Is the Mother-Wound Ruining Our Romantic Relationships?

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I’ve been on the trail of a mystery for the last 10 years trying to figure out why I believed myself to be a strong, independent woman, but would devolve into a needy, insecure, co-dependent, mushy mess when I got into a relationship.

Bit by bit, I’ve tugged away at the threads of this story, growing and liberating myself along the way. Now, I feel like I stand at the gates of the heart of it and I can see what this mystery has always been.

It’s the Mother-Wound.

Or, from a yogic perspective, the karmic knots I carry through the maternal line of my family.

It’s the pain of my mother, embedded in me, through the pain of her mother, and the pain of her mother’s mother, and her mother’s mother’s mother. Down through the generations, consciously or not, this pain has been passed on in the patterns of the psyche.

And now, I have the opportunity to heal it, once and for all.

One of my strongest memories of my mother as a child is her passionate declaration that she would never bring us up the way her mother brought her up.

She grew up with an Angry Mother and coming home from school, she never knew what she would find upon entering the house. My mother described it as walking on egg shells and always being in fear of triggering the anger.

To her credit, my mother kept her word. She didn’t bring us up like she was brought up. Instead, she suppressed her own anger and her own needs and, not knowing what she really felt, she was often emotionally distant.

Now, as a mother myself, I watched myself with my son and notice that I swing between these two parameters. Sometimes I’m emotionally distant and sometimes I’m angry. I understand that as much as my mother didn’t want to turn into her mother, she didn’t have the tools and understanding to fully heal from her own upbringing.

No, she wasn’t the angry mother—she was the flipside of that, the emotionally repressed mother.

And in turn, I too never wanted to turn into my mother because I saw her as a fearful victim—afraid of what other people thought, afraid of life and afraid of having to take care of herself and three children post-divorce.

I prided myself on being strong, confident and independent and most definitely not afraid. Yet I too couldn’t escape the patterning of the psyche. I too was just burying my fear so deep I couldn’t feel it anymore, just as my mother buried her emotions so deep she couldn’t feel them.

I discovered, bit by bit, the buried truth of my being as soon as I got into a romantic relationship–I would turn into my mother, and hate myself for it.

Relationships became the great testing ground for my psyche—the place where my shadow would rise so I could see it in all its (un)glory.

Recently, I broke a pattern within a relationship when I didn’t let my deep desire for intimacy compromise my own needs. For once, I stayed strong and stood up for what I knew I needed. Walking away from that relationship felt empowering, yet there was also intense grief. The insight that floated up in the midst of my grief was:

I’ll never find a man who can meet me in my power!

The flip side of this is a belief that I have to be less-than in order to be loved. Where did this come from, I wondered? Was this why I always turned into this weak, insecure and needy woman in relationships? Because I was afraid no man could handle my powerful self?

Two days later a girlfriend sent me an article written by Bethany Webster entitled “Why it’s crucial for women to heal the mother wound,” in which I read that:

“The mother wound includes the pain of:

  • Comparison: not feeling good enough
  • Shame: consistent background sense that there is something wrong with you
  • Attenuation: Feeling you must remain small in order to be loved
  • Persistent sense of guilt for wanting more than you currently have

As a woman, there is a vague but powerful sense that your empowerment will injure your relationships.”

Oh yes, attenuation—feeling like you must remain small in order to be loved. That was my pattern in relationships—I appeased and accommodated and denied my own needs in order to be loved, afraid that if I was who I was, that I wouldn’t be loved.

A light-bulb went on.

This was another thread to follow.

Now I knew where this way of being in a relationship had come from.

But why? What is it about our relationships with our mothers that makes us play ourselves down in order to be loved?

Another memory of childhood. I’m six or seven years old and sitting my first music theory exam through the Royal Trinity College in London. A bright child, I’d skipped Grade 1 and was doing Grade 2. We had two hours to do the exam, but I was done in about 10 minutes. I twiddled my thumbs for a moment, double-checked my answers, handed them in to the teacher and then skipped home—two blocks away.

