Our Biological Mother
We all come into the world needing the tender presence of a mother’s touch, nurture, care, guidance, and love. In fact, the mother’s influence begins when we are in the womb.
Questions That Only Our Mother Can Answer
As with the father, our birth mother communicates profound answers to the questions that fulfill our innate need for nurture, comfort, and counsel.
- Intimacy – “Am I known?”
- Belonging – “Am I safe?”
- Maturity – “Am I whole?”
The Mother Wound
The absence of the intimate, safe, and mature maternal love of our birth mother creates a wound within us. This most often occurs in these ways:
- Separated relationship – Illness of our mother; our illness or extended hospitalization as a child; adoption; divorce; or death of our mother.
- Painful relationship. Neglect by our mother; any form of abuse; mental and emotional unhealthiness of our mother; or attempted abortion.
When the most important emotional attachment in our childhood lives is traumatically interrupted, damaged, or absent, there is emotional pain that leads to very unhealthy shame within us. Many of these characteristics we carry into and throughout our adult life.
- Fear of abandonment
- Hunger for feminine touch
- Erotic fantasy
- Emotional dependencies
- Compulsions and addictions that bring comfort
- Fear and insecurity
- Emotional immaturity
Mother Wounds Contribute to Emotional Extremes
There are two opposite responses to a mother wound that affect our ability to achieve healthy friendships and healthy emotional intimacy within deep relationships and marriage. Our inborn temperament – specifically the type we are in the Affection area of our temperament – contributes greatly to which of these responses we might most likely experience.
- Emotional detachment, wall-building, and extreme independence. Individuals who are Melancholy or Choleric in the Affection area of their temperament tend to respond in this manner. They often create walls that protect their hearts from further feelings of rejection or abandonment. These walls can be in the form of creating physical distance from our mother, or in the form of remaining physically present yet emotionally absent.
- Emotional and identity dependence. Individuals who are Sanguine or Supine in the Affection area of their temperament tend to respond in this manner. They often allow or accept “false intimacy” in their relationships with others, in hopes of soothing their craving caused by the lack of deep approval and affection of their mother during childhood.
The mother wound has very different effects in the lives of women than it does men. The scope of this book does not allow us to go into much greater detail on this subject. I’ve chosen to simply provide a sampling of the most typical gender-specific effects of the mother wound.
- Internalized low view of women; addictive, emotional and romantic dependencies; unhealthy desires for emotional connection with women; sexual confusion related to physical human touch.
- Emotional indifference towards women; fixate on women as objects of desire to fill the deprivation of maternal love; either painfully detach or remain emotionally enmeshed in an unhealthy connection with mother; sexual confusion related to physical human touch.
- Women and Men. Separation anxiety that leads to striving, passivity, and depression; fantasies and fetishes involving women; self-eroticism; attachment to self; emotional drama in hopes of meeting unmet emotional needs of mother; weak sense of being.
Mother Wound Indicators
Allow yourself to ponder your childhood. Try to recall what the child version of you experienced. If you are unable to bring these memories into your conscious mind, trust that God is not ready for you to work through them yet. But if you are able to recall childhood feelings, consider them through this list of common childhood situations:
- Your mother just wasn’t there for you on an emotional level.
- You were reluctant to turn to your mother for comfort or security.
- You doubted you had your mother’s approval, so you were always trying to be perfect, or to justify when you weren’t.
- You felt nervous, fearful, or frightened around your mother.
- Your mother expected you to take care of her physical or emotional needs.
- You were more of an adult than she was.
- You grew up way too fast.
Lasting Effects of The Mother Wound
God has the desire and the ability to heal every wound within us. As we studied in depth in an earlier chapter, the blood of Jesus and the word of God provide all that we need to be made whole, clean, and new in Christ.
Some who are reading this, though, have not yet experienced newness in Christ, and may still remain bound to some or all of the effects of our mother wounds.
- Low self-esteem. Secure attachment makes a child feel that they matter. Without this basic belief in themselves, children struggle to get a sense of self and to believe in themselves.
- Lack of emotional awareness. A mother who is emotionally present for their child is able to mirror their child’s feelings, label those feelings, and help them to manage the feelings. The child doesn’t need to suppress negative feelings, because they have a safe, effective way to manage them.
- Inability to self-comfort. Without the awareness of how to manage their feelings, children (and later adults) don’t develop the ability to self-soothe. Instead, they turn to things outside of themselves for comfort. These things could include numbing activities like alcohol, drugs, pornography, and so on.
- Relationship difficulties. Adults with the mother wound have difficulty forming and maintaining the positive relationships that we all crave, because they’ve never learned to trust another human being fully. As a result, emotional vulnerability and intimacy feel unsafe or unnecessary.
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