28 June 2011

The Mother Wound

I cannot remember where I first heard the term "mother wound", but I knew instantly on the hearing that I had one as deep as the Grand Canyon and as wide as the Nile River is long. It is the thing that has most significantly shaped me as a person, for better or worse.  A brief definition:
We all come into the world needing the tender presence of a mother's touch, nurture, care and love. In fact the mother's influence begins when we are in the womb. The absence of this mother love is a wound that is created in three ways:  

  1. Mother separated from the child through illness of the mother, mother's death, divorce
  2. Child separated from the mother through illness of the child, incubator/hospitalization, adoption
  3. Unhappy relationship with mother through neglect, abuse, mother's mental or emotional distress, attempted abortion

I think most mothers leave positive and negative marks on their children.  I know that in spite of my best intentions, I have done (or not done) things that my kids will have to overcome.  The mother wound is more profound - and the healing is sure to take a lifetime.  The confusion created when the same hands that are meant to nurture and provide, harm and withdraw is significant.  One resource listed the consequences of the traumatic interruption of this attachment as an overwhelming sense of abandonment and dread of aloneness, emotional dependency and a loss of self and being.  The list is longer but these are the three attributes that are most identifiable to my personal experience.
My mother was mentally ill for most of my life.  She had extended stays in the psychiatric hospitals and long periods of time where she confined herself to her bed while my step-father and I provided 24/7 room service.  Since I became an adult and was able to define some personal boundaries of acceptable behavior, our relationship has become more and more distant.  There are years when we don't speak at all.  Somehow through the neglect and abuse the need for a mother remained, my spirit wooden like the body of a mannequin with non-posable arms reaching out for something just beyond its grasp.
It was this conditioning of neglect and abuse that first taught me I was worthless and led me to accept the mistreatment of a spouse who was supposed to love me for far too many years.  I am working on being at a place where I harbor no resentment while stating the truth.  I would rather spend my energy on the healing process that God is doing in my life than to dwell on the darkness of history with anger or malice.  The darkness has swallowed far too many precious years already.
Our last rift was over my refusal to add my mother as a "friend" on Facebook.  I explained that I would rather establish a real-life relationship with her than to have voyeuristic familiarity.  She responded by not speaking to me for a year.  In recent months, my mom and I have talked sporadically - text messages, emails here and there.  When I dropped Gary off at the airport on Sunday morning, it triggered my fear of abandonment.  I knew immediately it had nothing to do with him or the situation - but it was deeply connected to my mother wound.  People think I'm brave.  They think I'm strong.  What nobody knows is that inside I'm still pining for a mother.  I was bawling my eyes out as I left the airport, so I dialed her number.   She never answered.


  1. Wonderfully written Julie.... I have experienced the same kind of neglect, do we ever stop "pining" for a mother? It does help to read and see that a person is not alone in his or her situation. Have a wonderful day! Debbie

  2. I never heard the term but you know I have it too. My mom and I are at a place of common respect now but it took most of my life to get here.
    Jewls you are strong, don't ever doubt that. You have overcome so much, you are still healing but girl you are definitely getting there!

  3. I have a visual image for that "darkness of history" you mention... I refer to it as my "ugly jar" that has a putrid, vile concoction inside it that represents all the anger, pain, fear, and disappointment... For the most part I keep the jar safely sealed and under the sink, in the back of the cabinet away from the light. Occasionally, for one reason or another I am forced to retrieve it, pick it up, examine it, and sometimes even remove the lid and get a whiff of what's inside. Recently I realized that I have a second jar. It is filled with light and hope and love. And I'm realizing that it is brighter, more powerful, and much bigger than the ugly jar. It sounds to me like you've found yours, too. I love being your friend. Hugs!

  4. As always Julie, my heart was touched and revealed as I read your words. I know all to well the hurt and process of healing from wounds from a mother. God is so glorified in you. Thank you.


Awaiting your words......
♥ Juls ♥