Going into the Black Hole to find the Light of Being

Wound by Graham Dean

The most empowering thing I’ve discovered in life was not something ecstatic or “spiritual.” It wasn’t found in feelings of bliss. It was found in the very place I did not want to look and after all other options were seen to be obsolete. There was no place to go but down, down into what I called “the black hole”  that place of despair, of total powerlessness and terror. I realized that my whole life I had been doing whatever I could to avoid contact with this place buried deep within me.

The black hole was what felt like an overwhelming sense of  “badness” and a deep-seated fear that other people would see that I am bad, awful, and repulsive. It was a sense that at my core I was truly awful. The main way that I avoided this place was through appearing to have it all “together” and by striving to always be successful, happy, and good. Even though I had experienced tremendous growth and true happiness and success, there was still this background suspicion of myself that I was really bad and people couldn’t really see it. There was a fear that once they did, they would run the other way.

Where The Darkness Meets The Light by Claudette Dean

There was not a clear sense of what this “badness” was. It was vague and undefined. However, the main emotion connected with it was an overpowering despair, like wanting to die.

Most of my life I wasn’t conscious of this sense of inner “badness” until I started becoming aware of my inner dynamics and patterns. When I did finally become conscious of it, I had already been in therapy for many years and had transformed my life into what I’d always wanted: a beautiful relationship, a great career and an deepening sense of inner safety and trust. Because I had already been on a path of healing for some time and had become attuned to my inner self, the black hole gradually became more acute and in the foreground. It seems that my psyche was eventually strong enough to contain the terror that had been hidden for so long and that my system wanted to release it.

Cocoon by Elis Cooke

The most empowering thing I’ve ever done in my life was to consciously venture into this  feeling of the “black hole of badness” within. With the help of my therapist and other trusted people in my life including my partner, I was witnessed in this feeling of badness and had a major realization–that I am not and never was “bad” as I had feared. I discovered that at the very foundation of my being, I am innocent, complete, free and eternal. I could feel this throughout my entire body. It truly felt like coming Home. The undefined, dreadful feelings of badness did not kill me as I had feared they would if I allowed myself to feel them. Much to my surprise, where I thought I would find “badness” I found only pure goodness.

What felt like blackness was a door to pure light. 

Through the supportive and skilled witnessing of trusted others, I was able to withstand what I feared most and consciously discover my true nature as infinite, inviolate goodness. I had a direct experience of feeling that I am thoroughly innocent, strong, beautiful, and at my core, indestructible.  This experience changed my life irrevocably because as I saw myself as I truly am, my view of life and of others greatly transformed as well.

Bliss by Ali Mc Nab

By consciously observing the sensations and feelings in the black hole, I saw that the feeling of badness that I contacted was actually a flashback from infancy when for whatever reason I felt totally abandoned and completely terrified for my life. It was like a crystallized pocket of suppressed energy that had always been there, festering in my core. By willingly and consciously entering the feelings and sensations of the black hole, I observed that as my little infant self, I thought I was going to die and  internalized the experience to mean that I must be thoroughly bad and worthless. I observed that because I experienced being abandoned, I had willingly abandoned myself, knowing intuitively that I had to do this in order to survive. It was a moment of total despair, hopelessness and a kind of existential depression settling in. It was a moment of painful departure, a splitting within myself. By going back to this dreaded place, I was able to witness the trauma that created the black hole and return to heal the split and reunite with my deepest self.

Facing the truth Print by Vrindavan Das

Looking back, I see how this discovery was the culmination of  an organic process of healing that I had been going through for years–and my entire being was going through a detoxification process from early childhood trauma. This process was natural and not under the purview of my conscious mind. I had little control other than to be simply aware and receptive and trusting to what was unfolding.

Over time as this discovery integrated into my life, I had many insights about how the black hole was also a way of receiving the cumulative generational pain of my family and ancestors. As an infant, I experienced it as a kind of invasion and implantation of pain that was not originally mine, but was being placed in me. Having no choice but to absorb it and metabolize it, it became part of the very fabric of my identity, much like when a splinter becomes absorbed into the skin. Yet, because I had done so much healing, at a certain point my being naturally wanted to expunge the “implant” of pain from my system.

Yoshiro Tachibana

I think we all – to some degree – have a faint unconscious memory of the existential terror of infancy, when we inevitably experienced some form of abandonment or invasion. As infants we were need personified. Because parents/caregivers were human, they made mistakes and we had moments of feeling abandoned or invaded. I have a feeling that the black hole is part of the human experience, holding much suffering that can linger and go unaddressed, greatly limiting our experience of life. Yet, if confronted, holds the key to freedom that opens doors that we didn’t even know were there.

By going into the black hole within, we can discover a light that is indestructible, the light of our true self, that is pure, that is true, innocent, fresh and un-taintable. This is the light of Being.

Constellation by Anna Dittmann

This is not just an intellectual theory–its a direct experience of our own divinity. Once experienced, anything can happen to you and you know that ultimately you cannot be harmed.

My sense is that when we are ready, the psyche repairs itself by re-experiencing the feelings that were overwhelming and suppressed at the time of trauma. Life does this through us as a way of experiencing it’s all-inclusive, indestructible nature.

Aura by Patricia Ariel

Nothing is fully released until it is loved.

Love welcomes and  accepts everything. We can’t truly know this in our bones until we’ve opened to that which scares us and see that even that, yes, even that is loved and embraced by Life.

Everything that is split off or fragmented within us will be eventually called back–to be consciously welcomed into the wholeness that we truly are.

This is because our true nature, our true self ….is Love.

Space of Love by Joyce Huntington

© 2015 Bethany Webster

(Art credits in order of appearance: “Wound” by Graham Dean, “Where The Darkness Meets The Light” by Claudette Dean, “Cocoon” by Elis Cooke, “Bliss” By Ali McNab, “Facing the truth” by Vrindavan Das, Title Unknown by Yoshiro Tachibana, “Constellation” by Anna Dittmann, “Aura” by Patricia Ariel, “Space of Love” by Joyce Huntington)

*This blog article originally appeared on my other blog “Embrace of Being”

Thank you for reading! I Invite you to leave a comment below: Does the concept of the “black hole” resonate with you? What has been your experience of it?  And what has helped you to heal and work with it?

Related article: The Holy Simplicity of Sitting with Our Pain

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Your Body is A Portal to Truth. Enter and Be Transformed.

Goddess Flidais. Art print by Amanda Clark

I’ve spoken to some folks who glance at the 7-step process of healing the mother wound and say “I already know all this” or “I’ve done these steps already” yet they still have all the painful symptoms of the mother wound. What’s clear is that they may know the concepts on a cognitive level but the process hasn’t actually reached the visceral level of the body.

Transformation isn’t fully real until it takes root in the body.

Cognitive understanding is very important but it isn’t enough to transform us and create lasting, meaningful change. Over the years,  I’ve met folks who have spent decades on a spiritual journey but the process was taken almost entirely in their minds. They may still struggle with basic living skills although they’ve worked with several gurus, read tons of books or even teach their own workshops! This is not surprising as we live in a culture that tells us that we can gobble up concepts and that we should have a transformation.

Concepts are like seeds of transformation, that when dropped into the body can take root and begin to transform us on the deepest levels. 

When we gobble concepts it is a superficial action. What creates lasting transformation is fully digesting the concepts and allowing them to sink deeply into our bodies, where the alchemy of transformation really takes place. Transformation has it’s own organic timeline that is out of our hands. It cannot be rushed. We cannot control or predict it. This truth can be hard to swallow, especially because our culture sends the message that success is equivalent to control and timely “results.”

Beth Cavener Stichter - Bringing Down the Moon

I know this well because I spent years avoiding the deeper work because it was too threatening to my ego who wanted to be done and healed yesterday.  I eventually realized that the need to reach the final destination was really a defense against the un-processed grief within me. Wanting to skip over or avoid the murky parts was actually a projection of the child within me who wanted someone to rescue me from pain the way my parents never could. I would project my power outward onto a new teacher or method, asking them to be the mother I never had. This insight allowed me to see that attachment to the idea of a final destination was really just a postponement of facing the pain within me. I realized that if I was to work through it, I needed to face it head on.

In our patriarchal culture, there is the illusion that there’s safety in living life “from the neck-up.” We are encouraged in covert and overt ways to push aside our deeper, complex experiences. It’s what I call a belief that relief is in “away.” It’s the belief that we can push uncomfortable things aside and out of sight in order to be free of them. Whether it’s through throwing trash “away” or making the pain go “away” with a pill or a drink. It’s the deeper belief that freedom and comfort are possible in denial.

There was a time when there was indeed safety in denial, pushing aside, dis-owning, clenching or contracting. And that time is when we were children and had no choice but to suppress and deny our true feelings in order to survive. We’ve all had to do this to some degree.

Jackie Carpenter

Reality is much different as adults. We come to realize that there really is no such thing as “away.” We must SEE things and become conscious of them first before we can ever become truly free of them.  The sooner we accept this, the smoother our journey can become. Whatever we refuse to see simply lies in waiting until we are ready to see and digest it. If we continue to resist, we’ll only experience increasing limitation and hardship.

The paradox is that when we truly see the thing we wish to be free of, we cease seeing it as something to “get rid of” but actually for the gift that it is in helping us to be more conscious and thus more free. 

For example, if we have a goal and experience resistance to that goal, we become free of that resistance not by resisting it further or shaming ourselves, but by becoming curious and inquiring into the resistance. This openness and curiosity allows us to receive insights into the deeper cause of the resistance, at which point, we usually experience an emotional or bodily shift. This shift in the body/mind causes the resistance to lose it’s power to stop us and we can then move forward again toward the goal. We can trust that whatever is coming up is the next level of what needs to be processed in order to be released. Resistance always holds a gift. 

Claudia McKinney

A key indicator for me is noticing how my breathing changes in relation to my thoughts. I notice that when I think a contracting thought, my breathing becomes shallow and quicker. And when I think an empowering, loving thought my belly expands and my breath automatically deepens down into my gut. There’s a physical sense of relief and opening. It’s as though my body is showing me what is true.

Relief from the pain comes from opening to the pain

For many of us, our bodies have served as a place we have stashed our biggest hurts. Opening to our bodies can be scary because we know that the hurt is in there. To the child within, there may be a fear that opening to the old pain will only bring more pain. But the truth is that in the opening to pain is ultimately where the relief lies. Staying present to our own pain is part of mothering ourselves and gives us the experience that we are bigger and more powerful than any intense emotion.

The Key in the Lock: Take inquiry into the Body

Hatching the Universal by Judy Chicago

We must measure our transformations, not by the number of years we’ve been on the path, the number of books we’ve read, or the teachers we’ve studied with, but by the depths we have gone to in our own process. This is only something only we can know about ourselves. It’s a private kind of integrity. It’s a combination of commitment and surrender. The question really is ‘How can I live in each moment in alignment with what I know to be true?’ and ‘How can my words and actions line up with my deepest truth?’ Sometimes we can feel the hunger for this kind of alignment in our very cells.

Very simple concepts have enormous richness and transformative power when they are felt and absorbed within the body. 

I recall a moment on my journey when a major insight dropped into my body and thinking “Oh, THIS is what they were talking about in the book.” I was amazed at how the direct experience of a very simple insight had so much more nuance and complexity than the mental concept had implied. Holding concepts lightly allows us to have direct experiences that transform us. If we hold the concepts too tightly, they become a barrier or a kind of prison. That’s why our openness to the organic flow of the healing journey is so important if we are to truly transform.

%22Birth of a Galaxy%22 by Willow Arlenea

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

As Joseph Campbell says, meaning (or mental understanding) is not ultimately what we want. We want to feel our aliveness and our power right now, amidst the process and along the infinite spiral of growth. Letting go of the timeline and opening to the unknown is an incredibly alive, fertile, rich place that begins to feel more and more like home. Part of the rapture of being alive is a state of not-knowing and yet full presence in our moment-to-moment experience.

Suren Voskanyan

Our bodies are always in the present moment. Our bodies are always telling us the truth.

Healing trauma takes a long time and it’s not easy. But it’s infinitely worth it. It’s not glamorous, tidy or pretty. In fact, it takes guts, determination and a big dose of grit. But what you get in return is an undeniable, bone-deep direct experience of yourself and who you REALLY are, which is beyond words and concepts. This direct experience takes deeper root with each tiny step you take, with each new layer, with each micro-insight. After a while, the timeline matters less and less because the richness of your own direct experience of yourself is more fulfilling than any concept could ever be. That’s because you can feel it in your body and it’s become a living, breathing reality.

Reaching out by Lilaviolet

There is a profound holiness that opens up when we embrace the process and un-know-abillity of the timeline. The willingness to trust and not know puts the ego aside in it’s proper, secondary place so that the holy can be seated firmly within us. We have to be willing to make this choice again and again, the choice to drop into this moment and not flee it for the concept of a final destination.

Digestion cannot be rushed. It’s done when it’s done. We can imagine concepts as nutritious food that takes time to digest and become integrated into the body. 

There is no “Away.” There are no shortcuts. We each must do the work. 

Transformation is a conscious choice you make. You have the power to commit to your transformation. How deep do you want to go?

For example, as a transformational coach, I can provide you with the roadmap on how to heal the mother wound and provide support along the way. But the results of your transformation rest solely with you, because only you can determine how deeply you digest the material and how actively use the roadmap you’ve been given. I set up the space, give you the tools and support, and the rest is up to you.

rio de janeiro II  by judy paul

You are Nature. Your body has seasons of it’s own.

And yet no matter how much we commit to the process of our transformation, the body has limits and we must be careful not to push ourselves too hard. The cycles and seasons of our bodies help us to shift our identity to the formless, timeless being we are. Our needs for rest, for movement, all serve our transformation in some way. Trusting and surrendering help to let go of the need to control.

