4 Ways To Understand & Heal The ‘Mother Wound’ As An Adult

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4 Ways To Understand & Heal The ‘Mother Wound’ As An Adult

“Walk a mile in my shoes” can be the beginning of understanding and healing the “mother wound.”

The mother wound is caused by emotional abandonment from your mom, even if she was physically present. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as alcohol abuse and addiction, working long hours, depression, and other mental health reasons.

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In my case, the emotional abandonment was a result of being near the end of eight children in a 20-year span of time. My mother was 40 when I was born.

I heard from my older siblings about the wonder and awe-inspiring holiday times, fully decorated for each event. They recall in detail many life events that were not in my experience.

I could not fully appreciate how weary, tired, and emotionally spent my mother was until I was old enough to actually “walk a mile in her shoes.”

The day I turned 40, my youngest of five children turned 10, and I was well on my way to “adult” independence. I could come and go and not even need a babysitter. At 40, I could create my own career, my own journey, my own business.

Then I think back to my mother, who was smart, sometimes genius, and direct — sometimes to a fault — matter of fact, though sometimes insensitive, and a lover of laughter. She would say, “I can’t get my head out of the diaper pail.” At 44, her head was still there in the diaper pail.

It wasn’t until I reached my 40s, 50s, and now 60s that I could really identify with my mother. That was the turning point, the moment healing could truly take place.

I could see my life through her perspective. She took on the responsibility of motherhood and did what she knew she had to “do” with mothering, but her heart wasn't in it anymore.

The steps to healing from the mother wound will be different for every person because the circumstances are unique to each person.

Here are 4 ways for you to heal your "mother wound" as a grown-up. 

1. Learn who your mother really is.

Learn about your mother’s history. What was her experience, her story? Did she experience a mother wound herself?

The more I learned about my mother, the more compassion I had for her. Her own mother was absent while she worked alongside my grandfather six days a week for long hours. As the oldest in her family, she was the responsible one, doing her duty for her seven younger siblings.

RELATED: How To Stop Mom Guilt From Making You Feel Like A Terrible Mother

2. Practice forgiveness.

When you forgive your mom, the negative emotions you are holding onto will begin to dissipate and be replaced with empathy.

Forgiveness is an act of the will. Practicing it will strengthen your inner resolve.

Forgive little bits at a time. Whenever a feeling of sadness, disappointment, or anger come over you, think of how you can practice forgiveness.

3. Compare where your mother was with where you are now.

Part of my own healing process is to think about my age and what my mother was doing when she was that age.

When my mother was my current age, she was sending my younger sister off to college, I was having my first baby, my other siblings were having their first babies, and she was at the beginning stage of grand-motherhood.

Right now, I have 16 grandchildren, the oldest of which is 11. And I can’t imagine having to deal with another college-era child right now.

4. Remember, what goes around comes around.

If you are a parent yourself, you may want to — and can — break the cycle.

Ask yourself, "Am I fully present with my own children? Am I making choices that promote healing and understanding? Am I modeling grace toward my mother that I hope my children have toward me?"

While I hope that I would be better and do better, I know I am not perfect.

Will my children understand me, forgive me — and will they walk a mile in my shoes? Will they continue the effort of breaking the cycle of dysfunction?

Will they be gracious to me? One can only hope!

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Joan Nosal is a personal development coach and life coach who focuses in change and stress management. For more information on how she can help you deal with anger issues, visit her website here.