Instead of celebrating my success and the ease with which I completed the exam, I remember my mother being horrified when I arrived. She told me off for finishing so fast and leaving the exam hall. I was devastated. I thought she’d be as happy as I was. I was vindicated when the results arrived: 98 percent.

It was a small moment, yet my mother’s fear was imprinted on me. Fear of not being good enough, or getting it wrong, or not obeying the rules.

My mother always felt like she wasn’t good enough, and even though consciously I rejected that fear, unconsciously, it still imprinted on me. From Webster’s piece:

“If a daughter internalizes her mother’s unconscious beliefs (which is some subtle form of “I’m not good enough”) then she has her mother’s approval but has in some way betrayed herself and her potential.

However, if she doesn’t internalize her mother’s unconscious beliefs in her own limitations but rather affirms her own power and potential, she is aware that her mother may unconsciously see this as a personal rejection.”

Yet the work we must do as adults to heal our mother wounds is not about shaming our mothers for not being good enough, or wishing that they were different—it’s about coming to terms with the imprinting that we carry and healing it.

Because there will always be imprinting. All of us have mother wounds, to some extent or another. They may negatively affect our lives, or may just be mere shadows we don’t have to deal with.

Being a mother is one of the most difficult things a person can do—the only role that may be just as difficult is that of a father. No matter how great we are as mothers, we will always wound our children in some way. That’s just how it works.

As adults, it’s up to us to face into our psychic imprinting, uncover those limiting beliefs, and heal them. This is what it means to mature. From Webster’s article:

The cost of not healing the mother wound is living your life indefinitely with:

  • A vague, persistent sense that, “There’s something wrong with me.”
  • Never actualizing your potential out of fear of failure or disapproval
  • Having weak boundaries and an unclear sense of who you are
  • Not feeling worthy or capable of creating what you truly desire
  • Not feeling safe enough to take up space and voice your truth
  • Arranging your life around “not rocking the boat”
  • Self-sabotage when you get close to a breakthrough
  • Unconsciously waiting for mother’s permission or approval before claiming your own life.

A few years ago I deliberately chose to go and live with my mother, partly because I wanted to better understand our relationship.

I’d always said that she was a “good mother,” and we’d had a “great relationship.” Yet this wasn’t the whole story. There was far more complexity to our relationship than just easy mother-daughter love, and I discovered this during the three months we lived together.

I’d spent the last 10 years—since I’d had two psychotic episodes in 2004—learning how to feel my emotions. I discovered that my mother still doesn’t know what she’s feeling, when she’s feeling it. Yet conversely, I could feel what she wasn’t feeling. This meant she’d often deny her own needs and seek to caretake others simply because she didn’t even know what she really felt and she wanted to feel loved.

It also meant that the atmosphere in the house was often thick with unfelt, and unsaid emotions and thoughts. It made me feel claustraphobic and frustrated. That frustration often led to anger. I was shocked to realise that I recognised this state of being—this is what I had been lived with constantly as a teenager, but I’d had no idea!

I discovered, with even more shock, that I was really angry at my mother.

Of course, because emotions were not acceptable in our household growing up—and particularly anger. Now I felt guilty and ashamed for feeling this anger. And even more guilty and ashamed because I felt it toward my mother—she who had sacrificed herself for me.

Now, almost two years on, I’m only just beginning to get to the stage where I can tell my mother I feel angry without fear that she won’t love me anymore.

It feels like a huge step toward healing the mother wound and coming into full empowerment within myself.

After all, if you can’t communicate honestly with your mother without fear that the truth of your feelings will break the relationship, how on earth can you have an emotionally honest relationship with anyone?

You’ll always be afraid that being emotionally authentic will break the relationship—that the emotionally authentic you isn’t lovable.

And there’s the key right there to understanding how the mother wound impacts romantic relationships.

The relationship we have with our mothers as children often dictates our romantic relationships when we’re older—whether we realise it or not. And that’s why, if you’re struggling with romantic relationships, it’s so valuable to take the time to understand your relationship with your mother.

It’s important too to realise as you look at at your own mother wound that healing this has nothing to do with your mother. It’s not about whether she was good or bad, or how she failed you. It’s not about blaming her, or holding her accountable or wanting her to be different.

It’s about understanding the dynamic between you and accepting that she did the best she could at the time, and it’s up to you to care for your own needs now.

This work allows you to embrace yourself as you are without shame—and therefore offer your gifts to the world. Healing the mother wound is ultimately about stepping fully into your power as a adult.

As a result of the work I’ve done on myself and the mother-wound in the last 10 years, I have:

  • Learned how to feel and handle my emotions
  • Discovered that my emotions and feelings are a source of wisdom and information
  • I’ve learned how to develop healthy boundaries. I know where I end and the Other begins, and I know which emotions are mine and which belong to the other.
  • I’ve learned that it’s okay to put my needs first—that I matter too!

There’s aspects though that I’m still working on. In particular:

  • I still need to learn to have compassion for myself and by extension other people. I’m still learning how to love myself more.
  • I need to learn how to take myself less seriously—how to play and have fun!

I’ve discovered that feeling anger towards our mother because she did not meet our needs is natural, yet I also see how not coming to peace with this anger prevents me from moving into my full power as woman.

I still need to accept my mother for who she is—both limitations and gifts, so that I can freely claim my own inner gifts and learn how to better love my mother. This is the work I’m doing now.

My son, four years old now, will have mother wounds of his own. Yet I also know that the more I’m able to heal and own my own mother wounds, the less his wounding will be.

This is how the karmic patterns are broken. In every generation, there is an opportunity for greater awareness, for greater acceptance, and for healing and release.

I am a strong, confident, powerful woman. I always have been. Yet I have also been weak, insecure and needy. All of these character traits have defined me. My denial and rejection of those parts of me I didn’t like—mirroring my denial and rejection of the parts of my mother which I didn’t like—paradoxically allowed those parts to flourish.

It was only when I finally had the courage to turn and look at all of me that I could begin to finally heal those parts of me, and also my relationship with my mother.

In all of my long-term relationships to date (the last ended over three years ago) I was more weak, needy and insecure than I was strong, confident and powerful. I downplayed myself in order to receive the love I so desperately craved.

Now, this has changed.

Now, I recognise I am my own source of Love, and it is my responsibility to meet my own needs.

No longer do I seek out a partner to fill the empty hole and take care of me.

The mystery has been solved and I am becoming the woman I always believed myself to be.



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Judy Coleman Jan 7, 2019 7:17pm

Crazy how relevant this is to me right now. Thank you so much for your insight.

anonymous Feb 23, 2016 9:47pm

Wow! Spot on! Thank you so much!

anonymous Jan 3, 2016 11:50am

This is FABULOUS!!! Thank you for your articulate expression of such complexity of the Soul journey! I have shared this with a few sisters, blood and chosen and will continue to. So much resonated with my own process of healing my mother wound.. the healing started in my early 30's and has been a 25 year journey, and continues to unveil little jewels. Brighter and clearer! Gorgeous article and thank you for sharing it!

anonymous Dec 7, 2015 11:19pm

Thank you for this article!!! This is exactly what happened to me! My mum struggled in a relationship and was depressed around my time (I’m the third child). And I drowned when I was 3-4 and I carry my mums chocking experience with me that developed into asthma. I’m now working with this and trying to heal.

anonymous Aug 25, 2015 2:41am

I cannot thank you enough for this article- I've suspected that mother wounds have been a bit of a sticking point recently, and this article has definitely confirmed my feelings.

Thanks so much!

anonymous May 13, 2015 6:03pm

This article is perfectly timed and as soon as I post this comment will look up how to heal the mother wound. Like you were, I consider myself fiercely independent and yet in a relationship, I lose myself and it drives me crazy. My last relationship which luckily only last 3 months were torturous and in the end I could not for the life of me understand why I stayed in it. To this day, I have absolutely no idea why I subjected myself to that kind of mental manipulation and verbal abuse. The "real" me would never stand for that and so I wonder, who the heck was I in that relationship? I'm a coach who work with people on achieving emotional freedom and this I know now is the missing link. Thank you for this brilliant article and for bearing your soul.

