About Bethany Webster

Writer, facilitator and what you could call a midwife of the heart.

The Importance of Enduring Discomfort for the Sake of Transformation

Warrior Goddess ~ Tracie Hanson

Our “No” moments can define who we are, what we value and what we envision. One of the most profound things a woman can do is to learn to say NO in an empowered way.

Your “No” is a sword that cuts away the non-essential so that you can live the fullest life. 

A powerful point on our journey is when we feel fed up and that we’ve had enough. This place of feeling into a non-negotiable is a potent place for change. It can happen for a number of reasons, usually in response to something we’ve been tolerating that we simply can’t tolerate any longer. It could be an emotional NO or a simple mandate from the body that something cannot continue.

We live at a time where we are straddling two paradigms: an old paradigm of struggle and competition and a new paradigm of abundance and cooperation. All our small, daily actions have powerful ripple effects in the culture.

I’ve recently been introduced to the incredible work of Dr. Mario Martinez, a clinical neuropsychologist and the author of The MindBody Code. He states that there are two parts to setting boundaries: the first part is to set the limit and the second part is to give people permission to not like it.

%22Morning Light%22 by Keith Mallett

Are you willing to give people permission to not like your boundaries?

This can be a hard one for us as women. We’re largely conditioned to please and acquiesce. To be OK with being disliked is one of the most under-utilized of our powers. 

The deeper we go into our own journey, the more we access our unique power to articulate something original and necessary in the world.

We can expect to be uncomfortable as we venture into new territory–places our friends or family may never have gone before.

Much of our ability to succeed and to create the world we want directly hinges upon our ability to endure the discomfort of being misunderstood and disliked as we evolve and grow on our path.

Ellen van der Molen • 2 years ago Goddess Light

Dr. Martinez states that to go beyond our “ceilings of abundance” we must be able to endure the “turbulence at the horizons,” those points where no one in our family or tribe has gone before, the places where are pioneers. He says we must allow our worthiness to expand to accommodate a new narrative beyond what we previously thought was possible. If we do not expand the narrative, we risk going back to the old ways, the old patterns, the toxic relationships, just to break that tension.

I see this all the time with women who struggle with the mother wound. The shame that they experience keeps them locked in a perpetual cycle of guilt and self-blame for wanting to go beyond the patterns set forth by their mothers.

The truth is that to innovate, to lead, to be visible and own your voice, you WILL disappoint some people. Some people will feel betrayed or abandoned by you as you increasingly embrace your path and purpose. 

One of THE most common patterns women tell me about is the following: their mothers are loving to them when they are struggling but very distant and critical during the times that they are doing very well. The mother’s rejection when they are thriving keeps women back from their greatness because it can symbolize loss of love, safety or belonging which are our most basic human needs. (This is what Martinez calls “tribal shame” for going beyond the pale.)

To keep going even in the face of being misperceived, misunderstood or even ridiculed, (particularly by our own mothers) we must assume a NEW narrative from which we find a deeper source of integrity than what was modeled by our family of origin and culture. By sourcing our self-regard from that deeper source of integrity, we can endure the tension that comes with pioneering beyond the horizon of our lineage. This is very deep work and I think absolutely critical for women who have a mother wound and seek to step fully into their potential and power.

You can cultivate a deeper source of integrity that validates your right to be loyal to yourself and connect with other women who do the same. 

Frans Cronje

To affirm ourselves in the face of tribal shame from our mothers is a major challenge and yet it can be overcome. It’s a rite of passage for women at this time of planetary transformation. Support is essential. 

So how do we allow our “worthiness to expand” in ways that liberates us to innovate, to offer our gifts, to lead and inspire? That liberates us to say an unapologetic NO when needed?

I believe it comes from a willingness to consciously own our value and fill the “mother gap” by mothering ourselves in a way that celebrates our exceptionalness, rather than shames us for it.  