In order to give birth a woman consciously opens to a painful experience in her body in order to give birth to new life, to a new consciousness. As the Divine Feminine is increasingly awakened in us, men and women are being asked to consciously open to the pain of our emotional wounds so that they can be transformed into new life, new wisdom and new love. In that wide openness, we can see that pain consciously experienced has a liberating power to awaken us to the deeper truth of who we are. 

Mayam - priestess of the divine feminine Print by Lila Violet

Bethany Webster © 2015

Image credits in order of appearance: “Goddess Flidais” by Amanda Clark, “Bringing Down the Moon” by Beth Cavener Stichter“Alone with My Thoughts” by Jackie Carpenter, Title Unknown by Claudia McKinney, “Birthing the Universal” by Judy Chicago“Birth of a Galaxy” by Willow Arlenea, Title Unknown by Suren Voskanyan, “Reaching Out” by Lila Violet, Rio de Janeiro II  by Judy Paul, “Mayam – priestess of the divine feminine” Print by Lila Violet

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Thank you for reading! I invite you to play with the exercises that follow and also leave a comment below–How do things shift for you when you drop into your body versus staying in your head?

Exercise:

For any limiting belief that you become conscious of, ask yourself the following three questions: 

  1. How did this belief keep me safe as a child?
  2. And how is it limiting me now as an adult?
  3. What do I need to grieve or feel angry about? What energy needs to be felt or released through my body? (Drop into your body and take note of sensations you may be feeling. Just watch them with curiosity and take note of what you experience.)
  4. What new belief or intention can I embody that affirms my authentic self and affirmatively declares my truth? Notice how your body shifts or changes as you write or verbalize the new belief.

Exercise:

Do you need to make a choice between two options? Are you feeling conflicted about something?

Picture the first choice in your mind as vividly as you can. Imagine the process and the outcome. See how your body feels and what sensations arise. Is there an opening or a contracting? Does your breathing relax or constrict? Do the same for the second scenario. The perfect choice for you will usually reveal itself as the most open, flowing and harmonious energy in your body.

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Does this article resonate with you?  Sign up here for a FREE, 30-minute coaching session with Bethany to learn about her private coaching program on healing the mother wound

Self-Honesty is True Safety

'The Inner Ocean' by Christian Schloe

Many of us feel fearful that if we become the powerful women we’re meant to be, then we will be seen as a threat to those around us. We may hide our light so as not to offend others or trigger their insecurities. The child in us fears that claiming our full individuality will cause us to be left alone. Understandably, this aloneness was very threatening to us as children. But there is a different kind of aloneness that we may find in adulthood, an aloneness that is a kind of nourishment.

The lotus that is born from the healing of trauma is a lotus that never dies. As Eckhart Tolle might say, it is the “good that has no opposite.” I believe this lotus is born from the aloneness we must face in healing from childhood trauma. The willingness to feel this aloneness fully can give way to realizing the inseparability between your own presence and the presence of God/Goddess.

Self Realization by Jia Lu

All birth involves an uncomfortable process down a dark passage toward a single point of light. In this moment, can you feel that part of you craving the light? You are the one craving the light and you are also the light that is being craved. 

The price of living as your authentic self is the discomfort of releasing all the false patterns one has accumulated through growing up in one’s family and culture. This can be very challenging because your will to evolve must override the “reptilian brain” that equates safety with the status quo, however dysfunctional it may be.

One could say that we’re always operating to some degree in the tension between evolution and safety or individuality and belonging. Attachment theorist, John Bowlby introduced the concept of how children use their mothers as a secure base for exploration. If the mother conveys sufficient safety to the child through her attunement to the child, the child feels safe enough to venture out and explore the environment.

We must transfer our source of safety from the outside to the inside.

Radiant Light by Mary Southard

All creativity, wisdom and power come from the luminous core of truth within. Living from this place and allowing everything in your life to come into alignment with it requires a profound commitment to life as a moment-to-moment process. As the call from within grows stronger, our desire for safety becomes overshadowed by our desire to be free–the desire to live from a place of realness, of truth and spaciousness.

The willingness to feel our essential aloneness carves out a great depth within us that can hold a vast field of love. 

The paradox is that embracing our deep aloneness increases the quality of our relationships because there is a  backdrop of immense integrity bourn out of facing the truth of our own pain.

However, in the process, it can be challenging as people around you may question what you’re doing, criticize you or reject you. This is actually a great gift they are giving you because it allows you to deepen and refine your commitment to self-honesty. Here we must be willing to be misunderstood and misperceived for the sake of our own integrity. This begins to open up a whole new dimension to inner safety–that no matter what happens on the outside, you become increasingly convinced that you are always safe within.

Inner Safety gives us permission to be Real

'Energy of Gold ' by Elena Ilyina

This permission is something that happens in the intimate space between you and yourself. As you heal the mother wound, you increasingly become the secure base for exploration for yourself. As the inner mother to your inner child, you become the profound space for everything to be OK. There is a powerful circle of love that flows and through this inner bond, allowing you to increasingly let go of limiting patterns from your family of origin. Exploration, experimentation and mistakes are all welcome. Here, there is no such thing as failure, only learning. What freedom! As we become more safe within, we become free to take risks, to chart new territory, to really explore the inner landscape without the usual fears of “what will they think of me?” These fears may still come up but do not have the power to stop you anymore. You’ve tasted the sweetness and soul-nourishment of your own integrity.

When we feel truly loved from within, there is no such thing as failure

Patriarchy has demanded that we be small and give away our power in exchange for external approval. As we become awakened women, we become small, not in yielding to any outer authority, but small, as in yielding to the Truth at the center of your Being, to the Self, the Source within. This becomes what guides our lives. Our lives then become lived in devotion to that. This process of becoming small in this context is the ultimate exaltation because we become an expression of a higher power. From here, everything we do can be lived as an expression of this One, everything we do can be in devotion to truth. This is so healing because patriarchy tells us that we must split and betray ourselves in order to be accepted. Here our authority becomes squarely placed in the center of ourselves. Here we become whole again.

Inner Safety Leads to Innovation

I dreamt I was made of nectar by Ka Kathryn June

In her book “Radical Acceptance,” Tara Brach encourages us to let our suffering be the gateway to the awakened heart. Seen in this way, our suffering is not something to get rid of, but a doorway to deeper truths. She talks about seeing our pain as something that is entrusted to us. To cultivate inner safety, we mother our own inner child in the ways our outer mother could not. We replace those original deficits by first feeling them fully. We have to feel the feelings that were off-limits when we were young. This is the first step in becoming really authentic.

Tenderly holding our fears and letting go of needing to “get there”

As we increasingly live as our original self, we are periodically asked to depart from the known and to find rest in the unknown. It asks us to befriend our ultimate aloneness and to find safety in our own presence. In that stark simplicity, there is a profound fullness that is not of this world.

The Inner pull of ‘the Real’ has a fragrance of holiness; a rawness and purity. 

