Healing the Mother Wound
Healing the Mother Wound is one of the hardest things you will ever try to heal. The reason for that is that the importance of a mother in our lives is so great.
Whether you want to admit it or not, we need a mother to be there for us. When that doesn’t happen in a healthy way and in the way that our souls need, sadly we are left with unsuccessful attempts at healing the Mother Wound.
Unfortunately, I knew all too well about how difficult healing the Mother Wound is from my own life and from witnessing the pain of my psychotherapy clients. A strained relationship with a mother leaves us longing for love, whether that is conscious or not.
Before we dive into the importance of a mother, we need to look at what I’m talking about when I say “healing the Mother Wound.” If you are still reading this, you are probably somewhat aware of what healing the Mother Wound is referring to even if you’re not familiar with the term.
Healing the Mother Wound is working to heal the emotional pain that your mother caused throughout your childhood and probably your adulthood. There are lots of different ways the mothers harm their children emotionally.
The Needs for Healing the Mother Wound
One of the most common ways is for a mother to not be emotionally available for her child. If you want to learn more about Healing from Emotionally Unavailable Parents, click here.
There are also mothers who put others before their child. That “other” person is typically a man. That is one of the saddest things I see as a therapist when working with children, and adults.
Also, the effects of that are extreme and usually long-lasting. Now, before we start ripping into the mothers who have caused emotional pain or emotionally neglected their children, we need to look at intent first.
The majority of mothers do not consciously harm their children. They are swimming in their own feelings of not being good enough. I call that Not Good Enough Stuff and you can read more about that here.
The wound that mothers cause is usually not intentional. Mothers are usually doing the best they can. They just don’t know how to give their children what they need.
Longing for Love
As I mentioned, I know the incredible difficulty of healing the Mother Wound in my own life. When I was a teenager, I witnessed my mom attaching her self-worth to getting attention from men.
That was in the days of online chat rooms and dial-up internet. I remember my mom being glued to the computer in our study chatting with men for hours at a time.
At that time, my depression was immense. I was dealing with trauma from my parents’ divorce and my father’s alcoholism. I needed an emotionally healthy parent, but I never got that.
I had no clue how to process my feelings in a healthy way. Not many of us are taught how to do that. If you have children and you want to teach them how to do that, I have a blog post for you. Click here to read Teaching Feeling the Emotions (Emotional Regulation for Kids).
Instead of allowing myself to be sad, I got angry. When my mom was spending every night on the computer, I would intentionally pick up the phone and put it back down. If you remember what it was like to have dial-up internet, you remember that doing so would knock the computer offline.
I did that over and over every night hoping that my mom would get off the computer and spend time with me. I certainly knew nothing about healing the Mother Wound at that time.
I just knew that I was angry and subconsciously I was longing for love. The very strained relationship with my father and increasingly strained relationship with my mother was causing me to seek love in very unhealthy ways.
The Importance of a Mother
The importance of a mother is huge for a teenager. Not having an emotionally available or often physically available mother left me with years of unsuccessful attempts at healing the Mother Wound.
We all know what teenage girls do when they are longing for love. They attempt to find it with boys, or men in my case.
For me, I was a sixteen-year-old who was able to get into bars with much older friends. That led to me dating much older guys. At the time, I thought it was cool that I was a teenager dating men who were in their mid-twenties.
Looking back now, I have sadness for my teenage self because I was so lost and trying to find love in men. There is nothing cool or healthy about a teenage, high-school girl dating men ten years older that her.
The Effects of a Strained Relationship with Mothers
As a psychotherapist, I have also seen the damages caused when there is a strained and unhealthy mother-daughter or mother-son relationship. This typically unfolds in two ways.
Throughout my twenties and thirties, I tried both. The first way that I tried, as many others do, is by begging to be seen and accepted by my mother.
I found a career that I thought my mom would be proud of me for having. My hurt inner-child thought surely my mom will be proud that I have a high-profile job at twenty-five years old and make nearly six figures.
Nope, that didn’t do it. My mom still found ways not to accept me. Like my psychotherapy clients now, I continued to search for ways to get my mom to love me. That longing for love took over every aspect of my life.
As I moved into my early thirties, my attempt at healing the Mother Wound took a drastic turn. I began telling myself that I didn’t need my mother and the pain she caused was not affecting me.
That’s the second way people attempt healing the Mother Wound. I told myself that I was better off without my mom in my life. In many ways, that was true.
However, I was ignoring the importance of a mother in my life. No matter what, we still need love and acceptance from our mothers.
I spent many years trying to heal that pain from the absence of a healthy relationship with my mom by pretending the pain wasn’t there. My belief was that I was creating a life that she would be ashamed not to be a part of when people she knew saw my success.
That may have happened to some degree, but my mom would never acknowledge that to me and, even more so, to anyone else. That is typically the way it goes for my psychotherapy clients as well.
How to Heal that Pain
So, are you wondering how one might go about healing the Mother Wound? Well, that’s a very difficult thing to answer and there’s no easy or perfect way to do it.
Throughout my own personal healing journey, I have learned how to love myself without having the need for approval from my mother. As a psychotherapist, I guide my clients in the same way when they are working towards this king of healing.
