As you go about your day, do you ever hear your mother’s voice talking to you?
What does she say?
Does she critique you?
Make you feel like your not enough?
Bring up your past mistakes?
A Universal and Ancient Wound
In my most recent post I shared how I believe our wounds from our relationship with our mothers are very closely, if not completely tied, to our struggles in how we care for ourselves. I shared how societies all over the world have interrupted the organic process of mothering and being mothered. Woman have forever been in positions of rearing children through all kinds of societal hardship and this has challenged women’s ability to mother as they feel called to, as opposed to how society says they “have to”.
The result: generations of people all over the world walking around trying to medicate, anesthetize, numb out, retaliate against or project on to others , this ever present hunger to feel loved, wanted, nurtured….accepted.
In today’s post I’ll share more about my own mother wound and 5 gifts my self care journey has given me, to help heal this wound that has, for so long haunted me.
I Luv My Momma
For the record, let me just say that today I adore mi madre, Maria Guadalupe Velasques Reynoso and we have come a long way, a …very…loooong way. Every conversation we have about the latest situations in our lives these days, has been painstakingly hardwon from years of having had many difficult and brave conversations, so this in no way is a rant on her. This is shared in the hopes that something I say will resonate with you and be of use to you on your own healing and self care journey.
Mother of All Self Care Gifts: Insight
What I know is that the biggest gift that self care has given me is the insight to see my hurt through a different lens and from there, be able to transform it one small step at a time.
Ain’t it something? How a memory that’s drenched in painful feelings we’ve harbored forever, can feel as real as the burn from touching a hot stove?
Yet, becoming soft and open because I’ve taken the time to be good to myself through self care, has allowed me to have many blessed moments in which the magic of a different perspective comes into me and washes away that same painful burn associated with a memory. Even more than simply take the pain out of a memory, insights have helped me turn a painful memory into a source of compassion and purpose
Being Diligent In The Simplest Of Self Care
While I was making sure I drank my water every morning, did my little exercise routine, and journaled etc, little did I know I’d be graced with an insight seemingly out of the blue on a regular basis that would flip a long held memory, on its head, through an expanded perspective. Almost like magic, the daggers I felt I carried in my heart for so many years, would be slowly taken out one by one, the relief would often bring me to tears.
The Veil Uncovered
There was solace in understanding that the way I was seeing a situation, was not how it was, but in fact a very small keyhole view of it. The heaviness of a memory would be shed and what burned so deep would come undone and morph into something lighter, more expensive, honest and most importantly…benevolent
Over the two decades on this journey, many memories in this way, have been transformed, one by one.
My relationship to my mother is not perfect, nor can I say that I’ve officially healed my mother wound, but I can say, I’ve come a long way. My story may not look like yours, but being haunted with an unrelenting hunger for being mothered, nurtured, accepted, celebrated and wanted as a daughter, I think is a universal experience many of us can relate to.
I needed to feel wanted by my mother, safe when around her and like I belonged to her, yet as painfully hungry as I was for her affection, her absence was many times a relief. I grew up feeling like anything I needed beyond food or shelter, was a nuisance and when she was really tired, an offense. I had a roof over my head, clothes on my back and meals every day, shouldn’t of that been enough?
Looking back now I see that to deal with the reality my mom was dealing with, she needed to be a warrior and that’s not necessarily a jacket you can take off just because your with your child. She has been for me the female version of rockie in a 5 foot 2 package.
Setting Out On Her Own
My mom was raised as the oldest female in a family of 16 with one older very macho and entitled brother. There was much abuse from my grandfather to my grandmother that she and all her siblings witnessed, not to mention the physical and verbal abuse her brothers felt was their place to inflict on the female siblings, herself included.
Saving Factory Money To Buy Real Estate
She left her home like a bat outta hell without finishing high school at 15 and came to the US. She worked many different factory jobs and I later learned she had to fight off managers not allowing her to have bathroom breaks and trying to get fresh with her. She saved as much as she could and in her mid twenties upon marrying my dad, she used her savings to put a down payment for a 4 unit apartment building complex on the north side of Chicago. This would be her first of a few more properties her and my dad would later own in Chicago. I was born shortly after.
Aside from the language barrier of only knowing Spanish, lack of education, managing her own trauma from her childhood, trying to adopt the American culture, navigating the logistics of owning and maintaining a real estate property in the states, starting and growing her own business and navigating the conflicts between her and my dad ( he had his own macho/masculine wounds and trauma from surviving an abusive home), my mom had me… an introverted, very emotional, sensitive, reflective and moody daughter.
My mother wanted a go getter, a driven and focused mini version of her. I always felt misplaced, like the stork left me at the wrong address and viewed her more like an older sister that HAD to watch over me, her pesky little sister. We moved 4 times from the time I was in Kindergarten to 6th grade and the long hours my mom worked, I see now, didn’t leave much for her to give. Looking back, perhaps it needed to be that way as I remember her angry much of the time, perhaps more time with me would’ve not helped that.
