The Mother Wound

As I write this, I am sitting  in sunny Florida, 1500 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 my 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 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”

Thoughts and comments are welcome.

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26 thoughts on “The Mother Wound

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  1. I had the same type of relation with my mother (a narcissist)- she was born in the 1940s and I was born 1962..Also raised a lot by my grandparents – my grand father was like a mother to me..I think that a lot of people in my generation has this experience. Yes there was parties and I was not to be seen..or heard. But in the end my mother realized things and I´m happy that I was seeing her when she got sick.

  2. My mother, bless her, was one cold fish. She was an unknown quantity to me for her entire life – her words cut like knives and her affection was nonexistent. I was a disappointment, and we did not speak for over 25 years, yet I heard tell that on her death bed she spoke of me, her artistic child, whom she so admired, though I was very small. Mother believed it was 1960 and I was 4. I take some comfort in her remembering me fondly, I try to recall her as a whole person, not just a mom – but I am wounded to my core. As a mother I have healed much, and continue to love my grown son and his girlfriend with all my heart; this soothes me. I do not believe the broken heart will ever heal, but perhaps the lesson is, it isn’t supposed to. Enjoyed your essay. Goddess guides us.

    1. Yes, Goddess does guide us, and love us; I believe She is always hear for us, her daughters. I know my mother talks to others of me in a fairly good way and she will say she loves me; however, I also believe actions show more than words. The wound does go deep; it is difficult if not impossible to heal completely. I wish you continued healing and am glad that you have found that love for your son and his girlfriend. Our children help so much with our healing. They are truly Goddess-sent.

  3. I had a mother who alternated between neglect and harsh criticism. Years of therapy helped me understand why she was as she was, but the real healing came the day that I realized that I was, in effect, a “motherless child” and that I needed to grieve the loss of the mother I wished I’d had. After a couple of days of sobbing, I felt calm . . . and from then on was able to relate to the mother I DID have without expectations. The big surprise was that she then found it in herself to finally tell me how much she loved me. Perhaps because she no longer felt anger and resentment coming from me? She died last year; I cannot say I miss her, but I am able to speak of her without rancor.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure it is hard to believe with what I wrote, but much of the bitterness and resentment had passed because so much time has passed and with her memory issues, she really cannot remember as opposed to not wanting to remember, two very different things. I believe so much has come to the surface now is that I am doing for her what she never did for me. Maybe on some level, I will miss her when she passes; I will face that when it comes. Again, thank you for sharing and for commenting. )O(

  4. A Word from the Goddess…

    “Allow your acquaintance with me to transform your vision of your mother. It is her silence that became your voice; her fear, your courage; her sleep, your awakening; her imprisonment, your freedom. She is your savior. Her silent groanings to be free of confining myths rise up within you and empower you to choose freedom. Together, you speak the pain and healing of a lifetime. The wise ones among you walk in solidarity with your mothers, even if at a distance. Speak to her of your commitment across the distance born of anger and of love: ‘Mother, I will free your voice, to shout out the pain of a lifetime. Your silence is mine. My voice is yours. Your pain is mine. My healing is yours. Together, we will speak and heal the pain of a lifetime.’ And so it is.”

    You are loved, Shakti Warrior.

    1. Ah, Dear Patricia….this is so lovely. Thank you. This was so much a part of what I worked on healing during my IAW training. This continues that healing. My thanks and love to you. ❤ )O( Shakti Warrior (Susan Morgaine)

  5. Hi there, I found your blog through The Girl God website feed on my Facebook page. I’m glad I did! I’ve been wanting to learn about witches and goddesses and will explore your writings further.

    Thank you for this honest post about your difficult and painful relationship and history with your mother. Writing on this topic isn’t easy to find!

    I, too, have a deep mother wound. She is married to my father who abused me chronically, severely, from the time I was very young until into my adulthood. Because I was so focused on my father as the “bad” guy, I didn’t recognize the role my mother played in my circumstances until much, much later when I was in my 40s. As a child, I saw her as “the good parent,” as an angel really, because she “wasn’t mean to me” like my father was. Only later in the light of some good therapy did I recognize that she was extremely aloof and absent emotionally throughout my ordeal. I agree with Patricia’s wise words above. However, for now I must stand in my anger in order to stand up for the little girl who was abandoned emotionally by her mother. I have no contact with my mother at this time (or my father) as she is unable to acknowledge the abuse I experienced. And at this time and place on my path, not having contact with her although excruciatingly difficult at first, now feels very necessary, very right and very good. I am free to become the woman I am without having to look after the little girl that she is. I am hopeful that when I am further along on my path, I will be able to connect with her in the spirit of Patricia’s wise counsel.

    I honour where you’re at in your challenging journey with your mother. Your strength and courage is apparent. I send you my support and respect.

    A.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your story. It is hard to realize that your parents were/are not who you thought they were when you were a child. We see through a child’s eyes of love; when we older, we live, we learn, we realize other things. I am so sorry that you had to suffer any abuse from a parent, and then realize the other parent allowed it to happen. I have come close, so many times, to cutting off contact with my mother; I was never able to completely do so and now she needs so much help and has, really, no one else, that I do what I must because to not would go against the woman I have become. As for Patricia, she is wise and so very helpful. I would recommend looking into her Imagine A Woman International Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator Training. I did it last year after saving up to do so and it was helpful, healing, and transformative. Feel free to contact me at ShaktiWarriorSpirit@gmail.com in reference to IAW or Goddesses/Witches. I’m a teacher by trade (yoga/bellydance/Goddess Spirituality) so I would happy to help in whatever way I could. Healing and Peace to you.

