Healing the Mother Wound That Was Inflicted on You as a Child

mother wound2
I want you to take a moment and think about the kind of relationship you had with your mother.

What did it look like? How did it feel? Do your thoughts drift to the good times, or do they dwell on the bad times?

Our mothers were pivotal players in our development as children and they formed the very foundation of our emotional and psychological growth. To this very day our mothers continue to influence us both through our deeply ingrained perceptions of life and through our feelings towards ourselves and other people.

But although our mothers may have tried their very best to nurture us, our relationships with them may have been laced with undercurrents of shame, guilt and obligation. In fact, we may continue to carry unresolved grief, fear, disappointment and resentment towards our mothers long into our adult lives. This deep pain is usually the result of unhealed core wounds that are passed on from generation to generation.

If you possess the Mother Wound it is vital that you learn how to treat, repair and reconcile those broken parts within you that still yearn for your mother’s love. Healing the Mother Wound within you has the potential to transform your life and improve your relationships tenfold. And today we’ll explore how to do that.

What is the Mother Wound?

I have always had a very strained relationship with my mum. As a child I remember the great fear and reverence I felt towards her; fear because she was the primary disciplinarian in the household, and reverence because she was so self-sacrificing. As an artist she was (and still is) extremely skilled in watercolor and oil paintings, yet she was never able to actualize her dream of becoming a professionally paid artist despite how brilliant she was. These dreams further dimmed as she kept giving birth to children and eventually it became a rare occurrence for her to pick up a pencil or paintbrush. I could always sense this lurking disappointment and resentment bottled up within her. I believe a part of her felt like she was a failure, so the only area she could excel in was child-rearing. This was only amplified by her strict Christian beliefs which traditionally dictate that a woman’s place is the house,not the art studio.

As I got older the admiration and affection which I held towards my mother became tainted with anger, sadness, and even disgust. Although she was extremely generous with her time and effort, her emotional coldness was distressing to me. She made it very clear that I was the child and she was the parent. There was no equality or middle-ground on which we could meet. The only time when I ever felt like my mother’s friend and confidant was when I did everything she wanted me to do, like a perfect little daughter.

These days, I don’t speak with my mother except via text message a handful of times a year. She made it very clear to me that leaving the Christian faith and allowing myself to love Sol was a severe betrayal. Yet despite the animosity between us, she still reminds me that “my family loves me” which in truth a part of me wonders whether such words are written with a Christian agenda in mind, or out of real sincerity.

Our Mother Wounds are traumas that pass down from generation to generation that have a profound impact on our lives. When left unresolved, we pass on the Wounds that our mothers and grandmothers before us failed to heal. These wounds consist of toxic and oppressive beliefs, ideals, perceptions and choices. Finally, our children repeat the cycle, harming their own children, and their children’s children with centuries of unresolved pain. (Please note here that our fathers carry their own wounds, but in this article I want to specifically focus on our mothers.)

If you suffer from the Mother Wound you will experience the following problems:

  • (For females) constantly comparing yourself with, and competing against, other females
  • Sabotaging yourself when you experience happiness or success
  • Possessing weak boundaries and an inability to say “no”
  • Self-blaming and low self-esteem that manifests itself as the core belief: “There is something wrong with me”
  • Co-dependency in relationships
  • Minimizing yourself to be likable and accepted
  • The inability to speak up authentically and express your emotions fully
  • Sacrificing your dreams and desires for other people unnecessarily
  • Waiting for your mother’s permission on an unconscious level to truly live life

Mother Wounds are developed at a young age and are bound by the belief that “I was responsible for my mother’s pain,” and “I can make my mother happy if I’m a good girl/boy.” The truth is that we weren’t and still aren’t responsible for our mother’s pain – only she is. We also can’t make our mothers happy unless they truly decide to be happy. Yet unfortunately as children we were not aware of this and on a subconscious level many of us still believe that we are the culprits of our mother’s angst.

Where Does the Mother Wound Come From?

Women have lived under patriarchal reign for centuries. Religion and society in particular have been instrumental in perpetuating the myths that women should:

  1. Stay at home and give up their ambitions as child-bearers
  2. Be the primary caretakers of the household
  3. Constantly serve others and their needs, while giving up their own
  4. Hold it all together 100% of the time because that’s what “good mothers” do
  5. Utterly deplete themselves in order to support their families and raise children

As a result of these intense and super-human standards, women abandon their dreams, lock away their desires and smother their needs in favor of meeting the cultural ideal of what motherhood “should” be. This pressure is suffocating for most women, breeding rage, depression and anxiety, which is then passed on to their children through subtle – or even aggressive – forms of emotional abandonment and manipulation (such as shame, guilt and obligation). This forms the Mother Wound.

