The mother wound can be defined as your mother not being emotionally attuned and available to you as a child. She may have been present physically but emotionally absent (Dr. Mari Kovanen).
Our Mother Wounds are traumas that pass down from generation to generation that have a profound impact on our lives. When left unresolved, we pass on the Wounds that our mothers and grandmothers before us failed to heal. These wounds consist of toxic and oppressive beliefs, ideals, perceptions, and choices. Finally, our children repeat the cycle, harming their own children, and their children’s children with centuries of unresolved pain.Aletheia Luna aka Loner Wolf.
How the Mother Wound affects us/shows up in our lives:
- “(For females) constantly comparing yourself with, and competing against, other females.
- Sabotaging yourself when you experience happiness or success.
- Possessing weak boundaries and an inability to say “no”.
- Self-blaming and low self-esteem that manifests itself as the core belief: “There is something wrong with me”.
- Co-dependency in relationships.
- Minimizing yourself to be likable and accepted.
- The inability to speak up authentically and express your emotions fully.
- Sacrificing your dreams and desires for other people unnecessarily.” – (Loner Wolf).
My Mother Wounds:
In one of my previous blog posts, I mentioned somewhere that my mother is not the emotional type. She was always there physically but definitely emotionally absent. She would fit the “strong black woman” stereotype to a T. I’ve never seen my mother cry, show any form of sadness, or be super affectionate. So growing up, crying was like a sign of weakness. As a result, I developed the unhealthy habit of bottling up my emotions. I kept quiet and secretive about almost everything including things that I should have spoken up about, and that was super harmful. I felt like I had to maintain a hard exterior 24/7. There was no time for softness and embracing my femininity.
And I think it’s funny how my love language is a reflection of what I didn’t receive as a child (Physical touch and words of affirmations).
At 27 years old, I still seek some approval from my mother. But when I was younger, I used to seek approval on unnecessary things which have led me to turn down great opportunities and miss out on experiences out of fear of her disapproval. So often times, I did push my desires and passions to the side, which is one of the worst things you can do to yourself- sacrificing and sabotaging your happiness for someone else. Sometimes I could be so excited to share an idea, but my mother would have the power to crush all my hope in a matter of seconds.
I felt a lack of guidance and encouragement. I had to teach myself how to do a lot of things on my own. I became my own guidance counselor, my own cheerleader, my own motivator- I pushed myself to do well in school, I established a career for myself, mended broken hearts by myself, learned to do my taxes/manage my own finances (which I’m still struggling with), and the list can go on. I felt like I wasn’t taught foundational skills like how to cook, clean, sew up a shirt, how to properly do my hair, etc. I learned by watching and just doing my best. I really wish I would have been given the tools and advice that I needed especially now in adulthood. I could’ve been saved a lot of suffering, money, and disappointment.
Lastly, one of the most traumatic mother wounds that have been passed down through generations is the oppressive beliefs surrounding body image, race, appearance, and conforming to patriarchal standards. I was constantly criticized on my body, my skin tone, and natural hair, I think a lot of black women can relate. I’m sure we all have heard:
“Stay out the sun so you don’t get darker/blacker”, “your hair is nappy”, “you need a perm”, “you’re getting big”, “you’re too skinny”, “you need to eat more/less” “big nose”, “big lips” at least once by a close female family member. Usually our mothers, grandmothers, and aunties.
I used to get perms damn near every month. As soon as that new growth started to show, I was running to the beauty supply store for that creamy crack. I was told my natural thick hair was too difficult to manage, it was ugly, and that I needed to have long straight “good” hair (fit the Eurocentric beauty standard) only to end up with brittle damaged hair in the long run which I’m still learning how to repair today. I hated my natural hair, my body, my melanin- only because of how other people perceived it. Most importantly how my mother perceived it.
I’m happy to say- the generational trauma stops with me.
How I am healing my Mother Wound:
• Extend grace, forgiveness, & understanding // by putting myself into her shoes. For context, my mother was born in 1967 and I was born in 1993. When she was my age, it was the year 1994 when things were totally different in the world and society standards were different too. Opportunities, good paying salaries, and access to a quality education were limited when my mother was growing up. My parents grew up in a time where they believed you have to stay at a job until you retire, even though you might absolutely hate it. Basically the ‘a work and die’ mentality.
They weren’t thinking about just taking off and traveling the world, entrepreneurship, investing, trading the stock market, and building generational wealth. Their main concern was making sure I had a roof over my head and food on the table. Sometimes it makes me sad wondering about what dreams and passions my parents had/have for themselves if only they had the right opportunities and a push from THEIR parents to make them happen. I have the privilege of having access to more education and opportunities than I really realize. So it’s now my turn to teach and guide my own parents.
To this day, my mother doesn’t even have a computer or any social media accounts and she doesn’t want them. I had to literally convince her to create an email address this year. She’s still learning how to operate a smartphone and just recently discovered what YouTube is. I had to understand that I can’t blame my mother for not teaching me things that she wasn’t taught herself. She has her own mother wound to heal. And I now know that my mother did the best she could with what she had and knew.
• Be vulnerable & expressive // Having open communication with my mother (whether good or bad) has made us even more close. If she does or says something that’s hurtful to me, I won’t hesitate to call her out and let her know instead of just letting my feelings get hurt. My mother has become my best friend, I can tell her almost anything. Whenever I got some tea to spill, she’s the first person I go to. But I also know that she’s not “one of my little friends” either, if you know what I mean. So, there is some limit to what I’ll choose to share with her. And of course, we do bump heads from time to time, but it’s bound to happen when we both stand firm in our own opinions and beliefs.
• Grow up & heal // yes, trauma sucks but at some point you’re going to have to heal if you truly want peace. Healing is a process that is often painful at times. I spent years building up my confidence, educating myself, and building up courage that I’ll be damned if I let unhealed trauma and oppressed beliefs hold me back from living my life to the fullest. I love my mother so much and I 100% forgive her. I no longer hold any resentment or grudge in my heart. You only get one mother in this lifetime, please cherish them. Sometimes mothers aren’t always right, and don’t expect them to know everything, because they don’t. And that’s okay.
Also, don’t feel ashamed to go to therapy! In my opinion, society would be a much better place if we all got the help that we needed by going to therapy.
What about father wounds?
Often times, if you have a deep father wound, you mostly likely have a deeper mother wound. Because her experience with your father will mostly likely reflect your perception of him. Statistics show that most people in the black community are raised in a single parent household, and that single parent is usually the mother or grandmother. I was lucky enough to have been raised in a pretty healthy co-parenting relationship, but my primary caretaker was always my mother. If I didn’t have my father in my life at all, I feel like I would have greatly suffered from co-dependency in relationships and seek male approval to fill that void. And that’s a whole ‘nother type of trauma to dig into..
In conclusion, I would highly recommend listening to the following ‘Black Girls Heal’ podcast episode below, which inspired today’s blog post and goes even more in-depth on this topic: