Hi my Witchlings,
I know there’s still a swirling storm of Covid-19, climate change, racism, famine, destruction of the environment, and violence still going on all around us but I just needed a break. Mentally I can only handle the paradox of being a strong, independent woman trying to be happy in my own little bubble while all this shit is going on around me for short periods of time. It’s exhausting so I wanted to talk about something that I’ve been working on personally. In a weird way, I feel like if I can heal something inside myself, then maybe I can heal something outside of me and again take up the fight against all the wrongs in this world. As Above, So Below, right?
Before I dive right in, I’m going to admit that this is a very personal topic for me and one that triggers a lot of intense emotions. Most are negative but some are positive, acknowledging how far on my journey I’ve come. As personal as this is for me, I feel like this is actually a pretty common issue among most women and even men but it’s something that is still taboo in our society. It’s like admitting that the patriarchy exists; most people will deny it vehemently or shrug it off saying the damn feminists are at it again. This issue is very real and I don’t think we as a society can fully progress until it’s even acknowledged. So, what is this issue that is so blasphemous we’re not allowed to talk about it?
It’s called the Mother Wound, a psychological wound or burden that is passed down through women by their mothers generation after generation. It’s every denied dream, pain, trauma, unhealthy coping mechanism, societal expectation, and unvoiced thought that is passed down by our mothers. Our patriarchal society has made it quite clear what it thinks of women and because of this, generations of women who have felt unheard, unseen, forgotten, or at worst beaten down or killed, have passed all of these traumas down the line. It’s a vicious cycle. How many times have we all said that we never want to turn into our mothers and ironically end up either becoming just like her or overcompensating so much that we’re miserable in who we forced ourselves to become? I’ve seen it play out before me, in relationships all around me and even in my own. The worst thing about it is that this generational pain is usually so ingrained into our mothers’ subconscious that they pass it on unknowingly. I sincerely doubt most women who have had abusive, neglectful, or emotionally distant mothers want to pass that pain onto their kids but given how much shit modern mothers have to go through, it’s no wonder it happens. Between juggling jobs, furthering their careers or education, husbands who, let’s face it, statistically still don’t handle their share of the burdens of child raising, demands from family, friends, and society, as well as trying to be perfect at all times, it’s a perfect recipe for dysfunction and childhood traumas. With all of these pressures on women, how is any functioning human supposed to stay on top of all of these demands while maintaining their own physical/mental health as well as their kids’? The simple answer is they don’t, and that is when the Mother Wound legacy is passed down.
I’m hesitant to even write this, I feel like I’m betraying my family and my mom’s memory. But this is my truth and if she were alive today, I’d want her to know so I could heal and move on. My own relationship with my mother was… complicated. She died 13 years ago from ovarian cancer and it wasn’t until the past couple of years that I was ready to admit how messed up our relationship really was. A weird phenomenon happened when she died, it was like all the bad memories and childhood issues just got swept under the rug and I only wanted to remember the good times. I even had a shrine in her memory. This went on for years but once I became acquainted with Shadow Work and introspection, I began to realize this was just my own coping mechanism. The sad truth was, up until I was a teenager, I was terrified of her.