But it is important that we understand how much our mothers have gone through in the face of these oppressive ideals and expectations. It is important that we realize that no mother can be perfect, no matter how hard they try, and use this knowledge to generate forgiveness.

Finally, it’s important that we learn to humanize our mothers in a society that strips them of their humanity. No mother can act in a loving way 100% of the time. The sooner we embrace this reality, the better.

Healing the Mother Wound – 3 Steps

Many women these days speak about embracing the divine feminine which sounds nice in theory, but without confronting and healing the Mother Wound, this is nothing but another fuzzy ideal and form of spiritual bypassing.

As a woman who carries a very deep Mother Wound, I have experienced just how lonely and saddening it can be to feel the emotional and psychological absence of your mother. Although I still have space to improve, I want to share with you three tips that will help you on your healing path:

1. Learn to separate the human from the archetype.

We briefly explored the archetypal mother above; that of the selfless, giving, completely nurturing woman who diminishes her own needs in favor of her children’s needs. In reality, mothers are human beings with flaws and issues. The more we expect them to live up to society’s expectations of the “perfect woman,” the more we deprive them of their humanity.

You may like to ask yourself, “What damaging beliefs and expectations do I have about my mother which cause me pain?” Common beliefs and expectations include, for instance, “my mother should always be emotionally available,” “my mother should be my best friend,” “my mother should never get angry at me,” and so forth.

2. Give up the dream that your mother will be whoyou want her to be someday.

Stop waiting around to receive the love, support and validation of your mother. Remember that you can never change who she is and nor do you have the right to – that is her responsibility. As you slowly learn to relinquish your hope that she will be everything you ever wanted her to be, you can allow yourself to grieve her absence. Experiencing grief is a vital part of the healing process and in my experience it can last for years. But allow it to happen. It is ultimately good for you.

3. Find your inner source of unconditional love.

While you may not have received unconditional love from your mother, you can find it within yourself. A big part of my own healing process has been learning how to re-parent my inner child (which you can read about in this article). Learning how to love myself has revealed to me a deep well of endless love that supports, cherishes and wants the very best for me. This very same source of love is within you as well. As you slowly dissolve the limiting beliefs and perceptions you have about yourself and the world, you will find it easy to transform your desire for outer support to inner acceptance.

The Final Product …

Healing the Mother Wound within you will transform your life. You will be able to set better boundaries, establish healthier relationships, take care of your needs better, develop empathy for others, trust life more, and feel more comfortable in your skin.

So share with me below: what was life like with your mother? Do you still carry unresolved pain from your childhood, or are you in the process of healing the Mother Wound?

By Aletheia Luna
Source – LonerWolf.com

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She is the co-founder, editor and author of popular spiritual website LonerWolf.com. As a transformational mentor and holistic writer, she has helped to guide thousands of people throughout the world on their paths of self-acceptance and wholeness.

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31 Responses

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  3. Jessica says:

    How do you heal a mother wound when she will never let it close? I am the most optimistic person on the planet.i believe there is good in everyone,but when any and almost (I say almost because no one can be one way at all times,such is the rule of the univers.)everything that comes out of their mouth is a negative or a put down. There is no “oh you want to buy a car ,good future planning to build your credit!” There is only you are going to destroy your credit when you miss payments. There is no “how is your job?” There is only the it’s only a matter if time befor you are fired. I do not do drugs ,every job I have had has lasted years. Some wounds seem to go too deep and leave a grown woman trying to defend herself against words the strangers on this site might say. Everything is in such a constant state of defense these days that “the mother wound” is just another in a long line of assaults on our own well being. The only things I can tell you as someone who continually deals with the re-opening of old wounds is that you should be brave. This for me?this comment I am leaving?this is brave for me. You do not have to jump from tall buildings or go wrestle a grizzly bear (Because let’s face it. Bears are not something you want to tango with) it can be something as simple as trying a new restaurant or throwing that one piece of clothing you still have from the 70,s but save just in case. Brave does not have a measurement scale with me. If it was hard for you to do,and you did it? You go little toaster! The second thing I can tell you is that you must ask yourself the hard questions. Why will I not let myself be happy?what am I punishing myself for? On the surface each of us will tell ourselves and the world most of the time that we deserve to be happy. This is true. We do deserve that inner peace and love of self. So why is it that when it comes down to the actual precipice of happiness,we swan dive ourselves in the wrong direction and say things like “it never works out for me” . If you have old or continuing mother wounds I truly hope that you can find a way to slowly close then and minimize the scarring. You are all such beautiful people and I thank the author for such a good read. It is a step in my inner recovery.