The questions of “When will my healing be done? When will the pain go away?” drop away. We see that the waves of learning are infinite. New layers coming up to be healed are not a statement of failure or “not there yet” but rather a celebration that you’re ready for your next level. Letting go of attachment to some kind of final destination is a major step and actually accelerates and deepens your progress. The journey itself also becomes a form of nourishment because it is what delivers gifts to you with every step. The ego that wants completion quiets down and becomes in service to the organic mystery of your own evolution.

Ellen van der Molen Fullness

There is a connection between the longing for mother and the longing for the inner beloved. One could say that this longing flows through the same channel, the child’s longing for mother and the adult’s longing for God/Goddess/All that is. That is why when we heal the mother wound the way becomes clear for us to embody the spiritual power that wants to be expressed through us.

When we go deep enough into our own pain and existential aloneness, we have the possibility to discover that we’ve actually never been alone. There in our own pain and messy feelings is the Beloved, is the Divine truth, alongside everything we’ve ever experienced.

As we increasingly feel safe within, our loyalty shifts from the beliefs we inherited from our families to our own inner truth and integrity.

Silence by Qahira Lynn

Over time, our ability to be honest with ourselves becomes our true source of safety. This safety is so richly satisfying. It completely outshines the illusions of safety we had through old childhood defenses. Our ability to be honest with ourselves and what we’re feeling is trustworthy ground. Facts are always empowering because we can then act and get the tools or support we need for the next steps. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship in your life. Everything else flows from it.

Nest within. Decorate your inner sanctuary with your beautiful aloneness.

Allow yourself to sit in the rich silence of your Being and soak up the beauty that is you. Drink from that overflowing source within and taste true freedom.

As a friend mentioned to me recently, we women who are healing the mother wound are birthing a new kind of “mother line” from within ourselves as we support and love one another while doing this important inner work.

Circle of Love by Joyce Huntington

Thank you for reading! I invite you to leave a comment below: How has your self-honesty supported you?

Does this article resonate with you? Click here to sign up for a free, 30-minute session with me to learn more about private coaching. 

Ways to work with Bethany: 

Click here to download my  FREE e-book on “Transforming the Inner Mother”  and sign up for my newsletter. 

(Art credits in order of appearance: Christian Schloe, Jia Lu, Mary Southard, Elena Ilyina, Kathryn June, Ellen van Der Molen, Qahira Lynn, Joyce Huntington)

© Bethany Webster 2015

The Rupture of the Mother Line and the Cost of Becoming Real

Julia Hetta

One of the hardest experiences a daughter can have in a mother/daughter relationship is seeing that your mother is unconsciously invested in your smallness. For women in this predicament, it’s truly heart-wrenching to see that, out of her own wounding, the person who gave birth to you unconsciously sees your empowerment as her own loss. Ultimately, it’s not personal but a very real tragedy of our patriarchal culture that tells women they are “less than.”

We all desire to be real, to be seen accurately, to be recognized, and to be loved for who we really are in our full authenticity. This is a human need. The truth is that the process of becoming our real selves involves being messy, big, intense, assertive and complex; the very things patriarchy portrays as unattractive in women. 

Historically, our culture has been hostile to the idea of women as true individuals.

The patriarchy portrays attractive women as people-pleasing, approval-seeking, emotional caretakers, conflict-avoidant and tolerant of poor treatment. To some degree, mothers often pass these messages along to daughters unconsciously causing daughters to create a false self, usually, through the mask of the rebel, the loner or the good girl.  The main message is “You must stay small in order to be loved.” However, each new generation of women comes with the hunger to be real. One could say that with each new generation, the patriarchy is weakening and the hunger to be real is strengthening in women, and in fact, it’s now beginning to take on a certain urgency.

The longing to be real and the longing for mother

Daniel Murtagh

This presents a dilemma for daughters raised in a patriarchy. The longing to be your real self and the longing to be mothered become competing needs; there’s a sense you have to choose between them. This is because your empowerment is limited to the degree that your own mother has internalized patriarchal beliefs and expects you to comply with them. Pressure from your mother to remain small comes from two main sources: 1) the degree she’s internalized limiting, patriarchal beliefs from her own mother and 2) the level of her own deprivation which comes from her being divorced from her real self. These two things cripple a mother’s ability to initiate her daughter into her own life.

The cost of becoming your real self often involves some degree of “rupture” with the maternal line. When this happens, you are breaking from the patriarchal threads within your mother line, which is essential for healthy, empowered adulthood. This usually manifests in some form of pain or conflict with your mother. Ruptures in the mother line can take many forms: from conflicts and disagreements all the way to distance and estrangement. It’s a personal journey and it’s different for every woman. Ultimately, the rupture is in the service of transformation and healing. It’s part of the evolutionary impulse of the awakening feminine to be more consciously empowered. This is the birth of the “non-patriarchal mother” and the beginning of true freedom and individuation.

Charlotte Caron

On one end of the spectrum, for healthier mother/daughter relationships, the rupture may cause conflict but actually serve to strengthen the bond and make it more authentic.

On the other end of the spectrum, for more unhealthy or abusive mother/daughter relationships, the rupture can trigger unhealed wounds in the mother, causing her to lash out or disown her daughter completely. And in some cases, unfortunately, a daughter will see no other choice than to maintain distance indefinitely to maintain her emotional wellbeing. Here your mother may see your separation/rupture as a threat, not a result of your desire for growth, but as a direct affront to her, a personal attack and rejection of who she is. In this situation, it can be heart-wrenching to see how your desire for empowerment or personal growth can cause your mother to blindly see you as a mortal enemy.

In this situation we can see the massive cost that patriarchy exacts on mother/daughter relationships. 

LISSY LARICCHIA

“I can’t be happy if my mother is unhappy.” Have you ever felt this?

Usually this belief comes from the pain of seeing your mother suffer from her own inner deprivation and compassion for her struggle under the weight of patriarchal demands. However, when we sacrifice our own happiness for our mothers, we actually prevent the necessary healing that comes from grieving the wound in our maternal line.That just keeps both mother and daughter stuck. We can’t heal our mothers and we can’t make them see us accurately, no matter how hard we try. What brings the healing is grieving. We have to grieve for ourselves and for our mother line. This grief brings incredible freedom.

With each wave of grief we re-unite with the parts of us we had to disown in order to be accepted by our families.

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Unhealthy systems need to be disrupted in order to find a new, healthier, higher-level equilibrium. It’s a paradox that we actually heal our mother line when we disrupt the patriarchal patterns in the mother line, not when we remain complicit with the patriarchal patterns to maintain surface-level peace. It takes grit and courage to refuse to comply with patriarchal patterns that have generational momentum in our families.

Letting our mothers be individuals liberates us (as daughters) to be individuals. 

Patriarchal beliefs foster an unconscious enmeshment between mothers and daughters in which only one of them can be powerful; it’s an “either/or” dynamic based in scarcity that leaves both disempowered. For mothers who have been particularly deprived of their own power, their daughters can become “food” for their atrophied identity and a dumping ground for their troubles. We must let our mothers have their own journeys and stop sacrificing ourselves for them.

