The mother wound is very much alive.
It’s dark and penetrating, sometimes creeping up from some long-denied place inside, while other times barrelling at us full-speed, with ferocity and little warning.
For some, the wound appears deep burgundy-black; for others, piercing blood-red. For still others, it may appear as a myriad of haunting, pervasive colors, filling the deep wells of our soul and its broken places with its unnerving presence.
This mother wound—the embodiment of painful energy once carried by our maternal ancestors, passed down through us for generations and lifetimes—affects each one of us in different ways. Few can say their maternal lineage didn’t experience painful loss, persecution, abuse, rape—even murder. Few can say these collective energies don’t pool into a current-day ache deep in our bellies, in the very wombs that are the givers and receivers of life, leaving us with widespread physical aching, stabbing pains, unsolvable worries, pelvic syndromes, mental fatigue, confusion, fear, and hidden shame.
Of course, men can experience the mother wound as well. And why not? They too curled in the womb of their mother, enveloped in and connected to her being, receiving from her the most intimate of energies.
And yet, for women, it’s different. It’s not simply the connection to mother that haunts us, it’s the energetic affront that continues to pass from womb to womb.
This mother wound is fresh on my mind as I contemplate my upcoming hysterectomy. I’m no fan of removing any body part, especially the one organ that defines me as uniquely female. The organ that lovingly cradled my two babies as they grew. The organ that orchestrated their births. The organ that has now lovingly endured the pain of the mother wound for over two years. The organ for which I now grieve, as a result of my lack of ability to fully heal.
Adding grief and shame to my contemplation are my two fiery sirens—once appearing blood-red and wispy in my mind’s eye, in a vision during a pelvic exam, demanding that their pain not be ignored—now taking palpable physical residence between my hip bones, writhing inside and between womb and bowels and bladder, reminding me of the detrimental effects of discounting the wound for too long.
It’s not just the physical pain that comes, for that’s simply a wake-up call—a demand to do something more. Rather, there’s a deeper level of pain, both emotional and energetic, buried at the level of guts and soul.
Pain that is mine.
Pain that is my mother’s. And her mother’s, and her mother’s as well.
Pain that shares with me a clear vision of its origin, and so much more pain that is (gratefully) shrouded by long-forgotten incarnations of me.
Pain at the hands of men and beasts.
Pain suffered by loved ones, living and dead.
Pain from childbearing and child-raising.
Pain from the devastating losses endured over time.
Pain caused by other women—arguably one of the most difficult types of pain to comprehend and carry, for women should be our allies, our womb sisters. And yet the knives they wield and the wounds they inflict are some of deepest and bloodiest.
Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain. We carry it all, and my sirens, twisted around and through (and also now claiming ownership of the two diagnoses which necessitated my impending surgery) remind me without compassion of my role in this ancestral process. It seems they hold the belief for me that some things can’t be let go, no matter how much they may disrupt us. That carrying a long-held torch is the only way to continue to light the way.
But we know, deep in our bones, that those sirens—all those collective inner voices who steer us in this direction because they know no other way—are wrong, or at the very least misguided. We know they sing a worn-out refrain that many of us are finally, deeply waking up to hear as discordant, no longer able to stir the emotions of the heart.
For many of us, it screams, “Halt!”
No more carrying the wounds of the past, especially those which we did not personally endure. No matter how connected we feel to that image of mother held deep in our hearts, no matter how much we see her womb as ours, her pain as ours. No longer will we carry it forward for our own sons and daughters to bear.
Instead, we roll away the stones we carry in the belly of our souls, and through the collective process of our own release and healing, we facilitate the same for all mothers: present, past, and future. All mothers intricately bound together by innate womb wisdom. All mothers connected by creation and being created within the sacred feminine. The energetic mother and all the mothers which live inside each one of us, feasting on the light, the light which now illuminates the buffet that is our own existence.
Each hint of light, a start. Each release, a relief. Each stone rolled away, more light revealed.
We’ve got it in us ,
Hiding there just below the surface
In plain sight
Waiting to be embraced
Let it out into the light
Of our biggest and wildest dreams
We know we feel it
Heavy like a stone in our belly
Wanting to emerge
Birthed in the being for which is was created
Fearful past lives
Hold it in,
Bound to timelessness,
No longer in existence,
Holding in new birth,
Refusing to let go
Of the stagnant, decaying rot
The sickness doesn’t need to survive,
The martyrdom is over,
Year after year,
We are released
It is our time,
Our big, wild dreams
Coming to fruition
In the light of day,
In the rolling away of the stone
Author: Ashley Barnes
Image: Tanja Heffner/Unsplash
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman