“All great truths begin as blasphemy.” ~George Bernard Shaw
A very basic definition of patriarchy is “a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.” The patriarchy of western civilization is damaging to both women and men. In order for us to truly discover our innate wholeness and create lasting change in our world, we have to detox from the damaging patriarchal messages that we have all internalized to some degree.
Patriarchy is not a distant concept. It is alive and active in our daily lives, impacting us in internal and external ways that we are largely unconscious of. The process of naming and identifying is a powerful key in any kind of individual or collective transformation. I highly recommend this article by Bell Hooks entitled “Understanding Patriarchy.”
As women in patriarchal cultures, we are caught in a double-bind. If a woman focuses too heavily on caring for others, she is devalued and seen as weak. On the other hand, if she focuses on herself and her independent pursuits, she is seen as selfish. In either case, there is little opportunity for a woman to be accurately seen and valued as an individual.
What is needed is for us to find a way to come into balance–to be seen as distinct, unique individuals AND to have authentic connections with others.
A woman may adapt to this double bind by either becoming compliant, passive and silent OR becoming patriarchal herself, as in controlling, dominating and rigid. In either case, the woman remains stuck.
It is time for women to courageously individuate, to become more fully themselves and to voice their innate, inner wisdom.
Individuation is the process of becoming uniquely oneself, of bringing to birth a consciousness of human community precisely because it makes us aware of the unconscious, which unites and is common to all mankind. Individuation is an at-one-ment with oneself and at the same time with humanity, since oneself is a part of humanity.” ~ Carl Jung
Individuation is different from Individualism. Far from being selfish, an individuated person feels a strong responsibility to support, serve others and to advance wholeness, peace and integrity in the world.
Individuated women are needed in our world now more than ever.
Women’s needs for individuation have been thwarted by the culture causing us to feel an unnamed aggression or chronic, low-level frustration simmering under the surface of our daily lives. A new model is needed to transform ourselves on the personal level AND to transform our culture as well.
Not every woman is a mother. But every woman is a daughter. In order to become the women we are meant to be, we must start with ourselves as daughters to address the early patterns that were laid down in the earliest days of our lives.
The mother/daughter relationship is one of the most powerful relationships that humans can have. It is also one of the most ambivalent, conflicted and challenging.
The process of separating and individuating from mothers is generally more difficult for women than for men. This is because of the gender identification between mother and daughter, which may cause the mother to unconsciously push a son to differentiate from her much more than she would her daughter.
Because we have all internalized patriarchal values to some degree, mothers pass down these values unconsciously and unintentionally. And daughters absorb their mothers’ values as a form of loyalty to mother, but the loyalty to those values becomes a form of disloyalty to their own potential.
In order to stop the unconscious, inter-generational wounding of women by women, we have to address how the mother wound is a product of patriarchy and how women have had to compensate for the patriarchal mandate for women to remain small and non-powerful.
We have to take the risk and summon the courage to love and validate ourselves even though we may have never received this from our mothers or from the culture.
Even though we’ve never had the models we needed, we’re being called to step forward anyway and be the women that we’re being called to be.
We’re being called to take the risk to fully bless ourselves and one another, even without the external approval of family and society. Are you willing?
“Worth is not given. It can only be claimed.” ~unknown
We are being called to consciously own our power and to step out of all forms of victimhood that hold us back from the realization of our true responsibility as creators.
We do not birth the new world by asking for it to be given to us by external forces. We create it by embodying it within ourselves. We create it by BEING it.
The journey of individuating and becoming the women that we are meant to be requires that we first address the template for womanhood that we received from our mothers that was distorted by the patriarchy and transform that template into the divine blueprint that we are meant to live.
Issues involved in the mother wound that are rooted in patriarchy:
- Receiving love in exchange for being small and non-threatening
- Scarcity and power dynamics between mother and daughter
- Unresolved issues of the mother being projected onto daughter
- Mother being threatened by daughter and unconsciously sabotaging or causing daughter to feel doubtful of her aspirations
- Daughter fears of surpassing mother and losing her love
- Daughter feels she owes it to her mother to sacrifice herself the same way her mother did
- Mother feels compensated for her own pain by seeing her daughter suffer
A critical step for a woman’s authentic empowerment is to heal the mother wound; transforming the generational pain of maternal wounding into divine feminine power. In order to do so, both mothers and daughters must start with themselves as daughters because this is the place where the wound originally occurred. This is the deep work that is required to embody our truth, authenticity, power and creativity for the benefit of all beings.
I offer women a comprehensive process to heal the mother wound that addresses the need for both personal and cultural transformation.
Based on the many years of my own healing process and my own research on the subject, I discovered that there are 7 main steps that we pass through in healing the mother wound. I teach this signature system as a roadmap for the healing journey. In my workshops and soon-to-be-released online course, I offer tools, resources, exercises and templates for each step in the process. I describe the entire process very briefly below.
How the mother wound is transformed:
- Identify the ways your mother has served as your foundation in life.
- Identify the cultural taboos and stereotypes that have prevented you from healing the mother wound.
- Identify your mother gap: the gap between what you needed and what you received from your mother.
- Give up the impossible dream that one day your mother will change into the mother you’ve always hoped she’d be.
- Allow yourself to grieve.
- Transform your “inner mother” from a duplicate of your mother with her limitations into an inner mother that unconditionally supports and loves you.
- Emerge: Living life beyond the mother wound.
The implications of this work are huge…
As infants we experience ourselves as completely one with our mothers. Because the mother = life, the mother wound is essentially a wound with life itself. As it is healed, we have the potential to realize our unity with life on a very profound level. The gift within the crisis of the mother wound is the potential to be birthed into unity consciousness.
Healing the mother wound is a revolutionary and necessary act that allows us to separate ourselves from the patriarchal mandates that have been passed down through countless generations. It is a way of honoring the women who have come before us and the women who are yet to come. It is creating within yourself the container needed to hold powerful energies that are needed for our collective evolution.
“Nothing is more important for the future of our culture than the way children develop.”~ Gabor Maté
An attendee of one of my workshops said “I realize now that the more I nurture the daughter within myself, the better I will be at nurturing my own daughter.”
For this process, we need courage and we need each other.
A quote from Jeff Brown:
“We must not give up. It takes so much time to heal because we are not just healing our own wounds – we are healing the world’s wounds, too. We think we are alone with our ‘stuff’, but we aren’t. With every clearing of our emotional debris, with every foray into a healthier way of being, with every excavation and release of old material, we heal the collective heart. So many of our familial and karmic ancestors had little opportunity to heal their pains. When we heal, their spirits breathe a sigh of relief. We heal them backwards, while healing ourselves forward. We heal in unison.”
© Bethany Webster 2014
I invite you to complete a survey on what you would look for in a program on healing the mother wound. In gratitude for your time, please accept this download of my free e-book on “Transforming the Inner Mother”.
(Art credits in order of appearance: Alfons Maria Mucha, Thomas Ridgeway, unknown, Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, statue from Pisa Italy, Frederick W. Ruckstill, Rodin, unknown)
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Bethany Webster is a writer, international speaker and what you could call a midwife of the heart. Her work is focused on supporting women in realizing their true identity as consciousness, claiming their brilliance and embodying their truth with authenticity and self-love. She is the author of the forthcoming book “Healing the Mother Wound: Move Beyond What Your Mother Never Gave You and Become the Woman You’re Meant to Be.” Visit her website now at: http://womboflight.com/