anonymous Apr 22, 2015 11:55pm

The universe and its divine timing. This article came up in my feed just as I am experiencing all that you have spoken about. It makes so much sense.Thank you for this advice about healing the Mother Wound.

anonymous Mar 12, 2015 1:04pm

Brilliant article – so well written. I'm a guy and I can really relate to a lt of what I read. The Mother Wound affects boys aslo in very similar ways, and a lot of us have to navigate our way through similar challenges in our lives and relationships. Thanks for sharing this.

anonymous Dec 28, 2014 2:11pm

While it is tempting to buy into this armchair psychology, it is based only on assumptions and false attributions. There is absolutely *no* research that provides any evidence to support what this article suggests. The suggestions in this article are, in this licensed therapist’s experience, wholly inaccurate and wildly irresponsible.

The author insinuates that she can trace back her tendency to think she is “not enough,” to patterns specifically passed down from her mother, and her mother’s mother, ad infinitum, via previous generations. And this may even be true in her family, anecdotally, as measured by observation of the women in her family… perhaps (although she really only has access to one or two generations back so what she is more likely operating on is a family story that has been passed down…).

The diagnosing of this all-too-common human pattern of self-degradation as the so-called “Mother Wound” is problematic on at least three levels, but likely, MANY more than that. And it may surprise all these open-minded readers who gushed about how “right on” this article felt to them, that sexism and misogyny are, actually, still lying at the foundation of it. I know, I know, the author made sure to add in a healthy dose of well-meaning Dr. Phil-isms, about how hard a job mothering is, and that this article should not be used as an excuse to shame mothers. And yet, how can we simultaneously transcend such a dysfunctional pattern as shaming, while the explanation itself, inherently asserts the pattern of shaming, itself?

First, wielding this misguided designation, “Mother Wound” only repeats the devastating cultural legacy of “Mother Blaming,” which us a known, yet often insidious pattern of the psychological leaders of various times, seeking causes of some of the most serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia by pointing the proverbial finger directly at… surprise! Women! Mothers! Surely all those voices in their heads must somehow be the Mommy’s fault. Of course, there has not ever been research to definitively prove these claims accurate. Not a one. Just like there is no research backing up Amy of the claims in this article.

Secondly, this Mother-Wound fallacy suggests that the behaviors the author identified, as having only one identifiable cause, and therefore, other causes must be ruled out. So, by using this logic, you would have to assume that if you had a relatively empowered, healthy mother, and an unusually happy, healthy upbringing, you would *not* have this cluster of symptoms being labeled in this article as “the Mother Wound.” But why, then, do I see countless clients with these very circunstances, who still seem to suffer from these chronic, negative ideas about self-worth? (In fact, I think a better explanation for it is that it is the HUMAN CONDITION to create disempowering meanings, as an attempt to understand painful or disappointing circumstances in life. It is not a MOTHER WOUND. If anything, maybe the designation “the Human Wound” is more accurate.)

Thirdly, this latest trend in the self-improvement movement, encourages us just to swap out one set of dysfunctional behaviors for another. As I stated above, I think the uniquely human tendency to misuse our prefrontal cortex to misassign meaning to unpleasant circumstances as a means to try to understand and therefore, predict circumstances in the future, thereby preventing those unpleasant things from happening again… this is the fundamental source of all human disempowerment. This limits our possibilities in the present and future, because the moment we have decide definitively on the REASON for a problem, we settle for this reason as THE cause of the limitations in our lives. (Like the tendency to mis-attribute not getting hired for a coveted new job, to the long-ago created but inaccurate belief that one is not good enough.)

The “Mother-Wound” explanation is just ANOTHER mis-attributed meaning, providing for us the perfect excuse, to justify our limitations! The ultimate problem with it is that it requires a primary assumption of “problem”, traced backwards through the generations. It is a “problem” paradigm – relying entirely upon the concept that there was, first, a primary problematic behavior perpetrated by someone (like, that FIRST cave mother who doubted her worth), who started it all. And this problem now trickles down the family tree until it lands smack into MY innocent life, leaving me full-on open to the victimization of all those bad and wrong Mothers-Past.