    • Lisa Miller says:

      Jessica–It seems that unfortunately I’m in the same boat as you in many ways, and I have the same question (how to heal a mother wound when she won’t stop creating it!) MY mother constantly hurts me emotionally by ignoring, invalidating, judging, or otherwise hurting me. She never acknowledges or encourages any of the good things I do, but is quick to criticize what I’m NOT doing. I’ve TOLD her so, and that it hurts me, but it never changes. I couldn’t tell you the last time she said “that’s great!” or “I’m proud of you!” I’m 39 years old and STILL struggling to accept that she will NEVER be willing (although I don’t believe she isn’t ABLE!) to be the nurturing, accepting, kind, supportive mother I so desperately need and want. She is very rarely emotionally supportive, but the fact that once in a great while she WILL be seems to fuck with my heart more than if she NEVER was, because that shows me she COULD be if she wanted to. I actually think she’s a narcissist and borderline sociopath (because she seems to lack any empathy for others.) Most recent example: I’m struggling to recover from anorexia, and have finally gained a little weight and been able to eat more normally in the past month or two (after 10 months of losing more and more weight.) I surrendered by scale to my therapist, as I was compulsively weighing myself countless times a day, and it was having dangerous consequences. My mom KNEW this, yet she went out and bought her OWN scale since she couldn’t use mine anymore. Even though I asked her repeatedly BEFORE she got it NOT to, and if she did, NOT to tell me and to HIDE the damn thing. She not only has it out in the bathroom, but REFUSES to even take a few seconds to put it in the cabinet so it’s out of my line of sight. And she nearly buried me years ago because of how close to dying I got from anorexia. Worst of all, SHE had an eating disorder severe enough to require long-term hospitalization when I was about 12 years old, so she SHOULD be more understanding of how HARD it is for me to have a scale readily accessible to me at home. And she DEFINITELY should know how dangerous. But she cares more about the fact that it’s HER house and she wants it out–PERIOD. (Which is her RIGHT, as I’m an adult living in her home for now as I recover. But I just CAN’T understand her lack of compassion or her unwillingness to help me in such a simple, easy way. Also wanted to tell you that I love your view on bravery, and totally agree. If it was hard for you and you did it, that’s kick ass! I hope like me you’re finding little by little how to love, take care of, and have compassion for yourself. Hugs, Jessica 🙂

      • gilly jones says:

        I think…sometimes we need to really separate ourselves from the wounder / mother so that we can heal our wounds and recover without them constantly being re-opened by being in close proximity to them. I dont know how you are coping being under the same roof. Forgive me please if you feel i speak out of turn. Your mother has her own unresolved issues and will continue to be the way she is. It seems that if you are to recover you need to get away from her to recover your self.
        I did that myself…I broke contact…for a few years… then just cards… then telephone calls…and then after ten years a visit…then another…then hurt straight to my heart! Again!
        The difference was that when I was not having contact, I learned to let go, became forgiving, was living in the present, enjoying life and I became well and recovered from what was a constant state of emotional unwellness. Life, not all roses at all, but so so so much better.
        Unfortunately, I really dont know how I would cope with being under the same roof – I dont think I could do it and believe over time I would probably become unwell again. The wounds are deep and their never was a boundary and I tend to be very psychic anyway etc.

        What Im saying is that, I despite so much effort and growth and facing up and healing and grieving and tears – can cope with life so much better by being separate with only little or managed or controlled contact with my mother. It is better that way. Any contact I have, I always feel some kind of pain, so I have little contact.

        I feel for you, that as you are unwell and staying with your mum while you try to recover is not helping you at all. I feel you need to get away, live separately, significantly reduce contact, and focus on your own self love and healing.
        Love and good luck to you. I hope you find your way. Please try http://www.freemeditation.com and follow these meditations daily and strengthen yourself that way until you feel stronger. Love and light your way.

  4. When my mom died 2 years ago, I thought all of my anger would go away. It doesn’t. Now I need to heal the woulds inside.