This can feel very dangerous--to admit to ourselves the ways that we truly are extraordinary and be willing to own that in the way we talk, live, move, carry ourselves, go about our daily life. We don’t have many models for this. We create it as we go and in doing so we gradually create a new normal. But until it truly becomes a new normal we must endure that tension. This is what cultural transformation looks like at the level of the individual. It’s SUCH important work.

The truth is that owning your value is not frivolous or flattery. It’s fact. 

Spiral Goddess - c. 4000, Romania.

It feels dangerous because traditionally women have been valued in direct proportion to the ways they’ve DE-VALUED themselves. That’s where we’ve received the most validation—by how we’ve been willing to invalidate ourselves. Whether it was through giving away our power, saying Yes when we mean No, or simply accepting less than what we truly wanted and deserved.

To mothers who have espoused this view by willingly de-valuing themselves throughout their lives, a daughter in the new paradigm represents a direct affront to the very foundation of their identities. The new narrative that you embody may feel simply too threatening for her worldview to accommodate and she may unconsciously attack you or withdraw. Ultimately, it’s not personal at all, but it can feel so very personal and challenging. This is usually not intentional at all and often completely unconscious on the part of the mother.

Having support is essential. I see that the women who get support (coaching, therapy, community of conscious women, etc.) are the ones who most successfully make it to the other side of the mother wound. Otherwise, It’s too easy to get trapped in guilt or shame without it. The tension of making the fundamental change is strong because these inter-generational patterns have incredible momentum. Getting support gives you momentum to counter it and make it to the other side.

Trust- by Anahata Katki

Dr. Martinez says that what is needed to go beyond what the culture has permitted to us is to create a “subculture of wellbeing” that validates and celebrates the new paradigm. This is in full alignment with what I’ve written about in terms of the “Rupture of the Mother Line” and how we as women are forming a “new mother line.” We can more explicitly support one another in owning our value, celebrating one another, and embodying our greatness, which is really just being more of who we REALLY are, more of the time. We need each other and we need to work together in this if we are to transition to a new culture that values the feminine and life itself in every way: in ourselves, in men, children, animals, and the planet itself.

I think it is actually an exciting time to be a woman and to help build this new culture of realizing the value in ourselves and in others. Not the value for necessarily what we do for others…. but the immeasurable value we bring to the world by BEING who we really are.

Kiki Smith, untitled 1992

Owning our value does not take away from others, as the old, scarcity-based paradigm would have us believe.  

Owning our value ENHANCES the lives of others: 

  • Gives others permission to own their value, gifts and strength
  • Allows you to share your gifts more freely in your relationships, career and family without shame
  • Frees you to find better solutions, form deeper connections and create a more soulful world.  

And even deeper than that, the truth is that you have every right to live for you. As women, this is a big one to take in. You don’t have to solely define yourself for who you care for, who you love and who needs you. Give yourself permission to live for you. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like for you.

Find ways to live the way you feel in your soul that you want to live in this world. This is primary. This is the deeper gift, the most extraordinary thing. You living as your soul; you, bringing forward that irreplaceable, extraordinary essence that will never be repeated again.

Even though we do care for many and have people who need us, we need to have a piece of us that is solely for ourselves. Taking a stand for that requires saying NO.

What Am I by Rebex

Being loyal to your essence, to your soul, to your authentic self ALWAYS serves the whole better than any compliant, attenuated, small version of you could.

It’s going to feel uncomfortable in moments.That’s for sure. And it’s totally, totally worth it. We can support each other in those uncomfortable moments.

Embodying the new narrative comes from highlighting the evidence of your worth.

To endure the tension that comes with being a leader and a pioneer, find evidence of the value that you hold within you, the wisdom, the experience, the commitment, the love that makes up who you are. Find the facts and remind yourself day after day.

The truth is that owning your value feels like betrayal in many ways because that’s what it is. We are betraying the old paradigm by creating the new one. It’s a necessary betrayal as the tectonic plates of our lives and the world shift to create something new.