This “Parent-Wound” story is simply an EXCUSE. Thinly veiled, but an excuse nonetheless. Sure, it gives us a reason to explain our failures. But it limits us. And look how hungry all of us are, to swallow down these neatly explained reasons! Look how willing we are, to lap up the justifications that keep us necessarily reliant upon a problem/solution paradigm, always doomed to have to “fix” something wrong with us… something that someone did “to” us, with no power and therefore, no real responsibility over it?!

Look how “REASON-able” we seem to need to be, over all of our humanness…

Instead of just really allowing ourselves to GET IT: We are human. And humans are meaning-makers. Toasters make toast, and humans make meaning. That’s completely normal and there is nothing wrong with it. We are destined, always and forever, until we breathe our last breath, to make meaning of our circumstances. THAT is why we search for ways to understand life. Now, call it the Mother Wound, the Father Wound, or the Human Wound… but the fundamental flaw in this is designating it as a “Wound” at all!

What if, instead of declaring our low self-esteem patterns as problematic responses passed down through the generations, we just owned up to the behavior as the inherent condition caused by using our prefrontal cortex and amygdalas exactly the way in which they were designed to be used?

If we did that, we could stop distracting ourselves with blaming anyone for these attributions/meanings, and instead, bring our focus to the precise interpretations we have assigned to ourselves, our worth, and to life itself. And we could take real responsibility for whether or not the meanings we have added, have empowered us. And where they have disempowerment us, we can acknowledge this and then give these disempowering meanings up! Without needing ANY EXCUSE OR REASONS! We can simply give up the meanings because WE HAVE THE POWER TO DO SO.

I respect opinions expressed here and elsewhere which may differ from mine. I simply invite you all to reconsider your need to explain away your disempowerment. It is a smokescreen. And it is, in both my personal and professional therapeutic experience, thoroughly unnecessary.

    anonymous Dec 28, 2014 3:05pm

    what are you doing on Elephant? you're smart, capable, cogent and logical… expect to be flamed right off of her by those who love to celebrate and shine their personally diagnosed dysfunctions!

    anonymous Feb 6, 2016 6:33pm

    hmm… reading your post, Liza, I feel a lack of importance in the (albeit subtle) distinction between criticism and judgement.

    You are quite right to note that seeking to identity a "problem" (blame and/or judgement) and then pose a "solution" (which may or may not be a contrary, but also delusional, behaviour) is not a good way to offer counselling or self-help.

    However, you are making an assumption throughout your post that we cannot criticize without judging. We are all products of our environment, some nebulous conditioning of nurture AND nature, in a proportion no one can claim to know with any certain. Criticizing our environment is crucial for developing as people, communities, and societies.

    Criticizing the limitations or harms of my mother has nothing to do with: 1) blaming her or labelling her a bad person, 2) ignoring the role that other elements of my life (culture, school, teachers, father, siblings, etc.) have had in my upbringing and conditioning; 3) removing my own agency in self-development; 4) suggesting that a healthy mother = a perfect child.

    I would suggest you consider this article, and its recommendations under a different light. Consider that, while we have difficulty separating criticism from judgement, it is PARAMOUNT that we regain this skill. Whether we are critcising our parents, our lovers, our friends, our teachers bosses or colleague, our political economic system, or anything else. We must be able to criticize to improve, and we must be able to do so without judgement in order to be honest and compassionate, and in order to avoid projection our own bullshit onto others. Your comment seems to suggest that this process of separating criticism from judgement is impossible.

    Consider that your concerns (placing blame, looking for solutions beyond ourselves, etc.) are not antithetical to this "mother-wound" work, but are rather part OF it. Consider that working through harms and relationships with fathers, siblings, past partners, current partners, friends, and within the self, are all paramount and necessary for this specific work to also be effective.