  5. Excellent article. Thank you.
    I too have spent my adult life Healing my Mother Wound.
    Her childhood was filled with pain, confusion, lies & deseption.
    Her Mothering skills left a lot to be desired. I left her at the age of 22. Not returning until 40. When my Father passed.
    I’m 54 now. Mum recently told me she was a ‘Bitch’ & life is like a school yard…
    This has helped me greatly. Helping me to understand ‘why’ she is so nasty to me. It also allowed me to heal the pain of her hatred toward me as a young child. Giving me the understanding necessary to let it go.
    I have a lot of compassion for her, but have strong boundaries and take no nonsense. I feel no obligation for her happiness. It’s up to her.
    I wish her well but realize that it’s her journey, not mine. And ultimately her choice. I can only offer love and encouragement – up to her to receive.
    Thankyou again for your article.
    Great when real issues get brought to the fore ground.

  6. Clover Heart says:

    The only way to resolve the mother wound- is to “know/understand” her . Great article.

  7. Marcia Perry says:

    I was lucky in experiencing unconditional love from my mother. That doesn’t mean I don’t experience some of the problems you cite as symptoms of wounding or that I regard my mother as the template for myself. We were connected but different in many ways. She may have been concerned about my social or emotional well-being because I am introverted and eccentric, but she accepted that there are many ways to find happiness and fulfillment and supported all three of her children’s attempts. She was an admirable, loving and giving person who chose home economics over art, and never really regretted her choice. I learned so much about relating to people (and a great deal else!) from her and never doubted her love. I also loved sharing my mom with many wounded children who needed nurturing. When the time came when mother needed the help from her daughters, we were there to learn more lessons about how love works and what’s really important. I wish all of those who are struggling with wounded and wounding mothers and trying to become your best “you” the chance to know that you are loved, valued and perfect in your wholeness. The whole universe can be your mother.

  8. I have done my best to break the circle. With it I broke also with a lot of people of my age (borne 1953) and their expectance

  9. Nikka Rose says:

    I am in the process of healing my mother wound. I chose to forgive her because she was human & very flawed like all of us. I realized that she lived her life in vain & died in vain. Everything she did was out of obligation, not because she wanted so much to be a mother. I remember her not really appreciating being a mother or a wife, or even appreciating her own life. She did whatever she needed to do to keep up with appearances. She was a complete type A drama queen constantly victimizing herself & making herself look like a martyr. She lived her life so people would appreciate her, and give the her the love & attention she wanted. But, all her relationships ended up being shallow & superficial because she misrepresented herself to make herself look more appealing. As a mother, she was constantly misguiding & misleading us for her own personal agenda. She tried too hard to keep the family together even though the home was becoming toxic & abusive. She was extremely codependent & emotionally needy. She always expected me to fix her problems or pushed me too hard to look perfect. She also thought she could live vicariously through her children to overcompensate for what she was lacking inside of her. Her self-esteem was very low & her self-worth was dependent on how others saw her which is why she was so fixated on looking perfect. She did not have a strong support system around her because she was always competing with her sisters, friends & peers…it would annoy her if someone was doing better than her. We always had a disconnected relationship because I literally cannot remember any warm or fuzzy memories with her. I believe she did the best she could as mother… she did take care of us as far as feeding us, giving us a good education, putting clothes on our backs, etc. I am aware there are parents who treat their children worse. I always saw her as a clumsy & awkward person trying too hard to be what everyone wanted her to be to the point she felt like she had no control over her own life. Like I said, she did things out of obligation or literally to keep up with appearances, meaning she wasn’t living her life on her own terms…maybe that’s why she was always unhappy & depressed. So she became resentful & bitter. I forgive her for not knowing any better. She was probably raised to believe this as well. My relationship with her taught me to value my own life, to live my life in my own terms & to take responsibility for my own life.

  10. Deborah Tomlinson says:

    My mother was a narcissist who rejected living by any of society’s norms regarding motherhood.

    So, while she seemingly had no guilt or shame over anything she did, the damage she inflicted on me and my siblings was great, nonetheless.

    In essence, she demanded that her children function as the responsible adults in our family so that she could have the freedom to have an endless teenage life~without responsibility, unhampered by feelings of guilt, shame, motherly obligation or anything beyond her own desires.

    The occasionnel outbursts of showy motherhood for public consumption only added to our confusion growing up.

    I’m happy to say that over the years I was finally able to forgive, which eventually led me to understanding and peace. I’m sorry to say, though, my mother never changed and spent the final years of her life alone and unhappy.

