So many of us grow up carrying the burdens, insecurities, social conditionings and the falsely held beliefs of our mothers. Even with their very best of intentions for them to love and nurture us, we can grow up sensing , knowing, that something was missing.
Many of us grow to see and emotionally feel the scars of our mother wounds, which become implanted upon our own soul. That fear of rejection and need for unconditional love that feels unsettled and constantly bubbles up to the surface of our hearts and throats.
We grow thirst for their love, but sometimes when our mothers cannot provide it, through no fault of our own, we learn to search for it on the outside. Meanwhile, we learn the myth that love can never be unconditional - it can only be gained through outside sources of approval, success and other standards of worth.
We might adopt an inner drive for that unconditional love, and alongside that incessant fear of rejection, from a self-compassionate child we morph into someone who strives to become the ‘good girl’, the hard worker, the perfectionist, the slimmest or fittest person in the class… These drives grow out of living in a world where we fear a lack of love - the missing ingredient of unconditional love from out mothers and even the many friends and family that surround us.
Perhaps you too experienced your mum and daughter relationship in many different ways. After all, we are all unique, and have mother wounds that are uniquely cut just for us. Perhaps you mother appeared overly critical or tried to control what clothing you wore. She might have also tried to make you the best at something, pushed you to the limits at school, was emotionally manipulative, encouraged you to join her in losing some weight when she was on a diet, or simply follow her footsteps and fulfil her own unfulfilled dreams.
Perhaps she was or still is overprotective, treating you like a naughty child rather than the young or older adult you know you really are.
Whatever you have experienced, you are validated in what you feel. It is real to you, and you have been wounded - regardless of whether the intention was negative or positive from your mother (who was probably just trying to be the best mother she knew how to be at that point in time).
Before we begin to try and heal out mother wounds and the influences that those wounds have had on us right from our birth up until now, we need to do one vitally important thing… fORGIVE OUR MOTHERS.
Our mothers, when viewed through a compassionate lens, were mostly trying to parent us in the best way they could possible have known how to - even if it was interpreted and experienced as the very opposite.
The expectations and beliefs carried on from their own childhood experiences manifested, yet again, in our own upbringing. Allowing generations of upheld ways of thinking and being to continue on and on and on… Even if they have actually led to more harm than good or love.
Ask yourself, Where did my mother’s stye of parenting, beliefs and personality traits come from. Yes, some traits may have been innately there, but a large majority will have been shaped from her own experiences of growing up.
How was your mother mothered? Has she experienced any personal traumas or a lack of fulfilment in her own life due to being in a situation, job or relationship where she never truly belonged, found meaning or flourished in?
Has her own family and mother relationship shaped her own world view in a way that may have potentially influenced yours too?
As the answers to these questions begin to reveal themselves to you, you can see the shimmers of your own mother’s innocence - her child like essence that was born out of love. Maybe her own critical nature stems from the lack of approval and unconditional love of her own parents? Perhaps, her over or under feeding your physical and emotional needs grows from the toxic relationships she has grown up with. Maybe her critical view about your clothes, weight and appearance has grown from her own experiences of harsh judgement or being outcasted, and she worries that you might be in danger of the same if she doesn’t intervene …
Each of us here are partly, sometimes very largely, a reflection of our mothers. We often viewed, from our mothers’ naive perspective, as the unfinished projects they need to complete - or in some cases stop competing due to how this may threatened their own sense of failure.
From my own personal experience, I grew up with a cold and unaffectionate mother - who was also deeply loving, although she did not show it often on the surface. Although she wasn’t as overprotective as my dad, she would constantly try to place some control over my dress sense, food intake and appearance. If I went outside into the world, she needed to ensure that I would live up to her own standards of ‘good enough’. After all, I was her reflection, and anything inferior to her own standards for others to see would ultimately threaten her own sense of self.
My mum, just like her own mother, had learned to look on the outside for validation and self worth - looking for ways to fill a void within her that actually couldn’t be filled with anything other than unconditonal love. New clothers, new household appliances, hours watching TV soaps and a very tidy home all symbolised her need to escape and gain control while numbing and blocking out her real internal pain, relationship issues and lack of self-esteem that bubbled aggressively beneath her neatly clean surface.
To me, as a young child my mother felt worlds apart, even though our internal worlds were a near reflection of one another. We both longed to be unconditionally loved, mostly by ourselves. However, we had integrated the false belief that external worth and validation was the key, rather than the real cure of learning to love and accept ourselves fully first and foremost.
Even writing these words brings up lots of emotion for me. I spent years trying to grab and savour my mums attention - a good drawing, great grades at school, playing music, completing university, not brining trouble to the door, getting a ‘good’ job. Eventually, the cravings for attention and love played out in my eating disorder too - which to this day is still hard to admit.
Although I didn’t like the restriction of having my meals supervised (in case I was up to any food hiding tricks), there was a large hidden part of me that enjoyed the attention from my mum who helped me arrange and prepare my meals. Even if it was for a few minutes at a cafe, dinner table or while cooking. Through my journey or recovery, we actually became closer than ever before, opening up our hard shells and showing one another our real experiences and desire for approval. Despite traumatic circumstances, I felt like I was a child who my mother genuinely and unconditionally cared for. I had waited years and years for that experience, and unsurprisingly, it made breaking away from my eating disorder even more difficult (fearing that leaving it behind would also mean leaving the loving warmth of my mum too).
By sharing these experiences and feelings with you, I want to help you see that your own mother, and any of your seemingly self-destructive habits and behaviours, aren’t to be blamed on anyone.We have all simply learned to become part of a cycle that our mothers and the many mothers before that have been unable to break free from.
However, with this knowledge and wisdom in mind, it gives us the power to finally break free. After potentially centuries of self-destructive cycles, we can use our compassion for all our mothers to finally become our own mothers. But what does this actually mean?
Being our own mother means lovingly becoming aware of and attentive to our own needs. We don’t need to wait for the love and approval of someone else. Each of us has the whole universe inside of us (crazy right!?), and we know exactly what we really need. We just need to learn how to tune into the right channel.
We are living in a time where we no longer need to hide, become people pleasers, be workaholics, strive for perfectionism or try endlessly to satisfy our mothers. We are enough and deserve to feel like we are enough right now. Full stop. But not the end of the story …
When we realise that we have the love of thousands of mothers deeply embedded within our soul (including the love from mother earth), we become empowered to break free from the cycles that have trapped our physical mothers. We can now learn to see out mothers as the innocent children they once were and, in many ways, still are.
Whatever your mum has ever done to you, or expected of you, was never because you were unlovable. It was because they believed that they were unlovable and not yet good enough. The only thing that they knew then, perhaps like yourself, is to try and gain love through external ‘things’ and approval.
Simply knowing this shed a deep and enlightening truth on our own valid experiences of growing up - giving us FULL PERMISSION TO LET GO of the past.
Your mothers, like everything else in this world, is a loving part of you. But, thankfully, you don’t have to become the exact reflection of your mother.
You have all the permission and love in the world to BE YOU, shine your own light, and life your life filled with self-compassion and joy.
There is so much loving potential in healing our mother wounds and, ultimately, learning to become our own unconditionally loving mothers.