    To re-iterate: this process if not about giving up my power by blaming my mother for my shortcomings; it is about recognizing how my childhood upbringing, of which my mother played a huge role (being lucky enough to have both her presence & attention), shaped and continues to shape who I am. We are creatures of habit and pattern, and identifying the roots of our existing patterns is as important as setting out healthy habits for our present & future 🙂

anonymous Jul 29, 2014 8:07pm

OMG! thank you so much for share this article Thank you! thank you!

anonymous Jul 29, 2014 5:28pm

This is literally my life. Felt crazy every time I talked about it until I read this. THANK YOU!

anonymous Jul 8, 2014 10:50pm

It's amazing how much our relationship with our mother can follow us throughout our lifetime — the 'good' and the 'bad' — without us even really knowing it. I've recently been learning all about boundaries and really reaching within to heal those wounds. It hasn't been easy. I know now that I have the power within to really step into my own power and create the life I want to live. It really takes a conscious awareness to make those changes; to choose to heal those wounds.

anonymous Apr 23, 2014 3:50pm

Very interesting article. I am sure some of this is true, but what is missing is the woman's relationship with her father.

If she is to have healthy relationships with men as she matures, a father who allows her to share her thoughts, emotions, dreams, and one who is loving, supportive, encouraging and non judgmental sets the tone for her future relationships. Both parents have to be present not only literally but also emotionally. How they interact with each other also sets the template for how the daughter will act in her relationships.

To place all the blame on the mother/daughter dynamics is very narrow minded at the least!! How the father treats his spouse or significant other also teaches the daughter how she should expect to be treated.

    anonymous Apr 30, 2014 11:01am

    Hello Anne, This article is looking specifically at how a woman's relationship with her mother impacts her romantic relationships. Examining that relationship is not to the exclusion of other family dynamics. A woman's reflection on her relationship with her father will also bear insight on her present relationships. To speak on that relationship could be another article unto itself because these family dynamics can be quite complex. The entire picture cannot be fleshed out in a single article. Just something to keep in mind. I don't think the author's intention is "placing blame on the mother/daughter dynamics." I think the intention is to use the wisdom gained from that relationship to heal and transform oneself and create relationships that are truly authentic and fulfilling. Seeking healing is not the same as placing blame.

    anonymous May 8, 2014 4:26pm

    Hey Annie,

    That's another article… and I'm not placing "all the blame", simply exploring how the mother wound has impacted specific aspects of how I relate to men. For more on how my experiences with my father impacted my relationships, you can read this article.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 2:23pm

My actualization of this is not precisely the same but I am experiencing the same breakthrough – after a break up that I was not about to tolerate this time around.

I am a complete mess and feel guilty for finally admitting to and frankly embracing the fact that I am so angry with my mother… But I feel like – if I don't own up to that emotion – I may never move through it.

I hope this healing allows me to love more thoroughly. Thank you for writing the article so that I am able to notice I am not alone in this experience.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 11:40am

I don't recognize those "symptoms" as a mother-wound for me, but as a father-wound. I have several of those symptoms but when I contemplate on the origination of those I really don't see it as trickling down from my mother. Maybe I'm incorrect or maybe there is a father-wound. I guess it's time for more contemplation.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 11:25am

I am a grown woman with kids, yet as I read your article, I had witnessed a strong fear of my mom seeing this article, or worse, my mom finding out that I agreed with it. I haven't stared the work of healing yet, but I realize more and more that the wound is there and that I'm hiding it from my mom, fearing it would hurt her.
You've written a very important piece that clearly resonated with and helped a lot of people. It's an incredible achievement.

Piece and Love to you.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 10:04am

I like this article very much but bear in mind that these are common human struggles. Not just for us ladiez, and not just on account of our mommas.

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 12:35am

So spot on and brave of you to post. Is EVERYONE going through this? Here's to having the bravery and accountability to heal wounds within yourself so that you don't pass them on.

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 10:54pm

YES! Exactly! Thank you.

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 8:14pm

you understand!!!!! thanks for putting that into words for me…I will print it out and discuss it with my father, with whom I have of late been explaining my life and my challenges. He didn't yet see the connection between my and my mother's difficult relationship when I was growing up, and my difficult romantic relationships now as an adult. My ex is out of the picture now, but he would have also learned from this too. I wish I was as clear and explicit with expressing this phenomenon when I did try to explain to him why things were certain ways that they were. Anyway, he was a bad dude so my choice of him is a direct result of my low self-esteem. He no longer matters because as I am now, coming along with better awareness and understanding, I would have never chosen a partner like him – never will again.