    The most important thing to me, however, was that in forgiveness and understanding I reclaimed the love for her that I thought was gone forever.

    • Laynie Bee says:

      Wow! My mom was the same way. Friends and acquaintances all thought mom was great. Fun, outgoing, etc… But we knew the real her. Confusing, indeed. I am trying SO HARD to forgive her and let go of my expectations. It’s really the expectation of her becoming the mom I needed growing up that has me stuck…

  11. Louise says:

    This is an incredible article. Thank you so much. I am 42 years old and think my Mum is a Narcissist. The only way to please her was to do exactly what she wanted and follow the path she desired for me. I chose from a young age to follow my own path and was a constant disappointment. I had 8 years of Therapy and decided 3 years ago to cut all ties and find me because I never really knew who I was and was always fighting for independence. I have learnt to forgive my mother for her flaws, she had a terrible childhood and am now slowly rebuilding a relationship with her on my terms. My life is now mine and I live it how I want to. Ironically once I stopped rebelling and fighting my mother I found the life I wanted and it isn’t so different to the one my mum wanted for me. She was right. But I rebelled because I didn’t want to be told how to live my life. I still get sad and hurt and angry by certain things she does, but now I am kind to myself and kind to her. We are all just flawed human beings trying to find our way. I like myself now and know I am a great person and this enables me to like others, including my mother, more. She has given me so much. I am independent and strong. I make my own decisions. She showed me how to do this, despite disagreeing with my choices. Thank you again for this article. So brilliant. XXX

  12. It’s unbelievable how timely this article for me right now! I just got to point with my terapy where I found this Wound!
    Thank you very much!
    For the question – I found that from early childhood I felt responsible for my mum happiness, and for her success. I felt deeply bound with her figure.
    She always behaved in some way very unmature and it still make me feel very painful when I see it.
    But thanks Goddess I got now good psychologist who is helping me to go through the process of healing myself

  13. Aissatou Sunjata says:

    My mother was my first Shero and my first and foremost bully. She never nurtured, held, told me she loved me or assured me. She was my first tyrant.

  14. This made me cry so much. My growing-up years were threaded with physical and verbal abuse that held me emotionally tortured almost all my life. They say that time heal all wounds, but it did not happen for me. I still look at myself in the mirror and stare at the ugly girl who became an ugly woman now. Oh! The labels that she gave me..I wore them all painfully. But I have to forgive to live..I taught my mind to believe that even if she betrayed me a thousand times, there must be some moments that she loved me..I was her child. I’ve been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Syndrome. But I’ve decided to let the past be and I’ve learned to forgive and love unconditionally..

    • Something else we have in common. My mother was my first Shero and my first bully. She was emotionally abusive, physically abusive and allowed others to abuse. She also made me vulnerable to being abused by others. She was also manipulative and vindictive. My mother was/is also what is called an Empath, which means she knew exactly how to effectively hurt. However, even though I too live with mental illness, I can say I am safely beyond worshiping her or believing what she ingrained in me as a child. I am what she should have instilled in me, I am better. I have used my gift, my upbringing and its hardship to become an empathetic, compassionate and sensitive person. For the most part, I do forgive her. I know as an adult who has survived, I no longer believe her. I am the best of her and the best of who I am still becoming unlike her.

    • You are a very brave soul… it is a long and often lonely road. I wish you all the best… you are beautiful!

    • Aissatou Sunjata Janine Stranger
      I am not suppose to talk about my mom this way but part of my therapy is responding to my immediate feelings and give it a voice. Until now, even though I’m old and wiser beyond that pitiful child, I still hurt when I see here. Aissatou described her perfectly..even until now I cower when she stares at me and she can still penetrate through my defensive calm. That’s why I live far, abroad most of my adult life- just not to see her often. She is my nemesis and I can’t explain why I want her to love me back..the way I love her. The saddest part was that I believed what she told me so I wasted so much of my life believing I am dumb, ugly that no man would want me, a loser and such.. When someone appreciates me, I hurt and feel undeserving for the praise. And trust is one of the issues I find too difficult to do. I love being here, showing my scars, showing my scars and not afraid to look into someone’s eyes and expect to be judge. I will be better..that’s a promise I made to myself. Thank you Aissatou and Janine.<3

  15. … the buck stops here… I broke the cycle… 🙂

  16. …one school of thought puts forth this…”a daughter has issues to solve wth her father…a son has issues to solve with his mother”…notice the traits passed on from the parents to the children…

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