Healing the Mother Wound

“For each thing manifests its mother, which thus gives the essence and the will to the form.”

– The Signature of All Things by Jacob Boehme

The mother wound is the pain, passed down through generations, of being a woman in a patriarchal culture. It includes dysfunctional coping mechanisms that are used to process that pain. It shows its face in many forms, like eating disorders, alcoholism, body shame and anger management issues. The mother wound also includes the pain of insecurity, comparison and not feeling good enough.

To me, the mother wound is the mother of all wounds. 

The mother wound does not only exist in women whose mothers mistreated them.

The mother wound exists within us all because all of our mothers have been wounded.

No unwounded mother exists on the planet and no human on the planet exists without a mother.

We carry that wound within ourselves because we carry the archetypal mother within ourselves. And, no matter how we feel about our own mother, we carry her within us too.

Dr. Oscar Serrallach, the person to bring the concept of the mother wound into collective consciousness, says that the mother wound is “a matrilineal wound—a burden that manifests in mothers, and is passed on from generation to generation. It’s the pain and grief that grows in a woman as she tries to explore and understand her power and potential in a society that doesn’t make room for it, forcing her to internalize the dysfunctional coping mechanisms learned by previous generations of women. The mother wound reflects the challenges a woman faces as she goes through transformations in her life in a society where the patriarchy has denied us ongoing matrilineal knowledge and structures.”

The four fundamental functions of mothering are: to nurture, to protect, to empower, and to initiate.

None of our mothers did all of those perfectly and therefore, all of us were imperfectly mothered. 

Blaming your mother for the way that you are is equivalent to blaming the earth for a disease you received from environmental toxins. 

It’s not your mom’s fault. It’s not the earth’s fault.

I’m not saying that it’s not true that your mother caused certain negative reactions in your being. In fact, I’m sure it is true.

I’m saying that she herself is not the original cause of the harm done to you.

She carries in her DNA the wounds of rape, of miscarriages, of abortions, of sexual slavery, of physical abuse and of being denied basic needs and the right to speak her truth.

We marinated for 9 months in the traumas of her womb just like she marinated in the traumas of her mother’s. We were created there. In the seat of violence.

Hurt people are the only ones who hurt people.

She was passed down that hurt. And now it’s been passed to you. And now YOU are responsible for healing it and transmuting it.

So how can we heal this ancestral hurt? 

And what is there to say to the woman who created us?

A woman who is responsible for so much of what is right and wrong with us?

To the woman whose heart beat ours alive?

There are only four things to say:

I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me and thank you.

Ancient Polynesians called this the Ho’oponopono mantra, which means to ‘set right.’

The mantra is about taking 100% responsibility. This does not mean taking the blame or assuming fault. It means looking from the perspective that you are responsible for the hurt in yourself, others, and in the collective.

It’s not true that you’re responsible (how could a thing like that be objectively true?), but it is the only perspective that will give you access to your healing power.

When we do not take this perspective, we become the victim of the particular way that the mother wound was inflicted upon us and we feel resentful and powerless.

When we do take this perspective, we accept that the hurt that has been inflicted upon us is a call for help—a call for us to be engaged in the process of healing this collective trauma. 

this blog explains that the philosophy of the “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you” mantra has its backing in many different traditions; “the Eastern concept of karma is also about how our thoughts and actions influence others, not merely our own future. The Western Jungian psychological concept of collective unconscious is about how all of us on this planet influence one another. Both resonate with Eastern concepts of the collective consciousness and Quantum Physics concepts of how observer influences what is observed. In simple terms, what we think and feel not only affects what we do, but also what happens to other people who may not be connected to us.”

The mother wound, and pain in general, is like an orphan that is waiting for someone to take full responsibility for it.

When we give up being resentful of the pain that we carry, and are instead willing to witness our pain and the pain of others with absolute love and compassion, and to take absolute responsibility for it, then that pain is free.

So what I ask of you is to use this mother’s day as an opportunity to meditate on the “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you” mantra, to release all resentment, grudges, victimhood and lack of forgiveness towards your own mother, and to call her and say these things, if she is still alive.

I promise you that there is something (probably many things) for you to apologize for, request forgiveness for, give thanks for, admit, accept or acknowledge to your mother.

Accept responsibility for her pain and stop blaming her for yours. 

If she is not alive, speak these things aloud anyway.

It gets no more vulnerable than speaking your truth to your mother, dead or alive.

What is in one is in the whole. As we heal our own feminine, we also impact and help to heal pain in the global feminine community like oppression and poverty, female mutilation, sexual slavery and physical abuse.

We even begin to help heal our mother earth (we all owe her a lot of “I love you, please forgive me, I’m sorry, thank you”s too).

You cannot fully heal until you fully forgive your mother. She is you. Whatever forgiveness you withhold from her, she whom has been exposed to the very same world that you have, you withhold from yourself.

Kris van Genderen