One could even say that inter-generational betrayal is necessary for evolution.

As Dr. Martinez says, how would we evolve if no one was willing to risk being shamed for going into new territory? To endure that tension of betraying the OLD paradigm, we must validate and find evidence of our integrity in the NEW paradigm.

YOU are worth every bit of discomfort it takes to embody and express more of who you truly are in this world. It’s worth it for you in terms of how it creates a powerful inner environment of self-love and because what you offer the world as you radiate from that place of realness is pure gold.

It’s the epitome of a win-win and it’s the foundation of the coming world.

“When you know you are fire, nothing can burn you.” ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

%22The Visions of Vespertina%22 by Greg Spalenka Vespertina

© Bethany Webster 2015

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Questions to contemplate: 

1. What have you been tolerating in your life that you would like to set a boundary with?

2. Are there any other areas you need to say “No” in? Do you have any fears about saying No? What can you do for yourself to support yourself to say that No?

3. What would open up in your life as a result of saying No? What would become available to you that wasn’t before?

Exercise: 

Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and write an exhaustive list of all the talents, experience, wisdom, and qualities you have. List every skill you have, every degree or certification, every thing you can think of; big and small. When you think you are done, challenge yourself to think of 5 more things. Pull out this list often. Add more things to it as you gain more skills and develop more qualities in yourself. Pull it out when you feel down and need reminding of the extraordinary person you are. Ideally, look at it every day, especially if you are trying to make a big shift in your life.

Please check out Dr. Mario Martinez book “The MindBody Code” and check out this interview on You Tube. 

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I’m excited to announce that I have a couple new openings in my coaching practice!

If you’d like to receive my personal support in moving beyond the mother wound and into your full potential and success, please click here to sign up for a free, 30-minute Clarity session where I can help you get clear on how the mother wound is impacting you and create a roadmap to get you to the other side. I look forward to connecting with you!  ~Bethany

Ways to Work with me: 

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

(Art Credits: Warrior Goddess by Tracie Hanson, Morning Light by Keith Mallett, Ellen van der Molen, Frans Cronje, Spiral Goddess from Romania 4000 B.C., Trust by Anahata Katkin, Untitled by Kiki Smith, What am I by Rebex Nie, Visions of Vespertina by Greg Spalenka)

The “MONEY wound” in the Mother Wound

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Many woman feel ambivalent about money and financial success because it brings up issues related to emotional safety, survival, self-worth and the act of receiving. Issues that go back to the original patterns of safety and trust from our early relationship with our mothers.

A woman’s place in a patriarchal society as “less than” men implies scarcity in its very description.

Our mothers were the most powerful person in our lives and often the most powerless as well. Powerful because we needed her for survival and powerless because she was devalued to some degree in society.

Many women feel guilty for their success because their mothers were somehow deprived of it. Some unconsciously sabotage the measure of success they have achieved while others barely allow themselves to desire it. Others speak of feeling their mother’s jealousy in the face of their achievements, leading them to unconsciously hide or stall their success.

A conflation of success and guilt starts at an early age, when we could feel our mothers emotionally deflate in proportion to how we expanded as we grew.

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The truth is we never had the power to make our mothers feel small or “less than.”

We had the power to trigger the pain that was already in her that started long before we came into her life. But in our innocence as children, we believed ourselves to be the source of her pain.  And we believed our mother if, in her wounded moments, she may have told us that we were the cause of her suffering.

Our commitment to keep ourselves “small” out of loyalty to our depleted mothers is based on a major misconception. 

Our mother’s jealousy and sense of deprivation can only be healed and addressed on the level it was originally created, which was within herself and related to her own early wounds. These things have always been outside our control as daughters. The fact is that it is something only SHE can do. Our smallness does not serve. This isn’t being un-compassionate, but respectful of our mother’s inner journey as something that is completely hers and hers alone.

