Understanding and healing the mother woundWritten by Alfred C.W. Davis
What's inside this article
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:
Mother is separated from the child through:
- illness of the mother
- mother’s death
Child is separated from the mother through:
- illness of the child
Unhappy relationship with mother through:
- mother’s mental and emotional distress
- attempted abortion
When this most important attachment is traumatically interrupted, there is emotional pain that produces consequences within the individual. The effect of the wounding includes:
- Feelings of abandonment and dread of aloneness
- Loss of self and sense of being
- Powerful hunger for feminine touch that can be eroticized
- Emotional dependencies
- Possible gender confusion, fear and insecurity
There are two main responses to a mother wound that affect one’s ability to achieve healthy friendships and healthy married love:
Emotional detachment – This defensive response to the breakdown in the mother’s love causes a detachment from the mother. The legitimate need for love from the mother is repressed, leaving the child hungry but unable to secure relationships because of the emotional shutdown. The person fears the pain of attachment and therefore builds protective walls to hide behind.
- Emotional dependency – In this response, the person strives endlessly to fill the void which often turns into co-dependency with grasping, clutching and infantile tendencies. This striving for attachment is based in low self-confidence, fear, insecurity and often confusion about self worth.
Implications for women
- internalize a low view of women
- addictive, emotional and romantic dependencies
- infantile desire for union with women
- sexual confusion related to touch
Implications for men
- ambivalence towards women – need them but very wary
- fixate on feminine objects of desire to fill the deprivation of mother love
- either detach or remain in toxic grip of a sinful alliance with mother
- sexual confusion related to touch
- separation anxiety that leads to striving, passivity and depression
- fantasy bonding – attaching to fantasies
- fetish bonding – attaching to things, clothing, hair
- attachment to self – fantasy image of self
- emotional incest – meeting emotional needs of mother
- weak sense of identity and of being
Addressing the mother wound
There are three steps to addressing the mother wound:
- Invite Jesus into your initial memories and emotions
- Release your pain to Jesus and stop living from the centre of your wounded child
- Forgive your mother
- Strengthen your sense of identity and knowledge of your True Self in Christ
Inviting Jesus into the wound
- "Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me." (Psalm 27:10)
"As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you." (Isaiah 66:13)
Knowing that Jesus wants to heal all who are broken-hearted, invite Jesus to enter into the place of your brokenness – in the womb, at birth, early in life, wherever it happens to be.
Release your painful memories to Jesus
Ask Jesus to take away the pain in each painful memory and replace it with His love. He will creatively remove the pain (the "how" is often different for each person) and then transform the memory with His love and truth.
Forgive your mother
Choose, as an act of your free will, to forgive your mother and let go of all the resentment, bitterness and anger. Jesus’ transforming love will change the perspective of the trauma and free you to accept the circumstances with grace and mercy.
Strengthen your sense of identity and knowledge of your True Self in Christ
Ask Jesus to reveal the truth about who you are. As Jesus affirms your sense of being, He provides an assurance of worth and helps you know the True Self that He created. Then, look to your success stories to see the outworking of your True Self in real life.
As you connect with Jesus’ profound love for you, the need for other attachments reduces your need to be loved and allows you to look outward at loving relationships with others. Living with your new self and being open to affirmation will free you to grow in your own story instead of constantly striving to attach to your mother or the substitute for your mother.
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