Self-love when a mother has rejected you in any way is no easy thing to achieve. The lack of a mother’s acceptance and love results in a belief that we are un-lovable. If that resonates with you, read my post Love for Yourself (Learning How to Love Yourself More.)
Longing for love from a parent who struggles with his or her own inability to have self-love is immense. How are you supposed to love yourself unconditionally when you don’t feel or see that your own parent loves you unconditionally?
The answer is that doing that is hard as hell. However, I can say that it is possible, though, if you are willing to do the hard work to get there.
Grief Over the Loss of Relationship with a Mother
Let’s go back to healing the Mother Wound. One of the most important things I help my clients realize is that what they are experiencing when healing the Mother Wound is grief.
Yes, grief. Just as I was for many years, and still to some degree, they are Grieving the Loss of a Living Parent.
Every single person in the world needs a mother who is loving and offers unconditional love. Just because you don’t get that, doesn’t mean you don’t still need it.
You can attempt to convince yourself that you don’t need a mother, but it’s simply not true. Let’s think about the biology of mother and child.
Emotional Connection Between Mother and Child
We are literally connected to our mothers in the womb. That connection goes far beyond the physical.
In order to explain that I’m going to ask you to use your imagination here. Imagine if the umbilical cord were detached and the baby was still able to live somehow without medical intervention.
That baby would struggle to develop physically. He or she would have long-lasting physical deficits.
So, here’s where your imagination will come into play. Imagine that we have an emotional umbilical cord attached to our mothers in the womb.
There would be long-lasting emotional deficits for the baby, just the same as the physical deficits. Well, it’s my belief that we do have an emotional umbilical cord that is emotionally connected to our mothers and that never goes away.
When that is severed, no matter the age when it’s severed, we are just like a baby whose umbilical cord was detached. We struggle to survive. We are left longing for love. Thus, we have a need for healing that emotional pain.
This is proven by children who were adopted. I have seen children and adults who were adopted by a wonderful, loving family. Their behaviors and feelings still show a subconscious and often conscious longing for love, even if they don’t know they are adopted.
Healing the Mother Wound for somebody who was adopted is very challenging. The need for that healing, whether that need is acknowledged or not, proves my belief that we have an energetic, emotional umbilical cord connecting us to our mothers.
Please don’t think that I’m saying in any way that adoptive mothers are not important. I have two nephews who were adopted.
Their mother is very loving and has provided everything she possibly can for them. She is immensely important for my nephews.
What I am saying is that even adopted children who grow up with emotionally healthy, adoptive mothers still have a need for healing the Mother Wound from their biological mothers. The reason I am explaining that is to show the impact of a severed emotional umbilical cord.
The Reality of the Mother Wound
As a psychotherapist, my clients would tell you that I’m a “straight-shooter.” I don’t sugar coat reality in sessions and I’m not going to do that in my blog either.
No matter how hard you work towards healing the Mother Wound, that pain will never completely go away. That’s hard to hear and hard to accept.
As I’ve mentioned multiple times, I know that all too well. I have done years of personal healing work on my own and in therapy to heal my mother’s severing of our emotional umbilical cord.
I have a very happy life that I have worked hard to create, but still there is pain in my heart. No matter how much healing I do, I will always have that pain and longing for love from my mother to some degree.
Do the Work to Heal
Again, I’m a “straight-shooter.” I don’t want you to think there is no reason to work on healing that pain.
There is absolutely a reason to do the work of healing the Mother Wound. You CAN find some peace and acceptance.
Not only that, but, due to the healing work I’ve done myself, I am able to be a healthy, emotionally available mother to my precious baby boy. That in and of itself is worth the hard work I’ve done.
I’m willing to bet that, if you are reading this, there is a generational pattern in your family of emotionally or physically unavailable mothers. You get to decide whether you continue that generational pattern, or you do your work to stop it.
For those of you who are fathers, please know that I’m not leaving you out. There is an emotional umbilical cord that your child has connected to you as well.
That’s probably a post for another day as I also know the pain of the emotional umbilical cord being severed by my father, too. Just like with the mother, that pain never completely goes away either.
Whether you’re a parent or not, you still need to do your work healing the Mother Wound you have. Be honest with yourself about the ways it has affected you. That’s the first step.
If you are struggling with this and need some guidance, please find a licensed therapist to help you. If you don’t have a therapist or your therapist isn’t helping you, read my post 5 Steps to Finding a Good Therapist.
If you are working on healing your Mother Wound, please comment and share what you’re doing with the Not Good Enough Stuff Community. You just might help somebody else who is struggling as well. Also, I will respond to all comments.
Peace and love to those of you who are trying to heal your wounds from your mother. It is hard work but ignoring it does nothing but cause more pain.
This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.
Thanks! Needed to hear that the pain never really goes away. It just doesn’t….even if we do all the things that we’re supposed to in order to heal it.
You are so welcome. I’ve never been the kind of person to sugar-coat things or give false hope. I wish it were possible for that pain to completely go away, but I’ve just seen personally and professionally that it just doesn’t work like that. I’m so glad to know that you are doing what you can to heal. Peace and love to you!