Brett Walker

We are being called to become true individuals, women who have individuated from the beliefs of patriarchy and own our worth without shame. Paradoxically, it is our fully owned individuality that contributes to a healthy, whole, and unified society. 

Traditionally, women have been taught that it is noble to carry other people’s pain; that emotional care-taking is our duty and that we should feel guilty if we deviate from this function. In this context, guilt is not about conscience but about control. This guilt keeps us enmeshed with our mothers, depleting ourselves, and ignorant of our power. We must see that there’s no true cause for guilt. This role of emotional caretaker was never a true role for us, it is simply part of our legacy of oppression. Seen in this way, we can cease allowing guilt to control us.

Refraining from emotional care-taking and letting people have their lessons is a form of respect for self and other. 

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Our over-functioning contributes to the imbalance in our society and actively disempowers others by keeping them from their own transformation. We must stop carrying the load for other people. We do this by seeing the sheer futility of it. And we have to refuse to be the emotional custodian and dumping ground for those who refuse to do the necessary work for their own transformation.

Contrary to what we’ve been taught, we don’t have to heal our entire families. We only have to heal ourselves.

Instead of feeling guilty for not being able to heal your mother and your family members, give yourself permission to be innocent. By doing so, you are taking back your personhood and your power back from the mother wound. And consequently, you are handing back to your family members their own power to live their own journey. This is a major energetic shift that comes from owning our worth and is demonstrated by the ways that we remain in our power despite calls to give it away to others.

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The cost of becoming real is never as high as the cost of remaining your false self. 

It’s possible that we may experience backlash from our mothers (and our families) when we become more real. We may experience hostility, withdrawal, sulking, or outright denigration. Shock waves may be felt through the entire family system. And it can be staggering to see how quickly we can be rejected or dropped when we stop over-functioning and embody our real selves. However, this truth must be seen and the pain endured if we are to become truly real. This is why support is essential.

In his article “Mindfulness and the Mother Wound” Phillip Moffitt describes the four functions of a mother:  Nurturer, Protector, Empowerer and Initiator. Moffitt says the mother’s role as initiator “is the most selfless of all the aspects, for she is encouraging a separation that leaves her without.”  This function is profound even for a mother who has been fully supported and honored in her own life, but almost impossible for mothers who have known great pain and have not sufficiently healed their own wounds.

A patriarchy severely limits a mother’s ability to initiate her daughter into her own personhood, because in a patriarchy, a mother has been deprived of her own.  It sets her daughter up for self-sabotage, her son for misogyny, and a disrespect for the mother “ground” out of which we come, the earth itself.

Netali Ron-Raz

It is precisely this function of mother as ‘provider of initiation,’ which launches a daughter into her own unique life, but this role is possible only to the degree that the mother has experienced or found her own initiation. But the healthy separation process between mothers and daughters is greatly thwarted in a patriarchal culture.

The problem is that many women live their entire lives waiting for their mothers to initiate them into their own separate lives, when their mothers are simply incapable of providing this.

It’s very common to see the postponement of the grief of the mother wound, with women constantly going back to the “dry well” of their mothers, seeking the permission and the love that their mothers simply don’t have the capacity to provide. Instead of grieving this fully, women tend to blame themselves, which keeps them stuck. We must mourn how our mothers cannot give us the initiation they never received themselves and consciously embark on our own initiation.

The rupture is actually a sign of an evolutionary impulse to separate from the patriarchal threads of our mother line, to break the unconscious enmeshment with our mothers fostered by the patriarchy and become initiated into our own lives. 

Isao Tomoda

My work of helping women heal their mother wound is to help women get out of this cycle of self-blame and to do the necessary grieving so that they can finally claim the power and potential of their own lives. Part of the process is about embracing this deep, existential grief so that you can finally be initiated into the freedom and creativity of your own life. And ultimately this grief gives way to genuine compassion and gratitude for our mothers and the mothers before her.

It’s important to see that we are not rejecting our mothers when we reject their patriarchal beliefs that say we should stay small in order to be accepted. What we are actually doing is claiming our life force from impersonal, limiting patterns that have kept women hostage for centuries.

Make a safe space for the longing for mother

Even though we are adult women, we still long for mother. What can be truly heartbreaking is to feel this longing for mother and know that your own mother cannot fill this longing, even though she tried her best. It’s important to face this fact and grieve. Your longing is holy and must be honored. Allowing space for this grief is an important part of being the good mother to yourself. If we don’t mourn our unmet need for mothering directly, it will unconsciously seep into our relationships, causing pain and conflict.

Future Gazing ~ Aspects Trine by Christopher Mark Perez*

The process of healing the mother wound is about finding your own initiation into the power and purpose of your own life. 

This is not run-of-the-mill self-improvement. Healing the mother wound is essential and foundational; it is the in-depth, quality work that transforms you at the deepest level and liberates you as a woman from the centuries-old shackles that you’ve inherited from your own mother line. We must detox from the patriarchal threads in our mother line in order to step into our mastery.

Of the role “mother as initiator,” Moffitt says “This initiating power is associated with the shaman, the goddess, the magus, and the medicine woman.” As more and more women heal the mother wound and consequently step firmly into their own power, we finally find the initiation we’ve been seeking. We become capable of initiating not only our daughters, but also our culture as a whole which is undergoing a massive transformation.  We are being called to find deep within ourselves that which we haven’t been given. As we claim our own initiation by way of healing the mother wound, together as one, we increasingly embody the goddess that is giving birth to a new world.

Marta Orlowska

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Thank you for reading! I invite you to leave a comment below: Have you experienced a “rupture” with your mother line?

Does this article resonate with you? Click here to sign up for a free, 30-minute session with Bethany to learn more about private coaching on healing the mother wound.

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© Bethany Webster 2014

(art credits in order of appearance: Julia Hetta, Daniel Murtagh, Charlotte Caron, Yuma Tomiyasu, unknown, Brett Walker, unknown, unknown Natoali Ron Raz, Isao Tomoda, Christopher Mark Perez, Marta Orlowska)

Mothering Yourself into Mastery: The Sovereign Feminine and Your Inner Wealth

Rolf Armstrong

Consistently mothering yourself eventually allows you to release the need to be small or play small in life.

When we mother the child within ourselves, we are cultivating an inner environment of safety and unconditional love that we did not experience in our childhoods. This heals the frozen energy of early trauma and brings our inner child into the present moment where her purity, innocence, vitality and creativity can be brought into our daily lives.

With commitment and consistency, we eventually cross a border where our inner child feels safe enough to sense her inherent abundance that comes from Being itself. There dawns within you full permission to be ALL that you are.

In doing so we can experience that sense of inner wealth and abundance; our bigness and fullness of BEING. 

