5 Experiences of the Mother Wound

mother and child

I have heard the term “Mother Wound” a lot recently. The best definition that I have heard was from Flora Ware, creator of the Priestess Podcast. She Described it as the wound that our mothers received as a result of being raised in a patriarchal culture. This wound is passed down from mother to daughter and although it has been diluted greatly with each generation, it is still shaping our culture today. Try to imagine what it would have been like to be treated as property (still a reality for some women)….. What if your survival depended on your attachment to a man? How would you behave if you depended on a man for food and shelter? What if your children could be taken away from you if you were thrown out of your home by your husband? Fortunately, we have more choices today than many of our ancestors AND mothers usually repeat the parenting they received. Naturally, a mother’s top priority is to ensure the survival of her children. I believe the mother wound is why women have an almost instinctual need to please others, especially men, keep the peace at all costs, and conform to the expectations of others. Nobody is to blame for this wound and I know that our mothers and their mothers did the best they could under the circumstances.
Here are five ways it has appeared in my life…
1. Disconnection from my intuition. At a pivotal point in my life, probably during a midlife crises, I realized that the life I was living was not really my own life. I was always trying to please other people and do what other people wanted me to do. I didn’t even know what I wanted or what really made me happy. Instead of listening to my truth, I was focused on the expectations of other people. I was also disconnected from my emotions because I thought they may be a burden for other people or not pleasing for others. This makes it very difficult to make decisions and hijacks intuition. How were you taught to not listen to your feelings? Are you truly living your life?
2. Fear of being seen (heard or known). My fear of being seen came up as I started working on my coaching business. In order to make a difference in people’s lives and reach more people, I had to be seen, express my opinions, make videos, do talks, and lead workshops. When I really looked at this issue, I realized that my fear of being seen wasn’t even rational. It was more like an instinctual fear of standing out, offending someone, not looking good, being judged or criticized. Some people even believe that this fear of being seen and heard hearkens all the way back to the witch hunts. Were you taught to be pretty, quiet, and small? Did you ever feel like Rudolf, like your mother was smudging mud on your bright red nose (bless her heart, being part of the tribe did equal survival in the past).
3. Low Self-Worth. This showed up for me as the perception that my ideas, talents, gifts, or contributions, were not valuable. There may be a few reasons for this and at this point it may be quite clear that many of these experiences are related to each other (revisit #1 and #2). I believe that one of the main reasons is that I am very right-brain-oriented and our culture does not value right-brain ways of being. The right-brain is considered the feminine side of the brain and is considered the creative, intuitive, heart-centered, non-linear, and inter-dependent side. While the left-brain is considered the linear, rational, sequential, individual, head-oriented and action-oriented side. In a patriarchal culture, the masculine attributes of the left-brain are valued (unless you are a superstar or able to monetize the right-brain activity). Did you feel stupid as a child, bored in school, or like a fish out of water?
5. Lack of commitment. This is the most recent experience that has showed up to be integrated. This experience is referring to my commitment to meaningful work, besides care taking. I think this is a natural response to #3. If you don’t value your contribution, why would you be committed to it? Behind this is also the perception that your contribution will not be appreciated or it won’t make a difference for another person. Everyone else’s needs felt like an emergency and mine felt like a luxury (see #1). While doing a demonstration, my business mentor, Sage Lavine, said to the potential client, “How does it feel to not even be on your own list (to-do list)?” Ouch! Are you on your own list? Have you ever noticed that you keep dropping the ball on projects that are really important to you?
I discovered these experiences as I expanded my comfort zone in order to do the work that my heart is calling me to do. They may appear again as I expand further and I will approach them with a new awareness, as a monks once said, “I invite them to tea.” I hope my daughter and future generations will benefit from this work and I am deeply grateful to my mother and my ancestors for surviving and thriving and granting me this miraculous life. Blessings, Mary

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