we went to live with her partner. If there were time off from school, I was sent away – this aunt and uncle, then to that aunt, and then to the aunt who took me in for every school vacation for the next six years. Apparently this aunt knew exactly what was happening and was quite aware that if I were not with her, I would be alone. I don’t know how my cousins felt about my being plopped into their lives for 4 months each year; I was young enough to never think to ask; I hope it was not too burdensome for them. My mother and her partner traveled, partied, lived their lives. If they had a party, I was to be not seen (after saying hello politely) and definitely not heard. This was my life. I was a quiet, shy, introverted child. I was to never misbehave or speak out of turn. I will not share some of the things that I could as they are personal and extremely painful.
For decades now, I have been a daughter of the Goddess; I so love that phrase. I practice a Goddess based spirituality and honor Her in Her aspects as Maiden, Mother and Crone. While I am now Crone myself and identify with Her in that form, I still revere Her mostly as Mother. As I tend to be fairly introspective normally, this visit to my mother has made me even more so. It has been a difficult visit, which in and of itself is a complete understatement.
My thoughts have run to whether or not I am so drawn to the Goddess as Mother because I have not truly had a mother figure in my life since my grandmother passed.
My observation has been that many adult women have difficult relationships with their mothers and I wonder why that is. Is it because of some weird competition for some mothers? Is there some deeper psychological meaning behind it, or is it that some women just should not have children at all? I am at a loss to define it. I find it doubly difficult because I do not have this type of relationship with my own daughter. We are mother-daughter, but we are also friends.
Through the years, when I have spoken to other women who have damaged relationships with their mothers, some severely, I have always thought of this as “the Mother Wound”. Children, in general, suffer tremendously when they have less-than-perfect relationships with either parent; however, I find that the mother daughter bond, when broken, leaves behind a much deeper hurt, one that is difficult, if not impossible, to overcome later in life. As the girl-child gets older and more fully realizes the damage that has been done, it can leave a resentment and bitterness that will never leave her. If she continues to have some type of relationship with the mother, it often remains difficult. If the adult daughter tries to confront and discuss the past, she may find herself rebuffed or downright disbelieved. I have found this to be true for other women who have shared their stories with me and I know it is true with me; my mother has always been the queen of spin.
The Mother Wound strikes deep, and it strikes hard. Fortunate is the woman who does not let it affect her relations with her own children, if she has them. Lucky is the woman who realizes where the damage comes from and attempts to heal her damaged heart and spirit.
This, I believe, is why I, personally, turn to the Goddess as Mother in times of grief and troubled times, why I go to Her for comfort. Unlike my mother-on-earth, the Goddess is always there for me, for guidance, help and direction. All I need do is open my heart and listen to what she has to say to me. I have never known Her to let me down.
First Force of all Creation, To You I Bow Divine Force Everywhere, To You I Bow Creative Force, Primal Force, To You I Bow Rising Up, Divine Mother, To You I Bow ~~ Nirinjan Kaur, “Adi Shakti”
I have been amazed, honored and humbled by the response that I have received. Women freely came forward to share their own stories, some in detail, some not so much. What is extremely apparent is that I am not alone in carrying this Mother Wound. Many women carry this wound. The question then becomes “how do we heal this wound”?
As I have mentioned previously, I am very introspective; some might say too introspective. To those some, I would say, everyone is different in how they approach life. My introspection comes from a deep need to know, to understand. I have discussed my Mother Wound with a couple of close friends through the years; my husband, whom I assume would prefer not to hear about it anymore, and various therapists throughout my adult life. I am particularly fond of my current therapist and, since I have now returned home, will most likely talk her ear off at our next appointment.
With all of this talking, I do know one thing – it does not necessarily heal the wound. It can, and does, numb the pain for a certain amount of time, but the pain always comes back with any renewed contact or any reminder of what has gone on before.
Some women choose to cut off all contact with her mother; some continue to have some type of relationship, I think, maybe in hopes that things will somehow, someway, improve. My experience tells me it does not improve. Sometimes, it worsens.
However we choose, personally, to deal with it, it just adds to the pain. If you cut off all contact, there is always someone, somewhere, who will tell you that not only are you wrong, but they will tell you in detail *why* you are wrong, as if they have lived through your experiences. Sometimes, even if you do maintain contact, there will be those who think they know your life and your experiences better than you do yourself and this is why you should do x, y or z.
If we choose to maintain contact, the pain will just continue as you both get older. Yes, absolutely, we make our own choices in how we live our lives, what type of person we wish to be and no, we should not let things in our past dictate our present or our future. That being said, for some, maintaining contact while allowing the distant past to fall away, just brings new opportunities for the hurt to be compounded. This has been my personal experience. The things that have been said, done throughout my adult life right up to the present have just added to the hurt, making it even harder to heal from the past. Then there is always the guilt that accompanies and exacerbates the pain. My own mother is now in her early 80’s, with a fairly new dementia diagnosis. Her memory is failing, so having any type of discussion with her about any issues between the two of us would be an exercise in futility. I am sure that when she passes through the veil, the guilt will be just another part of the story that I will have to deal with. Each of us has our own continuing story. Each of us makes the decision that is right for us. No one else has that right.
So, how do we heal? Can we heal? As mentioned, there is therapy, just talking it out. At best, I think that is just a bandaid, if contact is maintained. Having my own children was somewhat healing; for various reasons, I have never told my son many of the stories surrounding my relationship with my mother; I have told my daughter. She reinforces for me that mothers and daughters can have strong, healthy relationships. For me, as I mentioned in the last article, there is my spirituality. The Goddess fills a void left by my living mother. Meditation is a good way of dealing with the pain. As a yoga and meditation teacher, I have found that deep meditation brings out deep, intense feelings. This is not for everyone, as it means going even deeper, which tends to lead to more emotional pain; even with my love of meditation, there have been times I have shied away from this particular journey toward healing. I am also a certified Reiki healer and I have done some extensive chakra work. These also are good self-healing techniques. I would also highly recommend a couple of books by Diane Stein – “All Women Are Healers” and “The Women’s Healing Book”.
The fact is not lost on me, that as I am writing of different techniques for healing ourselves, it is apparent that I have not fully healed. I get that. I may never heal completely, although that will not stop me from trying. This is what I wish for all women – and men, too, that may be carrying this wound from either parent – do your best to heal, know that no matter what has been said to you or done to you, that you are a worthwhile person, and that you are not defined by the Mother Wound that you carry. You define you. Blessings and love on the journey.