Waldemar Strempler

Over time we develop a stable baseline of increased inner safety, which leads to an abiding and sacred sense of overflowing. There emerges a felt sense of the infinite love, support and space to be who you are. This extends to a feeling of infinite love and support from the universe and from life itself. We begin to see that our very essence is abundance.

The world teaches us to make the outer world primary and the inner world secondary. But the opposite is true; the inner must be primary for us to step into our mastery. Mastery means living from the luminous core within, committing to loving ourselves unconditionally, being transparent to lesser energies and sustaining a high vibration. A time arrives when we will not accept anything less than this.

Fernand Khnopff

How do we embody the sovereign feminine?

To step into our mastery, we must be increasingly sovereign over ourselves and our own energy. This means fiercely protecting your inner child and thus, allowing your inner life to be your priority. Your sovereignty is what allows you to fully flower and emerge into your full potential. Everything flows from this commitment. What society sees as selfish (self-care) is actually an act of great service. Over time, a powerful self-reinforcing cycle gains momentum from your increased self-respect, integrity and alignment between your inner values and your outer life.

We mother ourselves into mastery.

Many women find themselves vacillating between patterns of deprivation and binging. The message of deprivation is “If I’m my real, big self, I’ll be rejected. I must stay small.” And the message of binging is “I can’t help that I am big! I need soothing from the pain of denying who I am.” The inner mother is the “middle way” and as we consistently soothe ourselves through our fears and do the necessary grieving, we stop needing to vacillate between deprivation and binging in terms of food, spending or other substances/activities.

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Recently I was in London and visited Westminster Abbey. During my visit, I saw an image of the Madonna and Child which struck me with its simplicity and power.The image conveyed a deeper meaning to me than ever before. I saw Mary as a symbol of the Sovereign Feminine in men and women who courageously nurtures the inner child, thereby transforming the “illegitimate child” within us into the “light of the world.” The thought appeared in my mind: “This is what gives birth to worlds.”  The integration of the healed inner child and the conscious, wise adult self culminates as a new way of Being, a bridge of form and matter, the new earth itself. (See the image below: The Holy Mother and Divine Child are situated between two candles; symbolizing the ‘middle way’ in between the polarities.)

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We embody the Goddess when we mother the traumatized child within ourselves.

As we mother ourselves, a great sense of peace and freedom pervades and we increasingly release the need for others to change in order to feel “OK.” We can increasingly let others be who they are and release attachment to being seen accurately by them. This becomes possible when we’ve reached a certain point when we can accurately see and appreciate ourselves enough to let go. We do this by mothering our traumatized inner children into the safety of the present moment.

We re-parent ourselves in real-time–by feeling the pain of the past trauma AND any pain of a current situation….by mothering ourselves on both levels simultaneously. 

Sarah Jarrett

It is a point of great power to live with awareness of many levels at the same time; to be aware as the adult in present time and as the inner child, and also as the formless, divine presence that we are at the deepest level. Living this way, we operate from a high vibration and positively affect our environment.

The best use of an imperfect childhood is to use your family’s shortcomings to birth your greatness. Your greatness is simply being more of who you TRULY are at your core. This is the deeper gift available in the pain of our abuse. This is the true resurrection.

When we discover the light in our deepest pain, we become capable of seeing it everywhere and in everything. Unity consciousness and existential belonging become a felt reality. 

Being the sovereign feminine is being both tender and fierce.

Joyce %22The Bronze Bombshell%22 Bryant, NYC, 1954 by Philippe Halsman.

Allow yourself to be large.  Allow yourself to take up space. 

Over time, we reach a point where our inner child feels safe enough to start to let go of the early beliefs that tell us we must be small in order to be loved. And in doing so, we are increasingly able to experience increased levels of vitality, wonder, creativity, joy, bliss, excitement, comfort and the ability to receive more good things in your life.

The inner bond allows you to emotionally separate from the toxic messages of “less-than” and “stay small” that women receive from the wider culture. 

  • The need for other people to understand us in order to feel OK
  • The need to change or modify others to feel loved by them
  • Tolerating poor treatment from others and blaming ourselves
  • Feeling guilty for our true desires and feelings

Forgiveness is the felt realization that their behavior was never about you. 

Akseli Gallen-Kallela

By healing the mother wound and mothering ourselves, it’s possible to genuinely forgive our mothers (and other people) for how they may have pressured you to stay small.  What makes genuine forgiveness possible is that you begin to realize on a very deep, somatic level that that their inability to see you had nothing whatsoever to do with you. This is not just on the conceptual level, but deep in your bones it becomes very obvious that their hurtful behavior was just a reflection of their own fears and wounds, which were never your responsibility to fix. A massive weight is lifted with this realization.

When you realize that your bigness is part of your gifts and part of your power, you are free to claim it and live it fully!

Your “largeness” is not a liability; it is your inner wealth. It’s yours to claim!

Valeria Kotsareva

Some affirmations:

  • I now love and accept my bigness
  • I lovingly accept my big energy and intensity
  • I lovingly accept my big ability to love
  • I lovingly accept my big dreams and desires
  • I lovingly accept my big ability to feel deeply
  • I lovingly accept my big commitment to truth and authenticity.
  • I lovingly accept who I am right now.

Accept that your “bigness” is not a rejection of others, nor is it being superior to others.

Your bigness is simply claiming what you already are, owning it with joy and bringing it into the world. 

Anahata Katkin 2

The message in the mother wound is that if you claim your bigness, that you’re depriving or abandoning your mother. This belief is a symptom of enmeshment between mothers and daughters that is so deep in our culture we’re often unaware of it. Stepping out of this enmeshment is what allows you to claim your power without guilt or apology. You can feel your right as an individual to live your life on your own terms and know deep within, that your happiness is not depriving others in any way. This is honoring your true nature as abundance. 

Accept that any defensive attempts of others to “knock you down to size” are reflections of how small they feel in their own life. (You can feel compassion for them and let it go.) Accept that how others feel in your presence is none of your business. This realization is real when you can feel the visceral relief in your body. It’s a huge shift that liberates you on many levels.

Your “bigness” does not mean that others are “small.” And their inability to understand that is not your responsibility. Give yourself permission to stop explaining and apologizing for being your Full Self. 

Jane DesRosier

Wow, what freedom! You don’t need to take that onl! And you don’t need to disparage others for not seeing you accurately. It’s simply where they are at. You can allow them to be as they are and rest in your center with integrity and an open heart.

There’s a diamond that’s always been in your pocket. Claim it now. It’s possible to live your bigness with joy and gratitude! The more your treasure and cherish yourself, living fully from your inner light, the more it gives others permission to do the same. What a gift!

Mother yourself until you can feel the exuberant energy of pure joy that emerges in your daily life when your inner child feels safe enough within you to bring her sense of PLAY into your daily life! 

“I now allow myself to be all that I am and all that I am meant to be.”

Tamara Natalie Madden 2

Allow yourself to embody the full breadth and scope of all that you are:

  • To give big
  • To receive big
  • To love big
  • To be loved big
  • To achieve big
  • To live big
  • To serve big

As you claim your inner wealth and overflowing bounty of being, you will likely experience it’s natural byproduct: increased opportunities, loving relationships, outer wealth and success.

