All relationships begin and end in separation, except for the relationship with our mothers, which began in a unity; in a fused identity. Whatever deficits we felt in that primary relationship naturally get projected outwards onto other people or situations. The imprint of attachment in that primary dyad becomes the lens through which we see all subsequent relationships.
One of the primary tasks in the process of healing the mother wound is to identify our “mother gap.” And to consciously fill that gap of nurturing from within ourselves, rather than unconsciously asking others to do it for us.
Our romantic partnerships can serve as potent laboratories for transforming the limiting narratives of our childhoods. The beginning phase of romance can re-awaken the childhood dream of the “inexhaustible mother” with its sense of blending, belonging, wonder and a sense of homecoming. And with time, our partners’ flaws and limitations can re-awaken the grief about the loss of this dream. This sense of loss can trigger the experience of the “Black Hole” of the mother wound, the powerlessness of feeling alone as a child, with it’s unbearable pain, terror and restlessness.
When we were children, we needed to protect ourselves from the pain by filling the gap with coping mechanisms in order to survive. But now as adults, feeling it fully is exactly what needs to happen to transform it. In other words, as children feeling the void of the mother wound felt like death, but as adults, being present through that pain, without avoiding it is necessary to truly LIVE.
The key here is to remain present with your inner child in the void of the mother gap without avoiding or filling it with over-functioning activities.
Some of the ways we typically avoid the pain of the mother gap can include excessive worrying, eating, shopping, internet use, approval-seeking, emotional care-taking, etc.
When our attachment bond with our mothers was forged in some degree of trauma, we may unconsciously seek attachments that mirror that original trauma. Transforming the inner mother is what interrupts that pattern and makes possible a new, healthy attachment bond.
Our mother gap can get triggered by negative triggers or positive triggers. Negative triggers are when situations remind you of the emotional pain you experienced as a child. And positive triggers are when someone gives you more love, affection or respect than you’ve ever experienced. Either trigger can call up grief about that original deficit of nurturing. It can also trigger attachment feelings towards the new, external person. The challenge is to stay with yourself, consciously in the gap, rather than avoid the grief and fixate on the outer person as the “new mother.”
The key is to consciously experience that unbearable aloneness you felt as a child and affirm your worth in the face of that deep void. To stay lovingly present in that void and not jump into patterns of compensation such as over-functioning or avoidance.
Not filling the void with anything external can feel unbearable, like the need for a drug. This is because it mirrors that original restlessness we may have felt as children, when contact with mother was literally life or death.
Along the way we will be tested in our inner mothering.
With each test, we become more skilled as inner mothers at BEING a space within, where our child-self can fall apart in a state of messy disorganization (including grief, sadness, confusion) and come together in a new formation as a new Being, re-emerging with more fully activated and embodied energies than before.
The inner mother becomes a space where we can constantly die and be re-born.
With each turn on the spiral of growth, we can become more skilled at transforming deeper levels of pain into consciousness, activating our full potentials and spiritual gifts. If we go deep enough into the black hole of the mother wound, it can feel like going into a vertical drop that can catapult you to rise to ever-higher levels as you integrate it.
How far you rise depends on how deeply you allow yourself to consciously process that original pain. Support is essential.
There’s a misconception that the more skilled you become in mothering yourself, the less pain you will need to process. Often the opposite is the case, at least for a while. The more skilled you become at inner mothering, the more pain you will be able to transmute in yourself. This is a sign of progress, but it’s easy to mistake it for a setback. The progress is that you’re strong enough to heal ever-deeper levels of trauma and the higher, more subtle energies you become capable of embodying as you emerge from each descent.
The more your inner child trusts your inner mother, the less time and effort is required to process the pain and transform it.
The inner mother shifts from a duplicate of our outer mother with her flaws and limitations to a mother that can accurately meet our inner needs. The inner mother is a structure within us that can hold us safely no matter what is happening on the outside. All feelings are allowed, no experience is rejected. This is freedom.
This inner mother is constructed incrementally, one little, tiny step at a time as the old, limiting, patriarchal structures fall away. As we cultivate our inner mother, we begin to sense a deep safety to soar into our greatness. We begin to know ourselves as cells in a vast body of love, constantly dying and being re-born, in our deepest grief and joy, yet always held in a vast, eternal embrace of the beyond.