There was never physical abuse in my house growing up but there was plenty of verbal and emotional. My oldest brother used to get away with murder and my other brother developed his own Mother Wound that still definitely needs healing. As for me, I felt like I was the only one besides my dad who always wound up receiving mom’s wrath. I was always told growing up how much my mom had wanted a little girly girl, with all the pink frills and dancing lessons but instead she ended up with me, a tomboy, through and through who was willful and stubborn. So already I felt like a disappointment. To make matters worse, she was hard on me; I had to get the best grades, say the right thing in public situations, and try to not be myself whenever possible. We fought constantly and were always bumping heads. She was always stressed with work or the family and you never knew if she was going to hug you and tell you she loved you or yell at you for doing chores the wrong way. I developed low self-esteem, I was moody and emotionally stressed, I was always on edge because I never knew if she was in a good mood or not, and I became a habitual liar. I wasn’t lying because I was a bad kid (I sure as hell wasn’t a saint but compared to my brothers I was) I did it because I never knew what the “right” answer was. I remember the day I found out I needed glasses. I was 8 years old and my grades had started to slip, which of course was unacceptable, and after being tortured during a parent-teacher conference (I went to a private Catholic school…. more on that in the next post), the adults finally realized I couldn’t read the chalkboard and was lying in class and making up answers. So my dad took me to the doctor and lo’ and behold, I needed glasses as my vision was quite terrible. I remember getting to the elevator and breaking down crying. My poor dad didn’t understand why and when he asked me what was wrong, I asked him if he thought mom was going to be mad at me, like I had done something bad. I was scared she going to yell at me and be disappointed in me. I can still remember the pain on his face as he tried to console me.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that my dad finally admitted to me that my mom had had a history of serious depression. Looking back, her highs were really high and her lows were really low. I think she might have had bipolar disorder or at least she was manic depressive. She was never diagnosed and never on any medication. After learning this, it was easy as an adult to understand why my mom was the way she was. Why she was so obsessed with perfectionism and why she lashed out when she was stressed. She had a very unhealthy relationship with her own mom and when she had gotten pregnant with my oldest brother out of wedlock, that relationship became even more strangled and would remain at best cordial throughout my mom’s life. So my parents had gotten married young and struggled through like most people’s parents did back in the day. They were broke and thrust into a life they weren’t prepared for. Fast forward and they had two more kids (I also was the birth-control-is-only-99%-effective-baby, so that didn’t help). Again, my parents struggled as my dad trained for his dream job and my mom worked in a banking job she hated so they could send us to a school they couldn’t afford. Eventually, things worked out. We got a nice new house in the good part of town, my brothers were starting high school and my mom made the decision to go back to school to get her master’s to become a social worker. As fate would have it, she would only get to to follow that dream for a couple of years before being forced to quit once the cancer became too unbearable.
Again, as an adult having gone through life I totally understand why my mom was so stressed out. Having an undiagnosed mental illness, 3 kids, a husband whose work schedule often meant the night shift, working full time, and trying to maintain her own childhood issues of needing to be perfect in all areas, it makes total sense. But it doesn’t erase my childhood. l developed very unhealthy coping mechanisms that still affect me today. I used to have problems with control and my own perfectionism as well as holding impossibly high standards for everyone around me. I became so self-reliant that I still hate to ask anyone for help. I had serious self-esteem issues and still struggle with feeling worthy and accepted. I used to put everyone else’s needs and emotions before my own which in turn would only stress me out more. I had problems with setting boundaries and still get anxiety whenever I have to tell someone “no”. I used to be so disconnected from my emotions that I refused to cry as I thought it was a sign of weakness. I have “smothering” tendencies where I feel I have to mother everyone around me and my friends even make jokes about it and call me Mama. While it’s not wrong to care about those around you, I realize the reason I “smother” is because I lacked the mothering I desperately needed. I honestly haven’t had a healthy relationship with any other woman and I wish had a sisterhood of my own.
I’m not telling you any of this to gain sympathy points or to play the victim card. I’m telling you this so that this issue becomes recognized and talked about. Everyone, even those of you who had great moms who were always there for you, develops some form of childhood trauma. Whether it’s as mild as one instance of scolding or as horrific as years of physical/mental/emotional abuse, we all internalize things as kids that shape us as adults. Most of the time, our mothers aren’t even aware how life-changing these events are. Which is why I’m choosing to tell you. I’m not ashamed of my childhood. There are things I regret or wish I had handled differently but I’m not ashamed of what I went through. If I can’t even acknowledge my own Mother Wound then how can I ever hope to heal it? I hope that one day I will be able to fully forgive my mom and give myself the closure to my past that I need. Though I still struggle with my own issues, they no longer have the control over me they once did. I’ve become strong enough to face them and even stronger to begin healing them. I still have a lot to learn but I’m glad I’m on this path.
As always, stay safe and healthy everyone. Until next time.
Shadows and Light ❤
If you noticed I changed my name to “LunaSea”, I did it because it felt right. It’s a little pun on the word “lunacy” which has it roots meaning moonstruck. I am a creature of the night and as such I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the moon and Her phases. And if “lunacy” doesn’t accurately describe this world of ours right now, then I don’t know what does.