What does it mean to be your full, overflowing self in your daily life?

Salvador Dali

Examples:

  • Giving yourself space to be who you are and loving yourself in this moment
  • Knowing that the universe is ultimately friendly no matter the present, external conditions
  • Not allowing your inner space to be cluttered with negativity, struggle or scarcity
  • Coming from a high level in everything you do. Maintaining a high vibration.
  • Remembering that Being is primary. Make coming from that pure place of Being a priority in your daily life.
  • Comforting and nurturing yourself (and your inner child) whenever you need it. Not putting it off. Keeping yourself feeling loved and supported always.
  • Valuing yourself and valuing those you serve in your work. Offering huge value to others.
  • Having impeccable boundaries that support you in being your Highest Self.
  • Having fun and a bringing a sense of play into your work!
  • Communicating with clarity and integrity.
  • Taking care of your body.
  • Ask for support when you need it and delegate when possible.
  • Surrendering all doubts and concerns and trusting that all is well.

Please leave a comment below: What are some ways you are embodying more of the fullness of who you are? What have been your challenges and breakthroughs with this?

Does this article resonate with you? Click here to sign up for a free 30-minute session with Bethany. 

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a copy of my FREE eBook “Transforming the Inner Mother.” 

I help women to heal the mother wound and become the women they’re meant to be. Here’s how we can work together: (Click the links to learn more!)

I love to share empowering information with you. Thank you for reading!! :-)

(art credits in order of appearance: Rolf Armstrong, Waldemar Strempler, Fernand Klnopff, Keith Mallett, Our Lady of Pew at Westminster Abbey, Sarah Jarrett, Actress Joyce Bryant photographed by Phillippe Halsman in 1954, Akseli Gallen- Kallela, Valeria Kotsareva, Anahata Katkin, Jane Desrosler, Tamara Natalie Madden, Salvador Dali)

© Bethany Webster 2014

The Healing the Mother Wound “Holiday Toolkit”

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The holiday season can be a challenging time as we re-enter the family system for a brief time during family events and gatherings. Because we have so much shared history with our family members, old patterns have much more momentum in their presence than with other people. Thus, holiday gatherings can require a higher degree presence so as not to get pulled into old, unconscious patterns.

Approaching the holidays mindfully is a gift to yourself. You can set you up to have an empowering experience, not something that brings you down. 

Family gatherings around the holidays offer incredible opportunities because they are a barometer of our growth; we can see how much we have grown AND where we still have more work to do. It’s also a reminder of the things that are within our power to change and those things that we just have to let go.

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As the holidays approach I hear from many women feeling anxious on how to navigate contact with their mothers with whom they have a challenging relationship. The question usually revolves around how much contact to have. It usually boils down to “How much contact do I need to have, while avoiding unnecessary conflict, but while also remaining true to myself?” This is an important question that requires some reflection.

Tips on navigating the holidays with the mother wound: 

  • Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Expect uncomfortable moments.
  • Approach it with the spirit of experimentation and curiosity. Don’t take it too seriously.
  • Commit to loving yourself no matter what happens.

Holidays as Opportunities for Integration

During the holiday gatherings we can observe ourselves with a sense of curiosity as we behave more authentically and in alignment with our truth around our families. It can be very healing and profound to feel our own commitment to ourselves around some degree of dysfunctional family dynamics. And it may also stimulate grief around family members who may be avoiding their own healing or with whom we have had an impasse. All of it is a cauldron of immense growth!

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We may see family members that have triggered us in the past or still in the present. I encourage you to not see triggers not as failures, but as major opportunities for healing.

An emotional trigger is not a signal of how un-healed you are. A trigger is a signal that you are ready for a new level of healing. 

If you feel an emotional trigger with your mother or another family member, it means that the wound is ready to be healed on a deeper level. It offers the chance to heal in a powerful way, both on the level of the past (the old wound that was stimulated) AND on the level of the present (the current situation).

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Embrace Accountability for Meaningful Change

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When it comes to childhood wounds, the sobering truth is that love is not enough. Love for our children is not enough to prevent us from unconsciously wounding them. And love for our parents is not enough to make our childhood wounds go away.

“My mother tried her best.” I hear this from many women suffering from the mother wound. The reason their pain continues to persist is because this is only HALF of the picture. It is not sufficient to heal from childhood wounds. Until we address the other half we remain stuck.

The full picture is “My mother tried her best AND I suffered as a child.” I see some unconsciously trying to bypass this second part. But it is precisely this second half that allows one to mourn, heal and ultimately move on and thrive as the woman you’re meant to be.

Experts are now saying that emotional presence is what children need from caregivers above and beyond everything else. In generations past, however, it was thought that food, shelter and clothing was sufficient for children to develop successfully. Emotional presence and attunement were actually considered secondary.

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It’s nearly impossible to be emotionally present to our children if we have not sufficiently healed our own inner child. In other words, we can be attuned and empathic to our own children to the degree that we have empathized with what we went through ourselves as children. The better we can care for our inner child, the better we can care for our outer child.

There is no blame. Ultimately, both parents and children are victims in a patriarchal society. Both are victims of the mandate of silence; silence about our feelings and about our true experiences. However, it is only accountability that will bring greater awareness to the plight of children in our society and thus affect change for future generations. The only people that can be held accountable are the adults. The accountability that is needed is that adults heal their inner children. That is the only hope for future generations. Otherwise, we’ll continue to look at the problems of the world without truly seeing them for what they are: symptoms of the unhealed, disowned pain that that lies within us.

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All children are innocent. The child within us is innocent and our children are innocent. It can be heart-wrenching to see how we’ve harmed our children and how we’ve been harmed as children. But this willingness to SEE the painful truth of how we have been harmed is what heals. This willingness to be aware, this willingness to endure the pain of this awareness is KEY.

Accountability is essential for our healing. It has three parts:

  1. Take into account the ways you suffered as a child
  2. Hold accountable those who were the responsible adults in the situation
  3. Be accountable yourself for your own healing and resultant actions

I see a major turning point happen when women begin to come into a place of accountability, which is the second half of the picture. When we come to a place of accountability our healing takes on a powerful momentum.

Below is the process in more detail:

  • Account for the truth of exactly what you went through as a child and empathize with your inner child. Be sad and angry on her behalf. (In this way you become the enlightened witness that she needed in the past.)
  • See how those painful experiences have impacted your life as a child and how you’ve had to compensate for them as an adult.
  • Take into account that as a child, you had no power over the situation. The responsible people at the time were the adults. Whatever happened to you as a child was not your fault.
  • Finally be able to fully grieve, feel the reality of your own incorruptible goodness and step into personal power.

