The Mother Wound: Will It Ever STOP Hurting?

For once – brace yourselves for this- I’m going to write primarily about my mum and the mother wound, rather than wax lyrical about my therapist! Of course, the work I do in therapy relates so much to my relationship (or lack of one) with my mother, but usually I’m here talking about what’s been triggered when I see Anita and how that works out rather than stuff in the here and now with my mum.

However, my most recent rupture with Anita was so powerful and so painful and it coincided so neatly with something that happened with my mum that it was so obvious to see that what I was bringing into the room, to Anita, was decades old hurts from another relationship altogether. Afterall, my therapist not being able to offer slightly longer sessions really should not have triggered the colossal meltdown/s that it did. I mean it’s literally been a solid two months (and still going strong!) of internal chaos and anxiety and frankly, that’s disproportionate to what the trigger actually was.

When you dig beneath the surface, though, and get curious about what the feelings in mine and Anita’s rupture were about: feeling unimportant, easy to put down, and being unworthy of Anita’s time and care, it’s not hard to see why this triggered such a big meltdown. Those feelings are so huge and so raw and yet SOOOOOOOOOOO fucking longstanding and familiar. The sense of being unlovable and inadequate has covered me like a second skin. It’s like being doused in a thick tar of shame. It’s bloody awful.

The need to feel… loved… is (still) so massive. For years and years, I felt like there was something wrong with me for needing connection and that I must be fundamentally lacking in whatever it is that makes people want to be close. No. Not people. People do love and care about, and for, me – I have great friends and a wonderful partner… what I really mean is a mum. A mum that loves me. Is proud of me. Wants to spend time with me. Is interested in me as a person. Feels protective of me. Is there. Available. Attuned. Someone whom I can be myself around. Someone who can give physical affection. Someone who is safe.

That’s a big wish list isn’t it? Perhaps as an adult, yes, but as a child, they are the basic fundamentals, surely.

But then is it really too much to expect – no, not really. I am a mother and these things come naturally. Sure, my kids wind me up and drive me fucking mad – but they are also bloody amazing, and I love them more than anything. There is absolutely nothing I would not do to ensure their happiness and felt sense of safety and being loved. My kids roll their eyes when each day I say, “Guess What?” and then reply “We know Mummy, you love us!” But I love that. I love that there is no doubt in my kids’ minds that they are loved. I love that they come to me when they are hurt or scared or just plain bored. I love the fact that they witter on for hours about boring shit but know that I’ll listen and not just send them off so I can have some time to myself. I love that they know that I will be there every single day to pick them up from school, to read a story, to put them to bed…

They probably have no concept of what this time means because it forms part of the fabric of their existence, but having not had that growing up I can say it has left a massive hole. The sense of being ‘left’ as a child has been hard. I know and understand the reasons my mum went away and her achievements have been significant, but the impact it had on the little girl who was left behind was significant too. And that’s been a big part of my therapeutic work. The coping mechanisms I put in place over the years to deal with that gaping hole inside have been huge and massively detrimental to my health. As I wrote recently, I am through the eating disorder stuff now – but it has taken the best part of 25 years. 25 fucking years. I mean hell, wtf?

As I have said before, my relationship with my mum isn’t perfect but it has been something that evolved and has worked for us both over the last decade or so since having my children. We don’t see much of her, but it’s felt like there has been a reasonable level of contact. There’s not been any drama or fallings out since I announced my first pregnancy and I have come to accept that my mum will never be a hands-on grandparent like my friend’s have. She’s not someone who will take the kids for days out, or have them for holidays or whatever but it’s been ‘good enough’…well…no…it’s been what it is. I feel sad for my children, having had a set of grandparents who were so much fun and child-orientated myself, but I give them these experiences as their parent so it’s not desperate.

Only recently, I don’t know what has happened. It feels like something has shifted and changed and I have no idea why. Like I just can’t put my finger on it. Before Christmas I mentioned that my mum seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth – and at that time I started trying to figure out what was going on. Had I said or done something to account for the radio silence? I couldn’t put my finger on anything and started dredging up things like,  ‘could she somehow have found my blog and taken offence about what was in it?’ but then out of nowhere she rang me and it was as if nothing had happened. It was a total head fuck to be honest with you.

So, fast forward to now. And we’re in similar territory. I think I mentioned in one of my recent posts how she’d taken a few weeks to reply to a text but had prefaced her reply with the fact she’d had covid. I mean, she hadn’t had covid the entire time and let’s be honest, a quick message on WhatsApp doesn’t take a second but – whatever. And then it was my birthday and the thing about having not been able to get out to get a card- fine. Whatever. Whilst I was away on holiday in February, I had sent a message asking if she could have the kids for a day in July and she replied that she couldn’t as she might be doing something…nothing in the calendar yet, but you know, something might come up as a priority. This message coincided with all the stuff with Anita and the stopping longer sessions and it just really triggered the stuff about being completely unimportant and inadequate.