Survival Tools= Obey & Be Quiet
My mother also had a strained relationship with her mother when I was growing up, since as a child she was basically required to mother her siblings while my grandmother was trying to survive her physically and emotionally abusive situation with my grandfather. I felt guilt ridden and ashamed for needing anything, ever, and learned to be as pleasant, quiet and a part of the background as possible, this carried into my adult life.
I learned to not trust and depend on others and spent much time with myself because for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why when I did make friends or dated, it turned ugly very fast and rageful sides of myself came out that scared me.
My Quiet Demeanor And Suppressed Rage
I had rage towards my mother for not giving me permission to speak my thoughts and heart as a child, rage over all the times she took out her frustration with my dad, on me with name calling and hitting me with objects, I loathed being a woman because I saw that much of what I lived through wouldn’t of been a reality had I been born a man. I also became aware of how guilty I felt for just taking up space, actual physical space. I felt wrong just for existing and boy did I attract people into my life that validated this feeling once I left home.
Today, after two decades of sincere and dedicated self care, life couldn’t be more different. There are many ways self care has helped me heal this deep pain and it’s affected every area of my life. Today I’ll share 5.
Taking ownership of giving myself what I have needed through regular self care through different mediums such as exercise, journaling, meditation, therapy, naps, friendships, chanting, exercise, water first thing in the morning etc. for the past 2 decades has gifted me with the following:
1.The Ability To Forgive
This mother wound of inadequate nurture goes back into my family lineage for many generations. Woman have been unsupported, asked to sacrifice themselves for the good of others, violated financially, physically and mentally, not given voice, shamed and punished for being women for many generations. How could the women in my family give nurturing, affection, validation and encouragement when they were rarely on the receiving end of these things? My mother could only give me what her mother gave her. This doesn’t justify the pain caused, but it acknowledges that what happened between my mother and I is bigger then just her and I.
2. The Ability To Grieve
Self care has allowed me to let myself feel the things I could not afford to feel as a child because it was too much. I’ve learned to give myself the permission to feel everything that comes up for me, when situations have triggered this wound and recognizing that they are just that, feelings that need to be felt that carry a message of wisdom for me. Feeling what I need to feel, whether sadness, disgust or rage, allows it to move through me so I can let it go. From that place inside, I then have more equanimity and take action that’s in my best interest, as opposed to action done to simply spite my mother.
3. The Ability To Take Back My Own Power
Self care has taught me to become the main source of my own needed nurturing, care and self acceptance. Taking the initiative to find what I need within myself and satisfying that need is empowering because no one can take that away from me. My biggest source of experiencing The Mother I’ve needed, has been through my chanting practice which I’ve shared about here. Finding my own source of mothering has also given my mother the freedom to be herself with me because I no longer come to her with that guarded anger from having wanted something from her, she wasn’t giving. This lessened the strain in our interactions and made them less loaded and intense because I was filling that need within myself.
4. The Ability To Appreciate What I Have.
My mother has tremendous warrior energy and embracing that in myself has been a part of feeling more at home in my own skin. I’ve also been able to own that I’m more yin then yang compared to my mom. She’s very much a doer and a get #%! done type of person, I’m in my element when I flow, reflect and express much more then conquer and attain compared to my mom and that’s perfectly fine.
5. The Ability To Build Anew:
Letting myself grieve the mother I needed and accept the mother I have, empowered me to show up for my mom with more presence and less baggage in my late twenties and build a connection to her as an adult. Today my mom and I speak weekly and see eachother monthly. She is my hero, source of much strength and in fact was my first example of determined self care since no matter how busy her life became with her kids, businesses and properties, she made sure to fiercely protect her weekly time at the gym and is now reaping the benefits of strong health in her 60’s.
Our relationship has matured over time and is the most open it’s ever been. It’s not to say this is what happens for all women when they begin to intentionally do the work of healing their mother wound. Sometimes the most healing thing in certain situations is to not have much contact with one’s mother at all depending on the depth of the pain and dysfunction in the relationship.
To Each Her Own
There is no one answer fits all in this area. The road has been long, hard and winding in creating a healthy relationship with my mother and in growing the mother within myself. Many times it’s felt like 2 steps forward, 5 steps back.
The Planet Needs Empowered Women
What I know is that we as women hold the biggest key to our own empowerment when we do the work to heal the mother wound. Regardless if all the injustices in the world don’t correct themselves, to do our own healing in this area is to make the biggest contribution to the reclamation of womanhood and healing for our planet.
An empowered woman is a brave, whole-hearted, unstoppable, self possessed and fully embodied woman. May we each take a step towards the sacred work of reclaiming the truth that being empowered is our natural state.
What is your mother wound? Does it involve neglect, abandonment, oppression or betrayal?
Is it a surface level nit picking that is just irritating or is it more?
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Hope your mothers day this weekend is a beautiful one!
Sending you love, a reminder to take care of yourself and a big thank you for stopping by!