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 10:41am

Every word felt like my own story!! Thank you for your insight!!

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 8:59am

Wonderful post. I have just learnt that many "issues" I have had lead back to my relationship with my mother. Even though I am now 56, it is not too late to have learnt this and my life has taken a turn for the better.

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 8:41am

HI Kara-Leah,
It's wonderful to see how my article supported you on your journey and helped spark powerful connections! Thank you for your sharing your powerful healing process. I am sure it has and will continue to inspire and uplift women around the world! All the best! ~Bethany Webster http://womboflight

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 6:28am

Really great article my love. So honest, so raw, so transparent, so brilliant. I resonated with it on many levels. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂 Love & light x x x

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 3:35am

Thank you for this piece. As you say, everyone has mother wounds, including men! I definitely resonated a lot with your words, especially “the cost of not healing the mother wound”. I realized that while I have many of the privileges of being male in a patriarchal society, my closer relationship with my mother during childhood seems to have left me with some of these mother-wound issues. Not attenuation (probably because of my masculine conditioning), but comparison, shame, guilt, self-sabotage, etc. And the inability to know and feel my own emotions–combined with a reluctance to “stand in my truth”–undoubtedly contributed to the way my marriage ended. I am working on the things you mentioned, but I know I have a long way to go. Maybe focusing on the “mother wound” will help guide me in my next steps. Thank you.

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 6:03pm

So heart-warming to come back to this article and discover all the comments – there seems to be something so powerful about articulating the inner process so that others can know they're not alone. Recognition of the universality of our human experience is where the deep healing takes place.

I'm grateful to Bethany Webster for her original article which outlined the process of healing the mother wound. Through her work I was able to put my experience into context and work further with it. I'd highly recommend reading her original article as well, if you haven't already.

I also found this article a valuable resource in providing a step-by-step process for doing the actual work.

Many thanks to all who commented, and shared their stories.

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 4:05pm

Thank your for sharing. particularly the symptom list was spot on with me. as my mirror, I can feel the wounded heart that is shielded by the analysing mind. it is a feeling, a feeling of love, sadness and fear, generosity , hunger for life and compassion. feeling its presence in its absence, I can feel my heart releasing some tension and going out to you and to myself. This feels awesome.

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 3:05pm

You talk about how you’ve healed, but what did you DO to heal? I’d like resources…

    anonymous Apr 14, 2014 6:04pm

    Hey Mary,

    Oh fabulous question… I've done so much, and I think your question deserves an article of it's own. Stay tuned, and I'll see what I can whip up.

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 2:29pm

This was exactly what I needed and it showed up at the exact moment that I needed it. Thank you.

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 2:28pm

This. THIS!!!!

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 1:42pm

Every so often you read something that makes your eyes fill with tears and your chest heave with recognition and resonance. This is one of those reads. I recognised myself in your writing . there will parts of this article that will stick with me closely on my own journey and exploration of my healing self. Thank you

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 1:39pm

This is exactly what I have been going through and literally a realm of exploration I fell face first into recently. You have articulated an experience that I am relieved to see is not mine alone. Thank you so much for sharing!

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 1:24pm

Thank you for putting yourself out there so deeply with this piece. Hellinger’s Constellation Work, The Bodhissatva Vow, and images of my own commitments and foibles went flashing above the screen. How true that we are here to pinpoint and transform, ceasing patterns of many generations, freeing and liberating not only us but those who’ve come before, are present, and who are yet to come. When we look at the context of the larger socio-cultural patterns that are ingrained, they also support the amplification and depersonalizing of the issues, allowing us to see our families with compassion, context, and the larger story that is playing through us as we live with one another on this beautiful planet for such a short time. Your article illuminates the path we all share–you show us ourselves in your journey. Thank you so much. Om mane padme hum.

    anonymous Apr 14, 2014 6:05pm

    Molly – what a beautiful comment. There is something so powerful about realising the larger context of our personal experience. We all hurt. We all go through shit. We all do the best we can at the time. Thank you for your kind & beautiful words.