Anyway, I sent flowers and a card for Mother’s Day – and she sent me a message then….but that’s it since. I have sent several messages (5 if we’re keeping tabs) over the last month – and the ticks have gone blue but there’s been no response at all. It’s been the kids’ Easter holidays and in the past we’ve done Easter egg hunts in the garden and she’d bring them an egg. Not this year. No acknowledgment at all. And whilst I may or may not have done something to offend my mum (literally no clue – other than having this blog) I can’t understand why she would not want to make and effort or spend time with her grandchildren. They haven’t done anything wrong…but then neither have I.

I find myself tying myself in knots trying to second guess what’s going on. It feels so reminiscent of my teenage years, trying to make sense of a situation and work out my part in it. Like it makes no sense to stonewall someone unless they’ve done something wrong – so what is the thing I’ve done to deserve this?

Of course, there’s another part of me that feels like I need to stop trying so hard. If she doesn’t want a relationship with me or her grandchildren then that’s fine. Let her get on with it. I need to stop putting myself out there to be rejected or ignored. Every time I message her and there is no reply I am engaging in this weird dynamic. I keep knocking at a door that is locked and bolted. It’s like Em and the empty cupboard. Get the message RB – if she wanted to engage with you she would reply to you. So I need to stop, don’t I?

Some people have asked why I don’t just ring her up and call her out on this, but it doesn’t feel as easy as that. For someone who is usually really assertive and articulate, I just can’t do it when it comes to talking to my mum. I mean I’ll go head to head with her Tory Brexiteer bullshit but when it comes to, “Mum, I feel really sad that we don’t have a good relationship and I’ve really struggled over the years to understand what it is about me that makes you be so distant”… you know, why put yourself out there to be shot down in flames? Especially, if the narrative that still runs loud inside is, “You think you’re so perfect. Who do you think you are? I wish you’d never been born!”

I may not be great at ignoring the triggers or coping with the anxiety that some unreturned messages evoke but I sure as shit will not put myself out there to be hurt further. And I can see the whole thing being turned on its head, that I am somehow the aggressor, and she is the victim, “You have no idea how hard it was for me, what I sacrificed for you…” and it’ll become a character assassination. I am not here (on the blog), trying to blame her for anything – but how things were as a child has left an imprint on me (and that’s what I write about). It’s been really fucking hard, and the mother wound is painful. I’m nearly fucking forty and yet, here I am after more than a decade of therapy writing about how painful it is to be ignored by my mum, and by extension – my therapist (even though A doesn’t ignore me).

Perhaps I am deficient and too needy and am ‘mental’ and pathetic. Perhaps that’s what she sees?

But I’ve done enough work now to challenge that narrative. The Inner Critic that was forged from my mother’s voice can get back in the box. I don’t need it anymore. I have a level of self-compassion that can counteract it. I developed the critic to protect me. By being my own biggest critic and attacking myself meant that nothing anyone else could say or do to me could be worse. I had my own trump card. But now I have seen the role of the critic, and realised I don’t need it anymore. What I need to do is look at WHY it developed in the first place and look at what I was trying to get away from – the mother wound – of course.

So, what do I do now? I guess, I keep taking this stuff to therapy and working through in the safety of the room with Anita. And I stop putting myself out there with my mum. If she chooses to get in touch then great, but I am not going to keep flogging a dead horse – for want of a better expression. What would you do? It’s one of those situations where I wish I could just take the bull by the horns and ask what’s happened – because ultimately if there’s a bad reaction what am I actually losing? I can’t be any more anxious or confused than I am now. I guess, though, right now I can feel some sense of it not being ‘my fault’ and if I confront her the likelihood is the situation will be made ‘my fault’ and then I’ll start doubting myself… in some way, backing off and ‘letting it go’ is the best I can do right now.

Anyway, I’ll leave that here. I’m just off the back of a therapy break and so I’ve been grappling with that alongside this mum stuff. Unfortunately, there’s quite a few bank holidays coming up in the UK over the next few weeks and so there’s more disruption to the therapy but I’ll get through it. I always do.

Last night I was driving to therapy and Destiny’s Child’s ‘Survivor’ came on my random playlist. That album was the soundtrack to my second year of A Levels – and, man, did I turn up the volume last night and belt it out – I was 18 and it was 2001 again!…

Big hugs to all you survivors x

15 thoughts on “The Mother Wound: Will It Ever STOP Hurting?