“Love said to me, There is nothing that is not me. Be silent.” —Rumi
As we feel ourselves as our own overflowing, abundant, source, we become the primary source of our own pleasure. We stop seeing our romantic partners as the primary source. Our partners become mirrors for the mystical partner within, the inner beloved, which is the higher power within us.
If the inner mother is strong enough, at a certain point an awakened masculine energy may emerge.
Both men and women each have masculine and feminine energies within them. As both men and women heal their mother wounds, we become more integrated and sophisticated in how we can meet each other in relationships. We have a larger capacity for depth; for deep seeing and holding.
An awakened masculine energy may arise within us (man or woman) as we become very skilled at inner mothering. This can happen once the level of inner nurturing and permission to be real is strong enough and we viscerally know that we have an unconditionally safe inner space to fall apart when needed.
This awakened masculine energy arises as we become skilled in integrating our descents in the black hole. This energy is alert, calm, spacious and lovingly fierce. This masculine energy is like a laser beam; precise, committed to unapologetic action that comes from a place of highest service, with utmost integrity and unwavering commitment. I experience this masculine energy like the energy of an eagle—it has deep clarity and a higher outlook that allows it to take swift, precise action at the right time. It has an energy of “It is done” and success being assured, not from an arrogant place but from a place of immense love and clear direction. Energy is not wasted or leaked.
This masculine energy is spacious enough to support the need to periodically drop into the unknown, untamable, creative energy of the feminine and to then focus that energy into action and concrete forms.
One of the ways we may experience this integration is that the need for deep rest and the need for massive action are no longer in opposition; instead they begin to mutually support one another in a trustworthy flow. It can feel like order and chaos begin to co-exist within you in perfect harmony.
The safe depths of the inner mother and the alert heights of the awakened masculine form a vertical axis that supports you in your ability to manifest the innocent wisdom of your real, authentic, self in the physical world.
We become more spacious in our romantic relationships with a greater capacity for both deep vulnerability and firm boundaries. The tendency to reactively collapse into contraction, judgment, or withholding decreases. Over time, we become vast enough to embody a love that can contain multiple perspectives without abandoning ourselves or the other person out of defense from the wound.
We become brave, even bold, with a steadfast and profound integrity, allowing us to connect in more innovative and creative ways. We can get naked with each other from a place of deep honesty and inner security, rather than from our trauma-based attachment pattern.
From this level, the shortcomings of our partners no longer cause us to question our worth. We may feel the wound enough to activate the old narrative, but only enough to further transform it, not to re-entrench it. When romantic hopes are dashed, we are confident in our ability to soothe ourselves through any disappointments and reap an exciting abundance of self-insight that accentuates our inner union with our deepest self.
Our relationships start to come from a place of fullness and subsequently we can go deeper with each other into the REAL, to hold space for the tension of the opposites and embody that eternal embrace. Accepting our full worth, potential and power no longer need to equate to an isolated aloneness, but to an enlarged at-one-ness.
The most powerful intimacy is when no emotion or experience can separate you from yourself. That is true safety and true freedom. This is the gift awaiting us in the mother wound. What we offer the world (and our partners) from that place of inner intimacy is the greatest gift.
“You thought that union was a way you could decide to go. But the soul follows things rejected and almost forgotten. Your true guide drinks from an undammed stream.” ~ Rumi
© Bethany Webster 2015
I’m excited to announce that I have a couple new openings in my coaching practice!
If you’d like to receive my personal support in moving beyond the mother wound and into your full potential and success, please click here to sign up for a free, 30-minute Clarity session where I can help you get clear on how the mother wound is impacting you and create a roadmap to get you to the other side. I look forward to connecting with you! ~Bethany
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Art credits in order of appearance: Title Unknown by Octavio Campo, “Surrender” by Anupama Jain, “Spark” by Carye VanDerPol Mahoney, “Awake Female” by Manami Lingerfelt, Title Unknown by José Espurz González, “The Celestial Consonance” by Dorina Costras, “In Harmony” by Sangeet Lodhha, “Initiation by Toni Carmine Salerno, “Inner Re-union by Sjoukje Dekker