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 9:51am

This really is one of the most empowering articles I've read in a while . Knowing that someone else has been through the same thing and has overcome it gives great courage . Thank you for opening your heart and writing this article . It really is great work . Stay blessed always .

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 2:10am

I loved your article so much. Just what I need to hear at this time. Nursing a major mother wound and finding it so so hard to let go completely. The article just increased my awareness to a whole new level. Thank you. You are so blessed.

anonymous Apr 13, 2014 10:34pm

Great post. I nodded my head continually. I so relate to this whole topic and even intuitively created a vibrational aromatherapy alchemical oil "Motherlove" several years ago after years of my own processing. You may also find this interesting

anonymous Apr 13, 2014 6:42pm

OMG this article is perfect! This is so totally me. Strong until I get into a romantic relationship and then I'm a mess. I haven't spoken to my mother in over 24 years. I've been working with a psych to overcome my fear of abandonment. This article is very timely as I've recently broken up with my partner of 2.5yrs and already I feel my strength coming back. Thank you. This made things so much clearer for me

Ed Hare Nov 24, 2017 11:32am

"I’ll never find a man who can meet me in my power!" Maybe, maybe not, but there are men who can stand in their own power in the presence of yours. The "meeting" is a gradual building of intimacy and trust, in both power and vulnerability. When you can each be yourselves and be open to the other doing the same, you are on the cusp of finding a new power that connects everything to everything.

Ailia Nightshade Jul 11, 2017 2:28am

Beautifully expressed. I do believe this is 'early-attachment wound' rather than simply 'mother-wound,' but any which way you approach it, there is great pain, and great opportunity for growth. I think all mothers labor under the delusion that we will somehow not wound our children as we were wounded and we are crushed to find that this ends up being only partly true. We do not wound our children as we were wounded. We wound them differently. Facing that truth is very hard, owning it, apologizing and attempting to make amends is harder, and forgiving one's self the hardest. I have a better appreciation of why my mother chooses to stay as she has always been - as facing her childhood and her motherhood was, and is, simply too much to bear. I forgive her, I'm attempting to forgive myself and I set myself free while also attempting to make true amends to my daughter through demonstrating that one needn't remain in a cage that no longer fits. A daughter should never have to feel responsible for her mother's emotional well-being or sacrifice herself to caretake same. That story ends in my family with me. I'm no longer afraid to bear the hate that will be sent my way as a result. "I am not afraid. I was born to do this."

Amanda Ray Aug 2, 2016 2:44pm

Great article!!! I was just thinking about this last night before I went to bed and woke up to this, which was much needed. Thank you!

Art of Change & Domestic Violence Resources with Carol Omer Aug 2, 2016 1:42pm

I've worked in womens shelters for many years and have seen the impact of both the Mother wound and the Father wound amongst not only the women we house but the women in the staff team. Many women who have fraught relationships with their Mother end up constantly embroiled in drama with other women and often go into battle with the female boss because of the subconscious parallel between her authority and her fraught relationship with a controlling / powerless /wounded /unavailable /critical Mother. We can not ignore the Father wound in this conversation as many women in domestic violence shelters arrived there because they had such a wounded relationship with their Father they subconsciously seek out men who also treat them poorly because it feels like "love" to be in a constant state of uncertainty and distress when you are in close relationship with another person as this is what the family home taught her and programmed the subconscious mind to. Love is the answer and Forgiveness is the key

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Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah Grant is an internationally renowned retreat leader, yoga teacher and writer. She pours her love into growing a world-wide tribe of courageous, committed, and empowered individuals through leading retreats in New Zealand, Mexico, and Bali. Kara-Leah is also the founder of New Zealand’s own awesome yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and author of Forty Days of Yoga—Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice and The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. A born & bred Kiwi who spent her twenties wandering the world and living large, Kara-Leah has spent time in Canada, the USA, France, England, Mexico, and a handful of other luscious locations. She now lives and travels internationally with her son, a ninja-in-training. You can find Kara-Leah on her website, or on Facebook.