Mother Wounds – The Final Taboo
When Mothers Day isn’t all Roses and Thornton’s.
Maternal love is rightly sacred but not everybody will identify with the stereotypical loving mother so often portrayed.
This Mother’s Day let’s spare a moment for those being reminded of the love they rarely or never knew, through no fault of their own. In place of maternal connection, deep in the gut, at the pit of the soul, lies an endless gnawing of shame and emptiness. Motherhood has a much deserved and magical mythology running like an umbilical cord from culture to reality. In a world where perhaps maternal abuse is truly our last bastion of hushed whispers and wagging fingers. It is for this reason the people who suffer so often remain keen to defend their mothers at any cost, including damage to their own wellbeing and quality of life.
The world of retail is expert at conjuring a homely mother image of cosy maternal comfort, unconditional love, warmth and wisdom. For some, this is hard to swallow and painful to have lived without. A harsh truth borne out by The Crime Survey of England and Wales published in August 2016 by the Office of National Statistics. Shockingly 40% of respondents reported psychological abuse at the hands of their mother, as opposed to 35% from their father. Facts which are all too familiar within my coaching world.
What does society say about a person who feels sadness, fear, loathing, shame when it comes to their mothers? One of the last bastions of taboo, it’s time to face the reality of this tough maternal legacy and as a society ditch the Disney delusion. Too many people are afraid to acknowledge their Mother Wounds, at a terrible cost to themselves.
My own Mother Wound led to decades of mainly ineffectual therapy and eventually as a coach led me to travel the globe, seeking out experts offering the very best healing processes, wisdom and interventions. Years of study and practice with global greats such as Wyatt Webb, therapist to Oprah. Pia Mellody, head of the meadows in Arizona and Peter Levine, master somatic therapist. I soon found myself specialising in creating and refining processes specifically designed to help people navigate this difficult path. Adopted by a woman who was cold, critical and unloving, for many years I ran the all too familiar route of self-harm. Eventually my own destructive patterns did their worst and my breakdown became a breakthrough to a new me and a different life. Over the following 15 years I gathered a reputation as a Coach who helps people turn childhood adversity into grown-up greatness. Often people arrive at my coaching door in mid-life crisis, when they’ve run the full gamut of devastating behaviours common to those who’ve been badly treated, abandoned, unloved and un-nurtured by the women who brought them into this world.
The legacy of pain and shame from a broken maternal bond can also provide the Semtex for great focus, determination and ambition. The un-mothered adult knows the impact of this universal taboo all too well. Whether your mother couldn’t, or wouldn’t, love and nurture bears little influence on the resulting deep damage and pain. Many spend a lifetime of self-loathing and toxic addictions designed to numb the inner emptiness which is so hard to quantify. Often the pain is so ‘normalised’ we don’t even know it’s there. The lucky ones breakdown and breakthrough to self love but it’s hard work and too much for many, already fragile from carrying their feeling of unlovability wounds.
Often Mothers Day exposes the wounding as we watch the world pay homage to mother love. A catalyst for feeling confused, bemused and inadequate. The silent ‘Why? What’s wrong with me?” Some have cut the ties but most awkwardly go through the Mother’s Day motions, whilst burying resentment and feelings of worthlessness beneath layers of obligation. All driven by the familiar need to be a ‘good, grateful and deserving child’.
No-matter how many years on our earth clock, we’re always our mothers child. Burying devastating truths, deep scars and pain, along with a whole heap of unwanted emotions. The injustice can be hard to fathom or process, which is why it’s common to settle for a life of turmoil and relationship heartache.
What are we supposed to do with the deep burning rage? Nobody taught us how to love ourselves; much less self soothe and heal our emotional pain. How often do we explore openly and honestly the legacy of hurt caused by mean mothers, unloving mothers, non-mothers and fuck-you mothers?
Walt himself colludes with our deeply entrenched ideal fantasies. I’ll bet you can list a raft of Disney movies with vivid and vile wicked Step Mothers … Even in the world of deep and dark cartoon fantasy, real mothers aren’t deemed capable of inflicting pain and suffering on their own offspring. Without fail, it’s the new, evil wife dishing out the dirt and the damage!