  1. Me April 21, 2022 / 10:04 pm

    A lot of this resonates with me. I’m still in the early days of parenting, my little one is not yet 2, but I really feel the weight of changing her story, and the grief of my own story. I don’t know whether it will ever stop hurting completely… I hope so, but unfortunately I doubt it. But I really hope for you, and for me, that the periods of time when we feel connected and held as adults and things are calmer, get longer and longer. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum April 22, 2022 / 8:37 am

      It is a big deal being the one to break the cycle but it’s so rewarding to see happy, well-adjusted kids who are free to be themselves and know they are loved. What a gift! It’s a hard grieving process at times too – seeing first hand what you never got. But I like to think I’m reparenting my inner child too as I patent my kids. I buy the soft toys and story books and watch the animations for my little parts too. Fuck what anyone else thinks! My relationship with myself is steadily improving and this helping a lot – I think, too, I’m wobbling a lot because I have strength to do the deep work. Kind of back to front thinking but I bounce back so much better than I did. But goodness, what a chore on top of normal life!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. individualmedley17 April 22, 2022 / 8:18 am

    Hi RB, the thing that jumps out at me is the anguish over ‘What did I do? What have I done?’ in response to your mum’s behaviour. But I am sure that there is nothing you have done. This is all her. She is choosing to behave according to what is going on with her. It has never been about you, whether you are loveable enough, it is entirely down to whatever is going on in her own head, her own life. While you can work on changing how that makes you feel, there’s nothing you can do to change her behaviour. You have always been loveable enough but her deficiencies are what prevents her from showing it. Take care. X


    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum April 22, 2022 / 8:41 am

      You’re totally right IM. It’s her, not me. She’s like it in lots of relationships. It’s just a bloody shame, you know? I’ve said before I am grieving a mother but not necessarily my mother! She’s not capable of being what I need/ed. More and more I can see that I will be able to give myself what the little girl needed but it’s a grieving process too, for what never was. X

      Liked by 3 people

      • Q April 22, 2022 / 4:48 pm

        Hi RB, I’m sending hugs. As you know from many posts I’ve written, I have such a similar mother wound. I’m just not very important to her. I mean, she might claim I am, but she doesn’t call, and when I call her, she doesn’t show any curiosity about my life. She doesn’t know my wonderful boys, hasn’t even seen Andres in 12 years! It’s really sad, and I suppose it will always be a missing piece in my life.

        But like you, I’ve mothered differently, and I have a good relationship with them (now young men). I’m going to be a grandmother in a few months, and I can’t wait to lavish love and attention on this new person. I believe our wounds never disappear completely but loving other beings with a warm and open heart (that is, giving what we ourselves needed to receive) is also a way to love ourselves.

        You are doing so, so brilliantly. It’s hard to do the healing work, and yet you are doing it. 💕💕💕

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum April 22, 2022 / 6:36 pm

        Thanks Q. It’s definitely hard doing the work but I don’t see an alternative as, like you, I’m not prepared to continue this down on and through my children. I wish we had more faith in ourselves sometimes, as it’s easy to fall back into ‘I’m deficient’, but I do think self-compassion and self-worth develop with time as we learn to trust the wise inner voice and also listen to the concerns of the younger and protective parts. Your grand baby will be blessed to have you on their side and I’m sure Andres will be grateful for your guidance and support. I just wish our mums could have been available – it’s such a big wound. Take good care x

        Liked by 1 person

  3. SH April 22, 2022 / 8:40 am

    Oof, I so relate in different ways. My parents treated me as invisible unless they were angry… affectionless control… but suddenly want to be invasive whenever I’m not home with them (part of the deliberate social isolation)… then there’s my sister, who is like your Mum in some aspects.

    Huge hugs, RBCG.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. pocketcanadian April 22, 2022 / 11:29 pm

    I can also relate grieving a mother. Mine has rarely been, and will not in the future be, the kind of mom I want/need. And though I’m a different mom entirely to my own kiddo, I often feel grief for what is so easily given to him, and what I never got (and won’t ever get) from her. Big ouches.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum April 30, 2022 / 8:04 am

      It’s bloody hard isn’t it? The mother wound really is the gift that keeps on giving…. And yet they have no idea/don’t care what you’re left carrying. X

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lucy King April 23, 2022 / 10:30 pm

    I’ve just come back here to see if I missed a reply and seen that my comment never posted for some reason 😔 WordPress is just so crappy sometimes! (She says willingly using it for free). But anyway…. I just wanted to send love RB and to say I so get it… and these women don’t deserve us! You’ve done nothing wrong. She just can’t see what she’s missing out on and it’s tragic. Sending you love 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum April 30, 2022 / 8:03 am

      Thank you 🙏… it’s feeling hard right now especially as Anita and I are in a huge rupture. There was mention of referring on this week. I’ll have to blog but I’m kind of in survival. Big hugs x

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s