Inspired by Anahata Katkin

There was never a transgression. Only a projection. 

By feeling guilty for our mother’s jealousy we actually become the unknowing purveyors of the very thing that has oppressed her. Because in our willingness to feel guilty, we deprive ourselves of our own potential and will undoubtedly blame it on the next generation when they expand.

Sympathetic oppression with our mothers is not altruism, it’s ignorance. It’s the misunderstanding of a child left unaddressed. It’s a form of unconscious self-harm.

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The way to liberate ourselves from this is very simple and very challenging at the same time: The answer is that we grieve.

We grieve for …

  • the fact that we were powerless as children and no matter how hard we may have tried, we could not save our mother from her pain
  • the fact that our good intentions and huge love for our mothers may have been invisible to her due to her own wounding
  • the fact that she may have mistakenly seen us as the cause of her pain and abused us as a result
  • the heartbreaking tragedy of watching the suffering of our family members
  • the fact of your mother’s lost opportunities, loneliness, isolation or any other things that caused her to suffer when you were growing up
  • the fact that you may have spent years blaming yourself for the pain of your family
  • the fact that you cannot convince your mother that your success is not intended to be a personal attack on her

bird catcher2 by Anahata Katkin

As we give ourselves permission to grieve, to accept the loss, and move forward we demonstrate a profound act of self-love. This is the first and most important step in learning to mother ourselves.

Grieving the mother wound makes way for freedom, including financial freedom

The truth is that we must be willing to surpass our mothers if that is where our path leads us. Not just in outer ways, such as how much money we make or what we are able to do in the world, but more importantly, we must be willing to surpass her level of consciousness and continue to evolve into greater awareness and understanding. This is maturation. All else is stagnation and a childlike romance for the wound.

Our mothers may not be able to fully join us in our emerging insights and realizations and we must grieve that as well. We can find other conscious women who DO understand and cultivate authentic, nurturing relationships with them.

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As we grieve, we cross the border from struggle into ease

In many families, struggle was conflated with love. If you did not struggle, financial or otherwise, it was somehow seen as a betrayal of the family ethos. As we continue to grieve, we see that we can be financially abundant and it does not have to be equated with an emotional loss of connection. In fact, we can emerge into even stronger and more authentic connections as we allow more abundance into our lives.

Contact with our inner wealth leads to outer wealth

Our true wealth is inner. It is the overflowing connection to our deepest, truest core self. We connect with this divine self as we heal from trauma and access the inner gifts that comprise our higher purpose in this world. By connecting with this overflowing source within, we have a direct experience of our very essence as abundance. We can embrace money as a neutral form of energy that we can use as a tool to carry out our higher purpose. With greater connection to our inner richness, we increasingly welcome outer riches.

I see many coaches of female entrepreneurs addressing lack of financial freedom on the level of symptoms, much how the western medical model addresses human health. Or to use another metaphor, what is needed is to go to the very “root” of the problem and thus, the “branches” automatically become more healthy. The “root” is the mother wound and as we heal it, the “branches” of our lives (such as relationships, career, parenting, etc.) transform automatically as a result. Sustainable, long-term growth happens as we heal this foundation.

Fearless, mixed media illustration by Anahata Katkin

As you heal the mother wound you cultivate an inner safety that frees you to flourish as a feminine leader

We break the conflation of success and loss when we grieve what we could not give our mothers. We can then allow ourselves to experience financial abundance easily because it doesn’t trigger cognitive dissonance any longer. It no longer stands in direct opposition to our primary attachment figure. Our primary attachment bond increasingly becomes the mother within and through that inner bond, we have a strong foundation of safety to venture into exciting new territory, to feel ourselves as “unstoppable” and to fully live our dreams.

© Bethany Webster 2015

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Does this article resonate with you?  Sign up here for a free 30-minute “Healing the Mother Wound Clarity Session” with Bethany to learn about her private coaching on healing the mother wound. 