Being born to a mother who won’t, or can’t, take care of your emotional needs is a hotbed for lifelong wounds. Wounds of shame and pain, carving our adult personality and shaping our lives. Addictions, compulsions, love intensity, love avoidance, co-dependence, disorders of every hue and every subsequent relationship – whether business, love or casual acquaintance – are forged from our maternal blue print. Without mother love we’re rudderless and destined for a choppy ride against the rapids of life.
From the moment we’re born, some say conception, the mother bond teaches us how to respond and view relationships. The blueprint is set. So what’s so different about Mother Wounding to Dad Demons? Both are serious, both have the staying power to ruin a life, as we hurtle from drama to depths of intensity, designed to numb the pain and shame. In 2018 culture, pretty much all topics are open for discussion but maternal abuse remains a final taboo. Try talking about your abusive or neglectful mother, to even your closest friends. They are likely to run to your mothers defence “She was doing the best she could, I am sure she loved you.” Meaning well but unwittingly denying your experience in the process. You may even be judged as heartless – the ungrateful child, yet again!
If your father was abusive, neglectful and damaging people would speak up but your mother, it’s rare for her to be held accountable. So why is the mother wound so taboo? Can you imagine the shame of having a mother who didn’t love you enough to take care of you? Or to keep you as her child, to let you know you were wanted and special? Imagine the impact of feeling no love from your mother. That you were a burden, a mistake or born in some way to serve her needs.
Science has proven the impact of a non-loving mother causes our brain to wire differently to those who are nurtured with a loving, empathetic mother bond. The legacy is extensive but includes feeling insecure, unlovable and damaged with a hyper aroused Fight, Flight and Freeze Mechanism. The un-mothered brain takes careful understanding and navigation but with patience and self-love it can be healed.
“I don’t know why you have to poke around in this stuff, no good can come from it” is often the family anthem. When a mother fails her daughter they also fail to teach her how to be a mother. Becoming a mother denied a maternal blue-print is a minefield and many opt to forego motherhood in fear of repeating the patterns.
Today take a moment to send love to every soul who hasn’t known a mother bond, those who felt unlovable and unwanted, unheard and unseen. Wherever you are in life, I salute you, only you know how much it takes to overcome the feeling of being an obligation, and unwelcome, at your core.
Walling off, numbing out, drama, chaos and addiction are all ‘normal’ responses as we unconsciously kick and scream our way away from feeling the fear, shame and rage of rejection. A walled heart can form to make us hard and devoid of compassion and love. You may be a high achiever, swearing you would never have to rely on anyone for your survival. The scars are indelible but there’s hope on the horizon.
Perhaps it’s you, dear reader, who know this familiar pain. Take heart in the knowledge that you may not know how to be a mother but you do know how not to be your mother. Take it slowly, build a deep and meaningful relationship with your own inner child. Learn to parent yourself, the inter-generational wounds really can stop with you. Own your power, hear your inner voice and show yourself the acceptance, love and compassion you craved as a child. And most of all, know for sure, the quality of your mothers’ love was never about you – it was about her inability to love, attach and connect. Her fractured psyche was never your fault, nor your responsibility – it’s time to own your adult power by being a mother to your vulnerability, the mother you yearned for but never had.
Today, for Mothers Day, vow to understand the full impact of your mother wound and how to heal – not just for you but for generations to come. Gently grow yourself back up with self-compassion, self love, kindness and self care. These concepts may feel alien to you right now but with time, patience and perhaps a little help, you will start to feel whole. You are not your mother and your past does not need to define who you become. You’ve done a great job to get this far, to survive, now with love and TLC you will grow and thrive.
Happy ‘Mother Myself’ Day. ♥️
Michelle Zelli adopted by the age of two, unloved by her adoptive parents, left home at 16, determined to be wholly independent. Her drive for security led to a successful career, she became Blue Chip Sales Director by the age of 28 and later, MD of the largest TV Post Production Company in the UK. For 15 years Michelle has built an enviable reputation as a coach to successful people committed to self-mastery. She’s a woman on a mission to help others heal their mother wounding and poor self-esteem. She’s helped hundreds move forward creating an audacious life in healthy and extraordinary ways. Michelle specialises in using clients’ unique adversities to heal wounds and change their life trajectory.
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