Ken Orvidas

The most powerful form of accountability is within yourself to yourself, about the facts of what you went through. It’s most important for you to see that as a child you were powerless to change the painful situations in your family and the only people who were able to affect change were the adults in the situation, usually your parents.  Whatever happened to you as a child was not your fault. This is the liberating insight that allows you to shed the shame and redeem the child within you. But it has to be a felt insight, not just on an intellectual level. You must feel it in your body. This is precisely what re-connects you to the REAL within you; your real instincts, your real feelings, your real observations.

It was not your fault. This simple and profound insight takes our power back from the wound and puts our center of gravity back into ourselves. It is the antidote to the unconscious belief that acceptance by one’s family is contingent upon your willingness to accept their pain and shame as your own.

Elizabeth Catlett,

To a child, painful feelings seem to have the power to kill. They have a threatening power so they must be suppressed. As children, we have to split in two in order to NOT feel so that we can survive. As adults, we can heal the split by giving ourselves the experience of feeling the feelings fully and realizing that the painful feelings do NOT have the power to kill us. We can discover that we are more powerful and spacious than any painful feeling. We can discover that the painful feeling does not mean we are “bad.” In fact, we see that feeling the truth of our pain is part of our goodness, our realness and our truth.

The spiritual opportunity here is to see that we are not the pain itself, but the eternal, loving presence that is alongside and untouched throughout the pain.

It’s a personal choice to hold your parents accountable by actually speaking to them directly. It can be very transformative and healing but timing is critical and to be considered carefully. In some situations, it’s a wise choice to NOT confront directly. What is primary is that you, in your heart, have put down the burden of blaming yourself for the pain you experienced as a child. The ability of your mother/parents to see or understand you is secondary and not necessary to you moving forward.

Megan Mcisaac

In a patriarchal system, loyalty to parents is demonstrated by not being aware of how they’ve harmed us (intentionally or unintentionally). In other words, loyalty to parents is demonstrated by not questioning their power. This keeps us in perpetual childhood and society under a veil of silent shame and unconscious blindness to the causes of the atrocities we see around us. In the patriarchal paradigm, parents are considered to be responsible for the upbringing of children, but not accountable. In patriarchal cultures, parental accountability is seen as a threat to the power status of parents.

Holly Irwin

“Patriarchy’s chief institution is the family.” ~Kate Millett

What allows the wound to get passed down with ceaseless momentum? No accountability. In patriarchy, generally speaking, parents are assumed innocent and children are assumed to be guilty. Ultimately both are victims of the mandate: “Thou Shalt Not Be Aware.” (See book by Alice Miller)

No matter how much we may try, we cannot escape the formative power our early childhood experiences had on shaping who we become. There are countless ways to avoid this fact, including escape into spirituality and intellectual pursuits. But the body does not forget, no matter how much we convince ourselves that we’re “over it” or “there is no need to dwell on the past.” If we continue to avoid accounting for our childhood wounds, we risk living our lives indefinitely in some form of illness or addiction. Our bodies will never give up showing us the truth no matter how long we try to escape from it.

We cannot heal from the wounds we refuse to acknowledge.

There is a high cost of not accounting for childhood wounds. Due to it’s developmental cognitive limitations, an abused child cannot help but see itself as the as the cause of it’s own wounding. This lack of awareness and lack of accountability prevents the necessary grieving that is only possible after honest reflection on the sobering facts of childhood experiences that caused pain. Without this grieving, the unhealed child will continue to live in the adult body, projecting it’s pain on others and reenacting the painful situations over and over, while blaming itself.

Weronika Izdebska

Why do we fear accountability? 

Many fear accounting for what they’ve been through because they see it as equivalent to blaming our parents; they see them as one and the same. This erroneous conflation is a symptom of the dysfunctional enmeshment that patriarchy has fostered. We must un-couple the two. This belief permits abuse to run rampant through generations. As more and more adults grieve their childhood wounds fully, the more our society will no longer see accountability as a threat to the power status of the parent. Instead, parents (who have done the necessary grieving for their own childhood wounding) will see their accountability as a source of honor and pride as parents.

Accountability brings the greater awareness that creates meaningful change

More people need to grieve fully and come full circle to the child within. As more and more individuals do this, the attitude toward the child in society will shift.

Olga Volkova Tuponogova

We have the potential to really see and mourn the tragedy of how our unconscious, unhealed pain can cause us to blindly harm others without knowing it. We can finally see clearly how we have been harmed by the unhealed pain of others and how our unhealed pain has caused us to harm others. Seen together, this recognition is the birth of compassion, forgiveness and meaningful change. This recognition is the product of grieving our own pain sufficiently to see that the behavior of others really has nothing much to do with us. How others treat us is the culmination of their own inner state. This creates a spaciousness where we no longer feel compelled to respond with reactivity or hostility to others who act out of pain. However, until we grieve our own personal childhood wounds, we will take the behavior of others personally because this is the limited perspective of an unhealed child who cannot help but see itself as the cause of events. Until we grieve sufficiently, we will be compelled to repeat the pain.

Mourning childhood wounds fully is a powerful act of maturity that opens the way for a new world.

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Why is accountability necessary?

When we’ve grieved enough we can come full circle—to see the whole truth: “She tried her best AND I suffered.” BOTH are true and the second part is no longer felt as threatening. This gives way for a new life that is truly your own; a life in which you do not fear loss of love if you own your power. And a life in which being a separate individual is not viewed as an assault on your mother (or parents).

Grieving is impossible without accounting for the truth of what we’ve been through. And grieving is precisely what re-connects us to our deeper selves.

Healing the Inner Split

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When we do this accounting, we validate the inner child who was forced to suppress her feelings, see herself with suspicion, deny her instincts and reject her core. This splitting is what helped it survive the unbearable truth and yet this split is at the heart of all wounds, especially the mother wound. When we do this accounting we become ‘real’ again.

The truth was unbearable and we had to suppress it as children. But we must find that truth as adults in order to truly live.

We must legitimize what patriarchy has forced us to pathologize in ourselves.

The answer to personal and societal change is in empathizing with the abused child within each of us. 

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In order for women to stand fully revealed in their power, we need to create a world where a child does not have to choose between her personal power and the love of her mother.

The highest act of accountability is mothering ourselves. In doing so, we cease asking others to mother us. We stop asking our children, partners and friends to give us what they cannot. The compulsion to unconsciously re-enact the pain gradually dissolves. There’s no way to effectively mother ourselves without first empathizing with the truth of what we’ve been through. In order to do this, we have to connect with our inner child, listen to her, allow her to grieve and bring her joy and indestructible goodness into everything we do.

Romualdas Rakauskas

Related article: “The Most Insidious Forms of Patriarchy Are Passed Through the Mother” _________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for reading! I invite you to comment below: How has accountability (or lack thereof) impacted your healing journey?

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(Art credits in order of appearance: first three items artists unknown, Ken Orvidas, Elizabeth Catlett, Megan McIsaac, next 2 unknown, Holly Irwin, Weronica Izdebeska, Olga Volkova Tuponogova, unknown, George Frederic Watts, unknown, Romuldas Rakauskas)

© Bethany Webster 2014