Ways to work with Bethany: 

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

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All artwork featured in this blog post is by the fabulous artist Anahata Katkin. Click here to visit her website and explore her work. 

Making Peace with Our Power and Releasing the “Pleaser”

Sami Aboul Azm, Egypt- Nostalgia, oil on canvas. 2009

Many women express this fear: “I’m afraid that if become successful,  I’ll be all alone.”

I’ve spoken with women from numerous countries around the world who have expressed this verbatim.  And some have reported a strange, overwhelming fear that their mother will actually die if they succeed. It may seem irrational or out of the blue. But it has roots in very real situations that happened very early in life. It’s important to understand this on a personal and cultural level because as we understand it, we release the hold of an ancient pattern that has kept women down for centuries. (Bear with me, this is a longer post. You may want to grab a cup of tea for this one!)

We are NOT afraid of success. That’s a misconception. What we’re really afraid of is abandonment.

The “fear of success” indicates that earlier in life we learned to conflate success with loss. 

Underneath the fear of success is the memory of the abandonment that we experienced in the past as children during the moments when our joy somehow triggered our mother/parents’ anger, fear or jealousy. That is how we learn to conflate our own personal joy with a loss of belonging.

The “fear of success” is an echo of this memory.

Wildgoods by Karina

I don’t think we’re afraid that we’re “powerful beyond measure” as Marianne Williamson describes in her famous quote. I think the child within us is afraid of the permanent banishment that ownership of this vast power would imply.

Cultural backdrop…

There’s a scarcity consciousness that is intrinsic to our patriarchal culture. It’s the invisible backdrop to all our current problems. It’s so woven into the fabric of our society that it’s barely perceptible. It’s the belief that there’s always an “either/or.”

The deeper cause of this pervasive scarcity has its roots in individual lives over the centuries. The truth is that the first scarcity we ever experienced was the terror of feeling abandoned by the one person we needed to survive, our mothers.  (either momentarily or chronically)

Imad Abu Shtayyah

Historically, we’ve lived in a culture that doesn’t take childhood fears seriously. We are a culture that largely dismisses children’s fears as insignificant and nothing to worry about. It’s true that from an adult’s perspective that things that terrify children are inconsequential to an adult. But our inability to take the extra step to empathize with what things feels like from a child’s perspective demonstrates how divorced most of us are from the pain of our own childhoods.

Parents cannot completely prevent children from ever experiencing moments of fear or aloneness. However, they can empathize with them consistently, so that over time,  the child develops a a predominant, overall sense of safety. Empathy is key. Empathy is more possible from adults who grieved enough about their own history that they don’t avoid their child’s pain as a way of avoiding their OWN pain.

Isabelle Bryer

I repeatedly hear from women who take my online course that the more they embody the loving inner mother to their inner child, they find themselves much more present, empathic and emotionally available to their children, resulting in an increasingly rich connection between them.

On a cultural level, we have equated female power with abandonment.

This is a cultural echo of that original scarcity of feeling abandoned by mother. Broadly speaking, men have feared that women who are conscious of their power will abandon their roles as nurturers. And patriarchy has taught men to disown their own nurturing abilities, encouraging them to seek nurturing mainly through sex.

Society’s need for a subservient female, unaware of her power, is our deeper collective need to find a mother who won’t abandon us. It’s a projection of our traumatized inner children who are longing for an inexhaustible mother who isn’t coming. We have to give up this collective dream. She can only come from within. The inner mother emerges as we grieve and learn how to mother ourselves consistently. It’s a skill that can be learned. If we fail to grieve and learn to mother ourselves, we risk passing along the mother wound to the next generation.

by Joyce Huntington

Culturally we need to grieve. Personally we need to grieve. And the situations in the outer world reflect this mounting inner imperative to look at our own pain. There is an exciting evolutionary step within the mother wound –that is IF we listen to the call to go within and grieve. However, if we choose to continue to postpone the grief, we’ll continue to act it out and harm the earth. The more individuals do this work, the more the culture will transform.

