Unwinding the Mother wound
My mother and I have a turbulent relationship—but it wasn’t always this way. I remember us being super close, like inseparable best friends. Until the high school years happened—you know, the years of rebellion, self-exploration and experimenting with things that high school kids experiment with. The impact to this seemingly typical behavior was actually the devolution of the relationship I had with my mother up until this point or, rather, the devolution of the grip my mother truly had on my life.
I say this now as someone who has spent a number of years assessing the relationship with my mother. More directly after I became a mom. I hadn’t realized how much of my life and my decisions revolved around her approval or permission. This is what has become known as shadow work. Simply, looking at life through memories like a photo album, trying to figure out what the heck happened, how we got here and what I can do now.
Part of uncovering the mother wound is really taking a hard look at your past as objectively as you can. Whatever comes up, have a safe space to share these realizations, whether that be a friend, significant other, out loud to yourself, or writing in a journal. This practice provides additional perspective and insight. I always write things down because I can go back and reference it later if I remember something that is relatable to see if I can find the pattern.
Once you start finding patterns and trends in behaviors, you can start to reprogram those patterns and behaviors. Often, these can be done by affirmations, opposite behavior changes, a ton of discipline, and consistency. It’s hard work trying to deprogram and reprogram yourself from something you’ve been used to for so long. Consistent small actions like affirmations (written or verbal) go a long way, in my opinion. Give yourself grace during this process because it can be pretty intense at times depending on your current state of being.
What Healing a Mother Wound Can Look Like
I’ll give an example regarding weight. My grandmother and mother both have an unhealthy relationship with food and weight. They are both incredibly skinny and suffer health problems as a result. It was always a topic of discussion because I was never considered skinny, even after I had my daughter. So when I reached the heaviest point in my life post-pregnancy and breastfeeding, I had to do something. I had to figure out why a change of diet and exercise wasn’t working. I had heard about affirmations before but never tried it but I decided to try it. It felt weird at first because these were unknown words I had spoken to myself. I started telling myself in the mirror that I loved myself and that I was beautiful. The more I said it out loud and wrote it, the more I felt it and the more I could see it. I changed that programming. I gave myself what I didn’t have.
I bring up this particular example because part of uncovering the mother wound is also uncovering your grandmother's wounds—it’s generational. It’s important because the trifecta is connected. When our grandmother is carrying our mother, her womb and ovaries are being formed. The very ones that would ultimately make up us. We are all connected by the foods we ate and stress we endured during that lifetime and on forward until conception from the mother with you. It is all connected and we are all connected.
I inherited negative self talk from the experiences my mother inherited from her mother. Please know, I don’t hold any of this against them because it wasn’t their fault. A lot of abuse, assault and poverty occurred in their lifetimes. They lived in a predominantly male run, backwoods area in the Appalachian mountains during the 1940s and 1980s. It was a whole different vibe back then. I mention this because it is very much a part of recognizing patterns that we have or we have adopted by proxy. A book that does a fantastic job highlighting the wounds we carry from our parents is It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn. Highly suggest if you’re looking for a place to start.
With help from health coaches, therapists, social media, books, meditation, daily practices, you too can determine what’s stopping you from living the way that feels natural to you. You will be able to release those beliefs you have or think you have about yourself so you can start living life free from the hold others have placed on you. When you change, your whole family line benefits. You can be the cycle breaker for your whole family.
This piece was written and contributed by:
Self Discovery Guide
Sierra is a busy mom to one spunky four-year-old girl and wife to one talented chef. She’s currently working a hybrid full-time job while also completing her Integrative Nutrition degree. Like many others the last few years have prompted many changes, internal growth and a lot pivoting to maintain balance and joy. Adding a practicing health coaching certificate to her existing BA in Psychology only made sense. It was her way of finally being able to help people (namely mothers) prosper in a way that was unique to them. She utilize art as a means to help her clients discover their true joy and purpose while also holding space to heal emotional trauma where words aren’t yet available. Together, they work to find harmony and healing to achieve a balance in their daily life.