  6. Dear Susan….You are a wonderful writer. From the mother daughter relationship everything else flows. If you have not read “In Her Image: The Unhealed Daughter’s Search for Her Mother” by Kathie Carlson it will if not soothe, at the very least affirm by validation the ache. Her first sentence reads: “The primary relationship of women is that of mother and daughter.” There are chapters in my upcoming book pick up where Carlson leaves off. The most powerful one is about “touch starved, touch phobic” and what I like to teach: ‘We are all unmothered daughters of unmothered daughters…” I t is a vicious cycle and women like us are the cycle breakers. What I know today after 25 years of healing, therapy, and unravelling true female consciousness is that the only way back to wholeness, is in returning to what i call our sacred inner daughter. This is the task no matter what mothering or unmothering we received; to become the mother to that wise, untamed female being we arrived as. She is the way to wholeness.
    Thank you again for posting your experience. I wish you well.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I am touched and honored. I will definitely look into Kathie Carlson’s book and will look forward to yours when it is released. Please feel free to let me know when that is at ShaktiWarriorSpirit@gmail.com and I will share it on my blog. I have tried hard to break this cycle with my own daughter; while I may not have been 100% successful, I did succeed, and she is quite aware of the wound that I carry due to my own mother/her grandmother. “Sacred Inner Daughter” is a wonderful, descriptive term for what we must return to. Thank you again. )O(

  7. The pouring out of your words fill my heart! I too know tooo many women who share this story. I do believe in this patriarchal culture, mothers are jealous of their daughters and thus begins the competition for attention and affirmation. I also know we are all broken vessels and some of us do better at taking on the responsibilities we are given. I believe that we the Daughters of the Goddess, are able to see these broken relationships for what they are, and we grieve and we feel deeply the woundedness of decisions made. And yet here we are, not punishing our mothers for their decisions but stepping up where Goddess calls us and that is to watch out for and care for our own mothers. My mother is 83 too. It must be challenging to be with her now and to wonder “what if?” What if things had been different? Who would I be? Who would she be? And yet, they weren’t and aren’t. And so we continue on this journey of healing and of nurturing the very one who never nurtured us. I am so thankful you had other women in your life (i.e. aunts) to reach out to you. I am so happy you were not a child of the streets or lost in the foster care system. I honor that you are now stepping up to be the Vessel of the Goddess Mother! This will also be a time for you to heal more and to learn what you can then pass on to other women who are so very lost, angry, bitter and take it out on themselves. You my Sister, are the Warrior Woman who is a mentor to so many. In the meantime, take care of that Inner Child; go make sand castles, run on the beach, throw bread to the sea gulls and let Sister Sun pour Her love and light into your very soul. I adore you, love you and am honored to call you my Sister!

    1. My beautiful friend, you have made me cry so early in the morning. I thank you and honor you for your words. It is always surprising to see ourselves through someone else’s eyes, as I would never describe myself as you see me. All I/we can do is try to do our best, as hard as it may be. The way you put that – to nurture her as she never nurtured me is exactly correct. It is, oh so difficult, but I have done it and will continue to do it as Goddess would expect no less of me. I love you, sweet Sis*star* and am glad we have each other to call friend in this world. You are truly special. ❤

    1. No, Tina, thank you. The Mother Wound was just the name that came to me and it seemed to fit so well for what I was feeling. I hope you can let go even more. We need to release what we feel so that we can heal and continue on; and then help other women heal. Blessings!

  8. This deeply resonated with me too Thank you for sharing ,,, the goddess divine feminine path has really helped me work on my wounds concerning the relationship with my birth mother , the wound still can hurt from time to time especially when I’m around her , the feelings I feel such as abandonment , lack of support , lack of confidence , confusion in myself can resurface , it’s like I’ve do lots of work on myself spiritually within my own life and when I see her or am with her she never changes or evolves , I sense I just have to let go of any expectations in anyway , exceptance is importatant and keep loving the daughter within ( the child ) blessings thanks again for sharing your story 🌟💕

    1. Thank you, Lucy, for commenting. It is an awful wound to hold and we need to release it, but it proves to be difficult. When I am home in the Northeast (US) and she in Florida, it is easier. To be here with her for a month has been hard; the saving grace has been my aunt, who lives a few doors up and who took care of me 4 months out of each year for 7 years. I don’t think I have any expectations any more, and if I do, they are not particularly positive ones. I am going to go poke around your website. Blessings and continued healing. )O(

  9. I too have thought about this wounding- the fractured-ness that causes main for so many women, mothers and daughters throughout their lifetimes. I definitely believe it is linked to the effects of patriarchy and its wounding of the feminine that continues to play out in so many generation after generation.

    1. I agree that so much damage is linked to the patriarchy. If I can be instrumental in dismantling the patriarchy, then I believe my life will be well-live. However, I also believe that some people, women and men both, should not have children.

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