On a personal level, success can remind us of our ability to trigger our mothers’ fears and the resultant threat of abandonment by her.

Did you ever hear any of these growing up?

  • “Don’t complement her. She’ll get a big head.” (to others who complement you)
  • “Stop looking at yourself.” (if looking at your self in the mirror)
  • “Who do you think you are?  I’ll bring you down to size!”
  • “Don’t complain, so many people have it worse than you.” (when expressing needs)

For women of past generations, success as a woman was equivalent to abandonment. 

As little girls and young women, we were taught that our value comes from supporting others and diminishing ourselves in the process. We were taught that “good girls” don’t “shine too brightly.” We also saw how this belief damaged and depleted our mothers.

We learned to view our success as a betrayal of the unspoken rule to put pleasing others ahead of our own needs.

http-::aunasalome.com:

The aloneness that we fear when we imagine future success is an inner echo of the terrifying aloneness we experienced in the past as small children when, in our innocent joy,  we unexpectedly triggered our mother/father/caretaker.

The good news is that the thing we fear most has already happened. We can never be abandoned to that degree again. As adults, we’ll never be that helpless, vulnerable or dependent again on others in the ways we were as children.

We may have experienced emotional withdrawal or physical abandonment or violence. Our conscious mind may not remember the details. Our nervous system remembers this clearly. And it throws up the warning signals of “fight, flight or freeze ” when we allow ourselves to contemplate levels of success or happiness that were considered traitorous in our families.

http-::www.designcrushblog.com:2015:02:26:clare-elsaesser:

Our freedom lies in our courage to grieve the traumatic aloneness we felt as children. The fear of success fades as we do, allowing us to step more freely into our potential.

It can take time to work up courage to feel this grief fully. We do it in increments. It’s a primordial, existential grief and it may feel like you’re grieving for countless generations before you. I’m here to tell you from experience that It hurts like hell but it will NOT kill you and it DOES pass. And the relief you feel as the grief subsides opens up a whole new world. It’s like the tectonic plates of your being shift finally into place opening up possibilities that were previously invisible to you. 

The truth is that your value is not contingent on the ability of other people to see it.

AHMAD AL SHAHABI

The people in your life who ask you to shrink for for the sake of their own insecurities rarely become capable of seeing your magnificence. This is an important one to take in. Usually, your shrinking only enables their own avoidance of themselves. Things radically shift when you realize that you are not losing anything when you cease striving for love from people who are simply incapable or unwilling to give it to you.

Have you ever felt the need to hide or downplay your success?

As women, we feel guilt based on the false assumption that it is our job to make people feel good all the time. If they don’t feel good all the time, we think it represents a failure on our part. Give yourself permission to put down this ancient guilt. It was never a true obligation.

We have to let go of this “pleaser” role in order to step into our full power.  

Matriarchal Trinity (2009) - Arab Iranian Artist SAMIRA ABBASSY

The truth is that we cannot protect people from their own painful feelings. Distracting others from their pain doesn’t serve them. It only prolongs their suffering and postpones their healing.

The irony is that being a “pleaser” is not the same as being generous. It’s actually a form of feeding on other people in order to feel better about yourself. Are you avoiding your own pain by focusing on pleasing others?

There’s actually a boundary violation happening there. We have to see what we’re really doing when we seek to please others at all costs. We’re actually using people in order to feel our own value. It comes from a place of inner deprivation where you “feed” on the validation of others. (It’s heartbreaking to really take it in that there have been generations of women who felt they had no other source of validation except through pleasing others.)

Our attempts to validate our mothers or efforts to make up for the damage inflicted on them cannot undo the suffering they have experienced. Resist the urge to believe that suffering in the same way as your mother did is a form of solidarity with her. It’s not; it’s a form of inner oppression. We can only grieve and move forward.

