The Mother Wound: Ways to heal yourself.
How do I escape my toxic mother now I am an adult?
Growing up with a mother who wasn’t really a mother can be a difficult bag to carry once you become an adult and a mother yourself. It is often then that you realise what you should have experienced and the gaps in your psycho-emotional map can become ever more glaringly obvious as you expand your parenting knowledge and love and nurture your own children.
I have met very wonderful mums who vowed to never do what their mothers did to them, and they were able to break the cycle of failings and often abusive cycles that plagued their family of origin and beyond. It’s hard to understand that the abuse cycle can have a very long familial history and the ripples of trauma and abuse have the power to infiltrate the most emotionally aware of us in our parenting styles.
I had one woman tell me as hard I try to not be like my mum sometimes in moments of stress and tiredness, I hear her in me, as I am trying to cope with my recalcitrant teen. Breaking the shackles of the “mother wound” can be very difficult. So, what can you do? How do you heal yourself? Do you need to reconcile with your mum to be able to heal?
The answer to the later question is thankfully no. As much as we would like to change others to help ourselves to heal, sometimes that is not possible. We cannot control how others see us or feel about us and expecting our mums to have an “awakening “because we have evolved is sometimes (not always), wishful thinking. For some of us, it is too late as our mother has passed.
Here are 10 things you can do to help you heal that “mother wound”. The bad news is it’s all about you, and the good news is its all about you too!
1. Write your own narrative. That means write down and re write your own story to see yourself through your eyes. You can do this by using positive memories. Explicit memories such as childhood photographs which show pictures of the people in your life who loved you. This is not lying to yourself or making up your life story to create a false history , it is allow your mind time to heal by creating a template that will challenge your history from “ all bad “ to one with moments of joy, comfort and love. This will act as a buffer , a way to focus on the positives and move you out of the “ victim” mode, which of course you were , but giving you the self-power to move forward without a “ victim mentality’ clouding your sense of self advocacy and power.
2. Take an inventory of the people who are in your life that bring you joy and hope and those that are the “dead wood”. Decide to ditch the ones that bring your energy down and suck you dry.
3. Use the pause button; STOP LOOK LISTEN. Observe yourself when you have been triggered. Why was I feeling this way in this scenario? Was it really about this scenario I am reacting to now or has an emotional (implicit) memory from the past been activated in my subconscious?
4. Adopt a new perspective; why am I reacting this way?
What could I do instead? How can I see this differently and what is my ownership in this?
5. Manage “the war zone”. Set healthy boundaries with your mum. Ask yourself,” Am I still so needy for my mother’s love that I violate my own boundaries with her and end up being hurt and then feeling resentful. This starts the toxic dynamic to recycle between you and mum all over again.
Being articulate as possible and as clear as possible to enable her to understand what you are expecting from her.
6. Write a list. Keep it simple and straightforward.
E.g. If you get upset because I will not call you back straight away, then I will….
Watch your reactive mind, she will say things that will ” trigger’ you . Take your power back and don’t by into it .
7. Give up on wishful thinking. Be realistic, she will not be happy with new boundaries! Be compassionate with her she will need time to adjust to the new you! Be firm and gentle, this of course is easier said than done! It has taken many years to create your difficult and sometimes dysfunctional dynamic, it’s going to take a while to roll this new one out and you will have teething problems. Make sure she understands, if she won’t don’t give up! You may well fall back into your old dynamic, when you see this, check yourself, and start again. Practice makes it easier across time.
8. She may not have given away to you what you needed then and not now. Can you accept her where she is at? She can’t give away to you what she doesn’t have to give. Some mums just don’t have the ability to change for all the reasons that developed her potential a mum in her childhood home.
9. If all else fails, remember it is important to give yourself what you didn’t get from your mum. Speak to your inner child. Soothe her in times of stress, tell her the adult you will take care of her and get her through anything.
10. Get counselling! Learning to live with the aftermath of a troubled relationship with mum can be toxic to your body and soul and WILL affect the relationships that you cherish in your life now. Learning to live with the past, integrating it into our psyche is part of maturing and self-acceptance.
We cannot choose our parents, and we are all left with a childhood legacy that we can succumb to and remain a victim or we can decide that we can learn to love our selves despite what we experienced.
Looking for counselling to heal your relationship with mum ? Contact us at https://myhealthymind.com.au/