Making peace with our power involves accepting the fact that our authenticity will inevitably trigger painful feelings in others.  (And that’s OK. Really.)

Listens to Her Own Inner Wisdom ~ Shiloh Sophia McCloud

When we stop over-functioning in our relationships, it releases enormous energy back to us to use for our own evolution. And it gives others their power back to process and use their own emotions for their own transformation. Triggers are keys to healing that belong to the person who is triggered–keys to a door which lies inside them. It’s their journey to use the trigger to unlock greater freedom in themselves. It’s their opportunity to take or not.

There’s a delicious kind of freedom in making mistakes, in being misperceived and in being disliked. 

It’s delicious when you know that those things no longer have the power to diminish your self-love. When they happen, they may feel uncomfortable in moments but they no longer take you out of your center. In fact, they begin to serve as opportunities to more effectively mother yourself and anchor even deeper into your truth.

http-::espitiapinturas.jimdo.com:3d-artwork:espitia-women:

This delicious freedom is NOT the same as being rebellious or oppositional simply for the sake of it. It is delicious because it is part of the freedom to be a full individual. An individual means the right to have all kinds of emotions and feelings that deserve respect, even if other’s don’t agree. Being a true individual was a freedom that was not afforded by most of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Claiming the right to be an individual could have meant injury, death or banishment. Staying small was indeed a way to be safe and out of harm’s way. 

The truth is that the bigger change we want to experience in our outer lives, the bigger the inner change that must take place first. To make these big, lasting changes, we must go to the point of causation, to our past where painful patterns were put into place in our childhoods. In grieving the cause, we open up new horizons that were impossible before. We become generational change agents! 

Art by Toni Truesdale

There will be discomfort when we cease deriving our sense of value from pleasing others.

We’ll be uncomfortable because we’re releasing an ancient pattern that feels so familiar. And others will be uncomfortable because the buffer between themselves and their “stuff” will be gone. They they will be forced to be in contact with their own pain. Your ability to endure the discomfort of this change is critical. Remember that this discomfort is temporary. The important thing is to withstand the guilt feelings that may arise and not allow them to direct your behavior. Use the guilt as a stimulus to more fully affirm yourself.

With consistency, the discomfort will give way to a profound sweetness of being, of feeling the joy of belonging to yourself. As a woman radiating with the permission to be her full self, you offer a powerful “frequency of possibility” for others. You become the fulfillment of an ancient dream of your foremothers—a woman who is an individual, a woman unto herself…

Moon Goddess by Mollie Kellogg

©  2015 Bethany Webster

(Art credits in order of appearance: Sami Abouel Amz, WildGoods by Karina, Imad Abu Shtayyah, Isabelle Bryer, Joyce Huntington, Auna Salome, Clare Elsaesser, Ahmad Al Shahabi, Samira Abbassy, Shiloh Sophia, Rafael Espitia, Lilith by Mara Diop, Toni Truesdale, Mollie Kellog )

Thank you for reading! I Invite you to leave a comment below: Have you experienced “fear of success?” What has been your experience with the “pleaser” role? 

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Does this article resonate with you?  Sign up here for a free 30-minute “Healing the Mother Wound Clarity Session” with Bethany to learn about her private coaching on healing the mother wound. 

Ways to work with Bethany: 

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

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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Does this article resonate with you?  Sign up here for a free 30-minute “Healing the Mother Wound Clarity Session” with Bethany to learn about her private coaching on healing the mother wound. 

Ways to work with Bethany: 

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

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 “Healing the Mother Wound Clarity Session” with Bethany to learn about her private coaching on healing the mother wound. 

Ways to work with Bethany: 

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

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?  Sign up here for a free 30-minute “Healing the Mother Wound Clarity Session” with Bethany to learn about her private coaching on healing the mother wound. 

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?

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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)